Imago Feminae: Image of Woman


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Mary Margaret's Voice

I don't really think my religious background has influenced my body image. I was never told being overweight was a sin or that I was disappointing God. It was more that I was disappointing my family and that the fault was within myself. I really try not to view my body. I begin to feel guilty that I am defiling the Temple of God. I try to concentrate on my actions being the image of God, because my physical body is definitely not. I think the female body does reflect the image of God as well as the male body - just in different ways. The female body is a reflection of nurturing and care giver, whereas the male body is of strength and protection. I am sure I've had an eating disorder of some kind. I have felt that when I watch what I eat I am "good", and when I eat too much or not the right things I am "bad". While growing up, food was used as a comfort and reward. But at the same time, I was accused of eating too much of it, not having any willpower, being weak, etc. Really scrambles your brain sometimes! I have only tried a few "weird" diets, but not every one that comes out. I don't excessively exercise, but when I do get in a routine I feel extremely guilty and like such a failure if I don't do it every single day - even when it may be absolutely impossible to do it for one reason or another. Did I mention that my Mother was raised Catholic? Lots of guilt! I used to want the perfect body but was always scared that if I achieved it there would be no barrier between me and temptation to sin. I was afraid I would go completely wild and do something stupid like pick up men in bars. Being overweight made me lack self confidence in myself. Having the perfect body would perhaps make me lack self confidence in my moral convictions. I would still like to have the perfect body and look like a Victoria's Secret model, but now I'm "safe" because I'm probably too old now to EVER achieve the perfect body. In putting my thoughts down in writing, I suddenly realize that the true answer to Question 1 is "Yes". I was raised Presbyterian, but also was raised "Catholic", even though my Mother was at that time a Presbyterian. I was bad and weak; therefore, guilt was used to try to make me conform. The old "God is going to punish you" was used a lot. Upon reflection, I guess unconciously I thought that everything negative that happened to me was God's punishment. This was bound to affect body image, self confidence, etc. a great deal. This has been extremely thought provoking.

Mary Margaret, 55 years old