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Fat, Broke & Lonely No More
Your Personal Solution to Overeating, Overspending, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
The Anatomy of Fat, Broke & Lonely
Fat, broke & lonely. These words haven't routinely been grouped together like backup singers, and yet this trio represents the overarching personal fear of our era. Of course we're concerned about terrorist attacks and melting polar ice caps, but we can feel so powerless over those that there's no use obsessing about them. Fat, broke & lonely, however, can take front and center. We either give in to it by overeating, overspending, and looking for love in all the wrong places, or confront it with steely resolve: "No matter what else happens, by golly, I can look great, have the right stuff, and know the right people."
Not that there's anything wrong with wanting these. In evolutionary terms, they're inextricably linked to our primal instincts to survive and procreate. When wanting turns to craving, however, that desperation posts an open invitation to fat, broke & lonely.
In my observations, women seem to be the most apprehensive about being either fat or lonely. In many women's minds, these are two sides of the same coin. Being fat (or unattractive—a pimple or bad blow-dry can feel like three pounds around the midsection) carries with it the threat of not being loved romantically or even liked platonically. And if loneliness comes first, fat may well follow. When there's a breakup on a sitcom, for example, the gal is going to be eating ice cream out of the carton before the next commercial.
For men, broke is often a bogeyman more heinous than fat and lonelycombined. Although men are increasingly being pressured to succumb to the same impossible body-beautiful messages that bombard women, fat need not be fatal to the masculine self-image as long as the man is successful, powerful, and well-to-do. The pain of loneliness is not gender-specific, but men have been socialized for self-reliance, and most cultures have long allowed single men the comfort of casual encounters while frowning upon them for women. A man lacking means, however, feels impotent to attract females, impress males, and fulfill his evolutionary mandate to support a family (even when his wife's income could support the family, and perhaps then he feels it even more).
Individual interpretations and gender divides notwithstanding, each of these words is loaded. Whatever truth they're supposed to convey is overshadowed by the half-truths, inferences, and bold-faced lies they also communicate. Certainly there's the "fat" that's a health risk, and then there's "Do I look fat in these jeans?" asked to elicit the response, "Are you kidding? You're so skinny, you look gorgeous in everything."
Broke, too, doesn't usually mean "penniless." I was shocked to hear my husband lament early in our marriage (second time for both—we weren't kids), "We're so broke I don't eat lunch!" We were earning six figures, and in cooperation with the bank, we owned an imposing stone house from the Arts and Crafts era. The extensive (and expensive) work required to rehab it, though, caused William to regard a sandwich as a luxury and broke as an applicable adjective.
Similarly, lonely usually doesn't mean "all alone." We define it as "without a life partner" (or with the wrong one), or as lacking in the number or type of friends or social contacts we think we should have or believe we once did. "I had so many friends in college [or when I lived in Minneapolis, or before I was on the road so much], but I just can't connect with people now."
Taken in tandem, though, fat, broke & lonely isn't shorthand for having some weight to lose, being low on cash this month, and requesting a table for one the second night in a row. At its root, fat, broke & lonely, whether as fact or fear, arises from emptiness inside a human being, a cavity in the soul. Eating too much food (or worrying too much about eating food), spending too much money (or expecting too much from money), and depending too much on others (or pushing them away) all stem from a void at the core. This book could have been called Drunk, Bummed & Worried No More, or Frustrated, Exhausted & Dissed No More, or Starving Myself, Scared to Death & Sleeping Around No More. Any of these (without the "no more") can rob us of the best stuff: the present moment, our next brilliant idea, the people who think we're fabulous.
The key to breaking up with fat, broke & lonely is the realization that you really are enough, that you can feel full on the inside because nothing is lacking. This is what it takes to feel nourished (and beautiful), prosperous (and safe), loved (and loving), and, in the rock-solid here and now, to eat well and get fitter, earn more and invest wisely, and attract people into your life who'll be there for you no matter what.
To dump fat, broke & lonely, you're going to have to meet your inner emptiness head-on and deal with it. But before you add another agony to the list ("Oh, my God, I'm fat, broke, lonely, and empty too!"), be advised: it's not just you. That is to say, you're not troubled about how you look, how much you have, and who you're with because you have some condition. (I'm astounded that virtually every human challenge is now a condition that can be treated with a really remarkable drug—if you don't mind side effects like intermittent spleen pain, rampant growth of back hair, and herpes of the eye.) This whole fat-broke-and-lonely thing isn't just you, it's also your culture, one that has a vested interest in keeping you troubled about your shortcomings, real and imagined.
You're needed to support both the doughnut and diet-food industries. You're expected to say yes to the credit cards, with their irresistible introductory rates, and to fill a seat at the make-a-mint-in-real-estate seminar. The status quo depends on your purchasing the latest styles and newest cosmetics, which will cause men to lust after you and women to admire you and seek out your company.Fat, Broke & Lonely No More
Your Personal Solution to Overeating, Overspending, and Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. Copyright © by Victoria Moran. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.