Oh, Man.

As I’ve said in comments all day, I highly recommend not reading the comments at any of the sites linking to the BMI project, because it’s just a whole lot of Fat Hate Bingo (see also: Fat Hate Bingo 2), and we’ve all heard it before. A LOT. But I just got sucked into the Fitsugar thread (thanks a lot, Mindy), and I have to share this gem:

Labels [like "overweight," "obese," etc.] don’t hurt nearly as much as an extra 5lbs does to your body. Healthcare providers give titles because that’s what the person is. It’s no differenc than labeling someone female or male. Besides if they didn’t give you a title than your insurance wouldn’t cover the bill. Second point- why not eat a diet rich in fruits and vegtables and weigh 5lbs less?

I challenge you to find all the things that are mind-bogglingly, jaw-droppingly wrong with that short paragraph, boys and girls. It’s like a Highlights game. Go!

174 thoughts on “Oh, Man.

  1. - incorrect use of square brackets
    - commas inside the quotes should be outside them
    - “differenc” should be “different”
    - “than” should be “then”
    - odd use of hyphen
    - you don’t “eat a diet”; you follow a diet, by eating food

    Unless you don’t mean teh grammar? In which case, its all pretty much bullshit.

  2. Too many to name, but the one that always gets me is the idea that fruits and vegetables have magical fat burning properties. Where does that come from?

  3. - incorrect use of square brackets
    - commas inside the quotes should be outside them

    Both of those are correct, thank you very much! That was me! The brackets are square because it was me, not her, and commas go inside quotes, dammit.

    Otherwise, gold star.

  4. OH! Fruits and vegetables! Why didn’t I think of that? Here I was eating ice-cream for breakfast, salt and vinegar chips for lunch and a Whopper meal for dinner and wondering why that 5lbs are still sticking around.

    *headdesk* Tried to list all the things that were wrong, but head threatened to explode.

  5. Oh man — if only I had known that I could have gotten thin by eating fruits and veg, instead of getting thin by having a painful and embarrassing intestinal disorder! I mean, I still got thin somehow, so I guess I’m in the clear.

    I think I’ll try to get male next.

  6. I think I’ll try to get male next.

    Me, I’m gonna go buy a lotto ticket, ’cause I’d rather be rich, and I think I’m just not putting enough effort into it.

  7. We come from two different worlds, my friend.

    Zortu flar wermno o plijni: “uma,””duma”? Yt dabu shubvuntra!

  8. Labels [like “overweight,” “obese,” etc.] don’t hurt nearly as much as an extra 5lbs does to your body.

    I love how when self-righteous folk define good health only by physical indicators, and completely ignore the fact that mental health should also be considered in one’s overall health assessment. So what if I lose five pounds only to be depressed and suicidal? I mean, I lost the five pounds, right? Isn’t that what’s important?

    Right. All it means is that you have a lighter corpse.

    Remember the old adage about sticks and stones? Sometimes words (labels) can hurt, especially when they are used justify the continued discrimination of the people on whom they’ve been branded.

  9. Labels [like “overweight,” “obese,” etc.] don’t hurt nearly as much as an extra 5lbs does to your body.

    Really? Someone should tell my mom that. The cemetery her grave is in is beautiful, I’m sure they’d really enjoy the trip.

  10. Copy Readers vs. Programmers. Now that’s an interesting debate…geeks of all stripes would line up for blocks.

    5 lbs hurts? Who is this jackhole kidding? How the hell does he know what hurts anyone else “more” or less? And can he use his amazing mind powers to find that flip-flop I haven’t seen for six months?

    Oh, and how about the irony of calling a fruits-and-veg diet “rich”? Since, you know, that’s pretty much what you have to be to be eating lots of fruits and veggies…

  11. 5 lbs is killing me, hm? So…what happens when I lose that 5 lbs.? Will I be safe then, or will it still be “better” to be 5 lbs. lighter?

    Sounds like a good way to 5-pounds yourself into an early grave, IMO.

  12. What if I lost the WRONG five pounds, and it was five pounds of muscle instead of five pounds of fat? What if it was five pounds of water? Because I’m pretty sure I could lose that in like the next couple hours if I peed real hard.

    Also, nobody has yet pointed out that if you get labeled “obese” by the BMI chart, your insurance still won’t cover [cover what? your treatment? for fat?] you, because you can’t get insurance.

  13. fillyjonk: The thing which has eluded me is that if obesity is as deadly and dangerous and boogey-man scary like the weight-loss and insurance agencies make it out to be, then why doesn’t most health insurance plans cover weight-loss programs? Sure they’ll cover WLS, but only if you’re morbidly obese and even then, some require the existence of comorbidities.

  14. I’m glad you mentioned the insurance thing, fillyjonk, because I was just mentioning that over on a forum I belong to. When I tried to get personal health insurance when I aged out of coverage under my mom’s plan, I was denied coverage for being fat. And for taking birth control. I don’t take any medication except for birth control, I exercise, I have good cholesterol and blood sugar levels, healthy blood pressure, etc. Does that mean anything? Of course not because everyone knows fat people get sick and die because they are fat. Now, I’m about to get insurance under my new job’s plan, and I’m afraid that my premiums will be higher than everyone else’s because of my weight.

  15. You know fillyjonk, I tried to use the example of you being turned down for insurance as an example of what’s wrong with the American system and was told: “That doesn’t happen. People don’t get turned down for insurance based on BMI.” I was thinking: “Well, fillyjonk will be glad to hear she has insurance after all!”

  16. So what if I lose five pounds only to be depressed and suicidal? I mean, I lost the five pounds, right? Isn’t that what’s important?

    The only time I’ve weighed less than 160 pounds since puberty was when I was absolutely miserable and all fucked up from the antidepressants they put me on. Sure I dropped a bunch of weight, but I also went from rosy pretty pale to colorless corpse-y pale and stopped wasting my time on stupid things like combing my hair or bathing regularly or changing my clothes more than once a week… Basically, I went from looking a little like Dita Von Teese to looking a lot like Severus Snape. Yecch.

    Still, people kept telling me how great I looked, which made me wonder if one of the side effects of the drug they gave me was “May Turn Reality Into Bizarro World” or something.

    And I was still about 15 pounds too heavy for a “normal” BMI, too.

  17. I love the whole “five extra pounds is destroying your knees and joints” argument.

    Because, really? If that were true, weight lifting would be terrible for you and osteoporosis would be fantastic. After all, it’s only the weight that matters!

  18. “Well, fillyjonk will be glad to hear she has insurance after all!”

    Bwah! Yeah, I was turned down not once but twice for having a BMI over 30. As it turns out I do have insurance after all, but I had to get a new job to get it. If that hadn’t worked I was gonna have to get married. So, uh, fat protects the institution of marriage?

  19. Punctuation goes outside the quotes unless it’s dialogue or such. If you’re in Australia.

    And may I remind you WE ARE NOT!

    Around here, commas and periods ALWAYS go inside quotes. Question marks and exclamation points go inside if they’re punctuating the statement inside the quotes, outside if they’re punctuating the whole sentence around the quotes.

    There are different style guides, of course, but those are the rules I’ve used for my entire career as an editor (in Canada and the U.S.), such as it is.

  20. Because, really? If that were true, weight lifting would be terrible for you and osteoporosis would be fantastic.

    Not to mention me carrying my damn gym bag to work every day with my shoes and library book in it. CURSE YOU GYM BAG FOR RUINING MY JOINTS

  21. Bwah! Yeah, I was turned down not once but twice for having a BMI over 30. As it turns out I do have insurance after all, but I had to get a new job to get it. If that hadn’t worked I was gonna have to get married. So, uh, fat protects the institution of marriage?

    I think I’ve told this story before, but… I am currently without insurance. And only work on a freelance basis.

    When I looked into getting private insurance, I seriously e-mailed Al and was like, “Fuck this, can we just get married?”

    He was like, “I hear Starbucks has excellent benefits.”

    That’s my honey.

  22. I read on another blogger’s comments that I’m the poster child for mental illness. I don’t know why I’m always surprised by stupidity, but I am.

  23. I’m the poster child for mental illness.

    Oh man, that’s an even better tag line than “team building is for suckers.”

    What, pray tell, was that comment based on?

  24. Luckily I’ve never been asked a single question about my health or my weight in order to qualify for health insurance, which I’ve always had through my parents, through the university and/or through employers. If I ever were questioned, I would have to seriously reconsider the company through whom it was offered. Most often it is the companies who negotiate the terms of the health insurance plans they offer to their employees. If an employer discriminates on the basis of weight in health care, chances are, now that they know how much you weigh and what your BMI is, they could discriminate in other ways as well.

  25. Not to mention me carrying my damn gym bag to work every day with my shoes and library book in it. CURSE YOU GYM BAG FOR RUINING MY JOINTS”

    I can see the “bad habits that might be making you fat” Cosmo article already. Bad habit number one: knowing how to read.

  26. Rachel, I’m not sure whether employers are allowed to refuse insurance to some full-time employees while offering it to others. But I was either contracting or unemployed when I got turned down, I forget which.

  27. So 5 pounds does more damage to me than those labels? How does (S)HE know?

    I so, so hate the whole “every extra ounce means you won’t live to see your children grow up” mentality to begin with, but also the “they’re just WORDS, they don’t MEAN anything” idiocy.

  28. “the one that always gets me is the idea that fruits and vegetables have magical fat burning properties. Where does that come from?”

    I’ll tell you where it comes from. “Reputable” sources like New Scientist magazine. The July issue had an article about schools in the UK that are spending millions of dollars trying to get kids to up their fruit and vegetable intake. Why? To combat the obesity epidemic, of course.

  29. Let me see if I understand this… I lose 5 pounds and my life is suddenly better.

    Will it make my PCOS go away? How about my depression? How about my dandruff? How about the emotional issues I have with my mom?

    I do eat fruits and vegetables … am I not eating the right ones then? I mean I love me some brussel sprouts and cabbage. Broccoli, peas, Green beans, apples, pears, grapes and so much more… but they must not be the right ones since I still have those 5 pounds.

    Will someone pray tell me what are the the right ones, so I can lose those five pounds and find that fabulous life these damned five pounds have kept me from.

    Please ?

  30. The July issue had an article about schools in the UK that are spending millions of dollars trying to get kids to up their fruit and vegetable intake. Why? To combat the obesity epidemic, of course.

    Because it’s totally not worth it to give kids the expensive, healthy stuff if it’s not going to make them less fat.

  31. What was also awesome is I posted at metafilter that I’m morbidly obese with great ‘numbers’ (blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.), no diabetes, no heart problems, and my doctor said to me I don’t need to lose weight.

    I immediately got people saying “OMG you are unhealthy lose weight!” Because obviously they know more than my doctor. Also, my doctor is skinny as a rail and supportive of my size.

  32. I had a conversation once with a very tall, thin friend who was freaking out because she had gained five pounds. When I and other friends expressed our, um, lack of concern about this development, she said, “Well, you’d all be worried if I LOST 5 pounds, right? So how is this different?” The fact that it would be disturbing if she lost any weight because she was already practically skeletal was completely lost on her. And I said, “K, you know, for me, five pounds is just a really good bowel movement.”

    That shut her up.

    BTW I have been turned down for life insurance (not health insurance) because of my weight. I was in my early 30s at the time and in excellent health by every measure. I am also a freelancer and haven’t had health insurance in 6 and a half years. I haven’t even bothered to try because I know all the companies would just laugh in my face. There’s no way someone my size can get health insurance without getting it through an employer.

  33. Well, according to my rheumatologist, if I lost the 10 pounds I gained since I was underweight (& severely bony/unhealthy) my joints wouldn’t hurt as much. So basically, EVERYONE (no matter if you are “overweight,” “obese,” “normal” or “underweight”) would benefit from losing AT LEAST 10 pounds. Good news for all those models out there who haven’t had their periods for 3 years. To help your joints: lose 10 pounds. At least your knees won’t hurt as you are dying from malnutrition.

  34. Also, my doctor is skinny as a rail and supportive of my size.

    Also? YOU’RE FUCKING WONDER WOMAN.

    Sorry. That picture still makes me really happy.

    And Mindy, I almost just told that story about your doc telling you to lose 10 lbs. again upthread. Like I said the other day, I will never stop telling it. Fucking mind-boggling.

  35. The logical part of my knows that these trolls are nothing except pathetic jerks spouting hatred from the safety of their living rooms and that they are not the norm, but…man…reading those kind of things can just really get you down on all of humanity.

  36. Do I hate the internet or do I love it? Hate it? Love it? So difficult to tell sometimes.

    I still…like, ten hours since I first commented on this on the other thread…can’t get over how ANGRY the MeFi people are that this study, put together in the comfort of a Flickr set (“What do you expect,” said one worldweary overcaffeinated outrager, “when they use a platform that CAN’T EVEN SPELL ITS OWN NAME RIGHT”), hasn’t conformed to their rigourous scientific requirements. Kate, I hate to tell you, but your putting together a photoset of your friends and readers and posting it on your blog? Not okay unless peer-reviewed. And unless all the ladies are naked, as previously mentioned.

  37. It finally really sunk in for me recently that you can never win with these people. It doesn’t matter what physical feats you are capable of, what or how much you eat, or how good your numbers might be. You are fat and therefore unhealthy and anything else WILL NOT COMPUTE.

    I’m a 251lb vegan who runs every other day (in addition to dog walking and gentle yoga) and I still get people who are convinced that if I just used a little less olive oil or maybe used some low fat soymilk in my oatmeal then I would magically become 130lbs. Yes! That’s it! The one tablespoon of olive oil I use when cooking dinner for FOUR PEOPLE is the difference between a size 20 and a size 6!!!!

    These people are totally invested in their superiority which makes sense even if it is shitty. What breaks my heart is that they always have a few fat cheerleaders who are ready to style themselves as ‘fat realists’ by ‘confessing’ to all their awful immoral eating and by expressing disgust and embarassment at their bodies just to be accepted.

  38. I was turned down for private health insurance, at 5’2 and 170 pounds, because I was “obese,” had ever had a back problem (car accident, not my weight), and had ever had asthma symptoms (cough-variant, only crops up when I get bronchitis). So clearly I was a couch-sitting fatty who needed to be fitted for a truss and an oxygen tank.

    When in fact I was running a mile on the treadmill 3-4 times a week, a feat I hadn’t managed to accomplish since 8th grade, and eating more fruits and vegetables than any 3 slim people I knew (since many of my friends tended to live off nothing but meat and potatoes).

    (and had adopted a 1700-1900 calorie per day “eating plan” at the same time I’d joined the gym at which I was running those miles, yet strangely, a drastic calorie cut plus massive exercise uptick managed to make only 3 pounds and 1% body fat difference over a 6-month period!)

  39. Erm, OK, so eating fruit and veg will magically make you thin?

    So why do I never eat chips (I don’t like potato), adore rice crackers, strawberries, pears, kiwi, spinach and most other fruit/veg and yet I’m STILL 5ft 2 and 190 pounds?

    Maybe because I have PCOS and am, judging by my father’s family, genetically predisposed to be round?

    Someone please hit these idiots with a clue by four. Not that it would do any good.

  40. “…….you can never win with these people”

    Well said attrice, wait to you get to the stage when the ‘fat realists’ no longer evoke any sympathy in you, I’m afraid I’m getting there!

  41. I’m waiting to get to a stage when I no longer feel like I have to defend myself to some of these types — particularly the ones I know.

    My automatic reaction is to say, of course I’m not happy but I have other conditions for which the treatment has shut down my metabolism and until I’m off that, I’ll be fat and I’ve accepted that.

    Why can’t I just say, d00d, I’ve accepted my size. If it changes in any way, I will accept that too. And no, eating less and exercising more isn’t going to work for me. I’m glad it worked for you, as you have proudly proclaimed to all the world. My life, not yours.

    Baby steps, I assume…

  42. Talk about people missing the point.

    If some of those people in your BMI project “need” to lose weight then we are no longer talking about health. A whole slew of the ‘overweight’ women in particular have gorgeous, slender figures, and I cannot imagine any sane doctor expecting them to drop 5lbs or more without risking their health in the process. And the so-called ‘obese’ individuals? Gorgeously curvy and shapely!

    As for eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, that is my mum all over. She eats more vegetables than anyone I know (excluding my vegan friends), and is a size 20 (UK) and considered ‘morbidly obese’ on the BMI scale.

    She also has excellent vitals, is incredibly fit for someone who has been smoking her whole life (I know, I know; we’re trying to help her quit but she doesn’t want to), and has the most amazing skin.

    She is the picture of health. Oh, but wait, she’s fat, so clearly everything I just said is a lie and she isn’t “doing enough” or eating enough vegetables. Just like how, when people hear she has a bad back, they assume it’s because she’s fat when, in reality, she developed the condition during a bad pregnancy with me.

    What is it going to take to get through to these assholes?

  43. Far out. We have several instances of Hate Game logic going on here, i.e. the bending of any characteristic (active, not active, looks “thin” but “really” isn’t so doesn’t count for “our side”, etc. ad nauseum) to suit people whose beliefs are not about reality, but about constructing a universe in conformance with their personal hang ups, man. (Please imagine Dennis Hopper saying the preceding. It will make it more cooler.)

  44. Why is it that very frequently, the people who advocate the all-fruit-and-vegetable diet as the way to shrink fat people are the exact same people (often complete strangers!) who will see me with a giant salad in a restaurant and announce “honey, you don’t need to be on a diet, you can eat anything you want!”

    Newsflash: it’s not a DIET. It’s my LUNCH.

    All I can think is that these are people who are already restricting their own eating habits out of fear of being or becoming “fat.” It generates both an annoyance/hatred of people as fat or fatter than they are (“do what I’m doing! How dare you not hate your body as much as I hate mine?!”) and a desire to live vicariously through people who are smaller than they are (“I want to eat a steak for lunch, so you should do it!”) At least I hope this is what’s going on, because otherwise it makes no damn sense.

  45. It always unnerves me how much people project their food desires on to others. Even worse, their food recommendations. Telling a thin person to eat a sandwich is as insulting as telling a fat person they shouldn’t eat that sandwich (or anything else.)

    When did eating habits and lunch menus become public property?

    I’ve had that happen so many times in my life and each time it leaves me speechless. I’m hoping the next time it comes up, I have the mental presence to just tell them it’s none of their business and they should just worry about their own bodies.

  46. Dani I totally hear you. It’s come to the point where I try NOT to eat healthy foods around my mother even if it might be the one thing on the menu that looks appealing because the last thing I want to hear from her is “Oh sweetie, it’s so nice to see you finally do something about your weight.”

    Uhh. Yeah. It’s not that I *want* that salad. It’s not like I want the poached white fish. I really want the fried chicken with a side of fries (and mayo to dip it in) and round it off with the chocolate cheesecake. Sure there are times when that’s exactly the meal I want to eat. But I find myself eating it out of spite more often than I should (considering ONCE is more often that I should…)

  47. Well, 5 lbs can hurt a body good — for instance the Nintendo GameCube’s power supply is pretty bulky and I’m sure throwing it at someone’s head would be painful…

  48. I somewhat feel sorry for people like this – they are truly brainwashed and they don’t even know it. It’s easy to become indoctrinated with the whole ‘fat = the evil’ mindset when it’s EVERYWHERE you turn. i feel sympathy that they aren’t bright enough to challenge the information they’re force fed; that they don’t know enough to think critically and challenge their news sources. Poor dears.

    But yes, their lack of brainpower certainly makes things more difficult for the enlightened – the ones who know that 5 lbs can be dropped and added within the course of hours, be it from a good meal, a good dump, sweating, rehydrating, etc.

    On another note, a celebrity gossip website i visit (yes, it’s a guilty pleasure) posted pics of a very pregnant and glowing Milla Jovovich. 60 lbs heavier! OMG! I was delighted to see that 90% of the commenters found her more attractive at her pregnant weight, because she finally did not appear to be starving and skeletal.

  49. Joie, the joke around my house is that I eat nothing but fried butter. This started, I think, after a doctor told me to “LOOSE WEIGHT, AVOID FRIED FOODS, EAT MORE FRUIT AND VEGETABLE” (yes, in caps; it was a letter with my perfectly-good-for-someone-with-PCOS test results). Of course I would prefer to eat nothing but FRUIT AND VEGETABLE, and can’t eat fried foods at all, but she hadn’t bothered to ask about that. So I’ll occasionally edit my food and exercise choices a la “okay, I’m off to yoga I MEAN I’M GOING TO SIT HERE AND EAT FRIED BUTTER” or “let’s cook those green beans tonight, oops sorry FRIED BUTTER.”

    Because basically all fat people are Homer Simpson. Right?

    In other news, I love the idea of Dani with a “gigantic” salad. In my head it is basically as big as she is. Seeing photos of so many SP readers has really enhanced my comments-reading visual imagination experience.

    Oh and Madge, I saw those pictures — a thin friend who’d been reading fat blogs all day sent them to me in a fit of pique. Apparently she’s cutting out peanut butter because she’s gained so much weight. HI, YOU ARE PREGNANT. DID YOU EXPECT TO LOSE WEIGHT?

  50. You know, commenters like the one referenced in the post really remind me of that saying about mud-wrestling with a pig, that you just get muddy and the pig enjoys it.

    Anyone who thinks *five pounds* is worth giving a damn about? Not ever gonna get it.

  51. .HI, YOU ARE PREGNANT. DID YOU EXPECT TO LOSE WEIGHT?

    Well, if she were fat, her doctor might expect her to.

    Dani, I only got that “You can eat anything you want!” comment once when I was thin, but man, I can still remember it so vividly. (Waiter at The Pickle Barrel in the Atrium on Yonge just north of Dundas, summer 1997.) Specifically, his words were, “You’re so slim, you can eat anything you want!”

    At the time, I was only “so slim” because I’d been dieting for close to a year, and I was on the 1200-calorie phase of Jenny Craig by then. Lots of days, I didn’t eat all 1200. I’d picked that restaurant specifically because they had a huge “lighter choices” menu with nutritional info on it, so I could make sure I wasn’t going over my allotted calories.

    So I order off that menu, and the waiter, like, doesn’t want to accept my order, because why wouldn’t someone as slim as me treat myself to a burger? SKINNY PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED!

    It was such a foreign and unexpected conversation to me, I just kinda sat there with my jaw on the table until he went away and put in my salad order. I can only imagine how annoying it would get if it came up frequently.

    I’d also like to point out (not for the first time) that the phrase is always, always, “eat whatever you want.” Whether it’s someone saying, “You’re so slim you can eat whatever you want,” or giving you an eyerolling, “Oh, since being fat is okay according to you, I should just give up and eat whatever I want!”

    Millions and millions of adults seem to think eating whatever you want = making gluttony a full-time job. As if what we all WANT is to stuff ourselves until we feel nauseated and sluggish. (And of course, that’s what fat people are already doing, because we have no control over our desires, obvy.)

    Like others have said, I eat whatever I want, and it includes plenty of fruits and vegetables BECAUSE I want them. It includes whole grain bread and Diet Coke because I prefer those to white bread and real Coke. It includes relatively few desserts, because I am not A Dessert Person. It includes pulling the skin off of chicken breasts on the rare occasion when I get one with skin, because I don’t like the skin, not because I’m on a diet. If I liked it, I would eat it. I eat burgers. I eat fries. I eat salad. I eat fruit. I eat WHATEVER I WANT.

    And the world has not ended.

  52. I have a friend who is pregnant and worrying about her weight. She was freaking out because she had gained like… 8 pounds. She’s F*ing pregnant!!! I am considering sending her a box of really fattening and yummy foods.

    How wrong is a world where pregnant women worry about their weight?

  53. As an objective observer who just went through all those photos, I’ve got to say…

    The labels look about right. BMI may be a slightly crude tool, but it’s not wildly ineffective.

    This whole project reads, to me, like this: obese women pointing to slightly overweight women who look normal and saying “BMI is a lie!”

  54. The MeFi comments (and the ones on Reddit, where I posted a link in my futile hope that, despite all of the idiots, maybe it’d get through to some people) strike me as being a phenomenon common among the under-25 guys (and the ones who never outgrew it) on these sorts of boards.

    Basically, it’s angling for status. The idea behind the insults is to get the reader to think “Hey, I thought she looked fine. But this guy says she’s too fat! That must mean that he’s such a super-stud that he can afford to be pickier than me, and I better not say that I thought she was pretty or everyone will know what a loser I am.” It’s basically the indie music bully, only involving people’s bodies rather than albums.

  55. Ronald, did you look at the same photographs as everyone else? You think women like Laurie and Pippa are truly overweight with their slim frames and not an inch of fat on their bones?

    “This whole project reads, to me, like this: obese women pointing to slightly overweight women who look normal and saying “BMI is a lie!””

    If thin women said it, would it be more true, or would you take their opinions more seriously?

    I ask because I’m about to go back to college to do a degree in biology, and my fiance is a graduate student studying in the same field, as he has for many years. Not one biologist I have ever met agrees that the BMI is accurate. Not one. And most of those were thin men with no reason to be ‘defensive’, or could be construed as having something to prove.

    If those biologists had done this project, would you consider it more legitimate?

  56. Sarah:

    Why can’t I just say, d00d, I’ve accepted my size. If it changes in any way, I will accept that too. And no, eating less and exercising more isn’t going to work for me. I’m glad it worked for you, as you have proudly proclaimed to all the world. My life, not yours.

    Baby steps, I assume…

    I still owe you an e-mail on this subject, but yep, baby steps.

    It’s HARD to say that. Even though it should be a simple statement of morally neutral fact, saying that in this culture is fucking confrontational. If you say, “I accept my body as it is,” or “I’m not interested in losing weight,” or “I’m healthy, thanks,” you’re pretty much asking for an argument — because so many people are so fucking convinced they are both better informed than you about your own body and 100% righteous in telling you how you need to change your life.

    It’s like conversations with evangelists, for real. When someone asks if you have a personal relationship with Jesus, the only correct answer is “Yes” — they believe any other answer invites them to tell you why you’re wrong and need their help. You didn’t ask for the confrontation, and it’s clearly none of their fucking business. But you get forced into an adversarial conversation with a stranger, because that stranger is absolutely certain you NEED TO BE INFORMED. Because in their world, only the ignorant could possibly reject their religion.

    We’ve all been so brainwashed to believe that fat = death, there are a whole ton of people who believe the only reason someone could be fat is if he or she somehow hasn’t seen the light. We must not realize we’re fat, or we must not realize fat is UNHEALTHY!!!, or — this one cracks me up more than any other — we must not realize that fat disgusts people. ‘Cause if we knew all that, we’d be trying to lose weight. Accepting your own fat is like saying you accept Satan as your personal savior. It is NOT OKAY with these people.

    I admit that when I talk to people casually and say I’m a blogger, if they ask what the blog is about, I very often say “body acceptance” instead of “fat acceptance.” And I mean, it IS about body acceptance for all sizes — but I don’t say it to be inclusive. I say it because when people hear “body acceptance,” they think “accepting yourself as a size 6 or 8 instead of a 0 and not, like, developing an eating disorder.” And most people can get behind that, so I don’t have to walk right into the confrontation I didn’t ask for. I distort the truth, which I HATE doing, because I don’t have the energy to run through the whole Fat Hate Bingo card with every fucking person I meet.

    It’s hard. It’s really fucking hard.

  57. “This whole project reads, to me, like this: obese women pointing to slightly overweight women who look normal and saying “BMI is a lie!””

    Well, yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it is, actually, if you put quotes around “slightly overweight.”

    I just don’t think we see it quite the same way.

    But hey, you’re the “objective” one.

  58. Five pounds? Five pounds will cure my joint problems? Wow. Then, um, why did I still have joint problems when I was 131 lbs? Or 122 lbs? Because, you know, if losing 5 lbs is good, losing 14 lbs is better!

    Oh, right, because I got them FROM BEING IN A ROLLERBLADING ACCIDENT.

    Anyway, as someone else pointed out: five pounds? That’s, like, a good bowel movement. :)

  59. Well, yeah, that’s pretty much exactly what it is, actually, if you put quotes around “slightly overweight.”

    And “obese.”

  60. Anyone who thinks *five pounds* is worth giving a damn about? Not ever gonna get it.

    That’s kind of like that line in the movie Mean Girls — “I want to lose 3 pounds.”

    Said by someone who was portrayed as having the ‘perfect’ physique.

  61. So I order off that menu, and the waiter, like, doesn’t want to accept my order, because why wouldn’t someone as slim as me treat myself to a burger?

    This struck me as ironically funny, since almost the same thing happened to me. People who watched my transformation from morbidly obese to thin couldn’t seem to understand why I ate less and less as my weight dropped. I got more than a few comments to the tune of, “Oh, but you’re skinny now. You don’t need to diet anymore. Go ahead and eat that pizza, honey.”

    What they didn’t understand is, for me, maintaining a weight of 125 pounds requires eating less than 800 calories a day and exercising like Richard Simmons on crack. And 125 pounds is considered “normal” for my height! I think it is seriously fucked up when you have to have abnormal eating in order to maintain a “normal” weight.

  62. That’s kind of like that line in the movie Mean Girls — “I want to lose 3 pounds.”

    Heh. That shit kills me. The cultural obsession with “the last 10 lbs.” REALLY kills me.

    10 lbs.? Will not affect your health or quality of life one bit, even if you believe fat is ZOMG UNHEALTHY. 10 lbs. will not stop you from being as active as you like. 10 lbs. will not make people treat you like shit for being “fat.” The ONLY reason to be obsessed with losing “the last 10 lbs.” is because you cannot accept your body until you feel your conscious mind has absolute control over everything it does.

    Which means that if you lost those 10 lbs., you would probably then want to lose another 10 anyway, because the problem is your body image/relationship with your body, not your body itself.

  63. Go with God, ladies, honestly. Be what you want to be. But pointing to a few border cases in the healthy range doesn’t change the fact that the obese and morbidly obese people look… obese and morbidly obese. ;)

    I’ll leave this space to you women. Sorry for poking my head in.

  64. I had no idea this would get such a wide audience. I am not going to read the comments.

    The point for me is not that some people are fat and healthy, or fat and beautiful, but that some people are fat and they are still people. Some people are underweight by the chart, and they are still people — healthy or not. Good-looking or not.

    No one deserves to be hated for the way they look. Unfortunately, a BMI based on nebulous, non-causal correlations (and bad data collection methods) functions less as a tool for healthcare and more as a tool for promoting medically-sanctioned hatred. It is a piece of social propaganda, advocating that certain groups of people should not exist. Human rights, anyone?

    I’m just afraid that even some of the well-intentioned among us might be missing that part of the picture.

  65. Unfortunately, a BMI based on nebulous, non-causal correlations (and bad data collection methods) functions less as a tool for healthcare and more as a tool for promoting medically-sanctioned hatred.

    That’s precisely the point of the project, peggynature. I don’t think anyone here has lost sight of that; it’s just opened up a whole lot of other avenues of discussion.

  66. I’ll leave this space to you women. Sorry for poking my head in.

    Hey, I don’t mind you poking your head in, I’m just wondering how you extracted it from your ass for long enough. “You women”? Really?

    Anyway, you’ve completely missed the point, but as a lovely consolation prize, we’ll allow you to keep using the internet for long enough to figure out the point if you really want to (hint: this very blog links to tons of resources). Hey, if you’re really interested, there are books by Paul Campos and J. Eric Oliver you should read — they both have penises so their opinions count, right?

    peggynature, on the other hand, totally got it. But that’s because with a name like “peggynature” she’s probably a woman, huh Ronald?

  67. Funny how people who base their identity on being victims (of society, family, advertising, the government, men, etc, etc) are so quick to attack others. They never seem to understand the irony of that action.

    Maybe I need to start a moment for intellectually curious men who are berated and belittled by women.

    (I know, I know. I hit “refresh” out of curiosity. I’m sorry I did.)

  68. Dani & Kate made good points about “SKINNY PEOPLE ARE ALLOWED [to eat cake/burger/fried butter]!” I brought cupcakes in for a co-workers birthday (I love to cook) and at the end of the day he brought them in to me. There were two left. He told me to take one and then said “Hey, take both, you need it.” I then felt forced to eat BOTH cupcakes in front of him for fear of being labeled “on a diet” if I declined. Like Joie, I ate the food just to stop comments.

    The point of this story, of course, is that what I eat (or what Dani eats, or what Kate eats, or what Joie eats, or what fillyjonk eats) is my own business. Why people feel the need to give others unsolicited advice/comments about food is beyond me. Despite the fact that we often eat in public, eating is a personal thing. What we like, what makes us feel good, what we need – these are all personal tastes & decisions. Unless we make it public (generally true when dieters eat together and obsess over every calorie), our food choices are OUR OWN. Choosing the salad when you are thin is not an invitation to discuss cheeseburgers. Choosing the salad when you are heavier is not an invitation for “congratulations on the diet” talk.

  69. Maybe I need to start a moment for intellectually curious men who are berated and belittled by women.

    Oh my god you are such a boring troll.

    Maybe you should start a movement for people who think they’re being so incredibly clever when they go “omg isn’t feminism just victim politics?” and “duuuude, why do feminists hate men?” Y’all need a voice, seeing as how we’ve totally never heard THAT shit before.

    It’s been real, Ronald. Real dull. Don’t let the door hit ya.

  70. Hey, I don’t mind you poking your head in, I’m just wondering how you extracted it from your ass for long enough. “You women”? Really?

    Glad to know I wasn’t the only one buggered by that comment. The way he said he’d leave it to us women made it sound like we were just a big ‘ol quiliting-bee, sitting around, talking about things that we just couldn’t possibly understand and shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about.

  71. Is there a study anywhere, even a biased, poorly done one, that provides any evidence whatsoever that 5 POUNDS can have an impact on your health? I remember hearing a claim like this about 15 years ago (I think) and even as a TEENAGER, the first thought that came to me was “How can they possibly know within 5 POUNDS what ANYONE’s ideal weight is?” I still remember this because the claim was just so absurd. And here it is, still coming up. The claim, I mean, not the bile in the back of my throat, though that is also coming up.

    I mean, do people seriously believe that there is one number that all 5’6″ women should weigh, to the pound? (Because if they don’t know it to the pound, how can they be precise enough to understand what 5 lbs “overweight” is)? And that they can gather evidence indicating that every 5’6″ woman who weighs 5 pounds over that number has increased risk of health problems? The mind boggles.

    Re: Ronald, I see a bunch of people commenting at Metafilter and fitsugar who are trying to act all “revolutionary” and speak truth (or perhaps truthiness) to power by saying “The labels all look accurate to me!” Really all that can possibly mean is “I find the woman labeled ‘normal’ to be someone who looks socially acceptable or whom I would fuck [or, since plenty of women are posting these comments too, it can also mean 'I only consider myself acceptable if I look like the normal weight women'], but the ones labeled ‘overweight’ are a little too fat for me to consider fucking and the ones labeled ‘obese’ are way too fat for me to consider fucking.” That’s nice (or more accurately “that’s a judgment that is based in part on your own innate preferences and in part on our society’s norms”) but honestly, YOUR OPINION of whether someone is “overweight” or “obese” has fuck-all to do with anything. What does having an “opinion” as to someone’s degree of “obesity” even mean? Since the BMI categories are supposed to be based in health and not aesthetics, I assume it means that you think you can look at each of these women and diagnose their degree of health based on their pictures. And that is stupid.

    Actually I am having so much trouble figuring out what could possibly be the relevance of “Yep, she looks ‘overweight’ by BMI to me!” that I’m not even sure what I’m arguing here. Kate, I do think the “real weight” project you described would be really cool too (though I’m sure it would be a lot of work). The BMI photostream seems to be offering commenters too many distractions in the form of “Yep, looks a little chubby, overweight it is!” or “She’s at the bottom of the range, doesn’t count.” I think one of the main values of the real weight stream would be to help people (OK, men) start to get over thinking that any woman over 120 must be fat… because although I would have guessed some of the photo subjects’ BMI categories correctly too, I don’t really think that means anything, yet the commenters seem to think it does mean something for some reason. Maybe they are interested in careers as county-fair BMI-guessers. I am confused.

    Chiara, you crack me up. My jaw was still sitting on the floor from the “line all them ladies up naked, then we’ll see what’s what” comments too. I have been remembering your sardonic description of the discussion and snickering about it since yesterday. Madness.

  72. Funny how people who base their identity on being victims (of society, family, advertising, the government, men, etc, etc) are so quick to attack others. They never seem to understand the irony of that action.

    Funny how trolls who say they’re leaving because they’re too good for this place never do. They never seem to understand the irony of that action.

  73. I think Ronald is acting kind of victimized himself, actually.

    But, hey, whining does that. Putting together a slideshow to visually demonstrate one’s point does not (even if a hell of a lot of people missed the point).

  74. The way he said he’d leave it to us women made it sound like we were just a big ‘ol quiliting-bee, sitting around, talking about things that we just couldn’t possibly understand and shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about.

    He did. He thought we were sad fatties who were too dumb to understand what “obese” meant. And now he’s revised his image of us to think that we’re a bunch of emasculating harpies just waiting for an ickle innocent man who don’t mean no harm to fall into our trap. The great thing about the really stale troll antics is that you can get a pretty complete picture of a person’s online persona, if not their real self, from just a few choice phrases. And Ronald’s view of women has only two settings: baby and shrew.

  75. Whoa, spacedcowgirl, that was awesome.

    What does having an “opinion” as to someone’s degree of “obesity” even mean?

    The ones that crack me up are the ones who are all magnanimous like “well it all looks right to me, except some of the overweight ones don’t really look overweight to me, they look okay.” There was one of those on Shakesville. It’s like gee, thanks a billion for designating some of us okay! I guess BMI holds strong EXCEPT in the cases where YOU override it with YOUR SENSE of WHO LOOKS OKAY. (Okay=fuckable, of course, you’re absolutely right — because despite their delusions, they actually can’t tell anything about our health or habits from a photo. All they can tell is if they’d kick us out of bed for eating crackers. Which is yet another reason why fatphobia is so linked with misogyny.)

    Not that women aren’t fatphobes. But many women are misogynists too. For a straight women it’s not “would I fuck her” but “if I looked like her, would I be considered fuckable.” Still all determined by whether a particular body gives someone a hard-on.

  76. Yeah, as FJ said, such a boring troll.

    Here’s what I figure: any reasonable person reading this thread can figure out who’s making intelligent, logical points, and who’s being… Ronald.

    There will always be trolls. There will always be people who look at something like the BMI project — or any other series of images of (mostly) women — and treat it as The Would You Fuck This Chick? Project.

    There will always be people who miss the point.

    But the fact that this project is getting linked everywhere up to and including the New York Times suggests to me that a lot of people are getting it, no matter what the comments elsewhere say.

    This blog (which is not even directly linked from any of the media outlets commenting on the BMI project) has gotten about 8,000 unique visits in the last 2 days. And only 2 trolls who came just to tell us the “obese” people in the project do indeed look fat, as if we didn’t know. (Other one was deleted for being even more boring than Ronald. Number 16. There was no point in even making fun of him.)

    I’m happy with that ratio.

  77. You know the thing that I’m still having to get used to with trolls is thinking that they *want* to be educated and that they are truly here for the discussion…

    Man I’m new to blog spaces.

  78. Hee, Joie, believe it or not I actually struggle with that every time. “But… what if this person is just INCHES AWAY from REALLY UNDERSTANDING what we’re trying to do here, and I put them off by calling them a troll?”

    After a while you start noticing particular hallmarks, and I’ve been lucky enough to watch Kate and Liss do it so many times that my trolldar has improved.

    Plus, plenty of people have come here and actually had discussions and rethought their prejudices. Probably more than I know, since I imagine people email Kate who don’t comment on the blog. And once that happens, the difference becomes clearer.

  79. “My jaw was still sitting on the floor from the “line all them ladies up naked, then we’ll see what’s what” comments too.”

    Looks like folks trying to reestablish a power relationship (that they didn’t have to begin with). Me: Judge. you: thing. (This is me not going near the comments. I admit I am powerless over hate-based blog comments, and my life can become unmanageable. Happy thoughts…)

  80. For a straight women it’s not “would I fuck her” but “if I looked like her, would I be considered fuckable.”

    Or, “Am I more fuckable than she is?” Hens, and their pecking orders…

  81. My feeling is, if someone really wants to learn, they’re free to read the other 350-odd posts here, instead of asking questions that have been answered eleventy billion times and thinking they can show me up and discredit the whole blog with one fucking comment straight off the Bingo card.

    Oddly, most new visitors here do read before they comment. And when they do comment, they’re charming, reasonable, and smart. Go figure.

  82. Looks like folks trying to reestablish a power relationship (that they didn’t have to begin with). Me: Judge. you: thing.

    Exactly. Well-put!

  83. [i]because despite their delusions, they actually can’t tell anything about our health or habits from a photo[/i]

    I keep wanting to challenge those who think they can to put my picture next to Sarah’s and consider the following.

    We’re two athletes, with two differences. One’s visible in the pics: Sarah is considerably fatter than I am. The other, however, is invisible: Sarah can finish a triathlon. I can’t. My heart and lungs are whimpering at the mere THOUGHT. Yet I’m the “normal” one, according to BMI; I’m the one they all assume is not going to keel over and die; I’m the one they don’t feel a self-righteous need to lecture for my mere existence.

    So what, pray tell, do our body sizes tell them about our cardiovascular health? Obviously, squat.

    (Oh, and you heard it here first, folks: I’m totally going to start training for a triathlon. I keep saying I want to try that “someday”; time to, y’know, shut my mouth and tie my shoes on. Even though all my heart and lungs want is some FRIED BUTTER.)

  84. I guess BMI holds strong EXCEPT in the cases where YOU override it with YOUR SENSE of WHO LOOKS OKAY.

    Yes! This is the thing that seems to be making my head hurt. I mean, on one hand I guess the point of the project is to show people that “overweight” or “obese” doesn’t necessarily look like they think it does. So if it does actually look like they think it does, then I guess they are not learning anything new. But the degree to which this is all getting mixed up with their opinion of who “looks okay” (and, unfortunately, some seem to be using it to justify their lack of attraction to fatties–”See, girls who wear larger than a size 4 really are unhealthily fat! I’m just concerned for your health! BINGO”) is confusing me and breaking my brain. They don’t seem to understand that this has much more to do with their societally brainwashed, pathologically narrow view of what degree of fat “looks good on a woman” than with the supposed health implications of BMI.

    Almost nobody is making the connection that these people are the face of the OBESITY EPIDEMIC yet many look nothing like the headless file photo fatties, and worse, they don’t seem to care. They seem to think that major social and governmental intervention against obesity really is warranted because them having to look at someone’s slight thigh chub is just that big a deal. I guess maybe I am just disappointed (not that I should be surprised) that they don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the health or mobility of the subjects, and they still think it’s appropriate to try and stamp us fatties out because we don’t all wear a single-digit size.

    I’m thrilled this project is getting so much attention, though. People need to hear the message even if they are jackasses and won’t truly get it.

  85. Even though all my heart and lungs want is some FRIED BUTTER.

    Hee!

    Interestingly, there’s another triathlete in the stream now (“overweight”), and before I remembered to turn comments off on the new pics, someone said something like, “This is a great example of how muscle affects BMI.”

    Yeah, well so is Sarah. So is “Slay Belle,” the “obese” woman who put on 30 lbs. of muscle in her first year of roller derby. So am I, hoisting my 185 lbs. up into crow pose, I might add. Etc., etc., etc.

    But we’ve all got fat along with the muscle, so the BMI is obviously an accurate assessment of our health.

  86. Almost nobody is making the connection that these people are the face of the OBESITY EPIDEMIC yet many look nothing like the headless file photo fatties, and worse, they don’t seem to care.

    Correction: almost nobody commenting at those other sites is making the connection. But the people re-posting it everywhere are. All the new commenters here are. All the people who have e-mailed me in the last few days (and there have been a lot) are. And undoubtedly, a whole ton of people looking at the project but not leaving comments anywhere are.

    Think of all those people, not the relatively few leaving asshole comments.

    I guess maybe I am just disappointed (not that I should be surprised) that they don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about the health or mobility of the subjects,

    Yeah, I guess I’m so used to it, I don’t even get disappointed anymore, because I pretty much expect nothing. But then, that means I also get to be unreasonably cheered by all the positive responses!

  87. About those 5 lbs…

    Two years ago, I read that “losing some weight before conceiving can make for a more healthy pregnancy.” So, since the hubby and I were thinking about bambinos, I went on my first diet ever (beyond just counting calories). I did some research and decided to try South Beach (only Phases 2 & 3, as I don’t believe in 0 carbs).

    One month and five pounds later, I noticed that my cycle had stopped. Not a terribly helpful thing for something thinking about trying for a baby. Two months, still only five pounds, still no cycle. Three months, maybe six pounds, no cycle.

    At that point, I decided to abandon the diet, I gained back the 5 pounds (and thankfully no more), and the cycle came back. Now, lest you think I’m some borderline-underweight pixie for whom 5 pounds is a great percentage of body weight… no. I’m a healthy 225 lb woman, and apparently, that’s exactly where my body wants me to be.

    I would argue that in this case, losing 5 pounds was detrimental to my health!

  88. That is a good point, Kate. I should have gone on the Sanity Watchers diet but I just couldn’t stick to it. :)

  89. “There will always be people who look at something like the BMI project — or any other series of images of (mostly) women — and treat it as The Would You Fuck This Chick? Project.”

    That cracked my shit up because it’s so true, Kate, especially on the Internet.

    With your BMI project, you’ve shifted the general understanding of BMI as inaccurate up one small notch: now people are seeing that our value as humans lies not in our BMI, but in how likely a man would be to fuck us. Yay for enlightenment!

    (Just kidding of course. I’m sure the wide coverage is having a net positive effect.)

  90. I just want to say that I think your BMI project was really interesting and, actually, uplifting. The comments on MeFi? Not so much.

    Trying to determine someone’s health based on weight/looks alone is like pouring water on yourself and saying you’re at the beach.

  91. I am an occasional reader of FitSugar, so I was surprised to even see the BMI project mentioned there. The comments were a laugh, especially about how SCARY and DANGEROUS your blog is, Kate. In fact, I think you should make that your tagline! :)

  92. The comments were a laugh, especially about how SCARY and DANGEROUS your blog is, Kate.

    Ooh, scary! Doesn’t that mean you’re starting to have a serious impact? You know, that whole, “first they ignore you” bit.

    BTW, Kate, I hope you’re still looking for pics. I’m trying to talk my hubby into participating.

  93. The energy around eating “whatever you want” reminds me a great deal of the energy around homosexuality in certain conservative Christian corners. There always seems to be some crack-addled alarmist saying “if we make it acceptable to be homosexual none of our young men will choose to be straight!”…as if, secretly, most men are maintaining their attraction to women rather than men through sheer force of will (or maybe that’s sheer force of shame) alone. And maybe some of those alarmists are, considering the Ted Haggard example.

    A lot of the weight alarmists seem to be working the same Mad Lib with different words filled in, and it makes me wonder how many of them are self-hating fat people. It certainly does seem to dovetail neatly into my personal experience that most if not all of the most positive and supportive comments I’ve gotten about my size have been from naturally-thin people (i.e. people who’ve never had cause to label themselves as “bad” due to size).

  94. most if not all of the most positive and supportive comments I’ve gotten about my size have been from naturally-thin people

    I’ve noticed that too! Especially people who are considered “too thin” – I guess they understand what it’s like to be hated or discriminated against for something you have no real control over. I think the worst are people who are thin but work very hard to be that way. Because if were okay to be fat, that would mean they’re starving and depriving and exhausting themselves for nothing, and that doesn’t bear considering.

  95. Trying to determine someone’s health based on weight/looks alone is like pouring water on yourself and saying you’re at the beach.

    Off topic, but I could barely contain my laughter when I read that :-D

  96. Especially people who are considered “too thin” – I guess they understand what it’s like to be hated or discriminated against for something you have no real control over.

    Absolutely. I have a couple friends who fall into that category and just got it instantly. As someone said upthread, there’s not much difference between, “Put down that sandwich!” and “OMG, eat a sandwich!”

    I mean, friends of all sizes have been supportive, but I think grasping the concept comes a little more naturally to people whose bodies are outside the norm, so they’ve had the same basic experience fatties have had of wanting and trying to change, only to find out your body just won’t cooperate.

  97. Funny how people who base their identity on being victims (of society, family, advertising, the government, men, etc, etc) are so quick to attack others.

    Why is it when people who are consistently victimized and marginalized start to fight back and assert their rights, it’s considered to be an attack on others? We don’t consider the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century to be a case of black people attacking white people.

    You know, I was actually hesitant to send in my photo to Kate for this project. Most every picture you see of me is from the chest up. Usually, I am the one taking the photos. You wouldn’t believe how much I agonized over if the wedding photographer would know how to position me in the most flattering poses so that I wouldn’t look hideously fat (this is, of course, relative to the eye of the beholder).

    I wasn’t surprised to find that people would be attacking and criticizing the ones who did submit photos. I’m just surprised to find that I couldn’t care less.

  98. We don’t consider the civil rights movement of the mid-20th century to be a case of black people attacking white people.

    Not anymore. But it always starts out just the same. We’re not staying in our place, y’know? That’s read as an aggressive action. And fuck it, it is an aggressive action. Because the alternative is passive acceptance.

  99. Also, Rachel, if you’re in the project, does that mean you’re the incredibly stylish Rachel with the corduroy jacket? Because I WANT YOUR JACKET. Sorry to let a serious discussion devolve into sartorial lust, but come on.

  100. Oh yeah, I TOTALLY want the hair. But the jacket can be purchased, whereas my hair will never be that thick.

  101. The whole point of it for me is this: If judgments based on BMI were being “applied equally”–that is, if we as a society were spending as much time heaping shit on Brad Pitt as we do on the average woman with his BMI–then I would maybe accept that fat hatred is based on concern for the health of anyone whose BMI is over the “normal” threshold.

    But because Pitt and George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger and most of the NBA, NHL, and NFL don’t look “outwardly fat”, everyone just chuckles merrily at the idea that those people could be fat and moves on.

    Fat hatred is not concern for health. It’s hatred based on “unacceptable” appearance, pure and simple.

  102. Okay, back to the substance of Rachel’s excellent comment — I’ve found the same thing. I really don’t give a rat’s ass about the haters.

    And The Rotund said the same during the Guess Her Weight game — she was surprised to find she wasn’t bothered in the least by guesses that were too high.

    That’s the magic of telling the truth, I think. When we hide the real numbers or try to only be shot from the most flattering angles, then there’s always the fear of being exposed for what you really are. When you say, “This is what I really am,” and someone craps all over you for it, it becomes pretty clear that the problem is not actually you.

    Oh, I also second what Fillyjonk said about hindsight distorting our perception of the civil rights movement. Damn straight it was perceived as an attack. Ditto every other social justice movement, pretty much; hell, we’ve had a “YOU FEMINISTS HATE THE POOR MENZ!” jackass on this very thread today. Accepting that people who are different from you deserve equal respect and rights when you’re a member of a privileged group means you have to surrender some of that privilege. THE HORROR.

  103. I think the worst are people who are thin but work very hard to be that way. Because if were okay to be fat, that would mean they’re starving and depriving and exhausting themselves for nothing, and that doesn’t bear considering.

    Becky, I’m right there with you on these martyrs to thinness. They are the worst.

  104. “Trying to determine someone’s health based on weight/looks alone is like pouring water on yourself and saying you’re at the beach.”

    (I don’t know the code, so I don’t want to try it yet)

    That is a very good analogy about the whole thing. Apperances aren’t very good determinants, and if you simply go by weight, there’s more subtle things that are more accurate: Like one’s movement for example.

    Rachel: Your comment was a good example as well. They validate the hatred, and then claim that it isn’t backed by science supposedly (Equality is therefore illogical *Rolls eyes*), and that’s supposed to mean fat people don’t have the right to defend themselves. It’s funny too, because the civil rights movements tends to move towards “Accepting everyone,” but there’s people on those lines that like to make this the big exception.

    More examples of a moral panic, gone wrong, with health… wait… Did I say health? THE PERCEPTION OF HEALTH used as a crutch to validate hatred: ‘Cuz itz going to help all ‘duh unhealthy people get thin. How many times do we have to say negative feedback is not helping?

    I wasn’t aware that intake restriction had a direct barring on whether or not a person can run five miles either: I thought that was because of the person’s activity level. I guess I just don’t know fitness well. Forget the fact that I can do a side split, run six miles on a cool day, and squat double my weight: That’s just stupid of me.

    I just weighed myself: I’m 153.5 today at 5’11. Woohoo… That makes me more moral… *Rolls Eyes again*

    If I lost five pounds: My joints would still be weakening due to my activity and build (AND ZOMGZ I IZ 20), I would still be able to run the same distance (Unless of coruse that drop in weight came as a response to increased/better running, but the weight loss wouldn’t be the reason for the extra mile or two), and I would still be the same person. I’m actually trying to put on weight, because I need to get more toned for Hapkido. I may never do so, but does it really matter? I’ll still be breaking wrists, and throwing people, and that’s all that matters. :)

    You’re getting popular Kate. It’s something you can be happy about, but hate at the same time.

  105. Fillyjonk: I got that jacket at JC Penney for just $25 on sale the other week. It’s still in the low 90′s here, but I couldn’t resist the deal!

  106. When I was a child, and in my early teens, I would actually cross the street sometimes to avoid being seen by packs of other kids who I was sure would make fun of me if I passed them.

    It’s actually pretty weird, in a cool kind of way, that I’m now willing to have my picture picked apart by assholes who can look at it and say “Ewwwww! Gross! She’s FAAAAAAT! And UNHEAAALTTTHYY!”

    And the best part is I don’t give a shit what those asshats have to say about it anyway!

  107. Becky, I am also right there with you re: martyrs to thinness. It must have to do with Eat-The-World syndrome, I’m sure.

    And too, as I think has been discussed on here before, it has to do with some sort of weird conflation between pleasure and punishment: the pleasure of eating Whatever You Want must needs be punished by all the negatives associated with being fat…which you brought on yourself, which you deserve. I’m sure that the sin and atonement talk you hear regarding food and working out is also involved.

    So really, in the minds of these asses, it really does make sense. It’s a one-to-one correspondence: you ate something you liked (and remember, what you liked must obviously have been chocolate souffle or cheesecake or some other evil food–couldn’t have been quinoa with red peppers or a person-sized salad, obviously) and now you’re paying the price, which is exacted by a lot of people who feel very invested in making sure that you pay it. Action, consequence. If you don’t want to be treated like shit because you’re fat? Well, duh! Don’t get fat in the first place!

    And of course the people who are exacting that price the most vigourously are the ones, I’m betting, who have the worst feelings about pleasure and who want to make sure the rest of us don’t get away with anything–because why should we be exceptions to the rules they have self-imposed, huh?

  108. *sigh* Somehow I’m not surprised. I also linked to the Illustrated BMI categories in my blog and was saddened to find someone I had liked respond with the same old “fat is unhealthy” nonsense. I suppose I should look at it as a teaching opportunity or something, but mostly I was just disappointed.

  109. Gemma, on October 4th, 2007 at 2:33 pm Said:

    You think women like Laurie and Pippa are truly overweight with their slim frames and not an inch of fat on their bones?

    Gemma – sorry but you kind of prove how necessary the height/weight tag info is for the slideshow photos. I have no problem with whatever tag the BMI gives me because I know the truth of my own body, and that truth is that I am neither slim-framed or fat free, which would be quite impossible from a body function perspective, as I’m sure you will agree.

    My body comp data shows me to be hovering around 30% fat, actually. I wear a US size 14 in both top and pants. My frame and fat content combine with my height to make me appear a certain way in photos, and if you think that appearance is slim and fat-free then that’s fine, it’s just not especially accurate to draw those particular conclusions ‘just by looking at me’. Which brings us back to doh, a deer…

    I found myself wondering what size clothing the women in the slideshow wore, actually. There are so many photos of celebrities being manipulated (resized so that petite women are standing next to taller women yet appearing as the same height, i.e. in Australian Cosmo:
    ~hope the link works!) that I don’t trust my eyes anymore to guess, I want to know the actual numbers. I don’t want to jack the thread, but it occurred to me that if more women thought that a person looked slim and lean in the photo, then found out that the person was actually a size 14 or more and had an ‘overweight/obese/morb obese’ BMI, or if they thought someone looked fat but had a smaller dress size than what they wore themselves that it could be an interesting avenue to explore. Why is it that size isn’t a truth, it’s a relative perception?

  110. Well Pippa, I’m surprised to hear you wear a 14, I would have guessed like a 6 or 8. Which like you said, just goes to show! If you’re curious, I also wear a 14. (Despite appearing considerably fatter than you in pictures).

  111. Kate, I know you must be an editor, but in most scientific journals I submit to, unless the puncutation is in the original citation, it goes outside the quotes. (often APA style).

    Thanks everyone for the comments about joints. My boyfriend and I got in a wee discussion about things I have been learning on this and other sites, and he holds that my knee is probably as bad as it is because of my weight, not because of my years of mountain biking, backpacking, and rock climbing. I know, hard to believe they let fat girls with BMI’s of 37 do that stuff…

  112. Kristin, Chicago style, which is a *very* widely used style in non-scientific work, puts commas and periods inside the quotes no matter what.

    Yes, this blog is run by two former editors. :-)

  113. With an MA in English. And I think both of y’all have MAs in writing, right?

    We’re kinda set up here.

    But we don’t really use APA.

  114. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

    so said ralph waldo emerson, and he’s right. who gives a fuck about grammar and style? that does not make people effective communicators, nor does it give a message power.

    this blog conveys powerful messages. people nitpick at stupid shit when the substantive stuff is too difficult to refute. there’s a cicero quote this reminds me of : “When you have no basis for an argument, abuse the plaintiff.”

  115. colio, I think you might be misreading the tone of this whole conversation… we were nitpicking the stupid article, and then there was some good-natured bantering about stylebooks. Nobody was nitpicking the blog to avoid talking about big issues.

    Because there’s no way they could. See above, about the two editors (and I’ve been one too) and the journalist and all the MAs. :)

  116. Actually, Colio’s done her share of editing and grad schooling, too.

    I have a hunch she might have been defending me there, actually. But I’ve had several drinks and am not entirely sure what’s going on. :)

    Bedtime.

  117. “most if not all of the most positive and supportive comments I’ve gotten about my size have been from naturally-thin people”

    I think it’s also that naturally thin people, whether “too thin” or not, know first hand that they can eat all kinds of junk and not exercise and still not gain weight. So they know perfectly well that “this many calories equals this amount of weight gain” isn’t true, albeit from the other side, and that they don’t deserve any sort of credit for looking like they do.

  118. “My frame and fat content combine with my height to make me appear a certain way in photos, and if you think that appearance is slim and fat-free then that’s fine, it’s just not especially accurate to draw those particular conclusions ‘just by looking at me’.”

    I don’t understand what you mean. Could you please clarify?

    You look slender, and you look like you don’t need to lose any weight to be healthy, just as a lot of women in the BMI project looked exactly the same. Hell, I’d say ALL those women LOOK like they’re healthy, and therefore I wouldn’t say they “need” to lose weight unless they specifically told me that they had health issues that would ONLY improve with weight-loss.

    Reading back, I think when I said “not an inch of fat on their bones”, I was falling into the kind of speech I need to avoid. Please bear with me: I’m a recovering anorexic who has recently devolved into an over-eating disorder, and it’s only been about 7 days ago that I made a concerted effort to break out of a lot of destructive thought patterns. In 7 days, I haven’t shaken it all, and I will from time to time fall back into a way of thinking or phrasing things that is counter-productive.

    Thank you for correcting me, and please continue to do so.

    I think what I meant is that you don’t LOOK like you ‘should’ lose anything, which in my head equates to the phrase ‘no fat’. I understand that this is wrong. Sometimes my hands type faster than my thought process, particularly in an area where I’m struggling to overcome a life-long destructive way of thinking and acting.

    I hope I didn’t cause offence.

  119. Gemma:

    Seven days is just the beginning. It will take you weeks, months and years to really be able to move free from it (as I’m sure you know.)

    I’m five years in and I still have days when the destructive thoughts fill my mind and all those things I was taught just go away. Those are usually the days I barely eat at all because I’m afraid to. I’ve had two this week alone — simply because of all this triggering crap going on in my blog and Kate’s and everywhere else.

    But anyway, congrats on realizing what’s going on with your mind and body. And good luck on the journey.

  120. Well, if anyone’s curious about size, I’m the one in the grey jeans and grey off the shoulder sweater. The jeans are a (very tight) 16W, and the sweater is a 1X. I think my body fat percentage is about 35%. I’m not exactly inactive, but I’m not all muscle, either. I do have a very defined waist, and people tend to see me as smaller than I am because of it.

  121. Dee! You were my first “hey, she’s almost my height and weight and she’s beautiful, so maybe my own BMI is not irrefutable proof that I must look disgusting” moment from the slide show! Thanks for that!
    Great to meet you! Awesome sweater!

  122. Fatgirlonabike, thank you so much for your comment.

    I must confess that I was upset when I read Pippa’s comment because I thought I was doing so well, and I’m a bit of an open wound, right now. I know she certainly didn’t mean to upset me in anyway and I take responsibility for my feelings on that matter. I also know many other people are going to correct me over time and that this is a GOOD thing.

    I think I’m just very sensitive, right now, because it’s all so new and because it’s hard. It’s really, really hard. Harder than I’d like to admit. But I will get there if I take things slowly and keep internalising the good stuff that I read whilst carefully throwing out all the bad information and expectations I’ve been holding in my head since I first looked at myself in the mirror at 6 years old and decided I looked better with ribs showing than without.

    7 days is just the beginning, indeed. One of my problems is expecting myself to ‘get’ something straight away. Which is impossible!

    Btw, I really love your username. :) I’m in the process of getting my first bike since I entered the mystical world called ‘adulthood’ and I’m very excited about it.

  123. Gemma, don’t fret! You are awesome.

    You were projecting fatlessness on Pippa because she’s so good-looking, so take this as a gentle reminder that good-looking does not mean zero-fat and zero-fat does not mean good-looking. We all need that reminder, because conflating the two is so popular and so easy. Taking it slow is a very good idea — it’s a big new paradigm to adjust to. But seriously you are doing better than fine.

  124. Wow, 5lbs is dangerous? Think i should book into hospital the week before my period every month, you know, just in case? I mean, i could stroke out or have a heart attack with the strain….what an idiot!

  125. Gemma:

    You’ll be an open wound for weeks. That’s part of the healing process and it’s completely normal. On the way, you’ll begin to recognize what triggers you and you’ll be able to prepare for it or insulate yourself.

    The quick fix is something we all deal with in many ways. It’s one way the diet industry feeds on so many people — we’re wanting a fast way to lose weight and not feel hungry blah blah blah, so they swoop in like vultures.

    We expect that quick fix, even though it really doesn’t exist. Your eating disorder didn’t come in over night and it won’t take over night to fix it.

    You’re doing amazingly well, just by the fact that you’re recognizing it. And each day, it will get easier and easier, but in miniscule ways that you won’t really see until you stand on the hill and look down to see where you came from.

    And get a bike. They’re one of the best ways to find freedom, no matter what your size is.

  126. Oops. I was just playing with you guys about style manuals. Sorry to cause a ruckus.

    I really love this site and the issues it raises. I love hearing about the experiences that others have, and I find all of it very empowering (and often humorous). I am by nature a little bit silly and kind of a joker, so if it isn’t funny, I apologize.

  127. The following may be a totally useless analogy, unless you’re also a migraineur, but what the hell…

    WayCoolSteelMarshmallowOnABike said: “On the way, you’ll begin to recognize what triggers you and you’ll be able to prepare for it or insulate yourself.”

    One of my tricks for migraine management is to remember that many of the symptoms (pain, mood swings…) are temporary. Mantra: pain lies. Then, I’ll use the old 4 D’s trick left over from quitting smoking (which helping, I found a few years ago) : Delay, Deep breathing, Drink water, Do something else.

    I wonder if those moments where “destructive thoughts” invade are kind of like that — imposed from outside, or showing up in response to triggers — and that just remembering that that stuff has no substance, and then use the 4 Ds, especially the last one. Distraction can go a long way toward getting over pain waves — even psychological ones. The important thing is that, if you’ve already examined the situation and the ethics and the science and the significance behind whatever triggered the pain wave, you don’t have to reanalyze it all over again from the start in order to be “allowed” by the universe to get on with your life. “Oh. There it is again. Regroup. Anyway…”

  128. Fatgirlonabike, you’re right about being an open wound, and everything else. It really helps to hear it, though. My friend pointed me towards this blog, and I’m so glad she did!

    “And get a bike. They’re one of the best ways to find freedom, no matter what your size is.”

    My bike actually arrived the other day. . . broken. I just had it collected and a new one will be here in a week. I am so excited about it! There are plenty of woods and big, grassy areas to explore by my house and, once I feel more confident, I’ll be using it for commuting too. :)

    “The following may be a totally useless analogy, unless you’re also a migraineur, but what the hell…”

    The analogy is perfect, Kell Brigan, because I do suffer from migraines! I’d actually never heard of the 4 Ds before, despite being an ex-smoker myself, but I have apparently been doing them anyway in regards to pain, so that’s a decent start! I like the idea of applying them to issues like this. Thanks!

  129. Oops. I was just playing with you guys about style manuals. Sorry to cause a ruckus.

    Kristin, that’s how I read it! Maybe I’m the worst editor here and don’t get worked up enough about grammar disputes, but I feel like having an APA/Chicago rumble is hilarious. Maybe I should get up on my journalist horse and fight for AP. Except that AP is insane so I won’t.

  130. fillyjonk- I was at the university of arkansas, and they used this crazy CBE manual that NO ONE ELSE in the whole world uses (that may be an overstatement). Stupid style. It really takes the fun out of writing. I don’t know AP style. For a really fun read, you should check out Eats Shoots and Leaves…

    Gemma- Congrats on your bike! There really are few feelings compared with that you feel cruising down long hills and really being in the world around you….

  131. I have to weigh in on the grammar/style talk. In my extensive set of careers, I have had to learn/use science-y rules (CBE), MLA, APA and law style (Blue Book/Texas Law Review rules). Each is slightly different, all have their own intricacies, and it gets sooooo hard to remember which one to use. Whenever I write, I have to have the appropriate manual out so I don’t screw up!

  132. I just wanted to de-lurk and throw my support in here for all of you. My wife has had image issues her whole life and no amount of support from me has ever shaken it completely. So kudos to all for coming out and dealing with it in public.

    Also, I have sent Kate a flickr-mail with a link to one of my pictures to contribute to the project.

  133. Thanks, Eric.

    Can you resend the image to katesblog at gmail dot com? I don’t really check the Flickr mail and would like to keep all the submissions in one place.

  134. In the journalism field, commas go inside. But has this already been said? My bad.
    Oh and I love the idea that just because I need insurance, I need a cookie cutter, offensive category in order to get it.

  135. Thanks Kate, just sent it to your gmail.

    In the interests of full disclosure, I am 5’11″, 205 lbs. Which if I am not mistaken, makes me overweight. TWENTY-FIVE POUNDS overweight, which is a crock. When I was 175 I looked like a damn POW camp resident.

    Anyway, you can see it when she adds it to the photostream.

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  137. [Observing the style manual battles, Kell reaches into her bag of evil armaments, and pulls out a weapon of mass destruction...]

    Nom Chomsky! Transformational grammar! There are no errors, really. Discuss.

    [Pops popcorn (with fried butter) and sits back to enjoy the carnage...]

  138. I’m 5’11″ and 173lbs. I might be able to dig about and find one of me at 194lbs too…will have a go and send them. I breastfed and got a thyroid issue diagnosed and treated and the extra weight came off. And i agree DIETS DON’T WORK!

  139. Thank you for an awesome website, Kate! I just found your site today. I’m totally in love with the BMI Project, and I’ll be posting a link to it on my LiveJournal.

    As a side note on how ridiculous the BMI labels are, I found this website showing a number of famous (and ultra-hot) men who are overweight or obese. I don’t know if anyone else has posted this before, but I found it fascinating. The Rock is obese? Well, sign me up for obesity, then!

    http://www.consumerfreedom.com/bmiscale/stats.html

  140. Oh man, I know I’m late to this discussion, but I just feel the need to comment SOMEWHERE. After being so good at avoiding the comments elsewhere, I just clicked over to the site of a blogger who I occasionally read because she graduated from the school I currently go to a couple of years earlier and I think she’s kind of interesting. Only to find a link to the BMI Project and a “What does she think she’s going on about? These women ARE TOO FAT!” followed by “Well, I would too be fat if I were a size 6; you just don’t understand my small frame.”

    I don’t think I can read her blog with any kind of respect anymore.

  141. Okay, okay, you guys are driving me batshit crazy with the comma thing. I’m not a literature person, I come from the programming side.

    Here’s a sample sentence I constructed on the fly:

    >> Saying “hello”, casually nodding your head, and complete silence are the only three permissible forms of interaction while at a bathroom urinal.

    Now it would seem to me that “hello”, is correct rather than “hello,” just because you are isolating/highlighting a single token. Otherwise you would have parsing ambiguities – for a marginally absurd example let’s consider a movie that just opened called “Zzz…”

    >> I haven’t seen the new movie “Zzz…,” but heard that it was quite good.

    So now how does the reader tell if the movie is called “Zzz…” or “Zzz…,”? If I remember my grammar a comma is optional in the above sentence depending on your style guidelines.

  142. Dimmerman, here’s my MLA/Chicago-influenced answers:

    – “hello,” is correct.

    – You do not need a comma in the “Zzz…” sentence because what follows the “but” is not an independent clause (i.e., it doesn’t have its own subject-verb combo; it just has the verb “heard,” the subject of which is “I” from the first half of the sentence. :-D

  143. yeah i was defending kate (or so i thought, a foolish reader was i).

    but i DO think the grammar hangup is stupid, generally.

    if what you’re saying is valuable it doesn’t matter what professional stamp of approval’s placed on it — be it king james english or street slang. degrees don’t matter either — so many institutions promote obedient mediocrity and conformist thinking.

    it’s the content counts. and i apologize for morphing onto this darling personal tangent.

    that said, rock on, sisters!

  144. Col, I gotcha. :) No apologies necessary!

    I think people interpreted your previous comment as “Why are you talking about this stupid bullshit?” not “Why do people even care, in the long run?”

  145. My weight goes down 5lbs overnight through sweating and peeing. What the hell is 5lbs? My body is not even AWARE of 5lbs more or less. It does notice the effects of the fucking eating disorder I caught from people who told me how revoltingly fat I was, though.

    Oh, and I just lurve being labelled female, too. That never makes me want to claw my own skin off or anything.

  146. Pingback: Messages of inspiration today « Eileen the Episcopalifem: Liberal, Progressive, Feminist, Episcopalian

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