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Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life.Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

People Who Shame Fat People

What kind of people shame fat people? Have you ever thought about it? By understanding why they do what they do, you can let of the hurt and shame you feel if it happens to you. Being able to do that will help you put the shame where it belongs. As far as I can see, people who shame fat people come in two varieties. First, are folks who struggle with eating and weight themselves. They have contempt for their cravings for “bad” food and out of control eating. They are virtuous when they eat healthfully and wicked when they eat unhealthfully. They try to hold themselves on a tight lease with food. Some of them succeed and some don’t. They come from a place of fearing fat so much that they must hate it to keep it at a distance. Their shaming is not about you but about themselves, as...
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Dealing with Fat Phobia

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the world, but, as we all know, fat phobia is alive and well and living in the USA. It is real, rampant, and culturally accepted. However, there are ways to deal with it that don’t bring you down and make you feel badly about yourself. Learning them might take time, but they do work. I had a client in Massachusetts who loved to ride her bike. Yes, she was technically obese, but she hiked and loved camping and just about anything to do with the outdoors. One day when she was coasting along, some boys started to tease her and call her something like “fat bottom.” She just kept on biking. No surprise that when she passed them another day, they yelled the same things at her. A feisty woman, she yelled something back like “stupid heads” or the like and...
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Anger at Your Body

The members of my  " Food and Feelings " message board often inspire my blogs and this topic is another example. Ever wonder why you seem to hate your body or why other people can love their body at any size, but you haven’t been able to? Well, read on. If you were a victim of emotional or physical (including sexual) abuse as a child, you may think that because your parents or other adults devalued and mistreated your body there was something wrong with or bad about it, and that you should treat it badly too. The example a board member gave was being awakened in the middle of the night to one of her parents who was angry at the other one but feared showing it beating up on. Then this parent reawakened this poor child later in the night to apologize! Imagine if this happened to you repeatedly....
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Weights and Dates

If you’re a large or heavy person and are wishing for romance, let me tell you about a friend of mine whom I’ll call “Clara.” As you read this blog, you’ll see what Clara has to teach you about weight and dates. Clara, an amazing woman in her 50s with a professional background and kids all grown up, was diagnosed a decade ago with a leg muscle disease and walks with the aid of crutches, using a small scooter for distances. To that she recently added a guide dog, and she talks openly about a time when she’ll be wheelchair bound. She works-part time which includes occasional travel and is a go-getter--the first to organize outings like kayaking, trike rides, and zip-lining. Divorced after a long marriage, she’s gone through many ups and downs before, during and after her split. She knows she may not be every man’s cup of tea,...
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Why Can’t Our Bodies Be Okay?

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them. They seem fit, look great, are brimming with pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight (they insist) in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or 15 or 100 they’d like to shed. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Believe me, I recognize that it’s no fun being fat in this society, but it’s also no fun feeling badly about your body. The point is that I wonder what would happen if women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, happy, healthy, or successful, so what’s really going on? Several things. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a...
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Air-brushing for Beauty

Many girls or women with eating problems look enviously at a model or celebrity photo in a magazine and say, “Wow, I’d love to look like her!” What you may not realize is that even she doesn’t look like her image because of a technique called air-brushing. After having received a link to information about it, I knew I had to pass it on to all of you. The link, http://www.catalogs.com/resource/airbrushing-in-catalogs.html , explains the technique, including why and how it’s used. “Airbrushing is…an artistic technique that relies on a special tool called an airbrush…utilized to spray different forms of media like dyes, paints or inks; this compressed air tool uses a procedure that is referred to as nebulization…the conversion of any sample that is vaporized into some atomic components. The problem…stems from the media’s constant overuse of it [airbrushing], especially on the images of famous women such as actresses, singers and...
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Must See ED Video

I was fortunate enough to get a peek at a new video, ED101, produced by NORMAL (the National Organization to Build Resilience and Mindfulness through Arts Learning) and want to let you know about it. It’s a new, free (!!!), 35-minute, documentary style film that should be seen by no less than every man, woman and child in America. Here’s what the press release says about it: “The film is being circulated to schools and communities nationwide and presents a comprehensive overview of a widespread, yet highly misunderstood, mental illness through the lens of a compelling musical arts piece. Expert commentaries and insights are provided through interviews with clinicians, ED association leaders and family members who have been impacted by the disease.” The film also offers “hopeful journeys” from those who have recovered from EDs. Through music and photography, we meet and get to know people with eating disorders—anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating....
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Love Your Body Day Is October 19

Although every day could be Love Your Body Day, for many disregulated eaters, this is far from the case. Sadly, one of the myths that pervades our society and keeps us shackled to food problems and weight obsessions is that our bodies are imperfect, contemptible, ugly, and mercilessly uncooperative in looking the way we wish them to look. To counter this mindset, I propose that for 24 hours on Wednesday, October 19, Love Your Body Day, all of you give loving your body your full attention and affection. Let’s get straight what loving your body entails. First, it does not mean that your body is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect body. Collectively, culturally, we’ve decided what a “10” body means, but that’s only a trumped up standard which alters according to time and place. Some cultures revere round bodies, others muscular ones, or tall, thin ones that...
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Health at Every Size

If you haven’t heard about the Health at Every Size (aka HAES) movement, you’re missing out on a critical approach to working through food and body issues. Described by Dr. Linda Bacon in HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE (in her new 2010 edition), this well-documented and enlightening guide to living healthfully at any and every size is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself and your body. To quote from their website ( HYPERLINK " http://www.haescommunity.org/ " http://www.haescommunity.org/ ): “Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being [my emphasis] (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages: Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes; Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger,...
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Appearance and Weight Gain

Not a week goes by when I don’t hear a client, message board member, or friend lamenting her appearance. The truth is that there are folks who center their lives around how they look, others whose goal is to be presentable, and still others who barely put any time and effort into what constitutes their appearance. Which type of person you are will likely predict how you feel about your weight. If you’re a person who loves to gussy up and make a fashion statement, you might be really bothered by gaining weight. It makes sense if your appearance is of high import to you. Similarly, if you were raised to value intelligence, athletic prowess, strength of character, or creativity above all, you’re likely unduly self-critical about any perceived inadequacy in these areas. So stop and take a minute to reflect on the values you grew up with, that is, how...
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Don’t Buy Into Fat Hatred

It’s very hard in this society not to hate fat. I don’t mean the saturated or unsaturated kind, but body fat. Much as it’s nearly impossible due to institutional racism to be White and non-racist in this society, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the cultural and institutional bias that condemns fat as one of humanity’s worst transgressions. You have a choice, however, to buy into this absurdity or opt out. Stop for a minute and think about why you hate the fat on your body or anyone else’s. List the reasons by saying, “Fat is…” or “Being fat means…” or “Fat people are...” Now comb through your list and decide if there’s actual evidence to back up your claim. For instance, say you think, “It’s terrible that fat people are out of control.” Folks are out of control in lots of ways in this society: they work, spend, watch...
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Perfect Bodies

Last month I went to the beach with a friend and, there, on the blanket next to us was a woman—in her early 20s, I’d guess—who most folks in this culture would assess as having a “10” body. Evenly toned and tanned, she also had a pretty face and straight, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. Her bathing suit, a shocking neon blue, could probably be seen for miles. She certainly looked as if she had it altogether body-wise. Why, then, did I feel so sad for her? For all of you who think you’d beg, borrow or steal to have a perfect body, think again. For example, compare this woman to the young women who had set up their chairs and beach umbrellas on the other side of us. They had far from perfect, plump, soft bodies. I don’t recall their bathing suits or their hairstyles or anything else...
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Body Think

It’s a real drag that most women’s assumptions about their bodies run on only two channels: either positive or negative. Positive thoughts go something like this: Boy, I look great today, I’m really thin, That new wrinkle cream makes me appear years younger, You can hardly see my cellulite when my weight is down, I love how slim this dress makes me look. Negative thoughts go like: who am I kidding—we all know too well the evil thoughts about our bodies. It seems we’re either at one extreme or the other. Wouldn’t it be nice to simply take our bodies for granted in a healthy way (like most men do) and stop living our lives around how they look to us and others? Although it’s a lot healthier for us not to obsess about how bad we look and dump on ourselves for having fat, flab, love handles, or cellulite, it’s...
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Sexuality

A fascinating discussion about sexuality and body size is occurring on my message board ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings ). Even though we live in a culture that’s considered out there with sex, the sad truth is that sexuality and intimacy get talked about very little among women. The subject gets raised even less frequently by women who are ashamed of their bodies because of their size. Hats off to those of you who are willing to take the plunge and think and talk about sex and weight. No matter what their weight, most women have lots of conflicting feelings about sex, sexuality, and intimacy. After all, we’re supposed to be demur yet seductive and other mutually exclusive traits all at once. Then there’s the bombardment of cultural messages telling us that fat is repulsive and thin is alluring. Women who feel comfortable in their bodies at any weight are few and far between....
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The Good Body

Last night I saw Eve Ensler’s The Good Body here in Sarasota. If Ensler’s name rings a bell, it’s because she’s the creator of The Vagina Monologues. From its title, you might guess that The Good Body is about women’s quest for one and you’d be right. In fact, perhaps the show should have been called The Perfect Body. However, the word “good” works because many of these women are struggling desperately to be good girls as well. Sound familiar: trying to be good woman and have a good body? The show’s main character, Eve, is overweight and obsessed with her fat stomach. We meet her critical father, in the ice cream business of all things, and come to see how her disturbed relationship with food and body came about. Eve diets and overdoes it on the treadmill, but can’t get rid of her round mound of a belly. She even...
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A Fat Rant Video

A client recently told me about a great YouTube video called A Fat Rant by Joy Nash. You can find it at
. For all of you—fat, thin or in between—who simply cannot imagine feeling good about yourself at a weight society deems unacceptable, it’s a must-see. Frankly, it’s a must-see for everyone on the planet because it says what Gürze (and other) authors have been maintaining for decades: fat is neither a sin nor a crime. It’s nothing more than a descriptive term. I suggest you view the video and return to read the rest of this blog. So, what did you think? I bet some of you felt terrific, seeing this self-admitted big (though she doesn’t look 220 pounds on the video), beautiful woman oozing self-confidence and self-love. We need more role models like her who are willing to put themselves out there and say, “Yes, I’m fat. So...
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Body Shame

Body shame is an interesting phenomenon. Some people have way too much of it, so much that if they’re three pounds up and can’t fit into their jeans, they’re miserable and abhor their own flesh. Other people who are overweight, don’t view themselves that way. When they look in the mirror, they don’t see extra-large, but instead see the thin or average-size body they used to have. In both cases, shame has gone awry and is not being used effectively to foster physical and mental health. Let’s take the first scenario when you really aren’t fat, but have put on a few pounds due to vacation, holidays, or simple bloating. You (hopefully) know that your life won’t go down the tubes because of a couple of extra pounds, yet you feel intense hatred for your body and enormous shame about its appearance. Remember, shame is meant to signal that you’ve done...
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Body Grievances

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them, look great, seem full of pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight—they insist—in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or fifteen or 100. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Anyway, the point is that I wonder what would happen if these women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, healthy, or successful, so what is it really all about? My guess is that there are a couple things going on. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a female someone, say she liked her body just as it is? I don’t honestly recall ever hearing that comment. Even...
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Change the World, Not Yourself

Women are taught to change themselves to fit into the world—get a new hairstyle, learn some tricks to dazzle your guy in bed, do what you can to make people comfortable, try an exotic recipe, forge a perfect body—but how often are we encouraged to create a better world, one in which we can be just ourselves? Rarely. We could do more with the Sixties mentality which prodded us to question authority, fight back, and be part of a revolution. In fact, one of the best antidotes to an eating disorder or problem is to practice saying yes to what’s right with the world and changing what’s wrong. Although disordered eating seems like a personal problem, it affects us all. It’s generated by unhealthy cultural attitudes towards women’s beauty and bodies (sorry, guys) and is a major cause of health problems—undernourishment and overweight. Not to mention how miserable women feel about...
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Addiction to Looking Good

Whether you grew from an adorable toddler into a knockout or morphed from an “ugly duckling” into a “swan,” you may have become addicted to looking good. Because this culture worships and rewards beauty, if you’re attractive (especially if you’re female), you may be so hooked on receiving admiring glances and gushing compliments on your appearance, that you may not realize how attached you are to them. You even may be greedy for praise and convinced you can’t live without it. If you were cute as a button as a child and blossomed into a striking adult—with classic or eye-catching looks—you may have been complimented and rewarded all your life for nature’s gifts. Receiving too much praise for appearance, especially if you get none or few compliments for other innate qualities and learned skills, may make you believe that you are nothing more than a pretty face or an ideal body....
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This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.  Privacy Policy