In case y’all haven’t noticed, I’m a thin Pagan. Not, like, stick skinny, but definitely on the “thin” side. My apparent lack of cleavage is a testament to this fact.
I’ve never really been a “fat” Pagan, or a “fat” anything, for that matter. There was a point where I was technically overweight for my frame and body type, but (1) that’s not what I’d really call “fat” for anyone else save for myself, and (2) that was a result of not eating well, not exercising, and generally being a lazy POS. My weight went from the 120s to over 145 in a matter of two years, and in that time, I felt worse and worse due to #2.
(I know, I know. I can already hear people grumbling: “What the hell are you talking about, 145+ and feeling like that?!” But I have a point, I swear.)
The way I took it off wasn’t healthy, either. I was under a lot of stress at my old job, and I dropped weight faster there than in any year prior to that. We’re talking, all the way from about 140 to 116 by the time I left that job, and I only worked there for a year and a half. It was a lack of eating anything at all that got me to that point. While the public thought I looked good on the outside, the inside showed a very different story.
During that whole time when I was trying to lose weight, I met several people that, by medical definition and the much-abhorred BMI scale, were “fat”. And many of these people were, for all intents and purposes, much better off than I was. They ate better, they could sprint a set of stairs without being winded, and they often giggled (lovingly, of course) as I struggled to keep up. This post by Fat Pagan is an excellent reason why one should not be judged purely on size.
And I was the “thin” Pagan, the one who was supposedly in charge of my body and my diet and my life. When I finally did take charge, I gained, but not just weight: I gained health, vitality, and energy that I never knew before.
Truth be told, a Pagan’s (and anyone else’s) worth is not determined by body size, nor is it by any other defining physical feature. I’m no more witchy or special or pretty because I have curly hair (though I admit, it is faaaahbulous). A Pagan’s worth is determined by the way she carries that body, the way she treats it and herself as a whole and others, too.
I’ve read a lot of fat-hate (love how that post is titled “Normal”) and a lot of fat-defense on the internet since the passing of David Grega, a well-known and highly influential young man and member of the Pagan Centered Podcast, who died suddenly of cardiac arrest on 10 July. He was 27 years old – my age, actually. A life cut tragically short by an absolutely terrible medical issue.
In less notorious news, another friend of mine in Florida recently passed on 14 July due to a blood clot in his lung that broke loose. He died before they could get him back to ICU. He, like David Grega, was overweight.
I wouldn’t even mention their weight if it weren’t for the onslaught of posts as I described before. I wish we could just celebrate their lives, their achievements, and their contributions to the Pagan (and entire!) world. They were brilliant men who shared themselves and their crafts fully, and it’s heartbreaking to know they are no longer with us in the physical.
But instead of doing any of that, many people have instead resorted to offering platitudes on the surface while crying out about the “Pagan obesity epidemic” overall. Remember what I said about a Pagan’s worth? I’ve seen several show theirs as they continued to disrespect the way they have treated the death of David Grega.
I do understand that, as individuals and a community, we should strive to be the healthiest we should be. Walking or stretching ten minutes a day, swapping out a bag of chips for a (preferably organic!) apple, and offering a smile or a laugh with another person (after all, what’s the best medicine?) are all ways in which we can take steps towards a more positive and healthier life. As a community effort, encouraging others and even going along with them are admirable.
However, size itself does not beget health issues, nor does size prevent it. As I illustrated above, there was a point where I’d still be considered “thin” to the general public but led a terribly unhealthy life, where friends who weighed more than I did led – and currently lead! – lives for which I now strive. They were in optimal health despite their size, and despite my own, I was not.
It really stings, and it must affect others as well, when I read that “every body is still sacred” while simultaneously getting a very strong message that “fat =/= fit”. What kind of conflicting message does that send, that “sacred bodies” are those that only appear so, whether or not they actually are? As a community, are we more focused on actually getting healthy, or are we blinded by the same as rest of society, that “thin is in” and there’s no other way?
I know that this one post will not end this fat-shaming, nor will others that say essentially the same thing. But I do hope that, along with those who thing on the same line and who fight this battle every day, whether those fighters are fat, thin, and everywhere in between, it will teach us to love the bodies given to us by the deit(y/ies) in which we believe.
And for heaven’s sake, to leave it out of a time of mourning for someone lost to this world.
Death Prayer of Dave Grega
Composed by Lamyka
Harsh rapids flow
against banks of ice.
Your life and loss
carves scars into us all.
Yet now Lord and Lady guided,
softer shores abound.
Swifter currents yield
at happy gurgling sound.
Flow now as Life, Herself.
Be at Peace.
On now western shores
all hurts smoothed and gone.
Light of the Gods
wrap you warm.
(Thank you, Patheos and Lamyka.)