In all of my remembered days, two truths remain constant: I believe in God, and I am fat. While there have been seasons where I struggled with my faith or my fatness, neither has ever left me.

As a teen, I thought that being a good, effective Christian meant being thin. Fatness was associated with a lack of self-control, one of the fruits of the Spirit. So I came to view my weight as an outward sign that I must not really believe or obey. I was terrified that my witness would be hampered by the size of my thighs. Surely no one would believe in the power of the Resurrected Christ if his Spirit wasn’t strong enough to keep me from gaining weight.

My home church offered weight-loss groups as a Bible study option. Like other well-known church leaders, the pastor talked about his exercise regime from the pulpit. He would not become one of those “fat and lazy pastors,” he told us. One of my church classes kept track of our weight to find out if we were improving our “stature” and so modeling Jesus, who “grew in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52).

I spent years under a spiritual pressure on my physical body: taping Romans 12:1-2 to the inside of my locker, hoping the reminder to sacrifice my body would bring the discipline needed to look like a Christian. I went on mission trips almost every year in high school and college, but Southern Baptist policies would require I lose significant weight before I could become an international missionary.

Finding Fat Acceptance

In college, while looking for visual ways to hide my fat, I stumbled into a “fat fashion” community online. The people there were not trying to make themselves appear slimmer; instead, they promoted “fat ...

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