Monday, June 11, 2012

You Deserved a Quicker Review Than This*: Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body by Kate Wicker

Weightless: Making Peace With Your BodyWeightless: Making Peace With Your Body by Kate Wicker

This book is for every American woman who has body issues. (Shall we all raise our hands in unison?) In many ways, I came to terms with body image some time ago. However, no one is immune and every so often I will find myself beating back the mental need to measure up to someone else's terms. This book is good spiritual medicine for those times. I wish I could afford to give it to every woman I know, young or old.
Have you noticed how babies delight in their reflections? When they catch glimpses of themselves in a mirror, they smile, squeal, or laugh. When my girls were babies, they would even lean toward the mirror to give their images big wet kisses.

How many of us ever feel like kissing the reflection that stares back at us when we give ourselves the once-over in what might be more aptly referred to as the "lambasting glass" than the "looking glass?" The truth is, when faced with our images, many of us stop liking what we see. That big pimple on my chin sure isn't pretty. My arms aren't toned enough. My backside looks bigger today than it did yesterday. Wouldn't it be nice to look more like so-and-so?

You get the picture.

But God doesn't see that picture. He doesn't see what we see at all. God loves what he created — curvy, rifle-thin, disabled, or disfigured. We're his art, his creation.

When we criticize our reflections, we're not seeing clearly. We're blind to the kind of pure, unconditional love that God has for each of us.
Like many girls and women, Kate Wicker struggled with her weight and measured her self worth by how thin or fat she was. After falling prey to bulemia, she went through the long process of realizing self-worth and fighting her way back to health. She relied not only on therapy, family and friends but also on God for inner healing.

Years later, as a married woman with young daughters, Wicker realized that, although there is a plethora of books about handling self worth problems tied to body image, there are very few that offer a Catholic, faith-filled approach. Luckily for all the rest of us, she wrote a book about what she'd learned.

Wicker doesn't restrict the insights to weight. She looks at how media, celebrity culture, and consumer-driven society combine to affect our ideas of beauty from every angle. We respond to these with varying degrees of make up, clothing, hairstyles, eating habits, and more. Wicker helps provide much needed balance in this easy-to-read, personable book which I enjoyed. She leans on saints, scripture, and solid common sense to pull readers back to center as they reflect on reality versus false standards.

Here's something that spoke to me because I suddenly noticed that "old lady skin" is a new feature added to my frame. With that realization, came a new struggle of which standards to apply, and an appreciation for Wicker's refusal to budge in reminding women of every age that beauty begins beneath the surface.
My grandmother has no qualms about admitting she needs hearing aids. When you ask her (loudly), "How do you feel?" she replies, laughing and with a twinkle in her liquid blue eyes, "Old."

Nana's age is not a handicap or a source of angst. It is her joy and this is what makes her beautiful. She is well-worn and creased because, she will tell you, she has lived a long, fruitful life, including raising nine children. She's been around long enough to hold great-grandchildren. She prayed to St. Joseph as her husband of almost sixty years sipped into God's care.

To Nana, wrinkles aren't something to be punished with; they're something you earn, God willing. Although she admits that sometimes it's difficult to be aware of your body growing feeble and deteriorating physically, prayer reminds her that every day is a gift to be unwrapped and lived. ...

When I think of the saying "Age before beauty," an image of my old, crinkly grandmother pops up almost immediately. I see so much more than the signs of old age in her. She possesses an ageless, almost supernatural beauty that comes from leading a life of getting to know God better. She's living proof that gray hair is "a crown of glory...gained in a righteous life" (Proverbs 16:31).

Nana doesn't fix her gaze on her age; she's too busy looking ahead to the age to come — the promise of eternity and a new, glorified body in union with Christ. Her faith, her goodness, and her acceptance of her mortal body holding an immortal soul are what make her lovely.
You don't have to be aging yourself to realize the wisdom in this. How many of us know old women dyeing their hair to hide the white or gray? What about the youthful clothing worn by some women who are grandmothers? Here's the scoop, ladies. You are fooling no one but yourselves.

If we apply this sort of realization to whatever issues are bothering us, whether we are young or old, then we can see how important it is to have inner peace about our perceived "imperfections" ... which many would tell us are not imperfections at all. Wicker's book does this in a beautiful, nonjudgmental way that helps us see how to take the first steps in looking beneath the surface.

I am not a fan of self-help books in general, but this is a good book, especially for women who might be stressing over their looks. She makes valid points for all women but the Catholic orientation means that non-Christian friends are not going to get much from the advice about God in here. However, you don't have to be Catholic to get good advice and insights from this book. Highly recommended.

* You deserve a longer letter than this; it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people as well as they deserve. — Jane Austen

I should have reviewed this book a long time ago. My apologies to the author who did not deserve me only getting around to reviewing her excellent book now.

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