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nausicaa

Gwen Shamblin: Skinny for Jesus

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nausicaa

So today I learned of Gwen Shamblin, a woman who runs a church (some say cult) in Tennessee called Remnant Fellowship Church. She became famous for creating the The Weigh Down Workshop, which includes apparently savoring the minutiae of a tortilla chip for ten minutes so you only eat one or two.  A major tenet of her ministry is that being overweight equals sinning, and hating and defying God/ Gwen. Not surprisingly, she also doesn't agree with taking any medications.

She has caused controversy among evangelicals by denying the trinity. In 2005 the church was in the headlines when two members beat their son to death, allegedly as part of church sanctioned discipline.

The church is very prosperity gospel focused and hosts tons of formal events that Shamblin appears at with her son and daughter in blue satin sashes proclaiming their holiness. It's said her husband is actually a bit heavy. He, of course, does not appear in public. 

I'm fascinated. Tell me all you know, FJers.

But pictures are worth a thousand words:

7DCBE506-D444-47C8-B1DC-B86498578D25.jpeg.7243710cc80cf100f13c9df689bf56db.jpeg

 

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Gwen-Shamblin-Michael-Shamblin-Elizabeth-Shamblin-Hannah.jpg

 

 

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Gwen-Shamblin-with-her-Children.jpg

 

 

Spoiler

Remnant-Fellowship-Brandon-and-Elizabeth-Hannah-03.jpg

 

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JMarie

Holy Aqua Net!  I would have been so jealous of her in high school.  I never could get that kind of volume, even with a perm.  But high school was thirty years ago for me, and I've moved on to tamer hair.

Also, I get a V. C. Andrews vibe from the pics, especially the first one.  The daughter (?), the petite one with the slicked back hair, is kinda how I imagine Carrie would look like (Carrie, the twin from Flowers in the Attic who later commits suicide in one of the sequels).

Edited by JMarie
grammer
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Georgiana

Someone asked in the Lori thread how Gwen's daughter could look so old in some photos and young in others.  The answer is likely fat. 

Fat plumps up our skin, especially in delicate areas.  As we age, we lose some of that plumpness.  When Gwen's daughter looks younger, it is right after a pregnancy.  If you look closely, you'll see that she is ever so slightly rounder than normal.  It's not enough to make a difference in her size, but it's enough to plump up her fat stores in her skin and directly beneath, which makes her look younger, more vibrant.  Or rather, her age.   Loss of skin plumpness is a known effect of aggressive weight loss, as are many other dermal problems that make the skin look worn, which are then compounded by the skin/body not getting adequate nutrients.  And since we interpret the loss of that skin-fat/fullness as aging, it makes Gwen's daughter (and others, like the Olsen twins) look far older than they are.  And her dress, make up, and austere hairstyle also add to the aging effect.  As likely does the lighting.  

How does GWEN pull it off?  Well, she compensates by spackling so much foundation on her face, you can't see the skin beneath.  For the record (and yes, I did try to pull from areas that were in similar light):

5a1ca1c4beb62_2017-11-2715_34_39-Greenshotimageeditor.png.e4ad6ae084f150dcfc08c3fb337d3df0.png5a1ca3199ce26_2017-11-2715_41_45-Greenshotimageeditor.png.072a864e99fe12d616531c839ec74142.png5a1ca32633f69_2017-11-2715_40_57-Greenshotimageeditor.png.8dbc4fb49a3d0c3cf02bd26c4368c667.png5a1ca1fc3f013_2017-11-2715_35_23-Greenshotimageeditor.png.631b37b99e94be9d4cd00586450a90fc.png

I think some areas of her face are a better match to the building behind her than to her body, honestly.  

Edit: Lest you think that's just a bad shot/lighting/flashback, here's one with generous lighting:

Spoiler

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Edit 2: In contrast:

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5a1ca6100bc5d_2017-11-2715_54_18-Greenshotimageeditor.png.c5f6412db8274d3e99e8f27d5980c2f4.png5a1ca6106898c_2017-11-2715_54_38-Greenshotimageeditor.png.52d43f00e99f74aa418ff469d32cfe57.png5a1ca610c7c81_2017-11-2715_54_53-Greenshotimageeditor.png.1d0c0587add6e161734588e497ed4b6b.png

 

Edited by Georgiana
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luv2laugh

For some reason, she wears a lot of black, maybe to emphasize her thin figure? She extenuates the look by wearing dark lipstick and dark eye make up. In Lori's thread, I included these pictures since I'm wondering if the Insidious Horror Movie based Bride in Black's look off of Gwen's make up... Her daughter is also rail thin and has four children. I've included images in the spoiler below.

It's said that everyone in Gwen's church, Remnant Fellowship, was usually recruited from her Weigh Down Ministry Program. She's taken many of her church members that have lost HUNDREDS of pounds onto the Today show, Tyra Banks, etc. Members of her church appear to speak of Gwen in a way that resembles how North Korean citizens speak of Kim Jong Un.

Her daughter has helped grow a strong youth presence at the church. There is an emphasis of marrying people off together in the church. Here's a video of her presenting 10 engaged church couples.

Here is the Remnant Fellowship's youtube channel. Shades of Unification Church moonie mass weddings, anyone?   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieoKQc4zQE0

Gwen encourages all of her followers and Weigh Down program members to move to Tennessee to attend her church. She marries off the young church members in her many acres at her historic mansion home.  The church members speak similar terms, group-speak, such as "laying down" sins.

This is from Laura's testimony of being part of the church on Spiritwatch:

"You called the office and talked with Jenny and said something about being pregnant and that you did not want to report your weight to Leadership...Let me tell you Laura that I was shock when I saw you in Houston, that you had not lost any more weight that you have since this past summer.  Your body just can't go on in this state.... I need to have Charlie Crossland call and counsel you cause he lost 330 lbs in 18 months....There is no reason why you have not lost your weight.... Your weight should be coming off at nearly 10 lbs per week.  Laura, I'm scared for you.  Now remember Laura I could not be saying this to you if I didn't love you so much. Mark, you ought to be getting after her every time she is disobedient.  Do not to let this over-indulging with food continue.  Mark I want you to put Laura on the scales every week and call me with her weight loss.  Laura I want you to get up in front of that Houston Remnant and confess your sin of greed of food to them and tell them that you are going to step down in leadership and show them who your God really is.  Laura, get the weight off.  I also want you to find someone in your WDA group to take over your class and you step down as a coordinator.  Laura, I should have put a stop to you 5 years ago and I didn't.  You should have never had this weight on your body this long...but I love you and I want to help you.  Please understand Laura that I could only say these things to you because I love you.  I want the best for you." 
gwen shamblin.JPG

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5a1b9c0ba9110_brideinblack.jpg.77b3f2755cbadada49dc108ed4e86b07.jpgshamblin3.thumb.jpg.e2382a7d5ba7744fd7801a67043b21cd.jpg5a1ba06a3ac22_insidious2.jpg.c2015c1b6a90d8f108bfdaffc87882fd.jpgshamblin.jpg.78735b80d2f74247d6a049d6b5736438.jpgshamblin2.jpg.52d1711ad6d0b6a5bc32d57ec9670134.jpg

 

 

 

 

Edited by luv2laugh
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picklepizzas

:pink-shock:....what? the blond woman in black is her daughter?....i thought it might have been her mother or sister?  she looks way too old to be a daughter, unless gwen is much much older than i thought she was...if that is a young woman then she looks very, very unwell. 

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JermajestyDuggar

Omg these people look like they came from a Tim Burton movie! 

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mango_fandango

DYING at the mad witch comparison.

This woman seems completely bonkers. Dare I go off and Google??

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Briefly

There are all sorts of things I could say, but my brain is kind of exploding because I can't figure out what to say first!  That lady is really screwed up.  And also probably has an eating disorder, and seems to be encouraging others to also develop one!  She looks awful, and if I read correctly then that other woman is her daughter?  The one who looks much older and also starved?  Good Gravy, as my mom used to say!

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MsSaylor

This is a dark and scary rabbit hole I fear! I cant imagine what they do to the poor kids in this cult. So sad. Both women look horrible. I gaurantee you the old hag is wearing a wig. No way her malnourished body can support that much hair. The daughter probably slicks hers back because its thinning. Whats with the blue sashes? 

Honestly I was trying to diet today and ended up at dairy queen with my kids this afternoon and eating large amounts of tacos for dinner. Im now feeling wonderful and proud of myself instead of the (slight) guilt I was feeling a couple minutes ago. 

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Anonymousguest

I remember that book and diet! I may have read the book back in the 90s. I know many people in church were doing the diet. Then word of her heretical theology got out and they dropped her. I haven't thought of her since, I didn't realize she had her own church. 

I'd say from the hair she is definitely as close to Jesus as you can get, lol! I'm sure it's a hair piece covering up the hairloss from malnourishment. The granddaughters look like they are wearing clothes from that crazy shop that is mentioned on here occasionally, with the models with teased hair wearing the that are listed for hundreds of dollars. I can't think of the name and in not going to Google! 

Why doesn't the daughter have a sash like the others? 

That letter is something else. I wonder how the woman responded? I assume she stepped back in line rather than recognizing the spiritual and emotional abuse.

Edited by Anonymousguest

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PennySycamore

@Briefly, Gwen looks like she needs to eat some good gravy.  And mashed potatoes, with white and sweet. Stuffing. Rolls with butter.  

It was either Zsa Zsa or Eva Gabor who said "If you don't thicken, you'll wizen."  Heavier women often have beautiful faces and this is more apparent when we get a little age on us.

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jerkit

I try not to make a habit of snarking on appearances but my god. I’ve never seen a woman look like that.

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luv2laugh

Her daughter talks about her five pregnancies and weight loss here in this video.

 

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Fun Undies

When it comes to the fat in the face vs early aging debate, my German mother has joked in the past, "Well you've never seen wrinkled butter, have you?" :pb_lol:

In all seriousness, I also usually make it a general rule not to comment on physical appearances, because frankly it's more complex than just what you had for dinner.  And we never know what kind of health battles people are battling in private (whether it's mental, physical, or both - with weight gain being a common side effect of medications).  There's also genetics, biology, level of self care, hormones, etc.   And of course, irregardless of weight, everyone deserves to be treated with kindness, and compassion.  

Having said that, this woman is deplorable for what she told Laura - and if that's what she says to people in the program, who I assume pay her for the "privilege of her counsel", just think what is said behind closed doors.  Yikes.  I hope she is at least taking supplements, to help prevent health problems (including, but not limited to malnourishement).  And I hope her daughter is doing the same.

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BabyBottlePop

It's ironic that her church is called Remnent since she seems to be wasting away. 

I'm surprised her daughter has been able to carry pregnancies! 

We don't know their lives but it seems like unhealthy living to me.

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quiversR4hunting

I read this very very long article about a person's experience. She said near the end that the weigh down is now being taught to 8 to 17 year olds. Size 2 is normal for all the teens. 

Gwen is a dietitian. My brother dated a dietitian once. She said most fall into 2 main categories: anorexia/bulimia or over eaters. His girlfriend said it's like they know too much about nutrition that they want to control everything about food.

Here is the big article I mentioned above. http://www.spiritwatch.org/RFtest1.htm

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Jellybean

From personal experience, it's extremely hard to make up for such a restricted diet with artificial supplements. Even a low fat diet (using uk figures) would include about 70 g of fat (approx. 2.3 oz) per day. 

Most diets will suggest a 'healthy' weight loss of 0.5-1 kg (1-2 lb) per week. The 10 lb mentioned in Laura's letter is a huge amount to expect to lose every week. It is possible, especially for those who are very heavy, but in order to lose that amount consistently one would have to be restricting to starvation levels. 

A fascinating study was performed in the US towards the end of WW2 to assess the effects of calorie restriction/starvation. Food in many European countries was scarce/rationed and the war had been dragging on for about 5 years. The study was known as the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_Starvation_Experiment) and revealed many new insights. 

How on earth can it be seen as godly to take such poor care of the only body one has?

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nausicaa
1 hour ago, luv2laugh said:

Her daughter talks about her five pregnancies and weight loss here in this video.

 

Her daughter is so, so thin, and I notice now only wears very baggy and very modest clothes (and their church doesn't seem big on modesty) all the time. It's worrying. 

I normally avoid speculating on eating disorders, but since the whole church is built around taking ten freaking bites of food a day, I feel like this isn't out of line.

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luv2laugh

I am just disturbed to see them glorifying such immense weight loss when you already have such a thin body. I have always been as thin as a bean pole as it's just been my genetics. I was always teased in high school about being anorexic even though I wasn't and it would hurt so much. However, I would NEVER talk about how I was happy to be thin, I was very embarrassed that I had such a hard time putting on weight being so rail thin. That's why I'm so shocked and honestly quite disturbed to see such thin people cheer-leading each other on about losing 30+ pounds...

Gwen Shamblin justifies her points by always mentioning how her father was a general surgeon and that she is a registered dietician with a masters and taught chemistry classes.  She's a lot like Lori but far more dangerous in my opinion.

I am really worried for the children growing up in this church because this theology is so physically dangerous and psychologically damaging. I would be SO extremely messed up if I grew up in it.

This piece is interesting: 

"Gwen went on to say that there were survivors of the Holocaust who got out of there alive not having had barely any food at all," says former employee Tonya Cardente.

Cardente says Shamblin frequently pointed to the Nazi genocide of the Jews and saw justification for her diet plan. "Clearly you can survive on a whole lot less than you think, look at the Holocaust victims."

"This is not true that I've used the Holocaust over and over again," Shamblin responds. "It's somebody who told you that. I have not."

But on CNN's Larry King Live, this is what the Weigh Down founder said:

"How in the Holocaust did you have all these people getting down real skinny? They ate less food."

Her ministry sounds like it's pure anorexia.

Edited by luv2laugh
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nausicaa
2 minutes ago, luv2laugh said:

That's why I'm so shocked and honestly quite disturbed to see such thin people cheer-leading each other on about losing 30+ pounds...

It's really disturbing. Go through their church's wedding Facebook page. It's...interesting.

And have you noticed that EVERY video is just blatant worship of Gwen (not Jesus, not the church, just Gwen)? This woman is insane. I can't believe people don't see right through this. 

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PennySycamore

There is something seriously fucked up by thinking that the extreme skinniness of Holocaust survivors and victims was somehow desirable.

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JMarie
40 minutes ago, nausicaa said:

Her daughter is so, so thin, and I notice now only wears very baggy and very modest clothes (and their church doesn't seem big on modesty) all the time. It's worrying. 

I normally avoid speculating on eating disorders, but since the whole church is built around taking ten freaking bites of food a day, I feel like this isn't out of line.

After looking at her pictures here, and on her website, I imagined her voice being raspy, and she'd reek of menthol cigarettes.  She's overly thin, with overly processed hair.  She just seems the type.

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JermajestyDuggar
46 minutes ago, nausicaa said:

I can't believe people don't see right through this. 

As someone who has struggled with weight, I totally get the appeal. Unfortunately I completely understand the draw. 

And those sashes make her look like a European monarch wannabe. 

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Demonfan

Using genocidal starvation as a model for dieting? How  is this not the biggest WTF moments from her following? Who would say this?! Who would believe it?! So disturbing.

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JermajestyDuggar

And I will further add, I'm surprised there aren't more ministries out there similar to this one.

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