Big Fat Losers and other slaps in the face

OK, before I start ranting, let me get one thing straight. I do NOT blame the diet industry for my eating disorder. I give my brain and DNA the full responsibility for that. However, I will say this: if dieting and weight loss were not promulgated as a means to happiness, I doubt I would have been as entranced by food restriction in the first place. In fact, I don't even know that dieting as a concept would have occurred to me.

All right, what happened today, in a nutshell, was this: I go back to work after a six week medical leave for a severe recurrence of depression. My boss, who is wonderful, knows the basics but not the details. I'm nervous but looking forward to being back. I walk in the door and am greeted by a sign that says "Nothing tastes like looking good feels." Aside from the grammar...

Talk about a big slap in the face!!!

So I go check my emails, have almost 200 new ones, and I would say at least one-quarter of them have to do with the "Big Fat Loser" weight loss contest at work. I, at 26, am the youngest employee, and am convinced this is completely infantile. I do not realize the depths of this depravity until I go into the break room for some coffee and see posters that tally how many pounds each person has lost.

I think my jaw is still on the floor.

I'm not going to say whether some people needed to lose weight for medical reasons. I don't want to know. That's between them and their doctor, just as mine is with my doctor. Weight Watchers at Work...c'mon now. Do you really want Betty in Accounts Payable knowing how many Points you tossed back at the holiday party last weekend? Author and activist Wendy Shanker advocates a separation between Body and Business, just like there is between church and state.

My problem isn't with the dieting. It's that it just feels like a slap in the face to all of the hard recovery work I've been doing. It was so excruciatingly difficult, and then it almost seemed like it was mocked by my co-workers. I don't know- they say I'm so Cute! and Tiny! Ugh. That pisses me off. I'm not cute and tiny- I'm sick. People who have chemo lose weight, and no one yakks them up for it. It's because they're sick. Me, too. Only it's a "socially acceptable" illness. I have a problem with that.

Then, at the end of the day, I went back home and had a Payday bar as part of my evening snack. So appropriate on so many levels... :)

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samsi77 said...

YOU GO GIRL! That payday bar combined with my cookie dough icecream cone were a small token in honor of the ANTI-DIETING Campaign! I agree the diet industry did not cause eating disorders however it and the pro-dieting supporters certainly are not doing anything to contribute to pro-recovery! I find it saddening to see that we live in a society and culture where public displays of individual weight loss is incorporated into the work day and where 13 year old "thin" adolescents are able to grow 3 inches over the summer while losing 20 pounds without their medical provider flinching, what the bleep? Ignorance and denial.... no longer bliss but so dangerous! I am looking forward to screaming, shouting, sharing and even preaching our message this year and EDAPW!

Fiona Marcella said...

I'm fairly horrified that this kind of thing isn't outlawed in your workplace codes of conduct, if not on health grounds (those who are ignorant of eating disorders just have NO idea of the health consequences of inappropriate diets) at the very least on the grounds of wasting time and computer server space. I'm a Christian (a pretty wobbly liberal sort of Christian but one nevertheless). Would your bosses let me use e-mails to discuss the bible and advertise a prayer group?

samsi77 said...

Marcella, that is a good point. If pro-dieting behavior is condoned or at least permitted in the work place whty and how could it or would it stop there! It is just so horrifying that people are so naive or ingorant to the potential impact that their actions and behaviors can and do have on others!

Holly said...

it's kind of a paradox that AN is both socially acceptable and stigmatized...I've got a couple thoughts on that, but I'd love to hear yours.

Anonymous said...

I know this is an old post, but it hit home for me. I work for a very large corporation that has many programs aimed at helping employees with life issues. It's a self-insured company, so it makes financial sense for them to promote healthy practices. Being the heaviest person on my team makes me feel that I'm the reason the company has these programs. That I am inferior because I am obese and a strain on the company's bottom line. I have enough anxiety about eating around other people; having to publicly log my food and water intake, exercise, and percent of weight lost is horrifying.
I have food issues that are so humiliating to me, I don't sit down at the table with my husband and kids, I isolate myself in the office to eat lunch, and I feel guilty no matter what I've eaten. I can't remember a time when I haven't had disordered eating and strong negative emotions associated with my body. This has remained constant whether I was starving myself in high school, purging at college, or binge eating during my pregnancies. At my height of 5'9", I've weighed 120 pounds, 250 pounds, and many weights in between.
I think my point is that dealing with an anti-obesity campaign in the midst of a high-stress job only pushes my anxiety higher and encourages my disordered eating. My body already shows everyone that I've failed somewhere. Isn't that enough humiliation? Apparently not.
The funny thing is that all my labs are normal and I have no obesity-related conditions. My only physical problem is being fat.

Carrie Arnold said...

The only way I can describe the whole experience is one gigantic mind f*ck. Several months later, I eventually left my job because I seriously thought I was going to lose my mind if I heard one more thing about the "virtues" of boiled cauliflower as mashed potatoes. News flash: boiled, mashed cauliflower tastes exactly like...boiled, mashed cauliflower.

If you want to email me to talk or vent, drop me a line at

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I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

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nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


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