Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Christian Women's Lifestyle Books and the Moralization of Health
Religious teachings and their connection to health and wellness rhetoric have received limited scholarly attention. This study explores the portrayal of the relationship between health and religion in contemporary Christian women's lifestyle books. The study employs a qualitative content analysis of fifteen popular books published within the last five years, aiming to identify patterns in their descriptions of health, accessibility of advice, treatment of weight and beauty standards, and the presence of direct or indirect connections between health and sin. Self-help rhetoric and religious discourses often depoliticize women's concerns and reinforce patriarchal structures, and these books have proven to be no different. Five major themes emerged upon conducting this qualitative analysis: connections to Eve and original sin, the importance of individual responsibility, creation in God’s image, authenticity and relatability, and the fight between good and evil. While some of the authors made attempts to present women’s bodies in a more positive light, nearly all of them portrayed weight gain as a moral failure, while rejecting the idea that maintaining thinness is a vain or aesthetic decision. By bridging the gap in existing literature, this study aims to shed light on the often-overlooked interaction between Christian rhetoric and the portrayal of health and morality in contemporary women's lifestyle books. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the implications and challenges posed by today’s pervasive wellness culture, allowing for a more nuanced analysis of the connections between religion, women's experiences, and their beliefs about how their own bodies and the bodies of others should be maintained and presented.
gender studies, Christianity, self-help, health, weight, Sociology
McCleskey, G. (2023). Lead us not into temptation: Christian women's lifestyle books and the moralization of health (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.