Recently I didn’t have any models for my stock photography so I decided to make myself a model, as uncomfortable as I was with that idea. I plopped myself in front of the camera with my intention to capture only my hands holding my Bible or at least being able to crop it that way.
But when I looked at my arms in the photos I thought “Oh gosh. I’m so fat. I can’t believe how fat I’ve gotten.”
And it’s true.
Partially from poor decisions and partially from auto immune conditions I can’t seem to get a handle on. Five years ago I lost 30 pounds in three months and I’ve only recently re-started the lifestyle change that helped me get there, so we’ll see how this latest journey goes, but until then, I’m just fat. Not running myself down. It’s just where I am. Not big boned. Just fat.
Many of the photos in the Christian stock agency I submit to feature young, skinny women reading their Bibles, I guess because the idea is that only young, in shape women need God. Of course I know the photographers or stock agencies aren’t really thinking that when they take or approve the photos but the thought is there, subconsciously, even in my own mind: fat women don’t sell.
We just don’t. Right?
But guess, what, maybe we do because not every woman out there is a size four. Some of us are struggling and we may know we need to lose the weight but no matter what we do it isn’t working. Maybe it’s a medical issue blocking the weight loss or maybe it’s emotional pain but either way losing the weight is a battle and we are in the middle of it.
And what I thought when I saw those photos, after the initial depression and decision that I wouldn’t submit the images, “well, even fat moms read the Bible.”
Though the agency I work with is fairly diverse and offering a few more photos of the old and the fat, I don’t know if some in the Christian advertising world have caught on yet. So many are focused on catering to the Millenials, they’ve forgotten that there are a huge segment of Christians who don’t know what a Instagram is. There is also a segment (notice I left out the word “huge” here) of Christians who are struggling with their appearance in a world where they are told constantly they are only worthy if they shop a certain place, wear a certain size or have a certain amount of money.
This is where we are right now – us women who fight with our weight – and we need to read that Bible as much as the 21-year old skinny girl does. That 21-year old blond may look like she has it all together but she’s in need of a savior as much as the fat mom who cries in the closet with a pint of Haagen-daz when she looks at photos of herself. The only difference is the fat mom may find a bit more judgement because of how she looks and how she has “let herself go.”
Christ loves us no matter our size or what the world thinks of us, but sometimes it’s hard to remember that when a large majority of the Christian images we see in Christian or church publications are of young men or women wearing skinny jeans and hipster hats. Does the Kingdom belong only to the young and fashionable? I tend to think not.
While the youth of today may dismiss what they see as the old fashioned and out of touch ideas of the older generation, the older generation are also a driving force of the Kingdom.
And that younger generation will one day be the older generation and they will one day have to deal with the sagging chests and the expanding bottoms and, as author and speaker Lysa Terkurst says, the missing “thigh gap.”
No matter our size or our age we are all a part of the kingdom of God.
Maybe it is time the Christian advertising industry started to reflect that a little better.