Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC
Friday, September 22, 2017
become the person you were meant to be...

Food, Fat and Fannies

Note: All names and identifying information have been changed.

Sometimes you feel like what matters most is the size of your fanny or thighs. You think about it dozens of times a day—”if only I were thinner.” Then your life would be so perfect. In your head you know that’s not true, but sometimes the images in the media haunt you and make you feel like your worth comes from how thin you are. It’s easy to get caught in the cultural tidal wave of doing whatever it takes to get thin.

 

I asked my client, as I was treating her for an eating disorder and an exercise addiction, “Tell me about someone you would really like to be like.” Her face lit up the room like a streak of summer sunlight. “She is the coolest lady, and she’s so upbeat and fun to talk to.”

What does she look like?” I inquired.

 

Well, she’s about a size 20 and wears all these flamboyant clothes that most people wouldn’t have the guts to wear, even if they were a size 4.”

She went on to describe some of the ways this woman has served the community, such as serving meals at a shelter and working with the boys and girls club.

One day I asked another client, who I am treating for eating disorders, the same question. She described a woman she works with who has a caring attitude and a great sense of humor.

Is she thin?” I asked.

 

My client shook her head. “Oh no, she’s pretty heavy.”

But you’ve always said how important it is to look great in order to be respected.” I asked, and a quizzical look clouded her countenance. “So are you telling me that it’s what’s in her heart that is important—but that you still have a desire to look perfect ?” She nodded.

So you have a double standard?”

Well, I never thought about it, but I do. I judge people on their insides, but also expect myself to look perfect, just in case. We discussed the verse in Samuel 16 that says, “Man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.”

Wow, that’s radical,” she responded. “Too bad we all couldn’t look at each other the way God looks at us.”

That would be awesome,” I said. “I guess it is up to each one of us.” Her session was almost over. “Hey,” she asked, “will I gain weight as I get better?” She stared at the floor.

I smiled at her and answered, ”That’s a great question. Write down all your thoughts about it, and we’ll talk about it next week.” I could tell we had a lot of work ahead of us, trying to redeem the parts of her beautiful soul that our thin-obsessed culture had stolen.

We’d done a lot of work, and she was starting to work on experiencing her feelings instead of purging, which is symbolic of a cleansing of the heart. She has made great progress, and still has a ways to go before she works through the pain that started about the time she first began to purge. Her binging and purging, like most others with bulimia, started after a boyfriend broke up with her. Now she is willing to work on the real issues hiding behind the mask of her bulimia. Contact a qualified counselor if you are interested in getting to the roots of your eating disorder. Hope is available in the form of individual therapy and/or dynamic, intensive group therapy.

 

© Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC, 2005 - 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Cherrie Herrin-Michehl, MA, LMHC with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.