Christian Diet Books: Thinning, Not Sinning Open Access
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All women, including Christian women, are susceptible to the diet industry’s selling of thin bodies as a commodity and media portrayals of thin women as desirable and successful. Overall, diet books are the most popular category of nonfiction, worth over $1.2 billion annually as of 2005. Evangelical Christian women believe they are obeying God’s will when they follow a Christian diet, but in reality they are subscribing to and perpetuating the prevailing American culture of thinness. The popularity of Christian diet books began in post-World War II America and continues today. They propose to solve the problem of women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies by offering diets based on Biblical teachings and Christian beliefs. This paper examines five Christian diet books published between 1957 and 2013: Pray Your Weight Away; First Place; The Weigh Down Diet; What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer; and The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life. As long as the culture of thinness is an integral part of American society, there will be a market for diet books, and among evangelical Christian women for Christian diet books. This phenomenon is pernicious because it damages women’s self-assurance and alters their beliefs about the way they appear to the world.
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