Monday, November 13, 2006

The Big Gummy-Bear Is NOT the Poster-boy for Gluttony

Warning: Rant ahead...

I've held my tongue on this one about as long as I can, but the big gummy-bear being used to symbolize the sin of gluttony this week in the announcements at church took me over the top. First off, let me say, that I KNOW it was meant to be funny, ...still, I'm not laughing...

Our Church is doing a sermon series on the 7 deadly sins. A couple of weeks ago it was gluttony's turn. The speaker was someone that I respect and that I have learned much from in the past (and I'm sure I will learn much from in the future), so I was looking forward to hearing what he would say on this one. He started his message with a statistic on how many Americans are overweight or obese...linking this as an example of gluttony. He did also mention in his message how things like shopping, excessive tv watching etc. could also be an examples of gluttony as well. But I couldn't get past his link right off the bat of overweight or size to this particular sin. Sure, it is true that there are people who are overweight who overeat, but this isn't necessarily true of all overweight people, and I am so tired of discriminatory comments like that. It wouldn't be acceptable on the following weekend when sloth was discussed to single out a particular racial group and use negative statistics about their presence in the workforce to illustrate sloth. And likewise, it wasn't acceptable, to me anyway, for overweight statistics to be used to illustrate gluttony either.

I would have been fine if we would have talked about overindulgence or overeating to illustrate his point, but to use size statistics as his hook to convince us that more than half the population has a problem with gluttony, well, it just wasn't credible to me. Probably most of the people in the congregation could have identified with gluttony in their lives without someone using their size against them. Food-wise, there were probably plenty of people listening who weren't overweight but had personal experience with over-indulgence. The size of a person does not tell the tale of how present or absent this sin is from their life. In fact, it is my own excessive focus on eating less food, counting and balancing carbs and proteins and exercise that is probably a more glutton-ous behaviour on my own part. When it all comes down to it, it is not what you see on the outside that tells you about the sin a person struggles with because really it is a matter of the heart, and so often it cannot be detected with the eye.

Perhaps I've taken the sermon illustration more personally than I should have, but it is a personal matter to me. I am someone who has dealt with size my whole life and who works ever so hard everyday to make sure that I eat healthy and exercise, and size-ist comments that have been thrown my direction over the years have made self-acceptance a very hard thing for me...and I have just fought the stereotypes too hard in my own life to let this illustration go... Besides, what do the pastor's statistics mean in any case? He was saying that some number over 50% of Americans are overweight or obese. Do you know what that tells me? Not much since reading that by BMI standards Brad Pitt is overweight and George Clooney and Russell Crowe are obese (obese?!!). You know, just the other night I caught a feature on CNN about the designer's creating a new size...a 00 (that's right, a size zero is no longer small enough, they've created a double zero). In the news story, a reporter wanted to get a sense of what is might be like to be a larger woman living in a world where there is now a size smaller than zero, so the reporter put on a fat suit and uglied themselves up to go out and see how it felt in the real world. First of all, I thought it was 'rich' that they couldn't just go out in the fat suit...they had to ugly themselves up too (bad hair, skin, teeth, etc)...after all, there ARE still people out there who think 'fat and ugly' are one word?! (Rich!, I know!) Secondly, I had to do a double take when they mentioned the size of the reporter after donning her fat-suit. It was a 12?!! Do you know that I have never in my adult nor teenage life been a size 12...NEVER! All the diet pills consumed, all the meals skipped, all the calories counted and fats eliminated, carbs watched and balanced, exercise...all of it and I have never made it down to the size of that reporter's fat-suit.... (ughhhhhhhh!!!!)

Anyway, later that night I was hungry (real stomach hunger) for a snack, and I gave in after watching that news story. The next day I felt bad and told my husband that I was a glutton for having that snack. He looked at me in disbelief. "Good grief," he said, "You had a bit of oatmeal. Most people watching tv on a Saturday night are ordering pizza in and you are feeling bad about a small bowl of oatmeal?!" What nonsense indeed! That being said, rant over... I'm just going to let this all go now... (breathe in, breathe out:)


Anonymous said...

Amen, sister Sheri. I too struggle with the size issue. Too bad my thyroid can't be reprogrammed. I am constantly trying to reprogram my brain not to dwell on the outside comments about my apparent gluttony because of my size.

Anonymous said...

I totally empathize with your thoughts. Unfortunately, whoever your speaker was did not do his or her homework. The speaker will never know the truth unless given another point of view. RK