by Candice Tolentino.
Lest you think this is another one of those the-spirit-is-more-important-than-the-body Catholic articles, please read until the end. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and I am in no way working in the health industry. Anything I say here related to health is just based on my reading corroborated by observation.
Let me start by saying how much I love this article. A conversion like Leah Darrow’s does not come very often. It gives hope to us Mommas with daughters. I quote from the article,
“These findings from the Pew Research Center reveal the struggle many women face as they navigate a world in which their physical beauty — or lack thereof — seems to matter more than their professional achievements or success raising a family. No matter how good they are in every other area of their lives, if women don’t believe they’re attractive, their well-being suffers, research has shown.”
The good news is that, there are still good role models for them in this world so obsessed with looking seductive, or in the case of Filipinos, obsessed with being paper-white.
If we are to empower girls, then we need to inculcate in them the truth that they are made for more than just being a subject of admiration for their physical beauty.
But there is another side to this.
Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body teaches us that our body has a language, capable of communicating.
You can tell someone you are listening but continuing to scroll through social media while you’re in front of him will communicate the opposite. A politician can try to convince you with words that he is trustworthy but you won’t believe him if his actions show otherwise. The old adage “actions speak louder than words” is still true today.
Likewise, physiologically speaking, your body can “tell” you if rest and relaxation are needed when it starts getting sick. It can “tell” you when your body is not ready for another baby by suppressing ovulation, e.g., when you are breastfeeding. Those of us doing NFP know that our bodies can tell us we are stressed when our chart has gone awry.
If the body then can communicate, we better listen. Our bodies don’t lie. They do what they’re made to do. Where body image is concerned, sometimes, when we get heavier, lethargic, and depressed, it may be our bodies’ way of telling us that maybe, it is time we exercise the virtue of temperance, either by eating less or exercising more. Please note I am not talking here about normal weight gain, especially on pregnant women or those who just gave birth. All that fat has a purpose. If you want an objective opinion on your weight gain, it won’t hurt to consult a competent doctor. Really, we should.
Sometimes, a drastic change in weight (whether a gain or a loss) might mean there is a sin not being addressed. Don’t forget that Gluttony and Sloth are as much a capital sin as Vanity/Pride. Sometimes, we justify our weight gain by saying we are not vain and don’t care what other people think. “Love the body you are in” becomes our defense.
The questions then, that we need to ask are:
· Are all my blood tests normal?
· Is my weight making it hard for my body to function? Is there too much pressure on my knees? Do I find myself getting out of breath more often?
· Am I watching too much Netflix with little to no time for exercise?
· Would I rather give up something else than exercise portion control or do a fast? Why?
· Is my health interfering with my family life? Is my remaining present to them at risk because of my health choices? Am I possibly causing them unnecessary suffering or stress because I don’t want to change?
· Do I exercise the virtue of temperance when it comes to food?
I am in no way engaging in body shaming. I hope the article I posted above justifies this. If you haven’t yet, read that.
Writing this also serves as a reminder to myself, whenever I fall into vanity or into sloth. I know I will, as long as I’m still part of the Church Militant.
Let me end with this quote commonly attributed to St. Augustine.
“Take care of your body as if you were going to live forever; and take care of your soul as if you were going to die tomorrow.”