If you have ever been called fat, then most likely you have probably felt insulted or maybe even hurt. To most of us, being called fat implies that we are lazy, shy or unattractive. No one wants to be seen this way because it carries these types of negative connotations which results in lowering a person’s self-esteem. However, Samoans find this to be the contrary.
Anthropologist Jessica Hardin, the writer of “Rethinking Fat” explores the phenomenon behind this notion in Samoa (Samoa being one of the “world’s fattest nation”), while also studying the relationship between health/body image and perceptions from religious denominations such as Christian Evangelism. While studying religion and fat, she found an interesting discovery. She became aware that Samoan pastors judge each other based on how well their religious practices are taught.
She found that fat Evangelical Christian pastors are well-respected when their teachings and practices are good. They are seen to have more power, strength and wealth. Mana (sacred power) is the appropriate term that describes these characteristics. Although being fat is considered to be positive in most cases, criticisms are being made nonetheless. If a pastor’s practices are poor then he is fat and weak. But if they are good then he is considered to be fat and strong.
To most of us, this is out of the ordinary because we do not normally judge a person’s weight based on their beliefs, values or practices. In my opinion, it is an interesting topic that is definitely worthy of being discussed more about.