Catholic author Kate Wicker
combines a frank and sensitive memoir of her own struggle to overcome an eating disorder with an examination of the manifold ways in which women burden themselves with self-criticism in her thoughtful book, Weightless
. Her book stands out in a field of seemingly endless volumes designed to “help” women reach perfection by any means possible – extreme dieting, drastic surgery, whatever it takes to equal the pictures that grace our magazines. While Wicker’s own story involves an honest account of the perfectionism and self-doubt that led to her eating disorder, the book is for “any woman who is trying to Spackle God-shaped holes with thinness, physical beauty, youth, or food.”
Reading the book – with each chapter devoted to a different aspect of women’s self-image – is a journey towards truly feeling “weightless” in that we’re no longer weighed down by constant worry about our appearance. Each chapter contains a “Soul Food” section with specific spiritual direction and tools for a given topic, whether it be combating the media’s constant barrage of superficial messages about physical perfection or welcoming the aging process instead of trying to cling forever to our youth. Wicker also includes a personal meditation and a prayer in each chapter. The book’s organization would make it terrific for a women’s book club or online discussion.
Being at peace with your body while still striving to take care of it is such a difficult challenge in today’s environment of constant comparison with others – whether through friends’ pictures on a social network, the heavily edited photos of celebrities, or our own memories of ourselves. Wicker doesn’t skirt any of these issues, particularly the tough question of how to pass along to our daughters a healthy concern for physical fitness and appearance without loading them down with criticism. She also recognizes that each person’s situation is different, so what might be a healthy focus on eating right for one woman could end up an obsession with calorie-counting for another.
I want to show appreciation for the body God gave me. I also want to be healthy and strong, so I can be better equipped to carry out God’s will for me, which includes the seemingly endless physical work of motherhood.
So many women are caretakers, whether of young children, aging parents, or coworkers and community members. Wicker reminds us that making our own physical health a priority isn’t selfish or vain, but in fact a recognition of the wonderful gift of life that our Creator has bestowed upon us.
I would especially recommend this book for mothers who are concerned about how to be positive role models and influences in their daughters’ lives, as it touches upon so many aspects of womanhood and acceptance of ourselves, imperfections and all.