The Fantasy of Being Thin
I work with women of all shapes, sizes, ages and backgrounds. Some women have been “overweight” their entire lives. Other have gone through considerable (and in some cases perpetual) fluctuations in their size. And others have been, by any objective measurement, “thin” or “fit” for all or most of their lives. So, obviously, these different types of women all have dramatically different “issues” when it comes to food, fitness, and body image, right? Well, maybe that is not necessarily the case. Whatever a person’s size, the feelings of self-judgment, anxiety, and guilt in relation to food, fitness, and body image can all still be painful and at times overwhelming. But even beyond those feelings, many of these feelings stem from the same “fantasy to be thin.”
I’ve known women over the years, and have had clients, who obsess over the fantasy of being thin, of hitting the perfect target weight, of achieving that certain desired look. Do they ever get there? I don’t know. But even if they do, it’s not my experience that it is something that is sustainable or, more importantly, that brings them any sort of long-term happiness or contentedess. If anything, the fantasy of being thin has women constantly chasing some illusory goal or state of being that may not actually even exist. One might characterize it as a false journey, where the path is paved with frustration and the destination is a moving target of more stress and anxiety. For example, the fantasy of being thin is often an excuse for avoiding challenges, new situations, and opportunities to be happy (not engaging friends and family; skipping a social event with co-workers; not wearing a bathing suit; not getting up in front of a group and singing Karaoke; etc…). In other words, it is not the fact that someone is not thin that is holding them back. It is the fantasy of being thin – the idea that things will be different, and I’ll finally take that action…but after I lose 10 more pounds) that can constrain people.
A great article you need to read on the topic is, The Fantasy Of Being Thin by Kate Harding. She addresses whether “the fantasy of being thin” is really just a deeper fantasy of being someone else. She also discusses the struggle of letting go of the diet mentality and accepting her body. The article is so raw in the truth about what she would actually be giving up if she stopped dieting and then what she gained when she did. Please read and share or leave comments below with your thoughts.