Tag Archives: skinny models

The Skinny on Fat

The fashion industry has a lot to answer for. I may have posted on this before. In fact I did from the perspective of the fashion designer who used “plus-size” models for a show. Those supposed plus sizes were between size 8 and 12, hardly plus at all and normal for most women.

Well, I also came across the following article by a writer. who dressed in a fat suit to attend several fashion shows. The attitudes about skeletal models and towards overweight people that she experienced just highlights the unrealistic world of fashion. The writer, Kate Faithtfull, is normally a size 10-12 and that would be too fat for being a model. Yet, if you look at her picture, beside one of her in the fat suit, she looks perfectly healthy.

As a child with an eating disorder and therefore a pudgy exterior, I have well experienced the attitudes of people to those not of normal size. Interestingly, when I look back on those pictures of me as a teenager I was pretty near normal size. I have a European, peasant body and will never be stick thin without serious surgery to remove calf muscle from my large, overdeveloped calves (finding high boots is nearly impossible and women with smaller calves than me have problems too), as well as trimming the hips and thighs down to a size I’ve never seen on my body.  I’m sturdy, I have childbearing hips and I will always be curvy. I wear between a size 8 and a size 10, even with this shape.

Now Faithfull padded her body out to size 22 and found some clothes to wear, commenting that it was a good thing her breasts were foam because she’d have trouble finding a bra otherwise. Her male friends were more intrigued by the curves and yes, men often like more curvy women. Black men especially seem to like a woman with some “junk in her trunk.”

Now in recent years that crept up. I was no longer a small in my tops, going to a medium. My size 10 pants were too tight to do up. I should say here that there are a whole host of pants/jeans, which could be size 14 and I would still not be able to get them over my calves. Many jeans that I can get over my hips are then far too big in the waist, because, yes, I’m curvy. It’s not easy for many women whose proportions are not the 36-24-36 proportions to get clothes, though I would argue these days the measurements are more like 36-28-32. At my smallest I 34-22-38.

The fashion industry was never selling to me and I’m not sure who they sell to with their stick thin models in size 2, which a very small majority of any population can wear. Most women are between size 8-14. Many wear larger than that. Just by dint of being tall, can pop you up a size or too.

When I got into watching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer  TV show I was made even more uncomfortably aware of my size by all the teeny women. Willow and Buffy were diminutive, yet Tara was more of a normal size. I’m sure some people thought she was fat but she wasn’t and I bet she wore a size 8 or smaller. After all, she said she weighed around 118 lbs and is around 5.5″. That’s not much weight for that height. Between Hollywood and the fashion world, people are freaked out about being 120 or 150 lbs when those are more natural ranges for people from 5.4 to 5.8. I don’t have the national average in front of me but I know many women who weigh 140-150 who don’t look fat at all.

What hit me over the year or two was that my clothes weren’t fitting. With a great deal of effort (a natural, balanced diet and working out 3-4 times a week) I’ve lost around 20 lbs this year. I think I could lose another 20  though the doctor says 10 maybe 15. We’ll see but I can say now that even if I lose that weight I’ll still have hips and big calves. It’s the way I’m built and it would take a truly anorexic frame to eliminate this and I’d be getting rid of muscle mass.

It’s hard being in a culture that ridicules people for being fat yet seems to reward those who starve themselves. Marilyn Monroe would be fat by today’s standards and she’s still a sex symbol. Oddly the model Twiggy, presenting an anorexic shape in the 60s that took the fashion world by storm (why, I still don’t know) started a trend that doesn’t seem to have ended. I’ll work always at being healthy but give me the Selma Hayeks and Sophia Lorens over Callista Flockhart and Twiggy. Curvy is healthier.


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Eating Disorders and the Forbidden Food

I grew up with an eating disorder. It’s not that I wanted to be a super skinny creature after seeing too many anorexic models and movie stars. I didn’t want to layer myself in cushions of fat to keep the world at bay. Really, to this day, I don’t know what my reasoning was but I know I had no control.

The background is that my father sexually abused my older sister and me. That leaves a lifetime of scars. I don’t have statistics before me but I know in the past that I’ve read that something like 80% of people who were sexually abused have eating disorders. Cause and effect.

For me, it was a bit of a different style. I wouldn’t starve myself, but I would binge, but never throw up. I was missing that second half of the bulimic equation. Mostly, from such an unbalanced diet, I would get diarrhea and purge that way. Anorexics and bulimics might take Ex-lax or stick their fingers down their throats to vomit. Mine was more natural. I tried the throwing up thing once and couldn’t do it.

No one ever binges on lettuce or carrots. It’s sweets and carbohydrates; junk food and fatty foods. I was put on a diet by the doctor when I was about 12 (my eating disorder began around the same time). I remember nothing of what I was supposed to eat, except sneaking down to the freezer in the basement and pilfering cookies. When I was in my late teens/early twenties, I would buy candies from various stores. Like an alcoholic, I would try to not hit the same store twice in case they started to recognize and judge me. I never had any change in my purse because I used every spare cent for sugary crap.

Once I was going off to dance class. (I was living with my boyfriend but I hid my sweet secret from him too.) I had a bag of smarties (or something similar). I threw it in the dumpster when I left for the class but when I came home, I dug it out, ashamed but unable to stop myself. No one knew I had this eating disorder. It was a dark secret, a terrible stigma. When I moved to Vancouver it continued, in my home, when alone. I ate normally in front of people.

I tried diets several times. But my pattern of not eating much and then binging on a full bag of cookies, a box of chocolates, a carton of ice cream, continued. Diets worked to a degree, until one year. I tried Weight Watchers and gained in the first week. I hated myself. I weighed 175 lbs, more than I’d ever weighed, I was single but all my friends weren’t, and I’d fallen in love (accidentally) with a man who couldn’t love me. I nearly became an alcoholic, recognizing that abyss only when I was hanging over it by a thread.

Finally desperate enough, I went to my doctor and said, “Some of my friends think I have an eating disorder.” She said, “Which friends?” I said, “Well, me.” Then she asked if I’d been sexually abused and I burst out crying, while at the same time I sat there and watched myself cry, feeling odd and disassociated with my reaction. She sent me to a psychiatrist who specialized in eating disorders. He asked me if I’d been sexually abused and I had the same disassociated reaction. At the end of that first session he said my eating disorder had nothing to do with being sexually abused. ??WTF? Then he put me on various meds like Prozac and Fenfluramine, and then Fluvoxamine when the first didn’t work. He promised that I would lose weight. I never did.

The counselling of course was nil and I’d go to his evening sessions with all the skinny anorexic models and me. At least I hadn’t known someone who died from their disorder, like they did. One thing I had never felt when eating was full. That mechanism had malfunctioned and I would only feel full when I’d binged so I never stopped eating soon enough. The medications, which made me somewhat zombie like to my friends, did not aid in losing weight, but did in fact seem to bring in that mechanism of feeling full. A year later, frustrated with the lack of progress with this doctor and with the unending pills, I just quit both. What I found was that I could now eat and feel full. Something had changed.

A year or so later my doctor asked me how I was doing, did I still binge? And I said, yes I did. She asked me what I considered a binge and I said eating two or more chocolate bars in a day. She told me everyone does that once in a while. What I then realized was that it had never mattered how much I ate but how I felt when I ate: I hated myself for having no control and then I would be was out of control.

I sometimes still get that feeling and it scares me when it happens. I unfortunately still have a sweet tooth, but I eat way healthier, and don’t have to eat all of something. If I’m depressed I tend toward hiding under chocolate. I have to watch that. I might have suffered less and had fewer sensitivities to foods now had someone given me the right help early enough, had my father not scarred my psyche, had I not been ashamed.

I was talking once with friends and the subject of comfort foods came up. I couldn’t name one, because for me, there had never been comfort in food. Just trauma, guilt and self-hatred. These days, I can take comfort in a few foods, like Lipton’s chicken noodle soup, but I never feel I can let my vigilance down because that eating disorder is still just around a corner.


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