Monday, November 03, 2008

Letting go of the Angry Fat Girl

I have been rereading Valerie Frankel's book Thin is the New Happy, and even though I complained about the lack of "how to" information the first time around, I realize that she did give us a lot of good information about the emotional process she went through to become a successful Non-Dieter. A lot of the work she did was letting go of the emotional baggage that she believed was related to her physical baggage. She had to forgive a lot of stuff, from her mother's constant haranguing (doesn't seem like she's quite over that one yet) to a thoughtless comment from her husband, to the kids in school who used to throw things at her and call her fat. Though the old hurt is still there, she has given up the anger and resentment -- well, most of it, anyway. I think she also has loosened her grip on the idea of herself as "fat," which didn't fit too well most of the time anyway.

I'm trying to do the same thing. I want to get over old hurts and resentments and stop thinking of myself as a fat person. Two summers ago, when I was still a graduate student, my very tiny co-worker said, "You always talk about yourself like you're a big person, but you're not. You're actually kind of small." At the time, I was exercising regularly and walking to work, and I had taken off a few pounds. But the real magic happened after that comment, when I started to internalize this new idea of myself as a kind-of-small person. I really have noticed that how I think of myself is really important. When I started at my last job, I was fairly thin but there were many really weight-focused people talking up the dangers of carbs in the organization. I was already worried about fitting in, and I became very self-conscious about my size, which didn't lead to positive, life-affirming behavior. I can trace a lot of my major gains to getting hung up on my size, trying to whip myself into shape, and then rebelling and gaining weight. This is the cycle that I'm trying very hard to break. I don't want my self-image to swing around wildly with every offhanded comment I get on how I look or what diet I should be trying. I want a positive self-image and the sense that my body is completely my business and my responsibility, no matter what anyone thinks.

Goodnight, dear blog readers. Hopefully tomorrow at this time, we'll have a pretty good idea that Obama has won the election!


  1. Ooooh I struggle with the same thing! Wouldn't life be wonderful if everyone had one of those people around to say "You ARE small!" Although my self imagine isn't entirely my issue, its a piece of my mess... thank you for the post!

  2. Hey! I saw on elastic waist you said Jillian Michaels has a podcast. Do you mind letting me know where it's at, I'd love to listen!


  3. That book sounds great. Letting go of the baggage was a HUGE part of my weight loss process, having a new relationship with myself, and giving up the need to feel bad about myself. Yes, it was a need, a self defeating thing I did over and over because I may not have believed I deserved to be happy. The emotional healing was the key. I know how to treat myself today, with kindness and understanding. Changing my thoughts, changed my actions and changing my actions changed me even more..

  4. The baggage is a lot harder to lose than the pounds, and those are hard enough. You're focusing on what matters most to you, and as always, gave me something important to think about.

  5. Interesting thoughts. Part of my image issues include wanting to be big in order to protect myself. It became obvious to me when I found I wanted to be taller than others and that expanded to just not wanting to be small because I could be taken advantage of by big people.

    It's important to me to learn to value happiness over thinness instead of trying to eat my way to happiness.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07