Socking Away a Body Image Secret? Why the Truth Will Set You Free

Novelist Diana Spechler creates a space for you to let your body hang-ups go

Last week we talked about our first bad body moments. But while that first one leaves the deepest scar, the truth is that most of us have bad body moments on a regular basis. Most we keep secret, because they aren't the kind of thing you want to share with the world -- except you also really want to share them with the world, to know you're not alone. Enter Body Confessions, the anonymous group blog/brainstorm of novelist Diana Spechler. Her new novel Skinny is due out next week, so today we're chatting with her about body image, fat camp and why truth is stranger than fiction.

Q: What inspired you to launch your blog, Body Confessions?

A: I had serious writer's block when writing my book, Skinny. I would write a hundred pages and trash them because the voices in my head were shrieking, "You can't write about body image issues! Then everyone will know you have body image issues!" It wasn't until I confronted my own history with disordered eating that the writer's block disappeared.

Incredibly, so did a lot of my body image issues. I'm not cured, but I have a better handle on hunger and satiety than ever before and I obsess less about my own imperfections. In fact, writing down my body secrets relieved me of them. It helped me let them go. I wanted to give the world a chance to do the same thing by confessing anonymously on Body Confessions. I hope that it will help to de-stigmatize body image issues and eating disorders by revealing how common these problems really are, even though they don't fit into our idea of "normal." I wanted to give the world the chance to confess.

Q: Why did you decide to keep this blog anonymous? 

A: It would be great if everyone could talk about this stuff out loud. Unfortunately, it's socially acceptable to say, "I shouldn't have eaten that cookie!" but not to admit to an actual binge. How often do you hear someone say, "I've been eating for five days straight?" Never. But it happens. The obesity epidemic is growing. Eating disorders are thriving. The food and diet industries are booming. And most of the time, we're tip-toeing around truths, which only compounds everyone's shame. Until we can talk about this stuff freely, let's at least talk about it anonymously.

Q: Is your book Skinny autobiographical? 

A: Even five years after starting this project, I want to shout "It's fiction!" But all fiction is, to some degree, autobiographical. To research Skinny, a story set at a weight loss camp, I worked at a camp in North Carolina for ten weeks. The novel is loosely based on that experience and the protagonist, Gray Lachmann, struggles with a lot of the same food issues as me.

Q: You've been inundated with Body Confessions. Which ones stay with you? 

A: Someone once wrote: "I feel ashamed and guilty when I throw up, but I don't know how to stop. I think I want to punish my ugly body. I hate my body so much!" Confessions like that give me chills. But other confessions are funny, uplifting or sweet. Some are embarrassingly relatable: "I can spend hours thinking about what I'm going to eat next." Over 30 people have clicked "Been There" on that one. People keep confessing about loving food -- so many of us are ashamed of our appetites.

Check out the trailer for Skinny here.

 

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