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I'm not going to Hell. And I'm not fat.

by B. Pratt 5 months ago in Humanity · updated 26 days ago
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Reflections of a twenty-something year-old in regards to religion and societal perception of "health."

Religion: an industry that brought great peace to those dying in their 30s in the Middle Ages.

Doctors: medically intrigued and monetarily-driven professionals who brought little comfort or usefulness to those dying in their 30s in the Middle Ages.

What do these two guiding societal staples have in common?

They tend to blanket over one's concerns with a statement of blame.

Ex. 1: "You're struggling because a family member committed suicide and you've faced a lot of stress lately? You should pray--you feel this way because you're not close enough to God."

Ex. 2: "You're here because you think you have a wrist fracture? You don't seem to be in pain right now, and your BMI is 27. Here's a brace and you should do Keto--women feel happier and sexier when they're thin."

Since I was 14 and just dipping my toe into the dark, cold pool of puberty, I was told that the worst thing in the world was to be a woman and be "fat." I was told repeatedly that larger women weren't "taken seriously" professionally (I'd reply now that that is sometimes the case no matter what your BMI is) and don't get husbands. I was a scrawny, stupid 14-year-old.

Today, I'm a gay active duty servicemember with a BMI of 27. The irony is not lost on me.

When I was 15, I noticed my first stretch mark on my hip. I asked what this was and if I would die. I was told it was "fat." Ha. That same year I was Confirmed (Roman Catholic nonsense) and was convinced that God loves me, but only as much as I love Him.

When I was 17 and cross-country season was over, I noticed I now had the equipment of a woman (it was pointed out by the kitchen staff at the restaurant I worked at throughout high school). I went to mass every Sunday and sat across from the church's new $8M organ (provided by years of donations).

When I was 19 and back home during winter break, I was cornered and convinced I should go to the gym every day and only do cardio. Two months later, ROTC (a military commissioning route via university attendance) changed its height/weight policies and I had to lose 15 pounds if I wanted to stay in the program and pass my physical fitness test. I went to mass every Sunday at the Church across from campus.

Simultaneously, I was terrified of my feelings for a woman in my fiction-workshop course. She had a beautiful smile, wicked sense of humor, and spoke three languages. Guilty feelings crept through my silent prayers during Communion. I remember breaking down on my drive home from our last class together. Never did ask her out, but once or twice I've glanced at her Instagram.

In ~2 months, I lost those 15 pounds. I only ate hard-boiled eggs and grapefruit and chased them with apple cider vinegar. I wore a sweat belt and would sit in a sauna for 45 minutes. I only did cardio, twice a day. If I had anything other than my deliciously acidic meal, I would force myself to throw up and take a diarrheic for good measure.

My hair thinned with the rest of me, and I lacked the energy to do much else but go to class and come home to sleep. I took the physical fitness test and barely scraped by. That was my absolute worst score, but I was within weight regs.

When I came home for the summer, my family couldn't get over how "healthy" I looked.

At age 20, I longed to keep the weight off. I wouldn't lift weights or build strength for fear the scale would go up. I found myself neck-deep in a nicotine addiction, which I am now 103 days free of. But it worked for a while. I wasn't hungry, which was good, since I didn't have the energy to workout anyways.

I only went to mass when I was home, and my family now rarely went anyways. My mom even spoke of going to Protestant service. Still not even sure what that is, but I'm pretty sure an electric guitar is involved.

The weight stayed off until I found myself in a relationship with someone who had a love of cooking. She'd make delicious, nutritious things and I couldn't offend her. Sometimes I would hide discarded food in the trash can with a paper towel placed over it. I miss her vodka sauce.

At age 22, I worked out often, not for shedding weight, but just to feel good and spend time with friends. On Sundays, I'd catch up on chores, assignments, and meal prepping. Life was feeling good, healthy routines established. When I came home during my 2020 extended spring break, I told my parents that I was gay. It was clear that God didn't prepare them for that.

Spring of 2020 all of my classes went online, my friends were scattered, my girlfriend was locked up 7 hours away, my gym closed, and the sadness set in. Ask any senior how it felt when their last semester was taken away from them.

Lonely, sad, bumbling through classes that were now online, I couldn't go to the gym and I didn't feel like going outside at all. Overnight, the entire world became terrified to leave home. I gained some of the weight back.

On nights that were particularly hard, I'd pray for the virus to cease, for the world to go back to normal, for the man who ate the bat to be found, tried, and hanged.

COVID-19 took a lot.

A few months ago, I found out that my grandfather, a stubbornly intelligent and ceaselessly interesting man, ended his own life. That was hard for my sisters and me, but unimaginably terrible for my grandmother and parents. And suddenly, just like when I came out to them, God again became an important part of their lives.

I'm not saying that this wasn't a good thing. Religion in this instance was bringing peace to those suffering a great loss. However, a therapist would've been a great choice, too.

I'm young and faith is still a mystery to me. But, it seems that God isn't in life's events but in the reactions. And, throughout my limited experience, I haven't witnessed much of God in people's reactions to tragedies or surprises.

My wrist began hurting a couple of months back. I went to the doctor on base. I wanted imaging. He believed it wasn't serious enough for X-rays. He said that the problem wasn't my wrist, but that I have a BMI of 27. He suggested I try Keto. He said that "women feel happier and sexier when they're thin." I explained that I'd been getting back into weights and cardio, and picking up a healthier routine as the COVID veil and depression were finally lifting.

He didn't listen. I have a ligament tear. At my new base, they asked why I hadn't had imaging.

Because I have a BMI of 27, of course.

But, after a huge cross-country move, an awesome career change, getting my ex to mail me back my $75 strap-on, a nicer apartment, and realistic goals for this year, I feel confident that things are looking up.

Couldn't care less about my BMI. I eat well, exercise, and finally feel good. Couldn't care less about what the Catholic Church has to say. I'm generally nice and unproblematic. I sure do hope God is real. I often wonder if he even wanted that $8M organ.

Stay sexy and healthy, y'all.


About the author

B. Pratt

Stories written by sisters: B and Krista

100% of proceeds go to The Trevor Project.

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