Jim has allowed me the privilege to author his blog over the next several weeks in response to a sermon series he is doing called Revitalize. I must admit I begin with a few nerves and even more humility. I am not so much an expert as a conduit of information. As a Registered Dietitian, I have been trained to share only evidence-based research and literature. Please know that this is not always a reflection of my personal opinion, but rather a way to provide the most current and up-to-date research. That being said, here goes nothing…
I am thankful Jim introduced this series with an emphasis on our ultimate goal—to become more Christ-like. Too often in my job as a wellness dietitian, I see what losing weight can do to people—it can make them more controlling and less dependent. What they do not realize is that they are still unsatisfied and searching… because losing weight did not satisfy their deepest desire. God is our deepest desire… not health, not looking good, not even feeling good.
When I was an intern at OSF Saint Francis, I completed my professional luncheon presentation on “The Media’s Influence on Weight and Body Image.” My findings were both fascinating and appalling. To give you a brief idea of these findings, let me give one small example: In 1975, top models (think Marilyn Monroe) and beauty queens weighed only 8% less than the average woman. Today, they weigh 23% less, a size achievable by less than 3% of today’s female population. How does this information affect our average population? Take a look at the findings below…
- In a recent US study, more than half of women had a negative body image.
- The weight loss industry brings in an average of $55 billion in revenue.
- Thinness has come to represent attractiveness, success, self-control, and higher socioeconomic status.
- Research shows that a negative body image results in depression, weight-reduction behaviors, and social comparisons.
All this to say, as Jim said, we must not get sucked into an overemphasis on appearance. This will only lead to further dissatisfaction and distance from our Jesus. As we commit to changing our lives by practicing healthier habits, we have to embrace the tension of God-honoring health vs. self-pleasing vanity. Although, yes, the Lord does call us to care for our bodies; ultimately, that should never take priority over our love for Him and His people. What a beautiful way to lay the foundation for this sermon series. By embracing these truths and keeping health in the place it belongs, true change will come.