"I Loathe My Body" — How My Weight Obsession Made Me A Recluse

I hate the body that I'm in.

woman in crop top and shorts PRASAN MAKSAEN / Shutterstock

For as long as I can remember, I've been the fat daughter.

Although in reality (and looking back at those photos) I was anything but fat but that was just my role in the family.

I was actually average weight for my height and bone structure but because I had a sister who was — and is — naturally skinny, the fat sister label just fell into my lap. And to this day, I’m not sure who put it there; it certainly wasn't my family. It was a blow to my self-esteem.


My weight has fluctuated throughout my life. I

n high school I was a size 8, in college, I was a size 4, then after graduation when I lived at my parents' house for almost two years — truly miserable about the fact that my life wasn’t what I hoped it would be — I skyrocketed to a size 14. I was, at least by my standards, HUGE, and being only 5 feet in height, that’s not much of an exaggeration.

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I was no longer the fat daughter, but the obese daughter. I loathed my body.

Stretch marks appeared on my inner thighs and across my lower abdomen due to weight gain — and for the first time in my life — I genuinely hated my body. I'd punch at my stomach until it bruised and fantasized about somehow popping it with a needle as if it were a balloon that could easily be deflated. I was disgusted and disgusting.


Depressed by both the weight gain and the fact that I was living at home with no job prospects in sight, I took to my old habit of cutting. But, instead of cutting my forearms as I did as a teenager, I went for the inside of my thighs instead. 

Not only did I want to punish myself for being vile, but I wanted to rip into the stretch marks on my legs as if I were teaching them a lesson. Of course, it did nothing but make the stretch marks even more visible just adding to my self-hatred.

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When my depression, which I'd been struggling with since I was about 11 or 12, looked like it was winning, my parents forced me into therapy.


After about six months, I decided it was time to leave New Hampshire together and start my life. I moved to New York City in 2004.

I was on new depression meds and feeling good. I got a job, albeit one I didn't like, but I walked the 30-something blocks back and forth to work every day when the weather was nice. Within the first year, I was back down to a size 8 and my weight was no longer a concern. My biggest concern then was trying to make enough money to afford my East Village apartment, which even in 2004, was obnoxiously high.

And so my weight stayed relatively the same. It would go up five to seven pounds during the holidays, then even out again once it was time to hit the beach.

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In 2008, I met someone who would change my life forever.

He would ultimately be the man who irrevocably broke my heart and a relationship from which I’m still recovering. We shared an addiction to alcohol and overall bad behavior. By putting my need to drink before my need to eat, my weight dropped. Again, I got down to a size 4.

But when that came to an end after almost four years, something strange happened and my appetite for food and life came back. I also fell in love. After so long, with someone who treated my heart like monkey meat (as Hannah Horvath would say), I felt alive. So I ate and ate and ate. Before I knew it, I had a little something that I affectionately called love weight.

At first, I thought of it as a novelty in some weird way. I was in love with a man who found me sexy and I was curious to see how my body had changed, how my flexibility had decreased, and how even I could feel a difference in how I put on socks. I wasn’t happy about it, I wasn't unhappy about it. I was whatever about it. I was happy, truly happy for the first time in my adult life. So I married the man who gave me back my appetite, spent three weeks in Italy for our honeymoon and now I'm the largest I've ever been.


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But the novelty has worn off and I hate myself.

My current weight is debilitating. Not physically so much, but definitely emotionally and mentally. Because I’m so disappointed in myself, I refuse to buy clothes to fit this body of mine. Whereas I used to punish myself for my weight with self-inflicted wounds, having gotten my cutting under control, I now punish myself by not allowing myself to have anything but sweatpants and a stretchy skirt to wear.

When I do buy clothes, I buy clothes to fit the size 6/8 me that has always been the perfect weight for my size and hang them in my closet as some sort of torturing method.


I have also become more of a recluse than I was before this weight gain. I've always been pretty content to be alone and do my own thing but now I avoid socializing like the plague. I make plans but never keep them, choosing to fake sick or say I have too much work, and when I am forced into social situations, especially with those I haven’t seen since the weight gain, I apologize.

I tell them I'm sorry for how offensive I look, then make some sort of off-color joke that doesn’t make the situation any better. My thinking is if I say it first, before they think it, then I will have limited the amount of time that they've judged me for the fact that I look like I ate my former self.

We are living in a world in which body acceptance is finally coming to the forefront.

Not a day goes by that I don’t read about a woman taking a stand against fat-shaming or a gorgeous plus-size woman getting a contract with a clothing or beauty brand. I think it's wonderful and I’m really happy that this is where we are in society, but it doesn't change how I feel about myself.


I know what I have to do to lose weight, but now that I'm over 30, it's not as easy as it used to be, so I give up faster than I should. Call it laziness or disappointment, but either way, it’s hindering me.

I know I won’t always be this way but while I am, I will hate my body all I want and hide inside my apartment when I feel I can't face the world.

I'm under no obligation to accept my body as it is, so I won't.

But maybe that’s exactly what I need to make the necessary changes to get back on track.

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Amanda Chatel has been a sexual wellness and relationship journalist for over a decade. Her work has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Self, and other outlets.