As pressure for a perfect body motivates very poor decisions, more people, especially women, are suffering from eating disorders. It breaks my heart to see perfectly healthy individuals abuse their bodies in the name of losing weight. This in turn, abuses their souls, and their self-image.
It’s hard to love yourself when you hate your body!
Tamara Hey is a singer/songwriter who I’ve known and like for years. I’ve always enjoyed her straightforward lyrics. Sometimes biting, sometimes funny, often both, they tell the truth. Still, I was surprised to hear her perform Round Peg, a song on her latest album. It begins:
Round Peg doesn’t fit in with all of us skinny chicks
But what I like most about her is that she doesn’t give a shit
I wanna be her and let myself go
I bet she never stuck a finger down her throat
Could this lovely woman suffer from bulimia? I listened intently. I heard the emotions as she continued:
Round Peg couldn’t care less, buttering both sides of the bread
Letting the crumbs fall to her chest, brushing them off and starting again
I wanna be her — taking big bites
I’ll bet she never let a mirror cut her down to size
The chorus—ROUND PEG, ROUND PEG—ROUND PEG, ROUND PEG—wove around the lyrics that gave such a clear feel of what it feels like to have a poor body image, poor enough to purge your food after eating. My heart went out as she sang:
Oh Peg, your chocolate birthday cake
I pushed the pieces around my plate
That sweet 16 left such a bitter taste
Round Peg, I cut you out — with everything else good — ounce by ounce
I shouldn’t have done that, but I did, and now I’m down to bones and skin
I wanna be you — laughing out loud
But I’m bitter in the center and no fun to be around
I asked Tamara if this was her truth. Yes, she’d suffered from bulimia. So I had to interview her about it! Tamara Hey is a singer/songwriter with 3 independently-released CDs, including “Miserably Happy” (November 2008). She “brings lighthearted optimism to a singer/songwriter genre often skewed toward the brooding and depressive”, blend[ing] humor, sarcasm, wit, and introspection … with tons of pop vibes. Here’s what Tamara shared:
Why do you think you became bulimic? I can’t remember exactly what age I was, but I’m sure I was younger than 16; probably 14 or 15 years old. It was a “phase” that was short lived, but the state-of-mind doesn’t seem to wear off.
What motivated you to write Round Peg? I didn’t sit down with the intention of writing about bulimia. I had written down the potential title, “Round Peg” after hearing someone passing by say it mistakenly. The expression is really “Square Peg in a Round Hole”. She had it backward. I liked it and it was a challenge to come up with something the song could be about. When I realized what I was going to write, I was a little afraid. I had never considered writing a song about bulimia.
What does Round Peg represent? To me, Round Peg represents the kind of person the singer loathes and even fears yet wishes she could be. The singer is afraid to be fat. So afraid that she resorts to bulimia, hanging around with a clique of skinny girls who aren’t good friends. She befriends them because she knows that under their influence she will never become fat. She also envies Peg for her sense of self, freedom to enjoy life and just be who she is.
Was there a girl or type of girl that you saw as a Round Peg and envied? I can’t recall anyone specific. But even today, I admire women who are not afraid to wear clothes that show off what they’ve got physically. They seem comfortable with their shape no matter what it is, whereas, I think I never really will.
When you looked at the birthday cake, what did you see? In the lyric, the birthday cake was actually at Peg’s Sweet Sixteen. Fun foods like birthday cake, present me with a choice. If I decide to eat that birthday cake, then I have to face the challenge of not feeling bad about it; accepting that I ate it and move on.
How did you feel when you looked at yourself in the mirror? I almost never felt good. In fact, even today I purposely don’t have mirrors in my house – except for the bathroom cabinet mirror. I’m afraid that I’ll be tormented if I have mirrors in the house.
What made you so bitter? I used the term “bitter” in the lyric as a metaphor: an empty, acidic stomach and a bitter personality.
How did you finally turn it around? I woke up feeling really sick; dizzy and shaky. I knew I had to stop. And I did.
How do you feel now when you perform Round Peg? I feel really good. At first I was nervous about revealing something so personal. But now I enjoy it. As a song, it’s really fun to sing and the arrangement is just the right combination of strange/circus and a little mean. Also, more than one woman has come up to me after a show to tell me that they really like the song. I think maybe they are telling me that they can relate.
How do you feel now about yourself? I feel pretty good, but unfortunately, I will always have the insecure, bulimic teenager inside. I’m very weight conscious. I don’t starve, but I’m careful.
What did you learn? I learned that making myself sick is not the solution to any problem.
What does the title of your album, Miserably Happy, mean? To me, “Miserably Happy” means not allowing myself to be totally happy about a something. But with that song, I’m trying to show that I’m aware of this tendency and I can laugh about it. Many people have told me that “Miserably Happy” describes me very well.
What advice would you give to someone who tells you they’re bulimic, or who seems obsessed with losing weight? Being thinner probably won’t solve what’s really troubling you. Figure out what’s really going on. Seek help from someone you can trust to be objective about your situation—a doctor, a therapist, maybe a friend.
Bulimia or anorexia or fad diets, etc.
are NOT healthy under any circumstances! While I do advocated being fit, losing weight in ways that harm your body isn’t getting fit. I just got a product I heard about called Slim Shots. It’s an all natural small cup with a blend of palm and oat oils that works in the ileum to trigger a feeling of fullness. I had one today and actually felt no urge to munch all day. That’s unusual! But it was only one time. I’m going to keep using them and I’ll report later on about whether they work well regularly.
Taming your appetite naturally so you can eat less is a MUCH healthier way to lose weight. No matter how you feel about your body, learn from Tamara’s painful lessons. Respect your body enough to lose or maintain weight in healthy ways. Check out Tamara and her music at http://www.tamarahey.com/