Friday, May 14, 2010

WOMEN, FOOD, GOD AND SELF HATRED


I have been reading and hearing about the new Geneen Roth book which Oprah and others are so excited about; Women Food and God. I have read Roth's books in the past and this seems to be a rehash of her themes, which resonates with some women, but not me. I am not a self loathing fat person.

When I was a slimmer, young woman I wished my thighs were not so big, but it didn't stop me from putting on a bikini and going to the beach. I have never been a skinny girl, at my lowest weight I was 130 pounds on 5'5". A solid, but hourglass shaped body. These days they would say I had "junk in my trunk" - and there have always been fans of that look. It didn't start with JLo.

So if you caught the Oprah show and heard them talking about how we have to be kind to ourselves and not shame ourselves - I agree. It's just that not all of us have that problem. No matter how obese I have gotten, I do not hate myself. Roth says:

"We somehow believe that if we hate ourselves enough, if we shame ourselves enough, we'll end up thin, happy, peaceful people. Somehow if I torture myself enough, I'll end up feeling great about myself and about my life, as if hatred leads to love and torture leads to contentment."

I just don't get that and I feel so sorry for people who do feel that way. Having food be the thing you turn to for comfort, for solice, for nurturing or whatever the reason a person turns to food rather than the other more (or less) healthy things out there when stressed and unhappy; then feeling self-hatred for it must be such a miserable way to live.

Since the focus on obesity started up last year, I have felt much more self conscious of my weight. I am much more aware of how judged I am for it. So apparently, the hatred comes from both sides.

I am glad that the book is helping some women find space for themselves in their lives. I hope it helps them be kind to themselves and to others. I hope they, like Oprah, find their answers in Roth's words. I know my food issues are not about self hatred, nor are they about spirituality or God.

I know I avoid feeling emotions by eating, I know where they come from and what triggers them. Knowing doesn't change anything. That is the frustration I have with these books. I spent years thinking if I could figure it all out it would be resolved - but it didn't resolve. The only thing that resolves it is the hard work of diet and exercise or healthy lifestyle or whatever you want to call it. Like a drug or alcohol addict, I will always have the urge, the overwhelming desire to eat the "wrong" things, to overeat when I don't like what I am feeling, to treat myself with food, to nibble all day.
That's what I know for sure.

3 comments:

phd in yogurtry said...

Sounds like I am/was built a lot like you. Never was thin or skinny. Always solid. And now, I've added the pounds with the years, like so many middle-ageds. And no self-hatred, just frustration. I overeat at dinner (too large portions of carbs) and snack out of boredom. These days there are so many tempting foods for the asking, it makes losing weight a real challenge.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Wow. I just got the book, but was already having the feelings you are talking about--I don't and never engaged in self-loathing related to weight.

In fact, I think that's actually one reason I'm overweight--it's just not the biggest deal in my life. I like myself a lot --big or not as big.

Barb said...

This book really resonated for me. I've signed up to take an online course because it makes so much sense to me cognitively but I can't seem to make the changes I want to in my life. Like, I recognize that I'm eating because I'm bored or anxious but I can't seem to NOT EAT.

Anyway, it's not for everyone. But she does say that if this isn't your deal, it's worthwhile to do some other digging to figure out your relationship with food.