The new fat

Note: This post may trigger due to issues regarding food, weight and body image being discussed.

I’ve lost, what is being described as, a significant amount of weight in the past year.

Just typing that line seems so attention seeking. I immediately think that anyone reading those words will react with a sarcastic “oh, poor baby, you’ve lost weight, huh?” In my mind, I then think of the person finishing that thought with some reflection of their own weight struggle… “lucky bitch, I wish I could lose weight”, or “I wonder how much, and if I’ve lost enough”, etc.

Weight and body image is such a personal, yet public, issue. It’s part of the first impression we give about ourselves; and is one of the things that the beast called society, judges us on. In theory, campaigns such as healthy at every size, is helping to change that societal pressure… But, when you hear the criticism of such movements as being fat acceptance, it’s a little disheartening. Just using the term fat, makes it difficult to hear. Fat is such an emotive word, which is usually used in such an insulting way; that it makes it difficult to see it as being anything positive, or accepting.

It’s been my experience, that society is quick to call you things like big, large, fat, etc.; and just as quick to praise you for losing weight. Recently, I’ve been told that I “look good”, and am a “skinny tart”. But, I’ve also been told that I’m “wasting away”; that I “wasn’t recognisable” from the person I was a year ago; and am “committing a slow form of suicide”. It’s really difficult to hear any opinion on my body, so hearing any of these statements makes me run psychologically… The words were all said with the best intentions, but it seems like there’s something in my brain that can’t comprehend them. It was Allison who said my actions were a slow form of suicide – one of her attempts to try to make me look at the situation in a different way… but, all it did, was make me wonder what all of the fuss was about.

As with so many aspects of my life; my weight, and body image, are both totally disconnected, and an obsession. I swing between the two extremes, depending on what is happening around me… I rationalise away people’s concern about me, as them over-reacting; but then, in the next moment, will worry if I can ever stop the drive to lose weight. In both moments, my thoughts seem totally rational, and based in reality.

As I write this, my mind races… justifications for the weight loss, and for losing more, come through in a rush… I don’t meet the criteria for any of the eating disorders, so it’s not serious… people wouldn’t say I look good, if it wasn’t true… even the doctor said the weight loss was good – and she didn’t want to weigh me, so isn’t worried, so I don’t need to worry either… just another [x number] kilos, that’s all you need to lose… my BMI isn’t even low, so there. is. no. problem… you’re such a drama queen!

In typical form, I hear those last words in my mother’s voice. My mother was a nurse, and she would sometimes come home and talk about the “manipulative young girls” that had to come in for their weigh-ins. She talked of having to check their clothes for weights that they had added to try to cover their weight loss. She talked with such disdain… Part of me hates her for her lack of understanding, and other parts hope that I’ll never be seen with such disdain, but I know it’s already too late…

I can’t write any more, this is too difficult.

Btw… the title of this post comes from the thought, that every new number I see on the scales, is my new fat weight.
Now playing: Silverchair – Ana’s Song (Open Fire)
via FoxyTunes


16 thoughts on “The new fat

  1. “Weight and body image is such a personal, yet public, issue.”

    That’s a really great way of putting it; it’s made something click in my mind about why the whole issue bothers me so much. Thank you.

  2. Hi CG,
    I’m so sorry you struggle with this too and I understand it’s so difficult to write about this.
    I apologize for any comment who might trigger someone.
    Please listen to the words from Allison. It is a slow form of suicide, even if you cannot see it now as it is.
    It’s a dangerous path if you can’t stop losing weight and the title of your post speaks volumes.
    I was there before and first time ever my thera threatened us. She said, that she won’t watch us die and that she would discontinue therapy if we wouldn’t stop losing weight. That she will take care and if necessary send us into a hospital. That she couldn’t stand aside.
    It was a shock to hear this from her and I don’t want that you make the same experience. Can you work with Allison on this issue further? And it is a problem no matter what your BMI says. I think it would be good and important to look, when it has begun. Why you can not stop. Why you have such mind races when you think about food or the scale….what’s all behind this.
    But you know what? I think the worst is the disdain you have described in the last sentences. The faces of the people when they whisper behind your back. It’s so disgusting. These are such hypocrites. 😦
    Thinking of you,a lot. Please be safe.
    Take good care and warm safe hugs (((()))) if ok.

    • Hi LSC,

      I hope this doesn’t sound hypocritical; but, I’m really glad that your thera too the steps that she did. I’m glad you’re still here and working on your healing. I know that can sound selfish too… but, I’m glad you’re here, not the suffering that you experienced, and continue to experience as you heal.

      Allison wouldn’t take the steps of hospitalising me, and there is nowhere to hospitalise me. There are only a few eating disorder clinics in New Zealand, and they’re incredibly difficult to get into. I wouldn’t qualify for any of the local hospital based eating disorder out-patient programs, as my health is not considered to be compromised – my doctor said I looked good. There are people here who have much more difficulty than me with food, and don’t get treatment.

      Yes, my mother was incredibly disdainful of the patients who had eating disorders. I know that’s because the nurses tend to only see the worst of behaviours, but it still shows a lack of empathy and understanding.

      Thank you for dropping by and commenting, I’ve been worried about you…

      Please take care,

      • Hi CG,
        with hypocrites I meant this sort of people, who always talk behind your back. They never say directly what they really think. This is something I can not stand 😦
        You write what you think and that’s honest and that’s what I need (!), even if it should be difficult for me 🙂
        I’m glad you can talk to Allison about the problem. I hope she knows a little of the subject. Understanding is really important.
        Take care,

  3. CG,

    Thanks as always for sharing. When you do, you help others. People who read and respond, people who read and don’t respond. You have an impact, in real time, not in the framework of the past, but really in the here and now. That is pretty special.

    Obsessions, body dysmorphia, anorexia … these are so tough. A person’s health can go downhill slowly or quickly, and people around them can feel helpless, and even subsequently agitated. And the person themselves … they suffer. The thinking can seem ridiculously hard to counter.

    I’m so sorry for all of the social and familial messages. They impact all of us, and we exist in those messages … we cannot escape them. I guess that awareness is the important element. After all, it’s not what people think, believe or say, that determines if we are safe and healthy and happy. It’s not the things you are afraid they are saying, which determine our true worth. It’s not the struggle to figure out if BMI is significant or not, which sets the bar whether we are truly “healthy” or decides where we are at in this life. It’s not whether your mother is going to say something stupid or judgmental this time, or the next, which determines whether you finally find out whether people love you or not. Nor, my friend, should it simply confirm that conviction that they don’t.

    No, it’s our own awareness and our own decisions. It’s the feedback loop we find, if we allow ourselves to risk and engage in relationships that have potential to feed and nurture us. It’s how you feel. That’s what’s important.

    Isn’t it hard to know how you feel, sometimes? Sometimes I think we need more and more time, to accomplish something so big! 🙂

    Please take care.

    • Hi Michael,

      This is just a blog with my random rants… but, thanks 🙂

      I wish I had an intelligent response to your comment, but I’m lost for words. I probably should have asked if you were sitting down before saying that… I know, shock, horror… CG lost for words!

      I was going to say that anything about our physical appearance is subject to those societal messages; but, that’s not true… as it’s pretty much everything we say or do that is influenced by those messages. That can be a good thing (e.g. crime reduction, education, etc.), or a bad thing (e.g. body image, identity, etc.). Sometimes those messages get further warped, especially when there is some dysfunction within the familial setting. It can be a scary thing…

      I hear what you are saying, and I am trying to find that positive feedback loop…

      I usually find it difficult to know how I feel… and yes, I do think we need more time for the big things…

      Thank you for your thoughts and support 🙂

      Take care,

  4. CG, I gave my therapist the same argument that you gave here; all the reasons why I didn’t have an eating disorder. “I’m too fat to be anorexic” etc.

    Do you remember your concern for me when all that started? That’s the same concern Allison has for you. The same concern I have for you BUT, I won’t nag you ok? My thoughts are about what’s really at the core of this.

    When this happens to me it may be in part about wanting to lose weight but I think it’s a small part. It can be about self-punishment or about being able to control something, especially something that belongs to you. Does any of that ring true for you?

    I know it was hard for me to give a crap when it was happening so I understand not seeing why it’s a big deal. I don’t think the behavior would stop until the real cause is understood. Maybe instead of Allison talking about food, she could focus on the cause? Maybe you guys are already having that conversation?

    • Hi CI,

      I know that at the start it was about control, but it’s gone past that now. There are other motivations, which I told Allison about last night. I’m not sure if they are the only motivations, but she’s aware of them now…

      You talk about your weight loss struggle as if it is in the past… were you able to work your way through it?

      Please take care,

      • Oh goodness no! In fact I’ve been wrestling with it this week. I actually realized after I posted my comment that the issue sounded past tense for which I apologize. For me the issue can come and go by which I mean that I obsess over what I eat all the time and I count every calorie everyday and weigh myself everyday, but I don’t starve myself everyday, that part is a reaction to…well whatever.

        I’m glad you’ve told Allison what’s happening and I’m always here if you need support or anything else.

  5. hi castor~ i’m almost never on blogger anymore but i signed on tonight and i’m glad i came by to see how you’ve been doing. i was drawn in right away with the really angry reaction you seemed concerned your post would elicit from your readers. something felt really familiar about it. i think i have had a lot of experience afraid that sharing my feelings would bring up hateful feelings in others. but that moment at the beginning of your post seemed really important here in the overall post.

    i know i for one, did not find this post to be attention-seeking or in any way insensitive to the weight struggles of others. i don’t feel like poor you, or feel angry at you for you losing weight.

    i think all of us have our own issues related to our bodies and eating and control and appetite. it’s complex and each of us deserves compassion for our feelings and relationship to food and our own bodies. and that is all i have while reading your post. just compassion.

    i think you have every right and nothing to be ashamed of in discussing this. i hope you are ok and that you are and will be able to listen to your body and take care of yourself the way that is best for you.

    wishing you peace in your heart and wellness always~~

    • Hi katie,

      I’m sure I responded to your comment over a week ago… I’m so sorry, it seems to have disappeared, or never been sent, or something…

      The start of this post is really important for me. It captures my confusion and discomfort with everything to do with weight, and body image… as well as my inability to perceive my body as something that I alone control, or have influence over. I still my body as an object, separate from “me”…

      Yes, there was great fears about how people would read this post. I was worried that people would treat me with scorn for worrying about something that I have still to believe is a problem…

      You’re right, we all deserve that compassion and understanding. Thank you katie.

      I’m trying…

      Thank you for dropping by, it was good to see you again 🙂

      Take care,

  6. CG,

    I’m sorry for not commenting sooner. I’ve been extremely self absorbed the last few weeks!

    You’ve written another powerful post. I know there are people who think discussions about unwanted/unneeded weight loss or self injury or suicidal ideation assume its about attention. But anyone suffering KNOWS it’s not. It took courage to write this post.

    Issues with food and weight are so complex! You know I am morbidly obese and my physician recommended weight loss surgery (I’m not having surgery). One would assume I might sit back and judge thinner women mocking them for “complaining” about losing weight. But, anyone who understands the complexity of the issues knows compassion is warranted not criticism! Your struggles are real and painful!

    I used to weigh a closer to normal weight, but I was convinced I look the way I look now. I used to starve myself. For a short time, I purged. So, I recognize that just because a person might look good or look well doesn’t mean it is so. You deserve to share your pain and trials without feeling persecution.

    I completely understand the concept of slow suicide. When my doctor suggested weight loss surgery he said it could literally add decades to my life. I’m sure my face contorted with a look of disdain. Why would I want to add decades to my life?! Moron!

    For years now I’ve lived life as the fattest person in the room. It’s actually a comfort. I don’t have to wonder if people do or do not find my appearance acceptable. I know they don’t. I don’t waste time pining away for a relationship. Unless he has a fat fetish, no one will find me attractive! As “troubled” as I am, I would need to be wrapped in a really nice package to come close to being worth the trouble! I don’t have to bother buying nice clothes or getting my hair done; nothing can make me attractive. I don’t have to wonder if someone will hold the door for me or ask if they can help with something, no one will. The fatter you are the more invisible you become! I know what to expect from people and I like that.

    So, when my doctor suggested weight loss surgery during an annual physical, he seemed annoyed when I said I would need to discuss it with my therapist. My doctor was ready and willing to make a referral right then. He said it was my decision and didn’t understand what my therapist had to do with anything. What obese person wouldn’t want to lose 100 or more pounds? Wear cute clothes, be attractive, date, get married, have children, be healthy, live longer? I don’t. Because I know that won’t make me happy. I’ll still be me.

    So, I bundle myself up in my fat and live inside myself. I stopped trying to lose weight a decade ago. I’ve reached a weight at which I try to maintain -ONLY so I can continue to function physically! I put a sign on the front door to my soul saying: Closed.

    Fat or thin, it doesn’t seem issues with weight (losing or gaining) are understood well by doctors, nurses… anyone.

    Just weighing in with my 2 cents for what it’s worth.

    Take care CG. You are an amazing woman.


    • Hi rl,

      It’s perfectly ok… I’m so far behind with the blogosphere myself :-/

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, I really appreciate it. But, I’m really sorry for the pain that you describe.

      At times, I’ve used weight as an invisibility cloak… A physical reminder of the “Go away” signs that I have in flashing neon above my head…

      The advantage of online communication, is that you don’t see the physical person, so that isn’t part of the equation. In some ways, that makes it easier to “see” the person; but, it can also be a hinderance… But what I see in you is your humour, intelligence, and strength… I don’t see things like “morbidly obese”, or anything like that. I know that can be scary, to have someone look past the physical hang-ups, and see more than those labels…

      Please take care,

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