Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.


Afraid to be thin?

This concept was brought to my attention today by this post at Shapely Prose, which links to a Huffington Post blog by Irene Rubaum-Keller, a woman who purports to be a licensed psychotherapist (on top of being an actress and singer!) (anybody surprised she lives in L.A.?). She is allegedly an "obesity expert" on staff with UCLA and called upon for her expertise on various television shows.

The premise of this woman's post is a string of theories I have heard regularly over the course of my life, to whit:
  • that women get fat as a defense mechanism in response to abuse, often of a sexual nature
  • that women who are fat are unattractive, and so their fat keeps men at bay
  • that women who are fat can't lose weight because they subconsciously fear their ability to hold strong boundaries without fat as a buffer
  • that the friends and families of fat women undermine weight loss attempts so they continue to look good in comparison
  • that underlying emotional issues causing overeating must be addressed in order to maintain weight loss
It all seems logical enough, doesn't it? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Especially as someone who grew up with sexual abuse as a monkey on my back, I have heard lots of these sorts of things. And, you know what? It's entirely possible that my getting fat as a child is, in fact, related to the fact that I was a three-year-old rape victim. It's entirely possible that my parents' divorce and the attendant stress, that my mother's schizophrenia diagnosis, that my own self-destructive teenage rebellion and the fact that I'm a picky eater....are part of what made me a fat kid. I always preferred reading to sports, writing to running, acting and music to working out.

For me, though, the baggage of my history of abuse was less apparent in my physical body and the ramifications of being a fat girl, and much more in how I built my relationships....or, rather, didn't. I didn't need a fat ass to hold men at bay...I had a sharp tongue and intimidating body language and dressing like a guy to pull that off (thank goodness I came of age during the grunge era!). In fact, while I was always pretty comfy in my fat body...it was my *female* body that gave me all kinds of problems. I did not like being a woman, and went to great lengths to hide that femininity. I'm sure that my discomfort pales in comparison to the feelings of wrongness experienced by trans folks, but I definitely had a more fluid relationship with gender than most kids growing up in farm country along with me.

Yikes. Got sidetracked for a minute. Back to the crazy at hand!

My point is that, I guess, it's possible my being a fat kid is tied to some baggage. But I have spent years working through my issues and am now pretty damn comfy with my past traumas...and yet I'm still fat. I've made my peace with my childhood, and for the most part don't make decisions based on old wounds....yet I'm still fat. If my underlying emotional issues made me fat....wouldn't working through them make me lose weight? 'Cause it hasn't happened yet.

Meanwhile, the premise that fat keeps dudes at bay is just ludicrous. In high school, when I was dressed head to toe in men's clothes (Harley tees, baggy flannel shirts, Levis and hiking boots)....dudes flirted with me. I shot them down, but it happened. As I started shifting some of my attitudes about girl clothes and stuff...I never lacked for male attention. I can remember shopping with a much thinner friend at a small town mall...and when some dude stopped us to bum a cigarette, it was me and not my friend who got the "You are so beautiful" line. Nowadays, it's a rare week that goes by without netting me some kind of male attention. (I don't attribute this to my stunning beauty...but to my general happiness with who I am, and the low standards of most dudes.)

So, yeah...I'm plenty cute, and it's my standards that keep men at bay, not my fat. And the only things I'm afraid of are sharks, small spaces, and horror movies.

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