As I am writing, my wife, Lillian, is in full-blown holiday mode and the house is a veritable holiday masterpiece. The decorations are beautiful, the preparations are plentiful and the spread will be bountiful; turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin bread pudding and pumpkin pie! Top this all off with with an article on obesity!
Let’s face it. The holiday season is a time for faith, family and food and food and…a New Year resolution that usually includes a diet and a health club membership. To add insult to injury, just recently this was the hot news item: Hostess factories close and it is the end of an icon.
I would like to develop this article a bit differently than I have previously, as the subject of obesity is not only an extremely sensitive one but for me, but quite personal as well.
Those of you that have met me would find it hard to believe that I would know anything about obesity. After all, I am a strapping six foot one 170 pound physically fit man that can keep up with guys half my age in the gym. But, it wasn’t always that way.
I grew up the fat kid in school. In a culture that is cosmetically oriented, being the “fatso” is unacceptable.
When one becomes “unacceptable” to others because of their appearance, people can be ruthless. You are often the brunt of jokes and belittling ridicule. Insults are not age specific, yet when obese or severely overweight children are constantly maligned by their peers, deep emotional scars can form producing a host of psychological problems, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Feeling of being totally inferior to others
Without condoning obesity, I want to shed light on why so many extraordinary, beautiful, hard working and extremely gifted people are disqualified from success and making their mark on history because of their weight.
Now, here’s the rest of the story.
Among other “gifts,” my initial success came as a musician. Whenever I would audition for a band or a studio gig, I would almost always land the job. Now granted, I am a talented musician. However, I began to notice that some of the other players auditioning were often more gifted than I — but not as aesthetically pleasing.
As time went by, I started seeing this trend continue far beyond the music industry. From Hollywood to Bollywood, to working retail at the local mall, the “beautiful” people always seemed to have more favor. I didn’t realize at the time, but God was making me aware of this for some reason. Why?
To expose the dehumanization of His creation by man’s packaging of humanity.
At 24 I was picture perfect, socially acceptable and in demand. Yet, all that had changed was my waistline! I remember watching a television show (60 minutes) where two models from a New York agency (a man and a woman) were fitted with a latex “fat suit” by a Hollywood make-up artist and asked to shop in some high end fashion boutiques in the city.
As the “60 minutes” camera crew followed the two as they shopped, I was appalled at the treatment they received by the store employees. A few days later, the models returned to the shops they had previously visited, this time without the “fat suits” and they were fawned over and treated like royalty! One shop owner even asked if she could take some photos with them! What had changed since the model’s first visit? Only their appearance had changed. Nothing more.
Look at your CD collection and magazines… airbrushed faces and svelte bodies designed and marketed to sell. Business depends on it. Before we look at statistics, lets look at how this packaging of humanity can devastate a generation.
Skinny Envy – The Bigger Picture
In the late 60s, after the Beatles took America by storm and the “British Invasion” hit the fashion world. Models such as Jean “The Shrimp” Shrimpton, Verushka Von Lendorff and Penelope Tree made skinny the new “inny” for American woman.
But one girl exploded on the scene: 17 yr old Leslie Hornby, better know as “Twiggy.” She was the envy of girls nationwide. What followed was an epidemic of American woman with anorexia, bulimia (binging/purging) trying to adhere to the new “skinny” mandate of the British culture.
To further drive home my point, if one examines famous art from the renaissance period (1300-1600) you will see that skinny was anything but “inny.” In fact, what was considered beautiful then were curvaceous full-figured woman often with their babies or surrounded by “chubby” cherubs! It is safe to say that “Twiggy” would not have graced the canvas of any of the great masters of the renaissance period.
So, maybe you are still not convinced that the cultural packaging of humanity can devastate a generation?
Consider this. Since each person’s bone structure is different, explain to me how a girl of German descent with large bones could become a waif thin girl? You cannot change bone structure (frame) even if there is less flesh covering it. Your skeleton will still somewhat dictate your size.
What if you were born with a big head (skull) and little heads are in style? You can diet all you want, but you are still going to have a big noggin!
I wish I could count the man hours spent counseling girls as a youth pastor who wanted to be super skinny but were born with large frames. It is very difficult to convince people who want to appear like someone else that they idolize that they are missing the “bigger” picture.
Obesity in America is an epidemic. More than ⅓ of adults in the U.S. alone are obese! The overweight condition can lead to:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Certain types of cancer
- Sleep apnea
The main cause is rarely a genetic disposition. In fact, every report I have read emphatically says that the epidemic level of obesity in America is primarily due to:
- The abundance of available food
- Diets consisting of non-nutritious
- Uunhealthy or “fast foods”
- A sedentary lifestyle inclusive of people employed in office positions that require little or no physical activity.
You can also find a map that shows which states have the highest percentage of obese people:
It is not surprising that the southern states where fried and “fatty” foods prevail top the list with the most obese population: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and West Virginia.
So, what does this tell you? How does Ethiopia compare to America in terms of obesity? Does availability, quality of food, portion size and lack of exercise contribute to obesity? Yes!!! But, does it cause it? No!!!
Mind Over Body
I love cruise ships. For me, a trip to the Caribbean aboard a ship is the ultimate vacation. However, it is well known that cruise ships provide access to all the food you can eat, 24-hours a day. In fact, you can eat whatever you want whenever you want. On a seven day cruise, a typical passenger arrives home between an average 5 to 10 pounds heavier!
My wife and I are quite logical. We surmised that considering…
- The state of the art gym aboard…
- The abundance of healthy foods including fresh fruits and vegetables…
- A variety of challenging off ship excursions available…
…that we could easily lose weight on our cruise. I am happy to report that on every cruise we have been on, we have arrived home at least 2 pounds lighter than when we boarded!
So, what makes someone obese?…Wait for it… YOUR MIND!
That’s right! Stinking thinking — “As a man/woman thinketh, SO THEY ARE!”
Listen… after spending the last 28 years of my life ministering to hurting people and overcoming obesity myself, I can assure you, even though there are a myriad of programs, protocols (read the other articles in this edition…they are brilliant!) and supplements that are proven to work, that you will not change your weight until you change your mind.
Dear reader, hear the heart of this formerly fat author…
As long as you believe you are:
- A victim
- And have tried everything and nothing works,
What YOU believe, YOU conceive!
Here is the truth:
“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and Godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 1 Peter 1:3
If you want to experience this divine power, then the first step is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When you surrender your life to Him, you will discover what it means to really live and see yourself as you truly are. Without His divine power, you will try to overcome your cyclic behavior in your own strength and end up medicating your false sense of self (who you think you are) by constantly overeating.
If you don’t know who you really are, then you create a false image of yourself that leads to depression. When you discover the real you, depression is replaced by peace!
Stand next to me now and let us look in God’s mirror together. Look! You are already complete!
God has given you EVERYTHING you need pertaining to life and Godliness. When you face that truth, it breaks your false image of yourself. All that remains is a simple weight loss issue!
Now instead of seeing your whole life as a victim, you see yourself as a:
I lost my weight when I realized God made me beautiful and that through Him I could do anything.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
“With God, all things are possible!” Matthew 19:26
- Take baby steps.
- Celebrate each pound you lose.
- Focus on each victory not the final goal.
- Stop using food as a medicine.
- Follow the suggestions found in the other articles in this edition.
And remember: Live! Love! And Laugh… a lot!
After all, it is just weight…mind over fatter!
YOU ARE A STAR!
- How did you become hypnotized by your false sense of self-worth?
- How can being fat or thin, long haired or bald, short or tall change who you really are?
- When you read 1 Peter 1:3 in the article, how did it make you feel?
Michael Tyrrell, www.michaeltyrrell.com is the founder of the Network Center Inc., a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2001 which works as an advisory agency to local churches, faith-based ministries, Para-church ministries, schools, home fellowships and music ministries in connection with their outreach ministries or missions based activities. Michael has been committed to training their key leaders and members to deliver the message of their Christian faith in order to reach the lost, the disenfranchised, the sick and the hurting through the organic roots of the Christian faith and other areas as needs arise. Michael has been in full time ministry for the last 27 years and is a writer music producer and well known musician. http://michaeltyrrell.com