Recently we’ve seen female cultural enforcers like Nancy Campbell, like Lori Alexander, like Debi Pearl carry on some significant fat shaming, food policing and body shaming. It’s been going on some time with all three women. The things that they post about eating, how they eat, what they think about the issues of food seems to reveal a pattern of disordered eating. They are not alone, it seems in quiverfull anorexia and bulima is prone to happen.
You have a culture in which women are pushed to be “perfect” at all costs and in every way. It’s not surprising that some would take an extreme stance in regards to their own bodies and food. You have to be a perfect mother, a perfect wife, be a size six, look like a model, yet live like it’s the 50s, the 1850s.
There’s something about this particular type of evangelicalism that draws women with the drive to be high achievers. It’s not for the faint of heart. Baking bread for a family of ten or twenty while being perfect.
Just take a look at the many quiverfull blogs. Many of them glorify food, or eating a certain way only. Nancy and her carrots, Lori and her big salads and ‘healthy’ chocolate. Zsuzsanna Anderson and her heavy carb cooking and new cookbook. A type of control.
There is one thing I do know, when you talk about and think about food so much of the time it’s likely you have some sort of problem with food.
I’ve thought about this quite a lot, thinking back about a very close friendship I had in my quiverfull years with a lady I am going to call Cathy. I never suspected a thing when we were casual friends, sisters in the Lord, but after I’d gotten to know her very well it was obvious.
Once we started traveling together I started to pick up hints that Cathy was bulimic. I noticed a pattern of her eating large quantities of food, once it was three full plates of whole grain pancakes and bananas, disappearing into the restroom for a long period of time. She emerged red faced, and many times I observed her following up these times by calling her husband Mike on the phone to yell at him about various minor things.
Like Lori, Nancy and many others Cathy had some rather strange, outside of the norm food rules and beliefs. She claimed she was an expert in using foods to stay healthy. But she came to an early end, dying horribly of a preventable disease much too young. I have to wonder how much it was exacerbated by her eating disorder.
I saw first hand how what she was doing was messing with her mind and moods. How it impacted her health. More than once I tried to broach the subject with Cathy, only to have her deny what was obvious to myself and my entire family. To this day I feel the sting of failure, wonder what might have happened if I could have reached out to her in a way she could have handled.She wasn’t the only one from my old church that turned out to have issues with food either.
I didn’t have the resources at the time to reach her. But lately I’ve been reading through sites on how to support and reach your friends and family struggling with these types of eating disorders. Help Guide had good advice.
A real disorder that prayer and happy thoughts is not going to cure, yet seems to be ever prominent in communities that are high demand. In some ways it is one of the few areas where a woman in one of these quiverfull evangelical groups can exert control over her world, their bodies, their lives.
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