The word “binge” makes me mad. Hell, so does the word “diet,” but “binge” is somehow worse. It’s attached to gluttony. Loss of control. Lack of discipline.
It infuriates me. Well, more specifically, it upsets me when it’s associated with food. TV is another deal entirely. Did I immediately binge the second season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as soon as it was released? Yes. Did Russian Doll suck me in completely? Heck yes. God bless Natasha Lyonne.
The thing is, I have a tendency to avoid uncomfortable feelings, like the ones that arise with the word “bingeing.”
That word hits close to home.
Not too long ago, my incredible cousin, Greg - EASILY the most brilliant, wittiest guy I’ve ever known - he had to be extricated from his home after being physically trapped in there for two years. He was admitted to a facility and put so much effort into changing his life. He went from weighing more than a thousand pounds to under six hundred. He died last year, at my age, despite trying so very hard.
I know strangers just saw his outside. They didn’t see his genius. His hurt. His effort. How much he loved his mother, and how broken-hearted he was to have to Skype into her funeral because it was too complicated to be transported to our family’s church in Chicago.
I don’t know how he got to that size. It wasn’t something we discussed. I know I keep my own thoughts about my weight to myself. My shame at 200 pounds is so heavy…at 600, 1000 pounds, that shame must have been suffocating.
But, the word “binge” can’t help but come to mind. Binge is a word associated with fat people. It suggests that we eat out of desperation and sadness. It’s a guilty pleasure. It’s mindless and lazy. It’s a guilty pleasure. Not even enjoyable. To eat with pleasure is to be indulgent. Decadent.
Bingeing is to eat at rapid-fire pace with your hands. It’s a messy mouth. It’s Augustus Gloop. It’s the 1980s grocery store gag cards that included demeaning jokes at the expense of fat people in humiliating costumes just to wish people a happy birthday.
If I was asked to talk about dieting, I could get angry at an industry that constantly tells us we need to lose weight. I could get pissed that I’ve spent years dieting - on WW, on Jenny Craig, on whatever horrifyingly strict diet I did, like, twenty years ago that has since been been rebranded a zillion times and has all the protein shakes and powdered mixes.
For me, bingeing has become looking at somewhat form-fitting clothes on the rack and thinking, “Oh no, not with my back fat. My butt is too big. There’s no way to hide my stomach rolls.”
It’s my double chin. It’s my round face. It’s me. Naked.
It’s not being able to see me in a constant state of wanting to be healthier. You don’t see the girl who has an app that reminds her to snap photos of all the food she ingests titled “See How You Eat,” or the girl who hates the fact she can’t keep up with her fast-walking friends.
I’ll tell you my body is gloriously voluptuous, that it gave birth to and spent three years nursing a beautiful baby girl who is now suddenly eleven, going on 30. I’ll tell you I love my smile, my delicate fingers and full breasts — and I know, truly, that people legitimately find me physically attractive. You’ll see me laughing and smiling (frequently onstage), offering encouragement and advocating for everyone to embrace all of themselves.
But what you don’t see is that while I can champion other people, like my cousin Greg, I can’t seem to do the same for myself. I’m no better than the creators of those disgusting birthday cards. You don’t see my darker moments when my negative mindset insists my weight is directly correlated with my worth (EVEN THOUGH I KNOW THAT’S SO UNTRUE).
Last week was National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Click on the banner below to learn more about a body acceptance challenge. Lots of love. I promise not to give up on myself as long as you do the same.
This story was originally shared at the January 2019 Denver Write Club show.