Trigger warning: fatphobia, ableism, mention of disordered eating, suicide
So recently there was a question on TC regarding whether or not we have a religious duty to take care of our bodies.
I refrained answering, and for a while even refrained reading the thread. Threads like that have a tendency to fall into fatphobia, fat-shaming, ableism…it’s pretty gross. And very common, and I wanted nothing to do with it.
But then I got bored, I guess, and I read it, and then I had to respond to someone, because again, the belief that if one is to follow a war goddess one must be ‘fit’ had reared its ugly head. The poster did apologize, for what it’s worth, but I still want to tackle this idea, because I’ve seen it before, and I’m sure I’ll see it again.
The belief that one must be physically fit, whatever that means, to worship or follow or venerate or work with a deity usually associated with war is…lazy thinking, at best. And it comes out of a larger idea in paganism — the idea that as pagans, we should take care of our bodies, because we’re all about immanence instead of transcendence (apparently), and ‘most’ pagan faiths do not concentrate on the afterlife so we’re beholden to treating our bodies well in this life.
I’m all for treating bodies well. It’s one of the ways Morrigan has me work on my sovereignty.
The problem is, what ‘treating my body well’ means to me is apparently different from what it means to fat-shaming, ableist pagans. They only see what they want to see, and what they want to see is a fat, lazy bitch who sits around eating Cheetos all day and therefore chooses to be obese (yes, because there are so many benefits to being fat, let me tell you, it’s just lovely spending every day fighting against a world that wants me to kill myself because of my size, this is obviously why I chose to be obese). They state this opinion, loudly, because part of thin privilege is believing you must be heard on the issue of obesity — those fatsos obviously don’t realize what bad choices they’re making! You must help them!
This then backs fat bitches like myself into a corner: we feel the need to explain what our lifestyle is really like so that people will stop judging us so much, when really — it’s none of their fucking business.
And then you get people saying “Well if you really worshipped this god or that god, then you wouldn’t be fat,” or “You should be in shape if you want to follow this deity,” or “If you truly believe that your body is a temple, why are you so fat?”
This is even harder to ignore than the general “EWWW OMG FAT PAGANS” bullshit that gets spouted, because now they’re pulling into question our faith, or practice. As if being fat changed how we feel about the gods. As if it changed the work we do for Them. As if it changes anything about our religions.
There is nothing in my religion that states I must be skinny. There is nothing in my faith that says I am unfit to worship the gods so long as I am fat and crippled.
Here’s the thing: the gods will tell me if I am unfit to follow Them. They will let me know. And so far, it’s been a lot of “Hey, can you do this thing for me? Because I said so, that’s why. Hop to it,” from m’Lady the Morrigan. A lot of “BURNING MISSIVE: WRITE NOW” from Brighid (in the form of fiery headaches that become migraines if I don’t write). A lot of “It’s okay, sweetie. Come on, give me a hug” from Manannan.
If I wasn’t worthy, They wouldn’t have come to me. If I was slim, and They left me because I got fat, then They wouldn’t be gods worth worshipping.
The gods do not give a shit what I look like. They do not care that I have a broken back. So long as I can do Their work, They will direct me. So long as I am ready and willing to accept the challenges They give, They will stay. So long as I am faithful to Their causes, They will give me the strength necessary to fight Their battles.
And no, those battles are not all physical. Following a ‘war goddess’ does not mean I actually need to be a martial arts master who can bench press an elephant. (Also, yay, let’s continue to reduce deities down to one characteristic, because obviously They’re one-dimensional. That’s so awesome. We should do it all the time.)
So let’s get back to the original question, shall we? Do I have a religious duty to take care of my body?
Yes. It’s the only body I have this life, and I need it to do the gods’ work. Therefore, I need to take care of it.
It’s my body. Taking care of it reclaims my sovereignty.
My body is how I commune with divinity. My body is an expression of divinity. Therefore, I must take care of it.
What does taking care of my body look like?
Eating enough so I’m not hungry. Avoiding eating behaviors that will make me relapse into my eating disorders. Eating good, healthy food as often as I can. Not punishing myself if I eat Nutella for dinner. Allowing myself to make my own food choices, and not letting other peoples’ behavior, words, or looks of disdain govern what I put into my body.
Finding ways of exercising that don’t hurt my back. Not overdoing it. Working up gradually, instead of letting guilt berate me into killing myself at the gym so I’m unable to do anything else for a week. Going to physio to fix my back. Admitting when I need help, and asking for it. Knowing my limitations.
Taking my Zoloft every day. Keeping my house clean. Showering and bathing. Brushing my hair. Having good sex. Using birth control, because pregnancy would be a really bad idea with my back so bad. Sleeping enough. Concentrating on my breathing. Singing. Swimming. Finding ways to ease my pain. Drinking alcohol in moderation. Not relapsing into smoking again.
Being out in nature. Wearing the right shoes. Wearing clothes that are comfortable, and fit, and that I feel good in, and no I don’t give a fuck if you think fat people shouldn’t wear sweatpants, or leggings under sweaters — I’m going to if I want to.
None of this stuff has anything to do with being slim, or losing weight. Because striving to lose weight does not take care of my body, or my mind. And it’s not necessary to honor my gods.
Fitness is a process, and it’s more than just physical. So long as I am willing to do The Work, then I am fit to worship.
Side note: I’ve been AWOL for a little while because I’m working on moving a bunch of my sites to WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com…and there is one hel of a learning curve. For the time being Innocence and Immanence will continue to be on WordPress.com, but you can see the new Maenads of the (R)Evolution site here. Please update your bookmarks accordingly.