The Skin We’re In

Can I ask you something? Bit personal, sorry.  It’s about your body. I was wondering, do you fit it?

Yeah, I know.  Sounds a bit weird.

It’s just that, being honest, I don’t fit mine.  Sure, I’m in it, but that’s not the same thing. Sometimes I rattle around in it like a piece of broken cutlery.  At other times, my skin feels so tight I can hardly breathe.

I’ve been thinking about this after reading an article in the Guardian about Wayne Burns.  Wayne has shed almost half his body weight, (15 stone), in a year, as a result of gastric surgery.  Before the op, Wayne was too ashamed of his size to even leave the house. But he hasn’t made the transition from self hating and obese to slim and happy that the glossies often depict. At his heaviest, Wayne felt like he didn’t fit his body.  But even after surgery, that hasn’t changed. Instead he says: ‘I’m a completely different person to what I was 12 months ago.  There are times when I just don’t know who I am any more’.

Like Wayne, my ‘body’ hatred preceded my eating disorder. Long before I developed anorexia, I swung between two extremes. At times I felt like there was too much of me and I was too big.  But I also felt too small; insubstantial, with no physical or emotional weight.

Wayne and I are part of a culture that’s lost in contradictions.We shrink ourselves to make an impact. We slice ourselves open in order to fit. We reinvent ourselves to discover what was already there. It’s pointless. Because the issue of ‘weight’ is not just physical – but emotional and spiritual too.

We talk about ‘body’ angst, but what we really mean is heart trouble.  And it’s not the kind that a scalpel will fix.




2 thoughts on “The Skin We’re In

  1. Hello, :o)
    I know you’ve studied theology I just wondered if you had come across ‘The Contagion of Jesus’ by Sebastian Moore… he’s a theologian from a sacramental background and has a lot of interesting and very merciful things to say about the body -especially our dysfunctional relationship with it (see esp. chapter 7 in the 2007 reprint).
    best wishes,

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