Stories I Tell My Patients
101 Myths, Metaphors, Fables & Tall Tales for Eating Disorders Recovery
by Arnold Andersen, MD and Leigh Cohn, M.A.T.
Fire Those Servants
recovery tool, all ED, weight prejudice
Queen Betty ruled over her kingdom with great skill and was much loved. She lived in Buckinglamb Palace with many servants. One day, a servant named Armeenie looked at the Queen and said to her, “My, you are getting fat.” Queen Betty didn’t know what to say, but decided to overlook this insult because of the servant’s past loyalty. A second servant, DeeOr spoke to the Queen as she passed from one room to another, saying, “You have big hips, Queen Betty.” Never before had a servant said such an outrageous thing to her. She was thinking about what to do when a third servant, Versoochee, mumbled as he passed by, saying, “You are getting big, big, big.”
Queen Betty went to the mirror and took a close look at herself. She was her usual vibrant, smart, fit self. Of course, horseback riding, hiking in the mountains, and jogging with the dogs all change a person’s body size and shape slightly, as do lots of other normal activities. As she looked again in the mirror with her true eyes, she affirmed that she was a terrific person and decided it was silly to ask a dumb piece of mirrored glass whether she should like herself. That’s it for mirrors except checking whether her crown was on the right way.
Queen Betty knew what she was going to do. Her mind was made up. “Fire those lousy, disloyal servants that give stupid, negative, inappropriate messages. They work for me. I don’t work for them.” She turned on her heel and approached Armeenie with dignity. “Armeenie, you are fired. How dare you be so rude. Leave right now.” Next, she found DeeOr and spoke to her severely, “DeeOr, your employment is terminated immediately.” Lastly, she located Versoochee and issued these clipped words: “I don’t know what has happened to you, but you have crossed the line. In the olden days, it would have been off with your head, but we haven’t practiced that sentence for a while. Out! Out! Out!”
The Queen looked over a list of applicants to replace the fired servants. She identified a number who had good recommendations and interviewed them personally. The servants she hired were pleasant, thoughtful, loyal, and smart looking. They worked out fine over the next several years, but in the back of her mind she knew that if these servants became rude, she would fire them right away.
Clothes are servants, not rulers or critics. When servants are rude and make critical remarks, for example, saying to a person that they are fat, hippy, big, ugly, and so on, those clothes need to be fired by taking them to a thrift store or thrown away. Don’t hold on thinking you might go back to that size or style; for goodness sake, get rid of them. When there is a misfit between clothes and a person (the clothes are too tight, too short, etc.), why does the person assume that the clothes are right and that they are wrong. No! No! Fire the clothes.
Wear clothes that work for you. Don’t work for the clothes. Hire them, fire them, change them, rule them thoughtfully. You are the ruler. They are the servants.