Monday, December 1, 2008

"i eat 33,000 calories a day."

Okay, I'm on a pretty hefty weight-gain meal plan, but there is a line to be drawn.

We have all seen them on Lifetime, or whatever; the so morbidly obese, they haven't been out of their beds in over 10 years and needed a forklift to get to the hospital when their body finally couldn't take it anymore. So many people sit and think, "Wow, what fat, lazy, disgusting people. How could you do that to yourself?" and can't seem to change the channel because it is just so amusing to watch people who can't get their life under control. In all fairness, these people put their lives on tv, which is totally their choice.

I never really felt much compassion for them. I mean, I didn't sit and mock them or anything; I didn't feel much at all. Just people on TV and something to watch. Most people just talk about how they love food and can't seem to stop and would like to lose weight, but don't really sound too determined.
Last night, my friend and I came across a show called, "I eat 33,ooo calories a day." It was different. They weren't talking about how much they loved food; they were talking about how addicted they were to it. One man is a self-confessed binge eater who has no idea how to stop. One man was in complete denial and said he had everything under control and only ate two meals a day. When they showed him his day's intake in a buffet-style spread, he refused to believe it, but couldn't sit in front of it for more than 5 minutes before he almost mindlessly began attacking it.
I was really intruiged by one woman, Jackie, who was approximately 500 or so pounds and was on a very dangerous slope. She talks about how she would sit down with a plate of food and nothing else existed for that time. It was as if she were in a "trance" while she was eating and would feel a sort of high for a very short period after before crashing into this intense self-hatred and guilt. I know that trance. I was in that trance every night of my spring semester, freshman year of college.

I always find it really interesting how much the eating disorder is really not about the number on the scale; that's just a terrible side-effect. We gain weight, we lose weight, we binge, we purge, we starve, we hate. An eating disorder is an eating disorder, and it's so painful to watch someone else experience the things that you have.

I wish I could talk to Jackie.

13 comments:

Krystle said...

I remember watching her story. You're right though: Ed is ed, regardless of what the scale does. I wish I could speak with Jackie as well...

Rachel said...

An ED is an ED, but there's a different kind of sympathy reserved for people who have "glamorous" EDs like anorexia or who are eating disordered and thin. Fat people, especially super-super-morbidly obese people like on this show, are still made the objects of scorn even though they have similar issues with food as someone with anorexia does. Both disorders represent significant health risks and differ only by their opposite positions on the eating disordered spectrum.

I saw this show in channel surfing last night. It's a few years old and I watched it last year, I think. I've often wondered how these people are doing now.

Anonymous said...

Adding onto what Rachel says, it reminds me of how in the book Wasted, she talks about how she was bulimic and wanted anorexia because it is more "respected" or whatever than bulimia. But even then people didn't think she was thin enough to qualify (because she looked "good", I suppose? even though she was dying). And there was the same thing, bulimia and bingeing is gross, anorexia is glamorous.
--Sara

emmy. said...

i know exactly what you mean. that really confuses me. i mean, i get it, the world thinks it's fantastic to be "thin and beautiful." it should be healthy and beautiful. thin and obese are both just as dangerous, but no one sees the danger in thin if you've got the body of a supermodel. it's ridiculous.

i wonder that, too. every time i see those shows, it kind of makes me sad that that's probably all i'll see of those people.
i want to know what happens: do they get help, are they able to lose the weight, do they ever find out what's behind their weight problem besides just food (we all know, "EDs are not really about food")..
i hope they can get healthy.

Melissa said...

I saw the advertisements for this show, but I didn't get the chance to catch it, so of course I can't comment on the content.

I too have seen other shows and they were similiar in discussing how people had a disorder with food. Not just highlighting them as lazy disgusting people.

I'm glad you posted your response to it, I was actually wondering if I would see anything on the "feed' about that show. I wish I would have caught it. Oh well it may rerun.

Take care

Michelle said...

I have seen the advertisements for this show and the one I think before and after, following one person on her quest to lose weight. I think I would have more respect in general for these shows if they talked more openly about eating disorders. And I think it's a sick statement focuses on the overweight people and the concept of losing weight. What about people who deal with normal weight but are sick with eating disorders. It's still a culture of everyone needs to lose weight and be thin.

Anonymous said...

It's frustrating for me, as a former anorexic, because even though it is the more noticeable of EDs, I have friends with eating disorders who "get away with it" aka never get help, because no one ever knows. They are at normal and some overweight and they starve/binge/purge etc. but because no one can tell a difference physically, they don't think it's a big deal, or never are aware of what they do in secret.

Rachel said...

thin and obese are both just as dangerous, but no one sees the danger in thin if you've got the body of a supermodel. it's ridiculous.

Slight correction: Certainly the extremely rare super-high weights of people on this show represent a significant health risk, but obesity itself isn't always "dangerous." Considering that BMI standards defining obesity have been lowered in recent years, a person can weigh 180 pounds at 5'3" and be considered obese. Weight is a consideration in some health problems for some obese folks, but not all.

Rachel said...

And a side note to the above, in cases where obesity is related to health, often times obesity is but a symptom of a larger medical problem. Women with PCOS, for example, are often overweight and obese.

emmy. said...

thank you the correction. you are very right. i did intend to mean extreme obesity. although, the line into extreme obesity seems much larger that the line into emaciation. maybe it's just because society is so much more accepting of "skinny," so when someone drops from "thin" to emaciated, it seems so sudden.. if that makes sense.

BMI is such a tricky and awkward measurement, too. what BMI says is obese can be incredibly inaccurate and a person could, in fact, be perfectly healthy and not even at risk.

i appreciate your input, rachel.

TwistedBarbie said...

Ive been on both sides of this equation...
Ive been underweight and also obese...
Neither of them are fun, but one of them does get more societal approval. One of them is normalized.

It is really a matter or societal statements on worth, as we speak about it from a public policy standpoint. Who is deemed (by society, government,etc) worthy of help, funding, policies?

Now, I think we all agree on a common level that both those who cannot eat and those who cannot stop eating are worthy, but a societal view would say that those who over eat just need some self control whereas those who starve themselves, while they could just... eat a burger (insert eyeroll), deserve help.
This can also be related to the idea that anorexia is a "rich white girls disease," a population that has been deemed worthy" since women became more than property (and even before if you were a widow...).
To change this, we have to rewrite a value system.
It is do able. Those of us on both sides of the equation need to include eachother in the conversation. Those of us that write ED blogs, need to start talking to those who are writing fat positive blogs. Our liberties are bound up in eachother's.

wendy said...

That person in the story is my sister and i promise she is a way better person than any of the scum that has posted comments previously. That show was very misleading. My sister only did the show because she was approached by the producers and she thought it may help her find a Dr that would do her bypass procedure since she is from a small town where that kind of medical attention is not offered. The producers told her it would help her "situation" if she let them exaggerate her eating habits. My sister suffers from a rare thyroid condition that caused her weight to jump like that in a few short years. Despite her everyday challenges, she loves herself and accepts things for what they are. She was told that show would never be aired in this country since it was meant for the BBC. Thanks TLC! Anything for a rating huh?

wendy said...

That person in the story is my sister and i promise she is a way better person than any of the scum that has posted comments previously. That show was very misleading. My sister only did the show because she was approached by the producers and she thought it may help her find a Dr that would do her bypass procedure since she is from a small town where that kind of medical attention is not offered. The producers told her it would help her "situation" if she let them exaggerate her eating habits. My sister suffers from a rare thyroid condition that caused her weight to jump like that in a few short years. Despite her everyday challenges, she loves herself and accepts things for what they are. She was told that show would never be aired in this country since it was meant for the BBC. Thanks TLC! Anything for a rating huh?