Leanness and Fatness

Asclepius, god of medicine and his daughter Hygeia, the goddess/personification of health.

Asclepius, god of medicine and his daughter Hygeia, the goddess/personification of health.

Add to the list of all the things I WONDER about lately is today's obsession with thinness despite Biblical and ancient secular admiration of the full figure for both men and women. The image of perfection conjured up by Old Testament readings is way more Botticelli than Brooke Shields.

Primavera (Allegory of Spring) by Sandro Botticelli

Primavera (Allegory of Spring) by Sandro Botticelli

If you type the word "fat" in the search bar of your niftiest scripture app, you might be surprised by how often and how adoringly both "fat" and "fatness" are spoken of. You might discover things like the following:

- The fact that the fat of sacrifices was offered to the Lord as "the choicest part of the flesh." (Gen. 4:4, Exodus 29:13, Lev. 1:8, Lev. 3:3 and on and on). Elsewhere it is explained that the fat represented the "general health and vigor of the whole animal." 

- The fact that the fatness of the earth (or elsewhere called the "fat of the land") is a promised blessing to the righteous (Gen. 27:28)

- That one of the few instances in which the word "fat" is used in less-than-flattering circumstances is Deuteronomy 32:15 where it says Israel ("Jeshurun" - a poetic name for Israel) has "waxed fat, and kicked." I love the language it uses to describe the people:

Thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
— Deuteronomy 32:15

Even in this passage it is clear that their metaphorical fatness wasn't the issue. It was because they were fat without thanking the God who had made them so that was the problem. 

Consider the following phrases scattered here and there: "fat and flourishing," "he that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be made fat," and "let your soul delight itself in fatness." 

Contrast all that to the descriptions of "leanness" that we find in scripture:

Think of "the lean and ill favoured kine" of Genesis 41:20 or Job's miseries, including his lament that "thou hast filled me with wrinkles, which is a witness against me: and my leanness rising up in me beareth witness to my face" (Job 16:8). Here's something you don't hear much today:

My leanness, my leanness, woe unto me!
— Isaiah 24:16

So, what is going on??? I mean...what is really going on? Are we able to deconstruct our assumptions and step back and genuinely let ourselves WONDER what is true about body image? Aren't both health and happiness at stake? There is no end to the number of well-meaning individuals who are highly invested in the topics of diet, exercise and the interpretation of the Lord's intent for the well-being of our physical bodies. Here's a nifty little gem I just found that talks about how it is not enough to mean well:

It is not enough for us to be sincere in what we support. We must be right!
— Elder Marion G. Romney, General Conference Oct. 1960

I will probably WONDER about this topic for a long while but here are some tidbits of information that are having their way with my impressionable mind:

- Disclaimer: I don't trust scientific studies (it seems evident to me that a great majority of the scientific community is bought and paid for by the god of this world). But I do sometimes take them into consideration, especially when a monetary motive is not evident. In 2013, there was a study published that found that "overweight people are the least likely to die from any cause - even when compared to those of normal weight." (note that it was the "overweight" but not "obese" category that enjoyed the 6% reduced risk of all causes of death). 

- A little extra weight seems to be protective against Alzheimer's, dementia, osteoporosis, and even heart disease (for women only, according to studies). Sorry no citations - Google it if you're interested.

- The Word of Wisdom found in D&C 89 makes absolutely no mention of fat or body shape. And anytime dietary fat or body fat are spoken of in official Church channels, worldly sources are cited rather than revelation from the Lord.   

- The understanding that "Adipose tissue is a complex, essential, and highly active metabolic and endocrine organ." As was mentioned in The Wisdom Behind the Wonderful Aging Bodies of Women, the shift in the hormone profile of postmenopausal women is designed to serve a purpose, and adipose tissue plays a role in that hormone profile. There is so much more to this than can be covered here.

After all is said and done, I have to WONDER if this question isn't addressed by some of Nephi's parting words to the House of Israel when, in 2 Nephi 28, he describes the "false, vain [and] foolish doctrines" espoused in the last days. 

...They have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
— 2 Nephi 28:14

Precepts = "general rules intended to regulate behavior and thought"

Are our thoughts and behaviors relative to body fat and body image, as Latter-day Saints, from men or are they inspired of God? 

What say ye?