What Fat Women Want

Wanting to be thin is only part of the story

Which Are You?

The eatie doesn't care about the food or the company.

I regularly fall into the habit of classifying people into two categories.  You know: either a cat person or a dog person, or a James Joyce person or a Virginia Woolfe person.  There are sub-categories of each that are just as important, but, of course, the categories I've parsed best are those I fall into.  A toy dog person or a big dog person; a Mrs. Dalloway person or a To the Lighthouse person.

For whatever it's worth, I'm a big dog/retriever/Lab & a Mrs. Dalloway person.

Lately, I've been trying to parse the difference between the person who loves food [too much] and the person who loves to eat [too much].

It sounds easy but the more I write about it, the more flummoxed I am to articulate what intuitively makes sense to me.

Food is the more ritualized of the two.  Turkey = Thanksgiving.  Turkey = cranberries, stuffing, etc.  Whether the table is set with Haviland and Waterford or it's paper plates from a buffet, it's the food and the company that counts.

For some people.

Foodies eat food for the sake of food.  But the other kind of person, the eatie, eats for the sake of eating.  At their most extreme, eaties don't care about the food or the company.  It's the quantity and its effects that counts.

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A foodie's food may have more or less variety, depending on personal preference.  On the other hand, I've known thin women who never touched a vegetable and lived on chocolate.  They were foodies who didn't indulge too much.  There are obese foodies all over the place because they love their food too much.

An eatie has preferences as well but they are calibrated less for taste than for their emotional and pysical effects.  If an eatie is terribly lonesome, s/he might make and eat a pan of lasagna because that was Sunday dinner growing up.  The effect of that pan of pasta, however, is debilitating.  The eatie is so full s/he can barely move and has no need to think because of the numbing and barbituate effect of the superload of carbohydrates, fats and calories.

If I go back to my original statement about dog people and cat people, I can draw a parallel.  A foodie is more like a cat, picky and picking.  A dog is definitely an eatie. 

I see this every day when I walk Daisy and we wrestle over paper muffin wrappers.  There is barely a hint of good taste left but her drive to eat makes the taste and substance immaterial.  Presented with the choice of a wrapper or ice cream, she would take the ice cream -- in two bites.  Then we'd have a wrestling match over the wrapper.

Few people are, I suspect, exclusively a foodie or exclusively an eatie.  I'm definitely an eatie.  If I want a particular kind of cookie and the deli doesn't have it, not only will something else do, but I'll probably get another kind to make up for my disappointment.  On the other hand, I love my salads and the only vegetable I quail before is okra.

A driven foodie might go on to the next store or settle on the nearest relation to his/her craving.  S/he might change the category altogether, bypassing the disappointment in the cookie aisle for ice cream.  Certainly s/he would complain about the missing item.  The eatie would simply roll with whatever could be scrounged up.

It's an ancient question.  Erysichthon cut down a sacred tree and was cursed with such insatiable hunger that he tries to sell his own mother and ends up eating himself.  This is the archetype of an eatie.

The archetype for the foodie is Rapunzel's mother, who traded her unborn baby for the the witch's rampion greens for which nothing else would do.

Both transgressed powerful beings' property and both traded away too much.  But Ersyichthon ate everything that came his way until he destroyed himself, while Rapunzel's ma could not be peruaded by arugula.

Frances Kuffel is the author of Passing for Thin: Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self.

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