"My Lineage is One of Women Shrinking." This Barnard Poet is Everything.

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"My Lineage is One of Women Shrinking." This Barnard Poet is Everything.

By Courtney Enlow | Videos | October 18, 2013 | Comments ()


I’ve watched this video probably five times now. And every time I get goosebumps. She understands, and she words it so perfectly, I’m as terrifically awed as the audience.

I am the child of a mom who has dieted for my whole life. She was, too. And, as long as I can remember, I’ve been so fixated on my body’s shape, obsessed with each curve, devastated by any new dimple or newly tightened waistband. And, for so long, it was so easy to write off that obsession as just another part of being a girl, never for a second even thinking I could be furious at its prevalence.

My senior year of high school, I started making myself throw up. I actually even remember the night — my senior homecoming. I didn’t have a date, and I ate a lot at dinner. The two were unrelated, but in my mind they became inextricably tied. So, I skipped the dance, I went home, I threw up. And I kept doing it, every day for at least a year, and intermittently after. Sometimes I’d throw laxatives into the picture, some days popping seven or eight at a time, all because a size 6 seemed like such a big number. Without getting into the less savory details, this abuse has forever limited the way my body is able to work on its own.

I have never, would never, blame my mom’s own fixation on her weight, nor would she blame my grandma, a wonderful, amazing woman who I too heard call herself fat in a tone so disgusted it was as though it was the worst insult one could hurl at one’s self, a tone I’ve taken toward my mirror image so many times it’s impossible to count, because I was probably too busy counting calories, defeated and enraged when it went over 1,500 or so, when I teeter into, heaven forbid, a size 8.

After all, it was just another part of being a girl.

And I hate it. I hate that this has taken over so many of my thoughts for so long. I hate that my mom, the most important person in my entire existence, has devoted so many thoughts, so many meetings, so many tiny, bland meals to, as Lily puts it, occupying less space.

And then I look at the photo on my desk of a smiling, toothy toddler. And I’m terrified.

The cycle of shrinking stops with me. It should stop, must stop, with all of us.

Thank you, Lily Myers, for nailing this so hard that it shook the walls. You are wonderful.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • sanity fair

    First: Courtney, I am sorry that you've had so much to deal with in coming to terms with your relationship with food, and I appreciate your forthrightness in sharing it with our little on-line community. As someone who enjoys your posts so much, I am very glad you felt comfortable enough to do that.

    Second: Personally, I related to this in a little different way. I can definitely see how I've emulated my mother's use of food. We both eat to celebrate, to comfort ourselves, to cheer ourselves up, to salve wounds, etc. Food is not merely for sustenance; it is the go-to drug of choice. And because of that, we are both obese and struggle with our self-esteem as a result, especially when HER mother (my grandma) makes hurtful comments aimed at strangers who are no where near as overweight as we are. However, over all, I have learned to accept the fact that I enjoy food and that I am the reason I am not thinner. I don't feel guilty about that; when I decide my health is more important, I'll go back to exercising and eating healthier.

    But I related more to the idea of making the space I occupy smaller in terms of my overall personality. I'm pretty introverted naturally, but the whole idea of apologizing for asking questions, for expressing a thought, for daring to look at something differently... That struck a chord. I almost feel guilty about it because I worry that my feelings and thoughts are too big or too much. I know I'm not an idiot, but I also try to stay unnoticed for any intellectual achievements. I never brag when I get an A in a class. I'm uncomfortable telling people that I earned a full-tuition scholarship to attend law school (and I actually struggled to type that). I try to keep my personality and abilities in as small a space as possible, even as I slowly become slightly more confident.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    This is exactly what I am talking about. You should be able to say all of that to people without feeling guilty or apologizing. When you are interviewing for a job you should be able to list all those things like they are merely statements of fact that you read in a history book, because they are true.

    I am naturally introverted and I feel like I most all of my 20's not speaking.

  • **I AM** NotTheOne

    I watched this video and read Courtney's post and then wanted to comment but I really don't even know what to say.

    There are so many ways that women make themselves smaller and I see it every day. Like the older woman who works for me who almost always apologizes when she says something. I feel frustrated when she does this and I want to tell her to just speak up if she has something to say.

    I had a friend in college whose teeth and esophagus were all but destroyed by her bulimia. But the part of this video that really hit home for me was the apologizing.

  • Return of Santitas

    "And I fear my life will be over
    And I will never have lived it unfettered
    alwys glaring ino mirrors
    mad I don't look better"--ani difranco


  • Everything about this struck chords with me, from counting bites to starting questions with "sorry". And just as I was being moved in the chewy nougat center of my soul, hearing words that might as well have tumbled from my own mouth and feeling so many of them as physical blows, my eyes slid to the side and saw ... an ad for liposuction.

    Oh, poet. Ain't we got a long row to hoe.

  • e jerry powell

    It's enough to make you fucking hate Google.

  • emmalita

    It makes me miss the constant bleach ads.

  • John W


  • ronniedobbs

    My mom had a picture of a model in a beautiful, long red dress that I admired in a magazine taped to the fridge, so that I would see it and feel bad every time I opened the door to sneak food. She always said that it was because she didn't want me to feel bad because I was fat. She also frequently critiqued my outfits by telling me that they made me look fat. Thanks, mom!

  • emmalita

    The sad thing is, she probably felt like she was helping you.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Argghhhhh! I hate all this pap about "fat shaming is bad because I'm just me and I'm just the way I am"! Sorry but it's just bullshit. You may be fat, and you can do something about it. If you feel shame, that's an important issue to look at and understand the motivations behind. If you purge, understand that it's a disorder that you need help to solve. <<< Edited a line here 10 seconds after posting that was too ranty and went too far>>>

    To be very, very clear, I am overweight, sometimes crossing into obese. I have "battled" my weight for many years. I hate being overweight not because society looks at me differently, but because I feel it in my joints, because I can't run with my kid like I want to, because I don't like the way clothes fit.

    But guess what, I know that my weight is a result of me making short term decisions that are gratifying (pizza!) instead of trudging through the long term benefit of portion control.

    To those who only want to attack the "fat shamers" I say how dare you infantalize me and take away my ability to own my choices and my mistakes. I am overweight because I have made, and continue to make CHOICES.

    To try and compare the body mass of that 1950's housewife who wanted to look a little "slimmer" and today's morbidly obese society is just BS. We are kidding ourselves by thinking somehow it's just not on us.

    I am so incredibly happy that restaurants are showing full calorie counts of the food we buy - I hope it can work to get restaurants to stop serving insane portions.

    But I also like it because it allows me to be honest about MY CHOICES. I am choosing to drink that milkshake with 800 calories, but I can't lie to myself and say it won't have an impact.

    So no, I don't accept the premise being said here that being a size 24 is totally fine, so long as you love yourself. Loving yourself (and those around you) means being there for them, able to participate - and that almost never happens with a 45 inch waist.

  • Cree83

    Shaming people for being fat is ridiculous and ineffectual. Acting like it's a sin or a moral failing to overeat is bullshit. We don't have to promote unhealthy lifestyles. We can and should create incentives to be healthy, encourage exercise, and make it easier and cheaper for people to buy good food instead of crap. But people should be doing this because it makes them feel good, not because they want to follow arbitrary standards of what is and isn't attractive. Making people feel bad about they way they look, encouraging unhealthy relationships with food by implying that we need to count every calorie, praising thinness as synonymous with healthiness: that is harmful and needs to go. That is why people decry fat shaming.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    it's the word choice issue. I agree that "Fat Shaming" is wrong, but that not supporting unhealthy lifestyles is not.

    What I am seeing is that "fat shaming" is being usurped to mean indulgence.

    The best example I know of is Michelle Obama's campaign. Lots of folks have been attacking her for "fat shaming". I don't think that's what she is about at all.

    The problem is that many are attacking fat shaming in a way that results in the acceptance, if not the promotion, of unhealthy lifestyles.

    You also are setting up a straw man argument to suggest that counting, or being aware of calories, encourages an unhealthy relationship with food. In fact, knowledge about calories and being aware of the impact of what you consume is the antithesis of an unhealthy relationship with food.

    And the suggestion that thinness is synonymous with healthiness is not one that I made - however I will say that morbid obesity is an indicator of unhealthiness. We need to be praising healthiness, including maintaining a healthy weight.

    Finally, I stand by my key point that when fat shaming turns into a way to remove my own responsibility in making food choices, I have a problem. Someone who says "It's not your fault that you have bad knees from being so heavy, it's your body type" is treating me like a child.

  • Kate at June

    Ok. But this post isn't about fat shaming. at all. So huh, confused at your first post and your general point.

    "In fact, knowledge about calories and being aware of the impact of what you consume is the antithesis of an unhealthy relationship with food. "

    Calories don't determine healthy eating habits at all. You want to learn how to eat healthy, you learn to stay away from empty calories, simple carbohydrates, etc. Learn how to eat nutritious, whole foods, and the calories shouldn't be a concern. A general knowledge of calories is probably okay, (they obviously make me nervous, not going to lie) but all that does is lead you right back to eating well anyway which should be the objective in the first place.

    Knowing that the extremely healthy and nutritious meal I'm about to eat is 700 calories doesn't help me. It doesn't help me to know that I can save 20 calories if I eat a peach rather than a nectarine.

    Additionally, fat shaming vs. lifestyle shaming are two very different things. If you know that you general lifestyle including diet and exercise is making you unhappy and unhealthy, then yes, sure, change it. Change how you eat, change how you exercise. But just because someone is fat doesn't mean that they are unhealthy or out of shape or costing the country money in health care.

    To me, the whole point behind decrying fat shaming is calling out the idea that you can know anyone's state of health without looking at their medical records and running blood tests. But if someone weighs more, we as a society assume we can. And that isn't right.

  • Cree83

    Accepting and being comfortable with one's own body is not the same as not refusing to take responsibility for one's own choices. Asking to be treated with basic human decency is not the same as refusing to take responsibility for one's own choices. Asking for people to see a whole human person instead of a body type is not refusing to take responsibility for one's actions. Asking people who are not doctors to respect reasonable boundaries by not conjecturing about one's health based on one physical trait is not the same as refusing to take responsibility for one's choices. Asking people to mind their own business and worry about their own eating habits instead of policing others' is not the same as refusing to take responsibility for one's own choices.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I like the cut of your jib.

  • competitivenonfiction

    The thing is that if someone else is making those choices, who am I to shame them or work to make them feel badly about themselves? And if I were to think that was my place, would it be because I'm trying to help or because I want to feel superior? If I was trying to help, is this really the way to do it? There is so much hatred out there for even average sized women with a healthy BMI, that I really don't think adding to that makes anyone healthier, including the person doling out the shame. Also, there are a whole range of weights and fitness levels between having a 45 inch waist and being model thin. Health can be found at a lot of places in between.

    Shame and cruelty won't help anyone, including yourself.

  • Pajiba_Pragmatist

    Again, I see a transition happening from fat shaming being about cruelty (where you are completely right) becoming about indulgence and infantalizing.

    Cruelty is obviously wrong, but that's not what the latest trends have been. It's to say the mere appearance of a thin person on a magazine cover is "fat shaming". It is not cruel for that person to be thin, and it's not cruel for people to see that person as attractive.

    It is cruel to say "you should look at this person", or to say "you can't have this non-model job unless you look like that". That's cruelty passing into illegal.

    Finally, I agree that there is a huge range of fitness between 45 inch waist and model thin. I'm saying that "fat shaming" has transitioned from comparing to a coat hanger-thin model to saying any comment about healthy weight is fat shaming.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I don't see anyone on this site claiming that a thin person on a magazine is fat shaming. I've certainly seen people ask if showing only one body type, and one that can be arguably as dangerous as obesity if it is achieved unnaturally, is healthy for our society. But I've never ever seen the words fat shaming used here.

    Full disclosure: I am trying to lose some weight. Following an ovarian tumor that grew to the size of a football and a (slightly miraculous) pregnancy that came shortly after, I'm a bit overweight. However, I'm not sensitive personally sensitive to "fat shaming." So right now, I'm on a website that is used to count calories and track progress, with the goal to get back into my pre-illness rock-climbing, ass kicking shape. It's a fantastic community. Ok... onto my point:

    Just the other day, an obese woman who has lost 50 pounds wrote that she was jogging when a group of teenage girls pulled up and yelled "you're still fat" out the window at her. She wrote that it made her want to quit, but that she wouldn't. She was inspiring and tough and amazing, and I wish I had half her courage. And tonnes of people responded with similar stories of abuse by strangers. THAT is that we're talking about when we talk about fat shaming. We're talking about discrimination against fat people, aggressive harassment on the street, and the general attitude that people get out in public just for existing at a BMI of over 25. Anyone throwing those words at Michelle Obama is a moron and is probably trying to use it for political gain.

    Personally, I disagree that it's transitioned away from what the term is really talking about, but maybe you have different experiences than I do.

  • Slash

    I'm sure I have my neuroses, but not this one, and my mother didn't, either (as far as I can tell).

    I do notice, though, that women, even if they don't go to something as extreme as bulimia, will refer to themselves as being "bad" when they eat "bad" foods (ie, anything with fat in it). They do it all the time.

    They need to stop. Not only because it's incredibly annoying to listen to, but because it's stupid and harmful.

    Food is food. There's no "bad" food (despite what various people pimping books will tell you). There's just food. Some of it is reasonably healthy (vegetables) and some of it not so healthy (cake). That doesn't mean you never eat cake. Just don't eat nothing but cake. And maybe eat some vegetables first. And don't order the largest size of anything. Nobody needs a half-pound burger.

  • I need a half pound burger, especially if you put bacon and cheese and chili on it and serve it with skin-on french fries and a pint of stout. I will admit that I don't need one everyday, though.

  • Kate at June

    I'm sure you know it isn't really that simple, but I appreciate your point.

    After having had eating disorders, it's really sad for me to recognize that my relationship with my body and food is better than 90% of the women I know. It shouldn't be that way. Even if women don't go so far as to have an actual disorder, most do not have a healthy attitude about food.

    It's difficult for women who are recovering, because there is no one to give you an example of what a healthy and "normal" relationship with food looks like.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    I got the chills the moment she said her first line about portioning. I'm certain her mom is in Weight Watchers, because I'm a member as well, and this is the kind of thing you do when you take the idea of portioning too far. I've seen people even there developing eating disorders, not because of the system, but because of an environment that hates and shames women over a certain size or of a certain body shape. I keep that in mind so much as I go on my own journey. The line between what I mean to be (which is healthy and without the health problems that come with being overweight), and what society would like me to strive for (which is a size I will never be, even at my thinnest), is ironically thin.

  • Salieri2

    Recently a catering staffer, after I thanked her for the tasty lunch (my collar's pretty blue, I appreciate the rare awesomeness of a free meal), responded with, "Yes, you did really well." It is difficult for me to describe her tone. Somewhere between encouraging a small child who dutifully cleaned his plate and mild shock that she couldn't believe I Ate The Whole Thing.

    It set me aback b/c it was a pretty average-sized, varied plateful of food, and I couldn't really fathom her interest. Also hard to describe is the speed and emotional range of my own inner responses as I thought back over my portion size and veggie-to-carb ratio and my context as the only female eater in the room, something like amusement/shame/self-doubt/annoyance/reality-check/irritation/self-consciousness/ageism/anger. It's very odd to feel that your eating habits are suddenly not solely your own business.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Heinous culture of "leave something on the plate" aside, I absolutely agree also on a fundamental level: people always, always project their own self-hatred on others, particularly when it comes to body image and eating habits. As I lost a significant amount of weight, the reaction of everyone (and I do mean everyone) around me ranged from "you look so much better!" to "you don't need to lose anymore" to "how can my daughter also lose weight?" (always mothers. always) and that should tell you how much everyone around us is 250% obsessed with adhering to standards less than 0.1% of the population can possibly achieve.

  • e jerry powell

    A semi-good thing about being a gay bear is that, at least in principle, bears tend to be "more tolerant" of different body types and more sympathetic to body issues.

    I say "in principle" very pointedly, because more and more lately, gay bears are proving to be just as intolerant of physical differences as other gay men, only in reverse, so that now we have "post-bear" bears, who are against size-ism and anti-intellectualism.

  • Sarah

    Thank you for sharing this. So moving - so apt.

  • competitivenonfiction

    You and me both Courtney. I see my daughter and I think "how the fuck do I raise her to have a good body image? I have no road map for this?"

  • emmalita

    One of my best friends has made it a rule that any grandparent or family member who makes a comment on her 4 yr old daughter's weight and/or chubbiness will be asked to leave immediately. Her mother actually commented that she was such a pretty baby because she had been so skinny. She was 11 weeks pre-mature and weighed 2 1/2 pounds at birth.

  • competitivenonfiction

    I'm shocked at how often I've seen people put their own body issues onto babies. Babies! Ugh. I don't want to live on this planet sometimes.

  • Salieri2

    ....aaand now I want to stab that woman.

  • emmalita

    Oh, she's awful. Just awful.

  • Salieri2

    I was 2 lbs 8 oz, 10 weeks early, and they didn't name me for I don't know how long so they wouldn't get too attached. So I take immediate, personal offense. What an asshole.

  • emmalita

    Oh wow! This baby got an extra long name - two first names, a middle name, and two last names. Later, much later, I teased her mom that she was giving her daughter extra names to keep her alive. Glad you made it.

  • Exactly. I mean, my mom, both my parents, taught me the importance of what's inside, told me I'm beautiful, raised me to, in theory, have a great, healthy body image. But actions spoke louder, habits were passed down. And I have no idea how to save my daughter from it.

  • e jerry powell

    No shade, but eat what you want to eat, when you want to eat it. Nothing to excess, of course.

    It's a start, at least.

    I just eat my feelings. Along with large supreme pizzas.

  • Kala

    "I asked five questions in genetics class today, and all of them started with the word, 'sorry.'"

    THIS. This gave me goosebumps over my entire body. I have prefaced more questions with, "I'm sorry," more times than I can count. In normal conversation, I would never question my intelligence, but I will apologize for days for asking a professor something. What's weird is that it's not a question of my worrying about being the object of scorn, as it is an apology for taking up ten seconds of someone's day.

    I never, ever noticed this until this poetry slam vid. The amount of dialogue this young lady has opened up is astounding.

  • Steena

    That line was a punch in the gut to me as well. Day to day, I often don't even realize the thousand little ways I undermine myself and apologize for nothing, trying to make myself a smaller, unthreatening person. It could be giggling at everything someone says when it's not funny, or subconsciously raising the pitch of my voice while talking with a male boss, or reflexively lowering my eyes when a man walks by. A thousand little ways.

  • emmalita

    Yes! My bff and I do the same thing. We made a pact that unless we are actually apologizing for something that was our fault, we would replace "sorry" with "tough shit," "my sympathies," or "pay attention to me." of course we end up apologizing to each other for saying "sorry," but baby steps.

  • That's the same line that struck me so hard. Why do I do that? Why do I apologize, as if wanting to learn or even wanting to speak my own mind is somehow wrong?

  • Kate at June

    I even do it when I'm writing online. I catch myself apologizing or using words phrases such as "I believe," or "it seems that," in situations that don't call for it. I have gotten into the habit of reading over what I wrote before posting, just to try and take out all of the hedging language.

  • e jerry powell

    I am blogging this as I listen.


  • petitesuissesse

    I remember the day: I am 16, my older sister (who I already idolize) is a fashion model in Paris (size, what, -2?), my mother has always been thinner than me, by a lot. I'm on vacation with the family in Cape Cod. My sister is attempting to give me one of her super cute baby-doll, flower dresses (it's 1993). I am too big for it. It could be a shirt on me. My already enormous breasts push the buttons to their limits; my big ass (from doing all that running in track and basketball) pulls the fabric in horrible ways. The tears start. My mom and sister look scared. I start punching myself, pulling at my skin, clawing myself, screaming through tears of rage that I hate myself. They don't know what to do. One moment, we were all laughing, sharing a mother-daughters Postcard Moment. The next, I am possessed. I wish I could say it's the only time it's happened.

  • rio

    This is magnificent, I saw it yesterday and I want everybody to see it, yes it talks about woman relation with food but even more simply talk about women in a patriarchal society and manages to show the path from one to the other with a clarity and a simplicity that it's pretty damn amazing.

  • Naye

    My entire life I have been unhappy with my body. My earliest memory of unhappiness was around 5 or 6 and I refused to wear this really cute omni-kini (?) to my swim class. I remember at 8 a friends aunt mentioning how I had lost weight (although I'm sure I just got taller). I was so conscious of my weight, especially around white girls. I felt so much bigger than these slight girls who populated my suburban world, which I thought also made me threatening, made me feel even more of an outlier. Mostly I remember my mother stating that she was smaller than me after she had her 3rd kid. I was a size 7 (juniors) when I graduated high school and I still thought I was fat (I have broad shoulders and lack upper body muscle tone, so I was just soft, but I couldn't tell).

    Now after one kid, and sixty lbs later, I realize just how terrible I had felt about myself my whole life, and for What? I didn't appreciate 132, 145, 165 until I got to 195 (and I like my hips, just not having to buy new clothes.....and shoes. I'm losing weight really so I can fit into my SHOES!). And I know it was my mom. My mom has always made me feel less than, in most aspects of my life. She's supportive, and smart, and probably somebody to look up to, but in my reality she's a dick.

    Now I live with my baby girl, and her, and I really hope that I can fend off my mother's ways of thinking, with regards to her. I think I made the mistake of calling my baby's belly her fat tummy. Up until a few weeks ago it was just a joke we had, because she has a that round baby-tummy, so I poke her like the Pillsbury doughboy and say "fat tummy" and she'd poke me back says the same and we'd laughed. Now she has started saying the I am the one with the fat tummy, and she has a little tummy. I'm not sure who made the distinction for her. Could be that she's 3 and they are prone to making more disctintive observations. But I do think very hard on how to keep her from developing an image complex. And I feel even if I do my best, there are so many, outside influences, from friends, to magazines, to freakin Instagram, to the all consuming fear that a BOY won't like her because of her looks. It scares me because just one word from one person, can change how someone looks at themselves entirely.

  • I often take for granted how I was raised. My mother has told me a thousand times that the "highest compliment" her mother ever paid her was that something was slimming. Because of this, she always assumed that was necessary; to be slimmed. She has never really been satisfied with her body. Combine that with my father growing up with little to no encouragement, and you have a recipe for potential hurt. Instead, they vowed to do the opposite of what was done to them. I heard every. single. day that I was beautiful. And it was instilled in me that it wasn't about "being pretty"; I was a beautiful PERSON. So here I am, about to turn thirty, and I can look into the mirror, see a soft tummy, thick thighs, stretch marks, off-colored teeth, and I can smile. My beauty is made up of more than my casing.

    Yours is too.

  • calliope1975

    Thanks. I really needed this today.

  • rio

    I love this, unfortunately I come from a mother that had a similar background and actively tried to give me the confidence nobody ever bother to instill in her but like Lily Meyers says "inheritance is accidental" and no matter how many times she tells me I am beautiful I hear the lie in her voice, I can see how part of her really believes it and part of her can't fully love something that looks so much like her. We love each other, and we resent each other cause all we do is apologize for breathing and then we stand one for the other, ready to take down anybody who hurts us. I love my mother, she raised me to a feminist, not depend on a man but how do you learn to love yourself? How do you teach it? Your mother didn't just teach you that you were beautiful, she taught herself she was too.

  • Xander

    One question I was always curious about. I have seen a lot of people going on about extreme dieting and even throwing up like here but I rarely see them mentioning working out a lot(yes I have also heard about people over excresising but they rarely seem to crossover with the starving themselves/throwing up people). And this is what I never understood. If you want to be thinner and in a better shape why not first hit the gym every day and consult with a nutritionist for a proper diet instead of throwing up? Especially since throwing up seems really disgusting.

  • Wif

    When you try to limit your calories your body reacts by asking you to eat more, which leads to binging. Well if you binge 1000 calories, that's an hour at the gym. If you do that a few times a week, you quickly start running out of time. It's faster to throw up. My friend has a sister who will binge a weeks worth of groceries in one afternoon. $200 worth for a family of 5, gone in 3 hours. You can't exercise that away.

  • Sara S.

    Like Courtney said, it's all about the punishment. There's a feeling when you're done throwing up, that I can only describe as feeling "weak" that makes the entire process worth it-- similar to the feeling of not eating for 2 or 3 days at a time.
    Not to mention that up to an hour after eating, there's an immediate itching to go throw up. After purging, it's hard to have the strength to work out.
    Just my 2 cents.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You say this as if "gyms" and "proper diets" have been around forever. They haven't. But women's secret tricks have, passed along on camping trips, in dormitories, in locker rooms...

    Throwing up gives a pretty immediate and unquestionable result.

  • e jerry powell

    In the restrooms of black comedes…

    At least she stopped purging after that Chandler bitch was dead.

  • Because above all else it's mental illness. It's essentially a form of self-harm. Your body is bad and should be punished. I didn't realize it at the time, only now in retrospect. For the record, I worked out too much too, and have been a dancer my whole life--bulimia is fairly common among dancers.

  • Xander

    Yes I get that it's essentially a mental illness but I don't get the mentality behind it. From what I understand it's essentially a negative obsession with your body image. Hard work outs seem like a natural outlet for such an obsession. Throwing up just seems disgusting and repulsing. Is it simply like BWeaves said a matter of laziness? Especially with teens (since I can see how some adults wouldn't have time for every day workout)?

  • appwitch

    Because it's a control issue and it's private. Throwing up is immediate results, something the person can do right then to control the feelings. Also, a teenager who works out a lot might have to explain that to someone.

  • Yossarian

    Are you asking why a mental illness is not more rational and logical?

  • Xander

    In a way I suppose I am. I mean it's essentially an obsession after all. To me that implies a non stop thinking about the issue. Working out quite often for hours would fit this kind of mentality perfectly. Throwing up and starving yourself...can't see it. That's why I am curious to see if there people who have been through this here what went through their minds

  • Kate at June

    Ok. I'm going to speak from my own personal past experiences with disordered eating and from what I've observed from volunteering at ED recovery organizations.

    Here's something very few people understand: No one wants an eating disorder. Very few people decide to have an eating disorder in order to lose weight. Even in stories like Courtney's, people that purge their food that first time don't assume that it will be a constant, never ending thing.

    You are absolutely correct that when you have this "obsession," it is on your mind CONSTANTLY. And over exercising does actually fall under a type of Bulimia Nervosa and it is also extremely unhealthy. It is considered a form of purging, like throwing up, or like starving yourself after a binging cycle. Most people with eating disorders have more than one "method."

    **GIANT** Trigger Warning here on out for anyone who is currently dealing with disordered eating.

    My experience, and the experience of countless men and women that I've met, (*though obviously not everyone--I've just found this VERY common) went a little like this: You want to lose weight. You decide to do it the "right way." You learn everything you can about diet and exercise--everything. (Seriously. People who have eating disorders know more about healthy eating and nutrition than you can ever conceive of.)

    You start dieting. You start exercising. You see results. Then the results that you see start to slow down. You try to compensate. Eating less. Exercising more. Less, more. Less, more. You dip below that (already insanely small 'healthy') number of 1200 calories/day. You go down to 900. You run for an hour a day.The weight still comes off, but slower still.

    Your body can't take it. It demands food. It WILL override you as you are starving yourself. One day you eat more that what you've allotted yourself. You ate 1087 calories instead of 900. Fuck. you're screwed. You messed up. All that hard work, for nothing. Damnit. You have no resolve, you child, how could you do that? 187 extra calories! jesus. you fuck up.

    ....but now you already messed up your day. And in front of you is all the food that you've been denying yourself for months and months and months (years?). And you already lost, so why not fuck up further?
    So you eat. And eat. And eat. And can't--can't--stop. (REALLY) You eat so much that you feel like your stomach will burst and then the reality of what you've done hits you.

    So you tried to do it the 'healthy' way. And you failed.

    But at least the toilet is there.

    Or starving yourself for the next 3 days.

    Or 12 miles on the treadmill tomorrow.

    Does this sound sane? I HOPE NOT. Because it isn't, at all. Happy people do no do this to themselves. It's not rational. It's a mental disorder. Not "essentially," but is, full stop.

  • Yossarian

    Right. I think you're getting downvotes because you're phrasing this badly and your curiosity is coming off as blunt and insensitive.

    For one thing, working out is often part of the behaviors that accompany eating disorders and body image issues. If you don't see them mentioned together as often it's probably because the people mentioning eating disorders are talking about unhealthy behaviors and don't necessarily feel the need to include all the related things they did which are ambiguous or not explicitly unhealthy (take the stairs, take smaller portions, exercise obsessively, starve themselves) if it's not part of the story they are focused on telling. It also sounds like you don't know much about this issue so your anecdotal "I haven't heard much" is pretty worthless.

    Then again, it seems like these points are being addressed and your questions are being answered but you keep finding ways to re-ask the same question which is "Why didn't you think of a healthier more logical way to deal with this? Didn't you know it was bad for you?" Which, you know, is not exactly a good or constructive way to think about people who have these problems. It's like telling depressed people they should just try to get over it and have a good time. There's a fundamental lack of understanding that precedes your questioning and makes them bad questions.

  • Kate at June

    Why would you smoke crack? Don't you know there are healthier ways to feel good?

  • As I said, it's punishing yourself for eating, in a very grotesque way. And after, you feel a rush of relief. It's very similar to my understand of cutting. I'm not sure laziness comes into play. Especially since for some, like myself, it becomes a highly-involved ritual process.

  • Xander

    That's interesting. So it's not purely about being thinner but also has an element of self punishment. And I am curious did working out figure into the equation? Or did it become more an obssesion purely about the ritual?

  • GDI

    Both of which are likely to be a symptom of some deeper issue.
    I never considered the endorphin rush (having never personally experienced either).

    I imagine that's why bulimics (and self-cutters) continue their self-destructive path; it becomes a sort of addiction.

  • e jerry powell

    In fact, yes, exactly.

  • BWeaves

    a. Throwing up is easier than working out.

    b. Some bulimics also work out like crazy, too.

  • Melina

    and then just the opposite happens too...my mom was always comfortable with her body-- her gentle swells here and there and I told her at the ages of 13-19, that I hated her body, that I hoped I didn't have her genes, that I couldn't believe she wouldn't try to be thinner. Now that I've had three kids (and I don't look like that super toned awesome lady), and I'm spending more time enjoying them rather than hitting the gym in my formerly obsessive manner, I'm getting a little closer to the person my mom is and a little further away from the person Seventeen and YM made me as a young girl.

  • Legally Insignificant

    After watching this video, I have a question. What is the noise that the audience is making throughout? It was a little distracting and I couldn't tell what it was. It sounds synchronized so I couldn't tell whether it was poetry jam thing that I just didn't know existed.

  • Erin S

    I think it's murmurs of agreement and snapping, possibly as a quiet alternative to cheering/applauding when they think something is powerful, well-said. Although that didn't stop them from (rightfully) cheering loudly. I'm not a poetry person, but I assume it's to show encouragement in a way that doesn't interrupt the person, since rhythm is so important for this type of poetry. I'm just guessing, but I was curious about it too!

  • Travis_J_Smith

    I could tell they were trying to show appreciation without throwing off the poet, but I found it increasingly distracting and sort of wish they would've just sat in silence and waited until she was done to cheer. The snaps were okay, but all the other noises they were making just got on my nerves, except for the well-earned cheer there towards the end.

  • e jerry powell

    It's a little bit like going to my grandmother's church in North Carolina, really (and not at all like FUMC, where everyone sits politely and only interacts when asked, or like Catholic Mass, where it's only about what the priest is saying). Accomodate the difference in culture.

  • k

    This video is taken from CUPSI, which is like the national poetry slam for colleges. I was there. We snap throughout to support the poet, to show her/him that we like what they're saying or what they're getting at. If you've never been to a poetry slam or a poetry showcase, it's just a thing that audience members know to do.

  • Miss Kate


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