Whether they are bingeing or purging, irrational eaters are in a most damnable condition--the state of having no self-control and being helpless and fearful in the face of overwhelming appetites. These inflamed irrational passions are so devastating that binge eaters must tiptoe through life fearing that at any moment they will fall into the abyss of their avarice.
Most irrational eaters, especially the women described by Knapp, suffer shame for several reasons, including a sense of anxiety over the disparity of their new freedoms but limited power; their internalized "theme of vigilance and self-restraint" that often backfires and is counterbalanced by compulsive appetites that eradicate all the "gains" rendered from the meticulous adherence to eating rules; the state of hunger that "becomes divorced from the body" and becomes "loaded with alternative meanings" that have to do with unfulfilled emotional longings; and their knowledge that violating the slender female aesthetic will cause them to be held in tacit contempt by both men and women alike.
This sense of shame and self-loathing becomes exacerbated when obesity is looked at through a religious prism which would have us condemn over-eaters as gluttons, sinners indulging their appetites, reprobates putting their desires before God, miscreants violating our space with their grotesque corpulence.
Scapegoated by society for putting an undue strain on medical costs, despised for taking up our space, an unloved for not inciting the kind of desire that we associate with Kate-Moss slenderness, fat people represent the possibility of human failure and rejection that we fear in ourselves. Thus many of us, overreacting to our fears, develop a myriad of eating disorders so chronic that once ensnared in these irrational eating habits, it is nearly impossible for many of us to free ourselves from them and lead relatively normal lives.