Saturday 27 June 2015

Auntie Seraphic & the Anxious Eater

[Dear Auntie Seraphic]:

I have been reading your post on single life and why a person might still be single, when everyone around her is marrying. I struggle with my weight very badly and I know that this is why I don't want to put myself in the running and also why men seem to look through me if you know what I mean. They are friendly to me but no attraction which I understand, I am not fat or chubby I am very overweight. 

Can you do a post on this but not post my email please and also explain why, is it just fertile signals, that it is so disgusting to men, for example would your husband have married you do you think, if you were fat but still everything else you? Maybe understanding another's point of view how they see it that will help me understand what I am doing to myself and kickstart me into stopping overeating. 

Do you know why some people eat their anxiety and other don't, why some obsess about it and eat badly even if they know what they should eat? I had a good childhood so I don't know why I do this but I want to stop so I can be happy and then maybe if God wills it meet a nice man, my email is more about a happy single life than a happy love life. I would have no respect for a man who wanted me looking like this by the way, if I can see how wrong it is, how can he not? I am not looking for a chubby chaser I just want to be free and I am hoping for some tough love on this as I know that it is stopping me from a lot, I feel in chains.
Romans 7 15

Dear [Romans 7:15]

Oh dear. I am so sorry. That sounds like such a cross: not just the weight, but the anxiety that leads you to overeat.  

My instinct is that most men are attracted to women who look young and healthy. Women who have suffered for some time with eating disorders do not look young and healthy, from anorexics to the morbidly obese. I remember a woman in my university's athletic center. She seemed to be addicted to the Stairmaster, and she was so bone-thin, and with such thin hair and staring eyes, that she looked like Gollum. 

Now, clearly that woman needed psychiatric help,  I am a big, big fan of professional psychiatric help. I was in therapy for almost five years myself, and now I manage a mood disorder with anti-depressants. Eating disorders and any other mental or emotional disorder seems to me on the same moral level as cancer or any other physical illness. Very rarely is anyone blamed for being ill. However, it is the responsibility of the sick person to get medical help.

My advice is that you make an appointment at once with a medical doctor. Explain to the doctor your beliefs as to why you overeat. Ask for his/her recommendation for a counsellor who can help you to deal with anxiety without overeating. (Being reprogrammed to scrub the bathtub instead would be quite a blessing!)

The big issue here is not whether or not men find you attractive. The big issue here is freeing yourself from the chains and, indeed, saving yourself from long-term damage to your physical health and, indeed, an early death. Once you have sought medical help, for body and mind, then you can think about other people and romantic relationships. But for now I strongly recommend that you seek medical help.

If that is too big a step for any reason, look online or in the phone book for Catholic or other Christian counsellors and contact one. Back home, I would recommend "Catholic Family Services". 

Grace and peace,

I am not absolutely sure from this letter how overweight my reader is. However, as she mentioned "chubby chasers"--men who are sexually attracted to obese women--I assumed she is dangerously overweight. Maintaining a healthy weight is very important for long-term health; whether men find you attractive or not is quite besides the point. 

As for tough love, I don't think anyone with a physical or mental illness or disability needs "tough love." They need loving, professional care. 

Meanwhile, the women in Britain are the fattest in Europe. Eating habits here are simply terrible, and overweight women are so much a part of life that they can be television stars, romantic leads, you name it. Edinburgh is full of overweight women and their correspondingly overweight or contrastingly skinny boyfriends. Being overweight does not immediately excommunicate you from male society. Being terribly unhappy, on the other hand.....

One of the big shocks for women who lose a significant amount of weight is that this does not solve all their problems. When I was 115 pounds and incredibly fit--ah, those were the days--I walked, scowling, one day through a blue collar neighbourhood and heard, "Great body. Too bad about the face." I was sooooo mad, I still remember it 16 years later. It only occurs to me now that I wearing my "If anyone talks to me, I will knock them flat" expression.  I was thin (and strong as wire), but was I happy and confident? No. 

Men are sexually attracted to all kinds of women, and this is not necessarily connected with their emotions. However, men get crushes on happy women. Men fall in love with happy women. They will stick with their women when those women are sad (unless those men are jerks or the women are abusive), but I am confident that what men most admire in women is happiness.

Update: I see that I didn't answer the hard question. Well, I do think B.A. would have fallen in love with me if I were overweight. I don't think he would have fallen in love with me if I were miserable. And I don't think he would have fallen in love with me if I were obese because obesity--a serious health problem--is much more likely to elicit pity and horror than admiration. I would have fallen in love with B.A. if he had been overweight, and I married B.A. even though he was underweight, but I don't think I would have fallen in love with B.A. if he had been obese. Portly is one thing, but obese is another. 


  1. What a brave post. That's so interesting that you would have turned down BA had he been obese, for I often think that men hold their weight very well. When they start to look feminine though, or ladies masculine, well that is another story. The only diet that works is the diet that works for you, I've seen people lose half their weight on Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Rosemary Conley, Dukan. I would advise strongly against Cambridge/Lighter Life/gastric bypass as you can see when people have lost weight on them, they look like deflated balloons and waxy pale. The head stuff is very important, maybe she can box/run a lot of this out, but a good therapist is essential. I wonder if an addiction service like OA would help? And maybe she does need something to jumpstart her happiness, anti-depressant wise but exercise will also help with that. Hire a personal trainer to stand by you if you're shy in the gym or just youtube stuff at home. Turn off the telly/internet at least 3 hours prior to sleep, don't lie in until noon on your days off and get your minimum hour in the sunshine every day and your full night's sleep, don't be afraid of butter and olive oil. It's not rocket science but it does involve turning your back on a lot of how people live their lives these days. And pray, pray to Our Lord in the Eucharist, pray to His mother, to your confirmation saint and to your guardian angel too. Confess the sin of greed/sloth and ask the priest there to pray for you too. Those little nuns in convents who pray all day, you can write/email and ask them too for this is as much of a spiritual problem as it is physical, especially since you had no Big Issues when young. They all want you to be happy and healthy and free from the bondage of sin. It's the freedom from the sin that will make you joyful, not your little waist. I will pray for you too, it's difficult but worth it.

    Anon for this.

    p.s. Seraphic, is it ok to tell a man that you have lost a lot of weight if the subject comes up, or would that too elicit pity and horror?

  2. Wow. Well-said Auntie!

    To be honest, I'm quite "big" for an asian lady. I'm a size UK 12. I never was labelled thin or even balanced. It's always the "you-should-loose-a-bit-of-weight" kind of comment. During my younger years, I was really sensitive about my weight, I kind of made a lot of effort to loose weight and it did work out but nothing changed. I was still me, people still kept telling me to loose 5kg and I was still single (although I never hoped to have a boyfriend just because I was slimmer). That was then, now I'm quite happy with how I look, I know I'm not an average looking person because I'm tall and big. I'm comfortable with who I am and as ecstatic about life as ever.

    I get why you said that men are attracted to women who are happy. I also am in awe with women who always sees the brighter side of things. I myself would like to always be happy and never make anyone mad or sad. I think, this is the most important thing in life. Being happy in anyway possible be it alone or together with your significant other. Happiness is what we need people!!

    thanks auntie! I always learn a lot from you and I should probably make a mental note of this. *writes down on arm* BE HAPPY

  3. :\ This makes me really sad, especially the part where she says she has no respect for men who might be attracted to her at her current weight.

    Living in the USA, I know so many great people who are obese and morbidly obese. It is important to remember that a lot of the people who non-doctors call "chubby" or "overweight" are actually medically obese -- and sure, this is bad for their health, but if I'm not carrying that weight myself, it's not my primary concern. I know many people who gained at least 100 lbs after marriage and now both people are obese, but still madly in love. Their weight isn't good for them, but having a medical problem doesn't preclude people from romance.

    I think it is insulting to call men who are not disgusted by fat women "chubby chasers," as if the only way a man could find a fat woman sexy is if he has a disturbing fetish. I agree with the need for joy and happiness, medical help and mental help. She should work on feeling great and building habits that increase peace and joy, and hopefully get a healthier body that will give her more energy. But don't think that men in love with obese women are perverts!

  4. Sciencegirl, there are, however, men with a disturbing fetish for unusually fat women. There are clubs, bars, websites, etc. for them . Sorry to mention it. I assumed those are the men to whom the reader was referring.

    But, yes, married people do have a tendency to A) gain at least ten pounds and B) let their health slide. So married people do get fat together. Sometimes very fat. And it does not decrease their love for each other. However, they will still get sick, long-term health problems and risk dying young.

    I see no reason why anyone would mention early on in a relationship that they used to be fat. Generally I don't think anyone should tell anyone anything at all sad/controversial/self-depreciating early on a date. "I let myself get terribly fat when I was a teenager and got rid of it later" might be the same as saying "I ran up huge credit card debt when I was a teenager but paid it off" or "I used to smoke grass but I haven't for three years" or "I had the worse ever acne but I cured it with drugs" or any other unhealthy behaviour/health misforturtune.

    Bragging that you look so fabulous now because you lost 20 through good diet and exercise is still bragging, if it's on a date. If you're having a health-and-wellness conversation with girlfriends, that's fair comment and useful information.

  5. I have been underweight. I have been of a normal weight. I have been lean and fit. I have been slightly overweight, though never obese.

    I mention all of this to point out that I have never noticed an increase or a decline in male interest in me according to my weight. Go figure (pun definitely intended.)

    I am an anxious person, and I have the tendency to fixate on food to some extent. There was a point where I was subsisting on what amounted to a starvation diet. I suppose it's a control thing. Whatever. I think that the man I marry will have to be okay with there not being junk food in the house. Just one of those things, you know.

    I think that for now, Miss Anon should not worry about men. And it might help her to think about food for its nourishing properties rather than for its weight-reducing properties or calorie content. For example, "This food is good for my heart" not "This food is 350 calories per serve."

  6. There is a book called "Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desires with God, Not Food." An acquaintance who really struggled with her weight highly recommended it. I have never really been chubby--except for putting on the "freshman fifteen" at college when I started eating institutional food for the first time--but I picked up this book and read it. I remember thinking that it would be a great book to work through with any issue (food, smoking, internet over-use, etc.). The idea is working on the underlying cause of the problem, and taking it to God so that He can heal your heart and fill you with Himself instead of you filling your emptiness with a harmful habit. Of course, all of this is in conjunction with working on eating healthy food, getting enough sleep, and so on.


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