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God is Thin

Thin is in, at least in America. It is no secret that diet and fitness is one of the leading industries in the USA. From weight loss programs, to gym memberships, to miracle pills and even surgery, the fitness craze of the 1980’s has transformed itself from a small institution to a cultural ideology. I would even call it a religion. There are the absolute devoted that practice religiously one specific way, the part timers that attend when they need a boost, the shoppers that sample a little from all to get their fix and the recent converts who have slowly began to transition into it.  Fitness and weight loss is the new religion. There are places of worship such as gyms and Jenny Craig centers, rituals like fasts and cleanses, and even objects of worship such as the thigh master and abs machine. One can no longer escape our cultures god, the thin, fit man or woman, since they are plastered, shown and worshiped all over our society.

It is not surprising that the ideals of fitness and weight loss began leaving the gym and slowly started to enter into places of worship. Priests and Rabbis are no longer limited to preaching the word of the lord, but using these words and incorporating them into a diet plan. One is not only damned in society for being fat, but now in the eyes of god.

Using religious texts and ideas to promote fitness and weight loss is not new and innovative. Although every religion jumped on the diet and weight loss movement, it has been most vocal in Christianity, partly due to it being the dominate religion of America. Although it isn’t a new concept to involve religion in diet literature, no one could have predicted that Christian diet books would turn into a multimillion-dollar industry, riding the back of the American diet crazy and capitalizing on the messages that are created specifically for the evangelical followers.

The ideas of fitness and weight loss can be found in all religions. Every script and scribe can be interpreted to have concepts of fitness and weight loss in it. In most religions, keeping fit and treating the body as a temple is part of Gods plan. “In historical Catholicism, depriving the body of food was analogous to purity. In Judaism, the human body is considered to be made in the image of God. And among Conservative Protestants, the body is taught to be the ‘temple of the Holy Spirit’. Viewing one’s body as made in the image of and the home of a deity may promote good health and thus ideal body weight. Given the greater emphasis on good health through seeing the body as sacred, the religious may be more physically active than their less religious counterparts.”

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