Who am I?

Exercise 1 from Geneen Roth, Why Weight?: A Workbook for Ending Compulsive Eating (1989)

Introduction of Rachel

Please don’t call me by my full name. I don’t like that. I don’t even really like my full name. “Lee” isn’t mine, it belongs to my father and siblings, it says nothing about me except that I am not myself, not unique, just one of a set. “Fulton” I hate because my dad left us and then his sisters spent the rest of my life trying to see how much Fulton I and my sibs had in us, even though we barely saw them after we moved away. “Brown” isn’t really mine either; it’s my husband’s name, but I wanted it because it is also my son’s. Sometimes I don’t even like “Rachel” because it was really my grandmother’s name. I am just a counterfeit Rachel, not a real one at all.

I am a woman, although sometimes I’m not even sure about that. Women are beautiful and elegant and wear dresses and make-up and spend time fixing their hair. I’m just a lump, fleshy and solid.

I am forty-six years old, but I feel like I am only sixteen, like I’ve been stuck being sixteen for thirty years, stuck with a lumpy body and no self-confidence. Somehow I never turned into a woman, I just got stuck at being an overgrown girl.

I am a teacher. I should say “professor” but I often don’t feel like it. I am scared of claiming any particular authority about anything, even though I know that I teach, especially leading discussions, very well. If I were a real professor, however, I would also publish more; I would be defining my field, not just reflecting it.

I write, but I won’t say I’m a writer. Writers publish; they live by writing and they live to write. I write grammatically extremely well, but I have no courage. I don’t write about anything that anybody (read, my family) would want to read, even if colleagues often tell me how much they like my work.

I am a fencer. There, I’ve found something that I know is true. I am a fencer. I compete. Even if my name is at the very bottom of the list, I am a fencer. I have been fencing for eight years. I have won medals (plural) at the national level in my age group. I am a fencer. So there.


  1. Thank you for the sound advice.

    Oh...What weapon do you fence?

    Thanks again.


  2. Hi, Jim! You are most welcome. I hope it helps! I fence mainly foil, but I also fence epee from time to time. No sabre, except at Ren Faire!

  3. You are also the person who inspired me to buy the cited workbook last night. Let's see if I have any success, but thanks either way!


  4. Good luck! I've been reading a lot of Roth's books this past month; the workbook brings together her insights into what eating does for us and how to break free from using it for something other than nourishing our bodies, but it's hard work and has been bringing up a lot of stuff I'd really prefer to keep hidden. And yet, I've been enjoying eating in a whole new way, which gives me hope.

  5. Um, profmondo, if you're still reading, that didn't come out exactly right. What I wanted to say is, I do so hope the workbook helps. I only just started reading it myself, and I'm not sure how well it will work on its own, if you haven't read Roth's previous books. She tends to come back fairly regularly to the same insights, but she also brings up new issues to think about as well. It's hard stuff, at least, it can be, as my descent into near political incorrectness last month showed (subscribers only if they caught them, I've since deleted those posts!). But of all the not-dieting books I've read over the past few years, Roth's really hit home for me. I hope you find them helpful, too!


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