New book offers healing for women with body image concerns

By Marianne Medlin

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Author Kate Wicker and her new book "Weightless"

A new book by a Catholic author aims to help women make peace with their bodies amid an image-obsessed culture.

“I know what it’s like to be a slave to the scale, to believe you’ll never free yourself from thoughts of food or from pursuing thinness,” author Kate Wicker told EWTN News.

“But I’m here to tell you that there is hope.”

Released this past August, Wicker's book “Weightless” (Servant Books, $12.99) offers a faith-filled approach to healthy body image for women strung between the media onslaught of airbrushed models and a multi-billion dollar dieting industry.

Wicker explained in a recent interview that her own struggles with a clinical eating disorder in high school and college motivated her to want to help others on the spectrum of obsessing over food and weight.

“When I was younger, I endured some pretty cruel teasing,” she recalled. “One of my nicknames was Miss Piggy. From an early age, I started thinking something must be wrong with me and the way I looked.”

“My weight morphed into a barometer of my self-control,” she added, “during a time when my life and my emotions often left me wheeling.”

But after therapy, nutrition counseling, medical care and most importantly, delving more deeply into her Catholic faith, “I was eventually able to put an end to the destructive physical habits.”

However, as she began to heal, Wicker found herself dissatisfied with the lack of resources for Catholics with similar issues.

“I craved a book that would look at things like beauty, body image, our relationship with food, and aging through the lens of Christianity.”

And according to Wicker, the need for such a perspective has never been so gaping.

“I’ve known children as young as six say they’re fat,” she said. “I recently had a woman who was in her 70s open her heart to me and share that she’d been secretly grappling with bulimia for over 50 years.”

Wicker also noted the National Eating Disorder Association's recent numbers showing that eating disorders are on the rise across the globe as Western beauty ideals become more prevalent.

“There was a definite need for this book so with God’s grace and the support of my family, many friends, and an acquisitions editor who believed in me and my writing,” she said. “'Weightless' came into being.”

As mother of three daughters who also recently had a baby boy, Wicker said that her children have made her even more passionate about “debunking so many of the myths perpetuated by our beauty and food-obsessed culture.”

“I want my own children to know that their true value lies not in the reflection they see in the mirror or the number on the scale but in their passions, their intelligence, their virtues, and most importantly, their souls.”

The new book offers advice, personal reflections, prayers, and helpful tips with a list of questions at the end of each chapter for meditation.

Wicker gave some practical suggestions for those struggling with body image issues, saying that the first step is learning “to accept our bodies and their natural design, which may never live up to what we want or think we should look like.”

“Second,” she added, “while I firmly believe body acceptance and treating our body with respect by fueling it with healthful food is very important, we also must work to recognize the supremacy of the supernatural.”

Wicker explained that this means taking part regularly in the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist.

“If we really are what we eat, then let Christ come to us as food in the Eucharist and invite him to work to heal us from the inside out,” she said.

“As our bodies fail us or age, our souls can remain resplendent, especially if we develop a rich prayer life and regularly partake in the sacraments. Our weight and clothing size should never rule our life. God should.”

It also may be helpful to cut out unhealthy media from our lives, she noted. “If you’re feeling particularly vulnerable, go on a media fast and avoid flipping through fashion magazines or watching television shows that degrade women or diminish their dignity.”

Wicker also observed that the root of the problem for many is simply self-absorption to the point of losing sight on what matters most in life.

“When I was in the throes of my eating disorder, I was mired in self-hate, which really is a deviant form of self-love, and was spending way too much time looking inward rather than outward,” she said.

“We have to consider that another reason—besides the media’s influence on how we perceive ourselves—that we’re at war with our bodies is because we’ve forgotten a fundamental truth of our Christian faith: That our bodies are gifts on loan from God, that we are made in the image of God not Hollywood, and that we are human beings, not human bodies, with great dignity that doesn’t change with our clothing size.”

Wicker suggested that “if you find yourself having an 'ugly day,' take the focus off of you and step away from the mirror and step into life.”

“Reach out to others. Embrace the 'beauty secrets' of God, and show compassion to others. Desire God more than you desire food, thinness, or perfect curves,” she underscored.

“Just think how many souls could be brought to Christ, how many lives touched, if we chose to wage a war against injustices rather than fight against our own flesh.”

Wicker said that in the process of her own healing, she often mediates on how she is made in God’s image and likeness and is “both a spiritual and corporeal being willed by my Creator.”

“This is a beautiful reminder that helps me to ignore some of the unhealthy societal messages that undervalue my worth as a woman or a human and instead helps me to become closer to my original creation and the person God purposed me to be,” she said. 

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