25 July 2010

Day 120: Brave Girl Eating

Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown.  ISBN: 9780061725470 (advanced reader copy, publishes in September 2010).

"You don't deserve to eat.  You're weak, unworthy.  You are disgusting.  You don't deserve to live."  Page 2.

This is something that goes through the minds of anorexics.  What you might not know is that they are not unknown to fat people, at the very least not to this fat person.  Of course the reaction is often very different.  Oh sure, I try to eat small portions and eat healthy.  I try to avoid fast food and even restaurants.  I work out, sometimes obsessively.  But then I get to the point where I feel so bad about myself, I never lose the weight, and so something in my brain tells me, "You're disgusting and you'll always be disgusting.  Even if you lose the weight, you will still be gross, you might as well eat.  You should eat until you can't eat anymore, because at least if you're fat they'll hate you for that and not because you're who you are."

I don't even really want to be thin.  At my smallest I was 170 and a size 14.  That was acceptable to me.  I've always been pretty muscular, so even when I was that thin I was always hungry, probably because I wasn't getting enough protein to maintain my muscle mass.  I really just want to be a size where I can feel like other people don't think I'm as disgusting as I feel I am.

It's really not a matter of willpower.  I can tell you right now, willpower will not help in this situation.  Thin/normal people don't seem to get that.  Overeating in most cases is a compulsion.  Once I start eating, I have a very hard time stopping until I am full.  I eat slowly and this helps, but unfortunately I still have to eat to survive.  If I could give up food altogether, as much as I love the act and process of eating and the socialization usually associated with it, I would give it up to be healthy.  But it's not like alcohol where I could give it up and never touch a drop again if I had to.  Biologically I am required to eat food and consume calories, so I'm stuck in this cycle and there's this almost endless feeling of guilt associated with eating.  As a fat person, I feel like I'm not allowed to eat at all, because every bite I put into my mouth is judged by someone else.

These are the feelings I have on my worst days.  Generally, I'm a pretty happy person and I do actually like myself.  It took me a while to get there, but I am happy.  These thoughts only pop up when I'm at my worst, when I'm actively trying to lose weight (which is the main reason why dieting is so unpleasant).  Somehow I think if the self-loathing thoughts didn't occur so often during dieting I would be able to lose and keep the weight off easier.  Anyway, I'm disabling comments on this one, because trust me, I've heard it all before.
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