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Feeling Fat

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Jennifer Ginsberg: I just got back from Barnes & Noble, where the best-seller table was piled high with diet books. It seems that the new trend in this genre is to coerce women into weight loss through degradation and insults.

The most popular book out there right now is entitled "Skinny Bitch." The ex-model author refers to her readers as "lazy asses" and "pussies" in an effort to motivate them to anorexic proportions. If you follow her diet tips, then you will be granted entry into her exclusive Skinny Bitch Club.

woman looking at the mirror

Just what we need -- more skinny bitches running around town thinking that because they possess the ability to starve themselves into skeletons, they are automatically entitled to power and prestige. I might just lose a few pounds barfing while I read this crap.

If Skinny Bitchdom doesn't appeal to you, why not try "The Master Cleanse Guide," which recommends that we torture our bodies into submission by subsisting on a vomitatious concoction of lemon juice and cayenne pepper for 2 weeks. If you haven't had enough punishment yet, check out Dr. Laura Schlessinger's new book, "Stop Whining, Start Living." Just what I need -- another book by Dr. Laura telling me what a piece of shit wife and mother I am, to further consecrate my self-hatred.

It is no wonder I am ridden with angst. Everywhere I turn, the media is screeching, "You are a lazy, whiny, flabby loser. You are not enough." If only I was more disciplined and more in control, I would be happy. If only I could master my body's natural instinct to eat, all would be great in my life.

I once had a therapist tell me, "Fat is not a feeling." For those of us that have been caught in this specific emotional booby trap, we know how dead wrong she was. To feel fat is to feel like a failure, to feel profoundly uncomfortable in one's skin. These feelings of guilt and shame are impervious to any of our true character traits and accomplishments. Our entire self-worth is reduced down to how we perceive our physical bodies look to the outside world.

These books brilliantly capitalize on our irrational feelings of fatness, which only cement the distorted belief that we are worthwhile only if we are able to conform to some impossible standard set by a bitchy, anorexic ex-model. With all the advances in feminism over the decades, how can this be our reality as women in the year 2009? And why in God's name is such a misogynistic book on the best-seller list?

"Feeling fat" is the ultimate act of self-hate. When we feel fat, we rage at our femininity and attempt to master nature. Every month we swell up as our bodies prepare for the most natural, life-affirming process: menstruation. During our period, our body bloats and cramps as our uterus practices for labor. Estrogen, the ultimate female hormone, provides a protective layer of fat over our abdomens. Trying to non-surgically get rid of this flesh is like trying to stop the ocean. When we become pregnant, our belly grows to incredible proportions as our body builds a baby. After giving birth, our breasts miraculously swell with milk in order to feed our infant.

Most women tend to "feel fat" before or during their periods. We curse our bodies for being female and doing what they are biologically programmed to do. What if we were able to accept and nurture our bodies during this time, rather than fight them? How about using our "feeling fat" days as a reminder that we are so much more than the size of our bodies? On the days that we feel like a failure because our bodies are not meeting up to some bullshit criterion, we have the opportunity to dig deeper by focusing on our true qualities. We can even try to accept ourselves, no matter what our physical size is, by shifting our focus off of our physicality and onto the essence of our beings.

And for what it's worth, I'd rather hang out with a happy and healthy woman over a skinny bitch any day of the week!

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jill (the other one) May 15, 2009, 6:42 PM

Thank you, Jennifer, for so eloquently putting into words what I have always felt about the dieting industry.

Georgia May 15, 2009, 6:56 PM

well written and easily relate too. At the same time I would rather be skinny and sexy. Besides I fit into my clothes better, look better naked, and get more attention from men when I am skinny. I hate wearing lingerie when I feel fat. So, I want to be happy AND skinny!

Sue May 17, 2009, 12:43 AM

Of course it’s possible to be both fit and happy. I choose to say “fit” instead of “skinny” as “skinny” tends to sound unfit/unhealthy. It worries me that woman like Georgia (above) are concerned about getting more attention from men. Gaining additional attention from men is the very least of my concern. It’s important to be fit and healthy for ourselves and to promote a healthy lifespan. Excellent article!

Heather May 17, 2009, 2:34 AM

Your post is a welcome reminder that we are more than our sizes and thinness does not equal virtue, happiness, or perfection. That said, the flip side of worshiping ultra-thinness is the denigration of being thin (“real” women have curves, etc.) Both are absurd attitudes. the reality is, “real” women come in all sizes and shapes, and while it is healthier to be thin, we all have unique issues and metabolic rates so we should lay off each other. Also, men are attracted to a variety of body types.

anna May 18, 2009, 10:20 PM

I have a problem with gaining weight and i find it a great uphill battle getting enough calories in a day ( like 3000 is necissary for me) especially with all the “diet” “NO FAT” crap out there i am borderline underweight and this this is annoying me to death take it from a skinny girl being boney is not hot. Most woman rock their curves and very well should- without being accused of being “lazy” or “impulse eaters” just like I would like not to be judged for my weight as well.

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