The poem outlines the journey from being on a starvation diet and losing weight as desired. However, upon taking it too far she loses all her weight. Then Duffy ends the poem by having the narrator binge eat consistently and becoming overweight. Duffy uses no references to historical events or people, but rather tells the story of all women through the poem.
- A reference to key nutritional information, that leaves the woman unable to have anything: ‘No sugar, salt, dairy, fat, protein, starch or alcohol’
- A reference to how common anorexia is amongst women, and that she was just another woman added to the list of sufferers: ‘She was Anorexia’s true daughter’
- A reference to her size becoming obscenely small: ‘lay in the tent of a nostril like a germ’
- A reference to all women being in the same cycle: ‘Tiny others joined in’
- A reference to consolidate the idea that the woman has lost all of her weight: ‘She found she could fly on the wind’
- A reference to the woman gaining weight and wanting to start the permanent cycle again being losing and gaining weight: ‘inside the Fat Woman now, trying to get out’
The poem outlines a woman’s journey from not eating anything and being on a starvation diet, and then ending by binge eating and becoming overweight. Duffy suggests that the diet worked ‘like a dream’ at the beginning, not eating anything leading to the woman rapidly dropping weight (as desired). Due to the self-gratification the woman takes the diet further, never eating at all until she weighs next to nothing. Eventually being blown away by the wind.
Eventually, the woman has swallowed herself, sent into someone’s stomach due to her size. Duffy uses the metaphor of being eaten to reflect the woman binging on food again, eating as much as she can, and losing herself in the process of this torturous switching between binging and fasting. The last line depicts weight as a prison, ‘the fat woman trying to get out’.