the Preface of Bountiful Women
by Bonnie Bernell . . .
had to write this book.
I have been thinking about or encountering the
considerations in this book my entire life. I've been
every size--from petite (last observed when I was a
baby), all the way to bountiful, and every size in
was raised by a mother who modeled and always looked
perfect. I never saw her with a wrinkled blouse, a
run in her stockings, or her nails unmanicured, even when
father was a physician who had definite ideas about how I
ought to look and be. My body never matched their
desires for me. I was told by family, friends, and an
array of professional people what would make me and my
body look good and feel better. No matter what I said or
did, everyone else was watching and deciding what was
best for me and my body. And I thought they were right.
young child, my mother called me BonBon, a nickname for
Bonnie. I loved the name at first. However, as I
entered my dating years, I discovered that bonbons were
chocolate covered ice cream treats to be avoided at all
costs. My nickname, like so much of my experience about
my body, changed into something disappointing.
teenager, I was convinced that I had to "weight" until I
was thinner to be lovable. Since I was sure no boy
would be interested in me unless I lost weight, I
developed other talents such as my intellect, creativity,
and being a good listener. I settled for being everyone's
pal, seeing romance as something I had to wait to enjoy
until I was thin, or at least thinner. When, to my
surprise, people were attracted to me, I had trouble
believing their intentions. All I had learned from so
many people, including those closest to me, was that I
had to be what they defined as attractive, to be okay.
most of my adult years, my weight fluctuated
dramatically. I did my best to become
thin/thinner/lighter, whatever the euphemism for losing
weight was at the time. I tried every diet plan
available, some seemingly medically sound, some trendy,
some unbelievable, but none of them effective for me in
being thinner and healthier over the long run. I felt
different from and less-than thin people, having failed
at these many diets. I was convinced I was not entitled
to living the fullest life possible.
my parents and others might have inadvertently undermined
my self-esteem, these experiences simultaneously
served as excellent models for resiliency, speaking one's
beliefs, and finding one's own way. Having found the
traditional "rule book for a happy life" unhelpful to me,
I set out with determination and energy to find out how I
could live life fully.
I simply think of myself as bountiful--full of life,
colorful, energetic, curious, sensual, sexual, and privy
to all the opportunities the universe provides. I do what
I need to do to feel and live bountifully, fully and with
gratitude for each day. I enjoy a rich, loving marriage
to a man who is my friend and my lover. If I want to do
something, I do it--and never let my current weight
(whatever that may be at the time) get in my way.
have been asked how I made the transition from
self-limiting to self-appreciating. Some of my
learning has been deeply personal--as a result of
penetrating anguish that I thought would never end, and
might even kill me. Other insights were accompanied by
laughter that brought me to either hiccups or tears, both
signs that the experience had completely consumed me.
I have found my own way, I have not traveled alone. I
have learned from everyone I have met, important
teachers, whether our contact was for a brief moment, or
endured a lifetime. Some of these teachers have been
friends, others have been clients I've met through my
clinical work as a psychologist.
more than twenty-five years, I have been awed and
inspired by the resilience, sheer grit and
determination, and stunning invention that my clients
bring to their lives. The women, men, and couples with
whom I interact each day have taught me that we all are
capable of seeing ourselves as more.
addition, I've learned from the many bountiful women who
shared their stories specifically to help me write this
book--I have been truly inspired by these amazing
women. My life will never be the same.
recent New York Times poll said that about half the
people in this country describe themselves as
overweight. More than half are overweight according
to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. While
reportedly fifty percent of the women in this country
wear size 14 and above, we do not see large women in
nearly that proportion. Where are they? Are they hiding?
Are they "weighting" until they reach some imaginary
right size? Yes. Are there ways they can handle those
situations that have kept them from having a full life?
not suggest that life is necessarily easy, but
nevertheless it is full of choices. We are not
trapped by society's definition of us. Within these pages
you may find a new idea, a new possibility, a new
approach, so that almost any difficulty can be addressed
from a different, more bountiful perspective.
hope is that each bountiful woman will see the myriad of
choices inherent in every challenging situation. If
you encounter what you experience as a wall, back up a
step or two, you may see there is a totally other way to
you lose weight, gain weight, or stay the same is not the
point. The point is, live your life fully, richly, in
whatever ways you desire.
said, "You must give birth to your images. They
are the future waiting to be born . . . fear not the
strangeness you feel. The future must enter into you
long before it happens. . . . Just wait for the birth
. . . for the hour of new clarity."
invite you to become a bountiful woman, like the many
women who shared their stories with me. The stories
in these pages are true, although some have been altered
to protect privacy. Join me, join us, and become a
bountiful woman--who lives her life and stops
the way, a few of my close friends have taken to calling
me BonBon again. Once more, as when I was a young
girl, at peace with my body and unaffected by criticism,
I am able to feel that delicious warmth of love and
affection when my name is used. I wish the same bountiful
life for you.
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