“Does this book make my rear end look big?”
That’s the question Teasi Cannon begins with in My Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life (Amazon.com). I love that this book starts out funny, and keeps its sense of humor throughout chapters about body image, low self esteem, hurtful words, negative self-talk, and spiritual warfare.
I received a free copy of the book in exchange for a promise to review it. This transaction seemed a logical follow-up to my New Year’s commitment to healthier eating, which led to a review of two resources that I credit with the lower-carb lifestyle I have re-committed to several times this year.
Big Bottom Blessing is neither an endorsement of a particular diet nor a fitness self-help book. Rather, it addresses the underlying spiritual issues that keep people hungry for foods that don’t satisfy, and angry with themselves for not being able to meet impossible standards.
Cannon’s story includes some childhood experiences that left her feeling unloved and therefore desperate for approval. And through dramatized conversations with herself, she illustrates the spiral we often enter when trying to succeed by our own willpower. For example, this conversation takes place in the “battlefield of the bathroom”:
First thing every day, I would pay homage to this powerful being, [the Scale God,] through my morning ritual: pee out every drop of liquid I could possibly squeeze from my body, clip my nails, blow my nose, take off all my clothing and jewelry, exhale, and stand before him.
SCALE GOD: You may approach.
FAT CHRISTIAN WOMAN: Thank you, your majesty.
SCALE GOD: What are you here for today?
FAT CHRISTIAN WOMAN: I would like to find out my worth, your majesty.
SCALE GOD: All right then, you may step up.
FAT CHRISTIAN WOMAN: Thank you, sir. (Holds breath, sucks in stomach, and steps up as lightly as possible.)
SCALE GOD: I’m afraid you aren’t worth anything today. You are up two pounds from yesterday. You may step down. Be gone with you.
My guess is that conversations like this are recognizable to many of us. Since so many of us accept a version of our story that has been written by someone else (TV series, insecure classmates, advertising messages), we fall into the trap of reciting lines from a script that isn’t true. Before long, those scripts become internalized voices that amplify our weaknesses and distract us from the truth.
So although Big Bottom Blessing is the story of Cannon’s struggle with her weight, it’s not just about weight. It’s about any lies we believe that keep us from enjoying our status as God’s children:
- “I’ll never be anything but a junkie.”
- “I’m not good enough to get that promotion.”
- “God will love me more if I give money to that charity.”
- “No one notices the work I do, so why try so hard?”
These are lies based on a misunderstanding of who God is and what He thinks of us. As Cannon says, “He doesn’t expect us to just ‘get over’ anything. He cares enough to heal every wound inflicted upon my heart since the time of my birth. He loves me enough to take me there—to escort me to the entry point of each and every lie I’ve believed so that He can displace the lies with truth. He wants to do that for you too.”
Toward the end of the book, Cannon describes her showdown with God, an angry prayer that finally opened her eyes to how much it hurts God when we call ourselves ugly, or fat, or stupid. If you don’t have the time or the interest to read the whole book (though it’s a fast read), I recommend Chapter 9, “Unfinished Business.” For some of you, it may come across as a little too touchy-feely, but try to look past that and glean this beautiful truth: God loves you. He just does. Nothing you can do will ever make Him love you more than He does right now.
Does this mean it’s ok to be fat?
Maybe. Mostly it means that you can’t trust the world to define “fat” for you. And you can’t trust yourself not to tangle your sense of worth in with the world’s definition. Maybe you’re fat; maybe you’re not. Either way you are beautiful.
Cannon ends with this claim:
“I’m still ‘padded’ today, but I love myself more than I ever have because I no longer let the devil define me. I let my doctors (not Vanity Fair or Cosmo) tell me if I’m physically healthy), and I let God alone assign my value. And truthfully, as long as I’m healthy, if I never lost a pound I’d be more than fine with that. In fact, if someone were to offer me a pill right now—one that would assure me a thin body for the rest of my life no matter what I ate, with only one stipulation: you must give up all the hope and healing you’ve gained on the inside—I would laugh and walk away. Being thinner is nothing compared to being free.”
Where to buy
If you are interested in buying a copy of Big Bottom Blessing: How Hating My Body Led to Loving My Life, it is available at Amazon as a print book or Kindle book. After you’ve read it, come back and let me know what you think—is Cannon’s approach to dieting really healthy? And is it really possible?