The Fat Jesus: Feminist Explorations in Boundaries and Transgressions
Lisa Isherwood, Darton, Longman & Todd
Who’d have thought that there was so much more to food and eating beyond the mere functional, or the occasionally pleasurable? The Fat Jesus explores the oft troubled relationship between Christianity, patriarchy, women and food.
Isherwood identifies the multiple symbolic importance of food in Christian history from Eve’s apple, to female saints nourished only by the Eucharist, to Christian diet programs such as “Slim for Him” and “no fatties in heaven” that encourage women to lose weight because they are sinning by being overweight.
The book explores the ways in which women relate to food, and some of the paradoxical messages contained in relationship with religious contexts, for instance as controllers of the food (on the meal table) and as over-consumers.
The Fat Jesus is a fascinating read. It addresses an issue that is important in our body image obsessed culture. However, it feels as though Isherwood is trying to achieve too much in this slim volume. Quite a bit of prior knowledge is assumed and there is little discussion about some claims. Yet there is more than enough to engage anyone with an interest in the religious dimensions of culture and the politics of food, not to mention some of the more outrageous theological claims of the religious right in the US.