We know that every woman wants to be thin. Our images of womanhood are almost synonymous with thinness. If we are thin we shall feel healthier, lighter and less restricted. Our sex lives will be easier and more satisfying. We shall have more energy and vigor. We shall be able to buy nice clothes and decorate our bodies, winning approval from our lovers, families, and friends. We shall be the woman in the advertisements who lives the good life; we shall be able to project a variety of images—athletic, sexy or elegant. We shall set a good example to our children. No doctors will ever again yell at us to take off the excess weight. We shall be admired. We shall be beautiful. We shall never have to be ashamed about our bodies, at the beach, in a store trying to buy clothes or in a tightly packed automobile. We shall be light enough to sit on someone’s knee and lithe enough to dance. If we stand out in a crowd it will be because we are lovely, not “repulsive.” We shall sit down in any position comfortably, not worrying where the flab shows. We shall sweat less and smell nicer. We shall feel good going to parties. We shall be able to eat in public without courting disfavor. We shall not have to make excuses for liking food.
Who, given this, wouldn’t want to be thin? It’s not surprising that, barring those who are naturally thin, every woman does have an eating disorder. But, what Orbach conveys with sarcasm and what likely any thin woman can tell you, is how little of this is true. Thin women are still concerned with how they look and smell; the images they project; approval from friends, family, and strangers; still feel tired, sexually dissatisfied, and ashamed of their bodies. And, they certainly, as they are culturally instructed to do, make excuses for their eating.