Whats Up With That? - Katy Byrne


Weighing in

Why are there ‘fat people’ jokes and stereotypes? People shouldn’t be criticized for being heavy. Whatever happened to the voluptuous woman? Why is it in fashion to judge rotund people? Doughnuts exist for a reason. Ever heard of comfort food?

I’m upset about it. I’m a woman and the impossible ideals we are measured against has worn me, not thin, but out. I’m tired of “fitting into” the next fad. I’m fed up with prejudice of all kinds. I work on my health. I study nutrition but I’m sick to my stomach from following the media’s next way to shape us up.

I hate to see a man wear a big smile when a large woman sits down to eat. Why can’t he worry about his own stomach protruding? We have to stop pointing fingers. Isn’t everyone craving something? Hunger lives all over the planet and inside each of us. When do we stop attacking and start having respect for differences?

I remember my mother never feeling adequate, wondering if her bosom was too big or too small. The pressure to be attractive has always been strong. Both men and women struggle with some kind of comparisons. This really weakens us all.

Let’s face it, it’s all about looking good. Fashion keeps changing and manufacturers need new styles to make profits. The rich get skinny, buy organic and go to the expensive clubs. It’s not that I resent wealthy folks; I’d like to be one of them!

And, I do care about health and nutrition. I’m appalled that tomatoes are covered with plastic coating and animals suffer cruelty while dying. Then we eat them and get gout. (Ever wonder about all that insulin and anxiety when they suffer? Ya’ think that’s good for the food?)

I’m mad about the GMOs and all the other crap we’re fed. I hope our kids learn to make conscious choices in eating but not beat themselves to a tiny, thin pulp trying to fit in.

People who’ve never struggled with compulsive eating may not understand. I can, I lived it. I remember getting up at 3 a.m. on a cold winter night and driving to the store for more chips and peanut butter cups, devouring it all in agony and self-loathing. I still remember pursed lips and weighty looks from people.

Craving anything compulsively can come from a society that does not care enough, and a lack of love. My eating problem was painful but learning to like myself was a larger challenge. When I was compassionate towards myself, that’s how I started choosing healthy foods. I started speaking up and allowing my emotions out, not stuffing them back in.

I’m not a compulsive eater anymore, nor do I aspire to be weak or skeletal. But for me the heavy part of this writing is personal and political.

Could this be a bigger systemic problem than we know? Here in the richest country on earth, 50 million of us, one in six Americans, go hungry. Perhaps distribution of wealth is the bigger issue. We’re starved for good jobs, safety, affordable housing, health care and homes, kindness to kids and animals.

Shouldn’t we be more concerned about huge issues facing us like jobs bottoming out or starving children or the banks gobbling up our homes? Are many people being held down, in all kinds of ways, by prejudice? I can’t stomach it.

Why not focus on getting food to poor people instead of dieting? What if we volunteered to work with abandoned animals, walking them instead of treading a bicycle in one spot at the gym? What about making sure hungry kids get fed? Now that would be a balancing of the scales.

I’m getting my hairball out on the table here. The world is rumbling like a grumbly tummy for more safety and peace. How about having less prejudice and more diversity? When will we stop comparing and start caring? Let’s get at the real weight of the problem?

Katy Byrne, MFT, a licensed psychotherapist in Sonoma, is the author of “The Courage to Speak Up, Getting Your Hairballs Out,” learned from her cat.


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