In a society that worships thinness, it’s little wonder that so many women devote an enormous amount of time, energy, and expense in the pursuit of a slender body. This pursuit has come to function like a religion, with it’s own set of beliefs, myths, rituals, images, and moral codes that encourage followers to seek “salvation” through weight loss.

At the heart of this secular “Religion of Thinness” is the belief that in order to be happy, healthy, and beautiful, one must be noticeably slim. Idealized images of this ideal inspire devotees to define themselves through their physical appearance, while daily rituals like counting fat grams and burning calories give them a sense of control.

The Religion of Thinness has its own moral guidelines: “good” and “bad” foods, as well as guilt and the possibility of penance for those who transgress. Before and after advertisements invite us to be “born again” by transfiguring our flesh, while weight-loss programs tap into our desire... Read More


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Photography by Sarah Wagaman