In the recent past, I’ve come across the term “fatorexia” several times. It’s a new word made up to explain a (almost certainly imaginary) concept that people who are not overweight believe exists. This term is supposed to describe fat people who look in a mirror and don’t see that they are fat. It’s the opposite of the (almost certainly imaginary) notion that anorexics look in a mirror at their bony frames and believe they are fat.
In both the cases of fat people and extremely thin people, they see their true image in the mirror. They are not having some sort of hallucination that they see something that is not there. It is their evaluation of the image which is different than that of people who are not dealing with their body image issues. That is, a very thin person sees a very thin person, but still finds the image inadequate. A very fat person still sees a very fat person, but doesn’t find the image repulsively inadequate.
“Fatorexia” has been concocted as a way of rationalizing the fact that some fat people do not engage in the “proper” level of self-loathing that average weight or thin people believe we should be feeling. If we don’t absolutely hate our bodily image as much as they believe we should (which is to say as much as they hate our bodies), then clearly we are experiencing some sort of delusion when we look in the mirror.
Of course, this concept has worked all too well on most fat people, including me. Except for the scraps of time in my life when I am alone and in the peace of my own home with my loving husband and have been able to forget the cruel eye of every other person in the world, I have never known anything but self-hatred because of the constant judgment, abuse and scrutiny applied to me, and it is clear that applying the values of those who find me disgusting has done nothing to help me lose weight throughout my life. Accepting their vision of me and incorporating it deeply into my psyche has only made me feel powerless, inadequate, and hopeless in many areas of my life, including my eating habits. I am expected to have the strength to make major changes in my life, while being showered with belittlement and dealing with the resulting emotional pain and stress. It shouldn't surprise people that making someone feel worthless day-in and day-out affects their ability to function, but somehow it escapes them when it comes to judging people based on their weight. At this point in time, I succeed in spite of the judgment and abuse, not because of it. I think I manage this now only because of my husband's unconditional love, a strong motivation to change due to future life change that is coming in 2012, and because I've gotten old enough to be far more dismissive of others opinions of me.
This new concept of "fatorexia" is borne of the same self-centered mindset that has everyone making other people’s weight their business. They are the center of all things and their judgment and values are paramount. You must hate yourself when you look in the mirror because they hate the way you look and would hate themselves if they looked like you. They can’t even begin to conceptualize that you may see any sort of appeal in the way you look so you must be seeing a distorted vision of yourself. It’s the only explanation for your inability to see yourself through their eyes and to apply their values to your appearance. Yes, you must be fatorexic if your image of yourself doesn’t jive with that of those who judge you by your appearance and find you wanting in every conceivable manner. If "fatorexia" actually existed, I think I'd be better off if I experienced it. It'd be nice to be "delusional" enough to not feel self-loathing at my appearance for once in my life.