Many of us have read Fat is a Feminist Issue by British psychotherapist Susie Orbach (my dog-eared copy currently lives between Bare: The Naked Truth About Stripping and Boy Vey!: The Shiksa's Guide to Dating Jewish Men.) If you haven’t read it, get thee to a book store or library and check it out – it’s phenom. In the meantime, there’s a New York Times interview with her that will do a great job of introducing you to the woman who (allegedly) treated Princess Diana for her bulimia and has spoken at length about suing Weight Watchers. Orbach has a new book out, Bodies, in which she explores women’s chaotic and frenzied searching for the ultimate body through any means necessary – surgery, self-mutilation, dieting, bingeing, and more. “I wish we could treat our bodies as the place we live from, rather than regard it as a place to be worked on, as though it were a disagreeable old kitchen in need of renovation and update,” she says in the NY Times piece.
Here, some more from her Q & A:
“Body hatred,” as you call it, has become a leading Western export. Young women in South Korea are undergoing surgery to Westernize the appearance of their eyelids.
"It’s supported by their parents. They don’t experience this as a terrible thing, that they’re being passive victims and idiots. They see it as a chance at modernity. Fiji is the country where 11.3 percent of girls were bent over the toilet bowl three years after television was introduced."
Do you believe there is actually a direct connection between watching a show like “Gossip Girl” and developing bulimia?
"Yes, the girls were trying to remake their bodies in the shape of skinny Western bodies. In general, the Western body has become a global brand."
You’ve publicly expressed an interest in suing Weight Watchers.
"Yes. Fifi, which is what I call my book “Fat Is a Feminist Issue,” was in part a plea to give up dieting and learn to recognize hunger and appetite and respond to them. Dieting, I argued, caused compulsive eating and destabilizes our relationship to food."
You reportedly treated Princess Diana for bulimia, which you have never acknowledged publicly.
"Look, here’s the position of the shrink. The surgeon says, “The operation was a success.” The shrink cannot say that so-and-so was my patient."
How much do you weigh?
"I have absolutely no idea. The last time I was weighed was a few weeks after I had my second child, Lianna, in 1988."
I trust you won’t succumb to cosmetic surgery.
"No. I’ve become accustomed to the way I look. I look my age, which is 62. If I were afraid of wrinkles, I’d probably be hiding in a cupboard, because I have a lot of them."
PS Here’s that Health Magazine story I was telling you about that I wrote – “Down there” health myths…exposed! Love the art!