I love makeover shows. I love before and afters. The ones where they sneak up on some poor unsuspecting woman wearing elastic mom jeans, her husbands oversized sweater and a perm from the late 1980’s and transform her with dark tailored jeans, cute ballet flats, and a shiny new angled bob.
Or the ones where they round-up morbidly obese people and make them run and run and run and voilà, skinny people with new hair and whiter teeth. Yay! You are finally worthy to wear that spandex!!!
I also love those movies where a normally skinny actress forgoes eating krispy kremes in favor of a fat suit. The fat suit usually goes above and beyond what krispy kremes are capable of. C’mon these actresses can’t gain too much. They’d have to lose it all after the role to be able to get those other parts reserved only for the skinny (which seems to be most of them.)
To watch Gwyneth , Julia or Monica on Friends with backfat, double chins, and muffin top is highly entertaining to me. I suppose a large part of it is that it is a total transformation. It not only changes their appearance but their entire persona. Their entire countenance changes. They go from a character that is disciplined, desirable, and in control to one that is out of control. One that eats in secret, has deep insecurities or problems, and is generally funny. The one that gets looked over even though they have a pretty face and a great personality. The one that becomes triumphant only when they lose the weight and are able to be a normal person. It’s fascinating to watch because I can relate.
I’m not really sure when I got my fat suit. I do know that it seems to be stuck. After years of yo-yo dieting, extreme working out, disordered eating, and eventual weight gain, this fat suit has remained . I’ve never really changed inside although the outside certainly has.
It’s always been a heart issue.
My eating issues have been a long time pal. I have seen my way through heart ache, boredom, celebration, fear, stress, and joy with food as my constant companion.
My fat suit wasn’t always visible. Sometimes, it was hidden and only I could feel it
As a child of 5, I can distinctly remember walking down the street behind my older brother and his friend because I didn’t want them looking at how fat I was. The sad thing is that I wasn’t. Not even a little bit. That came later.
I was molested as a child by someone close to our family. Although, it’s taken years to come to terms with some of the ramifications of the abuse, my self-image has suffered tremendously.
The times when I focused the most on my body were times when I was flailing spiritually, my body had become an idol to replace the food. We are created to worship so if you remove an idol without replacing it with God a new one will eventually fill it. When I felt right with God, my body became less important. I recognized that the attention I was trying to get to meet a need in me was sin and pride. But when I wasn’t focused on that, I felt exposed and empty and my emotional eating and gluttony snuck back in. After all, gluttony is a totally acceptable sin in American culture. If you’ve ever questioned this, just go to a church potluck. Fat is comfortable, not just the food but the actual fat.
Fat girls are invisible.
It may seem that the opposite would be true, that we would stick out more. But really, it’s like an invisibility cloak.
Poof, I’m in my fat suit and now you can no longer see me. You see a stereotype. She must be lazy and undisciplined to let herself get that way. She must eat a ton of junk food and not know anything about nutrition. She must not know how unhealthy she is. She must never exercise. She must be funny and have a pretty face and a nice personality.
But that’s not really me. It’s the fat suit. I’m rarely lazy, if anything I’m too busy. I was a nutrition major in college with a minor in exercise physiology. I love to spin, lift weights and swim. And I’m occasionally funny with an average face and the nice personality is entirely up for debate.
So therein lies the problem, how does one remove the fat suit?
The truth is I’m not entirely sure.
Eat right and exercise are the most simplistic of answers and while true and helpful, do nothing in the elimination of a lifelong fat suit. There are a lot of skinny girls walking around with invisible fat suits.
In C.S. Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Eustice is the character you love to hate. He is wretched, whiny, and disagreeable in every way. After sailing to an island in Narnia, he discovers a dragon’s cave filled with treasure. Knowing the dragon is dead, he takes as much treasure as he can and then falls asleep. When he wakes he finds that he has turned into a dragon and finds himself isolated and alone, unable to join his ship.
He encounters Aslan ,who tells him to undress. But he is a dragon and has no clothes. He starts to claw at himself and peel away the skins. Just as he thinks he has peeled it all away, he sees that they have all grown back and he is as much a dragon as ever.
I think fat suits and dragon skins are a lot alike.
Then the lion said – but I don’t know if it spoke – ‘You will have to let me undress you.’
I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now.
So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.
The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had
gone right into my heart.
And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt.
The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.
You know – if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.
Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d
done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt –
and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been.
And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.
C.S. Lewis Voyage of the Dawn Treader
So I am asking for His claws. The ones I know will hurt and pierce and shred. The only ones that can go beyond pumpkin scones and enchiladas and fat suits to the heart of the matter which is idolatry.
A distrust that God can truly heal and that God alone can truly satisfy.
I will lay down flat on my back and let him do it.
I invite you to join me on this journey. I am sure it will be dreadful and delightful and I am terrified.
Decluttering is not for the faint of heart.
Next week I’ll be writing about Decluttering Part two: To lay it down