The Fat Skeleton in the ClosetOctober 29, 2008 at 4:18 am | Posted in Anorexia, Binge Eating, Body, Body Image, Bulimia, Compulsive Eating, Compulsive Exercising, Counselor, Eating Disorders, EDNOS, Extended Plus Size, Fat, Fat Acceptance, Fat Hatred, Food, Health, Kristin Bell, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Obsessions, Psychiatry, Scales, Secrecy, Surviving, Therapist, Thin, Weight, Weightloss, Weightloss Industry | 2 Comments
I don’t talk that much about my eating disordered self. My eating disordered self is like the proverbial (fat) skeleton in the closet! Okay, I know skeletons aren’t fat, but mine is! haha. People tend to think one of two things when you are fat. They either think that you don’t have an eating disorder and that you are just lazy, gluttonous, disgusting, and everything else along those lines…OR if they don’t think that, they think you DO have an eating disorder and the eating disorder is OBESITY period. So, basically the two camps think the same thing: you are fat and it is your fault you are fat and you are eating too much and exercising too little. They both tend to think that if you simply modify your “lifestyle” of fatness then you can lose the weight and become a normal (read worthy) human being. Sometimes the people who see you as having an obesity eating disorder will acknowledge that you should get some therapy or see a nutritionist, but they still believe deep down in their heart of hearts (even if they are fat people themselves) that being fat is a blame game.
So, it is just easier not to talk about eating disorder crap.
One thing I should say is that I don’t think every fat person has an eating disorder, just like not every skinny person has anorexia. I also don’t think that every eating disordered person is eating disordered because of some past trauma, abuse or that it is a completely emotional issue. For some yes, for others no. But I do sort of cringe when people say “oh, the eating disorder has nothing at all to do with eating, food or body issues…it is simply about control and emotions.” There is a reason why it is called an “eating” disorder…it does have SOMETHING to do with food and eating and body issues.
Anyway, back to my point (if there is one). It is difficult to talk about eating disorders at all, but when you are fat (like truly fat, not just an anorexic person saying they are fat) it becomes this other weird thing. I thought about going to a group for eating disordered people once. In fact, I was signed up, but I just never went. I was like “oh great, I’ll be that fattest girl in the room and THE nightmare for every anorexic, bulimic and binge eater in there!” I’d be like their big warning sign: DON’T EVER EAT GIRLS OR YOU WILL END UP LIKE ME!!!
Well, I didn’t want to put myself through that, so I didn’t go. I also had a counselor once who completely did not get the eating disorder thing. She tried to force me to join Weight Watchers by saying that if I didn’t do that and a certain number of other things, then she couldn’t be my therapist anymore. Well, it hurt, but now I am glad to be rid of her!
The thing that people don’t get is that you can have an actual eating disorder when you are fat. You can be bulimic. You can starve yourself for days if you like, but no one will notice. You can do everything a “normal size” bulimic person does—the excessive exercising, purging, laxative abuse, restricting, bingeing, etc.—but no one will know. It is way easier to hide when you are fat, because people will just think that is all that you are! Now, I think the official diagnostic criteria for anorexia includes being under a specific weight, so you can’t be anorexic if you are fat. I guess you’d just be an anorexic in training until you lost enough weight. But seriously, you might just die before you reach the diagnostic criteria for anorexia!
So, most people would be surprised how much a person as fat as me knows about nutrition, exercise, calorie counting, weight loss/gain, fats, dieting, purgeing methods and tricks, hiding, avoiding food, and other general eating disorder information. In fact, most people, when I have tried telling them about such things usually shut me down or treat me as if I don’t know what I am talking about simply because I am fat! Okay, whatever. I don’t really care if people listen to me, because they will eventually figure things out for themselves. I just thought I’d try to save them a lot of heartache if I could.
Because that is what eating disorders are—heartache. There is just no escaping the pain that eating disorders cause if you have one. I always think it odd that there are actually people out there in the world who DON’T have eating disorders or who are oblivious to signs of eating disorders. It really baffles my mind. You mean not every 13-year-old cowered in shame in the girls’ locker room after PE class when it was time to change clothes and god-forbid someone might see her flabby parts!?! You mean to tell me that there are people out there in the world who have NEVER starved themselves? WOW! You mean there are people who have never gone ONE day without eating?!?
I could go on, but I guess I just wanted to bring my fat skeleton further out of the closet and say: okay you can be fat AND have an eating disorder.