Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Personally I think people of all different sizes can look fantastic. There’s no prerequisite that someone need fit in a certain size pants to be beautiful, handsome or sexy. In fact, often I think the heavier version of someone is far more attractive than his or her thinner version. Like Carrie Underwood. Or Victoria Beckham.

I know I often pout and whine on and on about the 15 or so pounds I’ve put on in the last two years (I’m going to go right ahead and blame that on the fact that I eat REAL dinners now, instead of cups of applesauce and saltine crackers like I used to on that old single mom’s budget of mine) but, really, I’m okay with it. They’re just thighs. Okay, they might be bigger thighs than they used to be, but it’s not the end of the universe. Mostly.

And I still have great hair, dammit!

Some women put a ridiculous amount of pressure on themselves to be skinny. They’re brutal. It’s almost like they think they’re worth nothing if they aren’t a size 0. (Or maybe it’s exactly like that, I dunno.) They take their “thin-spiration” waaaaaayyyyyyy too far down a very dark, dangerous (and hungry!!!!) road.

I know a woman who has been anorexic for 40 years. Let’s call her Joann. Joann is very blunt about her anorexia. She talks about it totally openly. She’s not shy about it at all. She flat out tells me, “I’m anorexic,” rather than making up some cutsie nickname for it, like ‘Ana’ or ‘Rexy’ to make it sound less horrible.

Joann and I have had several conversations about her anorexia over the 12 years I’ve known her. When she talks about it, she acts like it’s impressive or an achievement. She’s actually kind of proud of having starved herself for 40 years. I’ve never understood it.

According to her it started when she was a teenager. Most of her family members were overweight and she became determined to escape the “fat gene,” so she started restricting herself to only one “meal” a day (usually something junk food-y like a few onion rings or a piece of pie) and nourished herself the rest of the day on a strict diet of Pepsi, coffee, beer and cigarettes.

That’s what she has survived on for 40 very hungry years.

Her weight has fluctuated a lot. At one point she was down to a frightening, skeletal 70-something pounds. She never really has much energy and she looks a lot older than she actually is.

Or was.

Joann died last night from cancer. Even with multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, the cancer ran rampant within her because her body was too weak and malnourished from 40 years of starving to fight. There was nothing more the doctors could do.

Joann was in her 50’s. She leaves behind a son, three grandkids she will never get to see grow up (one who is less than a year old and will have no memories of her), a house full of cats, and a big mess for her grieving son to deal with…. and all because she wanted to be skinny.

To everybody out there who is unhappy with their body, can you do me a big favor today? Embrace your curves, your thunder thighs, your beer belly, your badonkadonk butt, your double chin, or whatever body part is ticking you off! Love those imperfect parts even if it’s just for today, because there are far, far worse things than extra pounds.


I think Joann got that in the end. I heard that her last request in the hospital was to pig out on ice cream. I don’t know if that is funny or really sad. It makes me feel both things at once, honestly.

I know this song has nothing to do with death (more likely a fight) (or drugs) but it always kinda reminds me of troubled souls being set free. I imagine Joann drifted away across the universe last night and is in heaven right now where she can eat all the ice cream she wants to without fear or guilt or worry. Joann, this one is for you….

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© Coracabana


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. That's a shitty way to go. Fucking cancer.

Dawn (Bee and Rose) said...

I'm so sorry, Cora {{hugs}} I'm grateful for your post...I have friend who's daughter is going through this...I'm emailing this post to her...maybe it will be the right words at the right time for her...

SkylersDad said...

Kathy and I have a friend who is anorexic, she collapsed and was dead for 15 minutes at a 10K race. The EMTs brought her back, and she was in a coma for 3 weeks. When she woke up they explained to her what happened and that the cause of it was malnutrition.

Now, 2 years past that whole event, she *still* binges and purges. It is so sad.

I am so sorry for the loss of your friend.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

So sad dude. Sorry about your friend.

And you're right - everything you said. We all try too hard to fit some ridiculous ideal. There's no shame in not having our ribs poking through, really. And I know a couple of lady friends of mine who're definitely on the larger end of the scale and they look fabulous.

I had a friend in high school who was anorexic. I don't know how it happened. She was bubbly, happy, smart, cute and not at all, even a tiny bit, overweight. Yet suddenly she was anorexic. And hospitalized. And from then on for the rest of our schooldays, in and out of there. And never bubbly or happy again. My sister and I recently went through some old photos from school and I found her (anorexic girl) photo from when we were around 12. She looked so lovely. My sister says she still sees her around, jogging down the main street of the town and she's as unnaturally skinny as ever. It makes me so sad. What happened to that girl to make her believe she just wasn't good enough? Didn't Karen Carpenter always say that her anorexia was triggered after she read a review of their concert where the stupid, unthinking male reviewer referred to her as "chubby" - which she never even WAS?

I don't know who'd be a teenage girl nowadays with the pressure from the media on skinniness. Perfectly slim and beautiful girls are starving themselves because they still don't think they're thin ENOUGH all because of unrealistically airbrushed magazine covers and the like. It makes me so furious.

Shana said...

Sorry for the loss of your friend!

Anorexia is an awful thing.

Scope said...

As they have been through the whole ordeal, my thoughts and prayers are with Joann's family today. And tomorrow. And the next day...

And I seriously doubt you've put on 15 pounds in the last 2 years. I cannot spot an ounce or an inch. You are still the sexiest & most beautiful woman I know.

And you do have AWESOME hair!

Stacie's Madness said...

crappy crappy crappy.
but Scope's comment...sweet sweet sweet.

Donna said...

I definitely agree with you, love yourself if you have belly fat or whatever...and enjoy everything in our life.
i'm so sad to what had happened to her.

Dutch donut girl said...

You are absolutely right and it's so sad.

There are clearly more important things in life than striving to remain thin. The skinny mentality can suck all the pleasure out of life.

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend.

Kal said...

I wish the entire fashion industry wasn't run by people who essentially hate woman. They send the most destructive messages out to the world. Hating someone because they are fat is one of the few acception prejudices out there. I know I never look at a person's outside until I have fully evaluated their hearts. So many so called 'pretty' people are very ugly and unhappy inside. I know being around such a person is more work than the benefits that would come from having a pretty piece of eye candy on her arm.

J.J. in L.A. said...

How sad! If she was a normal weight, Joann might have had a fighting chance.

I also think some meat on your bones is WAY more attractive than no meat. And having to be so restrictive with your diet has to be miserable. That's no way to live, regardless of how tiny you think you need to be.

BeckEye said...

Sorry to hear about your friend.

Cora said...

All: Thank you so much, I appreciate it.

Dawn: I hope it helps her. *fingers crossed*

Steven said...

As sad as this post makes me, I think it might be the best, heart-felt, honest post I have ever read. In a few short paragraphs you every point with enormous force. I wish every woman (and man) in the world would read it.

words...words...words... said...

I'm sorry about your friend. It seems that anorexia is such an inexplicable disorder that it's hard to think outside influence causes it. But the fashion industry sure doesn't help.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about this.

LegalMist said...

Well said, Cora... about loving oneself as is instead of trying to live up to some ridiculous societal ideal of "perfect."

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend.