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National Eating Disorders Awareness Week: Day Five. “Fat” is NOT a feeling.

March 2, 2012

This post is a part of a week long series dedicated to the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, don’t hesitate to let me know!

Hi everyone! Apologies on this late post, but here’s the bright side: you get TWO awesome posts today! I’m currently in Portland interviewing for graduate school at Lewis and Clark, and I met some crazy rad people last night. After a few beers, I didn’t feel like I could give you all a good (and coherent post). So I’m sorry!

But, this morning I’d like to talk about feelings, and especially a particular feeling that I like to call “I’m focusing all of experiences and discomfort into one thing that I can (technically) control: FAT” Note: I was trying to come up with an acronym for FAT that would essentially embody the above, however acronyms are not really my strong point. So, enjoy that feeling.

Seriously though. How many women have you heard say “I feel so fat right now.”? Maybe it’s more common among those who have eating disorders or body image issues, but then again, isn’t that almost every woman? I won’t lie either. My poor boyfriend is often the one who has to hear me say these words at the end of the day when I come home from work. In fact, the other day he walked into a practical wall of word vomit of feelings: “I was so bored at work and I feel like I’m dying for eight hours, why don’t they give me more work? I hate driving that far I’m so tired and I feel fat. I didn’t workout and I feel fat.”

He  met me with: “Ummmm, what?”

At the end of our conversation he told me something that gave me a new angle on this “feeling fat” thing. He said “I don’t really know what to say to you when you wrap up everything into one big problem. You feel disappointed in work and then you “feel fat?” What do I say to that? You’re pretty, and at least you’re getting paid? I don’t really get it.”

You see, here’s what happens when you start saying “I feel fat.” You are putting all of the feelings that you think you can’t control into one thing that you possibly can control. Losing weight becomes the solution to all of your problems, because you have put all of your problems into the “fat” basket. Rather than sitting with my feelings of exhaustion, disappointment, and sadness (which are all intangible and complex), I decided to make everything simple: I just needed to lose weight and then I’ll be fine again.

If you look back at that last sentence, and really think about it, you can see how fucked up that is. I mean honestly, how is losing some weight going to automatically solve all of your problems? Sure, a lot of diet companies and commercials like to create the illusion of the perfect life after weight loss…but really? How does a loss of ten pounds from your body help you sift through complex feelings and problems? I’m just not sure how a physical change in your body automatically makes everything going on in your life simple and easy.

Here’s the point of this post: You can’t actually feel “fat.” You can be fat. You can physically feel full.  But feeling fat is actually a sign that something else is going on and that maybe you want to pay attention. Because I promise you that losing weight won’t fix anything.

What would you be thinking about if you weren’t thinking about food/weight/body image?

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