Friday, May 12, 2017

The “Right Weight” Issue



As a writer and a speaker, words are my tools. I write them, speak them, pray with them, study them and yes, occasionally, I probably annoy others with them. But I cannot deny their importance in my life. They are communication and often, life itself.

Scripture tells us words are simply not neutral.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

And two words, in particular, which have been particularly powerful for me since childhood are “right weight.”

Mom introduced this phrase to me as a young girl. It was a promised land goal as we both struggled to cope with the abuse we endured in our home. We fluctuated from being “food buddies” to “diet buddies,” on again, off again, on again, off again, for years. It became a matter of life and death.

 “Our buzz phrase was, ‘When we get down to our right weight…’ Of course, that must mean we were at our wrong weight... I was becoming so very aware of exactly how unacceptable I was... It was frequently pointed out to me. Diets were first. Then came the insults, the jokes, the strategies… Comments like, ‘You’re looking a little pudgy lately,’ and ‘Be careful, honey, you don’t want to get much fatter now’ came from my family and neighbors... I hated one comment most of all... In a patronizing, sickly sweet voice, someone would say to me, ‘You have such a pretty face, if you’d just lose some weight…’ There! So my body was what was wrong with me after all! It hurt even more because this comment dangled the hope of beauty, and yet placed the blame on me, a little girl, for not achieving it. It was my fault...”

(Excerpt taken from Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”)

So, what was set in motion was my eating disorder road of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, self-hatred and a spiritual crisis, all hinging upon the following lie:

“I am not acceptable- by anyone, The Most High included.”

“Right weight…”


Death and life…

I risked my life, health and spiritual connection, all due to the negative gravity of those words.

And, even though my mother never was anorexic or bulimic herself, she still, however, has spent the entirety of her life (at least what I’ve seen and known of her) grappling with her disordered over-promise/under-delivery of “right weight” to be her ultimate answer.

By medical standards, she’s been classified as “morbidly obese” for well over thirty years now.

And she has not been unscathed by chasing that dangled carrot of “right weight.”

She has now been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. She has high blood pressure and has suffered at least two strokes. Those strokes have left her unable to walk. She spends most of her time in her wheelchair.

Yet, even to this day, when I attend her doctor’s appointments or care conferences, she still talks about reaching her “right weight.”

I am challenged by feelings of frustration, hurt and defeat whenever I hear her speak that way.

Old habits, I guess, die hard.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

There’s no denying it. We believe words. It’s just a matter of which words capture our minds and our mouths.

Disturbing… Provoking… But still, not completely hopeless.

Because, after all, we still have an All-Powerful Creator…

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

 “‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you... thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.’”

Jeremiah 29:11

“...‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

What would happen if we believed, spoke and lived these words instead of the more limited words like “right weight?”

What To Say To Someone Struggling With Disordered Food Or Body Image Issues...

1)      Don’t diet as a “buddy project.” If there is a legitimate health concern, seek professional help.


2)      Don’t participate in “fat talk” or body shaming of any kind.

3)      Be aware of both what her opinions and feelings on beauty, weight and personal worth are; likewise, be aware of and differentiate your own for yourself as well. Don’t belittle her on the basis of her differences.


4)      Don’t compare and comment on any other female’s looks in a critical, negative manner.


5)      Don’t equate terms like “right weight,” “perfect weight” or a specific dress size or number on the scale as being the solution to a happy life or sense of self. Instead, emphasize health: mind, body and spirit, incorporating a lifestyle of healthier foods and moderate, not punishing, exercise.


Let’s be AWARE of what we say- to ourselves, to our daughters, to our mothers, to our sisters and to our friends. Words DO have power. Let’s use them wisely.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue...”

Proverbs 18:21

Copyright © 2017 by Sheryle Cruse








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