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Amelia Bentrup reviews Catholic Mom contributor Shannon Whitmore's new book for women struggling with body image issues.

See Yourself as God Does: Understanding Holy Body Image Through Catholic Scripture by Shannon Whitmore (Ascension Press, 2023), is a book that many Catholic women will find interesting. The author extensively talks about her own struggles with eating disorders and body image and discusses how she has been able to find peace and healing through her motherhood. As someone who has had similar struggles myself, I was very interested in reading this book.    




The book is divided into three parts. The first part talks about how we are created in God’s image and how our bodies are good and reflect the Divine. This is a message that many women need to hear. The second part discusses our broken nature and how our bodies reveal the brokenness of the world and how sin affects our bodies and our relationships. The third part discusses the redemption of man and how Jesus redeemed us and how our bodies are redeemed, especially through the gift of motherhood. Throughout the book, Scripture passages illustrate the points the author wants to make.   

Dealing with scars and shame are common themes that run throughout this book. We all have both physical and mental scars and many women experience shame around their bodies and around their food consumption, so the Scriptures and theological insights she shares can help women achieve a more holy body image. She also talks extensively about how a woman’s body changes during pregnancy and childbirth and about the struggles that many women have dealing with those bodily changes. This is very relatable for many mothers.  

Each chapter ends with questions for reflection and exercises to help the reader see herself as God does. The questions for reflection are interesting and could make this a good book to read in a book club or group study. The exercises in seeing yourself as God does could be especially helpful for women who enjoy meditative journaling and quiet reflection.  

I wish the book had more practical advice to achieve healing around issues of eating disorders and body dysmorphia. Nowhere in the book does the author mention anything about seeking professional help for eating disorders or body dysmorphia or practical steps one can take to overcome these issues. I believe this would be an important part of any book that talks so extensively about eating disorders and body image. While the author talks about her struggles, she is a bit vague on her healing process, so there isn’t a lot of practical advice for people struggling with these issues.  

Overall, I can recommend this book with reservation. I do think many women, and especially Catholic mothers, will find this book helpful and healing. I loved all the Scripture passages and Ms. Whitmore’s overall message is wonderful and opportune. Like all books, some readers will enjoy her writing and be able to connect with her writing style, and others will not. For anyone who struggles with body image, especially those struggling after motherhood and childbirth, I do think this book may be one worth reading.   

Ask for See Yourself as God Does: Understanding Holy Body Image Through Catholic Scripture at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Ascension Press.




Copyright 2023 Amelia Bentrup
Images: Canva
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