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Deb Lemire

Hi Anne,
It was wonderful to meet you at the ASDAH Conference. You asked me to post to your blog some of the thoughts I shared at the conference regarding Fat and God. So here I am! I am not a big blogger I tend to go on, as you will likely see, and I don’t have time to keep doing that!! I actually do talks on a lot of this, so I will do my best to nutshell some of it.

Eight years ago, I was hired to direct a play called “Mother Wove the Morning.” My daughter was about to turn one. (I am a theatre professional). The play asks the questions “What happens when we do not acknowledge the female face of God? How do we then treat women when we cannot see female in the divine and thus we cannot see the divine in the female?” The play brings sixteen women from history to the stage to answer those questions. Each woman is from a different time period and different religious and/or cultural background. Doing research on the women presented in the play led me to the Goddess. I found that although the three major religions practiced globally (Christianity, Judaism and Islamic) all view God as strictly male, they only stretch back about 4000 years and human beings have been around for at least 30,000. Looking at archeological and anthropological studies, they show that in the past most cultures around the globe saw their creator as female or a combination of male/female. Funny I never learned about this in Sunday school! Not only was I finding that God was a woman, but looking at ancient renderings, I also found that she was a FAT woman! Who knew!!! All this time I was walking around looking like a Goddess and no one told me!

Anyway, once this window was opened and I crawled through, there was no turning back. I have done research, read and visited ancient Goddess sites in Crete and Malta. (I started my own theatre production company with a touring production of “Mother Wove” and we still perform it several times a year.)

So that brings me to the question, how is that I, as a FAT person, am seen as abhorrent and not worthy, yada yada yada (we have heard it all), when I am in the spitting image of the ancient Divine? I don’t know the exact answer to that. (This of course could launch a feminist discussion off on a different tangent, but I won’t go there.) Perhaps our current cultures only recognize the Divine when it is held out of reach….on top of a mountain, sitting on a cloud, in heaven, etc. Maybe we have not evolved enough to take a closer look. It is too bad too, because if we did, we would take better care of our Mother Earth and women would not live in a world where 1 in 3 of us will be raped, beaten or killed.

At the ASDAH Conference I shared part of my one women presentation “For Beauty’s Sake.” “Bonnie’s Story” was exactly that, Bonnie’s story. A story of a women who lived her life well along side life threatening discrimination. At the time I was working on it, I was listening to a series of tapes by Clarissa Pinkolas Estes called “Theatre of the Imagination.” I highly recommend them. They are simply amazing. One of the stories Clarissa tells in the series is called “The Joyous Body.” It is about celebrating the spirit we carry and the responsibility we have to honor that spirit in ourselves, in our bodies. So….I will leave you with this segment of “For Beauty’s Sake” that I wrote inspired by the synchronicity of Bonnie’s and Clarissa’s stories.

{Bonnie was worried about her niece. Yes worried that her niece would experience the pain of adolescents in a body that would not be acceptable to her peers. And no doubt, they wouldn’t be kind. But also, that she might not be able to put together the words that would help her niece better understand.

You see, it’s sort of like a club you belong to. The “you can’t belong” club. You can’t belong because you aren’t the right shape, the right size. As lifetime members, we recognize each other on the street, walking without window shopping to avoid the reflection. In restaurants, ordering salads and hoping our lunch partner leaves some of their dessert on the plate when they go to the bathroom. We catch each other’s eye as we contemplate the dressing room at the department store or the freezer section of the grocery store.

I always thought it was our mutual fear and self contempt we recognized. But now after meeting Bonnie, I suspect that it’s something else. Something perfect. So perfect that we don’t see it at first because it doesn’t occur to us to look for it or even imagine its possibility.

We all carry within this body, this shell….Spirit. Some of us struggle to do our best to carry the pieces of a broken or damaged spirit. Some of us carry a goodly amount, enough to know its there. But some of us have been given permission to carry around Great Spirit. And for that…we need more room. It’s a tremendous responsibility. And one we are often mistakenly convinced we do not deserve. But once we become aware of the gift we have been asked to carry, we become instruments of a higher power and through our capacity to love, heal and forgive, we can craft the world from our best selves and encourage others to do the same.

Bonnie did not shy away from her tremendous spirit, even though most of the world wasn’t ready for it. She embraced it. And when her physical self lost its ability to contain her Great Spirit, she released it. And her Great Spirit now touches us all. And we are better for it, her niece and even those of us who didn’t know her very well. “For Beauty’s Sake, Deb Lemire}

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