Eating Healthy and the Feminine Ideal

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Just a few quick observations about food, the created order and body image. We will have to deal with this in more detail later, but it should be mentioned in this series of posts early on — because it really is such a huge player.

When a girl who is hovering on the edge of “skeletal” sincerely believes in her heart that she is “fat,” the problem is obviously one of a dominating paradigm of self-deception. And when this happens, such a person usually attracts the concerned attention of others, but only because (and this is my point) she took the problem too far. A lot of people have a milder version of the same problem, and no one is concerned at all.

Anyone familiar with the paintings of Ruebens knows that different cultures have different notions about the feminine ideal. One time I was walking in a mall and a card shop had one of those lifesize cutouts of Marilyn Monroe outside the store, and I realized as I walked past that she was quite a little fireplug. A generation ago, the average Miss America was forty pounds heavier than today. And within certain limits, that is just fine. There is no more reason for us to match the ideals of another generation than there is for them to match ours.

Unless . . . we move past questions of simple cultural taste. If, in the grip of screwed up notions of femininity, we start denying what God obviously wants to affirm, then we are in trouble. If an average girl starts to “eat healthy” and loses a bunch of weight (but does not go so far as skeletal), she will receive near universal praise and attention. And I have trouble believing that the affirmation she gets will be any less at church. She can look great to her husband, to her friends, and feel sexy and attractive, and all the rest of it. But if she drops below 13% body weight, and stops having her periods, and can’t conceive a child, then it is clear that what she and all her friends call “eating healthy” is not healthy or natural or normal at all.

And this is because our culture has allowed its ideal of feminine beauty to be almost entirely detached from the teleology of the female body. And that can’t be good. And this is why a number of healthy diets aren’t at all. Healthy is as healthy does.

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Dimple Kalra
6 years ago

I truly appreciate and support each and every word in this post. Ideals always depends from culture to culture and person to person. It totally depends on how we are born and brought up in our life.