The Fantasy of Being Thin

A while back, Joy Nash provided us with this excellent quote of the day:

Obese patients are often encouraged to believe that weight loss is an appropriate way to combat depression, save a failing marriage, or increase the chance of career success. The irrationality of hopes pinned on weight loss is so striking that dieting might almost be likened to superstitious behavior…. Passing from childhood into adolescence, leaving home, marrying, starting a new job, having a baby, experiencing marital difficulties, adjusting to children leaving home, and growing old — all these life situations may become unexamined reasons to diet. In other instances, concerns over weight mask even more serious problems.”

-Wooley and Garner, from “Obesity treatment: the high cost of false hope,” published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, vol. 91, no. 10, 1991.

For the last few days, I’ve been thinking I wanted to blog on this subject but haven’t quite been able to pull my thoughts together. (Hence “help me find a dress” post.) Here goes nuthin’.

Once you’ve really started believing in fat acceptance — as opposed to thinking it sounds nice for other people, but you still need to lose X lbs. before you’ll be acceptable — it can be hard to remember how you thought about these issues before (just as it can be hard to imagine what it would really be like to accept your fat body before you’ve done it). I’ve written several times about how I spent ages in the cognitive dissonance phase, thinking it made perfect sense that the OBESITY CRISIS hype was way overblown, and even if it weren’t, dieting doesn’t work anyway — but still wanting to lose weight, still feeling like I, personally, needed to be a size 10, max, before I could really get started on my fat acceptance journey. The thing is, that memory is almost totally intellectual now; I don’t really recall what it felt like to believe those two contradictory things simultaneously.

But then, the other day, I got to thinking about a particular kind of resistance that shows up every single time anyone dares to say that dieting doesn’t work — the kind that comes from other fat people and amounts to, “DON’T YOU TAKE MY HOPE AWAY!” Those of us in the anti-dieting camp are frequently accused of demoralizing fat people, of sending a cruelly pessimistic message. I’ve never quite gotten my head around that one, since the message we’re sending is that you’re actually allowed to love your fat body instead of hating it, and you can take steps to substantially improve your health without fighting a losing battle with your weight. I’m pretty sure that message is both compassionate and optimistic, not to mention realistic. But there will always be people who hear it as, “I, Kate Harding, am personally condemning you to a lifetime of fatness! There’s no point in trying, fatty! You’re doomed! Mwahahaha!”

Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m saying. *headdesk*

And then I started thinking about what it was really like before I’d actually made peace with my body. And what it was really like was this: The Fantasy of Being Thin absolutely dominated my life — even after I’d gotten thin once, found myself just as depressive and scattered and frustrated as always, and then gained all the weight back because, you know, diets don’t work. The reality of being thin didn’t even sink in after all that, because The Fantasy of Being Thin was still far more familiar to me, still what I knew best. I’d spent years and years nurturing that fantasy, and only a couple years as an actual thin person. Reality didn’t have a chance.

We’ve talked a lot here about how being fat shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you’ve always believed you couldn’t do until you were thin. Put on a bathing suit and go waterskiing. Apply for that awesome job you’re just barely qualified for. Ask that hot guy out. Join a gym. Wear a gorgeous dress. All of those concrete things you’ve been putting off? Just fucking do them, now, because this IS your life, happening as we speak.

But exhortations like that don’t take into account magical thinking about thinness, which I suspect — and the quote above suggests — is really quite common. Because, you see, the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.” See also:

  • When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
  • When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with.

Et cetera, et cetera. Those are examples from my personal Fantasy of Being Thin, but I’m sure you’ve got your own. (Please do share in comments!)

In light of that, it’s a lot easier to understand why some people freak out when you say no, really, your chances of losing weight permanently are virtually nil, so you’d be better off focusing on feeling good and enjoying your life as a fat person. To someone fully wrapped up in The Fantasy of Being Thin, that doesn’t just mean, “All the best evidence suggests you will be fat for the rest of your life, but that’s really not a terrible thing.” It means, “You will NEVER be the person you want to be! All the evidence suggests you will never find a satisfying relationship or get a promotion or make more friends or feel confident trying new things!”

So if that’s what you hear when I say, “Diets don’t work,” then yeah, I can see how that would be a major bummer.

Overcoming The Fantasy of Being Thin might be the hardest part of making it all the way into fat acceptance-land. And that might just be why I’d pushed that part of the process out of my memory: it fucking sucked. Because I didn’t just have to accept the size of my thighs; I had to accept who I am, rather than continuing to wait until I magically became the person I’d always imagined being. Ouch.

That is, of course, a pretty normal part of getting older. You start to realize that yeah, this actually is it, and although you can still try enough new things to keep anyone busy for two lifetimes, you’re pretty much stuck with a basic context. There are skills, experiences, and material things you will almost certainly never have, period. It’s a challenge for all of us to understand that accepting this fact of life does not necessarily mean cutting off options or giving up dreams, but simply — as in the proverbial story about the creation of the David — chipping away all that is not you. But for a fat person, it can be even harder, because so many fucking sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is “a thin person waiting to get out” — and that thin person is SO MUCH COOLER.

The reality is, I will never be the kind of person who thinks roughing it in Tibet sounds like a hoot; give me a decent hotel in London any day. I will probably never learn to waterski well, or snow ski at all, or do a back handspring. I can be outgoing and charismatic in small doses, but I will always then need time to recharge my batteries with the dogs and a good book; I’ll never be someone with a chock-full social calendar, because I would find that unbearably exhausting. (And no matter how well I’ve learned to fake it — and thus how much this surprises some people who know me — new social situations will most likely always intimidate the crap out of me.) I might learn to speak one foreign language fluently over the course of my life, but probably not five. I will never publish a novel until I finish writing one. I will always have to be aware of my natural tendency toward depression and might always have to medicate it. Smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm or start a new career as a river guide. And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.

None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.

But when I was invested in The Fantasy of Being Thin, I really believed that changing this one “simple” (ha!) thing would unlock a whole new identity — this totally fabulous, free-spirited, try-anything-once kind of chick who was effortlessly a magnet for interesting people and experiences. And of course, the dark side of that is that being fat then became an excuse not to do much of anything, because it wouldn’t be the real me doing it, so what was the point? If I wouldn’t find the right guy until I was thin, why bother dating? If I wouldn’t have a breakthrough on the novel until I was thin, why bother writing? If I wouldn’t be the life of the party until I was thin, why bother trying to make new friends? If I wouldn’t feel like climbing a mountain until I was thin, why bother traveling at all?

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

Accepting my fat really wasn’t the hard part. Accepting my personality — and my many limitations that have jack shit to do with my thighs — was. But oddly enough, once I started to do that, my life became about a zillion times more satisfying. I found the right guy, I took up yoga, I started taking my writing more seriously, I stopped apologizing for taking vacations in the U.S. and Canada instead of somewhere more exotic, etc. And lo and behold, things got a lot more fun around here. The thin person inside me finally got out — it just turned out she was actually a fat person. A reasonably attractive, semi-outgoing fat person who has an open mind and an active imagination but also happens to really like routine and familiarity and quiet time alone.

That was never who I expected to be — it was just always who I was.

So giving up dieting and accepting my body didn’t just mean admitting I would never be thin; it meant admitting I would never be a million things I might have been. (Which, I’m told, is a phenomenon sometimes known as “maturity.”) I am absolutely not one for settling — which is where the confusion about pessimism comes in, I think — but I am one for self-awareness and self-forgiveness. Meaning, there’s a big difference between saying you can’t be anything other than what you are right now, and you don’t have to be anything other than what you are right now. You will probably never be permanently thin, unless you are already, but other than that, the sky’s the limit. You can be anything or anyone you want to be, in theory.

The question is, who do you really want to be, and what are you going to do about it? (Okay, two questions.) The Fantasy of Being Thin is a really convenient excuse for not asking yourself those questions sincerely — and that’s exactly why it’s dangerous. It keeps you from being not only who you are, but who you actually could be, if you worked with what you’ve got. And that person trapped inside you really might be cooler than you are right now.

She’s just not thin.

586 thoughts on “The Fantasy of Being Thin

  1. The thin person inside me finally got out — it just turned out she was actually a fat person.

    HOLY SHIT YES. This is awesome.

    And I completely agree that “I’m too fat right now ” or “I will when I’m thin” are just excuses. And understandably so, because it’s terrifying to face up to your REAL abilities and limitations — it’s much more comforting to believe that you don’t have to try anything until you figure out how to get by on 1000 calories. Thinness (or thinnerness) is the imaginary magical talisman that will allow you to have everything, but until you have it, not having everything isn’t your fault.

    When of course the truth is, not everyone can do everything, and the things you’re good at or the things you value aren’t necessarily the things that everyone considers valuable. When you have that checklist mentality, you end up focusing on things you think other people would want, not things that would make you happy. I’m notoriously bad at thinking of anything I’m good at, so let’s take my boyfriend as an example — he’s really good at building antennas. Is that something everyone wants in their obituary? Is it on anyone’s 43 Things? Maybe not, but it’s what he values.

    When I was in like fourth grade, we did an exercise about imagining what name we would want besides our own. I wrote about how if I were named Ashley I would be skinny and pretty and be good at gymnastics. (The teacher wrote a gentle note about how changing your name probably won’t do those things.) I don’t know if I really wanted to be good at gymnastics — I hate being upside down — but I perceived that as being something that other people valued that I couldn’t live up to. Meanwhile, the things I was good at, like memorizing poems and spelling, were fundamentally worthless because a) they weren’t generically perceived as valuable in a “checklist of things an 8-year-old should be able to do” sense and b) I was good at them already.

    Mind you, I still do this, I just haven’t got any decent excuses anymore. Sometimes I blame ADD, but mostly I say “you know me, I can’t do anything I think I might succeed at or also anything I think I might fail at.” And I beat myself up for, say, not immediately knowing how to do things, or not being great at things I admire in other people. There’s no reason for this; I do it because I’m neurotic. It is, indeed, much harder when I can’t blame that stuff on my fat. But it’s more honest, too.

  2. This is awesome, awesome, awesome, and spot-on. The “change your body, change your life” idea is really the only thing powerful enough to keep a person willingingly semi-starved and weak for months (or years) at a time.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s precisely the thing I still struggle with, and what you said about the difference between “you can’t be anything else” and “you don’t have to be anything else,” well, damn. That belongs on a throw pillow on my bed where I can see it every day.

  3. Damn. I want to print this out and frame it. I’m one of those people who’s been in single-digit sizes several times only to find it unsustainable. I have a tiny, tiny wardrobe because I’ve only just given up the idea of wearing those really nice clothes I bought when I was a size 6. My larger sized clothes are mostly crap because they were intended to be temporary. Sigh. My thin-person fantasies usually revolve around clothes and exercise… and I can buy clothes and exercise no matter what size I am, right. Silly person.

  4. <…smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm … And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.

    Oh, my god. Those are two of my dreams, right there! Albeit the former is more attainable than the latter.

    I was somewhat surprised when I finally reached the mythical land of skinnydom. I thought I’d finally get a boyfriend, friends, and a good job. Okay, so I was taken more seriously professionally than when I was fat, but the first two never materialized. And, I was more miserable thin than I ever was when I was overweight and didn’t obsess about what I ate and didn’t spend all my free time exercising or thinking about food or both.

    At my highest weight, I was fearless. I would debate and argue with people, confront people who gave bad service, etc… After losing the weight, I turned into a wimp. I no longer had my fatness to blame for what I perceived to be wrongs directed at me.

  5. I love this post. I love this post. I love this post. I’m having to duck my head under my desk so my co-workers aren’t seeing me get all teary-eyed, but I love this post.

  6. Wow. I… Just WOW. Your blog always makes me think, but this post speaks to me more than anything else you’ve blogged about. I’ve finally begun to accept my body, but I never admitted I cling to the FoBT mindset. This is going to be an ugly, but very necessary, period of introspection. Thank you, Kate.

  7. Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes!!!!

    I do this all the time, with almost the exact same fantasies: I’ll get a better job, I’ll have tons of friends, I’ll be confident enough to start taking dance lessons, etc. etc. Fillyjonk is spot-on with the responsibility avoidance thing… I’ve been doing it for so long I’m really not sure how to *stop*.

    So instead I swing back and forth between thinking I have this glamorous skinny person inside me and hoping the “skinny person” (where “skinny person” is defined as “person I’d love to be”) inside me is Nikki Blonski. It still distracts me from contemplating what precisely I am, but hey.

  8. Hmm, I never had the fantasy of being thin. I think because at the time in my life (childhood and the teen years) when I was the shy, sad, lonely girl daydreaming of all the things she wanted to be, I was thin. And the time in my life when I started becoming more outgoing and made friends and got a boyfriend and started actually being happy (college) is when I started getting fat. So I never bought into the “if I get thin again my life will change for the better” because in my experience, it was rather the opposite.

    The post still resonates though. The idea of: “you don’t have to be anything other than what you are right now”… that’s really just… huge.

  9. You asked, so here it is:

    When I’m thin, I will finally be a valuable human being.

    And yes, I realize how fucked up that is. YEARS of therapy, people.

  10. You know, “The Fantasy of Being Thin” would make (1) an awesome title for a book and (2) an awesome premise for a book.

    Thanks for really digging into what the Fantasy is and what it means to so many people (myself still included, many days), and why it hurts so much to part with it.

  11. I think you’re absolutely right.

    But I wanted to add one thing.

    Sometimes, people don’t use The Fantasy of Being Thin as an excuse so much as they honestly don’t think they’re allowed to do the things/be the person in their fantasy, just because they’re fat.

    I couldn’t have been popular at school – I was fat. Fat girls are never popular.

    I couldn’t be outgoing – I was fat, and nobody likes the fat girl.

    I couldn’t play sports, because fat girls weren’t allowed on the team (thank you very fucking much, Gym Teacher!!).

    Etc., etc., etc.

    It wasn’t so much that I was allowing my fat to control me, it was that I really, truly, 100% believed those things. Imagine my absolute shock when I moved to another area and people actually wanted to be my friends? But… but… I was fat!!! Couldn’t they SEE that I was FAT? I honestly didn’t GET it. It took me a LOOOONG time to wrap my head around the fact that these people didn’t just see a fat girl… they saw ME. The PERSON who just happened to BE fat. And they thought that ME was OKAY!!! Wow! I couldn’t believe it! And then even when I moved back to my hometown and would see the bullies and the fat-haters around town (I never went back to the same school) and they would inevitably say some nasty shit… it still hurt, but it didn’t affect me like it did before. I’d already learned that some people thought I was okay, so fuck ‘em.

    The one thing that was hard to let go in my Fantasy of Being Thin, though, was the thought of going back there and surprising the hell out of them. I wanted them to look at me and not recognize me, because I wasn’t The Fat Girl anymore. I wanted them to gasp in shock as they looked at me and saw the person that they had belittled simply because I was different. That particular fantasy was hard to let go, because it would have been the sweetest revenge.

  12. TMI, perhaps, but “I’ll get over my sex-phobia” when I get thin. I got so thin I swooned every time I stood upright too fast, but I was as phobic as ever. Damn. Seriously, this is just such an “A-HA post”. Kate Harding, you are the shit.

  13. Nuckingfutz, we’re on the same page — when I say “excuse,” I don’t only mean… well, “excuse.” I suppose maybe I should have said it becomes a reason for not doing things. For a long time, I was every bit as convinced as you were that fat girls simply COULD NOT do X, Y, and Z, so I totally get what you’re saying.

    Shade, sadly, I can relate to what you said, too. :(

  14. Amen, sister! What a fabulous post! I found myself literally nodding as I read it (though doing so made it a little hard to read). :)

    I’m still kind of in that cognitive dissonance phase. Though I’ve stopped dieting for the last 2 months and it’s quite freeing.

    I loved what you wrote about how certain things are just your personality and what work for you and have nothing to do with being fat. Being a fat overachiever for my whole life, I’ve always pursued my goals despite being fat (law degrees, hot boyfriends, exercising healthfully etc.) but still would feel bad about a general lack of outdoorsiness or yogic calmness or whatever the fuck else I decided was lacking in me at the moment. I think that self acceptance and body acceptance really do go hand in hand, and I don’t think it necessarily matters where you start.

    I liked what you said about how people often react when you say, rightly, that diets don’t work. They really do respond as if you’ve taken their one shot at happiness away. It’s so saddening and so difficult to get your point across in a way that seems non-judgmental, even though the reason so many people are on diets is due to unfair judgments about what it means to be fat.

    Anyway, brava on another wonderful post.

  15. Oh man. This so needs to be a book. Or maybe a sermon.

    Actually, my old fantasy of being “normal,” included being thin but wasn’t limited to it. Until very, very recently, I really did harbor the fantasy that if I was “better looking” overall — thinner, full head of hair, better skin, etc. — people would be drawn to me like magnets, that I wouldn’t have to work on anything going on beneath my scalp.

    But as I’m finding out, that’s because the child I was made the decision to blame whatever social problems I had on my looks, rather than the fact that my brain was wired differently than most people’s and my family (like most people’s before there was widespread awareness of such things) chose to freak out over it and pressure me to conform (which was impossible! and I tried and tried and tried anyway to make them happy) rather than helping me use my “differences” well.

    Truth is, I was thinner once. I had a full head of hair once. I didn’t get the All Access Pass to Valhalla. And if I had, I probably wouldn’t even have seen it. I and the shrink yesterday were talking about the fact that if you have a shot at conforming and “fitting in,” what a powerful lure it is. People want acceptance and the magic bullet that will get them acceptance. They don’t want to know that there isn’t one. But people like me, who will never be “normal” no matter what we look like, we know, we can stop trying and be our authentic selves.

  16. Truth is, I was thinner once. I had a full head of hair once. I didn’t get the All Access Pass to Valhalla. And if I had, I probably wouldn’t even have seen it.

    Oh, that is an EXCELLENT point.

  17. Singing in the choir here:

    “Kate/you’re so smart/and you’ve hit the nail on the head/with your extraordinary nail-targetting talent…”

    Okay so I’m not a song-writer, but you inspired me to try :) Which of course I was going to be when I was thin, and play the guitar, and dye my hair bright red and fall in love with Jordan Catalano.

    I love how for you (and me, and probably many others) “thin” came to mean extroverted. Our poor introverted selves need some love too!

  18. Which of course I was going to be when I was thin, and play the guitar, and dye my hair bright red and fall in love with Jordan Catalano.

    Hee! Thank you — and everyone else — for the kind words.

  19. The DH and I had quite a philosphical discussion about this topic over the weekend. I think my family has pretty much given up on having the weight talk with me, but his mother still gives him a hard time (she never says anything to me, though).

    Anyway, here’s what we realized: we are perfectly, totally and completely happy with our lives and ourselves just the way we are. We’ve got a good marriage, careers we enjoy, enough money to have everything we need and a lot of the things we want. So we’re fat. It doesn’t bother us, and if other people don’t like it, too damn bad for them.

    What’s let me get to this point? Therapy, maybe. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had pretty decent internal self-esteem, although I spent years letting society in general keep it knocked down inside me. Perhaps it was realizing that the only thing I’ve ever “wanted” to do in my life and not done is be thin. It could be that I’ve made a conscious effort to refocus my time and energy into things that make me happy. Or maybe it’s just getting older.

    Whatever it is, I’ve realized that I AM the person I want to be. And I guess if I’ve accomplished nothing else in 41 years, that’s not a bad thing to be able to say.

  20. Maybe it’s because I’ve always had pretty decent internal self-esteem, although I spent years letting society in general keep it knocked down inside me.

    You know, I think that might be a really important point. For me, the bright side of TFoBT — yep, there was one — was that at least I always felt there was an awesome person inside me who would deserve all the things I wanted. So all I really had to do (not that it was easy) was remove the condition that I had to get thin to be that person. I think it’s a whole different ballgame if you’re not starting from a place where you believe that somewhere down deep (if nowhere more obvious), you are fundamentally good and worthy.

    Whatever it is, I’ve realized that I AM the person I want to be. And I guess if I’ve accomplished nothing else in 41 years, that’s not a bad thing to be able to say.

    That is completely fucking awesome.

  21. Which of course I was going to be when I was thin, and play the guitar, and dye my hair bright red and fall in love with Jordan Catalano.

    Ha! Oh my god, yes! I also thought I would wear a tank top under a flannel, which would of course look SUPER HOT AND STYLISH, and which I would never dare when I was fat. (I didn’t wear a tank top until college, under something or otherwise.)

    I think just finally going and fucking dyeing my hair red was huge for me.

  22. Silly Kate, of course you’re not going to marry George Clooney. He’s going to marry ME.

    I don’t know if I ever had the fantasy of who I’d BE if I was thin, but I’m still knee deep in the fantasy of who I’d LOOK LIKE at thin. I mean, I’m a really happy person. I have a great relationship, a nice home, a supportive family, two psychotic cats, a job I love, blah blah blah. I like who I am. But what I look like? I’m still working on that one. So my personal contribution to the Fantasy of Being Thin is:

    “When I’m thin, I’ll buy a new, fantastic dress for the annual gala at work, and everyone will say, ‘Wow, Sue, you look amazing!’ instead of just wearing something out of the closet that I probably wore last year. Because why would I buy something new and fantastic in my current size when I’m not going to be at this size much longer?”

    That pretty much sums up all of my wardrobe decisions – not just new and fantastic dresses – for the last five years or so. I’m working on it. I really am.

  23. It’s like you’ve taken every stray I have about accepting my body and myself as I am and tied them all together with a big beautiful bow.

    The only thing I would say different is that I’m probably not giving up small town life to move to the city :)

  24. Just yes to every word of this. I’ve been saying the same 2 things to myself, “I accept myself the way I am.” and “But I need to lose weight in order to feel better.” The cognitive dissonance is sort of comforting, because it’s been the same noise in my head for 39 years. (Hey, I’m smart! But, I’m fat so I shouldn’t be proud. Hey, I’m a good writer! But, I’m fat so I have nothing interesting to say. Hey, I want to be friends! But, I’m fat so I’ll understand if you blow me off…On and on and on.) You’re absolutely right that the giving up the fantasy is a huge step.

    But, here’s another truth for me. When I was thinner, I was more outgoing and more social and more focused in my career and sexier and had more dates. Possibly, I was even smarter. But, it’s like those people who peak in high school and keep on reliving those moments as the star quarterback. You can’t live in the past. I was also twenty-four and all my friends were single and the dotcom boom was happening in NYC.

    For a long time, being fat felt like punishment…for getting fat? I was never clear about the crime.

    So, getting past the fantasy and truly accepting me, my fat and I is so bound up in actually knowing who I am and who I need to be. In a sense I’m not shedding weight, I’m shedding an outdated and untrue visions of myself. And that’s a lot to ask. Settling on losing weight instead is so much easier.

    Sorry for the length and thanks for the space.

  25. Hooray!! SO SO SO fabulous Kate. heart heart heart you :)
    One of my clients was watching Oprah the other day while we were working together- She said something like: “I think Oprah’s gained some weight.” and I said “Good for her!” and she said – “What?” and I said it again and she said “What?” We went back and forth about 4 times- I’m not sure if she didn’t hear me, or couldn’t believe that’s what I said. Finally, she says “I really thought she’d keep it off this time, I mean she’d worked so hard…” And I said “Well, you know, 95% of diets fail.”
    And my client got really pissy. She got really short with everything I said and made a big point about how she couldn’t wait til she didn’t need to see me anymore… I was kind of taking it personally- but what you’re talking about in this post is ABSOLUTELY what was going on.
    “DON’T YOU TAKE MY HOPE AWAY!”
    It’s a huge affront to tell somebody that THIS is as good as it gets. THIS is your life. What are you going to do with it?
    Or maybe she was just sick of me. heheh

  26. I really liked this post – and it reminded me of a thought I had the extreme makeover show “The Swan” first came out: I was furious that the show’s name was supposedly inspired by Andersen’s fairytale “The Ugly” while what the show promoted was so absolutely opposite to the message of that tale. My interpretation of the story is that if you allow yourself to be yourself and to grow more and more into being yourself you might just turn out to be more beautiful than you could have ever imagined. The show on the other hand was all about turning people (in my opinion quite violently) into something that they were not, or that is at least my interpretation of what I read about it – I never watched it. (After all the ugly duckling didn’t have surgery or even died its grey feathers to look more like a “proper” duck.) Also, swans are not more elegant and beautiful than ducks in EVERY situation. Ever saw a diving swan? It looks very much like the Titanic in its last minutes. It is often similar with ones role models – yes, there are amazing people around, and I have quite a number of people I admire deeply, but I have yet to meet the person that is “perfect” in just everything. And somehow I find that very comforting because that means that I don’t have to be perfect either. Plus, out of some weird reason I love all those little quirks and imperfections of the people close to me – those are the things that make them human and unique. (You could say they are perfect because of their imperfections.)
    And yet – I am one of the people that do have a terribly hard time to give up magic thinking when it comes to thinness. I think one of my main hopes is that being thin would somehow erase all the effects that having been bullied quite extensively through most of my childhood and adolescence has had on me and that this would suddenly make me not feel ambiguous anymore about social situations. Oh yeah, and of course part of me still believes that weight loss is a sign of self-control and that by becoming and staying thin I could somehow prove that I am a tough and strong person.

  27. Magical thinking, yes. Mine was this:

    When I’m thin, I won’t have a double chin.

    I know that sounds strange, but actually I come from a family (on one side) with long, narrow faces, high cheek bones, and “weak” chins. The one time I lost 80 pounds (and gained 120 back) I never lost the second, phantom chin.

    It finally occurred to me that my chin was part of my rich Irish heritage and made me part of my family. There is no way I could (or would) get rid of it, except by means I would never consider. It’s mine for my long, healthy, fat life and I love it!

  28. (Hey, I’m smart! But, I’m fat so I shouldn’t be proud. Hey, I’m a good writer! But, I’m fat so I have nothing interesting to say. Hey, I want to be friends! But, I’m fat so I’ll understand if you blow me off…On and on and on.)

    Oh, man, do I relate to all of that, MT.

    And I definitely found a measure of new confidence when I was thinner, too — it’s hard to avoid when people are constantly telling you how awesome you look, especially if they’ve been telling you the opposite or pointedly not remarking on your appearance for years before that. And then, as you say, you have to factor in the circumstances — I, too, was in my early 20s, in a major city, with a bunch of single friends. So realistically, even if I’d been fat back then or thin when I was miserably single a couple years ago, I’d probably be looking back on that as the easier time in my life, socially. I had a hell of a lot more energy, and a lot more people around who didn’t have partners and kids to stay home with on Friday nights.

    Which reminds me of a tangent I didn’t even get to here — the magical thinking about how being thin will affect your health. Also known as, “Twenty years ago, when I was thin, my knees didn’t hurt. So obviously, the extra fat is hard on my joints!” Yeah, either that or the extra twenty years, honey.

    For a long time, being fat felt like punishment…for getting fat?

    Ha! That’s it exactly.

  29. Whoa.

    It occurs to me there’s also a dark fantasy of fat that goes hand-in-hand with the fantasy of thinness, of fat as a malign magical substance which smothers the person within it, a loathly yellow cloak of disease and despair. And yeah, I bought into that one. I hadn’t thought about it, but … I honestly thought that if I only lost some weight — even a little! — I’d not only feel better, that mythical ‘feel better’ we’re all told we’d feel if only we’d diet, but I’d also shed the monstrous, literally monstrous, magical, burden of my fat.

  30. First, great post. I have a hard time letting go of my future thin persona (ftp) because I literally have spent almost 20 years imbuing her with superhuman qualities of hotness and confidence and talent. But I’m slowly figuring out how to live as me, not as me waiting to be FTP.

    Second, one of the blocks I run into sometimes is that society does treat thin people better. Now, I know that since the chances of me becoming thin are pretty much nil, that my energies are put to better use by trying to erase the stigma of fat rather than trying to get rid of my fat. But, I think of things like dating (where on online profiles, most of the women I see specify that they’re not interested in the biggest body type option offered) or when I was still acting and being told that I was very good, but there were simply not a lot of parts for fat women (outside of the “OMG! I thought *she* was my blind date, but her massive girth was just hiding my true love!”) and that they would have cast me if I “fit the type better.” And it’s easy to fall back into the fantasy b/c the uphill battle of social change is very hard.

    That said, life is better when you’re living it, not when you’re punishing yourself and dreaming of the day when you’ll finally be acceptable enough to join the human race.

  31. I was normal sized before I was fat, so I do know the doors and opportunities that are shut to me as a fat woman as opposed to a thin-enough woman BUT as the rest of you know, being thin enough isn’t by itself enough to make you successful, or enough to help you let your true self out. I think just getting older has helped me come out of my shell.

    I suffer this one greatly. I believe in HAES, but unless I am actively making weight loss noises, my doctors don’t help me with HAES, and I suspect they write me off because I am fat, rather than really helping. me. I recently had to throw a temper tantrum to get my doc to write a prescrip I need to help me keep my blood sugar under control ( because it goes up when I exercise, ever heard of that one?) anyways, because I m under so much pressure to keep trying to lose weight, I often get sucked into bad thoughts about it — the fantasy of being thin, maybe if I lose enough weight these health issues will just melt away, too — and my doctors encourage me in those thoughts. I think about plastic surgery, I think about how much weight I would have to lose if I needed a knee replacement (they’d refuse to do it for me at my current weight) and then I wonder how I would do that, because I know from experience that even starving does not work. The fantasy is powerful.

    I know the reality is my body as it is here and now, but the fantasy is hard to let go.

  32. Hmm, this sheds some light on why I suddenly became a sexpot around the same time I vowed to never diet again (age 29/30).

    I suspect my Fantasy of Being Thin had something to do with being really desireable and sexually open and able to wear flirty clothes if I was thinner. I started dressing in more fitting clothes, more colorful and more flirty, about the same time, too. And I had the most sexual/flirty/affectionate attention at that time, when I was as big as I’d ever been in my life, much more than when I was dieting and completely food-obessed and hating my body.

    Hmmm…

    Great thought-provoking post.

  33. Magical thinking, yes. Mine was this:

    When I’m thin, I won’t have a double chin.

    Ah, Lulu, it’s funny because it’s true. Al is, like, ALL neck. And yes, some of it is fat, but A) in pictures of him as a skinny teenager, you can see that’s just the way his face and neck are shaped, so he could lose all the weight in the world and would still look like a bullfrog when he puts his head down, and B) said face/neck shape comes directly from his mother, who’s much thinner than he is. But double chins, like everything else deemed undesirable, are ALL ABOUT TEH FAT, of course.

  34. When I’m thin, my body will work.
    When I’m thin, the pain will stop.
    When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed.
    When I’m thin, I won’t be so afraid of everything.
    When I’m thin, I’ll have a sex drive again.
    When I’m thin, it’ll feel like my family values me at all. I know they love me, I know they’re proud of me, but they only call on holidays.
    When I’m thin, I’ll finally have some amount of the social acceptance that I’ve never experienced, but always hoped for.
    When I’m thin, I’ll still keep posting on my own fat acceptance blog, because while I do firmly and feircly believe in the movement, I still have moments where I wish I could be normal socially acceptable (read: popular) in at least one aspect of my life.

  35. Y’know it’s funny because I totally understand where this post is coming from, but at the same time cannot relate to it at all.

    Personally, the only thing I’d really like to change about my life are my salary and being fat. (And I don’t think the two are related, my company just sucks.) I would love to be thin, mostly because then the picture I have of myself in my head would actually match the person I see in photos of myself. It’s not that I am in denial about what I look like, it is just that in my mind, I am of normal weight.

    In theory if I were thin I’d be able to buy clothes that I actually liked, instead of clothes that I could find in my size. (In practice, my sister is stick skinny and she still has trouble finding clothes because we’re both so tall, so I’d probably still have few options. And I doubt I’d ever get under a size 16.)

  36. Kate, you fucking rock.

    I never had this a-ha moment about my fat (I’ve always been pretty much okay with that), but I totally had it about, you know, life in general. I had this ridiculous idea that, one day, “when I grow up and get my shit together,” I’m going to…finally travel abroad, or buy a laptop and record my own demos, or redecorate my apartment, or take a class in X or Y, or, etc. etc. etc. I decided that my shit was already at the level of togetherness I was capable of sustaining, and no use holding my breath for being more awesome than I already am.

    I think of this as another way of recognizing that I have the life I have chosen for myself – end of story. Sure, there are aspects of life beyond my control, but at the end of the day, what I do and how I do it is all me, and the only boundaries that exist (besides that general Golden Rule thing) are the ones I give myself.

  37. I decided that my shit was already at the level of togetherness I was capable of sustaining, and no use holding my breath for being more awesome than I already am.

    This A) made me LOL and B) is very well put.

  38. … I also thought I would wear a tank top under a flannel, which would of course look SUPER HOT AND STYLISH…

    :lol: Ah… the love of all things grunge. ;)

    Kate, thanks for clarifying that. To my eyes, it looked like you were literally saying it was an excuse, but I get it now.

    It seems almost like The Fantasy of Being Thin is — in and of itself — almost like a drug. We get addicted to the thought that we’ll be able to do or be something else When We Finally Become Thin. When we’re embroiled in The Fantasy, every thought, every deed, nearly every BREATH WE TAKE is caught up in that Fantasy.

    It really is exhausting, both physically and mentally. Only we don’t realize it until we either think we just can’t take it any more, or, if we’re lucky, we find somewhere like this place right here, a place that will educate us and teach us that we’re okay just as we are. Fat or no fat.

  39. Ah… the love of all things grunge.

    In my defense it was like 1994. :)

    We get addicted to the thought that we’ll be able to do or be something else When We Finally Become Thin.

    This is exactly what Kate means by “excuse,” I think… not a conscious “my dog ate my capability for self-worth” kind of excuse, but a black hole into which you pour all your mental energy because the alternative is facing up to scary things like success and failure and talent and limitation.

  40. I have been thinking about my thin fantasies for a while and the biggest one to come to me is probably particular to women of color:

    If I were thin, I would be white…well as close as possible.

    That was the biggest and most heartbreaking revelation for me. I always considered myself the exception to the rule about black folks and maybe it was my way of separating myself from my peers.

  41. To my eyes, it looked like you were literally saying it was an excuse, but I get it now.

    Well, I was, insofar as I didn’t express myself very well. :) And I do think it is literally an excuse sometimes, too, in keeping with what Fillyjonk was saying way upthread. But I totally, totally related to what you were saying about feeling like those things are IMPOSSIBLE for fat chicks, not just difficult (as they are for everyone, frankly). I missed out on a lot of male attention when I was younger, for instance, because I just assumed it couldn’t possibly be there. No guy I was attracted to would be attracted to a fat chick, period. There was NO talking me out of that one.

    But on the flip side, the fantasy can definitely take up a lot of time that could be spent trying to improve the you you are, instead of wanting to be a whole different person. And in that case, it can become an excuse.

  42. Well done Kate!

    It comes down to: what matters more to you, your fat or what you want to do? Fat should NEVER win that argument.

  43. I missed out on a lot of male attention when I was younger, for instance, because I just assumed it couldn’t possibly be there.

    Kate, get outta my brain! :lol:

    Seriously, though, I am SOO right with you on that one. It took two years for me to realize that the guy I’d been in love with for all of those two years felt the same way about me… and I only got it because he literally had to SPELL IT OUT for me. (And guess what? He was fat, too! It had taken HIM those two years to build up the courage to tell me.)

    But this:

    the fantasy can definitely take up a lot of time that could be spent trying to improve the you you are, instead of wanting to be a whole different person. And in that case, it can become an excuse.

    I totally agree with. Like, TOTALLY ;)

  44. The one thing that’s kicking my ass at the moment is the one thing that I get stuck on time and time again…if I were thin, someone would love me back. And it just gets more galling as I get older (I’ll be 36 in January), the thought that not once in my entire life have I been loved back by a member of the opposite sex–well, not in the way I wanted them to love me back, that is. It’s so fucking frustrating because logically, I keep telling myself to stop hanging my failure on the way I look, that there are scads of other reasons why nothing’s happening, but emotionally? It’s really, really tough to not pin it all on my fat. And that makes me furious with myself and how, in all other areas of my life, I’m HAESing like a mofo and vocal about fat acceptance.

  45. If I were thin, I would be white…well as close as possible.

    Oh, wow, Tracy, that’s fascinating. And heartbreaking.

    And you know, my first thought when I read this part of Attrice’s comment:

    Second, one of the blocks I run into sometimes is that society does treat thin people better. Now, I know that since the chances of me becoming thin are pretty much nil, that my energies are put to better use by trying to erase the stigma of fat rather than trying to get rid of my fat. But…

    was, well, people of color have the same problem, but they don’t have the option of becoming white even temporarily. There’s no choice but to fight the stigma — except hating yourself — if you know you can’t ever be part of the dominant group.

    Usually, I try to avoid fat/p.o.c. comparisons, because it’s a minefield and a distraction, but here, I think it’s useful. So much shit is heaped on fat people under the claim that “we could change if we really wanted to.” But, as racism demonstrates, not being able to change sure doesn’t mean people stop hating you because you look different from them. What then?

    And I wonder where fat acceptance would be if people really believed that diets almost never work, and for most of us, being permanently thin is about as likely as permanently changing our skin color. Would more people advocate for themselves, instead of clinging to the fantasy of “passing” one day? Or would we just add a big old dollop of despondency to the internalized self-loathing?

  46. Kate, you fucking rock, you really do. Awesome post.

    I felt so sad over the weekend when a friend of my husband’s mentioned the referee in a game of indoor netball the other day. If you don’t know netball, or the indoor variety in particular, it’s FAST. The ball screams up and down the court. And the referee was, according to husband’s friend, ‘huge’. And he said “I was surprised she could even keep up” in the sort of tone that said “I actually believe that I was somehow being tricked into thinking she was keeping up, because I believe so firmly that she shouldn’t have been able to”.

    And I thought how fucking unfair it is, that even when a fat person IS living the life they want to live, when they have ‘let the fat person inside out’ as it were, society still tries to tell that person that actually, it’s a fiction. They’re not really doing all the things they think they are. They can’t possibly be popular, or self-aware, or fit, it’s just a figment of their, and society’s, imagination.

    It takes such a hell of a lot of confidence? integrity? compassion for oneself? to convince yourself that thin you and fat you are just the same person, that fat you has all the good qualities of a theoretical thin you, against all the cognitive dissonance, and beyond that, the dissonance between your own idea of yourself, and society’s idea of the same.

    But it’s always that little bit easier when someone like you, Kate, stands up and says, “hey, been there, done that, and it’s not easy, but so SO worth it”. So thanks.

  47. Allow me to reiterate the intense love I have for this post. Just the NAME of it describes my whole LIFE.

    I’ve been fantasizing about being thin since I was 8 years old and first realized I was fat (some kid called me “Goodyear,” which I didn’t even get at first, and he had to actually clarify that he meant I was a blimp).

    My Thin Fantasy has only ever involved boys. While I’ve had it relatively “easy” compared to many fat women (I don’t get much grief from anyone, my mom gave up criticizing me a long time ago, no one has made fun of me to my face since I was like 15), and never had trouble getting jobs or making friends, or being praised for the things I’m good at (I do some kick-ass karaoke); the ONE thing that has always eluded me is attention from men.

    I’m 28 and I’ve only had one boyfriend. And I met him after I had Weight Watchered myself down from a 275 pound size 24 to a 175 pound size 12. (I’m now back up to a 250 pound size 20, more living proof that diets fail). We broke up over a year ago and I’ve had about 3 dates since, two of which were when I was a still moderately “acceptable” size 16.

    I try, I try SO hard to accept that there are men out there who will still think I’m awesome and want to date me…but I get quite lonely at times and find it really hard to believe. I do all the same things my thin friends do–but they are the ones getting asked out all the time while I stay home alone and frustrated. And trust me, I’m really outgoing, and genearlly really do have a good attitude about my looks…I don’t *think* it’s bc men are picking up on my insecurities. I always flirt and laugh and have fun when we all go out.

    I just also do all those things while Being Fat. And I know it’s part of this blog’s mantra that fat women are loveable, and I do believe it, but I haven’t met that many 20something men that also believe it.

    So–thin fantasy: When I’m thin, I’ll have a boyfriend!

    On another note–count me in among those that often get depressed at the Diets Fail message. I think it’s because I am not a fat woman who eats normally and exercises just as much as her thin friends. I do exercise, but not nearly enough. And I DO quite often binge eat, or “sit on the couch stuffing my face” as the fat-haters always say. So what is my defense when they say that, aside from “yeah I do do that, so?”

  48. Ever wonder what we could collectively do with the energy we use thinking about fat? I do, and I wonder if it’s all a plot to keep the world exactly the way it is.

  49. Well, what I have to say may be hated, but I say it not to provoke, but to ask a question: why am I so pathetic to any of you if I want to lose some weight and, in fact *do* lose a bit of weight, NOT through dieting, but from not bingeing anymore?
    Bingeing hurt me terribly and messed up my body. I can’t speak for any other person’s obesity, fatness or call it what you will call it, but my 150 extra pounds came from a self-destructive way of eating. It was fueled by self-hatred and, I suspect, many imbalances that predesposed me to obesity (I, personally, have nothing against this word, per se).
    I now eat as I see fit, and that means I avoid a lot of sugar, but still enjoy dessert and treat foods in moderation, and eat what-ever else I want to eat that produces a good feeling in my body.
    I am working on self-acceptance. Diets *don’t* work(but I am Not dieting) and I will probably never be thin again, which I was and which was once a natural weight to be. And yes, I wish I could be again – my body looked great and I won’t lie about that.
    So, if I can get to, say, size 14 or 16 with eating my own way and some exercise, who is it to judge me? That is hurtful and wrong. And it is also ignorant, because it tells me I must never admit to what is, for me, the truth: being very obese is unhealthy in many ways. It’s painful on my feet, joints and in a myriad of other, physical ways. I also know full well that the psychological pain comes from how this world treats fat people: quite nasty. I don’t hold with that and have always hated people’s contempt.
    I’m glad to have a body and to work on loving it (which I do every day by eating fulfilling, reasonably healthy food and getting fun exercise in). I know I have a long way to go with self-love; so does the skinny woman who looks like she’d never have a bad body thought a day in her life.
    That’s why I say: Don’t tell me it’s wrong to want to lose some weight when it lessens my physical pain and gives me more energy and I look better in clothes (which I do). Don’t make me feel wrong for wanting greater health by losing a bit of weight in a natural, healthy way. Maybe You feel and look perfectly healthy at the same weight I am. We are all different. Let’s celebrate that instead of instructing people on how to think about their weight and freezing them out if they don’t get with the plan. Sheesh, there is enough hatred directed against fat people as it is. I have never liked being lectured on how to think; I’m fine with different opinions, but don’t tell me what mine should be to be as healthy as you are; I think I already am, as I am.

  50. The one thing that’s kicking my ass at the moment is the one thing that I get stuck on time and time again…if I were thin, someone would love me back. And it just gets more galling as I get older (I’ll be 36 in January), the thought that not once in my entire life have I been loved back by a member of the opposite sex–well, not in the way I wanted them to love me back, that is.

    Jane, I can so totally relate to that one.

    It’s so fucking frustrating because logically, I keep telling myself to stop hanging my failure on the way I look, that there are scads of other reasons why nothing’s happening

    That one is a difficult one, because to me admitting that it is not being fat that keeps me from having a relationship means looking for other things that are “wrong” with me – and that is even more uncomfortable. If I blame it on fat that nobody I have been attracted to seems to have ever been attracted to me I can at least say that it is partially due to the beauty ideal in today’s society and not with possible flaws of my character. AND I do believe that being fat has made it harder for me to find a partner – or more precisely that being fat in a society where fat is generally seen as undesirable has done so. (Not fitting beauty standards in quite a number of other ways does not help either). I am aware that other women my size are in happy relationships. But looks do play some part – hell, I am attracted to men partially on basis of their looks. Plus, having been fat all my life and having had some rather bad experiences of the kind that guys pointed out to me how utterly disgusting they thought I was has definitely also made me more careful and shy when I meet men in a social context. That wouldn’t go away if I suddenly wouldn’t be fat anymore, yet I am sure that I had those experiences partially because others saw my body size as absolutely undesirable (and unfortunately this does not only hold true for the jerks but also for some really, really nice men – they obviously have never made fun of me or humiliated me on purpose but they did point out that they were not attracted to me at all).
    A strange thing related to this is that the very few men that were attracted to me a) came from non-Western cultures and b) seemed to look for a rather submissive woman with a rather traditional idea of “feminine” behavior. The first point wouldn’t be a problem and just says something about how cultures differ in their beauty standards – the second one however is a huge problem for me since I do not think I am at all that kind of woman and I probably would make myself and my partner unhappy if I tried to become like that.

  51. Yeah, my dream is, ‘if I were thinner, I could find more pants that fit’.

    Well, I was thinner — about as thin as I can get without major health problems, and yeah, that was 14 lbs away from where I am now — and I still couldn’t find pants that fit, in any size.

    (OK, I lied: I have jeans that fit fabulously. But it’s still disheartening to try on twenty pairs of pants ostensibly in my size [and a size up, and a size down] and realize that they don’t fit because I curve too much. If I go up a size, they bag out so far around my waist that I can see my own underwear. Also, they bag everywhere else. So I’m saying I just have to accept that my butt ain’t the shape of most pants, and when I’m thinner, it’s exactly the same proportions it is now, so how is that going to change my pants opportunities?)

    Oh, and the other dream is, “When I’m thinner, I’ll be prettier/more successful than my cousin.”

    Well, I’ve got a waist, which she doesn’t, and a great rear end, which she doesn’t, and much better hair. Also, I’m about 50% smarter than she is. She’s getting underpaid in New York; I’m getting underpaid in Cleveland. My LSAT score was ten-plus points higher than hers. How am I not as successful as she is? Oh, right. I weigh 15 lbs more and wear a pants size higher. Idiocy, ain’t it? And my BMI is in the ‘normal’ range. What we do to ourselves!

  52. I’m just going to dump this and trust that you don’t take it to mean that I disagree; I don’t. I think what you have written here is beautiful and brilliant. I’m just still in that phase of fat acceptance where it’s something I have no problem applying to others, but cannot yet apply to myself.

    The idea that there is something I cannot do no matter how hard I work at it makes me ANGRY.

    Saying “It’s fine to be who I am, at the weight I am!” feels good, but on my bad days, most days, it also feels a whole hell of a lot like admitting defeat.

    And you know, I’m not sure what to think of the fact that I genuinely WAS happier when I was at my thinnest. It’s not a case of “I’ll finally be happy when. . . .” It’s “I was happier when.” Not totally happy. I still tore the hell out of myself. But it was way better than the pain I am feeling now. It seems only natural to want to return to a state where I was in less pain. I am trying to learn to accept this, but it’s not what I really want.

    It’s NOT easy to give up the dream. I get a one-two-three punch every time I do something that reminds me that I’ve gained weight. First, the unpleasant realization that all my parts aren’t where they used to be, which is like being trapped in a different person’s body all of a sudden. Second, the feeling of sorrow that comes over me because I, like nearly everyone else here, was conditioned to feel bad about my fat. And third, the slap in the face that comes from knowing that I shouldn’t feel this way about myself, and that I’m failing at that, too. So I feel like I’m wrong by anyone’s standards.

    We should all be happy with ourselves and give up our magical thinking. We should live now, love now, and trust that the world will accept us as we are if we just go first and love ourselves. I agree wholeheartedly. It gives me hope, it makes me feel loved to be surrounded by that message. But it’s another thing entirely to actually be in the place where you are having to do that every day no matter how horrible and painful it is — when you feel you are failing at EVERYTHING because you can neither be thin nor love your fat self.

    I’d like to hear advice for soothing the pain that comes when you have to give up a dream that you dearly love. Especially when you lived that dream for a while, and you know exactly how it felt and what you are missing. How do we stop it from feeling like settling?

    Yes, the basic message is optimistic, and please, never keep reminding us of that. Yes, our clinging to this dream is magical thinking. Yes, we want to like ourselves. But crossing that bridge, one side to another, that is one hell of a leap of faith, and it’s one that you don’t make just the once. You make it every day, over and over. Sometimes fifteen or twenty times. Even the strongest can find that too difficult.

    I have written novels, buried family, shoplifted just to eat, been sick with no insurance or money, been bipolar and undiagnosed and unmedicated; I’ve done lots of painful and difficult and humiliating things.

    Accepting myself, accepting that this doesn’t mean failure or defeat, that it’s just a more realistic way to live, doing it day after day, is literally the hardest thing I have ever done. It takes just as much effort as pursuing an unattainable ideal. And in between both of them I am expending the energy to do both.

    This is exhausting, heartbreaking work. It crushes you, I guess because you have to be crushed to be remade.

    My biggest piece of magical thinking? It’s a doozy.

    I liked myself for the first time when I was thinner. Obviously I’ll only like myself again when I’m thinner again.

    I kick that mangy bitch out the door every damn day. And she comes right back. If I’m lucky, I get a couple of days’ slack in the rope. Sometimes I don’t even get an hour. Today she’s parked in my lap, breathing her stinky, hateful breath in my face and I can’t move her for love or money.

    I’m sorry for the semi-rant. I feel horribly exposed and guilty saying all of that, and for taking up space.

    It’s just . . . we’d come around sooner if we possibly could.

  53. Jane and queendom, that used to be a major part of my thin fantasies, particularly in college. It was always “if I were thin, X would see me as more than a friend, or Y would see me as more than a fuck buddy.” Sometimes I was right. X, for instance, probably would have been interested in me if I were more his physical type, since he was interested in basically everyone who was. If I’d been thin, I could have gotten my heart broken instead by the fact that he did want to sleep with me but was fundamentally incapable of having an adult relationship, and I would have missed out on a friendship. As for Y, he makes a salacious story that I’ll tell you sometime, but I’m so thankful for whatever it was that made him ultimately not interested in me (and I don’t think it was my body).

    My point is, getting rid of the security-blanket excuse doesn’t have to make you face up to your own flaws — it could make you realize that when something doesn’t work out, it’s not necessarily because of you, and it may actually be because the OTHER person has problems. As for facing up to your personality problems, well, see above — what looks like a problem may just be your personality. Er, that sounds bad. What I mean is, even when I wasn’t thinking nobody would love me until I was thin, I certainly never thought anyone would love me until I could make myself more sane. Turns out, I just had to find someone who kinda made me sane, and could deal when I wasn’t. Nothing about me. All about the fit.

    But I had to give up the comfort of self-flagellation to find that out.

  54. It’s just . . . we’d come around sooner if we possibly could.

    Amanda, your comment deserves a longer response, but for now, just know that I totally get this. And the last thing I want anyone to feel is that I’m criticizing them for not getting there fast enough.

  55. Yeah, my dream is, ‘if I were thinner, I could find more pants that fit’.

    Hey, I couldn’t find jeans that really fit until LB came out with the right fits. Now, I’m afraid that if I were thinner, I couldn’t find pants that fit! :)

  56. I totally get it too, and giving it a short or glib response would do a disservice to the depth and intensity of the feeling. It’s a hole you have to dig yourself out of. There’s nothing easy about it.

    Given the right combination of factors, you can shift your focus from “I will be happy when I’m thin” to “I will be happy.” But the fact that it’s possible is the only thing I can say universally. Everything else depends on circumstance and personal struggle and neurochemicals.

  57. Now, I’m afraid that if I were thinner, I couldn’t find pants that fit! :)

    Is it pathetic that tiny little me is jealous of you size 16-pluses in some ways because YOU HAVE A STORE THAT PAYS ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR BODIES ARE MADE?!?!?

  58. Well, what I have to say may be hated, but I say it not to provoke, but to ask a question: why am I so pathetic to any of you if I want to lose some weight and, in fact *do* lose a bit of weight, NOT through dieting, but from not bingeing anymore?

    Zoe, who said you were pathetic? I’ve written several times about how being fat with an eating disorder is a different ball of wax from being fat without one. I’ve never said that binge eaters shouldn’t try to overcome their disorder, which may or may not involve losing weight.

    And when you say this:

    Diets *don’t* work(but I am Not dieting) and I will probably never be thin again, which I was and which was once a natural weight to be. And yes, I wish I could be again – my body looked great and I won’t lie about that.

    I have a lot of trouble believing that you’re coming from a place of respecting what I and this community stand for. So I’m really not sure why I should make a special effort to make you feel more comfortable for trying to lose weight.

  59. This post could speak to anyone who is waiting to live their life until they’re __________________.

    I do live in a constant state of fantasy thinness. I love clothing and fasion. Because it’s made to fit smaller body types, of course I would continue to harp on myself for not being thinner or thin enough to pull it off.

    I’ve also found that I didn’t “allow” myself to enjoy sex as much. I was completely afraid to be the dynamo I was when I was thin. I am sure my better half doesn’t understand why things changed or why I was not as free as a I used to be. It’s tough going from an acceptable size, and as others have said-praised for being it- to becoming a size that outside forces make you feel wrong for being.

    As time as passed I have found myself accepting things about me that I had a hard time with last year. I know as more time passes I will continue to accept that I will never be a skinny version of me. I still find it hard to wear a bathing suit and I still find it difficult to just let my guard down and enjoy life. But, it sure is nice to have a place providing affirmations to not only love yourself, but to love yourself NOW not 40lbs from now.

  60. Okay, Amanda said everything I wanted to say, but said it ten times better!

    Also agree completely on the feeling bad about being fat, and then feeling bad about not being able to feel good about being fat! Amazing how we torture ourselves isn’t it?

    And also agree on the feeling bad for knowing I was happier when I was thinner. It’s awful. Nothing else in my life was going right at that time. I still had terrible luck with guys (though did also get 100% more attention from them, just never found “the one”), I was flat-broke, the year I was thinnest I had 5 different dead-end low-paying jobs and no direction in life, I got fired TWICE, I had a moderate drinking problem that led to being date-raped….And yet?

    All of that crap was easier to deal with than the pain I feel at being 250 pounds now. All of those problems are now “better,” I have a GREAT job, money, security, I drink far less, my life is allegedly far, far better than it was 4 years ago, but all I remember about that time was how good it made me feel to be able to share clothes with my sisters and get hit on by hot guys at bars.

    It’s so fucked up, and I don’t know how to fix it. But this blog helps, so thank you.

  61. You know, regarding clothes, I think a big thing for me was starting to look at shopping as a treasure hunt to find things that fit MY body, instead of lamenting what I could never have. I spend a lot of time online just looking at what all the plus stores (and a couple of straight stores) have. Most days, there’s nothing I want. But when I find something that I know will be awesome on me, I either A) plunk down the plastic immediately or B) start dreaming about it and revisiting the page until I either decide to plunk down the plastic or find something I like even better and abandon the old dream. The latter is nearly as satisfying as the former, frankly, although it can bite me in the ass when I decide I’m going to buy something and it’s already sold out in my size.

    The thing about that habit is, it still involves fantasy about how AWESOME MY LIFE WOULD BECOME IMMEDIATELY, IF ONLY… but now, it’s “If only I owned that dress that would look amazing on me right now” instead of “If only my body looked better in more dresses.” So I’m picturing how fab I could be with this body instead of an imaginary one. That’s actually a pretty huge step.

    And treating shopping as an ongoing game definitely helps. It still sucks when I need a specific item pronto and can’t find it in my size anywhere. But when I’m regularly sifting through the shit that doesn’t fit to find the few gems that do, and I buy ‘em whenever I can afford ‘em, it’s a lot more fun — and it means I usually have something to wear (or at least know exactly what the perfect thing would be and where to get it) when the typical “must buy outfit NOW” occasions come up.

  62. Wow, this is awesome. I don’t happen to be fat, but I’ve often imagined the magical world where I’m “beautiful,” so I kind of get it.* In this fantasy world, I’m a totally different person with a totally different life, where I’m glamorous, loved, successful, brilliant, respected, and of course, conventionally gorgeous. Rationally, I know it ain’t gonna happen – and that there are plenty of more interesting and more important things I can aspire to and actually do – but I still think of this “world” almost every day. But reading this amazing post was like a few sessions of therapy without the wallet-sucking expense! Thanks so much.

    *I say “kind of” because I’ve never experienced the level of prejudice the bloggers and commenters here have survived. I’m interested in FA because fat hatred has affected family and friends, but I haven’t lived it and wouldn’t want to presume.

  63. Is it pathetic that tiny little me is jealous of you size 16-pluses in some ways because YOU HAVE A STORE THAT PAYS ATTENTION TO HOW YOUR BODIES ARE MADE?!?!?

    Stephanie, pathetic? Hell no! We all deserve that.

    Idealizing? A little. Nobody, fat or thin, really has a store that pays attention to how their bodies are made, unless they have a custom tailor. What we have in LB is a store that pays lip service to paying more attention to how our bodies are made (but has kind of crummy products IMHO). It’s way better than nothing, but we still need to find a way to get the fashion industry to actually listen to its consumers!

  64. Yeah, I should point out that I’m one of the lucky ones for whom Right Fits actually do fit right — but plenty of LB stuff doesn’t (like, say, all their shirts and dresses), and I’ve heard just as many negative reviews of the RFs as positive. (And reportedly, it’s that much MORE demoralizing to try on a garment that’s supposed to be made for bodies just like yours, only to find it doesn’t fit.)

  65. I did have pretty good luck with C.enne.V’s “pear” jeans (even though I’m not really a pear), except for their stupid STUPID back pockets. At least people are TRYING.

  66. amanda gannon- I have been thinking about this you said:

    “I’d like to hear advice for soothing the pain that comes when you have to give up a dream that you dearly love. Especially when you lived that dream for a while, and you know exactly how it felt and what you are missing. How do we stop it from feeling like settling?”

    The only thing I can come up with is kind of wordy. But here goes… When you think back to those times you were thinner and happier what else was going on? It’s probably true that you were doing other things than just being thinner. What did you do for fun? Did you live in a different location? Did you have different social interactions than you have now? All people, fat and thin, have trouble dealing with CHANGE. And yet that is what life is all about. Maybe even if you had stayed thinner you would still feel the same way – looking back on that time in your life and wanting to return to it. But the best thing I think to do now is be proactive. Write down goals you want to accomplish. Make dates with yourself to go and do fun things. Honor who you are now instead of who you were. You are valuable NOW. I don’t think you are “settling” by giving up the quest for thinness. But you may have given up on happiness without it. What does that leave you with? Constantly being uneasy or disappointed in our bodies makes us more prone to depression and illness. Try focusing on those things you like about your self now. I think you can be happy again, just allow it some space to grow in your life and it will come.

    I struggle with some of the same issues as you do. These are some of the ways I have found my own happiness. It’s an on-going process. Good luck to you and above all, be kind to yourself.

  67. Jane, and everyone else in this boat, if it makes you feel any better, I had no fewer problems with unrequited love as a size 8 or 10 or 12 than I did as a size 16 or 18 or 20. Please believe me when I say it, it’s true. I met all the men in my life from a) personals ads, b) in situations where I saw them every day (a rooming house I lived in), or c) in group therapy. I am not joking about the last one.

    In fact, when I was a size 12 in college, I had this massive crush on a guy who just-wanted-to-be-friends-boo-hiss. I was sure it was because my ass was too big for him. As it happened, a) the girl he married weighed a good 70 pounds more than I did at the time he rejected me, and b) he turned out to be gay anyway. As did his wife.

    Again, I am not making this shit up. The process of finding a partner is a giant pile of suck for everyone. I’ve known plenty of slim, conventionally gorgeous women who had a terrible time of it, including my own mom for many years. You might attract more men, but quality is not quantity. (I shudder when I think of some of the house apes she brought home to us in between marriages.)

  68. The closest thing I remember to feeling how Amanda feels — because for me the idea of being thin was always basically a pathetic pipe dream until I gave it up, not a so-close-it-hurts void — is being in love with someone who was awful to me. (Apparently it’s FJ Talks About Crushes Day here on SP… ooh, remind me to put “talk about your crushes” away for a future Friday Fluff.) Knowing that I couldn’t quite have what I wanted, though I could sort of have a pale reflection of it, was a knife in the gut all the fucking time.

    But those desires, and I think the desire to be thin as well, were stand-ins for what I really wanted, which was to be a Worthwhile Person (whatever I meant by that… if I’d really known, I wouldn’t have abjected it all onto some fucking guy). That’s what I was really desiring and felt I was lacking, but the substitute pain took all my focus. I didn’t have the first clue how to go about getting what I really wanted (still don’t really), so I tormented myself about not being able to achieve the one thing that I had built up as the Key to Happiness.

    So I would say the trick is not to figure out what you used to have, but to figure out what you really want. It’s not weight-loss dieting — even when it is, it’s not. (When you pine for an eating disorder, it’s the control, not the obsession and malnutrition and terror.) So what is it? Fucking hard as hell to figure out and I’ll be damned if I know how to do it — I made some lucky stumbles but I’m no better at it than most and worse than some. But I think that’s the key anyway.

  69. Yeah, I should point out that I’m one of the lucky ones for whom Right Fits actually do fit right — but plenty of LB stuff doesn’t (like, say, all their shirts and dresses),

    Yeah. I love the Right Fit jeans, but their other pants are just cheap crap and their shirts and sweaters… ugh. Of course, those of us who are short as well as fat of ass belong to two groups who don’t, apparently, need clothes. If it fits in the boobs, the sleeves go to the knees.

    But at least I was able to buy some damned jeans without crying, which was, come to think of it, part of my thin fantasy. For that, I’m grateful.

  70. This is interesting, because when I was younger I don’t really recall that not being able to do the things I wanted to do was very often linked to being fat per se. I just assumed that I was a total klutz at everything. I happened to be a fat klutz, sure, but I never felt that if I were thin things would be any better because, after all, I was me, and great stuff didn’t happen to me.

    Now I’m actually fatter than I was then, and happy with that, I find myself looking at stuff I wanted to do when I was younger and wondering why the heck I didn’t, and realizing I wasn’t an inadequate person like I thought. Just scared. Mostly not even of failing – just of not doing things perfectly. Learning that I didn’t have to be perfect at everything was hugely liberating.

    There have been a few instances in which I felt something really was impossible because of my weight. One was nothing to do with me, but everything to do with someone whom, I thought, from their words and actions, would love me more if I were thinner. I realized, finally, that this person was using my weight – and a multitude of other things that were ‘wrong’ with me – as an excuse for the fact that they simply could not love me, period, and wanted to project it onto me rather than admitting it and making themselves look horrible. That – as with you and those college guys, FJ – was never my problem.

    The other thing, when I was younger, was ballet. I had it clearly spelled out to me that my chances of getting anywhere with it as a fat teen were nil. I’d love to believe that this actually wasn’t the case – although at 14, apart from my weight, I was supposedly too old to make anything of it, as well. I’ve done some breaking down of my beliefs about the limits of age in the last few years, so if I can find a suitable adult beginners’ class, I might just give the other old myth a little push and see if it falls.

  71. Kate, thank you SO much for this post. It means a lot to me right now. For me, the magical thinking is “When I’m thin, my parents will love me.” Intellectually, I know they love me. But they harp on my weight over and over and over and over again, so that what filters through to my brain is that I’m not good enough as I am.

    It’s been really, really hard to let go of that magical thinking, but I’m finally starting to do it. I’m finally getting to a point where I can demand my parents’ unconditional love, which I deserve, because I’m their daughter. What has helped in a BIG way is that I’ve found a wonderful husband who loves every inch of me. (And he likes my “extra” weight, because it means I have big breasts. He’s such a lech. :P ) Knowing that, yes, I am capable of being loved for my whole self, not just certain parts of me, has done more to banish the magical thinking than the years of therapy (not to rag on therapy — it’s helped with lots of other issues).

    How am I not as successful as she is? Oh, right. I weigh 15 lbs more and wear a pants size higher. Idiocy, ain’t it?

    A couple of years ago, when my mom was giving me the biannual “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE FAT AND OMG OBESITY KILLS” speech, she mentioned my old childhood nemesis, and said that the nemesis was “winning.” Because she was thin and married. Nothing my mom has said in all my 29 years has hurt me as deeply as that did, because the nemesis was a horrible, hateful person who made my adolescent years a living hell. And my mom knew that, and also agreed that the nemesis was an evil boil on the butt of humanity.

    So for my mom to say that she was “winning” was tantamount to saying that being kind, getting good grades, and accomplishing things in my professional life meant NOTHING, because I was (a) fat and (b) single. (And, of course, my mom thought that (a) was the reason for (b).)

    On a happier note, I have recently discovered a new plus-sized store in the Philly area, called Fresh Ayer, which sounds a lot like Lee Lee’s Valise in terms of the lines that they carry. Buying a gorgeous cherry-red shirtdress (from Trentacosta) that actually buttons over my chest (!!) was the highlight of my month.

  72. What a beautiful mezmorizing post. I found myself slowing the speed of my reading just so I could savor each word. And right now, the dissonance I’m experiencing is making me feel a little like the computer in War Games when the kids finally figure out how to stop it from setting off the nukes. Some part of me is furiously grasping at, I dunno, something, trying to get away from the paradigm shift. Isn’t that weird? What am I pretending not to know?

    My major dissonance? I am totally smart and a feminist and a major caller outer of bullshit and yet I want to be a waif. And don’t feel in control and pretty and validated unless I’m small.

    I obsess about my size, the size of my muscles, my workouts, what I am or am not eating, from the moment I wake till the moment I sleep. It’s a constant background noise that I’m sometimes aware of and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s loud and shrill and othertimes it’s soft. I am always comparing my size to other women.

    Weirdly, this fear of fat has worked for me, so I don’t want to give it up. I use the fear of getting fat again as motivation to workout. I use the fear of being messy again as motivation to clean up the house. I use the fear of losing my mother to her cancer to call when I’d rather tuck away from her frailty. One part of me says use the fear, because if I’m more than a size 4, messy and have my head stuck in the sand I am miserable. The other says there’s a better way. I believe that in principal but not in practical.

  73. That was great. Hit the mark (unfortunately!). I don’t think I’m there anymore but yeah, I used to have the “when I’m thin” mentality. I really think the first Joy Nash video whacked it out of me (with a baseball bat ;)

    I don’t think I even realized I was thinking that way. It was more that I’d daydream about doing things and in my head the image of myself was always thin. The other day I found some old pictures of myself and was shocked at how thin I was in High School. Even the BMI (yeah, I know, useless) says I was “normal” then. That was when I thought I was the ugliest, fattest (because of course they went together) and most useless in my whole life.

    The older I get the fatter I get and the better my self esteem gets. Hmmm :D

  74. I just want to tell you that I am obese (BMI 31), and in the last twelve months I have:
    * appeared on stage in my underwear in a burlesque show; and
    * ridden a motorcycle across Bhutan.

    Live now. Great advice.

    But then… I also sympathise with those who are stlll wanting to lose weight. Actually, I’m still one of them. But I’m really readjusting my sights – this site, and junkfoodscience have been extraordinarily enlightening. I think I’m now wanting to be “overweight” rather than “normal”, because I think that’s right for me.

    I also believe that I will actually get there very simply by eating well and exercising, and caring about my health, not my weight. My weight went *on* when I was behaving in unhealthy ways – being depressed and hardly moving, and eating ridiculous amounts of comfort food. It seems logical – if you have a natural body shape, it’s equally possible to starve yourself under it or binge yourself over it for a little while. But if you behave in a healthy way, then you’ll eventually drift back to whatever is right for you – which may still be overweight or obese by the current stupid standards. I think this makes sense with the HAES concept. As you get to the “H” bit, your “S” might well vary from where you were when you started. Up OR down, depending on what kind of unhealthy things you were doing before.

  75. It’s hard to just “accept”, when who I am is not so great. I relate Amanda Gannon. Personally, I know I’ll never be thin. I never have been. But it is hard to believe things won’t be better if I were thinNER. I’m not an island. I am affected by other people. Trying to lose weight is one of the few things I CAN control (I said trying, not actually doing it).
    This place is filled with awesome people. I am not one of them. No, I don’t want pity. But if I strip away the fantasy of my future, better self, if I look only at what is here and try to work with that…there really isn’t much. The worthy things about me are so non-specific. I’m good at nothing that a million others couldn’t do better. Except maybe talking about me.

  76. Obese patients are often encouraged to believe that weight loss is an appropriate way to combat depression, save a failing marriage, or increase the chance of career success.

    Oh man. Oh man. This speaks to me and you know it.

  77. thank you so much for writing this. I can’t explain just how pertinent this is for me. I am 27 years old, I have wasted (WASTED!) the last 16 years of my life trying to be thin, and when I was thin? I just thought I mustn’t be thin enough because I didn’t feel different, I didn’t feel acceptable.

    being thin was going to make all my weirdness acceptable. but of course it didn’t, BECAUSE IT WAS IN MY HEAD! (not my stomach, not my chin, not my arms, not the front of my armpits, not my thighs, IN MY HEAD)

    you grow up and you have to accept yourself. It sounds so easy, but of course it is not. But the other option, not accepting yourself, living with hatred and fantasy and doubt, that is, for me, no longer contemplatable.

    much love h.x

  78. The question is, who do you really want to be, and what are you going to do about it?

    I am who I want to be and to some extent I think I always have been. I was also lucky, though, that I was never afforded the opportunity to be part of the in/normal crowd in the first place, so that while it was something I longed for, I always knew that it was never going to happen, which bizarrely, gave me a kind of freedom to be myself anyway? The fact that I was fat was just an extra layer of crap that I had to/have to deal with. And when you’ve been called fat from a very young age, it’s not something that ever goes away, you just kind of learn to deal with it.

    I can honestly say that I’m happiest when I’m eating how I believe I should be eating – good, fresh, mostly homecooked food. I don’t lose weight from dieting and that has rarely (apart from the odd bit of brainwashing) been my objective in eating. Besides, fake food is bad for you.

    Having said that, there are things that I love to do that I don’t do because there is no consideration taken for my physique. In high school I was literally left behind hiking on ski trails by my fellow hikers, left to find my own way back to the car before dark. I became adept at reading the slightest scuff of dirt or overturned leaf on a trail. I love to ride, but was banned when I turned 190lbs. I love swimming, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before I go through that again (and again, and again, and again), I’ve had the humiliation from the age of 6 on, from adults and kids and won’t put myself through it for anybody.

    However, I’ve bellydanced in public, I wear tank tops and the odd miniskirt on the beach, I’ve gotten so comfortable wearing tighter clothing that wearing loose clothing feels wrong – even when I’m not going anywhere, I invite people to go hiking with me, etc. I don’t feel that’s progress or personal growth or whatever you want to call it so much as me just being me.

    Do I think that being thin would give me advantages? Undoubtedly. I probably would have dated, I would have been more active/invited to things, I sure as hell would have gotten a lot more jobs (well, with the race thing, maybe not), my clothing options would have been a lot nicer (alas, I have expensive tastes) and I would have gotten medical treatment in Britain. The only thing I know for sure wouldn’t have been different is my depression.

    Okay, I’m off to read the comments.

  79. I wondered, too, if I might not be trying to recapture something lost, but I honestly can’t say that when I was thin I had anything that I would want to have again. I had family members dying left and right, I was fighting with my husband over his crappy job, I was creatively stagnant, I had no money, no insurance, no car, no friends, no work, no way out of the house most days . . . it was horrid, actually.

    But amid all the suffering and the stuff I could not help or change, this was one thing I had that I could actually DO. And I saw results. And that felt good. God, it felt good. I was very proud of it. Proud of myself for the first time EVER. Oh, yeah, I still hated myself most of the time, but it was at least manageable. I’d like that back, yes.

    And maybe that’s at the root of some of it; I’ve had the bastard year from hell, and no matter how hard I fling myself back into life, I’m getting nowhere fast. Life is bad again. And being unable to control my weight (god DAMN depression and antidepressants and uncontrollable drug-fueled eating) just fuels the sense of helplessness and discontent. I have NEVER not been unhappy with myself, but now is especially rotten timing.

    It’s true: It’s worse because I’ve been there, and know I could be there again if I really worked at it. But I’d have to work just as hard to maintain it; that’s just how I’m made. And I feel lazy because I’m not willing to work that hard forever for anything. Especially knowing that even if I did, I’d still be unhappy with my fat butt and my thick legs, and still have to do the work of loving myself anyway. I might as well just cut straight to getting over myself, and skip the starving and over-exercising.

    And for Kate: I totally don’t feel like you’re criticizing. You’re . . . whatever the opposite of that is. I know you know that it’s not easy. If I feel like I’m doing something “wrong” in regards to my own self-acceptance, dude, that comes from me, and not from any messages I am directly getting from you or anyone else. I’m just used to hating on myself in this one area, and I’m the type who can flog myself raw with just about anything.

    Honestly, I have no freaking idea HOW to let go of this. I know I need to, I know I will have to, and I’m sure that someday I will be there, but right now, I’m at a total loss, and I feel like I can’t win for losing. That’s at the core of it. I want to do the right thing and just freaking forget about the essentially nonsensical idea that thin(ner) will = (more) content, because I know it would heal so much pain. But damn, that means working at it every day. And there are times I honestly feel like I don’t have the strength to wrestle with all the other crap in my life AND do that, too.

    I admire people who have made that journey so very much. And I know that like every other journey, it’s made one painintheass step at a time.

    Thank goodness for places like this that have SHOWN me that it’s possible to be at peace. At least I have proof that acceptance is NOT a dream, or magical thinking. And even though we all lapse and have rotten days, you don’t gain back all the self-loathing after two years.

    Every moment spent not hating yourself is a victory. That’s way more meaningful than temporarily giving yourself permission to like yourself because you happen to meet some silly standard that has nothing to do with who you really are or whether you’re a decent person.

  80. I think you provided your own starting point, Amanda.

    It seems to me from what you’re writing that this isn’t about thinness; it’s about success. You write “this was one thing I had that I could actually DO” and that you were “proud of myself for the first time EVER.” That’s not about girth or adipose tissue; that’s about winning at something.

    And then you say this, which is so true: “Every moment spent not hating yourself is a victory.” You are achieving victories EVERY FUCKING DAY. It’s not easy, because worthwhile victories aren’t. But it’s something you are succeeding at, even if only sometimes, and it’s something where success will be really meaningful for something besides your waist size.

    That doesn’t solve anything. But maybe it’s a start.

  81. I have wasted (WASTED!) the last 16 years of my life trying to be thin, and when I was thin? I just thought I mustn’t be thin enough because I didn’t feel different, I didn’t feel acceptable.

    hayley, this spoke to me so much. I was thin in high school (after being a fat kid), but I was completely convinced that I was fat. Why? Because I was still a weird outcast queer nerd with a strange family, and if I were thin all that would have changed, right?

    Now, at 28, after being fat and thin and in-between, I’m thin again, and you know what? It’s not the “real me” or a “thin me” that’s been waiting all along. It’s just me. I am even shaped the same; I just take up a little less horizontal space. That I ever thought that being narrower would revolutionize my personality and my family is baffling to me now.

    FJ, it’s funny to me that you talk about the sex/relationships-in-college thing, since you got laid way more than any of our other friends. (Well, except Char, of course. But she’s an outlier!)

    Kate, you are brilliant, as always, but this post is phenomenal. It’s so perfect.

  82. It seems to me from what you’re writing that this isn’t about thinness; it’s about success. You write “this was one thing I had that I could actually DO” and that you were “proud of myself for the first time EVER.” That’s not about girth or adipose tissue; that’s about winning at something.

    FJ, I was going to say that in response to Amanda, too. And relate it to this, from definitive.dot:

    Trying to lose weight is one of the few things I CAN control (I said trying, not actually doing it).

    I totally get that thinking. But I think recognizing how much you can’t control — and that it’s OKAY that you can’t control it — is also a huge part of self-acceptance. (And reducing stress levels in general.)

    I’m still not entirely sure how you set about doing it consciously, though.

  83. My thin fantasy mainly involves shopping and finding clothes that fit. I have made more online purchases in the last 3 months that have had to be returned than the 5 years prior.

    A recent respiratory illness and knee and subsequent ankle injuries have prevented me from exercising. Changes to my meds only added to the lbs I had packed on in early 2007. I went from a cute clothes-wearing 26/28 to a 30/32 and all of a sudden my sources for clothes dried up.

    I was a 26/28 for something like 6 or 7 years. I was fine with that. Happy about that. But this weight gain has got me in a funk that is unshakable. I own one pair of too tight jeans (they look ok if I wear a certain jacket that covers my waistband) and a couple of pairs of elastic waist yoga pants. I look like a slob most days of the week. I hate it. I detest it. But I have no choice. I fantasize every day about dieting and losing weight. Just enough to get me back down to a 28, I promise myself. And then I the fantasy gets wilder and more elaborate. High School Reunion double-takes. The ungettable guy/girl asking me to dance.

    I cannot be the only 30/32+ out there. Who decided that 28 is the top of the line for most retail stores? Why can’t I find something that isn’t a muumuu?

  84. “You might attract more men, but quality is not quantity.”

    Given the groping and sexual harrassment (professional as well as personal) that I suffered (from men and women, the female sex is far from blameless at that madness, and it comes with some really interesting permutations) at my smallest size, can we copy this about 10,000 times and tape it up all over the planet?

    Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeze??

  85. I cannot be the only 30/32+ out there. Who decided that 28 is the top of the line for most retail stores? Why can’t I find something that isn’t a muumuu?

    Alyce, I don’t know, and it sucks.

    FWIW, if you don’t already know this, Kiyonna, Zaftique, and Igigi all go up to at least 30/32. (Zaftique goes up to 36/38.) And Junonia’s a really good source for good-quality basics, even though some of their stuff is really matronly.

    It still sucks, but there are more options out there than there used to be, at least.

  86. “But those desires, and I think the desire to be thin as well, were stand-ins for what I really wanted, which was to be a Worthwhile Person.”

    Socially Accepted Worthwhile Person. Yup.

    Along with what Joy said about her client’s “well if the richest woman in the world with every resource at her disposal can’t do it I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO” despair, this is, on an almost unconscious level, what the “DON’T YOU DARE TAKE MY HOPE AWAY!!!” gibbering hysterical rage is about, at the gut, I think.

  87. FJ, it’s funny to me that you talk about the sex/relationships-in-college thing, since you got laid way more than any of our other friends. (Well, except Char, of course. But she’s an outlier!)

    Oh, I know, I got laid all the time. (Not more often than Char, but probably with more people.) I had almost zero self-respect, and I only say “almost” zero because I never had sex with Julian. But remember also that I spent all that time in total knots about [coach] and [professor], being insufferable and STARVING FOR LOVE. I had sex with a lot of people to prove that I could have sex with a lot of people even though I was fat (and worthless and everything that came with it), and that worked, but proving I could be loved even though I was fat? That was the hurdle I couldn’t get over, and that I put all my energy into, to the detriment of almost everything else — because it became a symbol for failure. If I hadn’t been able to get laid, that would have been my symbol instead.

  88. “I just thought I mustn’t be thin enough because I didn’t feel different, I didn’t feel acceptable.”

    And this. THIS TOO.

    I will sit down and be quiet now.

  89. take it from someone who has a food disorder.
    it will never change. the way society makes it seem is if your skinny, your beautiful.
    not true.
    and i wish i could get that through my head.

  90. thank you Kate!!

    FoBT=I will be able to do anything I want and everyone will be accepting of it.

    Real Life=I can do anything I want and I am accepting of it.

    I think that I may be on the way to acceptance.

  91. Fantastic, insightful post. Julia I think touched on something that was in the periphery of my thoughts when I was reading through the responses: my “when I’m thin…”fantasies were all rooted in fear and generated in me by my parents. Really, for years, my parents were the ones handing me the idea that I would not have any choices in my life because I was fat. If I was fat (or got fatter- that really seemed to be their driving focus) I wouldn’t a. be able to get a job (nobody would hire a fatty) b. wouldn’t be able to get health insurance (fat KILLS) c. wouldn’t find a partner (because they themselves didn’t think fat was attractive, I guess),d .be accepted at my college (I don’t know WTF they were thinking there except maybe they had some kind of sorority rejection picture in their mind? ) and…basically whatever it was in their fantasy of my life that teh fat would have prevented. I know I had a lot of disconnect between what they were telling me and what I actually saw in reality, or experienced personally.I remember thinking more than once: “Don’t they have EYES? Half our family is fat. And they are all married with college degrees and jobs and health insurance ” I mean it was just obviously not true what they were telling me. It was baffling to me for a long time. But I did accept it eventually, or internalized it I suppose and adapted the fantasy to my own purposes:
    When I’m thin…I…I…won’t have to listen to them talk about it anymore.

  92. I wrote something like this too.

    And it wasn’t HALF as good. :-)

    I’m gonna print this and paste it on my celing. In large print. Cause THIS is something I wanna see early in the morning…instead of, say, an infomercial about the latest body improving product that DON’T work.

    And as always, Kate, you rawks my sox.

  93. What surprised me about this post was how timely it was for me, and for quite a few other shapelings as well.

    At coffee after an exercise class one of the women in the class was umming and ahhring about what to have because she’s counting points on some kind of home baked WW program (at least she’s not giving them money!) and my flippant “Well, maybe you’ll be one of the 5%” remark didn’t really go down well.

    I know it was a bit rude, but you know, I didn’t murder a kitten.

    Which is what the stunned & horrified looks from the entire table seemed to suggest. Thanks to your post I understand the extreme reaction.

    polly

  94. Oh, Fillyjonk! This brought a tear to my eyes:

    “I had sex with a lot of people to prove that I could have sex with a lot of people even though I was fat (and worthless and everything that came with it), and that worked, but proving I could be loved even though I was fat? That was the hurdle I couldn’t get over, and that I put all my energy into, to the detriment of almost everything else — because it became a symbol for failure.”

    Yes. I’ve said I’ve had a terrible time finding guys…but that only means I’ve had a terrible time finding guys to stick around the next morning. I’ve had sex with a lot of guys. I try really hard to not let it get to me, can’t change the past and all that. But I’ve had a hard time breaking the cycle. And every time it happens, and I know the guy is only interested in getting laid, and not in ME, I do it anyway, because I figure “sex without love is better than no sex at all, isn’t it? At least it’s a temporary fix.”

    I know I need to stop it and make changes, and that will be one of the first steps towards finding someone to LOVE me rather than just fuck me….but again. Just so hard. Because when you’re used to having no attention, that temporary attention is better than nothing.

    I keep coming back to this post, reading it again, and then reading all the new comments. This blog REALLY helps, and Kate, you are a wonder.

  95. I’ve been reading this blog for about a week and a half and I’ve really enjoyed the posts. Today is no exception. (and yay this is my first time leaving a comment!)

    This entry is really eye opening for me because I only discovered the whole size acceptance movement about two weeks ago and this post describes exactly how I feel right now. I am full on in the cognitive dissonance phase you spoke about and I’m struggling to reach real genuine, bonafide fat acceptance land.

    I think people should be happy with their bodies and get over all the dieting and obsessing about weight, but at the same time I’m sitting here feeling regret about a piece of chocolate I ate a few hours ago because yes, I’m on a diet. Ugh and I hate it!! Like, its ok for others to love themselves but it’s not ok for me, because how could I possibly like myself, I’m fat!

    Everything you say about the Fantasy of Being Thin is so true it hurts me. I don’t want to be thin for a smaller waist line, I want to be thin because in this crazy mixed up world I have been taught to believe that skinny people are the happiest people on earth, and I BELIEVE IT. They live in freaking disneyland and I’m sitting on a rock in the middle of the ocean because I “choose” to remain fat. My fantasies include various things like:

    When I’m thin, my father will be proud to be seen with me.
    When I’m thin, I can go to my old high school and show everyone what a valuable person I became.
    When I’m thin, I will have the guts to tell people how I really feel.
    and my personal favorite….
    When I’m thin, my life will begin.

    I know that none of these are true, but in a sick sense I want these things to be true, NEED these things to be true, because that means that I can blame everything on my fat and not on, let’s say, my low self-esteem. It’s easier to hate fat and wallow in that than hate the person that I am and try to change it.

    Thank you so much for posting about this subject. At least I know I’m not alone and that at one time you felt the way I do right now. I hope one day I reach the point where you are now and I can look back on this time and help others the way you do.

  96. You’ve done an amazing job of expressing exactly what I’ve been going through in my life the last few years, mostly without even realizing it. Thank god we’ve seen the light!

  97. Best. Post. Ever. Anywhere.

    My grandmother, when I was about 13, gave me a diet book where she’d helpfully underlined things like “obese people do not ever get offered good jobs” and “obese people have trouble finding a spouse”.

    I truly believed things like this because no alternative viewpoint existed. It was the whole truth. I think the internet saved my life; back in the day, I found a text BBS where people were talking about this mysterious “size acceptance” thing and it was like a religious vision.

  98. When I am thin, people will stop looking past me and start hearing me.
    When I am thin, I won’t hurt all the time.
    When I am thin, I will be a better parent, because I won’t be the one who made my kids fat.
    When I am thin, I will belong.

    Thank you, Kate- for an excellent post.

  99. Man, you all are making me cry. Starting right from Kate’s first paragraphs I was already tearing. There is something far too…real…about it. Hits you in a place you don’t necessarily want to acknowledge that you understand. You want to be able to shake your head and say “Oh no, I accept myself just as I am. I wasn’t so silly as to think being thin would change my entire personality.” But deep down, you know its true.

    For me, it was an odd opposite. My personality became bolder and brighter and I thought I had to become thinner to keep hold of that part of myself. I studied abroad in Ireland for 6 months and travelled throughout Europe, having the time of my life while I was there. I met new friends who were also in the same study program and hence, were a lot like me. I flirted and danced and went out and was fearless – because I didn’t worry about having to spend the next X years with them – I knew I’d be gone in a few months if I made a fool of myself. I was in a new place and wanted to soak up everything I possibly could while I had the chance. For the first time, I felt like I was being the person I wanted to be. I was 100% happy.

    AND, there was very little fast food, not as much junk. I made all my meals from fresh ingredients, didn’t have a car so I walked miles and miles every day. So, at the end of that 6 months, I came home nearly 20 pounds thinner than I was when I left. And the first thing every single person said to me when I came home was “OMG! You look amazing!!” It didn’t take very long at all before I began to equate the amazing experience I had and the person I was in Europe with being thin – never mind all the other reasons I’ve already named for letting myself just be me.

    I’ve spent the 3 years since coming back to the US chasing that “dream” of being/getting thin again. And I have to remind myself pretty regularly that my appearance had nothing to do with that experience. Its still hard, very hard. And like Amanda, I have plenty of days where I feel like my choice to value acceptance over waist size means I’m just giving up and I get so mad at myself and feel like a failure.

    Its a very difficult to find the line between true acceptance of yourself and wondering if you’re just telling yourself that its ok to be who you are so that you feel like you have a valid reason to give up on that “thin dream” without feeling like a failure.

    And that’s the reason why I’m so glad I found this community. I truly want to love the me that I am and that I have the potential to be – REGARDLESS of my size – because we live in a society that, by and large, tells us that its not ok to be fat and happy with yourself. And believing that its ok, well, that’s key to the follow through. Its a main ingredient in crossing that line into the “Hey, I really DO like me! I’m not just saying that anymore!”

    And Amanda, your comment: I’d like to hear advice for soothing the pain that comes when you have to give up a dream that you dearly love. Especially when you lived that dream for a while, and you know exactly how it felt and what you are missing. How do we stop it from feeling like settling?

    Well, I’m not sure I have an answer, or that I ever will. Because I do feel like its settling sometimes, but at other times, I realize that I definitely have days in which I’m happier than I’ve ever been – fat or thin. And that says something to me and I have to believe that its possible to get to that point for the majority of the time (not necessarily all, I mean, no one is that bubbly 100% of the time…). I think, you have to accept that you had a dream, one you dearly loved and that gave you hope. But you aren’t just giving up a dream. You have to set your sights on a new one – finding that happy person you were before in the body you have now – and let and all the people here give you hope.

    Again, thanks everyone for all their insight. Was a good way to spend the evening.

  100. Incredibly powerful. There is a true power in the acceptance of what we are–as women–really are. Not I am this because of that. Or, if I was this, then I would be that. Even more powerful would be the type of self love that comes from saying “I dont need to be X to be happy. I need to be me. And the value of who I am is not linked to the size of my jeans, my age, or my breast size.” (or any other physical characteristic)~~Dee

  101. Its a very difficult to find the line between true acceptance of yourself and wondering if you’re just telling yourself that its ok to be who you are so that you feel like you have a valid reason to give up on that “thin dream” without feeling like a failure.

    I hear you, but for me, it’s a matter of re-prioritizing the dreams — and at the end of the day, thinness just ain’t that important. If I gave up on my writing, or my relationship or friendships, or wanting to read as many books as possible, there would be cause to worry — and I’d certainly hope my friends and family would inquire about whether I was depressed again. But giving up on getting thin? That’s not a failure or a betrayal of my true potential any more than giving up on the alpaca farm, you know? It’s just putting my energy into things that are far more important to me.

  102. And Kate, I hear you. :*) And that re-prioritizing was what I was trying to get to with the end of my post, though you put it much more fluently. I’m still at the point, as I think a lot of people are, where I very much just want to be accepting of myself but still have plenty of days that slip into “If I were thinner…” I’m working on focusing that re-prioritizing to put all those other things at the top of the list. And accepting that they are very much possible, regardless of the inches I can count around my waist.

    Again, thanks for such a moving post! As many people have already said, I feel like I need to frame it as a reminder to myself…

  103. “I, Kate Harding, am personally condemning you to a lifetime of fatness! There’s no point in trying, fatty! You’re doomed!”

    I know this was meant in jest, but I actually find this statement helpful. I go in and out of stages where I accept myself for awhile and then I don’t for awhile, but I think that hopelessness is not necessarily such a bad thing. Some things truly are hopeless, but there can be a sort of peacefulness in realizing that something just can’t be changed. And then you can possibly move on to something else.

    Thanks for the great post, Kate. It is very enlightening and you are very wise for a mere 32-year-old.

  104. Excellent post, and just what I needed to read today. I got some pictures from my mom of me when I was younger (baby through high school and a little later) and cried when I looked through them. I cried for all the years I wasted thinking I was fat, and that if I could just be thin, she would love me and want me. Well, I did get thin (but I didn’t think I was thin), and ya know what? She still didn’t love me and still didn’t want me, and I spent a lot of years sleeping with any man who would have me just to get that love (well, it wasn’t love, but at least they wanted me for a little while) that I would never get from her.
    It took me a long time, but I did find a man who loves me for the person I am, and likes my body the way it is (he has a thing for boobs, and man, do I have them, but he also likes my ass and my thighs, and my face, and my hair, and my personality). So the fantasy of what will happen when I’m finally thin, I know it’s not true. I don’t think DH could have loved me if I hadn’t first learned to love myself. Even though I hadn’t yet found FA when I met and married him, I still loved me most of the time and knew that I would never be thin again and was mostly ok with that. I’ve come even farther since I’ve found FA and HAES, and it’s posts like this one that really drive that home for me. So thanks, Kate, you really rule!

  105. Pingback: Die Fantasie dünn zu sein | Liebesreise

  106. Oh, Kate, my mind is spinning.

    I’m not sure if I’m proud of myself for letting my thin fantasy go while groping blindly by myself or if I’m about to burst into tears because I’m still putting off doing things I’ve always wanted to do because I’m afraid of what others will think.

  107. kate, this is such a great post; I totally relate…and it’s got me thinking about something….

    In all the years I struggled for self-acceptance, I think there were even a few things where I went, “I can’t do that if I’m not thin” rather than “when I’m thin I’ll do that.” I just accepted some things as “unrealistic” for me, if I was going to try to accept and live my life in a fat woman’s body. It’s like, instead of sustaining the “hope” of being thin so I could get on with my life, I gave up on dreams because I thought that’s what it would take to be able to live with my body.

    The biggest one is being a singer – a performer, really. All my life, since I was a little kid, singing was my life. My parents lied and told me singing at the supper table was bad luck – just to get me to shut up. When I was a teenager, music was what I was going to do with my life…but as a fat woman, trying to be a “realistic” fat woman, I lost my courage, and I slowly put it out of my head…and didn’t take learning to play guitar or developing my voice seriously.

    Guess what? I’m turning 39 on Sunday, and I’m in a band, and we’re writing songs, and we’ve started performing at open mike nights….AND I played/sang with an open jam last week, in front of an audience!!!!!! HA HA! And all the feedback from people who’ve heard/seen me has been INCREDIBLE! Music is the most important thing in my life right now.

    DON’T WAIT TILL YOU”RE 39 TO DO WHAT YOU MOST LOVE! You’ll still be fat, but you’ll also be older. :D

  108. You are bang on the money Kate. I still remember when I really realised how much I’d invested in becoming thin. It was at the end of a long process of losing any faith in dieting.

    I finally promised myself, I would never diet again, it was finished. I said it over and over again, I ‘m never going to do that again!

    I was nonplussed when I slowly became aware of a feeling of mourning, ridiculous I know, on closer examination I realised it was so many of my hopes and dreams going down the plughole. Luckily for me, I’d made a promise to myself and when I made it, I felt for the first time in years that I wasn’t selling myself out for once, I was taking what I knew to be a really difficult stand because it was against those I had the upmost respect for.

    So I decided, what the hell let the griveing occur, I just don’t give a shit, it kind of petered out after that. I have my days just like everyone else, but I can’t forget that feeling STANDING FOR SOMETHING against the flow. Of finally realising that I and how I felt about myself was worth more than any dream.

  109. But what if you have realistic expectations? And losing weight really makes them happen? Since I lost 96 pounds, a lot of the aches and pains that were a normal part of my life are gone. I have more energy, and participate in more things that tired me out before. My brother, who has lost over 100 lbs., is off his diabetes drugs and is controlling his sugar without the pills that he took before. He’s been off them for a couple of years. If you think being thin will magically remake your personality, that’s wrong, but some realistic things might happen.

  110. To someone fully wrapped up in The Fantasy of Being Thin, that doesn’t just mean, “All the best evidence suggests you will be fat for the rest of your life, but that’s really not a terrible thing.” It means, “You will NEVER be the person you want to be! All the evidence suggests you will never find a satisfying relationship or get a promotion or make more friends or feel confident trying new things!”

    Nail on the head. Thank you, Kate, for saying this so eloquently. I am struggling with this and it helps immensely when folks talk about it.

  111. Kate Harding says: “I have a lot of trouble believing that you’re coming from a place of respecting what I and this community stand for. So I’m really not sure why I should make a special effort to make you feel more comfortable for trying to lose weight.”

    I’m being honest. Take a look at your own contradictory views on this, Kate: you say that being fat from an *eating disorder” is a “different ball of wax” (I agree – and at least you acknowledge that fatness can come from eds…something others in fat acceptance seem loath to do) – but then, in your very next paragraph to me, you take a hard stance for my admitting that I deeply wish I had the body I had *before* the ed wrecked havoc on it.

    I’ve seen your photo, Kate. You don’t look fat to me (I’m, again, telling the truth, here, not in rancor, but in peace, if that’s possible). You look wonderfully shapely – just like your prose. And, good for you, I say! In this demented world, people who don’t look like tooth-picks can get a lot of abuse and disrespect from others who have extremely narrow views of how bodies should look. They can get just as much abuse as the people, who like me, really are fat. Not just shapely.
    I’m sorry if this sound self-hating; alot of it is. But, there Is a difference between how I am fat and how you are – and everyone else.
    And, also, I don’t need your permission to lose weight in a healthy way, I just want to discuss some of this with you – and others – if possible.

  112. Zoe – I have an ED, too, and I probably would weigh less if I never had had an ED. However, focussing on weight is in my opinion couterproductive in the treatment of ANY eating disorder (yes, including binge eating and compulsive overeating). I cannot speak for you, but dieting, making rather unrealistic weight loss plans, and feeling disgusted by my body and my eating behavior are all just as much part of my ED as binge eating is. Also, deliberate weigh loss attempts are a really great way to keep the ED cycle going. You might lose weight in the process of overcoming your ED, but there is not guarantee for that – and it is very possible that you never again will end up with your pre-ED weight even if you should fully recover. I went through a phase of three years when I hardly binged at all – I kept my weight stable at about 260 pounds but I did not lose any weight. Yet, I was doing in many ways much, much better during that time (for one thing I did not waste energy on constantly thinking about food/ dieting).

  113. Zoe, you set up a strawman argument (“Zoe is not allowed to diet”) that had nothing to do with the point of this post and called it “hurtful,” “wrong,” and “ignorant.” You said you were in pain because of your fatness, but then got defensive about how you’re perfectly healthy how you are and nobody can tell you any different. Is Kate really the contradictory one here?

    I think Kate was perfectly justified in saying you were coming from a position that doesn’t understand — or at least doesn’t respect — the basic points of this blog, no matter how often you say you’re trying so hard to be nice. Have you really not seen any of the 23979279726 other times — including this very post — where Kate addressed the “how dare you tell me not to diet” defensive stance? (You can start here.) Or where she addressed eating disorders? (You can start here.) Or, for that matter, the posts about how counterproductive and intelligence-insulting it is to tell a fat woman she’s not fat? (You can start here.) This is not to say that you have to have read the entire archives before you comment on a post, but if you’re going to call Kate’s nonexistent positions hurtful and ignorant? I’d say being minimally informed is basic politeness.

    When Kate says “I have a lot of trouble believing that you’re coming from a place of respecting what I and this community stand for,” that isn’t just a “hard stance,” whatever you mean by that. It’s an objective assessment of whether you seem to be respecting — or ignoring — what Kate and this community stand for and have very explicitly stood for in the past.

  114. Linda, have you read this post from the archives? Because when you call 100-pound weight loss “realistic,” I am deeply, deeply skeptical. We bloggers here at SP have lost, collectively, hundreds of pounds on various diets/”lifestyle changes,” and almost all of it has come back. Permanent weight loss is just not a realistic goal — if you can sustain it, you’re a statistical anomaly, and while that might end up working out well for you, it’s a lot like planning your life around when you’re going to win the lottery (and you’re really going to do it this time, dammit!)

    Please note that this is not to dismiss your concerns about what your body feels like; that’s your own experience, and of course no one else can speak to that. But I think the point of this post is to live your life now, in the body that you are, as the person that you are.

  115. I tried to keep track of the comments as I went through, so I could respond to a few that I really relate to, but no luck. So, here are all of my fucked up thin fantasies:

    1. If I were thin (or even just a better “sexy” kind of fat), I would actually DO that striptease for my boyfriend that he’s always said he wanted.

    2. If I were thin, I would actually be a rock star.

    3. If I were thin, I would be comfortable calling out fat hatred. Then people wouldn’t be like, “oh, yeah, of course the fatty thinks that!”

    4. If I were thin (or even that sexy fat, again), I would walk around in hot clothes, and everyone on the street would stop to check me out.

    Why oh why are so many of these things tied up in sexuality? I was trained from a very very very young age that my worth was/is based upon what I can do for others, including having a “perfect” body. I sobbed sobbed sobbed this weekend as I worked on a project for my mom for Christmas, going through old pictures. I wish I could go back and tell that girl in the pictures that she WASN”T fat, not at all, and that she should rebel against her stepdad’s weekly weigh-ins for her, and tell him to keep his stupid fucking car if the only way she could use it was to lose 2 pounds for each opportunity to drive it.

    My new fantasy: When I accept myself, I will no longer take shit from anyone. When I accept myself, I will no longer live my life to please others, and on and on.

  116. FJ and SM, thanks for saying everything I would have said. In fact, I probably would have just deleted Linda’s comment, because I don’t feel like saying for the billionth time that this blog’s official policy is that there’s no such thing as “realistic” expectations for a permanent 100-lb. weight loss where most people are concerned. And if you think I’m wrong, you’re free to stop reading the blog and go find any one of the gazillion weight loss blogs that will “Way to go!” you to death for that.

    And Queendom, this is bang on:

    I cannot speak for you, but dieting, making rather unrealistic weight loss plans, and feeling disgusted by my body and my eating behavior are all just as much part of my ED as binge eating is. Also, deliberate weigh loss attempts are a really great way to keep the ED cycle going.

    Zoe:
    And, also, I don’t need your permission to lose weight in a healthy way, I just want to discuss some of this with you – and others – if possible.

    It’s stated quite clearly in the comments policy, as well as numerous other posts, that we don’t discuss deliberate weight loss here. And furthermore, I don’t believe there’s such a thing as trying to lose weight “in a healthy way,” especially for someone with an eating disorder. (See Queendom’s comment above.) So, sorry, but we won’t be having that discussion here.

  117. If I may, and Kate, FJ, and SM please correct me if I’ve missed the boat here, because I am new to this but this is what I’ve gotten from following this blog –

    Linda and Zoe – No one here is saying you Must Stay FAT. There is no “You must be THIS FAT to blog this blog.” They won’t ostrasize you whether you can fit into a size 2 or a size 22. That’s the point. Acceptance at any size. Because, Zoe, as you point out, one person’s view of fat is not someone else’s definition.

    There are people here who comment about having lost weight due to illnesses they are suffering from. There are people who have posted that they have been thin their whole lives but who follow this blog because they have fat family members and friends and they want to support them and this movement.

    And there’s people like myself, I can barely make it up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing- not because I’m fat, but because I have been living on junk and do virtually no physical activity. Now, I’m changing that because I don’t like being only 24 and unable to climb the steps to my room. But I’m not doing it for the “Fantasy of Being Thin.” If I lose weight in the process, fine, whatever. If I don’t, ok, whatever. When I posted my second comment here, asking people’s opinions on how to wave off all the comments from people about weight loss that may occur as I make a move to being healthier. No one told me not to do it. No one said “Stay fat! Screw your health!” They encouraged me to be healthy, to check with a doctor to make sure I don’t do too much too fast, and to not make it an option for other people to discuss my waist size since I didn’t want that to be a focus.

    And there’s plenty of people here who are happy and healthy at 150 lbs or 300 lbs. And that’s beautiful and refreshing.

    This blog, this movement, isn’t about insisting that every person in the world fit some amorphous definition of fat. This is about being accepting of yourself and others and trying to change the societal views and stigmas regarding fat people and the “Obesity Crisis.” Its about being happy and realizing that you don’t have to put your life on hold just because your appearance doesn’t match some antiquated notion of beauty or thinness. Its about realizing that you don’t have to subject yourself to a life of dieting, disordered eating or dangerous surgeries just because you’ve been put-down and made to feel that you should.

  118. but as a fat woman, trying to be a “realistic” fat woman, I lost my courage

    Oh, Dorianne, this might have to become a whole new post. I lived SO much of my life in fear of people looking at me and thinking, “Who does she think she’s kidding?” — and a lot of that was related to fat. Fat women can’t do X, Y, and Z, so if you’re a fat woman and you try any of those things, you’re obviously delusional and making the rest of us look bad. Don’t be that fat chick! Know your place!

    Gah. Yep, I’m posting about this, among other things.

  119. I had to read the post a few times before I could say anything.
    I think that the part that is resonating the most with me is the aspect of maturity. I feel a bit older than many of you here, I’m nearly 39, and I think each time I took a leap into something in spite of the “but you’re fat, you can’t do it” thoughts, my life was much improved. Looking back on the paths I chose, and the ones I didn’t, I can’t say much other than that. But the questions that are no longer unsettled (Will I ever find someone who I love who loves me? Will I be a mom? Will I have a career and financial security?) even though life is very tenuous and nothing is 100% certain, I have some peace knowing I didn’t stop myself from aiming for the things I wanted just because I was fat.
    And when I think about it, the fears associated with being fat bought me some extra time in making some of those decisions (such as becoming a mom) and that made my choice much more conscious.
    For me, the biggest FOBT is that when I’m thin, I won’t have (type 2) diabetes anymore (which is false, anyhow). Or I won’t have the guilt about having diabetes anymore.
    Powerful stuff, Kate and Shapelings.

  120. this sounds like a tour of my brain. i stopped dieting about six months ago after about 15 years of yo-yo-ing thanks to advice from assorted doctors and my family. i’m very much in cognitive dissonance. one day i love myself. the next day, i can’t look in a mirror and can barely leave the house.

    when i am thin, my colleagues will take me more seriously.
    when i am thin, I won’t have to justify my educated opinions so vehemently (with footnotes. footnotes!)
    when i am thin, i’ll order what I want at a restaurant without worrying what other people will say about my choices.
    when i am thin, i’ll bike everywhere.
    when i am thin, my doctors will stop implying I’m going to die immediately.
    when i am thin, i’ll have a closet full of short skirts and flirty dresses.
    when i am thin, my mother will stop worrying about me.
    when i am thin, people will actually like me instead of keeping me around for entertainment or because i’m useful.
    when i am thin, i’ll be happy.

    *sigh*

    thanks for helping me see that i’m not alone in this.

  121. I want to send this link to my Mum, but I don’t know how well she would receive it. I try and do my fat acceptance bit when my parents get all excited about their latest diet, but I fear that my comments fall upon deaf ears.

    I too have my FoBT. And like a couple of other people who have commented it revolves around sexual attractiveness. I was told as a teenager/young adult that I wouldn’t get a boyfriend or no-one would marry me because I was fat (and I wasn’t even all that fat – a UK size 16 which is a US12!).

    I don’t need fantasies about being successful as I am successful in what I do, well respected and have a job I love. I’m not interested in earning loads of cash, and I don’t think my size would stop me if I wanted a different job because I am professionally successful, I just happen to work in the charitable sector where wages are rubbish.

    So I have those appearance fantasies that I’m slim waisted, no double chin, big boobs and scorching hot. That a receive approval from men and envy from women (some feminist my subconscious is). But what I don’t get is that I have a husband who thinks I AM scorching hot, and I just can’t respond because I feel inadequate.

    So although I have come a long way acceptance-wise, and my life is great in that I do what I want to do and I’m not waiting to lose weight to do it; I haven’t successfully addressed these issues in my sex life. And I find that depressing (and so does Mr Bagfish).

  122. For me, the biggest FOBT is that when I’m thin, I won’t have (type 2) diabetes anymore (which is false, anyhow). Or I won’t have the guilt about having diabetes anymore.

    Oh, that’s huge, WRT2. I know I’ve told the story before about how my mom, after 10 years of controlling her diabetes with diet, had to go on medication and absolutely lost it. “WHY? I’m doing everything right! I’m a good girl!” Doc: “But your pancreas is 10 years older.”

    The illusion that we can control our bodies to the point of staving off all illnesses — and indeed, death — through our food choices is so goddamned powerful. So if you’re not eating “perfectly,” you feel guilty, and if you ARE, but your body still has the nerve to age and break down, you feel cheated. And of course, if you’re a fat person with a “fat” disease, you’re judged constantly for not “taking care of yourself.” It’s all so infuriating.

  123. kate- the whole “who does she think she’s kidding”…I feel like that when I go rock climbing and backpacking, like all the thin, muscle-y folks are looking at me like, “what the hell, your fatness is totally bringing down our sport”. And another fantasy: If I were thin, I wouldn’t be afraid to do the tight squeezes when caving. Which is total bs, since I hate small spaces…

  124. Problematic:

    “when i am thin, people will actually like me instead of keeping me around for entertainment or because i’m useful”

    Yep, that’s another one of my greatest hits. With the 12-inch dance remix consisting of a majority of my friends being incapable of dealing with me when I’m not being funny or entertaining. Any time I step even a couple inches out of the comfort zone they’ve established for themselves in regards to me, you can almost hear their brains popping inside their skulls.

  125. Kristin,
    I don’t really know what to say besides **HUUUUG.**

    I was thinking about this post last night actually and I realized that I gave up on my dreams of being a singer/actress because I am fat. Though, I don’t necessarily think that was a bad decision. (You can’t really play someone’s mother professionally at 25, and those are the only roles I EVER got. Yay child bearing hips!)

    I do wish I had learned to use my voice properly though, I regret that I let my parents and my weight convince me it wouldn’t have been a good investment. (Though… it probably wouldn’t have been a good investment for other reasons, and I am SO not cut out for the starving artist lifestyle, I just wish it had been more my decision and less a known quantity.)

  126. Thin. Thin was always my magical starting point for life. When I was thin, someone would love me. When I was thin, I would go out every weekend. I’d have more friends than I could shake the proverbial stick at; everyone would be scrambling for my attention. I’d go dancing and hang out in bars. I’d be the MVP at work. I’d speak up in class, saying only perfectly worded, insightful things. I’d wear all the cute clothes I admired, but dared not try on. I’d get facials and manicures and have gorgeous, thick, hair. I’d have men tripping over themselves to get my attention. I’d go out to eat and not worry that people thought I didn’t deserve to eat. Workouts…they would be effortless.

    All of this of course, is bullshit. At my heaviest, I wanted only to be a size 14, and once I got there nothing changed. I still wanted to be thinner. Still kept up my disordered eating. Still worked out and cried because I my body got tired after 40 minutes of kickboxing. Still scolded myself in the mirror for being a worthless, fat, pig. My new dream size was a four, and I knew until I reached it that nothing would be right.

    Now, I’m a 16/18 in pants and 20lbs or so heavier than my lowest weight. I won’t lie and tell you that I love this body, that I think it’s beautiful, or that I wouldn’t change it if I found a magic wand, but here, now, for the first time in my life, I stand a chance of being happy and loving myself. I am starting to like my body. Starting to accept that I am indeed a human being who will *gasp* get sweaty and tired from a difficult workout. Starting to realize it isn’t a sin to eat potato chips, to eat a salad with dressing that isn’t fat free, to eat at all. Starting to understand that fat will only define me if I let it.

    Thanks for writing this Kate, and thanks to all of you for adding to it. Things like this get me a little closer to sanity :)

  127. Yeah, my dream is, ‘if I were thinner, I could find more pants that fit’.

    For what it’s worth, I’ve always been in the single-digit sizes, and finding pants that fit has always been a total nightmare. So much, in fact, that I gave up after undergrad and started wearing mostly skirts.

    Ironically, I beat myself up over this for years: “if only my butt/thighs were smaller, I could find pants that fit.”

    I finally realized that there’s nothing wrong with my body, but there is PLENTY wrong with pants manufacturers’ patterns. And if they can’t learn to make pants properly, they aren’t getting my money – because why the hell should I wear baggy, gapping pants when my body is fine exactly as it is?

  128. “when i am thin, people will actually like me instead of keeping me around for entertainment or because i’m useful”

    You know, this made me think of a comment an old friend made to me recently. “You were the first friend I ever had who I felt wasn’t just humoring me — I actually believed you really liked me.”

    That friend is very thin and, in fact, has always been valued inordinately for her looks. So fwiw, that’s definitely not just a fat thing; it’s a universal low self-esteem thing.

    And speaking of which, one of the reasons I quit smoking pot in college was that I was prone to paranoia, and the specific form it took was sitting in a room full of friends I’d just smoked up with, convincing myself they didn’t really like me and were only letting me hang out because they couldn’t figure out a polite way to get rid of me.

    Pot made those feelings absolutely unbearable, but they were always there in a low-level way. My first year in college was definitely the worst for it; I was suspicious that ALL my friendships were based on sand, because there was no way these people could sincerely like me. And in just about all cases, it was tied to the fact that my friends were (to my mind, at least) far better looking than I was. Why the hell were they hanging out with the ugly fat chick? (I wasn’t even really fat at the time, of course, which they tried to tell me, but I wasn’t hearing it.) When was the other shoe going to drop? When would I find out it was all a big joke on me?

    So I would constantly test people and/or try to head off what I assumed they were all thinking by cutting myself down before anyone else could. And here’s the kicker…

    I left that school after a year, and the one person I actually stayed in touch with (and whom I’m still occasionally in touch with 15 years later — hi, Lori, if you’re reading) was the one who’d intimidated me the most. She was absolutely beautiful, and even though we got along great on many levels, I could never quite understand why she liked me.

    A couple years later, she came to visit me in Toronto and gave me one of the great a-ha moments of my life. I made some joke about how fat/ugly/uncool I was, and she said, “You know, I don’t know how to respond when you say stuff like that. On the one hand, you’re really witty, so I want to laugh, but on the other hand, you’re so mean to yourself, and I don’t want to encourage that by seeming like I’m agreeing with you. It can make being around you really uncomfortable.”

    I was absolutely gutted at the time — she just ADMITTED she’s uncomfortable around me! All my fears were justified! — but man, that is totally in the Top 3 Most Valuable Things Anyone Ever Said to Me. (And right this second, I can’t even think of what the other two would be.) That was the great lightbulb moment that the real problem was never my fatness/ugliness/uncoolness, but my goddamned insecurity. I was driving people away because I was afraid they wouldn’t like me — when they would have fucking liked me if I hadn’t been so pathologically afraid they wouldn’t. Talk about your vicious circle.

    It took years after that to quit cutting myself down and develop real confidence (and yes, the two are definitely related). But I will never forget that conversation. Or that it came from one of the friends I really believed was least likely to genuinely like me, because she was so much prettier than I was. Gah.

  129. Kate – a person cannot lose weight in a healthy way – and cannot even try, especially with an ed?
    That last point is extremely patronizing to me, I think. You don’t know how I’ve worked to heal myself from the ed, first of all.
    Secondly, I do believe in acceptance at any size, and it’s vital.
    However, I Also believe in the acceptance of allowing hope to be a smaller size (not small size – *smaller*) to exist.
    I “try” by limiting foods with, for me, binge-potential. I’m careful around them. And I’ve dropped some weight – which is great.
    And, you are not fat and I see no insult. But I think this blog is a wall of resistance that will not tolerate even polite disagreement. So – whatever. Cling to your truth, but it’s not my truth.

  130. I think it’s a struggle for all of us to truly believe in fat acceptance. Just the other day, I wrote a horrible
    email and I’m glad that kate decided not to post it.

    I was actually thinking about GBS for aesthetic reasons.
    (I’m 5’8 and weigh 285 pounds but don’t look it.)
    Everyone on here has been really supportive but I noticed
    that most of the people on here are a LOT smaller than
    me. I’m a size 22/24 and shop at Lane Bryant. I even
    talked to my mother about it who thought it was a good
    idea but she likes to watch The Biggest Loser and is a
    size 16 self-hating fattie.

    It’s probably going to take me a lot longer to reach gain
    the confidence of some of the people on here. It’s
    just hard when I go to Cedar Point and some of the
    rides I’m able to ride on and some not. It’s hard
    going on an airplane and always asking for the
    window seat because I’m afraid that my thighs
    might spill over onto two people.

    It’s hard going out to eat with my much-smaller family
    members and having the waiter bring me smaller
    portions than everyone else. it’s hard going out
    with my thin friends and have guys completely
    ignore me. I think that if people were to treat me
    right, the fantasy of being thin might disappear
    but it’s going to take a long time for me to get there.

    i think if more thin people were to speak out about
    how their lives aren’t perfect, when that happens,
    then I’ll truly be able start on the road from wishful
    thinking and thin idealism. Until then, I have to
    take things one day at a time.

  131. But I think this blog is a wall of resistance that will not tolerate even polite disagreement. So – whatever. Cling to your truth, but it’s not my truth.

    I am loathe to even involve myself in this, but I can not help but say that no one here wishes to take your truth away from you, of that I am sure. But you seem to be looking for people here to validate it for you, and since no one seems willing to do so, you claim that we are a bunch of intolerant pricks. I think that everyone who responded to you was polite, but firm in their opinions, which is a far cry from being a “wall of resistance.”

    I am sure that my words will not change your mind, but I feel this had to be said.

    Take care of yourself.

  132. How can you claim to truly accept your size if in your heart of hearts you are hoping that it will change? And where do you draw the line with smaller? What if when you get smaller you still hope to be smaller? And smaller? And smaller?

    Sounds like the same old disordered cycle to me.

  133. Mari,

    Your comment brought tears to my eyes. I’m sorry that you haven’t gotten the respect you deserve from life, but believe me, you do deserve it. It’s probably going to be a difficult journey, but if you come out of this happier and loving yourself (as you definitely should!) than it will be worth it.

    Hang out with us and we will all help each other however we can. Just never forget, you are wonderful and you are worth it!

  134. I hope this hasn’t been said before, but I’m not in the frame of mind for reading 123 comments at the moment. (I’ll undoubtedly come back later and do that.)

    My twist on the Fantasy of Being Thin isn’t that I’ll be magically transformed, it’s that other people will take the time to get to know and like me, and maybe, just maybe, a man will actually find me attractive to treat me well. That’s the fantasy I struggle with. Mostly I’m just grateful for my cats.

  135. Mari,
    if it makes you feel better I’m a 26/28 and I need a seatbelt extension to buckle my belts on the airplane. That is hard every single time. people wont sit next to me on the train in the morning so I always try to get single seats so I don’t feel like an asshole. And, I went to cedar point in college and I was only able to go one one roller coaster, I would get on them, be unable to buckle the belt, and have to get off.

    I know this doesn’t help that much, except to say that you are not alone.

  136. Mari, you’re far from the biggest person here (I think of 22/24 as being a midsize fattie)… but there are also plenty of thin people who do talk about how it doesn’t magically get easy, which is part of what I love about this community. Unless a commenter specifies his or her size, it’s fair to assume that they could be anything from a zero to a 32 (or above, but 32 is the biggest size I can remember a Shapeling talking about explicitly). Our personal experiences, or at least our internal landscapes, are all pretty similar.

  137. Mari, you’re far from the biggest person here (I think of 22/24 as being a midsize fattie)… Unless a commenter specifies his or her size, it’s fair to assume that they could be anything from a zero to a 32 (or above, but 32 is the biggest size I can remember a Shapeling talking about explicitly).

    Exactly what I was going to say. A lot of smaller numbers do get thrown around here, but I actually chuckled a little when I read that you feel like the biggest here at 22/24. Which is not to say I’m laughing AT you, by any means, just that I think feeling like you’re always the biggest person in the room is such a common experience for fat people, even the smaller ones — it doesn’t matter if you’re a 12 or 22 or 32 (and I’m sure there are people who wear a size larger than 32 here, too, even if they haven’t mentioned it). It has so much more to do with the tapes that play in our head than the reality.

    Having said that, I am so sorry you’ve been through the experiences you describe, but you are definitely not alone in all that around here. If you’re not doing it already, reading all the comments as well as the posts should give you a much better idea of how common those awful experiences are. Which isn’t exactly cheery, but it can make things feel less lonely.

  138. Kristin, I can SO relate to what you wrote. I may be “outing” myself here in a way that freaks some people out, but I’m part of my local (and national, sometimes) BDSM scene. (Bondage domination/submission, sadism/mashochism. Kinky stuff, basically. :) ) When I first entered what we call ‘the scene,” I was astounded at the size acceptance – there were women of all sizes in skimpy outfits (or NO outfits!), being sexy, finding play partners, finding relationships, loving their bodies and putting themselves out there in a major way. It took me a while, but now I do wear sexy outfits in public – and then take most of it off to “play” in a public dungeon. And the people I play with think I’m hot in my size 16 pleather. :) And my husband hopes I’ll never lose weight because he absolutely loves my ass. And last year, as a gift to him… I did that strip tease you mention. He absolutely LOVED it. I hope you are able to do one for your boyfriend someday, because while it was sort of awkward and embarrassing to try something new and put myself out there, it’s also a really happy memory of feeling sexy and confident.

    I also wanted to say thank you to Amanda, who write such honest, insightful thoughts of what it is to be in the “I get the FA stuff, but not for ME” stage. I especially see where you’re coming from about the idea of success. I’ve been trying to lose weight on and off for five years now. It’s started to feel like a goal I have to reach not even for weight loss but to prove myself that I can finish what I started, that I’m not a failure, that I can succeed at this big project that I set out for myself so many years ago. So stopping now feels like failure. And I think I could make a huge step if I could figure out how to make *stopping* dieting feel like a success.

  139. And I think I could make a huge step if I could figure out how to make *stopping* dieting feel like a success.

    You should start by reading Good with Cheese for insights into how much willpower and self-discipline it takes to stop dieting. In this culture, it can actually be the more challenging project to take on. :)

  140. OK, I have to confess I didn’t read every single post here. And since I’m a day late, maybe no one’s commenting on this one anymore anyway.

    Just wanted to say three things:

    1. Let me be the 5,380th person to say this is a great post and exactly what I needed to hear. And I say this as a non-fat person.

    2. I know someone also mentioned this, but this is totally not a phenomenon unique to fat people (and I don’t mean to imply that you said it was). I might say, however, that it is a phenomenon heavily concentrated among women, specifically those dissatisfied with their appearance (which is most people). My thinking well into my teens and early 20s was: If I didn’t look Asian (or if I weren’t, in fact, Asian), I’d be pretty. Then, if I were pretty … fill in the blank.

    3. All of you should go read “The LIttle Mermaid,” the original Hans Christian Andersen story. Also, a story by Russell Banks called (I think), “Sarah Cole.” Haven’t totally worked out my feelings about the latter, but I find both of them fascinating in this context.

  141. Shinobi asks me: “How can you claim to truly accept your size if in your heart of hearts you are hoping that it will change? And where do you draw the line with smaller? What if when you get smaller you still hope to be smaller? And smaller? And smaller?”

    I’d like to answer this as best I can. First, I am realistic in that I do know that being thin will not happen for me. Second, I don’t want it to – I actually like and prefer fuller bodies more than very thin ones. Even outright fat ones, if the fatness comes from balance, not ill health. Third, anorexia is not now, nor will it ever be my problem. Believe me. Fourth: yes, if I get smaller, I might still have hope for even more weight loss and yes, this would be something unhealthy if it dominates me, but not necessarily unhealthy if I can lose some more weight and not harm myself by it. I’m talking about modest weight loss from a high of about 300, to put it in some kind of perspective for people reading this.

    By gaining a great deal of weight through disordered eating, I now have sleep apnea, among other problems. My sleep apnea came from having too much weight. Some do have this disorder and are not fat, but many have it from obesity. I am one of those who have it due to being too heavy for my body.

    Would I like the freedom to sleep without a mask? Most assuredly, I would.

    Kate – I am an artist, a creative woman and a woman of size. Before you discount what I say, ask yourself if, under different circumstances, were we to meet, if you and I might not like each other – even respect each other.

    And also: it could be quite likely that a lot of people who comment here *secretly* wish to be smaller and don’t say so. Maybe some of those reasons are not about appearance (not that it’s a crime to enjoy a thinner body), but about health reasons.

    If I was your weight, Kate, I’d be turning cartwheels, honest I would. I’d also love to be proportionately fat, but I carry around a body that shames me due to how large my lower half is, compared to my upper.

    And, in truth, it’s *this*, not my weight, that upsets me the most.

    Anyway, this saddens me because – why must we all change each other’s minds, anyway? Can’t a certain diversity of opinion be tolerated on what seems to be a very creative, incredible and wonderful blog?

    I’m not pushing dieting, after all, no matter what anyone might think. I can’t even Do dieting; no way can I and no way do I want to – because I love food! But I do know that less weight on my body would help my health. And I don’t think it’s wrong to admit that or to admire the body I had before the ed harmed it.

  142. And also: it could be quite likely that a lot of people who comment here *secretly* wish to be smaller and don’t say so.

    Actually, they do say so — read the comments in this thread.

    The difference is that they don’t expect us all to celebrate and validate their choice to pursue deliberate weight loss — because we have said countless times that we do not celebrate or condone weight-loss dieting here, and that there are other places like that, like EVERY OTHER PLACE ON THE INTERNET.

    I rather thought you’d decided to go to one of them, actually, due to us all being pigheaded and whatever we were.

  143. Zoe- I am only speaking for myself here, but I don’t think anyone “secretly” wishes to be smaller. In fact, a lot of the comments here seem to address that it isn’t any secret at all…that we all have, at some point or another, and that point might be right now, wanted to be smaller, and associated a major portion of our fantasies on being smaller. I am only a couple of months into trying to accept myself the way I am, but if you read my posts above, you will see that I am obviously not totally accepting quite yet.

  144. Sue- Thanks for your comment…You know how pathetic I am? I read it and thought, well, maybe if I were a size 16 I would feel comfortable, but at a 20 there is no way. I am SO fucked up…

  145. Kate – I am an artist, a creative woman and a woman of size. Before you discount what I say, ask yourself if, under different circumstances, were we to meet, if you and I might not like each other – even respect each other.

    Zoe, we might very well like each other in another context. But in this context, you have consistently disrespected the blog’s comments policy, the other commenters responding to you and, notably, Fillyjonk’s suggestion that you read previous posts addressing the very issues you want to discuss here.

    You’ve also brought up my lack of fatness cred THREE times now, despite being told that this is both silly and offensive. Especially since, if you’d read those posts Fillyjonk linked to, you’d know one of the reasons I got into fat acceptance is that I have a sister who is a compulsive eater and weighs considerably more than you did at your highest weight.

    Can’t a certain diversity of opinion be tolerated on what seems to be a very creative, incredible and wonderful blog?

    When it comes to deliberate weight loss attempts — especially in the context of eating disorder recovery — NO. We are unequivocal about discouraging dieting — defined as the deliberate pursuit of weight loss as a goal in and of itself here, for reasons that have been reiterated ad nauseam elsewhere on the blog.

    You are derailing the conversation on this thread, and if you make a comment that invites more discussion of why we won’t cheer you on in your weight loss attempts, I will delete it.

  146. Another fat girl here, appreciating that someone was able to express my own inner dialogue so well. I’ve even printed this post to take with me to my (very supportive and accepting) therapist tomorrow. :)

    I am learning so much, from you all and from life itself! I look back at photos from high school, my early twenties, and at first was incredulous to see that I WASN’T FAT!!! But I was told that I was, and apparently let that “knowledge” become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Back then (you know, in the “olden days” of the 60s and 70s) the “ideal weight” for apparently most women was 120lbs or less. The lowest weight I ever achieved back then at age 14 was 132lbs. (I’m 5’4″) I laugh when I think about how hard my mom tried to get me down to that weight. Never mind that I was a basically straight A student, or that I could sing, had a gift for music (that I never pursued, but am now!), won my state’s spelling competition…none of that “counted” because I was “fat”. Mind you, my youngest sibling, who was a cheerleader in high school and a model, is skinny as a rail and 5’10” or so, and is also a raging alcoholic in a treatment program after having lost custody of her 3 little children due to a suicide attempt. Oh yeah, I’m the one with the problem, alright.

    Today I am happily married (for the second time, after being widowed) to a man who things I’m the hottest woman anywhere because of who I am, and also because he happens to like curvier — make that FATTER — women. He’s intelligent, devastatingly handsome to women and men alike ;), and pretty much the sweetest man on earth. I need to get him to come here and make a post about being a man who likes larger women and having to hide that fact from other guys as a younger man. Fortunately, he has evolved enough to be able to speak out to others, men and women, about his preferences, which I hope raises the awareness/acceptance level at least a little.

    Lastly, I want to express my deep gratitude to all of you for being out there and being eloquent and fearless and willing to reach out. I admire you all, and learn so much from y’all on a daily basis. I wish I had learned about the HAES movement a long time ago — hell, I wish I’d THOUGHT of it myself! lol But right on to those who began this quest and who keep on keepin’ on with spreading the word. As Gandhi said “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

    In solidarity,
    Suzanne in Nashville

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  148. To the numerous people who have spurred on the Do They Really Like Me Even Though I’m Fat comments, I have to thank you.

    She was absolutely beautiful, and even though we got along great on many levels, I could never quite understand why she liked me.

    My twist on the Fantasy of Being Thin isn’t that I’ll be magically transformed, it’s that other people will take the time to get to know and like me…

    Sing it, girls!

    It jogged a memory I’d completely shoved aside and its not even from that long ago. My freshmen year college roommate was like that. Your stereotypical tall, thin, cool blonde with the confidence, winning smile and sweet-as-pie genuine personality to boot. I had even greater doubts about the friends that she introduced me to. I thought they were all SO much prettier than me and we’d go out to parties and I truly, honestly believed that the only reason they too my ugly self along was to make themselves look even better by comparison!

    It took a while, and many a random late night conversation before I accepted that she genuinely was happy she knew me and wanted to continue to know me. To this day though, she’s still my best friend. And is the first one to call me out on self-depreciating comments I make.

  149. “……but I carry around a body that shames…”

    Who is the ‘I’ here Zoe. You sound anguished and I’m sorry if I’m being insensitive but if you keep thinking this way-which of course is entirely up to you- you cannot expect to feel bad about your body. Shaming you to who, who is the judge the proportion police? No wonder you see non existent criticisms if you carry around so much loathing for your body. I wish I could tell you how much this is weighing you down, but I can’t only you can by stopping this nonsense. Use the creativity you have to achieve this.

  150. “I wish I could tell you how much this is weighing you down, but I can’t only you can by stopping this nonsense. Use the creativity you have to achieve this.”

    Thank you for your kindness, Wriggles. And, hey, I do use my creativity. It’s great, it taps me into something that is very healing.

    This healing, in turn, helps me to heal my body. Take care, everyone. It was….if not real, at least a confirmation to me that the world is a big place. There really is room for us all. I will take from Fat Acceptance what I can use…and discard the rest, which is useless to me, guilt-inducing, rigid and a poor fit.

  151. I can’t tell you how much knowing I’m not alone means to me. Low self-esteem and no sense of self-worth? Yep. The bottom line is I’m afraid. I’m afraid of life for all the reasons people have mentioned. I’m afraid to look too closely at myself. I’m afraid not to be afraid ’cause then I’d really not know who I am. This blog, and all the wonderful people who post here, are letting me know that it’s okay; others here are afraid too. Thank you for being someplace I can turn and not feel so alone.

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  153. Well… I’ve been reading the post/comments all day yesterday and today knowing that I wanted to say something but not really sure what (beyond, you know, yes).

    Mostly all my thoughts could go to their own blog, so I’ll try to be succinct, but don’t get your hopes up.

    OMG the when I’m thin fantasies are horrible, I have:
    when I’m thin… I’ll start rock climbing
    … backpacking
    … going to clubs
    … stripping (is that weird? I have weird fantasies… sorry)
    … wearing designer clothes (especially jeans)

    There is of course no reason that I can’t rock climb, back pack, or go out dancing right now. I’m not even all that fat and I get a lot of positive attention when I do go out dancing, but I still mope around because I’m not tiny and hawt like the super skanks out on the dance floor (do I really want to be like them anyway? Not really, but try telling my brain that)

    As for the last two… I don’t really want to be a stripper, and if I were thin I definitely wouldn’t want my literal monetary worth wrapped up in the size and shape of my body, so I don’t really know what that’s about. And I don’t think being thin would make me rich(er) so I probably still wouldn’t be able to afford designer jeans without resorting to massive debt or not eating… so there’s that.

    Oh and there’s one more that’s kind of silly…
    when I’m thin… I’ll knit more sweaters because they will take less time/money since there will be less of me to cover.

    This post has made me think about a lot more stuff… but it’s kind of off topic and I’ve already taken up enough space, so carry on.

  154. When I’m thin…I’ll get new headshots. I’ve been using the same old photo for auditions for the past 8 years, despite the fact that I’m about 50 pounds heavier than I was when I had it taken, and the photo barely resembles me anymore.

    And I have the stupid boxes of ‘skinny clothes’ taking up space in my storage locker, because I still hang on to the remote possibility that I’ll be able to wear them one day.

    *sigh*

    I’m trying, guys. This post really helps.

  155. I think the FoBT is a lot like other things people hide behind. I have a girlfriend who has said no to all of the holiday party invites she’s gotten because she recently got braces. I kid you not. I guess what I’m saying is that if it isn’t the FoBT, it would also be something else. We ALL have doubts about our abilities and our appearance, and we all struggle to overcome them. I think this was an important post, mainly because it is right on the mark in pointing out the biggest critic of our fat and our bodies and our appearance – us. It’s huge hurdle. It scares people to see other people overcome it.

    I remember reading some of the nastiness about tri-athlete Sarah and thinking that the criticism these people were dishing out was far more about them than about her. These beliefs – you’re wearing down your joints, you need to lose weight before you can be considered athletic – these were things that were holding at least some of THEM back and to see her just say, “Fuck it, I’m living my life!” sent them into a virtual panic.

    It’s a good thing, no?

  156. SingOut: But now is when you need them! If you got thin, the old picture would look like you again. :)

    Seriously, this sounds like a great thing to get yourself for the holidays. Nothing makes you feel good about your looks like totally fierce glamor photos.

  157. Suzanne in Nashville – I think we’re the same person! :) I look back at pictures of me in high school and think, “Who in hell ever told me I was fat???” But I have to say that I’m so much happier at 33 and 225 than I was at 17 and 140. And wonderful husbands do help with that.

  158. SingOut: But now is when you need them! If you got thin, the old picture would look like you again. :)

    Can’t beat that logic! And, having looked at your old headshot, I am sure you are just as gorgeous 50 lbs. heavier! (Also, drop me a line when you’ve got productions going on in Mpls., since I’m there relatively frequently and would love to see your work.)

  159. Here is what I don’t get about the “you’re taking away my dream” people. If you’re really destined to be way smaller than you are, how can we possibly stop you? It’s not like we know where you live and we can tie you to the couch and force-feed you or anything.

  160. It’s not like we know where you live and we can tie you to the couch and force-feed you or anything.

    Speak for yourself, Meowser. I KNOW ALL.

    That’s why I’m such a danger to my readers, . Most of them are incapable of finding non-fat-accepting views anywhere else in the world, of course, but when the occasional clever soul locates a source revealing that A) Fat is unattractive and unhealthy, B) Weight loss efforts are likely to be supported in this culture, and/or C) You can totally lose weight by consuming fewer calories than you burn, I do indeed track them down in their homes and force feed them until they submit.

    Because it’s so much more difficult to carry on with my brainwashing campaign when people become aware that there are alternatives to fat acceptance out there.

  161. So, here’s a funny thing. I don’t really tend to let my fatness get in the way of doing things. I’ll try most things if given the opportunity. But there are things that I am simply too fat for and it hurts.

    For example, honeymooned in Costa Rica. The thing to do there are these zip lines through the forest. I *really* wanted to do it, and almost backed out because I thought once I got there, the weight limitation would be too low.

    But then, we signed up and got to the bus that was taking us to the forest, and they pulled me aside, behind the bus, to see if the harness belt would actually fit around me. It was HORRIFYING. The worst part, the belt had inches and inches of slack after they buckled it around me! They just saw a fat girl, and I swear, they didn’t want me on their zip lines because, sure I was more work for them to help on and off the zip lines. It’s times like those that kill me.

    That whole trip, I felt like the guys working the zip lines hated me because I was making their job harder and that on every uphill hike, they were all worried I was going to keel over…

    And, when I got to thinking about that particular moment recently, I realized, my 250 pounds is really nothing when you think that any muscular, stocky guy might easily way that much. And they probably wouldn’t have blinked twice at him.

    Same thing happened in Montreal. We wanted to try Segways and the weight limit was 250. I was hovering right around 250 at the time and I didn’t even try to rent one because I didn’t want to be questioned. And it killed me and I cried. And I felt like CRAP about myself.

    So, in my mind, sometimes, I *do* feel like I need to weigh less just to do things that most other people can do.

    I’ve lately been saying things like this to myself:

    I’m fat…
    and I have the greatest husband ever.
    and I have oodles of friends who heart me.
    and I’m a great cook.
    and I’m super smart.
    and my family is really very awesome and never makes me feel bad about myself because of my weight.
    and I’ve traveled the world.
    and…so many more things that make me really great even though, and perhaps because, I’m a size 22.

    Ok. Lots of blabbering, but this post and comments were great and got me really thinking about things.

  162. “Because it’s so much more difficult to carry on with my brainwashing campaign when people become aware that there are alternatives to fat acceptance out there.”

    Well with fat acceptance being all anyone can hear about in the media these days… I mean someone should really be providing an alternative so that all the poor immobile fatties can learn how to be tHin&hAWt.

    I mean some of these people don’t even know that it’s as simple calories in/calories out. Maybe with some tough love they’ll learn how to not stuff their faces with donuts.

  163. Guess what? I’m turning 39 on Sunday, and I’m in a band, and we’re writing songs, and we’ve started performing at open mike nights….AND I played/sang with an open jam last week, in front of an audience!!!!!! HA HA! And all the feedback from people who’ve heard/seen me has been INCREDIBLE! Music is the most important thing in my life right now.

    DON’T WAIT TILL YOU”RE 39 TO DO WHAT YOU MOST LOVE! You’ll still be fat, but you’ll also be older.

    Go Dorianne! Isn’t it just the greatest thing ever?

    I got the ‘shh…..don’t be so loud…pipe down…be quiet…don’t make a show of yourself….’ stuff as a kid, which was tough because I was a born performer, even after they criticized 95% of the confidence out of me. It wasn’t so much body worries that (temporarily) killed it for me, so much as getting roped into a very conventional lifestyle in which I thought those things had no part.

    I’m now a guitarist, a singer-songwriter, and a beginning cellist who’s probably enjoying it a lot more than the neighbors are right now! ;) And yes, I think it’s utterly heartbreaking how people get persuaded into putting their dreams aside for so long. But hey, better late than never.

    I’m a big fan of a lady called Barbara Sher, who specializes in finding real, practical ways for people to achieve their dreams. Her book Wishcraft is well worth a read.

  164. So, in my mind, sometimes, I *do* feel like I need to weigh less just to do things that most other people can do.

    Kerry, I don’t mean this to criticize you at all, but I just want to point out something you may not realize. While I wouldn’t suggest for a second that fat discrimination isn’t a huge problem (that’s pretty much my raison de blog), in both of your examples, it seems like your own fears about your weight might have been a bigger problem than the weight itself.

    With the zip line, for instance, you might very well be right that the guys had a shitty response to the fat girl — but you also could have told them there was way too much slack on the belt, and had them fix it, which probably would have made for a more comfortable ride. I know it can be really hard to advocate for yourself when what’s going through your head is, “OMG, they’re all disgusted by the fatty, I just want to disappear,” but sometimes, that’s what we’re stuck having to do. And the more guys like that get experience with fat people saying, “Hey, this is what I need to be comfortable and safe,” the more likely they are to stop being weird around fat people eventually.

    As for the Segway thing, you could have said, “Hey, I weigh right around 250, but I’m not sure of the exact number. Do you think I’ll be okay?” Again, I know that is a LOT easier said than done, and it can take a whole lot of courage to say something like that and act like it’s not mortifying to you. But these simple things won’t stop becoming weird and awkward until we stop acting like they must be.

    I’m not saying you have a responsibility to be little miss fat acceptance activist at every turn, mind you. And I’m DEFINITELY not saying it’s easy. There’s no shame in not being ready to have conversations like that. But it’s just… there shouldn’t be shame in saying openly, “This is what I weigh, and it’s sure not going to change in the next five minutes, so we need to either work together to figure out how I can do this, or you need to tell me it’s not happening.”

    The more we can treat our own fat like a fact of life, not a shameful burden — even if other people aren’t willing to be so realistic along with us — the easier it gets to deal with those situations. Honestly.

  165. My thin fantasy revolves mainly around wearing beautiful clothes (mainly from Anthropologie and j.crew) with gorgeous shoes. And having my husband openly desire me instead of saying “Of *course* I love you!” And walking around naked or in very expensive lingerie.

    Apparently my inner thin person is an exhibitionist shopaholic. *shrug*

    But really, there’s a part of me that just *knows* he wouldn’t have LAUGHED at me in that bra-and-panty set if I’d been thin (read: smoking hot). And the lame “you just surprised me, honey!” wouldn’t have been necessary.

    The whole acceptance thing seems nice, but how is it possible when you’re living the opposite of the fantasy? When things like this you KNOW wouldn’t happen if you were thin — happen?

  166. Seriously, Zoe. This is not my blog, and I probably have no right to say this, but the sarcasm is tiresome.

    Yeah, tiresome enough that I deleted her last comment, as promised.

    I especially love conversations that go like this:

    Me: Violate the comments policy, and you’ll be deleted.
    Commenter: Ooh, I’m violating the comments policy! I dare you to delete me!
    Me: *hits delete button*

    Like, did you think there was another way that would go?

  167. Lexy, I’ve been thinking about all the fantasies of being a stripper and so on myself — I think, for me anyway, they were a way of fantasizing about not only having sexual power but demonstrating that power, and having it acknowledged, in public. It had nothing to do with any of the realities of the job.

    The big thin dream I had most recently was this: if I lose weight, I won’t be so ill. (I have rheumatoid arthritis.) It turned out to be dead wrong, too — instead, the diet left me so fatigued and fragile I felt substantially worse and was in real terms more disabled.

    But you won’t get the medical establishment to admit to a truth like that. I picked up a copy of Arthritis Today at my doc’s yesterday, and good grief, I swear 90 percent of it is devoted to beating the drums of low diets and vigorous exercise — it’s the holidays, don’t you dare have fun and gain weight!

    Sometimes, I really really hate the medical establishment. Seriously.

  168. But really, there’s a part of me that just *knows* he wouldn’t have LAUGHED at me in that bra-and-panty set if I’d been thin (read: smoking hot). And the lame “you just surprised me, honey!” wouldn’t have been necessary.

    The whole acceptance thing seems nice, but how is it possible when you’re living the opposite of the fantasy? When things like this you KNOW wouldn’t happen if you were thin — happen?

    Gina, what I’d say is, how do you KNOW? I mean, that’s fucking awful that he laughed at you, and I’m not saying you’re necessarily wrong about why. But I am saying it’s awfully easy to convince yourself that people are laughing at you because you’re fat when they really are just surprised, or they’re laughing at you for some other reason, or they’re not laughing at you at all.

    When you don’t feel confident about your body, the default assumption is often “Everyone else hates my body.” And then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because you read that hatred into other people’s comments, whether it’s there or not. (Which is not to say it’s never there — just that it’s probably not ALWAYS there, either.)

    So really, whether he was laughing at your body or not, the only thing you can do is work on believing that your body doesn’t deserve to be laughed at. Which means you need to recognize that if he really WAS laughing at you, it was just an incredibly jerky thing for him to do. It has nothing to do with how sexy you are — TRUST me, there are plenty of men who would love to see you in lingerie, whatever you look like — and everything to do with him being uncomfortable for his own reasons and taking it out on you.

  169. Oh Kerry, I know where you are coming from. I once had to be weighed in for a helicopter ride, and I kept thinking they were going to tell my husband and me that we couldn’t go. On a similar note, we just got back from a trip to Egypt where we rode donkeys (omg so much fun) and nobody made any mention about if the animals could carry us… until I got back home and my aunt made the comment, “Talk about a beast of burden!”

    I guess you just have to try and keep trying, and do the best you can with what you’ve got.

  170. “Like, did you think there was another way that would go?”

    Yes, it’s just like a diet; you think it will go one way and it goes the other and you gain even more weight. Well, I’m chastened, indeed, but a good learning has happened to me, too. Thanks, Kate. Group-hug!!!

  171. Zoe, are you done being a nuisance then? Why do people like you deliberately come to a blog with set rules, and then go about trying to break them? Is there no where else on the internet you can go?

    I recommend you try Big Fat Deal, it’s a gateway for people between fat acceptance and dieting. There are plenty of “oh, I hate being fat and I hate fatties” people around that area.

  172. These are always the hardest posts for me to read. I just cannot see how it can be okay to be me. I’ve been told I was horribly fat since the second grade (10-15lbs over), and put on a nightly rowing machine regimin by my parents when I was in junior high. Until adulthood, being made fun of for my weight was a daily occurance. Now, it’s only when I have to fly, or wander Halsted street. Nothing like a crew of gay men hollering at you ‘Work out, bitch!’ while you’re walking home.

    This year, I committed to doing something about it (I was 237lbs over BMI), and there have been changes, but I’m spending every waking moment worrying about it. At the same time, I read about how wonderful it is on the ‘other side’ of FA on this blog. And I feel terrible because I don’t have the reserve to make that leap.

    -When I’m thin my family will like me.
    After 30 years of indifference or hostility, my family -does- talk to me encouragingly or positively. And that’s only at (X) down. How much more will it be when I’m (Y)?

    -When I’m thin I’ll be sexually attractive.
    I honestly don’t know. It would suck to find out after all this, that once thin, I’m still unattractive. It’s something that keeps me up nights.

    -When I’m thin I’ll be able to study martial arts.
    This is the fantasy. And it has more to do with wanting to be graceful than anything else. I might hate martial arts, I might still be graceless. But at least…

    -When I’m thin, no one will ever use ‘big guy’ as my default name.
    Anytime someone who doesn’t know my name wants to address me, from cop to homeless person, that’s the name I have. That is all I am. that descriptor. At this point in my life, I’d almost rather die than have another day when someone calls me that.

    I am so dependent emotionally on the moment I hit the scales every monday, that it makes or obliterates my week. And knowing that 5 years from now, I’ll only be bigger because nothing I’m doing now will have any effect just makes me want to die.

    I read the blog to read up on the truth of weight loss, and to see what happiness there is in FA. I just have no idea how to make it work for me.

  173. When you don’t feel confident about your body, the default assumption is often “Everyone else hates my body.” And then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,

    Totally. I rarely have negative experiences because I’m fat (and I’m 325 pounds of unsubtle fatty), even when I ask for a seatbelt extender on a plane or squish my hiney into the backseat of a cab with three other people or ask to be reseated because I’d like to have a meal without a side of boobs-on-the-table. I rarely second-guess myself or beat myself up or assume that someone doesn’t like me for my fat (there are so many other, better reasons!). I find that – because I don’t automatically oppress myself – few people around me do either.

    I think this is why doing the internal work of size acceptance is so important. It’s been my experience (with, of course, some exceptions for the real, live assholes out there) that people treat me exactly how I expect them to, in almost any situation.

    Which is why this blog (and others like it) are so groundbreaking and encouraging and awesome.

  174. Aw, I wish I’d seen the sarcasmo comment. That’ll teach me to go to the gym. I need built-in blogging software so I can blog on the elliptical!

    Gina, my inner thin person is a shopaholic too, but it’s amazing how much the pang brought on by Anthropologie clothes has subsided since discovering FA. In a sense I’ve realized I’m even lucky, because if I wore a size 8 I would be SO EFFIN BROKE. I spend enough on clothes just buying the few things available in my size! Even if I thrifted ALL THE TIME, I would never make enough money to afford all the clothes I would want if I could fit into everything.

    But I do still need to learn to sew. We need local Shapeling sewing circles, have I said that before?

    Also, about the laughing: That is an awful thing to do and I have done it. Are you sure it wasn’t the lingerie itself? Because when I laughed at someone’s supposedly-sexy underwear (and he was really hurt and I felt terrible), it had nothing to do with his body; it was because the underwear was so stupid and over-the-top. He may just find you sexier when you’re not really trying.

    (Come to think of it I have also laughed at someone’s underwear and NOT felt terrible. He totally deserved it, he wore banana hammocks all the time! He was extremely hot though, it was really just the manties that were comical.)

  175. The big thin dream I had most recently was this: if I lose weight, I won’t be so ill. (I have rheumatoid arthritis.) It turned out to be dead wrong, too — instead, the diet left me so fatigued and fragile I felt substantially worse and was in real terms more disabled.

    Eucritta, I feel your pain, or at least something like it (not RA, but it’s something autoimmune). The joint pain got absolutely intolerable *after* I misplaced twenty pounds.

    (Magical thinking: I say misplaced because if I say “lose,” it means I probably won’t find it again, and dammit, I want it back!)

  176. So really, whether he was laughing at your body or not, the only thing you can do is work on believing that your body doesn’t deserve to be laughed at.

    An excellent point. Thank you for the response — and for your insight.

  177. When I’m thin, no one will ever use ‘big guy’ as my default name.

    Oh seriously, can we talk about this shit for a second? I know there’s a feminist (and often femme) focus to this blog and I think that’s how it should be, but this is something only the dudes and dude-identified get. People call my boyfriend “big guy” too and it drives me spare. He’s not particularly sensitive about his weight, but I think any mode of address that diminishes the addressee to a single physical attribute, whatever it is, really sucks. (Except when my friend Lynne called everyone “Tits” for a while in college, that was hilarious.)

    Don’t fucking respond to anyone who calls you “big guy.” They don’t deserve it.

    Making FA work for you: it takes time, and energy, and a lot of thought. There are a lot of people here who have had that breakthrough, where they say “who I am fat is who I am, and a better me doesn’t mean a thinner me.” There are also a lot of people who haven’t. I hope you stay and keep reading, that’s all I can really say.

    Well, and I also really REALLY hope you look into trying a martial art, even if you just start with tai chi. Everyone can benefit from training like that, in terms of discipline and physical control, even if everyone can’t be Bruce Lee or even Harper Lee. If you could do it as a klutzy thin person, you can do it as a klutzy fat person — and you’ll probably get a lot less klutzy. (Try fencing if you’re overawed by the more aerodynamic Asian martial arts — fat people can rock at epee, and I say that as someone who knows!) (Kendo too, I bet.)

  178. Rowan- Jeez, your parents sound a lot like mine. I wish there were a support group or something for people with total freak parents. This site helps a lot.

  179. In some respects, I guess I’m pretty lucky. I played the “when I’m thin” game through most of my teenage years, but I still lived my life. By the time I hit college, I put that excuse to bed because I was determined to live my life no matter what the numbers on a scale said. My mom probably played a part in this because the two phrases she constantly used when I was growing up were, “don’t let that stop you,” and, “never let them tell you that you can’t do something.” So despite the fact that she once called me “unmarketable” during an argument (something that she denies to this day, but trust me she said it), she mostly did her best to make me feel like a valuable human being.

    I’ve done the waterskiing thing, and failed miserably—not because I’m fat, but because I just suck at water skiing. Being towed face down in the water and forgetting to let go of the tow line—yeah, it’s a really bad look for me. I applied for the awesome job that I was barely qualified for and I got it along with a $12,000 increase in pay—go me! I’ve been a member of a gym for awhile now and I love it—there’s a pool and my Pisces self can swim all she wants. I have several gorgeous dresses and since I don’t diet, I have clothes from 10 years ago that still fit. I looked so smokin’ hot in the last dress I bought that I was sure my family was going to keel over when they saw how good I looked in it. The expressions on their faces said everything.

    I love camping. I’ve visited all 50 states along with several countries, and I camped my way from Baltimore to Anchorage. I survived a visit to Russia and that was a bit intimidating, but I did it and I got to visit The Hermitage, which was a dream of mine—‘cause I’m such an art geek. And I have more friends than I can keep track of—but that’s the kind of problem I like having…

    The only thing I’ve never managed to conquer was asking out the gorgeous guy. It’s the one place where I lack confidence. I’ve asked guys out before, but never the gorgeous guy. But, I’m quirkyalone so 90% of the time I don’t mind that it’s just me.

    Also, my alias on the Web, Weightless One, is a homophone that relates directly to the “when I’m thin” excuse. I’ve always been judged by my weight so to be weightless is to be just me—not judged by one physical attribute, but by the content of my character. Also it means I’m the “wait less one” as well. In other words, I wait less to do the things that society (and formerly myself) wants me to put off until I’m thin.

    So I travel because I love experiencing new places and new people. And I ask for the seatbelt extender every time I fly, without a hint of guilt. I go camping and hiking and canoeing and I stopped worrying a long time ago if I was the last one to finish the trail. That just means I have more time to admire the wildflowers or the moose tracks in the snow.

    And just for the record—I was in the 325-345 pound range and a size 32 when I did all of these things. Seriously, try being ‘wait less’ for awhile. It is so WORTH IT!

  180. Rowan and FJ- Along the lines of “big guy”: I wish that everyone who doesn’t know my boyfriend and sees a picture of him would stop fucking saying, “oh! He’s such a teddy bear!” He is NOT a teddy bear, he is a man, you shits. When the hell did “teddy bear” become code for “your fat boyfriend”?

    DId I misuse my quotes? :)

  181. Weightless One, this was awesome to read. Weightless -> wait less is brilliant and kinda sums up this whole post in a single pun.

    Also, I’m looking at your blog and I think we are locals!

  182. Teddy bear has always been the code. Men can’t be handsome and fat. If a guy is mysteriously attractive and fat at the same time, he must be something else:

    A giant piece of stuffing.

  183. He is NOT a teddy bear, he is a man, you shits.

    This made me LOL. Henceforth anyone who calls your boyfriend a teddy bear is not only a shit, they are a shit IN THE WOODS.

    Also, I really want you to just say “nope, he’s a human boy” next time they do it.

    I assume they’re referring to apparent cuddliness, but it’s inappropriate to comment on someone else’s boyfriend’s cuddliness. And quite possibly they are unknowingly invoking gay slang, i.e. “bear.” I suppose that private amusement can get you through a trying encounter.

  184. or ask to be reseated because I’d like to have a meal without a side of boobs-on-the-table.

    BWAH, Tari! I’ve never done that, but maybe I should start.

    What I have trouble with in restaurants is trying to get past other people to go to the restroom and such. I can say “excuse me” or even tap them on the shoulder all I want, but some people just will NOT move their chairs more than half a goddamned inch (even if I can see there’s plenty of space), so either there’s no way for me to squeeze past their table at all, or they end up with my butt in their hair.

    And the worst part is, I have never figured out if this is because:

    A) I’m fat enough that people think they can safely ignore me, like all fatties;
    B) I’m NOT fat enough for people to immediately realize I need considerably more room for my ass than a skinny girl would;
    C) People are just self-involved assholes.

    Probably all three, and mostly C.

    But one thing I have found is that saying, “You know what? I’m fatter than that. Could you help me get by you, please?” will usually A) stun people, and B) get the job done. Once again, just acknowledging your own fucking fat takes away the awkwardness of “OMG, they’re NOTICING MY FAT!”

    However, I will admit that I have to be in a certain kind of mood to say shit like that, and more often, I look for an alternate route or just squeeze by and let them deal with my butt in their hair.

  185. But one thing I have found is that saying, “You know what? I’m fatter than that. Could you help me get by you, please?”

    I totally did this (four times!) a couple weeks ago – I was playing a gig at a dinner party where there were two six-to-a-side tables set up in such a way that I literally had to go right down the middle to get to my guitar. I basically was all, “Hey, people, I have a large ass and you’re gonna have to part the sea or get some cheek to the head.”

    Surprising how accomodating people can be when it’s laid out like that.

  186. I basically was all, “Hey, people, I have a large ass and you’re gonna have to part the sea or get some cheek to the head.”

    Ah, you have such a way with words, my dear.

  187. Also, fat dudes are not “teddy bears,” or “big guys,” or whatever other lame euphemism is being tossed about.

    They are HOT. (Just saying.)

  188. Teddy bear has always been the code. Men can’t be handsome and fat. If a guy is mysteriously attractive and fat at the same time, he must be something else:

    My husband is a large man, and frankly I prefer him that way. Teddy bear? Hello, no. Just my big ole’ Bear, thanks. :P

  189. Kate, your restaurant-maneuvering troubles remind me of a guy Dan encountered at a crowded bar one time. (I, alas, had to get the story second-hand.)

    He was very fat. And he was trying to move through the crowd. And he was doing it by saying the following over and over: “‘Scuse me. Coming through. Very fat.”

    Delighted me then, delights me now.

    WO, not only are we locals but I need a wedding officiant. I’m gonna email you. :)

  190. -When I’m thin I’ll be sexually attractive.
    I honestly don’t know. It would suck to find out after all this, that once thin, I’m still unattractive. It’s something that keeps me up nights.

    Sorry for the spam, Kate, but to Rowan: Some of us like some cushion on our ride. I’m just sayin….

  191. He was very fat. And he was trying to move through the crowd. And he was doing it by saying the following over and over: “‘Scuse me. Coming through. Very fat.”

    Oh my god, I LOVE THAT.

    And LollyDee, you’re totally not spamming. :)

  192. Rowan – I would also encourage you to try out martial arts. If it isn’t for you, fine, but at least will know that you tried.

    I myself love to dance. That’s not surprising since I am absolutely in love with music and everything that has to do with it. However, I did not dare to dance for many years – partially because I had made some nasty experiences with dancing, particularly dancing in public, in the past, and of course I absolutely believed that I was too fat and awkward to dance. About a year and a half a go however a good friend encouraged me to try out Oriental dance. Yeah, right – not just dance, but “belly dance”?! I thought she was crazy. But – after a long struggle with myself I finally decided to take classes. And guess what? I love it! Yes, there are days when I feel absolutely awkward and I tend to compare myself with the other women in the class thinking that all of them are thinner (which is usually true). But there are those wonderful, liberating moments when I know that I just get the movement right, and when I feel more at one with my body than I ever did in my life.
    Also, my teacher always says that in belly dance you should not focus on how you look, but how you feel. You have to feel the movements, you have to visualize the different circles, kicks, etc., and you have to feel the emotions that go with the movements. If you do that, the rest will follow. I find this advice incredibly useful for pretty much every form of exercise, particularly the ones that are about high levels of body control. It is hard to do at the beginning (hell, I still find it hard to do), but I think that particularly for fat people who are often made to feel that they look ridiculous doing X this is a very, very helpful approach. (Oh yeah, and just to add this: my teacher is a self-identified technique freak – visualizing a movement and focusing on how it feels usually makes you get the technique correct, too.)

  193. When I am thin, I’ll have the body of a 20 year old again: no wrinkles, sags, or grey hair.

    sigh. Getting thin will NOT magically reverse the effects of gravity and age.

  194. Pingback: Big Fat Deal » Thanks, Kate

  195. I am Tenthing the Don’t call my boy “Big Guy” or “Teddy Bear.” His father actually teases him about being a three toed sloth, which I think is cute mostly because I love sloths (the implication, less cute.)

    Rowan,
    If you want a fat buddy to take martial arts with you I live in Evanston. :-)

  196. (Magical thinking: I say misplaced because if I say “lose,” it means I probably won’t find it again, and dammit, I want it back!)

    Dani, I LOVE this! I’ve certainly learned since that with chronic illness, stable weight is where it’s at, and that’s a much better way to think about it than loss and gain!

  197. I’ve always been skinny and athletic. I’m 160 cm and maybe 47 kg on a PMS day, and very muscular so most people guess my weight at under 44 kg. I’ve got a 21 inch waist. And I STILL feel shitty about myself maybe 85% of the time- for being too short, too athletic, too Jewish-looking, for having brown eyes and hair and a big nose, whatever.

    The stupid thing is that when I feel like this, I automatically catch myself thinking that if I lost 5 kilos, I would magically be tall and WASPy and blonde and look like a model, and guys would fall all over themselves to talk to me. And I’m so skinny I can count my ribs back and front and my abdominal muscles are visible. How completely fucked up is that?

    So. My fantasy isn’t of being thin, but I still tell myself all the time that “If I were tall, blonde and not Jewish, I would get more dates/feel better about myself/be more outgoing/whatever.”
    I fucking hate that I feel like that, but there you go.

  198. MarqueeMoon, thank you.

    It really helps to know that we fat people aren’t the only ones that have self-image/body issues. (I’m not being sarcastic here, I truly mean that.) Because of the blatant fat hate that we go through, it gets easy to think that we’re the only ones that feel that way. It’s easy to the fall into the “when I’m thin, I’ll be perfect” thinking. Because of course, you’re thin! You don’t HAVE any problems! Right? (That WAS sarcasm, by the way.)

    The way I’m feeling right now, knowing I’m not alone really IS a huge help.

  199. Because of course, you’re thin! You don’t HAVE any problems! Right? (That WAS sarcasm, by the way.)

    Heh. I’ve blogged this before, but it’s worth repeating.

    Me, to absurdly gorgeous friend: What’s life like with abs like yours?
    Her: It’s awesome. I have no problems whatsoever.
    Me: That’s what I thought.
    Her: What’s life like with boobs like yours?
    Me: It’s awesome. I have no problems whatsoever.
    Her: That’s what I thought.

    That really kinda sums it all up for me.

  200. It really helps to know that we fat people aren’t the only ones that have self-image/body issues

    Lord no. All women have self-image issues, because the female beauty standard in our culture is impossible to achieve. Even for thin women. They’re not thin enough or they’re too thin or they’re too muscular or not muscular enough or they’re the wrong shape or their breasts aren’t big enough or their hair is too thick or too thin or too straight or too curly and their skin is too light or too dark or too dry or too oily or their eyes and noses and mouths are the wrong shape or the wrong size or the wrong colour… I could go on. Achieving the cultural beauty standard is a game that is unwinnable. Not even the women on the covers of the magasines actually look like the women on the covers of the magasines (check out the “impossibly beautiful” series at Shakesville sometime). The only way to be content is to realise: “I will never look like that and it’s okay that I will never look like that because I look fine just the way I am.” Which of course is more easily said than done.

  201. Me, to absurdly gorgeous friend: What’s life like with abs like yours?
    Her: It’s awesome. I have no problems whatsoever.
    Me: That’s what I thought.
    Her: What’s life like with boobs like yours?
    Me: It’s awesome. I have no problems whatsoever.
    Her: That’s what I thought.

    Hehehehehehe :lol: hehehehe

    Kate, you must have the coolest friends in the world. ;)

  202. kate wrote (still no idea how to format quotes: “… I lived SO much of my life in fear of people looking at me and thinking, “Who does she think she’s kidding?” — and a lot of that was related to fat. Fat women can’t do X, Y, and Z, so if you’re a fat woman and you try any of those things, you’re obviously delusional and making the rest of us look bad. Don’t be that fat chick! Know your place! … Gah. Yep, I’m posting about this, among other things.”

    YES! Please post about this! I suspect we probably don’t talk about this stuff enough when we are struggling to build up and/or maintain our “safe bubble” of personal body acceptance. It takes real guts to risk looking like a fool, and fat people (especially fat women) are set up to look like fools much of the time (i.e.: fatphobic movies, magazine articles, general fat-hating discussions), by our culture. But the discovery that we don’t actually look like fools when we do the things we want…it’s sooooo damned liberating! (Ditto the discovery that people who still think we look like fools aren’t really worth obtaining the respect of.)

    Zoe, if you’re still reading, come off it. You can go to 99.9999% of the rest of internet to talk about what YOU want to talk about it, i.e., the deliberate pursuit of weight loss. You can’t talk about it here, period, and there are DOZENS of different reasons for that, which you can discover if you choose to actually read some of the archives. (Start with some of the discussions of privilege and oppression.) Kate has worked hard to create a safe space for us, and we all want to protect it, as you can see from the comments. Refusing to respect our wishes for the space is disrespectful at best, and your patronizing “group hug” shit isn’t making you any more warmly welcomed. Nobody here is interested in your personal agenda, no matter how badly you want to impose it on us. I guess this is moot, since you are banned, but I always seem to arrive here late in the day/comments, and I have to make the point anyway.

  203. Lifetime is about to start a new show called “How to Look Good Naked.” The stated premise is to work with the participants to help them to accept and glory in themselves exactly as they are without diets or surgery to enhance themselves. The trailer shows a woman a bit larger than the socially accepted norm.

    Carson Kressley is to be the host. It will be interesting to see if the show actually follows through with its premise. If so, it will be really nice to have a show on the air that tells people to take joy in who they are. Not, “buy clothes that fit you now even though you are trying to/still working on losing weight,” but actual “You are beautiful just as you are and you should take pride and pleasure in that.”

  204. Kerry: A good friend of mine did the ziplines in Costa Rica, too, and he had that problem of being a muscular, stocky guy they underestimated…he found out after the fact that they gave him a harness that wasn’t rated for his weight. It might be embarrassing, but I’d rather they make sure I’m safe, y’know?

    When I look in the mirror or sit on the couch I’m fairly satisfied…but I have had a lot of problems with the mountain refusing to move for Mohamed in my life. When I was motorcycling I couldn’t find boots to fit even after a long, humiliating day with my local Daytona dealer; that and the fact that only custom leathers would ever fit kept me out of track days…while the fact that no lower-body dirt riding protective gear will fit me, ever, has kept me out of learning to dirt ride. I tried to laugh off the abuse I get for riding in jeans, but really? If proper pants fucking fit I’d never do anything so unsafe, especially riding aggressively, and that eventually put me off riding much at all. My hockey shinguards don’t really fit (and the elbows aren’t much better), and I know that the right kind of fall is most likely going to do me damage that wouldn’t be done if I could get gear that was right for my body. Maybe rock climbing isn’t a great sport for someone as dyspraxic as I am to start with, but it was awkward enough -15 lb ago that I really don’t feel OK going back to it now (now that the majority of my friends have caught up with how much fun it is, doh). The indoor skydiving place in Vegas won’t take me (but happily the new one here in San Francisco will). Just last night a jiu jitsu instructor (a good-sized person hirself) was cautioning me that I should ideally join the class with a friend about my size…but where the fuck am I going to find another woman of my size who wants to try jiu jitsu, honestly? We’re a single-digit percentage of the population to start with.

    I don’t think the right answer is to say “well don’t do anything fun in which you don’t fit the equipment and/or might crush a practice partner under your bulk”…but on the other hand, that mountain still ain’t moving, y’know? It’s draining.

    I’m not even going to get into the man problem…aside from giving a virtual middle-finger to every guy who uses the word “active” as a body type rather than a lifestyle.

  205. kate: “I meant to today, but I got distracted by, um, this thread.”

    Totally hear ya! :D This particular post, and the comments, has been (happily) distracting! But I’ll be looking forward to it.

    And for now, I must shake off this distraction, go put on my Really Hot Fat Chick stage persona, and get ready to play some music tonight.

  206. Well, as for me, I was fat for a long time growing up, spent all of high school absolutely convinced that no man would ever find me sexy or attractive because I was fat – in fact the first few times anyone expressed any sexual interest in me I thought they were making fun of me – seriously! – and then when I was 17, I went on a diet and by the time I started college I was 80 pounds thinner and had dropped about 6 dress sizes.

    I was a size 14 (the smallest I’ve ever managed to get without basically moving into the gym and eating pretty much nothing), I was young, I was good looking… I was SURE that now that I was “thin,” of course the boys would be falling over themselves to get with me, and I would finally get a boyfriend, and of course, once I had the boyfriend my life would be perfect.

    Well boy, was I pissed off! Because do you know what? OK, I DID get more male attention. OK, people treated me more nicely than I had when I was fat. But do you know what? Other than that, NOTHING CHANGED. I was still the same insecure teenager, only now I was a thinner insecure teenager. And I STILL was nursing crushes for boys who didn’t like me back (And then of course when I did finally snag a boyfriend i realized that they can actually cause more problems than they solve but I digress)

    That was many moons ago and now oh what a surprise I am back to the same size I was when I was 17. I do still look back on the size 14/16/18 days with a certain wistfulness but the truth is when you get down there it isn’t actually the be all and end all and I’m glad I learned that lesson.

    In spite of learning that lesson nearly over 15 years ago, I resisted the Fat Acceptance movement for a long time because I didn’t want my hope taken away. I think you have to be ready to embrace it – you, I mean. Doesn’t mean every day will be smooth sailing but it’s nice working with what you’ve got than waiting for that day that never comes.

  207. With my mother, when I was a kid, the litany for her was, “When I’m thin and beautiful…” Note that – not just thin, but thin and beautiful. I managed a few skinny years in my late teens, and at 22 started to pack on weight… my biology catching up with me, I think, combined with sudden eating habit changes (new boyfriend at the time ate very differently from me… yeah, that made a difference).

    That was over 15 years ago, and the weight’s still here, and you know? I’m learning to accept that I’m okay as I am, even with it. It sure as hell isn’t easy some days, and I have my “OMG I’m so UGLY” days like everybody… but I have wonderful friends and people who love me, and it’s because I’m me, not because I’m a size [some small size I'm not].

  208. Kate, this is so spot-on. Back in the mid 1980’s, a friend and I started running groups out of a local church basement. We called the group “Mirror Image” and our logo was a drawing of a thin woman who looks in the mirror and sees a fat one. We started the group after reading the 1983 version of this book. It was about two premises:

    1) that most of us don’t see our bodies accurately; and

    2) that because of our unhealthy relationship with food, we make weight loss our only goal, instead of finding out the size OUR BODIES want to be.

    At first we were so successful that the pastor of the church in whose basement we ran the group asked me to talk to a group after his Sunday service. But little by little, as women realized that we were not talking about magic weight loss, but about developing a healthier relationship with food and reaching a MAINTAINABLE weight — even if that weight was where we were then — little by little they faded away, many going back to Weight Watchers.

    We offered hope for a happier life, but because we didn’t offer thinness, these women weren’t ready to give up the fantasy.

    Confession: I’m not either.

    No, I’m not dieting, because I refuse to. I am trying to stop emotional eating, which is mostly eating chocolate at work when I’m stressed, which is much of the time — and to keep fit. I wish I could tell you that after fighting this battle for over 40 years, I had finally given it up, and it’s something I still try to do. But I”m not there yet.

  209. I went shopping after work today with a couple of friends and was caught off guard by the self-depreciating comments one of my closets friends was making about herself.

    Thinking back on this blog and the immense insight I’ve gained in such a sort amount of time, while the other girls were in the dressing rooms and we were waiting for them, I asked her what was with the comments. I’d never heard her talk that way when it was just us.

    She looked at me, gave a shrug and said “You know, I honestly don’t know. To be completely truthful, I feel bad about myself sometimes, but not half as much as I am making it seem. I don’t really have that much of a problem with the way I look, but they expect me to. I kind of feel like I’m not allowed to compliment myself.”

    That was just heart breaking. But it made me think about all the times I actually did feel good about myself, but put myself down because I thought everyone else was secretly putting me down and I wasn’t “allowed” to think positive because of my weight. I didn’t even realize that’s why I was doing it and ended up feeling like crap.

    Is it just me?

  210. (And I’m really, really not such a terrible speller. I’m usually very good when I write. I don’t know why I only notice my errors after I hit submit, no matter how many times I read what I’ve written before posting.)

  211. I’m still working my way through the comments – it seems like you’re really hit it with this one.

    As to the idea of losing weight being winning, being about control… I’ve started concentrating on intuitive eating, on trying to find the perfect amount of the food I feel like eating and acheiving that wonderful feeling where I don’t want any more food but my stomach has not begun to stretch in fullness. It’s very different than control, because I can’t plan how much I’ll eat beforehand. But the idea of reacting to the physical world and embracing sensations is sometimes so much more satisfying than controlling miniscule details of our lives.

    As for the post itself, I think it’s really captured why I’ve become so terrified of gaining weight even after three plus months of moving away from supreme health nut obsession and slight undernourishment have not changed me. When I weighed more, I was unhappy. I was lonely. I felt lousy all the time.

    Funny thing is? I lost about a size and a half. People noticed, but I think I’m in the same category of neither particularly skinny (especially not for where I live) nor overweight. So why the huge affect? Replacing anti-depressants that made me tired and nauseous all the time with an as-needed regimen and a lot of exercise was a big one. Yep, correlation does not equal causation. Sometimes there’s an outside factor involved.

    It just annoys me that we live in a society where it’s so easy to go from changes that make one feel better to obsession over every ounce and calorie and making it all about weight until I felt like crap again.

    Also, my fantasy was finally being thin enough that I didn’t have to worry about being judged. I think I’m finally getting to the point where I can accept that people will judge me for the way I look, the way I act, the way I think, etc. And if they don’t share my values, screw em.

    Because, really, I’ve come to realize that “socially acceptable person” has so little to do with my own opinion of what makes a person more or less worthwhile.

  212. I just want to remark how awesome it is that you (Kate, FJ&SM) as well as the other vocal Shapelings have created and protect this amazing space. I’ve been struck by how many times in this thread in particular people have described really humiliating public situations caused by ignorant douchebags (I hope there’s a special place in hell for catty a-holes that anonymously yell “work, out bitch” to someone who’s minding their own goddamn business and trying to live their life.) I think it takes a lot of balls to put yourself out there and share that.

  213. Purple Duck Lady’s comment reminded me about my mother finding a list she had made when she was pregnant with me about the things that would make her happy. The top three were as follows:

    1) A skinny ass
    2) Skinny thighs
    3) Dembryo (that’s what they called me before I was born)

    Yeah. I was #3.

  214. You hit it spot on–I’ve had pretty much the same fantasy for my whole life.

    The funny thing about it is that it even applies to the fat acceptance movement. At some level, I say to myself, “Hey, accepting and loving my body will be great! It doesn’t matter what size I am, and my life will become lovely and happy! Great! But I’ll start working on it when I’m thin.”

    It actually took me a long time to realize how ridiculous that sounds. I guess it’s just another example of the conflation of thinness and happiness.

  215. Wow, you have really got some great insights. And I thought I was the only one putting off my whole LIFE until I lost weight! (Actually, I did lose weight recently. And one of my favorite mental mutterings when I was 20 pounds heavier was, “I’ll be much more outgoing when I lose this weight.” Not. I used to be just shy, but now I find that my personality is kind of…hard, and a little bit brittle. Personally, I’ve always thought that “padded” people were better-natured. Maybe I should gain it back??) Anyway, congrats on hitting home for all of us.

  216. Thank you all for your comments.I wish I knew better what to say. Your words really pushed me out of a dark place today.

    Shinobi…I’m going to start in early spring. Tai Chi or basic wushu? :)

    My fantasy is to be able to master the guan dao (halberd). To spin and sail, moving like water…So cool.

  217. Holy crap, fillyjonk, that’s sad. What was her reaction when she found it? Does she still believe that at all?

    I gave my mom a copy of “The Obesity Myth” because she expressed an interest when she saw me reading it. Last I heard she was a) going to read it and b) dieting for a friend’s wedding. Cognitive dissonance ahoy!

  218. So tonight I went running with my mother. I usually prefer to run alone where I can get down with my music and not feel any pressure to keep up with anyone else, but my mom asked and I felt like it would be asshattish to say no.

    Long story short, by the end of the run I was totally down on myself. I couldn’t keep up with my mother. She was a good 50 feet in front of me the whole time. And I was just starting the litany of self-abuse and telling myself that “when I’m thin, I’ll be fast, amazingly fast” when I remembered this blog entry. Suddenly I remembered that I’ve never been fast, but I’m incredibly strong and that my mom is 3 inches taller than me and that I have penguin legs and my legs will not magically lengthen even if I lost weight.

    I’m looking forward to the day when the self hate and magical thinking don’t even start, but it’s so great that I’m able to quickly turn it around these days.

    And this blog is a big part of that so thanks and stuff.

  219. Yeah. I was #3.

    Oh, ouch, fillyjonk. :(

    I used to buy into the Fantasy of Being Thin, when I first put on weight. (The irony is, when I was verging on too thin, I still thought I was “fat”… and now that I am, I see how skinny I really was back then.) Now? I see how destructive that was to me (and how much my ex-husband fed it). Everything was on hold for that Magical Day When I Would Be Thin Again.

    No more.

  220. queendom, I had a liberating experience this spring going to a club targeted towards a more indie crowd with a bunch of friends (straight girls and gay guys). I danced like a fiend, I had a fantastic time, and I even had some guys dancing all up on me. It was amazing. For once I didn’t feel like the freaky fat girl who dared to shake her flab, I felt like a hot dancing fool. I just wish it was here instead of where I went for spring break!

    luckyliz, don’t you know? We’re not allowed to feel good about ourselves no matter what. Otherwise we’re vain and self-absorbed. And probably lying to ourselves. Also the entire beauty industry would collapse.

    Kate, thank you for this post. I’m thinking about printing it out for my mom (she can’t work the internet, no really). I was trying to explain FA to her over Thanksgiving: that really, I will be fine if I don’t lose any weight, honestly. That I am trying to like myself right now, right the way I am.

  221. BTW- thank you! Because of Shapely Prose and the Shapelings I found a way to re-join my local YMCA, and I have my FIRST EVER Yoga class (which would totally be Kate’s fault… she made it sound so fun when she was talking about it in prior posts) tomorrow at 10 am.

    I can stand up in front of 100 CEO’s, directors and administrators and tell them how they are going to run the new program we are funding, but I am very nervous about going to a group exercise class. Go fig.

  222. I’m thinking about printing it out for my mom (she can’t work the internet, no really).

    Haha, oh my gosh, I thought only my mom was that bad!

  223. This post and the comments are phenomenal. What’s really impressive is people managing to tease out where they are in terms of FA and still dreaming about weight loss, self-hatred, etc.

    Myself, I’m really not sure. There’s so much of a flurry of thoughts about fat that’s been going on since I was a pre-teen that I can’t even make heads or tails of it. I do know that I’ve never really tried to diet, although I think about it pretty regularly. I’ve never had deliberate weight loss of more than about 10 pounds (I did lose 20 pounds over six months without trying when I moved to Chicago just because of the additional walking), and I’ve steadily gained about 80 pounds in the eight years since I graduated high school.

    I don’t think I’ve accepted my size. I still wish that I were back at my overweight-but-much-less-so high school size. But I don’t really think about “when I’m thin I’ll do [X].” I used to think “when I’m thin I’ll be able to land an awesome guy” (as opposed to attractive, depressed, apathetic self-hating types), but then I started dating someone fucking fantastic and I don’t think that anymore.

    I dream about what it would be like to be strong and fit, and then remind myself that I can be those things and be fat; they’re not mutually exclusive.

    Mostly, I’m in denial. I don’t have a good sense of what my body looks like; my image is stuck at about 50 lbs ago. When I see full-body pictures of myself, I’m shocked, and then I look away. I convince myself that I look “curvy” instead of “OMG FAT LADY” which is how I’m sure most people see me.

    When I was in 8th grade, and probably weighed around 150 (although I really have no idea), I was cast as the lead in the junior high musical. I was easily the best in the school, so I was an obvious choice, but after the casting, the director had the choreographer talk to me about losing weight for the role. For a fucking school motherfucking play. She and I were going to engage in some kind of “program.” I said ok, and went home and cried and cried. My dad thought it sounded like a great idea. It never materialized, probably because someone with a brain told the director “WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING CRAZY,” but still.

    I tell all kinds of stories about why I didn’t end up pursuing theatre after my first semester in college, but a lot of it is lies. When I got to college, and saw how beautiful and thin all the girls were that were in all the roles, I knew it was never going to work for me. I was the best there was in junior high and high school, but with all these other beautiful girls who could really, really sing, too, AND were passable at acting and dance, I was never even going to register as a blip on the radar screen.

    When I was in law school, there was an annual “follies” where they did little skits and sang and danced. The first year, I was worried about school, so I didn’t audition. Then when I saw the production, I felt like shit. All the women were thin, and wearing tight/skimpy clothes. And dancing. The second year, I found another reason not to audition. And the third year, I auditioned, and the very next day retracted my audition and asked them not to cast me. Just knowing that I would get cast in some “character” role because of how I looked, even though I was one of like three people in the school who could sing worth a damn, was too much to bear.

    I’ve just realized it. Being fat was a major reason I didn’t pursue a career as a performer. It brings tears to my eyes now. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be an actress and singer, and I just totally abandoned the dream when I was 18 without even waiting around to get rejected, just assuming that I would. Of course, I don’t think I would want that profession now; I’m a lawyer and the work I do is Really Fucking Important.

    But I couldn’t stand the thought of getting rejected and knowing/thinking it was because of the way I looked. Maybe it was a self-protective move, but now I have this mega-talent that’s just sitting there, doing nothing at all.

    And it hurts.

  224. I have thought of little else than this particular post today, and I need to say how grateful I am to all of you here for being willing to expose your innermost fears and concerns. One thing I’ve never been able to do well is talk about how I feel about being fat. BUT, since I discovered this blog and a few others who share the philosophy of this site, I’ve been alot more willing and able to just say how fucked up and widespread the hatred/abuse of fat and fat people is in this country.

    Someone mentioned earlier that one of the things that went along with their thin fantasy was becoming a stripper. Well honey, I have to say I’ve had the same sort of fantasy. For me it seems pretty clear that the reason I’d want to do something like this is for the power or control that I think I’d feel that I had. Being a desirable seductress was a big part of my thin fantasy, as well as being taken more seriously. However, the reality of my life is that I’m already a desirable seductress, if I only let myself acknowledge that. It’s all in MY head — not everyone else’s.

    As I said earlier, I’m taking a copy of this article to my therapist tomorrow, after I highlight the parts that resonate most with me. An issue closely tied to being fat is having Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which has kept me from being able to have children. PCOS and fat are a chicken/egg thing…no way to know which came first, but they’re definitely intertwined. Learning about PCOS, for me, relieved at least a little of the guilt I felt about being fat. But I still have more to learn about being just plain ole me. Period.

    I have to add, too, that when I stopped dieting, my weight basically stayed the same. BUT (and this is a big butt..hahaha!) I’ve become healthier! My cholesterol is down, my other labs are normal. Just letting myself off the dieting hook made a positive difference in my health.

    Last thing — I’ve also had random grown men holler ugly things at me while I was walking around downtown Boston a few years ago. I was with friends, and continued to walk as though nothing happened. Apparently I felt I ‘deserved’ the abuse hurled at me, and couldn’t even admit to my friends how much it hurt my feelings and how hard I was struggling not to cry. I think about that episode now and it pisses me right the fuck off that I let those idiots ruffle my feathers. I honestly don’t know if I would feel or react differently if this same thing happened today, but I hope that I’ve learned a little since then. I hope I’d automatically realize that the guys who called me names for no reason other than I was an easy (and large) target were not only ginormous assholes, they were saying a lot more about themselves than they could ever say about me. But, truth be told, I’m not quite there. Thanks to you all, though, I’m a lot closer to that than i’ve ever been.

    Thanks to all of you who’ve made comments. Thanks especially to penguinlady re: your comments about my first post. First post here ever, in fact — yayay! I found something of use for me in almost every single post. Hell, I wish all y’all were my neighbors so we could hang out and talk and solve all the world’s problems. :)

    Peace,
    Suzanne

  225. How did you get so wise so young? You amaze me and delight me!

    Yes, yes, yes. That is it exactly. The belief is that when I get thin I will be all that I am not and everyone will love me. They sell it to us with the diet articles and weight loss pills and gym memberships. But I can have all that at any weight, if I can have it at all. Nothing wil ever make me a concert pianist. Not losing weight. Not even learning to play the piano — I’m 65 and if it was ever possible, it is long past now. But, I can be me. I can enjoy being me. I can develop my own talents and interests and follow my own dream.

  226. I was talking to my best friend about a year ago and she revealed that she had started a diet because she was tired of feeling bad for not “doing something” every time she saw a diet commercial. And after she started she really did feel much better, and so relieved, because she was finally “doing something.” Even at the time (long before I found this blog, though I have had FA leanings for a very long time) I completely disagreed–maybe I personally wanted to lose weight, and maybe I felt bad about my body a good percentage of the time, but how dare society tell me that I must reduce my self-worth to my weight (and more than that, to whether I was suitably punishing myself for it) in spite of the person I was and everything I had accomplished–and in the middle of feeling very hurt for her, I was actually kind of angry at her for buying into that particular insidious filth. I mean, she is a wonderful, brilliant person, a great and loyal friend and wife, and an accomplished professional–the last thing “we” need is someone like her, who in my view should be rebelling against this kind of thing, buying into what I consider an anti-feminist fallacy. It pissed me off. I mean, want to lose weight, believe the “obesity epidemic” hype, feel you look better in your clothes when you are thin. All of those were understandable to me. But to actually believe that you were only good enough when you were “doing something about it” was not.

    OK, so maybe it was inappropriate to respond (all of this was in my head, not verbalized at her, I feel the need to point out) to my friend’s difficult internal struggle by feeling angry at her. And I was certainly wrong to draw lines in my head defining what it would be “acceptable” for her to feel, based solely on my own beliefs and feelings. But in reading this post, I actually realized what a position of strength I have come to over time compared to where I used to be or where I could so easily be, and I am really grateful for that. Really the only thing I can think of now that falls under the category of “When I’m thin, I’ll…” is wearing certain body-unfriendly, “weird” fashions that I feel look best on very thin people. And I don’t even really want to wear most of those things–it’s just a passing impulse sometimes. I don’t know how I got here, but I am really pleased to examine the situation and recognize that somehow, some way, I have made some progress in self-acceptance since, say, high school.

    The other thing that hit me recently is that I always felt I was “reasonable” in my desire to be smaller–I was one of those people who would be happy just to wear a 14, just to buy normal sizes, just to be “overweight” instead of obese. Well, I happen to be that size at the moment and now I can truly appreciate and believe a recent post Anne made at Body of Work about how once you become “acceptably normal” in size, the focus shifts to becoming “truly thin” and the whole time you never like your body any better. Yes, I’ve heard thinner women say similar things a million times, but unfortunately I think I subconsciously dismissed these women as particularly neurotic or screwed up. But now I really do understand in a visceral way that how I feel about my body is not correlated to how much fat is on it. I will probably be fatter again sooner or later, and maybe the value to come from being this size now will be the ability to finally really absorb that lesson.

    Not that things are not still pretty screwed up. It is such a muddy struggle–on the one hand, I know I am good enough and smart enough regardless of my weight; on the other, from time to time I have heard patronizing comments or seen disapproving looks from coworkers when I’m at the high end of my weight range that I don’t see when I’m at the low end. I totally feel Kristin as well on wanting to be thinner so you can be a more credible FA activist. Fat discrimination is very real and obviously, as we all know, the part of it that is not “just in our heads” can make it all too easy to cling to the idea that things would be better if we were thin. Because they probably really would be, at least somewhat, at least in minor “moving through society unnoticed” kinds of ways. But that doesn’t make it actually possible for me to be thin, so my discomfort now is in realizing how far I have come and how relatively self-accepting my mindset is right now, and recognizing that the next logical step is to move forward and stop trying to “pass” and become more vocal and active about FA. A lot of the beliefs that used to hold me back from that are no longer there, and I am starting to see that it is time to behave accordingly, which freaks me out because I hate calling attention to myself and I hate standing up for unpopular beliefs, and for some reason I have a huge problem allowing people to perceive me as un-selfaware (which they will if I am a fat person promoting HAES and fat rights). But I think I am going to have to start doing these things anyway.

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  229. Wow. I’ve just sat down and read through all these comments, it’s taken me a couple of hours and it’s been a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride.

    Right now I’m not all that happy with the size I am. Sure it’s not stopping me living my life and being active and enjoying myself. I have a wonderful boyfriend who loves me as I am, and a family who are completely accepting. But I’m still only 10 lbs off morbidly obese: which scares me, as much as I know it doesn’t mean I’m going to drop dead this instant. I can’t tie shoelaces without having to stop to catch my breath, and I suffer from acid reflux and always have to have a supply of indigestion remedies around. There are only 2 shops in town which guarantee to have something my size, and a couple where I might just be able to squeeze into the biggest size. And there are things I’d love to do where my size is beginning to be an issue:

    Someone mentioned the zip-slide thing – there’s a similar sort of thing (thought on what sounds like a much smaller scale) in a forest nearby, with all sorts of obstacles up in the trees as well as zip-slides down. I went a couple of years back, and I’d love to go again. I even just checked their webpages and was chuffed to realise I’m still under their weight limit. Until I saw that they have standard harnesses with a max waist size several inches smaller than mine.

    The worst thing though is that maybe I could let go of the idea of weight loss completely if I weren’t so scared of getting *bigger* and all these things being that little bit worse. And that really really really scares me. The fact that I’ll just keep gaining 10lbs a year indefinitely. And that I did it to myself by fucking about with my own metabolism in losing weight in the past. And I feel like a complete shit for being so down on someone this size when really it’s not even all that big and I’m seriously supportive of people who are bigger.

    But you guys are awesome, so even though this stuff makes me cry I guess I’m still trying, and wishing I could be more like you.

  230. I need to read all the comments yet so I’ll probably be back, but before I swan off to lunch (my stomach is grumbling), I wanted to respond. :)

    I LOVE this post so much! Out of everything I’ve read since I was pointed over here by a dear friend, this resonates the most. I see myself in a lot of the posts on this blog but this time I’m bouncing up and down, screaming, “YES, EXACTLY!!”

    I really believed that being thin would change my life. As a child and then a teenager, I believed it would get rid of all the uncertainty in my life. I believed it would cure my social anxiety, my belief that I could never be good enough, talented enough, brave enough. I thought it would make me a social darling; friend to everyone, enemy to whoever had pissed me off and who I finally had the courage to tell “go to hell, asshole”. I thought I’d be beautiful and desirable, and that the depression that was gripping me would vanish because being thin would make me flawless.

    And then I was thin but it was never thin enough. I was still miserable, so I had to starve myself to get even tinier. I was torn between wanting to vanish completely, and wanting everyone to notice me.

    Something I’ve always had the hardest time reconciling is my desire to be noticed as an attractive woman but also my FEAR of that. I’ve always enjoyed getting dolled up but when strangers actually stare at me, compliment me, I want to run away and hide in sloggy pants and no make-up. I’m always vacillating between what I consider being visible and being invisible.

    Lately, since I ditched the scales, the tape measure, and diets, and confessed to myself that I was rapidly heading back into an eating disorder, things have been better in my head, and I think the problem is that I don’t want to be noticed for my make-up, or the way I’m dressed. I don’t want to be noticed because of my BODY; I want to be noticed because I’m ME and, despite everything, I LIKE me, and think that who I am inside DESERVES to be noticed.

    I really, really like who I am, right now. And that’s a bit of a shocker because I’ve spent the vast majority of my life believing that was impossible unless I was a size 8.

    I have health problems (coeliac disease, asthma) that sometimes get in the way of what I want to do. I get tired relatively easily. I sleep a lot. I’m still not brave enough to embark on some of things I want to do (but I’m getting there). I still get social anxiety, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that I am prone to depression and panic attacks, and will have to deal with that indefinitely.

    But, for the first time in a long time, I like who I am for things that are not dependant on how I look.

    And through allowing myself to like, and love, myself, I’ve started to realise how hard I am on myself, how critical. I look back on my university years and I think, “I should have done more of X” or “I should have done X harder”, and then my friends point out that I was seriously ill my entire second year, most of my final year, *and* I had a minor nervous breakdown, and I still graduated on time with an excellent grade.

    I see myself as nervous and afraid because I feel that way inside quite a lot. My friends and family describe me as courageous and strong, because, despite being so afraid, I always move forwards and I always get things done.

    I’m trying not to go off on a tangent, so I’ll sum up by saying that I never knew that abandoning the fantasy of being thin could lead to so much positivity in my life, and so much *actual* self-awareness.

    And, now that I’m coming to really, genuinely, truly love who I am inside, I’m so much more comfortable and okay with what I look like. I’m still a little afraid of being noticed sometimes but, when people compliment me, I can smile and say ‘thank you’ and not follow up the thought with “they’d like me more if I was X size”.

    I have my bad days, and sometimes I get frustrated and hate who I am, but we all go there sometimes, and I know for a fact that I went there more when I was thin/skinny because I was killing myself to get to that size when I should have been learning to appreciate my body for what it is.

    I sometimes feel like my biggest regret is not loving and accepting my body for what it is back before my health problems started.

  231. On getting down to your ‘ideal’ weight and then finding that’s not so ideal: Oh man I totally hear you. When I was a size 14 I spent the vast majority of the time wishing I was 30 lbs thinner (encouraged by my mother who never failed to tell me how gorgeous I would be ‘if only’.) it’s so ridiculous. Funny thing is I like myself and my body a lot more now at a size 20 than I ever did at size 14.

  232. * When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
    * When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
    * When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
    * When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
    * When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
    * When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with.

    I’ve always been thin (currently, I’m 170lbs & 6’3″… the heaviest I’ve weighed all my life), and I can tell you, none of those things are true.

  233. There were a bunch of other words in the post besides the bullet points, which would have told you that Kate already knows that. But, um, thanks?

  234. Well, I happen to be that size at the moment and now I can truly appreciate and believe a recent post Anne made at Body of Work about how once you become “acceptably normal” in size, the focus shifts to becoming “truly thin” and the whole time you never like your body any better.

    So. Freakin. True. I said it somewhere earlier in this post, but at my heaviest I remember thinking that everything would be okay if I could be a size 14. Once I disordered myself down to that size, nothing changed. I was so close to being, as you put it, truly thin that if I knew I would be nuts not to try and get there. Nevermind that getting there meant I had to live on a grapefruit, an apple, a can of soup with crackers, and some pretzels or a dry bagel (if I couldn’t stand the hunger) a day.

    I never really appreciated my size 14 self, and I certainly didn’t like my body any more. My whole focus was on my future size 4 self who never saw the light of day.

  235. once you become “acceptably normal” in size, the focus shifts to becoming “truly thin” and the whole time you never like your body any better.

    Indeed. When I was a size 4, I thought my thighs were still too fat, and I’d be happier if I were a size 2. It never ends.

  236. Dang near all the women in my family have a ‘refrigerator’ profile! I used to joke that this is due to coming from good peasant stock, which isn’t so far off base either. Yet all the ‘ladies’ married, had interests, many dressed quite nicely etc. They accepted their ‘Ma Kettle’ image with humor and a shrug at being ‘fashionable’ as their supposed guide line in life.

    I hardly ever had excess weight until I hit menopause, then it was like hitting a brick wall with the bricks sticking! After hearing my doctor (woman) say – loose weight, loose weight etc. as the be all, cure all for USUAL aging things like increasing cholesterol, blood pressure, joints creaking etc. etc. I opted to go IE/normal eating. I am just now getting my head reset to MY dictates instead of all the ‘input’ from the EXTERNAL world regarding how I ‘should be’. Such an attitude has served me extremely well in my life so far and I suspect it will do just that with my ‘aging’ health too.

    Afterall, my one granny at 102 years of age has outlived every doctor who told her to ‘loose weight’. You can’t argue with TOUGH genes :) :)

  237. Kate, thanks for posting that. It’s a huge issue, importantly about fat, but also about all sorts of other things.

    I’m not sure how much madness I’ve got about being thin–obviously some madness, since I’ve been losing weight after I discovered that using carbs as a staple is bad for me in the short run, and losing weight is a distraction from the original project of feeling good.

    However, I’ve got a parallel issue. As far as I can tell, I believe I’ll be a better, more respectworthy person if I have a smooth connection between perception and action–and that’s a lot of why I’ve been spending way too many hours playing Minesweeper. And aside from that there are other better things I could spend quite a few of those hours on, the self-esteem issues interfere with my reflexes.

    I spent a lot of my childhood getting shit for not paying attention. I’ve put a fair amount of work into being less spacey, and I am less spacey than I used to be, and I wonder if the whole thing has been so abuse-driven that I’ll eventually need to rebuild the project of Me and My Connection to the World from the base up.

    From the outside, this looks weird–how can a person get so tangled up over something so trivial? Still, it’s actually very painful.

    Just thinking about this and planning to write it has made Minesweeper considerably less attractive for me, so thanks for giving me a good basis to work on it.

  238. Nancy, I have two responses:

    1) I have been playing Bejewled and Bejewled clones like mad recently, and justifying it by telling myself it’s A) meditative and B) good for exercising a part of my brain I don’t use often. So I hear you.

    2) You might want to pick up a book on ADD and see if it sounds familiar.

  239. I have been coming back a couple times a day and reading the comments on this post and I have passed it on to a lot of friends. But this comment from LuckyLiz just says it for me.

    Its a very difficult to find the line between true acceptance of yourself and wondering if you’re just telling yourself that its ok to be who you are so that you feel like you have a valid reason to give up on that “thin dream” without feeling like a failure.

    Yes. I am mostly very happy with myself – long term marriage (24 years), great job (15 years) and a wonderful circle of friends who don’t have any problem with my weight. But I obsess about it constantly. I have gotten more sedentary this year and gained about 10 lbs and so now I have like 50 to lose to be at my “acceptable” weight (for my ideal I’d have to lose like 75). Except that few times I’ve dieted I’ve gained back more than I lost and I don’t really believe in dieting. But if I just be the happy, juicy woman of size that I am, am I being a slacker? Complacent? Blind to the health consequences? Shouldn’t I push myself to exercise more? (I have always been a healthy eater so there just isn’t anything other than portion size to give up there.)

    I think I will make the resolution to stop mentioning to my loved ones that I am obsessing about weight. When told “I love you exactly as you are” I will say “I love you, too” instead of “you’ll still love me when I lose 50 lbs”. Yes, I really do say that when he praises my curves. *sigh* I hadn’t realized quite how bad it had gotten until I read this post and comment thread.

  240. My one last, undying (so far) thin fantasy: that if only I were thin, I could get pregnant. Unfortunately, this isn’t an uncommon one in PCOS circles, where fat is to blame for everything as much as anywhere else.

    Yeah. I’m working on it.

  241. I don’t want to sound old and jaded, but a lot of the thoughts identified here are thoughts I had long ago, when I was young diva.

    My life experience of being lesbian brought me to a place where lots of other life expectations thrust on us as a society weren’t going to fit either. When I got that connection, the fat stuff went with it.

    It didn’t make sense to build a life on fantasies that were never going to happen- all I have is today. Today I am…

    As a result of this credo, I can’t really come up with any phrases that follow “When I am thin..” other than what other people may or may not think of me as better than being fat. And those kind of people, I have found, I would dismiss away as having revealed the true shallow nature of their relationship with me, once they make a comment about how I am now worth something thin.

    My life partner, who had a gastric bypass, still has some level of fantasy belief system, even though she IS thin. It’s transferred now to “When the children are older and I go back to working…” which to me is a sad commentary on values and self identification.

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  243. Okay, I have read all the comments! Y’all are all awesome, and I’m saving this post so I can send it to friends. :)

    One thing I would like to say is a great big THANK YOU to Kate and Fillyjonk for enforcing this blog’s comment policy and ‘off topic’ areas.

    In particular, I am gratified that you did not allow a discussion about weight loss as an effective treatment for EDs. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m still dealing with issues stemming from my anorexia and, more recently, over-eating/cyclical binge eating, and it is very good to know that here is a place to discuss issues openly *without* allowing derailments into unhealthy areas.

    Thank you!

  244. Agree with so much of what you write and, as a newbie to the whole intuitive eating focus on health and why did I waste my whole life thinking that diets would work when they never did, I just have to say that, hallelujah, I have found great freedom in accepting who I am RIGHT NOW and not worrying about what I will be, whether it comes to weight loss or any other issue (my husband, for example, has the same kinds of thoughts as I do about weight using what it will be like for him when he no longer has to work).

    I think my fantasy of thin had much to do with Approval (as I write in my first post). My parents. My friends. Co-workers. Classmates. Boyfriends. Husband (when we first married — not now). Doctors. Psychoanalyst. My Self. I never felt like I had anyone’s “real” approval, including my own, as long as there was weight to lose. And there was always weight to lose because I was always on a diet.

    I believe there is a relationship to fantasy and weight gain — the more I dream about being thin, the more I hate myself in the present, the fatter I get. The only way I’ve found to stop this engine of madness is to get away from the idea of thin as any kind of a goal and to focus on what I have and who I am in the present. No matter what, there are no diets in my future.

    Your post said it so well and in such an inspiring way. I wish everyone knew this.

  245. Kate and all, I’ve been reading this thread for a couple of days and your blog for a month or two. I’m so glad I found it. I love your voice and the way you express yourself, and you have some of the most entertaining, intelligent and humane commenters of any blog I’ve read yet. Gosh, that really sounds like a suckup, but I believe in saying just what you mean, even if it’s positive. ;) I’m new to FA and it’s not an idea that I’m really joining in on, just something that’s been creeping up on me over the past few years.

    I always felt myself to be too big and/or fat, no matter what I’ve really looked like. And, like many commenters here, I wasn’t fat as a kid–I just though I was. I went through a period of disordered eating in my 20s where I barely ate anything and got really skinny–relatively, that is; I have a pretty big frame and healthy musculature, and even when I was starving and I could feel my bones poking into the seat when I sat down, I still didn’t look anything but merely “slender” to other people, from what they said. In fact, a real eye-opener for me was when I told the guy I was seeing at the time what I weighed, and he was really surprised that it was “that much! You look thinner than that!” This after a prolonged period of weeks/months when I would eat a bowl of corn and smoke a cigarette for dinner and be soooo proud of myself. Dude’s comment really made me realize that numbers mean nothing and that other peoples’ judgments about you (whether having to do with your looks, behavior, intelligence, morality, or whatever) tend to be stunningly biased and ill-informed, and hence also mean nothing. During that time, I was starting to deal with lifelong depression issues and really felt like I was nothing, negligible, too-light. I was uncomfortable. I’m much more comfortable with myself now that I weigh a good 50 pounds more than I did 20 years ago, though I would never claim that I’m in as good shape as I was then (some of that is because of weight and some is because of age).

    I’ve indulged in the “when I’m thin” fantasy a lot in the past, and much of it has had to do with male attention or being more like what the patriarchy wants me to look like, even though I’m happy being as much of a square-peg-in-a-round-hole as I am. Sadly, it has been true in my case that every time I’ve had a boyfriend, it’s been after I went on a weight-loss campaign. (BUT see next paragraph.) This really messed with my mind, and after I decided to stop dieting, I also decided to stop looking for men, because I knew I would really resent it if they suddenly started taking an interest in me if I lost weight. I would especially resent it if it happened to be a guy who knew me before I lost whatever weight I was going to lose.

    I honestly think that most of the boyfriend-weightloss correlation is in my head, and that my attitude is a big part of it. There’s just too much resentment built up around the issue for me to see clearly. But mainly, I’ve grown up and realized there is a lot more to life. Other things are more interesting to me than men. Thing is, even though I’ve essentially decided dating is BS and not for me (yeah, there’s a lot of residual “oh, who would want me anyway?” crap in my head, but also the men I would be able to put up with are few and far between), I really do feel like I’m in a pretty good place right now. I wish I were more like the people here who sound so positive and active and adventurous, but I may get there, who knows. I have come to realize that I’m fine where I am, and it really seems like the people who care about me don’t care what I look like, either. Go figure! I keep having these moments of clarity, like when I recently stood next to my petite mom in the mirror and realized, “girl, you’re not just heavier for your size than mom, you’re bigger, you have a bigger head, you have bigger feet, you’re just a bigger person! People come in all sizes. Go ahead and quit apologizing for taking up space!” And I thought, “That’s pretty neat that I’m fine with that.” I guess that really does sound like FA after all.

  246. Pingback: Response to “The Fantasy of Being Thin” « BROOD

  247. I just reread my comment, and even though I read it over before posting, there are a number of things I would rephrase. Most of all, I should contextualize my remark that I have “grown up” and realized there are more important things than boyfriends. I did not AT ALL mean to denigrate other women’s wish for such. I totally understand it, and I DON’T think it is immature or anything like that. I’m just saying that I’m evidently much older than many here, and I wanted to make it clear that I do indeed have other interests rather than being fixated on winning male attention, which is how I thought I was coming off. Eek, sorry. It was my first comment here, and I think I may have fluffed it in a couple of ways.

  248. I know you already have a lot of comments about this post, but I have to say: Thank you. I really needed to hear this right now. I don’t really want to get into it, but my life isn’t where I want to be right now, and I keep using my fatness as an excuse. THanks for reminding me that the real thing that makes or breaks my life is ME, not my body size.

  249. Ooops, sorry! I didn’t notice another (but male) Rowan was already posting. I’ll use the initial if I make further posts. :-) I don’t think I can edit the last one though. Should I delete it and repost?

  250. I wouldn’t worry about it, RowanF… I think it’s pretty clear that you’re not that Rowan, and also we’re nearing 300 comments so I sorta doubt that anyone’s going to be going through the whole lot anymore. ;)

  251. I’m not fat ? Maybe.

    But When I’m thin(ner)
    I can buy better clothes and i’ll look good in them.
    I will be more proessional.
    I can go get an MBA
    I will wear girly clothes
    The cellulite will go away ( my mom weighs in at like 110 at 5’4″ and she still always had cellulite, so i know this is a lie but i believe it anyway)
    I will have more sex with the boyfriend cuz i’ll be sexy

  252. Holy shit, almost 300 comments! This is proof that I am right, and this post needs to be the central premise of a full-length book. That would give you plenty of room to include all the spin-off topics which have been suggested by some of the inspired comments here :). I will pre-order it on Amazon. The Rhino can be the cover art. Word.

  253. Thank you – to everyone. Even Zoe. Because her refusal to let go of the belief that it is okay to hate yourself enough to talk yourself into the “if I do this…” fallacy is painfully close to my reality sometimes. I am really struggling with this, partly because I was that thin girl in my 20s. I am hell and gone from my 20s – more like on my way to my 50s – and it is so incredibly difficult to not idealize my thinness by donning rose colored glasses. Life was not better then. I was not happier then. I was just thinner. And the reason I’m not going to look that way again is not because I am a bad person with no discipline. It is because I am 20 years older. It is because I had two children close together in my 30s with a bout of post-partum depression thrown in for good measure. It is because I am no longer so poor that I can’t afford food. I am poor enough that I can’t always afford the kind of food I want to eat, and I am making food for children, who don’t always want to eat the things I do (and I SO am not going down the forced foods road with them, not ever) so I end up eating what we have, which isn’t always the best thing for my body.

    My fantasies, therefore, are a little skewed:
    When I have money, we’ll eat better.
    When I have money, I’ll go back to the gym.
    When I have money, I will get the chiropractic I need to relieve my pain.

    Money won’t make me thinner. But it would go a long way to making me healthier. And if I could pick one of those things above, it would be going back to the gym – not so I can get thin, but so I can stock up on endorphin rushes because MAN that rocks my world. Does fuckall for my physique, bye and large, but I feel great.

  254. I think Lu hit the nail on the head:

    I’ve indulged in the “when I’m thin” fantasy a lot in the past, and much of it has had to do with male attention or being more like what the patriarchy wants me to look like, even though I’m happy being as much of a square-peg-in-a-round-hole as I am.

    If the desire to fulfill an assigned spot in the patriarchal order (eek! I sound like an ’80s feminist today) determines the body image–size, amount of wrinkles, shape of nose, leg veins, etc.–then even the supposedly awesome, hidden, “thin girl” or “beautiful girl” will never have any real power because TFoBT has already been handed over to patriarchal dictates. In other words, it’s the framework and the amount of self-determination within this framework that matters. So, if you’re saying “I want to be thinner because my back will hurt less when I get up” or “I want to be thin because I know I can reduce my diabetes,” I don’t see a problem with that because the frame of reference is not something outside of you, but something within you. When I was 15 lbs heavier two years ago, my back hurt like @#$% every time I got up. My then boyfriend loved me no matter what, but I couldn’t stand starting the day with two Advil any more, so I got myself to the gym and after a few months, my back got stronger and my “front” (ahem) lighter–and the Advil was a thing of the past. Bonus: I felt like I had accomplished something for myself (not for someone else!), notwithstanding the fact that my BMI will never be in the “normal” range.

    (At this point, I deleted two more paragraphs about “the psychological trap of deferral,” the implications of the mirror stage, and adopting a more spiritual model of living in the moment to avoid having “I’m fine as I am” appear as a defiant excuse. You’re probably grateful for that!).

  255. Now now, no apologies about talking like you’re overeducated.

    I would say, though, that we strongly (STRONGLY) encourage rewriting your thinness goals even if they’re completely internal, just because you almost certainly can’t make yourself permanently thin, so why not choose a goal that is achievable for you? For instance, I don’t see anything wrong with the goal “I want my back to hurt less when I get up.” You can get that from strengthening your muscles even if you don’t lose weight (and not everyone does from regular gymgoing). So why throw “I want to be thin because” in there, right? You’re likely only setting yourself up to feel like a failure.

  256. Funny, fillyjonk, but I had something like that in my first draft. One of my knees is going wonky lately, and I feel sure that it’s because the shape of my leg is not right for what I’ve been doing with it. (Doesn’t that sound suggestive?) What I mean is sitting my butt on my heels in a kneeling position. Larger thighs mean that your knee muscles and ligaments have to extend too far if you’re really sitting back on your heels. So the answer would seem to be either have smaller thighs, or don’t sit in that position. Or maybe make my knee stronger? I don’t know, but I really hesitated to make a statement that sounded anti-fat, so I deleted it. I’ll think about the issue the way you put it for a bit now.

  257. Lu, are you talking about sitting in a kneeling position, like in a yoga pose for instance? That’s the only way I can picture what you’re talking about.

  258. Pingback: Words of wisdom » melle.ca

  259. Lu, if you spread your legs wider (i.e., don’t keep your knees together) and only go down part way, it will take the pressure off. At least it does for me. I do a lot of yoga poses with a wider stance so my belly doesn’t get in the way. You may want to ask your yoga instructor for alternatives for any poses that hurt your joints. An old ankle injury means I don’t do certain balance poses, but that’s the cool thing about yoga – you do what you can do and still get benefits.

  260. Yeah, definitely talk to your instructor… they would MUCH rather you do a modified pose (or a different pose entirely) than hurt yourself.

    Or if you are doing it on your own, talk to AN instructor. Anybody’s instructor. :) They know a lot about anatomy. And it’s not by any means a foregone conclusion that your knees hurting has anything to do with the size of your thighs. For instance I modify where I put my weight in some poses so I don’t hyperextend my knees. Other people modify poses or use blocks because of injuries or just not being very flexible. Yoga is NOT about doing something exactly how it might look in a book, but doing it in a way that works for your body.

  261. Really? That’s neat. Thank you so much for the tip, Reba. And about your ankle injury, recently I was talking to a friend who is a physical therapist. I was talking about a really bad sprain I’d had a few years ago (couldn’t walk for days, was black/purple/yellow for weeks) and how it was acting up lately. He advised me to practice balancing on each foot for 30 seconds at a time, and once I got good at that, to do it with my eyes closed. He said that would help retrain and stabilize the muscles. He also said that I had adhesions from the injury, and that I should massage them. I don’t know what kind of injury you had, and this is probably old hat to you, since you do yoga, but I thought I’d mention it. Thanks again!

  262. Yep, Reba gave the same tip I was going to, Lu! I don’t have a problem with child’s pose, but hero does kill me. I don’t really think it’s fat thighs, though — more like bad knees. And yeah, doing standing poses (without pushing yourself too hard) will definitely build up the muscles around your knees and make stuff like that easier.

    And speaking of yoga and anatomy, Paul Grilley is pretty awesome, and says (among many other things) there are some poses that some people will just never be able to do all the way, because of their freakin’ bones — not because they don’t practice hard enough, are too fat, whatever. His bones slideshow is a whole other take on the “different people just have different bodies” theme, and it’s fascinating. Bones get left out of the discussion in yoga a lot, and even though everyone will tell you not to push yourself beyond what’s comfortable, there’s still a lot of talk about how regular practice will get ANYONE into EVERY pose. And you know… probably not. For a lot of different reasons. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, it just means your body is unique, and you need to listen to it.

  263. WOW! This is amazing!
    Kate, what you’ve written here is just, I don’t have a great-enough adjective.

    For me, it’s part of this incredible journey – finding out there are (so many!) other people who have felt/thought/think/feel the way I do.

    So I was reading your initial post and crying. Thinking about how much time and energy I’ve wasted hating me, and waiting till you-know-when for life to start. How all that time, I wasn’t even alone.
    And even though I’m not all the way (or even halfway) through these comments, it’s so affirming that I had to sing a song about it. Okay, not really, but you get me.

    I’m being treated for body dysmorphia, and fighting,in general, my feelings of no worth, working on loving all of me. And not just the bits that are ‘more acceptable’ to other people (whoever THEY are). So many days feel like trudging uphill in mud, and then I come across this, and all these people. And, just, WOW!

    Thanks so much, all of you, for putting a bit of yourself out here for the rest of us to read about, and connect with. I appreciate it more than I can say.

  264. Sorry I’m so late to the party; working away from home and such. Any cake left?

    This is a fantastic post which obviously has resonance for many shapelings.
    I don’t think I’ve ever indulged in much magical thinking regarding thinness – my thoughts, such as they were in the days I still dieted, didn’t really extend beyond, “If I was thin…I wouldn’t have so many problems finding clothes and more boys would fancy me”, both of which are probably true, but I can only think of one instance in my entire life when I let my fat prevent me from doing something I really wanted to do. (Long story short: beginners belly dancing class; communal changing room in which skinny professional ballet dancer was wafting about stark naked. Couldn’t bring my twenty-something-year-old self to undress in front of her).

    Although my self-hating, serial-dieting parents passed on their fat issues to me, they proved a lot easier to deal with than some of the other ways in which they managed to screw me up. Speaking personally, there are times when I would have loved to have been able to blame my fat rather than my (obviously intrinsically unlovable) personality for some of the crap that’s gone down in my life. I do agree though that blaming missed opportunities and personal misfortune on physical appearance is not just confined to the fat. I have a friend who vehemently hates her (far from freakish) shortness and believes her life would have been completely different had she been tall. (This despite having met and married her soulmate; having 2 daughters she adores, and working in her chosen profession for decent money at the precise height she is). Similarly I can relate to discovering someone who totally put the wind up me in college having been in total awe of me the whole time I was terrified of her. I envied her sexual confidence; she thought I was stunningly glamorous. Go figure.

  265. I can’t believe how many hours I have ignored my work to keep checking back in here…

    Just a tip to all of those with rock climbing/ropes course (the obstacles in the trees)/zip line harness problems: There is a harness made by DMM that will fit pretty much everyone. Because it has such a large range, there isn’t any padding in it, but I climb in mine all of the time and it’s great. I instructed rock climbing and ropes courses, and our policy was if you brought your own harness, we would inspect it and let you use it if it met our standards (the DMM does). If you go anywhere with even slightly talented instructors, they should be able to make you a chest harness the old fashioned way: out of webbing and ‘biners.

    Good luck!

  266. I’d just like to echo whoever said that they’re thin but still beating themselves up about not being perfect. I’m a US size 8, conventionally attractive enough that I was asked to model (when I was thinner!!), have a degree from Oxford (was a straight A student), and have a fulfilling and glamorous job. And I still don’t think I’m good enough. I worry about being fat (because I might only be a size 8 but are models size 8? No, they’re size 2, therefore I’m fat). I worry about being single (and seriously, the quality of man you attract when you’re thin isn’t necessarily high – most conventionally attractive men are not Good People). I worry about not being well-read enough, not funny or interesting enough, not having enough friends…

    So from my experience, even if you guys ever did attain the fantasy of being thin, it wouldn’t automatically mean your personal demons – about being likeable, loveable, worthwhile, whatever – would go away. Which is obviously simply to echo what Kate’s already said. I’m so, so inspired by your quests to accept yourselves. Hurray for you!

    But can I also echo what someone else said – it seems other women need you to hate yourself. Whenever I have said positive things about myself (I may have self-esteem issues but I’m not blind, I can see I’m pretty) other girls look surprised, and have even said to me “You’re not supposed to say that about yourself.” Um, why not? You compliment me all the time – I’m not supposed to believe it? We do cripple ourselves with self-hatred. Many of you are a lot further along the road to self-acceptance than I am, so hats off, and thanks Kate for a brilliant post and everyone else for insightful comments.

  267. Oh wow!! so beautiful!
    I am not exactly fat nor am I thin and used this excure to dress so badly. Always thought “when I become thin I will…. blah blah ” A lot.
    Not any more. Thanks for the eye opener!

  268. I feel like a hypocrite for being here at all. See, I’m an anorexic just starting out with recovery, and the only reason I saw this post at all is that a blogger friend posted a link, and I clicked it because her links are usually interesting stuff.

    I’m glad I clicked that link, though. I’ve read through this post at least five times today, thinking about how badly I wish I could believe the stuff you’ve learned to believe. It really surprised me, in a positive way, to realize how much the things I’m struggling to believe in my recovery from anorexia could overlap with body-positive ideals.

    “None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.”

    That’s the most beautiful statement I have heard in a long time.

    Thank you.

  269. I can never get comfortable in my body, because it’s like I am always getting ready to move out into a thinner body as soon as I find the right path, Atkins, etc. And even though I have given up on the whole dieting thing, I am trying to focus on being healthy, but the fantasy of being thin keeps popping up, keeps being my motivation. Thank-you so frieking much for this amazing post! I think making this into a book is a great idea!!! I am still teary eyed right now, this whole thing and all the comments speak to me so clearly. Thank-you.

  270. whoops forgot my to add my Thin Fantasy:
    I will marry a hot artist and be his muse
    Everyone who has treated me like shit will regret it.
    I will have the cofidence to speak in public
    I will no longer have anxiety and depression
    I will start to live

    I will be WORTHY OF LOVE!!!!

  271. Kristin: thanks for the tip, but sadly the tree-climbing place apparently has a policy of not allowing people to bring their own harness.

    Still, if you’re under 20 stone and have a waist of 43 inches or less and are in the UK I’d definitely recommend them, they’re really good fun:

    http://www.goape.co.uk/

  272. Pingback: Susan Hated Literature » the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has

  273. Sara,

    Welcome aboard! Congratulations on making the decision to take control of your anorexia; it is a brave and wonderful thing you are doing. If you stick around you’ll find that lots of us here have had eating disorders and/or engaged in disordered eating habits, and as you can see, seems like every last one of us struggles to love and accept ourselves, so you will definitely find support and inspiration here.

    You can definitely learn to believe that you are a wonderful, valuable, and worthwhile human being. It might not be easy, but you are all these things. You deserve to have a happy, full, disorder-free life, and it seems like you are starting to see that. If you’re interested, I recommend checking out Good With Cheese and The F Word (links can be found in the colum on the right side of the page) as well as reading here…all those places have really made me think, and they might help you out too.

    Best of luck!

  274. Gemma, I was weirded out by the thread of weight loss as ED recovery as well. I nearly replied to Zoe’s first post saying that stopping binge eating hadn’t made me lose a single pound. But then I got distracted by something shiny. Anyway – good luck in overcoming your disorder. I hope it works out for you.

    Everybody talking about gaining weight as they get older reminded me of part of a conversation I had with my mom over Thanksgiving break. Basically she thinks she’s getting fat… which means weighing 135 instead of 125. Or something like that. I tried to make her see how insane it is to blame herself for getting fat when she’s going through menopause, but I don’t know if I got through to her. Sigh.

    fillyjonk, the “attainable goals” thing is something I’m trying to keep in mind… I’m okay with being fat, but I hate hate hate being so out of shape that I wheeze when I pound up a flight of stairs. So that’s my goal: not being totally out of breath at any exertion. Which will have to wait for after finals. Ack!

  275. Kate, I cannot thank-you enough for this post. You have shined the light on a truth that was always there lurking beneath the surface.

    I have always said to myself “when I am thin:”
    “I will finally be rid of my depression”
    “I will find the One”
    “I will be a complete person”
    “I will be beautiful inside and out”
    “I will be stronger, more confident, more creative, command attention when I walk into a room”
    “I will finally be a success and make my parents proud”
    “I will be better than my brother”

    While it is hard to let this fantasy go, realizing it is there and is just that, a fantasy, is the first step. And I took that step yesterday when I came across your post. I know I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I look forward to finally starting the life I was afraid to live.

    I am letting the thin woman in me come out, and she is fat and she is fierce!

  276. Nomie, thank you. :) I think I’m making pretty good progress, honestly. I certainly seem to be thinking about food less and less when, before, it was *always* on my mind; either what I’d eat, or would I “had” to avoid.

    I was thinking about responding to Zoe because I saw a lot of my old, anorexic self in the way she appeared to be thinking about herself and others but, ultimately, that’s a journey we make alone and I know from experience that no amount of good advice will make you see sense until you hit rock bottom, or are forced into a program.

    I do appear to have lost some weight since I stopped my constant cycle of starvation followed by binging until I feel sick. It’s hard to say since I banned scales and tape measures, but some of my pants feel looser. I’m trying to see that as neither a good nor bad thing, and I’m certainly not actively *trying* to lose weight. It just turns out then when I’m not obsessing about food, I actually eat rather healthily. Well, sometimes. ;) More often than before is the point!

    But, you just can’t go into recovery when you’re STILL thinking “I have to be X size/weight”. It’s counter-intuitive.

    I wish you continued success with your recovery, too. Oh, and good luck with finals!

  277. So that’s my goal: not being totally out of breath at any exertion.

    Nomie, that’s an awesome goal, and let me just say — as a formerly sedentary person and still far from a workout chick — my best advice to you and anyone else with a goal like that is not only to start small, but to give yourself huge credit for every goddamned baby step. Even if you decide your goal is health, not weight loss, it can be really easy to fall into the same old thinking, with a twist. I’m not getting healthy fast enough. I’m not working hard enough at being healthy. I still get out of breath, so I’m a failure.

    And that can lead to giving up on yourself. I STILL struggle with thoughts like, “I don’t have time to do 90 minutes of yoga today, so there’s no point in doing it at all.” Which is complete bullshit. If I don’t have 90 spare minutes, then I can do a 20-minute practice and still feel MUCH better than on days when I don’t do anyting. Ditto thoughts like, “I’m only in the mood for gentle/restorative yoga today. That’s not enough of a workout. I suck.” Again, bullshit. Gentle/restorative yoga makes me feel a million times better than doing nothing, and sometimes, when it’s all I’m in the mood for, that’s because my body’s really not up to a more rigorous practice that day.

    The thing that is SO FUCKING HARD for me to remember is actually what I just said twice in the last paragraph — if I do a little bit, I feel better than when I do nothing. Usually much better. And on top of that, every little bit helps in terms of building strength and flexibility, and gradually getting deeper into poses. But some days, it is the hardest thing in the world to get myself to practice just because IT WILL FEEL GOOD AND HELP ME MAKE PROGRESS. I’m so used to thinking that exercise has to be at least a little bit punishing, and has to go on for a really long time, in order to be worth doing at all. That belief is so damn hard to shake — to the point where it’s like, if the only reasons I have for exercising are that it will feel good, be fun, and go toward improving my health? Well, I must be DOING IT WRONG. That is just not good enough!

    So, yeah. It can be an incredible struggle to go easy on yourself and celebrate small accomplishments when you start trying to exercise regularly; the “no pain, no gain” mentality can be just as pernicious as the FoBT. Just FYI.

    Also, keep in mind that everyone gets out of breath (and sweats) after some amount of exertion. Sure, getting into shape will slow that process down somewhat, but it’s also really easy to tell yourself that if you were a good person who really worked at it, you could eventually run a marathon without sweating or getting tired. More magical thinking to be wary of.

    Sermon over. Good luck.

    Oh, and Sara, welcome. As Jae said, there are lots of people recovering from EDs around here; you’re definitely not alone . And we’re all pulling for you.

  278. Kate, this post is absolutely amazing – I’ve bookmarked it and sent it out to friends and family who I think could also benefit from it. You’ve taken something that I – and obviously hundreds, probably thousands, of others – have felt throughout our lives, and you’ve expressed it in words that I could never have found. I’ve struggled my whole life with the FoBT. When I was young, I would hold back from doing anything, I wouldn’t try, because why bother? A fat person can’t _______ (be popular, play soccer, climb a mountain, look good in a nice dress, be seen in a swimsuit, be successful in her career, whatever). I was absolutely certain I would have no value until I was thin. Then I did get thin, and that was one of the unhappiest periods of my life!

    Do you, or does anyone here, have any advice about how to fight the fantasy and come to acceptance, especially when facing negative external pressure to conform? I began to come to this realization a few years ago, and for a period had truly come to accept myself as I am and do all those things I thought I never could until I weighed x, but then a series of negative incidents (current and ex-boyfriends commenting on and/or ridiculing my weight) sent me spiraling back to my old food-obsessed self. How do you deal with the social stigma, in general and/or when it’s directed at you?

  279. This is interesting…I lost about 3 dress sizes this spring and couldn’t see the difference in my body. Like i was shocked that I needed a 10 because standing in front of the mirror naked didn’t seem ANY different.

    This makes me think that it’s because (partly) this FoBT didn’t come true; I was exactly the same person. And so in my head, since it didn’t come with a hot new guy, or amazing new clothes, or a new job or a new personality, it didn’t really happen.

    So I gained it all back. Of course. And now I feel the difference and realize I was more comfortable in that body; yoga was easier, stairs were easier, etc. So while I am comfortable and accepting of my bigger butt, I’d prefer to have an easier time lifting it over my head in Headstand.

  280. So while I am comfortable and accepting of my bigger butt, I’d prefer to have an easier time lifting it over my head in Headstand.

    I hear you Kathryn, but if you keep practicing and building strength, it’ll get easier even if you don’t lose the weight again. I started out with no arm strength and never, ever thought I’d be able lift my ass into crow. Turns out building strength gradually works just as well as losing weight. Probably better. :)

  281. Kate, I was so happy when you started getting comments going over 100, and now over 300!!! WOW!

    You’re a star now! And in a society where Paris Hilton can be a star, it’s great to see someone who’s actually worthy of the fame make it!

    You’re chaning the world, and you, Fillyjonk and Sweetmachine should be very proud.

  282. One thing I’d like to add is that when I was in my teens I was obessed with getting a nose job. I’m Jewish and Italian and I have a big nose. I thought it was so ugly and my fantasy was “If I had a small nose, someone will find me attractive and I’ll find true love.”

    What feature on me does my husband find most beautiful? My nose.

    I was really wrong on that one!

  283. Pingback: Today in my life’s history « (a) Taste of Insanity

  284. Hannah, that is a great point about how being thin might help you find a man, but is it necessarily going to help you find the right man? It may be screwed up but I persist in actually being THANKFUL for my fat in “weeding out” certain types of abusive potential dates and partners. The kind of man who would withhold sex or be hateful toward me until I lost weight, or be critical of everything on my plate, is so far from my reality that I can’t imagine even living with someone like that. But many women just like me end up living with exactly such a partner, especially if they start out thin and gain weight later on as life happens. Yet another “benefit” of being thin (attracting more potential mates) that may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

  285. I may be screwed up but I persist in actually being THANKFUL for my fat in “weeding out” certain types of abusive potential dates and partners.

    You know, this is sorta true. Though I’m sure many, many, man fat women (and women in general) end up in abusive situations in part because they (wrongly) believe they can’t do better, it can also have the opposite effect. One of my biggest fears about losing weight, as much as I wanted to do so in the past, was that if I found someone who loved me afterwards…how would I ever be sure if he really loved me or only loved me as a thinner person.

    In fact, a few years ago I met a guy who…when I looked at him, a little voice in my head said, he might be the one. I’d never heard that before and I hardly knew him, so I thought I was just being crazy, but as I got to know him…I kinda fell for him. And he supposedly kind of fell for me too, but it never went anywhere, and since then he has dated only girls thinner than me.

    At the time, I blamed myself, but now…it’s not a crime for him not to be attracted to me, truth be told, it took me some time to be attracted to him, but if he’d rather have an admittedly bad relationship with a thin girl than work on perhaps a slightly better relationship with a fat one, than clearly our priorities are too different to ever be a good match.

  286. I am not fat, but this post resonated so strongly for me anyway. Just replace “thin” with a myriad of other requirements. Thank you for writing something that turns out to be applicable to all sorts of people. :)

    when i am thin, people will actually like me instead of keeping me around for entertainment or because i’m useful

    I only scanned most of the comments, but this one caught my eye. I have to say that I’ve spent lots of time at various points in my life wondering if people actually liked me or if they only kept me around because they wanted to sleep with me. So being thin doesn’t always solve that problem either.

  287. I started reading these comments a few days ago, so I don’t even know if I’m up to date. This post was very interesting for me, as my body has radically changed since the birth of my child. I gained a lot of weight and then lost much of it quickly, leaving me with a saggy tummy full of skin. It looks like a deflated balloon. I am trying to figure out how to love my body (or even be ok with it) since this change. Don’t get me wrong, I love my child with all of my heart, but I don’t know how to not feel disfigured. I find it inspiring that people can learn to love their bodies, even if they are not what society desires, and I hope one day to succeed as well. It’s harder when people keep telling you to get it surgically fixed (I’m sure people who have had gastric bypass and the like have felt the same). Thank you for writing this post, and I will keep it in mind, even if I am not at a place where I can accept my new body yet.

  288. mcglory, actually, I know exactly how you feel. I have the same problem. I had a BIG baby (9 lbs) and pre-eclampsia, which caused over 70 lbs. of JUST water weight gain (that’s not counting all the ‘normal’ weight a woman gains in a pregnancy). Two weeks after having the baby, I was back to pre-pregnancy weight. But my skin didn’t go anywhere. That baby? She’ll be 13 next month. I’ve still got deflated-balloon-tummy. And yeah, it’s the one part of my body that is the hardest to accept.

    And I’ll admit that I’m not there yet – I’ve only started trying to learn to accept myself as I am a little over a month ago, so I wouldn’t have expected to be there yet anyway.

    But I do know EXACTLY how you feel.

    (Oh, and don’t worry about the typos. We all make ‘em. :) )

  289. Everyone who has treated me like shit will regret it.

    This made me laugh out loud. I have so many revenge fantasies about “when I am thin.” Thank you for making me realize that people who treated me like shit either wouldn’t care if I got thin or they regret being assholes already. It’s unlikely that me losing 50 pounds is going to seriously change anyone’s mind about me as a person/lover/employee.

  290. Thank You Thank You Thank You for this post!!! If ever something came right on time, this would have to be it. I won’t get into my life story here but I have been a self-help addict for the last 10 years and I think over time you get so caught up in the fantasy of that “ideal” life, the “ideal” body, blah blah blah (I mean look at Oprah, she’s made millions off of it) that you forget to really appreciate and love who you are now. Anyway, I was watching Phat Girlz and there’s this scene where Mo’Nique’s character starts throwing out all the diet pills, the skinny mannequin (to which she taped a picture of her face), even the tv. Just watching that made me think of all the gimmicks I bought into, all the money I spent trying to buy a better life, all the time I wasted trying to fix my life, instead of living it and I swear it makes me wanna throw away every single diet and exercise book, every, self made plan, the sketches of my “skinny self” and actually take my plus size designs and start making the clothes I dream about wearing now. For years I’ve wondered why I’ve never been able to lose “the weight” and now it’s finally clear that I’ve been holding my breath, just waiting for the right moment, the “skinny” moment to arrive. Well screw that.

  291. Gemma, I’m glad to hear that things are going well for you. And I think you’re right that there’s a certain element of not being able to get through to people until they make the choice to change themselves.

    Kate, thanks for the sermon/pep talk. I realized while reading that I have been sort of thinking of my routine back when I was at my healthiest – going to the gym almost every morning, cardio and weights, probably an hour total. And that seems like way too much. Which it is, if I’m starting all over again after a really long time of just sitting on my ass. (Of course, right now I really don’t have time, because finals. Actually I should be doing homework right now!)

    And I love the feeling of being red-faced and sweaty and worn out after a good workout… I just don’t want to feel that way after a single flight of stairs, you know? But I’m going to try to be kind to myself. Again – thanks!

  292. Woah Nuckingfutz! 70 pounds in water weight!! Here I was feeling crummy about the 40 pounds in water weight I gained! I too suffered from the whole pre-eclampsia thing, though my baby was “normal” sized. Of course he fell off the growth chart after that and his pediatrician subjected us all to countless invasive and terrifying tests because he was “too small.” Proof that even babies (and their mamas, cause the doctor said I “must make skim milk”) are considered losers if they don’t meet an arbitrary statistically determined acceptable weight.

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  294. Thank you so much for the website: The Shape of a Mother! It really opened my eyes to what a normal body looks like after childbirth. I was looking at the webside and the most amazing feeling washed over me. I started uncontrollably crying. My body looks like a lot of the pictures and that makes me proud! My two beautiful daughters would not be here without the beautiful and natural things that happened to my body. It’s like a battle scars that I feel more secure about having “printed” all over my body. Thank you so much!

  295. Thank you, I needed this. I have ALWAYS felt that if I a) had better skin, b) was smarter, c) was thinner, d) etc. my life would be better/perfect/great/whatever. I would be a better person and people would *like* me.

    You know what, I will never have great skin, I am smart, I am thin enough and it doesn’t matter what size I am, “fashionable” clothes don’t fit and I like wearing my kayaking and camping clothes everywhere (though I do get strange looks for finding ways of combining the really warm base layers with blazers for work in the winter, but Chicago is cold!), my life is what I make of it and it is my responsibility to not let myself get bogged down in my natural depressive nature even if I have enough depressing events in my life to warrant it. It doesn’t mean I have to fake being a happy person, it doesn’t even mean I have to fake that I’m not a bitchy person, but it does mean that I have to accept me and that’s the hardest part of all.

    I need to LIVE MY LIFE and make my happiness regardless of what happens, because it certainly doesn’t depend on being X, Y, or Z or if only A, B, or C didn’t happen to me.

    It’s hard to do that whole thing when you have spent years conveniently coming up for excuses to avoid living your life. Maybe I can start to live my life, it’s too short to not.

    My mom – spent years saying “if I was only not fat, I would ____.” She’s finally just doing _____, even though she is not her dream size or even close to it. Now if she could just accept that she is awesome and cool and that there *has* to be a guy out there who thinks she is awesome and cool and loves her for her curves and general weirdness, that would be perfect. That was her goal this past year, but she didn’t really *try*. Maybe next year.

  296. Thank you so much for the website: The Shape of a Mother! It really opened my eyes to what a normal body looks like after childbirth.

    You know, before that website ever came along — and before I had made peace with my own body — a friend of mine who has two kids lifted up her shirt to show me her gut one day, and I was floored. She’s thin and had her kids young, but damn if she didn’t look just like a lot of the pictures on that site. I could barely get my head around the fact that she really looked like, you know, a woman who had had two kids, because I had this impression of her as practically perfect in every way.

    That site is so awesome and subversive, because post-pregnacy bellies are something we almost never get to see — and I know so many women who have had kids think they’re absolute freaks, because they have more stretch marks and loose skin or whatever than ANY OTHER WOMAN WHO EVER HAD A BABY. And… nope. They’ve just never seen another belly that’s been through the same thing. It’s so damn easy to convince yourself that everyone out there is perfect — or at least “normal” — except for you.

  297. Thanks for the link Kate, though I was familiar with it (luckily I live in a city with a huge, lovely community of progressive mamas who talk about this stuff all the time). I see beautiful mamas all the time whose bodies are irrevocably changed and I know it’s normal. And then I see the media… with moms who are perfect in six weeks after their babies and doing Victoria’s Secret shows. Even though I know intellectually that’s bullshit, and I hate the patriarchal culture that assigns value to me based on my looks, I am not sure how to get my emotions to wise up. Like I said, it’s an ongoing process… :)

  298. Long-time reader, first-time commenter. Hi. :)

    I loved this post. I’d like to think I could have written it, but that’s a lie. I wouldn’t have written it half as well.

    On my when-I-get-thin list:

    -I’ll travel abroad because I’ll be comfortable flying for such a long time (never mind that I have fat friends who have traveled abroad extensively and did just fine… and never mind that NO ONE is comfortable on long-haul flights!)

    -I’ll have more friends and potential partners than I’ll know what to do with because I’ll be skinny and cute, in addition to having my fabulous personality! (Um, I’ve *been* skinny, and I wasn’t any more conventionally attractive than I am now! But I don’t know how to debunk the part about my personality changing. I cling to a belief that I will be more confident and outgoing, and I’m not sure how to shake that. :/ Also, I have no real shortage of potential partners now, and having more would not guarantee having BETTER options.)

    -I’ll be more confident in voicing my opinions, without fear of having them shot down, because fat=stupid, right?

    -I’ll feel more powerful. I have these fucked-up associations in my head, where beauty=thinness=power, which isn’t right. It’s an illusion of power, but I’m not sure how to get past that either.

    -I’ll have a better job (Someone will give me a chance because I’m cute, right? But if they’re giving me a chance based on my APPEARANCE instead of my SKILLS and QUALIFICATIONS, I probably don’t want to work for them anyway! Still, I think it is true that thin women have an advantage while looking for work.)

    ANYhow, thanks again for this great post.

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  301. Kate, thank you for this post, it is timely in my life as well as that of others. I especially appreciated the encouragement for every little bit of exercise, and the reasoning that it is good even if it’s not a struggle…My cardio fitness and blood pressure are of concern to me and I know I need more exercise, but I am easily discouraged and very reactive to any “shoulds” on the subject from any source, including myself.

    As to body acceptance…At 5’4″ and anywhere from 106-165 lbs, I always believed I was beautiful whether I was currently in a size 6 or a 16…I was very confident and never had body image problems till the last several years — which seem to coincide with my involvement with a man who very early on told me I was “plain” and “too conceited about my appearance” and whose “ideal” weight for me always seems to be just a few pounds thinner than I think is functional for me at this point in my life. This man is highly critical of most people’s appearance (including his own). He frequently points out to me other women he does find hot, almost all of whom just happen to be much taller and thinner than me, and most of whom manifestly spend much more time and money on their appearance (clothing, makeup, hair to the nines) than he is tolerant of my spending on mine. He’s also a Gary Null fan and has in the past pressured me into strange eating patterns I don’t feel are healthy for me. Sue, you will appreciate the following if no one else does: this man is my Dom and claims to adore women and want to “help them fulfill their potential” (whatever that means). At any rate, now at age 40 I have an issue to work on that I never had before…and I think I’ll be back here for support.

  302. J.Y., I don’t know much about the dom/sub aspect, but I do know that guy sounds like a classic manipulator, up to and including swearing he “loves women and wants to help them fulfill their potential.” Seriously, dude, worry about your own potential and let women worry about theirs.

    Welcome and good luck. :)

  303. There are a lot of shitty fantasy mentalities in Western culture. How about the Fantasy of Romance? Rejecting a loving relationship because it doesn’t fit the conception of the Cinderella/White Knight/swept off feet into sunset/Hallmark version of what love and romance are supposed to be . I don’t *at all* believe in “settling”, but a dose of real life, with all its dirty dishes, bills, and occasional misunderstandings, is sometimes badly needed. Our problems won’t magically be solved when we fall in love, just as they wouldn’t be if we were to wake up thin one day.

  304. I’m not any kind of expert on dom/sub culture either, but it seems to me that “dom” is not meant to be a proxy for “say anything you have to to your partner in order to get them to feel shitty about themselves.” (You’re both “plain” and “conceited about your appearance”? Yeck.) Even within the parameters of that sort of relationship there are supposed to be ways of letting your partner know that they are hurting you and they need to stop. This is not supposed to be mental abuse time!

    I also don’t have a lot of patience with the “pointing to hot women” thing, unless you have a mutual agreement that both of you enjoy that sort of thing. (Yeah, I know everybody “looks,” but I firmly believe that unless you have an agreement otherwise, it’s only good manners to be discreet about it, both for the sake of your partner and that of the person you’re looking at.) The way he does it, he seems to be telling you those women look better to him than you do, and that just sucks, IMESHO. Especially since he’d get his Underoos all macrameed about your spending the time and money necessary to look anything like them.

  305. Just a little anecdata: My husband is 5′ 10″, about 160 lbs, and has been since high school. He’s got a 30 inch waist and rather thin legs and a small, flat-ish ass. He’s 45.

    He HATES his legs. And he tried on no fewer than 10 pairs of jeans yesterday before he found 3 pairs that fit him and didn’t either make his legs look like matchsticks, or bag around his middle/ass area.

    So: he’s thin, he’s got a “normal” body, and a fabulous (fat) wife (ha-ha), and he still can’t just walk into the Gap and buy a pair of jeans.

    So don’t think it’s YOUR fault that designers can’t come up with a better way to find clothes that fit. Thin or fat, it’s not YOUR fault.

    And every single one of you (us) is just beautiful, I can tell by reading.

  306. J.Y., I want to reinterate that this is a dangerous situation. Actually, in my experience with numberous abusers including two abusive marriages, this type of behavior is the precursor to abuse, potentially even physical abuse (if you would only loose weight, I wouldn’t have to treat you so badly, etc.). After the second bad marriage, I made a point of learning the signs of an abuser. This kind of behavior would send up major red flags for me.

    Remember, we are all worthy of healthy, happy, fulfilling, uplifting relationships — no matter what our body size or shape.

  307. J. Y., that sounds so familiar! I wasn’t in a dom/sub relationship with my ex, but he was totally into “helping me achieve my potential.” He even went so far once as to say, “I don’t love you for who you are, I love you for who you could be.” But it wasn’t who I wanted to be, it was who he wanted me to be. He didn’t like my being smart, he didn’t like my reading a lot, he didn’t like my sexuality (straight and monogamous is so boring)… oh lord, the list was long.

    I don’t know much about the dom/sub dynamic, but I seem to remember that it should be based on trust. What he’s telling you is that he doesn’t trust you with yourself. And in my experience, anyone who doesn’t trust you with your own self isn’t someone you should trust with your own self.

    My ex used to tell me that comfort zones existed to be violated and eradicated, but I think that’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with exploring the boundaries, but you know, in yourself, when something has gone beyond uneasy into painful, and that’s when it’s time to stop. Boundaries are good; they keep you safe. Trust your inner sense.

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  309. I think I’ve read this post 3 times so far… will probably come back for more at times. It’s just so perfect and I need it to help keep the crazy at bay.

    Here’s the thing – as of August ’07, I’m one of the 5%, and since reading more and more of the body acceptance movement, I kind of hate myself for it. Sometimes I feel like a traitor for reading this blog or that I don’t belong, like I shouldn’t comment because I am that freak of nature that often gets mentioned.

    I’m still not thin, but I’m what is probably considered “socially acceptable” size wise. That doesn’t make people like me any more than they did when I was fat. It just makes me a size 10 awkward geek with social anxiety issues rather than a size 16 one.

    I’m not any happier now. My personality hasn’t changed. My face hasn’t changed shape, and I didn’t magically grow sculpted cheekbones and get a thinner nose. If anything, my OCD has gotten worse but that’s from an unrelated to weight health matter. My health problems did not all magically go away when I lost weight. My husband loves and loved all versions of me – skinny, fat, and the now slightly less fat.

    And at size 10, I got told at a pre-bloodwork doctor’s office visit that I “should lose some weight.”

    Fundamentally, I’m still me, and I need to accept that person without coming up with imaginary I-could-be-pretty/active/famous/whatever-if-I-were-thinner scenarios in the stupid part of my brain. I’m trying to turn that part off altogether, and I am incredibly grateful for this place in helping with that. Logically I know that losing even more weight will not have a automatic positive change on my life, but the reminders are more helpful than you will ever know.

  310. Here’s the thing – as of August ‘07, I’m one of the 5%,

    Ehh, technically you’re not, Miserychik. If you’re still the same size in August ’12, you will be. Right now, you’re among something like 50 or 60 % who can lose weight and keep it off for 6 months to a year.

    I honestly don’t mean to be discouraging by saying that, and if you ARE the same size in August ’12, more power to you. But statistically, you’re only in the “honeymoon phase” right now, and you still stand a great chance of gaining it all back within 5 years.

    Which is why it’s awesome that you’re reading and participating here. For your sake, I really hope you don’t gain the weight back — that’s not a fun process — but if you do, as you wisely note, you will be exactly the same person. And you’ll always be welcome around these parts.

  311. Kate, I understood Miserychik to be saying that she hit her five-year mark in August of this year. Is that correct, Miserychik? If so, wow, don’t feel bad about that; it demonstrates that, for whatever reason, about which science doesn’t care but probably should, your body wanted to be at the weight you’ve become. That is nothing to be ashamed of, and more power to you that you still recognize how valuable the FA/SA community is. :)

  312. No, I mean that by August ’02 I had lost the weight and I’ve maintained until now. I haven’t actively tried to do anything to maintain but my body just… has. I don’t know. By all indications, that weight is going to stay off if things continue as they have for the past 5 years.

    That’s why I thought I would qualify as the 5% and why I feel kind of awkward here sometimes. I’m at a different point in my life than I was back then, and I wouldn’t feel the same about a gain as I did back in ’01 when I started, and that has a lot to do with this place. The crazy is… less. And I feel better about being happy with myself as I am. I already know that weight loss or gain won’t radically change things, but posts like this are very helpful reminders.

  313. I never said it was 0%

    Heh, good point. Thanks again for the welcome. I’m trying (yay, previously mentioned social anxiety!) and at the very least, actively lurking.

  314. Agree with Phledge. “Anti-dieting” does not equal “stay fat at all costs so you’ll fit in with the rest of us fatasses.” You, mizerychik, are a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about when I say, if you’re truly meant to be a lot smaller than you are (or were), there’s nothing I or anyone else can possibly do to stop you. (Except for KH, of course. She knows where you live and is ready with the liquid donut IV, so look out.)

  315. J.Y. – I’ve been there (both in d/s relationships and manipulative/controlling relationships), and I can tell you that that’s neither a) acceptable, loving behavior or b) an innate/necessary quality of dom/sub relationships. That’s emotional manipulation and control, plain and simple. I’ve been in a couple dom/sub relationships, and at their best they – like any relationship – should be based on mutual trust and respect. Actually, trust is even more important in these kinds of relationships than vanilla ones, for obvious reasons. Control, in most cases, is limited to the times when you’re ‘in role’, and should only occur when it’s clearly given by the sub – the dom should not be controlling the sub when this consent is not given.

    Unfortunately, given the dynamics – the ability to have control over another person – manipulative, controlling people are often drawn to the d/s lifestyle, so I suspect that this is common, though certainly the two don’t always go hand in hand.

    Regardless, he’s certainly not helping you live up to your full potential if he’s putting you down! I’d recommend reading a book like ‘Why does he do that’ by Lundy Bancroft – I found it very helpful when I was untangling myself from a controlling relationship. It’s about controlling men in general, whether they control emotionally and/or physically. Your description of him pointing out other women with features that are unattainable by you sounds exactly like one of the types he describes in this book.

    Best of luck!

  316. Oh, how the words ring true… and how you go through almost the five stages of grief before they do!

    Denial: Noooo, that’s not me, I don’t do that, I love myself. I just want to lose those last ten pounds… fifteen…. twenty… but that’s completely not me. Then anger, bargaining (yeah, that might be me… but let me at least lose fifteen pounds and THEN I’ll start to think about it…) depression and finally acceptance. Wow, that’s a portrait of me you’ve painted there. I hope I look as surprised in the rendering as I do now. I didn’t realize I was so invested in the fantasy of being thin!

    A big part of my Wizard-of-Oz’esque fantasy of being whisked into the land of Skinny involves not what will happen to me, but rather, what will happen to all those around me. They’ll start to see me the way I see myself- they’ll see the ‘me’ I see in the mirror. The pictures of me that look so falsely fat that I’m aghast at the sight of them… will make others crowd around and be aghast, too. “Oh my god, that looks nothing like you! What fatsuit were you wearing? Who took this awful picture?” ….Instead of saying “Oh, that’s a sweet picture of you. Looks JUST like you.” …Effectively resulting in my burning all photographs of me and then avoiding all further cameras. Sometimes I imagine that my eventual great grandkids will have to struggle finding a picture of me that’s more recent than me in 6th grade for use in my obituary because “Great Grandma was a weirdo when it came to cameras.”

  317. “…actually take my plus size designs and start making the clothes I dream about wearing now.”

    Oooo, Geny.

    Does that mean if I ask reeeallly nicely and bake you stuff you like, that you will make/tailor my clothes too?

    Pleeeeeeze???

    “…it is my responsibility to not let myself get bogged down in my natural depressive nature even if I have enough depressing events in my life to warrant it.”

    This should be a new Olympic event. Think of the sponsorship opportunities.

    Also, what kira said. I’ve been with that type. Other women look better but you’d better not try to do what they do to get what they’ve got? Classic no-win.

    (Also comes in mater and pater familias economy sizes.)

  318. Nothing like a crew of gay men hollering at you ‘Work out, bitch!’ while you’re walking home.

    Rowan, are you sure they weren’t yelling “Work it, bitch!” ?

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  320. As hundreds of people have already said… wonderful post. I also agree with what a lot of people have already said – that the “fantasy of being ___” is not just about thin – almost everyone does it, except I suppose the boddhisattvas among us! I know that I have done it in my own life with skin (when I was a teenager I had a lot of acne), with living in a different country, with a new job, with being in a relationship, with a new apartment… All of those various fantasies were eventually fulfilled for me, and then I was shocked, shocked! to find that I was still stuck inside my own head, with myself, with the same old anxieties and frustrations.

    Practicing yoga has been the biggest catalyst in my own life for getting past that fantasy trap of deferring reality. Even though I have to admit I’ve even had the “fantasy of being an accomplished yogi,” LOL. ‘When I’m finally able to touch my heels to the ground in Downward Facing Dog…my whole yoga practice will be transformed and I’ll finally start getting up at 6am every single day to practice and then I’ll be filled with inner peace and do everything right at last.’ Luckily there were lots of good yoga teachers out there to remind me that yoga is not about doing but a state of being.

    It’s funny how hard it is for us Western culture types to give up being competitive and results-oriented, with other people and with ourselves, even for just ninety minutes on the yoga mat.

    P.S. for people with knee discomfort in hero’s pose…that’s very common and I don’t think it’s about the size of the thigh, although possibly about the strength of the quadriceps muscles (strong muscles tend to be tight). Try sitting on a block or some pillows to raise the level of the hips and make the angle of the knees less acute so that you get a more manageable stretch. Knee discomfort is nothing to mess around with, it’s a very important joint.

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  323. I had an eating disorder based on my fantasy of being thin. For me, it was completely outrageous expectations: that my mom and dad would not get divorced, that I would be popular, that I would be worthy of all of the things I wanted to do, that I could finally wear the clothes I wanted to make, and the most outrageous one: that I would be white. I’m half white, and I so internalized all the racism I’d encountered that I always fantasized that when I was thin, I would be white. Talk about impossible. I’ve come very far on beating my eating disorder, but my fantasy of being thin seems like one of the very last things to go.

    Recently, I made the decision to be a textile artist (basically, make clothes using a variety of techniques), which is what I’ve always wanted to do. It made me face my screwed-up ideas, though: I certainly couldn’t wear these things, I could just make them for others. Until a revelation one night: there are so many beautiful women of size who wear awesome clothes. Why do I set different standards for myself? It was then that I decided. And my thin fantasy pretty much exploded. I haven’t thought of things the same way since. And the weirdest thing is, I look in my dreams like I do in real life. It used to be that in my good dreams, I was thin and white and different-looking. Now, I just look like me.

  324. I’m half white, and I so internalized all the racism I’d encountered that I always fantasized that when I was thin, I would be white.

    It’s amazing to me — though I suppose it shouldn’t be — that this has come up twice on this thread, three times if you count Mean Asian Girl’s twist on the FoBT. Talk about the power of unrealistic expectations, man. Not to mention the power of racism.

  325. I just read this article a couple of days ago and I LOVED it. I know a couple hundred + people have expressed this same opinion but I wanted to throw my “thanks for writing this” comment in the pile. I totally have been using my weight as an excuse to not do alot of things and your post really made me question “why?”. That said, I really WISH that we lived in a society where outer appearance does not matter…and more specifically that having fat on the old bones isn’t so ingrained as a negative thing. The reality is that appearance DOES matter for the most part; they matter when you interview for a job, when you are looking for a partner, and even sometimes when you are looking for friends. And people don’t like the look of fat. Sadly, doors opening are usually dependent on other people. Sad, too, is that it extends beyond weight. Are your teeth straight, white and all there? Do you wear fashionable clothes? Make-up? Hair done? If I want to buck the system and accept my fatness, then why be concerned with all that other stuff? Isn’t that conforming, too? It is enough to make a person’s head explode!

  326. but what if accepting who you are means major changes? changes that are hard or demeaning? I’m a woman who is currently studying Mechanical Engineering, but i’m starting to think that maybe i don’t like it. I’m starting to think that maybe all i want in life is to have a family. But i feel like being that person, the person who just wants a husband and children, who likes making crafts and doesn’t like math or science, i feel like that person is less deserving of love, or anything for that matter. I feel like that person should be scorned… how can i accept becoming a person that can’t stand? that i would feel other people look down on?

  327. What everybody else said. This post is awesome.

    I’ve never been what you’d consider overweight at all, but I still have always thought if I was just a LITTLE bit thinner, I’d be happier. When my last relationship ended, I got depressed and lost a lot of weight , and guess what? Even after I got over the breakup, I was not happier. I still struggled with all that life stuff. I still have to remember the message of this post – that weight and body size (and hair, skin, eye color, teeth, the right clothes) are not the key to happiness, a fulfilling sex life, a better job, yada yada yada.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this post!

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  329. As a skinny guy who’s always been hot for fat gals, I’ve always wondered how this whole thing becomes so dire in everyone’s mind. Kate hit it on the head. It’s a fantasy about being thin. I think there are a lot of thin people who would, if they stopped for a moment, think, “What is it exactly that you really can’t do because you’re fat?” But of course, the answer to that is the fantasy of being fat. A very dystopian fantasy to be sure, as if the moment one goes over the “obesity” line one’s legs collapse instantaneously, hunger never ends, and one’s only trip outdoors is out a gaping hole in a building on a stretcher a la the worst case scenario. Fortunately I think more people are starting to realize the problem with tracking down the worst case scenario and painting that as something typical. I mean, there’s a worst-case scenario of thinness as well, as we’ve seen with some stories of people who have become skeletally thin (and, ironically, also are likely to have many trips to the hospital, just without the hole in the wall). But this is not the experience of every thin person, or even of every highly thin person. Extremes are called that because that is what they are. The 1% on either end are not the data points from which to set policy for the whole population.

  330. Thanks so much, Kate. This post feels like a wake-up call for me.
    I’ll be the next to say your message holds true and strong in many different contexts. My fantasy was never “when I’m thin” but rather “when I’m. . .” The particularly sad part, when I think about this mentality, is that I never even had an action to end that sentence. I thought that someday, maybe when I was older or more mature or felt more motivated, I would (to borrow some of your own words) magically be a different person. In my fantasy world, fantasy me would have a “better” personality, an easier time in life, and more fun. What kind of crappy thinking is that? I was using my eventual “fantasy girl” to put off seriously thinking about stuff that matters and that needs to be dealt with NOW. This was mentioned way, way farther up in the comments, toward the top. The fantasy becomes an excuse to not deal with life now, as it is at this moment, and this was exactly what I have been doing! In my mind, I would somehow magically transform into this fantasy girl someday, so I didn’t have to think about things like what I’m really passionate about NOW or why I’m unhappy right now in my life. My thoughts were that I didn’t have to do anything because it would be done for me when I became HER. Thanks so much for helping me to see this.
    The other great piece that has come out of this thread is your comment about saying “I’m not getting healthy fast enough.” “And that can lead to giving up on yourself. . . if I do a little bit, I feel better than when I do nothing.”
    That’s a huge setback whenever I try to make a change like trying to discover what would make me happy and fullfilled. It’s nice to be reminded that the attitude of “all or nothing” is also ridiculous.
    This post was wonderful and the comments equally so. Thanks for helping.

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  332. “None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.”

    Thank you.

    Now how do I print this so I can post it on my fridge?

  333. Thank you (again) for writing this.

    I’ve been thin, and I’ve been fat, and the whole time I’ve been so repressed that I didn’t even allow myself to daydream about the things I really wanted. I never dreamed about dating/marrying hot celebrities or even attractive classmates because I found the whole idea terrifying. I never dreamed about being rich or popular. I thought so little of myself that I wasn’t allowed the audacity of big dreams. Being less fat was one of the few dreams I indulged in.

    But the thing is, being thin still became a proxy for every ambition because when I reached fantasy land (I mean being thin) THEN I was allowed to dream big and pursue those dreams.

    I’ve heard that we use body fat to store toxins that might otherwise be floating around in our bloodstream. I think my fat is storing all the toxic ideas that might otherwise be poisoning my brain. My fat has bravely stood as proxy for everything about me that is lacking, that isn’t good enough to even dream of being different or better. Part of fat acceptance, for me, is being okay with wanting things I cognitively know I can never have – be that size 6 jeans or Hollywood stardom or a billion dollars. It is easier both for me and our society to say that the only thing keeping me from my dreams is my own fatness.

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  335. That might make a good sigfile!

    mcmiller wrote,
    I’ve heard that we use body fat to store toxins that might otherwise be floating around in our bloodstream. I think my fat is storing all the toxic ideas that might otherwise be poisoning my brain.

  336. Great article. I’ve lost weight and yes, gained it back. And I totally get what you mean about using the fat as an excuse. I used to think of it as the ‘nightmare of being fat’. Being fat wasn’t just about being bigger, it meant all sorts of things about who I was as a person and what I was capable of in every sphere of my life. Which is why I’m actually happy I gained the weight back – it really helped me see that what I was capable of didn’t change when I gained 40 lbs (longer version of this journey on my blog).

    This article has really made me think about whether I want to lose weight or if I just want to be comfortable in/with my body… Unfortunately we are trained to believe that the two are the same which really makes either one impossible to attain. I started what I thought was going to be a weight loss blog, but that doesn’t really feel right anymore. I suspect that I am going to change gears and focus more on a healthy relationship with my body – which is kind of scary because I have no idea what that even means!

    I’m sure I’ll be checking in here often as I try to figure it out.

  337. this post really resonated with me. so much of the work of growing up these last few years has been about separating my Ideal Self from my Actual Self.

    the biggest ‘aha!’ for me came when i realized that i could never be happy if i wasn’t honest with myself about what i really wanted.

    the Actual Me is far more of a princess, far less of a dare devil, and more of a homebody than i am really comfortable acknowledging. however, since i began to try admitting that really, i do like to be fussed over when i’m sick, and no, honey, i don’t think that extreme mountain biking trip sounds fun, but go right on without me, etc., i am actually happier. i am better at doing things that bring me joy and asking for what i need, rather than for what i think i should want. duh.

    also, i have begun making baby steps towards doing things i have been avoiding because i don’t want to suck at them and wreck my comfortable self image. last week, i tried snowboarding for the first time. i have always wanted to try it, but i was always terrified that i would be bad at it and thereby ruin the fantasy that i would rock. the depth of my nerves and terror the week before we went to the mountain was way out of whack. i kept thinking that if i sucked or just hated it or was scared, how disappointed everyone else would be in me. i was deep in crazy lady territory, and knowing it wasn’t helping me navigate it any better.

    so i finally decided that i would make my only goal for the weekend having fun. and when i got to the mountain, i watched all the other women and the boyfriend hit the lifts, and i went to the bunny slope and played. i scooted up and down the hill. i traded tips with other rank novices. i fell a lot, but i was laughing.

    every so often, the bf would come by and try to goad me into dare devil territory– “you’re fine, get on a lift, you’ll figure it out on the way down!” no! go away! i’m trying to learn, not just how to snowboard, but how to allow myself to be imperfect and still enjoy the learning process. (men, sometimes they just don’t get the subtext).

    cutting to the chase, i *did* have fun. i was able to get up and turn on one of my edges and everything. and while i wasn’t bombing down the mountain like a crazy bad ass by the end of the weekend, i am going back to the mountain tomorrow to take a proper lesson and see if i can figure out my toe side edge.

    Actual Self: not a dare devil, but not a lily-livered chicken, either…

  338. Wow. I’m a thin person, but boy oh boy, did this post click with me. It isnt just about weight – that business of waiting until X so your “real life” can start.

    Thanks for the reminder. :-)

  339. Here through Feministe.

    I had a religious experience that blew my eating disorder (I was a binge eater) out of the water. But yeah, grew up with the comments and all that, and damn I was hot when I was sixteen!

    But I’m hotter now. No reason I can’t grow my hair down to my ass and dye it red if I want to. I have tons of friends, a husband who loves me, and several boyfriends. I don’t have good health, but that’s not due to the weight.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole FA thing lately because I by and large really like my body. I don’t like my stamina. I don’t like the suddenly getting tired and having to lie down (But that’s the fibro, not the fat.) In fact, most of what I mind is things that won’t change if I lose weight.

    So, eh, I lose weight eating what makes me feel good, I maintain, I don’t really mind either way. In a way, I don’t want to lose, because I’d have to buy new clothes and we can’t afford that right now. And I know male attention and attraction is less about the size of my ass and more about the fact that I have fun.

  340. I keep reading and rereading this post hoping that it’s going to get through to me. I am one of those people who are contradictory — I can understand that dieting doesn’t work and that people can be beautiful at any size — and yet I am still fighting with my anorexia, my self-loathing, and I still feel grotesquely PROUD of my ability to survive on 100 liquid calories a day. Reading your blog has helped me so much in understanding how to accept other people and their bodies — it reminds me of Plato’s quote “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” and rebukes me when I feel myself thinking negatively about someone else’s body. I’m ready to accept other people as beautiful at any size, but by God, my brain will not let me rest until *I* am beautiful at size 4. I can’t let go of the Fantasy of Being Thin yet, but I am working towards living in spite of my body. I hope that one day I can live IN, not in spite of, my body.

    To give you some perspective on everything I wrote: I’m 16.

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  342. I’m not angry at you for stealing my dream, but as invigorated as I am by your stance, i feel that I am in mourning for that lost thin me. I’ve ‘given up’ before, but I don’t think that’s the same as fat acceptance. to truly accept that this is IT involves so much more of my innards. and dare i say it? SELF LOVE. I mean honestly, is it just me, or does self love feel fucking impossible?? last night i was relaxing on the couch reading your blog and my husband walked up and I immediately felt that old disgusting feeling about myself, and pulled my shirt over my tummy to hide. that fact that i feel toootally disgusting precludes self-love. and I’m not sure how to get over it. the fat is disgusting thing is so ingrained in me. I think of it as an absolute truth and have no idea how to deny it. but yes, I don’t think OTHER fat people are disgusting, JUST ME. don’t know whyyy there’s no sun up in the sky, MUST BE MY FAULT..

  343. that’s good to know, REALLY, i have a sister in law that seems to have totally bouyant self esteem, against all odds, and I really thought that it was just me. as daft as that may sound i guess..but when I’m so isolated it’s hard to know. happy feminist fucking new year kate, I’m so glad I found you!

  344. oops haha THAT didn’t come out right lol.. happy FF new year.. i meant feminist in my use of the word fuck.. tho that will PROLLY because a swear word one day.. feminist fucker!! ;)

  345. Elaine, am I remembering right that you mentioned on another thread that you’re a new reader here? Because if you are, it’s really important to remember that it doesn’t all happen at once — the ability to tune out or disagree with the huge amount of cultural conditioning we’re all subject to. It’s really hard. Allow yourself time. Don’t let self-love be one more goal you “fail” at, you know? We are all still struggling with it, every day.

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  347. This was a fabulous post. It expressed so much of what I have felt. I spent most of my life waiting for my life to begin, feeling like my life wasn’t really my life, because I wasn’t really me – because the real me, of course, wasn’t fat. It took years for me to accept that anyone wanted to be my friend; I still remember the wonder I felt as a teenager when I realised people did, genuinely, like me. At university I felt that more; it was the first place I genuinely felt accepted and acceptable. But not romantically; I never felt remotely attractive. And this was when I was ‘only’ around 180 pounds; after a failed diet attempt in my early twenties, I ended up at 250 pounds by about age 24.

    Right now, I am a firm believer – a totally true believer – in fat acceptance. But – I never had the strength to be that believer when I was fat. You see, I lost weight. I’ve read the comments policy so I’m not going to tout my weight loss, or anything, and besides which, what has worked for me I know hasn’t worked for others, I don’t believe there’s any one ‘cure-all’. But I’m now around 154 pounds and have been around that weight for 3 years (I’m 34 yrs old). And the demons in my head and in my culture and my past could not let me feel the anger at other people’s judgments of fat people until I was no longer judged that way myself. Because if I’d stood up to say “love me as I am” then, I felt I would have been laughed at and derided, and it’s only now that I am no longer laughed at, or no longer worry about being laughed at, that I can praise the value of who I was when I was fat. Does that make any kind of sense? It’s almost exactly the cognitive dissonance you mention in the first part of the post, Kate – that fat acceptance is good, but i still have to lose x pounds. For me, it was “fat acceptance is right but i can only say it now that i *have* lost x pounds”. I see this, by the way, as just being weaker or more scared than those who stand up for themselves when fat. The simple fact for me was that I was so filled with hatred for myself, that even walking down the street was hard, convinced I would be called names, etc… and of course sometimes I was. Equally convinced that nobody would ever be romantically interested in me, lonely and afraid that I’d always be alone.

    I know that some people don’t let their fat stop them living their lives fully, and I always admired them, even while I wondered how they could go to the beach in a swimsuit at 250 pounds when I couldn’t; how they could accept romantic attention when I was part of that whole “I won’t be a member of a club that accepts me” when it came to men who were (very rarely) interested in me.

    Three years of being, relatively speaking, thin – I’m still ‘officially’ overweight, after all – I can’t deny that people treat me better. I can’t deny that exercise is easier. I can’t deny that buying cool clothes is easier. There is this huge burden that has been lifted from me. BUT I think that the biggest part of that burden is society’s condemnation of me, not the fat itself. ie if I lived in a society that found me beautiful and acceptable when I was fat, I would not have needed to lose weight to feel ok walking down the street, or find a mate, or great clothes. I was talking to someone the other day about having spent most of my life waiting for my real life to begin, and realised that I didn’t feel that way, and wondering when I stopped feeling that way… and it might well be that it was when I lost the weight. Oh, and of course it didn’t solve every problem, and I went on many bad dates and pointless dates in the years that I started dating after getting thinner, and the fact that there were more men interested in dating me didn’t change the number who were actually interested in me. But then I finally met my husband, and now I am happily married (to a very very thin man!) and he has told me that he would still love me at any size, and I am very committed, nowadays, to eating healthily (which I have been doing now for six years) rather than to sticking to a particular number on the scale, but it still scares me when the scale goes up. I do hope to get pregnant soon, and I am scared of what it will do to my body, and I hope at that point that if I do gain a lot of extra weight I will be able to put my money where my mouth is, and stay eating healthy, and not worry about extra weight per se.

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  349. Before I start, I’ll just throw in my lot with the rest of the “We Love Kate” fan club, because seriously, Kate – you ROCK. I’ll also propose a “We Love Amanda Gannon” fan club for her post on Nov. 27th.

    Now.

    when i am thin, my colleagues will take me more seriously.
    when i am thin, I won’t have to justify my educated opinions so vehemently (with footnotes. footnotes!)

    Coming from the perspective of the acceptance novice (that is, the very-bottom-rung, all-fat-is-bad, gaining-weight-is-the-end-of-the-world perspective), my image of myself changes daily. I have my fat days and I have my thin days, generally corresponding to minuscule changes on the scale, but not always. Fat days are horrible, spawning hours of self-degradation, pure indulgence in the Fantasy.

    Ahh, but the thin days.

    On the thin days,it’s not “when I’m thin my colleagues will take me more seriously” …it’s that they do. The illusion for me is so great that I believed – still believe – that I am a better, happier, sexier, more successful person on the days when I’m not worried about how wide my hips look. This Fantasy has taken such a strangle hold of my life; even after an hour and a half of reading, agreeing with, savoring these comments, I know that tomorrow my success will be governed by the addition or subtraction of those phantom pounds that only I can see.

    Kate’s post gives voice to everyone who has ever struggled – chronically – with self image. Let’s not mince words: this Fantasy is a bitch. It grinds away at your patience, wears down what self esteem you’ve managed to salvage, and chips inexorably away at the defenses you erect against it. Best of luck, ladies and gentlemen. This beast is not easily tamed.

    I may not know what I’m going to do to fight all this, but I sure know where I’m coming the next time I need a mood booster. Thanks for this one, Kate.

  350. I am altogether in awe of 400 comments to a single post. Not only do you write beautifully and honestly, you’ve clearly tapped an issue that resonates with thousands of readers. And they’re so eloquent and heartfelt in their responses. Really, it’s an inspiring place to spend time. Thank you and congratulations.

  351. “When I’m thin, my boyfriend will have to stop telling me that I ‘look great’…that liar….”

    Haha…some days I don’t even know why I want to be thin. Maybe it’s because my best friend wants to be skinny and I want to beat her to it. Hmm.

  352. I think this is something I need to bookmark and come back to. I am one of those people still clinging to the fantasy. I keep saying that it is because I want to be healthy, because I have always wanted to be able to run a marathon, but you know what? I can be fat and still be healthy and still run a marathon. Inside, I am working on releasing my grip on this dream that my pants will all someday be too big and that I will have the perfect curvy hourglass figure. My figure is not so bad the way it is.

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  354. Thank you for this wonderfully insightful post.

    I was a fat child/adolescent/young adult who lost my weight in my early twenties. I am now a thin adult who went through many years of confusion, “I am thin now! When does the party start?!” Well, maybe I just need to be thinner. And thinner. And thinner.

    At 34, I am finally confronting the truths of myself: I am easily over stimulated and need copious amounts of quiet. I enjoy a hike through the woods but I will never run a marathon. When given a choice? I will sit in the tub with a book. AND ITS OKAY.

    And it has nothing to do with being thin.

  355. Fucking great post Kate, and SO not only about fat.

    I was going to be happier and have more fun when i got over the child abuse i went through, and then when i got my degree, and then when i got thin, and then when i had a baby, and then when i wrote a book.

    And i realised somewhere between having the baby and getting thin (which happened when i got treated for a medical condition and took up some extra exercise to combat PND without having to take drugs and did not involve any sort of self-hating behaviour at all, unlike all the diets i’d done in the past which had) that if i didn’t get my finger out of my arse and DO something with my life i’d be gone and on my gravestone it’d say “i’ll do it when i’m dead…oh wait, too late!?”

    EVERYONE hides behind something. Weight, colour, lifestyle, income, circumstances.

    My mother told me about a fortnight before she died, “If you really want to do something nothing will be able to stop you, and if you don’t really want to do something, you will always be able to find something to stop you. Don’t wait for tomorrow, you only get todays.” And under normal circumstances i’d probably have thought “Yeah, but it’s more complicated than that Mum” but then she died and somehow that made everything MUCH simpler.

    I am doing all those things i was going to do when X had happened. It’s frightening but then so empowering. I have finally realised i don’t need to be thinner, fitter, faster, smarter, hotter, shorter or anything else. The only person whose acceptance can help me is my own and now i have it i can do fucking anything.

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  358. This is so true. I’m still growing into accepting myself as I am, but the point is, I’m realizing what’s wrong with all the illusions I held before. Those things above, “If I were thin, I could x, y, and z” are the same sort of thoughts that plagued me. I’m young (only 19), and all throughout my life as a kid I thought just changing who I was could help. If I were thin, I wouldn’t be “ugly”. If I were thin, people would compliment me instead of calling me names. (Perhaps true, but the people calling me names weren’t worth my time anyway – something that hit me as I grew older.) If I were thin, I would have more friends and maybe even a good relationship. Those thoughts are poisoning, in a way. They kept me from loving myself for who I really am.

    Part of what made me see what was wrong with thinking like that was getting older and learning to think for myself instead of blindly accepting others’ (real or imagined – low self-esteem plus paranoia contributed to that) criticism. Another part is the relationship I’m currently in. It’s the best I’ve ever had, and I’m happier as a whole because of it, but it’s also made me realize some things. I don’t have to be thin to be loved. I don’t have to fit a narrow definition of what’s “right” to merit affection. I can be beautiful and loved while still being the same fat person I always have been.

    When I realized that, I actually cried. I still do sometimes. It makes me happy, that I can finally feel like a genuine human being, not some sub-par excuse trying to pass myself off as worthwhile. I already am worthwhile; I just didn’t know it. It’s sad in a way that it took me so long to notice it, but the point is that it happened.

    What’s truly sad is that so many people go through life and never realize that those kind of thoughts aren’t hard-defined, unchangeable rules. They never see that they’ve allowed ad campaigns and unrealistic expectations to delude them into hating who they are. I just hope that someday people will recognize that sort of mind pollution for what it is, and come to love themselves for who they truly are.

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  363. Kate, thank you for this post. I know there will not be much traffic on this thread now at this late date, but if you see this – I really appreciate you putting your thoughts out there!! I have found myself, over the last three hours, walking back and forth to the computer to contemplate and read your post and each of the responses. During that time, I’ve read bits to my husband and cried a bit. So much of it is so similar to what I’ve gone through that it’s liberating to know that I’m not the only one.

    I was a large child but slimmed down in college (ROTC) and in the mililtary – where for 7 years the number “159” (my max allowable military weight) ruled my life. Twice, during those years, I was hospitalized for exercise-bulemia related problems.

    I got out of the military 15 years ago and my last “diet” was about a decade ago when I decided I was sick (literally) with all that bunk and decided to work on accepting myself for who I am. Along those lines, I still struggle sometimes… and mainly that struggle takes the form of the lurking FoBT voice. I suppose alot of that is from family history (my grandma used to try to pay me to lose weight and my mom preferred shaming).

    For a myriad of reasons I have gained much weight since my military days. I work to be healthy (I swim and walk), and I try to accept that I am who I am. I could be healthier… but as you say about your yoga, even doing a little makes me feel better than doing nothing!!

    So, thanks again for your post. I’m still on the journey of acceptance, and your posts are helping me immeasurably :)

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  366. I’m technically “thin” (more like athletic, to me “thin” implies weakness and weakness SUCKS) and my life is not magically perfect. Some of my larger friends seem to think that I magically should not have relationship, money, friend, etc. problems because I am within a certain biometric range. Being “thin” doesn’t change anything, your MIND and perception of things does – and well, sometimes life will take a crap on you no matter what your BMI happens to be. Do what you want/can with your life and stop letting your size/shape be a convenient excuse.

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  368. I think a decent chunk of the reason people feel demoralized when their diet is shrugged off by their friends is because there’s a strong parallel, at least psychosocially, between dieting and quitting smoking. You expect it to be long and hard and you expect to have days that are simply ridiculous.. and you expect to be able to call on your friends for “you can do it! don’t give up!”s. When someone says right off the bat that they reject the whole premise, wrapped up in that is a future dearth of moral support.. that a lot of people believe to be the crux of getting through hard times.

    At any rate I’m not suggesting someone *should* morally support an endeavor they don’t believe in.. just putting another facet out there as to the whys of reactions.

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  373. If I lost weight , I thought, I’ll look like a girl, and then maybe I’ll actually feel like a girl.

    After years and years of feeling this way, I eventually just got a sex change.

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  376. Just popped here through today’s Aunt Fattie letter…so glad I hit that link. Thanks for writing this. I always think my life would be so much easier if I was thin: no more conflict, no more depression, success with my writing, vacations (??? it even perplexes me, the level of insanity thinking). I’ve always felt angry when I’ve had these thoughts too, because I can look them in the eye and know they’re such bull*hit…but I just *feel* this way. And you are right: all this does is hold me back from being the person I really am. I guess inside we’re all a little afraid of that person…like she isn’t good enough. Sigh. At 36, after publishing a chapbook and getting sober and having a cat and a relationship I’m still thinking I’m not good enough. That smarts.

  377. Thanks for this post. It’s fabulous, and for me, SO TRUE. I actually did lose a bit of weight at one point, and you know what? My life did not change over night! Lots of things were still really hard and challenging! My relationship with my body didn’t even change drastically! Now I have gained back most of the weight, but I am probably happier with my body than ever, which has more to do with self-esteem and self-acceptance than the size of my body.

  378. thanks so much for this post. i’m glad i found it. your thoughts going through my head all day long – i felt a lot lighter today. although many things you wrote are not unfamiliar to me – it feels good to read them written down by another person, getting new input for coping with my body/ identity, to love it (it is indeed loveable…) and to (for the thousands time) acknowledge that life won’t get easier if I lose weight.
    I spent – I wasted a lot of years of my young life with fantasizing about being thin. It’s no exaggeration if I say: it began when I was 5 y/o. Now I am 23 and guess it is not too late….the fabulous me doesn’t have to be a thin person!

  379. technically i’m thin. 125 pounds and 27 years old. I’ve never been fat. i don’t have an eating disorder and never have. but i find myself looking at myself daily and seeing fat thighs and bits i wish were thinner. i have the ‘thin fantasy’ and i feel a lot of the time my life is on hold. there’s so many things i put off. i even cancelled my 23rd birthday plans because i was feeling fat (i was in fact even thinner back then). i really have to push myself to do stuff. i often don’t want to go out to bars or clubs because i don’t feel i’m thin enough yet. it’s ridiculous really. i seem to feel that when i get to that ideal weight people will respect me more, want to be my friend more, think highly of me, find me more interesting. i even think that if i’m thin my blushing problem will disappear. how in the world i think those things are linked i don’t know! it’s crazy. i feel like i’ll be a happier person, i’ll do more things, have more friends, be more fashionable. the list goes on. and this, bearing in mind, will all happen when i lose 5lbs. absolutely crazy. and of course i have been that 5lbs thinner through dieting or gym. and you know my life (obviously) doesn’t change in the slightest. it just makes me think i need to lose a couple more pounds. but nothing magically changes. and i know that. but i still want it. silly. i have the same thing about being tanned. i don’t tan, never have, never will. i’m white as a sheet. but i have this image of how much better my life would be if only i was browner. and that’s somehow worse as it’s something i can’t change and people really make inconsiderate comments. i hate being on the beach because of it (and of course my ‘wobbly’ thighs).
    anyway, my point is that no one is every happy with what they have. and i have the whole acceptance thing too, i can’t bring myself to accept that i’ll always have fat, lily white knees and thighs even at my slimmest (which i look at and think are SO unattractive and can’t imagine anyone would ever find that attractive).
    This post though has really helped. Kate you wrote down exactly how I feel in regards to the ‘waiting for your life to begin’. I hate that I do that. But i think i must really truly believe in the thin fantasy otherwise why would i keep on doing it?
    I’ve spent a week slowly reading through every comment to this post and it’s great to hear people who can accept who they are.
    The saddest part is that when i think about it, the main reason i want to be that ‘thin’ person is to get more male attention and to feel envied by other women. why do I need that? why? i have a wonderful boyfriend who loves my body and even my whiteness (although i often even question this, probably because i have my own hang ups) and why is it so important to me to want to have other women in awe of me. i don’t have to lose 5lbs to do that. it won’t happen ever because i’m just not that sort of girl that stands out. but i don’t want to let go of the thin fantasy because if i do it means i have to accept i’ll never be that girl. that girl is someone who knows how to dress and has a certain charisma about her. and that girl doesn’t even have to be thin anyway.
    anyway, sorry for long post. but thanks so much Kate, this has been a revelation. And all the comments are just great.

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  381. Hi Kate and everyone,

    This “fantasy of being thin” reminded me a paper from Sam Murray where she writes about her experience of “waiting to become”.
    She says: One is waiting to become ‘‘thin’’, to
    become ‘‘sexual’’, waiting to become. The underpants were simply a ‘‘tool’’ on the way to my expected transformation into a thinner, more aesthetically
    appealing body.

    And here is the link for the whole paper:
    URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10350330500154667

  382. Kate,
    That was fabulous! At 39, I think I am finally coming to this place of acceptance. I was raised by gorgeous parents, a mother who despised that I wasn’t a size 5, cheerleader, heart-stealer like she had been. I have always thought I wasn’t right. Forget all the things that I couldn’t do…I just wasn’t meant to be on this earth. After a load of struggle, I am beginning to realize that accepting myself is going to save my life. I blog-surfed on Sunday (something I’ve never had time to do) and found so many sites supporting my new goal. Bless your heart for sharing your story and allowing others to share theirs. I am making baby steps compared to a lot of folks writing here, but that’s okay. I don’t live in an area of the world that accepts fat. And by that, I don’t mean that I get hit or yelled at. I mean that if people are oversized, they just seem to give up. So, I haven’t had good examples, and thank God for the internet to finally find some! Keep writing…I will definitely buy your book! Thanks so much.

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  384. Hey. I’m a late comer to this blog and this post, but wow! Just wow. I so totally relate to so much of the things posted here. I know about being irritated that I can’t go on rides at the amusement parks… a fellow larger person pointed me to Disneyland where most of the rides are big friendly. I could hardly believe it, but it was true. I went on the Matterhorn 5 times and it was ROOMY and I had a ball. California Adventure was not quite as roomy as regular Disneyland, but I went on some of the rides and really enjoyed them too.

    I also wanted to share that after years of feeling like I could never be sexy because I was fat, the Internet, bless it’s little heart helped me to see that size really doesn’t matter. At first I gained confidence in the text-only world. Roleplay was fun and helped me to learn how to weed out the real people from the Snerts (jerk-face barely literate assholes).

    The Internet also helped me over the last hurdle of self-acceptance with body image (not that I’m 100% positive about it all the time even now). But I’m 43 and greying and I never wore any makeup and never considered myself very good looking. I definitely felt all the things people felt about not bothering to try (and again I still do feel that way A LOT). But I met a terribly sexy younger man who taught me that I could be sexy without having to change who I am in any way. This on top of being married since I was 21 and constantly propped by a husband who has been nothing but adoring all our married life. I had talked myself into believing that he was only saying that he liked my looks out of ‘obligation.’

    I experimented and had a threesome with a gorgeous thin lady who I adore to this day although we’ve lost touch, and a randy Irish fellow who had no problem what so ever with my size. This was eye-opening. I don’t recommend cheating on a spouse, however as that leads to some serious trust issues.

    My husband has been quite open about my experimenting online (after the row about the threesome ), as long as I did not bring any strays home as he’d put it. Heheh.

    But I still thought, okay I’m a fat woman (hovering around 300), and yes I did have fun with the aforementioned experiment, but those folk were closer to my age at the time and I figured that as such, more open to the flaws of real people.

    I did not set out to meet anyone at all, but ran into a younger fellow playing an online game I liked at the time. We were friends for a long time and then we were much closer friends and he let me see him on his webcam. Imagine one of the male elves from the Lord of the Rings with long brown hair instead of white… thin and gorgeous with dark blue eyes. Naturally since he’d opened up, then I was sposed to too, but I said to myself Oh no freaking way. I’m pushing 40, this here guy is a good 18 years younger than me…. and look at him he’s absolutely drop dead gorgeous.

    So for a long time I didn’t use a webcam… I had a whole set of excuses. My daughters were home… I can’t get nekked and show you right now…. anything to put off the inevitable moment of caving into pressure and having him flee in the opposite direction.

    I’d warned him long before it had come to this point… I’m fat… I’m old… I’m not gorgeous…. I’m just a chubby old mom… He repeated ad nauseum that none of this bothered him and he wanted to see me.

    So finally I bit the bullet and sent him some pictures. These only inflamed his desire to see more of me in the flesh (Ha!) on the webcam. Still I was reluctant…

    Long story short however, when I finally got the courage, my pretty boy did not turn tail and run like I expected him to, and he actually has worked very hard to get me to accept myself as is, and not be down on myself, very much like this blog.

    I offer this as encouragement to those that feel like no one will love them because they are fat. You can overcome! Just be yourself. It’s easy to say and hell of hard to do, but it’s true.

    I still have to contend with crap from the ‘health nazis’ which was particularly bad at my daughters’ Junior High school. I have twin girls, one thin, one chubby. One would eat only pizza, Ramen, and Mountain Dew if we allowed her, and one absolutely loves every vegetable ever created, even Brussel Sprouts which I absolutely abhor!

    One daughter got all sorts of notes home from her PE teachers saying she’s obese and she is at risk for diabetes and I am neglecting her by allowing this to happen. Come Parent/Teacher conference time, I offered the above anecdote and asked them to identify which of my daughters liked veggies and diet drinks and which liked pizza and Mt. Dew.

    Naturally they thought the thin one was the good eater. And naturally they were wrong. It really irritates me though, and how excited I am to find this place… some place where the Fat Nazi’s aren’t shoving their beliefs down people’s throats.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! And sorry for the bloody long Tome of a post.

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  390. You’re so right! I’m a high school student, and I’ve always had this dream that if I was thin I would be accepted to my dream college. I’d go to the interview in an absolutely perfect outfit and be accepted in a snap. When school started in the fall I’d arrive at my new dorm with my absolutely perfect wardrobe, and my new roommate(s) and I would become best friends. I’d take long strolls around the campus and find my dream guy. But, if I went to college fat, I’d always envisioned the standard stresses of the increased course load, dorm life, plus the freshman fifteen! I know that theoretically the difference between thin and fat doesn’t change the whole college experience, but I still feel that being thin would change SOMETHING.

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  394. This piece is so amazing, Kate. I’ve been thin all my life — underweight when I was a child and teen, actually — and I’ve just started moving from the “slender” category to the “pudgy” one as I approach 30. It was so much easier for me to be an FA-ally when I was thin. But of course as soon as the stretch marks showed up on my thighs, it all went out the window, and I started feeling like there were all these things I couldn’t do until I lost, or at least stopped gaining, weight. I think that my metabolism is changing, and that’s perfectly natural; I know I’ll revisit this post, and your blog, from now on as I work to accept my body and myself.

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  399. I’ve spent the day reading your website. I love my body, I love myself, I’m a curvy girl. I just get depressed when I see pictures, and I think “why don’t I look as good in pictures as I feel about myself?” I think I’ve got it all wrong. I want to get that dissonance figured out and start looking with pride at pictures of me, with the same pride I feel just *being* me.

    I canceled my WW online subscription for the last time. I want to exercise more and drink more water because I like being healthy. But it’s not going to be about being food-obsessed and counting and concentrating on numbers. Just about loving my body and feeling good about it.

    So, yes. Thanks, and I’ll be a regular reader from now on :-)

  400. WOW i can completely relate to EVERYTHING that you’re saying. Inside me, there is a skinny (ie extroverted, popular, sexy, desired) person just DYING to get out. I’ve always felt fat, and it has prevented me from doing or going for many, many things in life. I feel like i don’t deserve it, or that it is just not possible for a person who looks like me (weight-wise). I dont flirt or wear the clothing i would like to. Although i’ve dated, i never feel like any man would ever be attracted to me because i’m so heavy, and i just CANNOT flirt because i feel that the man would run away as soon as he relaized that i was interested.

    the most disturbing part?

    I’m a size six. that’s right, a 6. sometimes an 8, but still.

    i need help.

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  403. I read this after being pointed towards the post by a friend who’s big on your blog. I really wanted to like it but I found it hard to because, well I’m the wrong kind fat (not built curvy at all, just fat) and have never been in a relationship (I’m 38) and have grown tired of the “just love yourself message”. I have never attempted to diet; I know better. I am engaged in activities I enjoy, have a great loving family, friends, awesome job, cash money, blah blah blah. Nevertheless, when I read something like this, as much as I want to rah rah rah, I feel kind of insulted.

    As a black woman I wouldn’t tolerate someone saying, “Change your thinking about blackness” It’s so much more complicated than that. I love my blackness; I hate the white supremacist society in which I live. When I am alone in my home reading an awesome book, taking a bubble bath or cooking a meal, I love my fatness. It’s just going out into the world and dealing with the crap, no matter how high I hold up my head (and I get a lot of practice at this being a black chick) there are some days when I just which I was thin so I could have one less assy thing to deal with.

    So no, I’m keeping my fantasy thankyouverymuch. It’s better than the alternative which involves swallowing a lot of pills.

  404. Nicole, I hope you stick around the blog and read some more — you don’t have to agree, obviously, but you might find the conversations to be interesting. Your comment reminded me of this post, which I recommend checking out.

  405. Just found this blog through this post….no one can explain how reading the posts and comments in the past 3 days has lifted my mood and made me feel a-okay….because i guess i already knew all these things, but now i know other people agree with me, adamantly!

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  408. I am totally behind the idea that people should not be treated as subhuman just because they’re overweight. To me that’s what “fat acceptance” means.

    But I did not start out fat, and I DON’T like being fat. It is extra stress on my joints, it causes skin problems when body parts that didn’t used to be in close proximity are now or when skin folds over on itself, it has forced me to spend more money on clothes and to special-order shoes, etc. I hate it. It doesn’t even feel like “me.” There’s no reason on earth I should have to settle for this when I don’t like it in the first place.

    And I get upset when people say diets don’t work because it is complete hogwash. Changing the way you eat DOES work IF your extra weight is related to eating badly–not even eating a lot, just eating *wrong.* That’s my problem. Diabetes runs in my family and yet I’ve eaten a grain-heavy diet my entire life, and it shows now. Other stuff is likely going on as well, like thyroid issues, but the diet’s a big deal. And I know that’s what a lot of it is because if I completely cut grain out of my diet and get rid of most starchy foods, the weight starts coming off.

    I have also witnessed other people losing lots and lots of weight and keeping it off. But you can’t go back to basing your diet on rice, soy, bread, and pasta and expect the weight to stay off. I don’t understand why people don’t seem to get that actions have consequences.

    And, again, it is not to say that being fat is a bad thing if someone wants to be. I learned recently that fatness doesn’t even lead to greater mortality–fact, they found this out for sure two years ago in research studies. So if it’s where you are OK being, great. But if you don’t want to be fat, don’t pretend that you can just keep on going the way you’re going and the weight will come off and stay off forever, because that’s not how changes in habits work. You can’t get out of debt by being a spendaholic, you can’t get ahead in your career by neglecting your education and you can’t get or keep the weight off by eating crap. Period.

  409. And to be clear, I said what I did about diet because INASMUCH as someone might be overweight because of how they eat–this is often the cause, but not always–I’ve seen a LOT of folks claim diets don’t work because you go on the diet, lose the weight, get off it and the weight comes back. I’ve seen that *specific* complaint and it really galls me.

    Know why I’m still overweight? Because I started low-carbing last July and then I quit. Because I chose to not stay on the eating plan, even though I was not starving or deprived. I made my own choice. I could be done with the weight loss by now and getting on with other things had I not made that choice. It wasn’t the eating plan, it was me.

    I do think a lot of what passes for “healthy eating” out there is crap, and expecting any adult fat or thin to exist on a diet of less than 2000 calories and very little fat is more or less an abusive attitude to which I don’t subscribe. But I wasn’t on that kind of eating plan. The stuff I was skipping was stuff that actually WAS bad for me.

    But obviously if you’ve been big all your life or you eat healthy in the evolutionary sense of the term (i.e., human beings *should* eat fat because we have large brains and for hormonal balance) and you’re still overweight, the food isn’t the issue. And if you get a medical workup and your numbers are normal, leave it at that and laugh rudely at anyone who gives you crap.

  410. Oh, and one more thing and I’ll quit being Posty McPostPost for today. Sorry. *laugh* It just occurred to me that if I saw someone walking around with an un-set broken arm, I would probably say something to them. I would express concern that they should go to the doctor. I would even help them get there myself if they had no transportation. If someone had a headache I’d give them meds for it; if someone had a runny nose I’d hand them a Kleenex. Inasmuch as people still believe being fat means being unhealthy, and inasmuch as fatness sometimes *is* a sign of ill health (again, not always, but it is a sign of endocrine imbalance and that is a serious problem), don’t assume someone is being a “nazi” if they remark upon your weight as long as they’re not being nasty about it. Sometimes it really is humane concern and nothing else. It’s odd that liberal types complain about conservatives expecting human beings to act against their own natures but when a person acts according to their nature and it offends you, all of a sudden being unnatural sounds like a good idea. A little ideological consistency would be nice. (I’m not a conservative, but I have observed this too.)

  411. Dana, an unset broken arm is easily and permanently reversible. Fat? Not so much. And a perfect assuming I don’t know my own size and shape is insulting me.

    Furthermore, I do not accept the idea that most fatasses are so because they are not trying hard enough or “cheating.” People get hungry. That is not a pathology. Wanting carbs is not a pathology. Intractable binge-eating is a problem, yes, and it sucks for that small percentage of fat people who suffer from it. It does not, however, suck for OTHER PEOPLE WHO DO NOT KNOW THEM.

  412. Not to mention that a broken arm is a catastrophic event for which a person needs immediate help. And the analogy where someone asks you for aspirin for your headache… jesus, metaphor should be a controlled substance apparently. Unless I missed something and Dana is saying that she would actually go around forcing aspirin on people because they looked like they might be the type of people who you would think would be likely to have a headache, whether they do or not. Although even that analogy isn’t perfect, because it leaves out the part where you’re actually forcing the aspirin on them because you find them unattractive, and the pretense of helping the headache you imagine they have is bogus pandering.

  413. don’t assume someone is being a “nazi” if they remark upon your weight as long as they’re not being nasty about it.

    I’ve been getting comments about my weight for more than 30 years (starting when I was a size 6) and have never, ever heard one that isn’t nasty. People don’t go out of their way to tell me that I have brown hair… how is being fat any different?

  414. Don’t assume that people constantly pointing out your deviation from societal norms are being mean, you guys! They’re just so worried that you might not know how much you deviate! Wouldn’t we all be better off if you just made yourself miserable by conforming to all societal norms? God, why do you assume everyone is just trying to be so MEAN to you all the time? You must be oversensitive or something.

    I am totally behind the idea that people should not be treated as subhuman just because they’re overweight

    Dana, as they say: UR DOING IT WRONG

  415. I have also witnessed other people losing lots and lots of weight and keeping it off.

    Where do you live, Dana? I’m honestly curious. I’m 48 and have lived in six different states and I have never known anyone who was fat, lost lots of weight, and kept it off except one lady who lost it by becoming diabetic (not advising that route). And she’s by no mean scrawny, nor did she stay at her lowest weight once diagnosed.

    I have contact with people from some of the states I lived in long past and I know a lot of people who lost weight easily the first time and were all convinced “eat right and you can keep the weight off” who discover that as the years go by just dropping sugared soda doesn’t do the job any more. Our bodies are designed to enable us to survive famine; your body has no way of knowing that you are choosing to limit calories, so the yo-yo dieter has “taught” their body that they live in a famine-prone environment and their matabolism drops like a stone when they go on a diet.

    Everyone I know who is really, really heavy got there through years of disciplined dieting. I don’t know anyone who argues that diets don’t work short-term; there’s considerable evidence that they do. Diets don’t work because 95% of people who go on diets either return to the weight they were before dieting or end up heavier some years later (five years on the 95% one, memory serves; studies going two years are more likely to say 75% or so, which is still the clear majority).

    Sometimes it really is humane concern and nothing else.

    Why would a truly human person who lives in this culture assume that a fat person has no idea that healthy eating is the way to go or what healthy eating means? Most humane people assume that others are intelligent enough to hear a message that’s being pounded into them through every media available. And they give others the right to make their own choices, to boot.

  416. I should say “their metabolism often drops like a stone” when they limit calories. Personally, once I hit my adult size the only times I’ve gained weight in my life was through dieting, but I do recognize this isn’t everyone’s experience. Yo-yo dieting does seem to condition the body to lower the metabolism when there’s a calorie limit, but the rapidity and extent of that change varies based on hereditary factors, best I can tell.

  417. But if you don’t want to be fat, don’t pretend that you can just keep on going the way you’re going and the weight will come off and stay off forever, because that’s not how changes in habits work

    Missing the point award of the day?

    Dana, people go off diets because the diet is not sustainable for the rest of their lives. They get hungry or they start uncontrollably craving carbs or whatever. So the gradually start returning to the normal eating that their body asks for and the weight comes back on.

    As for “expressing concern for people’s health”… fat people know we’re fat. And we’ve seen all the news reports telling us how unhealthy obesity is. So to come up to a fat person and tell them: “You know, your weight is unhealthy, have you tried diet and excercise?” is condescending as fuck.

  418. Everyone I know who is really, really heavy got there through years of disciplined dieting.

    Bingo! shiloh wins a turkey!

  419. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not… Maybe I should re-read the FA bingo cards, Ack!

    I didn’t mean to imply that people only end up on the overweight or obese part of the charts by dieting; I know a lot of people who’re obese according to the charts who’re quite healthy and, to my knowledge, never seriously dieted. OTOH, disciplined dieting doesn’t garuntee you’ll get so heavy it hurts, because my mom’s one of the most disciplined dieters I know and she’s merely overweight according to the charts (she’s the heaviest in her family, though).

    I just could never buy into the whole “discipline is all it takes” idea because the most disciplined and driven people I knew were also the heaviest. If discipline is all it takes, why was this the only area in all these peoples lives where their disipline wasn’t working? And my one friend whose weight really was having a negative impact on her life, once she was diagnosed, had no problem at all following her diabetic diet, so my theory is that the extra weight was more about her diabetes than her eating patterns, and she’s lucky enough that the current assigned diet is one that works well for her (it’s actually more calories than she used to allow herself). She’s still a good ways from scrawny, but she is sooo much more healthy now.

    Anecdotal data may be iffy, but in this case once I started tracking down the studies they seemed to support my observation.

  420. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not…

    It’s a very good thing… if you like turkey. If you don’t, please accept a lovely ham or tofu block. Here’s a short history of my own yo-yo dieting.

    age 11 – 115 pounds – 1st diet – dropped to 100 (thank god hunger kept me from losing too much).

    age 20 – 130 pounds – dropped to 99

    age 30 – 150 pounds – dropped to 120

    age 35 – 170 pounds – dropped to 130

    age 42 – 190 pounds – dropped to 170 – metabolism is completely shot. I started gaining weight on 1400 calories a day.

    Current weight – 210 pounds.

    I managed to nearly double my weight through dieting. Yay! You’d think I’d have figured it out the 2nd, or even 20th time, but no.

  421. It’s a very good thing… if you like turkey.

    Excellent. I’ll take the turkey with thanks.

    You’d think I’d have figured it out the 2nd, or even 20th time, but no.

    Well, most people don’t ever get it. I wonder if I didn’t read an excerpt from Fat is a Feminist Issue in Ms magazine or otherwise stumble against those concepts fairly early on, because I do remember connecting the concept of being anti-diet and feminism when I was in my teens. I was saddened to discover how many Internet feminists are anti-FA.

    I did give dieting a shot when I was sixteen, dropped my calorie count by more than two thirds and added in major exercise, managed to lose less than ten pounds in two months. Visited grandma for a week, she was all freaked about anorexia (a neighbor girl had just been hospitalized for it) so I was under orders to “eat normally,” gained it all back with a ten pound bonus. Way too much work for way too little result.

    I managed to nearly double my weight through dieting later, though, but it was deliberate. I dealt with a series of sexual assaults, different perps, and after the last and worst one I started dieting to put weight on on the theory that they’d lose interest and as a bizarre form of revenge (guys really do seem to take it personally if you aren’t the weight they want).

    Classic passive-aggressive stupidity on my part, but did serve to drive home that the CICO formulation doesn’t work – never lost an ounce so far as I could tell (not much for weighing), yet my binges were smaller than a regular meal had been before I started dieting (I’ve never been much of a binger), and despite the lowered calorie intake I gained.

    My weight’s been stable for years but I still tend to undereat and want to quit doing that because I feel better when I eat more. I get leg cramps and dizziness when I undereat but I’m so used to ignoring my hunger I’ve decided to try a food diary to try to get my calories up. Dunno if I’ll gain by paying more attention to appetite but I suppose it’s a possibility.

    Deeply regret the dieting although the extra weight did help my emotional stability at one time. But some other approach might have worked better than messing up my metabolism. You’d think I would have known better than to shoot myself in the foot that way, but no.

  422. You’d think I would have known better than to shoot myself in the foot that way, but no.

    I wish someone had told me. In fact, an integral part of my own fantasy of being is that the ability to time-travel. I go back to my 11-year-old self and say, “Psst, kid! You’re fully grown. You’re supposed to have that “fat” (i.e., boobs and hips). DIETING WILL MESS YOU UP!!!”

    And then I’d have a long talk with my mother, who put me on my first cabbage soup diet. Sigh.

  423. I go back to my 11-year-old self and say, “Psst, kid! You’re fully grown. You’re supposed to have that “fat” (i.e., boobs and hips). DIETING WILL MESS YOU UP!!!”

    I don’t think my past self would listen (and really it didn’t start bugging me that much for over a decade, so my past self may have had a point), but I sure as the world tell my daughters and anyone else who will listen that “DIETING WILL MESS YOU UP. Just DON’T EVEN START, okay?”

    My daughters all seem to have taken this to heart (we’ll see as the younger ones hit puberty), but I do worry about the daughter of a friend of mine who is by no means fat but is rounder and more solid than her siblings and apparently gets teased about it, which enrages me. One of my kids has been “a block” since birth, to quote my dad, but fortunately it’s a boy, although I’ve heard he’s gotten teased about it, too. He is not at all fat, either. *sigh*

    My fantasies are all about learning to eat to appetite and losing weight that way. Does happen sometimes but admittedly not likely. I think I have some built-in resistance to the whole dieting thing because I have short legs and shoulders like a linebacker – even if I were scrawny I still wouldn’t be “right,” y’know? Plus in my teens the ideal was Twiggy and other small-bosomed, straight-sided types; I’m curvy with a Rack of Doom even at my lowest weight, so there was no way I was ever going to look anything like the ladies in the fashion mags.

  424. My family is composed of ropy little elves and square little bricks. I fall into the “bad” category. Even when I did diet down to 100 pounds – very thin for me – and was working out daily, I didn’t have visible muscles or ribs. My cheekbones stuck out a bit, but that’s considered attractive. I still had a round, molded look… which I hated. Sigh. My goal was to have that gap between my thighs that naturally skinny people have. Sigh. So much wasted time.

  425. My goal was to have that gap between my thighs that naturally skinny people have.

    I don’t think all skinny people have that – I’ve had some very thin friends who didn’t, anyhow. I think it has as much to do with the shape of the thigh bone and how it fits to the pelvis as anything.

    http://www.paulgrilley.com/paul%20bonez%20web/Index.html

    I associate a gap between the thighs with being bowlegged, not attractive, but apparently that’s a common goal and a major beauty point. Huh. I missed out on so many aspects of Diet Culture, yet I still ended up falling into it headlong. It’s odd.

  426. Shiloh, I had that gap at around a size 18 US so you sure don’t have to be skinny to have it. When I dieted myself superskinny back when you could get speed on the street (1970s) easily, it was like the freaking Chunnel or the St Louis Arch. Of course you could also count my vertabrae.

    I can surely relate to the diets=weight gain thing. I’ve lost over 500 pounds in my lifetime, starting at around age 12 up until about two, three years ago. I gave up but hated myself and my body, thinking I’d never have happiness because I could never have the fantasy come true. Thankfully I found FA and some of it has sunk in because I’m starting to become happy again. It’s a process.

  427. Where do you live, Dana? I’m honestly curious. I’m 48 and have lived in six different states and I have never known anyone who was fat, lost lots of weight, and kept it off

    Heh, me neither. You see this everywhere as a sniffy rebuttal to the “90+% of diets fail” statistic, but I for one have never personally known anyone who has lost a significant amount of weight (or even a not-that-significant amount of weight) and kept it off for 5 years or more. Not one person. Considering the number of people who are dieting at any given time, I’d be suspicious even if I had only known a few people to accomplish this, but the number is ZERO. To me that’s pretty striking.

    What I have seen is “lots and lots” of concern trolls airily asserting that they’ve known apparently millions of people who were successful dieters. So I guess Dana’s and my experience differ in that respect.

  428. This post call to me in so many ways… I’m not fat, but dreaming up a better life, if only I could be prettier and thinner (’cause I couldn’t be pretty if I’m fat, you see!) (which I now know I’m not), is something I’m used to.
    First time I told myself I was fat and needed to lose weight? I was 12. Back then, I was nowhere near fat; but instead of my mom petite and light frame, I inherited my dad’s heavier one. I never was petite, always looked heavier alongside my friends, and always will. I still thought it was my fault somehow; I was on the bad end of some mean bullying and it all mixed up in my head: surely if I wasn’t that fat, they would stop teasing me. Hey, if I was thin, I could have friends and stop being the shy bookworm who enjoyed school a bit too much for her own good!
    If I was thin, I could get the guts to talk to guys, and even have a boyfriend like so many girls my age!
    If I was thin, I would get confident, like to hang out with others…
    The list was long. I’m lucky, in a sense: my body always react so strongly whenever I skip a meal (migraines, on the verge of fainting all the time, feeling that my legs are going to give up every step I take), I couldn’t stop myself from eating when I needed to. So I couldn’t screw up my body too bad.
    Then my hormones played a mean trick on me, 3 years later. I didn’t became fat, not exactly (even though I’m overweight now, according to my BMI, I probably wouldn’t be if it hadn’t been for the 5 or 6 next years of overeating, then subsequently dieting, and repeat ad vitam eternam), but I went overnight from a small B to a big DD. Hips appeared, and since I have big thighs to begin with, they became even bigger. The fantasy was back, stronger then ever.
    I had no confidence, no self-esteem, and felt like everything would be so much easier… not if I was thin, but if I was more confident. If I was more confortable in my own skin, if I could like myself a bit more. And somehow, that got mixed up with my weight.
    I’m still strugling now. I still find myself thinking “If I were thin” more often then I want. I know I’m not fat, but the fact is, if my pants don’t have a bit of strech to them, I have to take them bigger than my size, or else they won’t go over my thighs. The way most shirts are made, you need to be petite all over, or big all over. You’re not supposed to have a woman body. You’re not supposed to have curves. And it’s real hard to convince myself the problem is with the clothes, not with my body.
    If I was (really) thin…
    I could dress however I like.
    I wouldn’t have spent half my teenage years desperate to find anything that fit, and being forced by my mom to buy things that were too big for me.
    I wouldn’t worry everytime I try on a shirt. (Is it to short? Too décolleté? Is it the kind of shirt that look awesome on a thin girl, but when they look at me, all people are gonna see is one big, walking pair of boobs?)
    I know it doesn’t compare to what some of you have lived through. But I can relate a bit. ‘Cause dreaming up my life, waiting for the fantastic person hidden inside of me to come out, is something I’m used to.
    And I’m sick of it.
    (sorry if my english isn’t that good… I’m french speaking, and english doesn’t come to me as naturally as french… so forgive any mistakes you probably spotted!)

  429. This post made me cry. I’m currently at the stage where I feel like fat acceptance is awesome, just not for me. I don’t know how to let go of the feeling that if I was thin, I would deserve to be alive. There are so many aspects to the fantasy, but that’s the feeling at the core of it.

    The silly thing is that, like others here, I already know it’s not true. The smallest I ever got is a US10/12, and to my eye, my body looked identical to its current US20 state. I just wanted to lose even more weight. (Sometimes I thought if I got to be an 8 or a 6 I would be all right, but deep down I know what my real goal was: to be 99 pounds — the same goal I have had since I was the first one in my peer group to break into double-digit weight as a child.) When my doctor told me that it was time to stop losing weight, I thought, “what does she know?”

    You know how kids want to be ballerinas or vets or firefighters? I wanted to be a Hooters waitress. That was my childhood dream. It’s hard to let go of so many years of brainwashing.

    I tried to get therapy for my body issues. I was about a US14 then, maybe smaller. About that time I was spending maybe 4-6 hours a day thinking obsessively about my appearance. My therapist told me that the way to cure my body issues was to lose 10 pounds. She ordered me to go on the South Beach diet, which wrecked my already fragile metabolism. I did lose 5 pounds though, temporarily, which enabled her to pronounce me cured and discontinue our sessions. After which point I promptly gained, mmm, 80 pounds.

    I know I need real, actual therapy; it’s pretty plain to see reading back on this post. Now to figure out how to find a therapist who isn’t an asshole.

    Maybe I just need one of those baby-flavored donuts with a couple Valium poked inside of it?

  430. What I have seen is “lots and lots” of concern trolls airily asserting that they’ve known apparently millions of people who were successful dieters. So I guess Dana’s and my experience differ in that respect.

    I wonder if a fair percentage of “successful dieters” are people who lost ten pounds and kept it off, although I can imagine that there are guys like my brother (who could use a fair chunk of weight just by dropping his soda habit when he was younger), who lose the weight young and then keep to a really healthy diet instead of sliding back into their former diet habits. The studies I’ve seen do argue that the people who keep the weight off have to be really obsessive about their diet and exercise routines; maybe I just don’t hang out with people who’re obsessive enough.

    My therapist told me that the way to cure my body issues was to lose 10 pounds.

    Sounds like a therapist who is not interested in doing her job. Aren’t theraposts supposed to teach people how to cope with the fact that the world does NOT conform to what they want or need? Or to live with the fact that humanity (including the person who needs therapy?) never reaches perfection? What’s the point of a therapist who says, “You’re right; you should be capable of the impossible and why aren’t you doing a better job of being perfect?” Sheesh!

    I hope you can find a therapist who has some interest in helping people. Hands over a half-dozen baby-flavored donuts to tide you over until then.

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  432. This post (and as much of the comment thread as possible) really needs to be published as a pamphlet and made available in the SP store.

    I make it a point to read this at least twice a month!

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  434. OMG, I am in tears right now after reading your post. I’ve been struggling with this issue for years, trying to become thin so that I could be the person I’m supposed to be. Thinking about it now, I can see that I’ve been obsessed with the “When I’m thins” and I’ve pretty much wasted the last 8 years of my life. I’ve never been able to accept myself the way I am now because I still see myself as the 125 lb. beanpole I used to be. When I see a photo of myself now, it’s such a shock and really demoralizing to see myself large. And even though I read the books, like Embracing Your Big Fat Ass, and think yeah okay I can love myself the way I am, there’s still a big part of me that thinks I’d love myself a whole lot more if there was a whole lot less of me to love. So thank you, from the bottom of my heart for this post because I’m turning over a new leaf right this minute. My birthday is coming up in a week and I’m determined to make this a better year, the year I start accepting myself for who I am right now and really living again.

  435. I just wanted to say that that essay was wonderfully written and really hit a chord with me. I’m not fat, according to BMI and jeans size, but I ALWAYS ALWAYS thought that there was someone better, thinner (actually, for me, it’s that there’s someone stronger, a la Gabby Reese or any number of models on the cover of a Fitness or Shape mag) inside me waiting to come out and be popular and successful, not to mention strong. I still think that way, I have to admit. There’s some notion in my head that if I become physically strong I can become emotionally strong as well, as in no one will EVEN TRY and mess with or hurt me if I have noticeable upper body strength. But reading this post has really gotten me to think about who I am and what it is that I’m so dissatisfied with about myself that I have to build myself into my own protector/bodyguard. I think I know that answer. Thanks for posting this.

  436. This essay describes exactly what I’m struggling with right now! After learning about the whole idea of fat acceptance, I was confronted with my own deeply ingrained feeling of “I am this awesome sexy woman on the inside, and an ugly fat woman on the outside”. I told people, “If my outside appearance reflected my inside personality, I’d look like Angelina Jolie”.

    Ha.

    The Fantasy, right? Like I would ever really want to be a celebrity, a Hollywood actress, and having done all the crazy crap that Jolie has done (which, on more than one occasion, made her look incredibly unhealthy).

    I started to realize, I’m me. Like you said. And that that’s actually perfectly okay. I’m starting to realize all of my talents and skills. The things I completely missed before, because I was too busy obsessing about what I couldn’t do I didn’t see what I *could* do.

    I still find it really difficult to deal with the comments of others, even if it’s just on some random forum or comments to a newspost about fat girls being refused entry to a club in England. It ties into the Fantasy again: if only I was thin, I could do this and that and I’d be a better, cooler person. It’s difficult to leave behind a thought pattern that you’ve accustomed yourself to for 14 years.

    But thanks to your blog and that of other FA bloggers, I’m already so much more ahead in this than I ever thought I would be. I seriously can’t stop thanking you enough. :)

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  439. OK, I’ll be Shapeling # 3 million to tell you how much I love this post. I don’t care, I love it so much that I have to write you anyway, knowing that you’ll probably never bother to read this far down into the comments!

    Reading your post and comments from the Shapeling community have made me laugh and cry. It’s so good to know that you aren’t alone. Thank you for that gift.

    theDreamer

  440. Pingback: Some Thoughts on “Health” « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

  441. About the whole “George Clooney” thing:

    Wow, I would never in a million years want to be married to George Clooney — he does not seem to be very much interested in truly connecting in a deeply personal, other-oriented way!

    Interestingly, the best and most satisfying love relationship I have ever had is my marriage – just had our 2 year anniversary — to a man who, when we started out, was quite fat. With all his heart he really wanted to be in a partnership and to share his life – he has so much love to give and appreciates being with me, growing together and experiencing our evolving marriage. We are so happy….and I KNOW I could never find this kind of joy with Mr. Clooney.

    One of the more delightful experiences I have had with my sweetie is the ongoing work we have done together to accept our bodies as they are and to support our well-being — since we moved in together 3 years ago he has learned that he likes to eat salads and other healthy foods, and he has recently joined a gym and has a personal trainer, and has learned that he loves feeling strong and being able to hike and carry heavy things. He will likely be plump always, but now he is also happy and fit.

    I came from the other end of the spectrum — obsessively thin for most of my life, and was never happy. He inspired me to grow a happy tummy and to enjoy relaxing and savoring my food and I have settled into a comfortable weight which would be overweight on the BMI, but which feels pretty good on my nervous system. And, I am studying to become a yoga teacher – so I am a fit plump woman and feel very sexy and good most of the time.

    with love.

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  444. I am sorry I forgot to add that the comments are as important to me in both these posts as the original posts. the post made me think in a NEW way, radical for me . while i could either empthathise/identify with, be awed by the comments….

  445. I volunteer for the Ask A Thin Person Title. I am a Very Thin Person.

    And my boyfriend cheated on me.

    And I got fired from my job.

    And I’m afraid to show my body in public.

    Being thin gets me some attention and some door prizes that fat people don’t get. But overall? I don’t see myself being a better, brighter, more successful person because I’m thin. I see myself as being held back because I’m self-hating.

    Love yourself and fuck the rest of the world. Otherwise you’ll end up A Very Thin Person With Huge Ulcers.

  446. Pingback: One More Time: It’s Not Your Body’s Fault ____ Doesn’t Fit. « The Long and Winding Road

  447. Huh. I don’t know how I came across this, but it is exactly how I feel. I’ll be honest: I’m not overweight. I feel like a fatass because I’m not toned, and I’ve been uh… blessed with a pear shaped body, which means my thighs and tummy look like they belong on someone else. But my BMI is in normal range, and I eat pretty well, stay relatively active, whatever.

    Still, I get all of this. I am constantly thinking that if I was a little more _____ and a little less _____, I’d have it made. It’s become an obsession with me to the point where I agonize over every little flaw before leaving the house, sure that people will notice it. It has stopped being about weight alone and extended into how I feel regarding my overall appearance and personality.

    Reading these comments, I wonder if I’ll look back in about 10 years and be saying the same things: I missed out on this relationship, that friendship, etc, because I was too wrapped up in my perceived shortcomings. I try to remember “we are not our bodies”, but there will always be that little voice in the back of my head that will snap “only fat/ugly girls think that way!”

    Everyone else is right, get thee to a publisher! This would make an excellent book. Especially if you integrated these comments into it.

  448. Pingback: Things I don’t do because I’m fat* « Living ~400lbs

  449. I saw a Lap Band commercial recently that made kind of sad. The people in the commercial were basically repeating this fantasy. “When I lose the weight, everything will be ok.” I wanted to scream at all of them, “IT’s not the weight!” It’s not the weight. Thin won’t fix anything. I’m a recovering anorexic and when I was really sick, nothing mattered except being thin enough. EVerything is ok, as long as I’m thin enough. And I was never more miserable. It was definitely never “ok.”

    It’s not the weight.

    It’s you. And me.

    I wish I could show this essay to everyone who focuses all their dissatisfaction, self-hatred, insecurity, fear into how much fat they have on their bodies. You will lose weight, and you will still never feel good enough, because the weight was never the problem. I wish I could make them believe this, get them to get it. I wish I could always believe it myself, in my heart. I wish I could always have faith that I am good enough and that I am loveable.

  450. I have been a thin ballet dancer, and now a big woman whom no one could ever guess I was heading for a career as a principle dancer. A few children later, my body changed greatly. Do I miss dancing on the stage? Yes, very much. But I still dance for my own pleasure.

    I have little fantasies and I’m going to be so honest today about them with myself, like I never have been:

    1. My mom in law who happens to be a WW leader will love me and accept me, once the weight is gone.

    2. My husband will pay more attention to me, instead of coming home from work and passing out in the chair after dinner.

    3. I’ll surprise everyone I haven’t seen in years, with how skinny I’m gonna be.

    4. I’ll have friends.

    Here is something bugging me… a couple months ago a woman and I crossed paths at the store because our little girls started up a conversation. They were so happy and excited to find each other. I commented that in our small town it’s hard to find play mates, and the other mom agreed. So i said, “Hey how about we trade numbers and let the girls play sometime?” She did so… and we parted ways. I tried calling her a few times and gave up.

    Finally called her the other day…when my daughter kept asking about the little girl at the store she met.
    Got ahold of the mom and she said “Oh I was looking for a vegan mom to hang with.”

    I said goodbye, hung up, and went to the bathroom to cry.

    I know why the woman didn’t want to hang with me… it’s because of my 300 pound body. She was very tall and thin. Maybe hanging out with a fat woman would make her uncomfortable.

    Ah, well, that’s too bad. We coulda been good friends…and or/ our daughters coulda been great play mates.

    At this point in my life… I feel very anti social, and that has to change once my daughter goes into kindy.

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  454. OK. I’m new to fat acceptance blogs but not to being fat. I understand that we should all be happy in our own skin and, personally, I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be thin, that, given the way this culture is, I would still probably think I was fat and I really can’t be arsed setting myself up to be miserable forever more. But I do still want to lose weight. I want to lose weight in order to start ovulating again and to get my actual medical condition (PCOS) better under control and the key way to do that is to lose weight. Does this count as a fantasy of being thin? Does this mean that I will automatically fail at fat acceptance because I would like to be able to have children one day? Should I just give up with these blogs now or is there a flaw in my thinking?

  455. NotOverreacting:

    As far as I know (in the process of being diagnosed with PCOS as well), weight loss is a consequence of getting treatment for PCOS, not an actual treatment in and of itself. The weight is a symptom, not a cause, so why treat the symptom instead of the cause?

  456. Announcement to everyone: there is no such thing as automatically failing FA. It is a philosophy. You get to decide what to do with it and what it means to you to live by it. There are no cards to carry, and no one can kick you out. I’m not trying to diminish the conflicting messages we get and feelings we all have, but viewing FA as yet another thing you can fail at is really, really beside the point.

  457. My “thin fantasy” was that my excruciatingly painful skin problems would magically disappear.

    For almost 15 years, I have been plagued by a mysterious skin problem. Every single doctor I saw (paid for out of my own pocket – I have never had health insurance) told me that my only problem was that I weighed too much, and that it would go away all on its’ own when I lost weight.

    Well, I did lose weight and was actually “thin” for a year or so – and the problems got worse. I was so depressed, I just wanted to die and end my misery. I gained the weight back, and then some.

    I long ago quit hoping that my problems could be cured. My dermatologist would write me a 6 month prescription for Adoxa (very expensive, icky side effects) and that would help a little bit, so I would take them for a couple of weeks and hoard the pills for the next flare up so I wouldn’t have to go back to the doctor. But I never bothered with even that after a point. I stopped going to the doctor at all, for anything, ever. I silently lived with the pain and shame I felt. It was my fault for being fat, after all. I felt like I deserved to suffer, and it was easier than paying a doctor to tell me I was fat.

    Two years ago, I moved far from home, and found a new dermatologist and doctor. After I showed the new dermatologist my problem in a fit of despair, he said, “I need to do some tests, but I am almost certain you have hidradenitis suppurativa”.

    When it turned out that I did, indeed, have this condition, I was elated. Which is pretty strange, considering how serious and painful the condition can be when it flares up. However, my joy came not from knowing just how bad it was, but from knowing that IT WASN’T MY FAULT and it wasn’t caused only because I was FAT as I had been hearing all of my life.

    It’s genetic, it usually kicks in around puberty, and there are plenty of “normal weight” people who have the condition 100 times worse than I have it. (boy do I feel sorry for anyone who has it worse than I do – it’s painful as hell). In fact it turns out that my case is only considered mild by most standards. I can’t believe something so incredibly painful is considered “mild” but I’ve seen pictures, and have to grudgingly agree that I got off lightly.

    Studies of hidradenitis suppurativa have shown that losing weight might theoretically help (in my case, it made it worse for some reason) but most of the evidence shows that weight has very little to do with it. And certainly, being thin will not completely 100% eliminate the problem as I have been told by at least a dozen doctors. Not to mention that these fatphobic doctors didn’t even care enough (or possibly weren’t educated enough) to recognize that it was an actual medical condition that had a name. They made me feel like it was my fault for being fat and told me that the only thing that would help is dieting and charged me good money for it.

    Now, when it happens, I at least have an idea of how to alleviate it to some degree. It still sucks, but it has a name, and it happens to skinny people too. I just wish I hadn’t spent so much of my hard earned cash on doctors who had no compassion for me (or respect for fat people in general).

  458. so it’s been almost a year since you wrote this post. i’m commenting here because my friends are sick of hearing this but i need to write it down somewhere. when i got married on june 24, 2007, i weighed 130 lbs. and i’m a little under 5’2″. i loved my body and its curves and my hair and its curls and my face and smile and i loved my husband and i loved everything about my life.

    then i got very, very, very sick a year ago. i dropped to 92 lbs. my hair fell out. i had to shave it to make it not look like i was a chemo patient. (i wasn’t. my hair was falling out because of malnutrition.) i spent months in the hospital, and more months dying before surgeries saved my life. i am only up to 105 now and i have to wear a permanent ostomy bag on my stomach, for the rest of my life. all my clothes don’t fit — either they’re too big or they show the bag.

    so all the things here:

    When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
    When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
    When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
    When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
    When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
    When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with.

    … i have them. but with, “when i get my weight back,” and “if i didn’t have this bag.”

    JUST NOW i’m starting to realise that i AM the person i was back when i was 130 and healthy. inside, i am the same person. so i’m making plans to travel, i’m trying to have more sex and be less self-conscious about my body, i’m trying to focus less on The Fantasy of the Person I Was Before and more on who i am NOW.

    a beautiful essay — thank you for writing it.

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  461. thank you so much for writing this. i’ve had an eating disorder for about 12 years now, and have never felt thin enough-not at 140 lbs, not at 165, and certainly not now at like 215. the difficult thing for me is that i feel like i’ve “got” everything else in my life-i have a pretty face, i’m smart, i’m popular, i work hard and i know what i want out of life.
    and yet-i’m still waiting to lose the weight. i mean, i know that i’m not actually “meant” to be at this weight because of the ed angle, but i don’t know if i’ll ever get down to what’s considered thin, and i don’t care about that. i’d just like to get to a place where i don’t hate my body every single day. and for me, most of the time anyway, i feel like that will never happen. i’ve gone on for so long thinking many other girls my size and bigger look fine, and that there isn’t anything wrong about them, but i can literally not see a day when i won’t feel this negatively about my body until i lose the weight.
    i don’t know. it’s pretty depressing. but thank you so much for writing blog posts like this-you can see how many people you touch! you are fabulous.

  462. Here via fatshionista… This essay/blog project and the comments hit so close to me I’m shell shocked. All of it hits; I want to tell my child teen self that dieting will fuck up your body. There’s no if and or but, it will. I wish I hadn’t dieted myself down so I could fit in my mother’s clothes. I wish I hadn’t wasted time listening to adults telling me to change. (it was so bad I believed that my own father didn’t and wouldn’t like me because I’m fat, but this isn’t true; he simply has the type of personality that makes him feel superior to everyone else and nobody can reach his level, although he is rather intelligent)

    But all this wishing won’t make it go away. I am at university now. My political science teacher likes me. My TAs like me. I feel like I’ve been reborn thanks to Tim Gunn and his book on Style which says “it’s the cut not you” .

    I want other women to know that they are no alone in their self hate, and there will always be days when they will hate themselves but I also want them to know that their standards for life and love should still be high and that they should be ready to rise again.

    We need a different approach to this, to ourselves.

  463. I usually just read Shapely Prose but today, for the first time, I clicked on the Fatshionista link and boy was I glad I did! Not only did I enjoy Fatshionista, but Julia had posted a link back to this, and this is probably the best thing (for me) that I have read so far. I am definitely at the point where I am happy for anyone who is comfortable with their bodies, but I myself am not one of those comfortable folk. Over the years, and there have been many of them as I’ve been fat since about the 4th grade, I too have had that list of all the cool things I will do once I’m thin and have confidence. I’ve started to get past letting that hold me back and that has been a good feeling. I am having difficulty dealing with myself in the mirror. Some days are worse than others- Aunt Flo has a special way of making me feel like a big, fat, hag with bad hair and a closet full of crap. Other days, I start out feeling pretty good, but by the time I arrive at the office for one reason or another, my self image is shot. The issue that I have the most difficulty getting past is my belly-see it’s an “issue”. I have had three kids and I think my body is now trained to deposit any excess to that region. Lately, I have been fantasizing about getting a tummy tuck, which is bothersome to me because I have been anti-plastic surgery (except in special, extreme cases) since forever and always felt that a person would really have to hate themselves to go through something so extreme and costly. I’m safe for the moment because I can’t afford it-but would I do it if I could?

    I also just wanted to share a couple of things that happened to me over the 5 or so “magical” months that I was as close to my goal weight as I had ever been. My thin fantasies were to have my then boyfriend back in my life, for him to be faithful, and to score that awesome job. First the job- I applied for a position that I was, to borrow Kate’s phrase, barely qualified for. But I was thin and pretty heady from all the compliments, not to mention I was finally in control of my eating habits (if by eating what basically amounts to prescription speed twice a day can be considered in control) so I felt like I could do anything. I decided to buy a fabulous new suit and some great shoes for my interview. This was back in the short skirt, long jacket days and I found a beautiful gray sleeveless sheath dress with matching jacket in a size I hadn’t worn since junior high. Talk about excited! I was totally ready to wow my prospective new employer. Unfortunately, that was the extent of my interview prep. I don’t think that I consciously thought that I would get the job because I looked good, but I think on some level I felt that was all that was required and as a result, my interview was a horrible flop. As for the man fantasy, I did get my boyfriend back, we even moved in together. He seemed totally taken by my new improved body and we spent a romantic weekend away with him constantly showering me with compliments. Not long afterward I found out that he was cheating on me with…. you guessed it, a fat girl.

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  465. wow.. to see that so many of us are the same, when I felt like it was just me. How incredibly comforting.
    I’m not to fat accpetance yet… even after losing 170 pounds after having a gastric bypass 5 years ago. I’m still considered obese because of my BMI. I’m healthy and have none of the conditions I had before surgery. But I’m still overweight so I feel like a failure because I didn’t hit 150 pounds. My body is fed up with me, I think.
    I have felt the same about waiting for my life to begin and I’m 47 ! Duh… it not only began, I’m at LEAST 2/3 dead already. I better accept that.

    My real desire was to never be identified with my weight.,.. meaning, “she’s a FAT bitch” why couldn’t I ever just be a bitch? why does fat always get attached to negative or hurtful comments? You never hear “what a skinny bitch”…. If you’re fat, it has become who you ARE, not what you are… if that makes any sense… ??

  466. Pingback: Wherein Kate Harding tells my story for me « The Geek Side

  467. A great big heartfelt ‘word’ to so, so many of you.

    And a couple of comments that I hope aren’t redundant– am newish to the site, have read some stuff but by no means all.

    Okay, did anyone else read the op and think of ‘Shrek’? Maybe this has been addressed elsewhere, but I just love the way the movie deals with the thin/gorgeous/happy fantasy. The heroine, Princess Fiona, is under a spell– so by day she’s a barbie-type, but by night an ogre (fat and ugly, natch). The love story I see as being kind of beside the point here… she does fall for Shrek, who’s an ogre, but the thing is in the end, when she, I dunno, ‘receives true love’s kiss’ and takes on her real true form forever… she turns back into an ogre! (Ogress?) An awesome, athletic, cool ogre! I know it’s just a cartoon, but it so tickles me that what the conventionally attractive woman had inside her, trying to get out, was not any kind of thin, perfect form, but just her authentic ogrey self. Yay!

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  469. This is something I have written after I saw Oprah on TV selling her style of HAES to the world:

    I am glad to see that 2009 is the year of healthy living, the year to rediscover our bodies and our self worth, and learn to be active and lead a healthy life style.

    This is all good, if it were not for the never ending message to lose weight and measure our achievement by the number of pounds lost or the our new thinner selves.

    Glamorizing thinness is harmful, it has not only failed for decades, but obesity is on the rise due to the change in metabolism and eating disorders these methods cause.

    This is the reason why the promoters of weight loss are borrowing our messages of size acceptance and health at every size, to sell their diets and keep women and teens especially, in the vicious circle of yo yo dieting and body loathing.

    My idea of caring and loving my body is unconditional, it has no strings attached. I will love and care for my health no matter what weight i am at or if i lose pounds or inches as a result of a healthy life style or not.

    I eat healthy and move my body for health and only for health, not to lose pounds or look thinner.

    My self worth is not measured by the number on the scale or a dress size, I am who I am at any size.

    I am worthy of respect love and dignity now as I am, it should not be less worthy when fat and more worthy when thin.

    My self worth is not based on the scale or the tape measure, these statistics are part of me but not the whole of me, and when they fluctuate they do not affect who i am as a human being.

    Caring for my health is a pleasurable duty I have towards my best friend, my child and the home of my soul my beautiful body.

    Without it, I would not be able to love , feel pleasure, walk, run, laugh and dance, be happy or sad , work and play, be creative , be productive, be a lover and a friend, be a mother, a father or a child, without this body I do not exist.

    For many years you made me hate it, loath it, despise it, torture it, stuff it, gorge it, punish it, insult it, starve it, and beat it.

    You are fat an ugly you said, you should be ashamed of your body, who would want you when you are looking like this, you are disgusting, you are obese, lardy, horrible and flabby.

    You have let yourself go you said, do something about it you lazy cow.

    It is easy to lose weight and look great, just stop eating, stop stuffing your face with sweets and junk food and get off your fat behind and move….

    You only have yourself to blame, you have no will power, you are disgusting..

    No wonder obesity is on the rise, the reverse psychology meant to so called motivate us fatties to lose weight, resulted in blood tears and death.

    The get healthy message you have stolen from us, will not work for you, given your history of torture and abuse.

    Fatima Parker

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  474. I started to comment, then looked at the date of the original post, then stopped. Then I scrolled to the bottom of the comment list and realized that comments to this post are still rolling in. I’m glad :).

    I’m very glad I was pointed to this blog. I might not have been ready to read it last year, but now I’m ready. And this is exactly the puzzle piece that I think fits the last few years together.

    I’m sort of a reverse example of the Fantasy of Being Thin. Except that I never thought my weight limited me in my endeavors. I never thought that I needed to lose weight for a job, to write, to date, or to spice up my marriage. And yet this fantasy speaks to something deep in my self-worth.

    Before I got on the diet and exercise, the “lifestyle change” bandwagon, I rather liked the way I looked. I felt sexy. I knew I could dress sexy and flirt and people would notice because I did these things and they noticed. Hell, I was so bouncy and cute that I managed to seduce a niche celebrity who I personally admired at a convention, and I spent two years in a jet-setting relationship with him. I knew that I weighed too much, and I worked on it off-and-on with sensible diet and exercise, but then I’d get distracted by something else. It didn’t really matter that much.

    Then I decided that now was the time to stop talking and actually Do It. I did a lot of research on diet, exercise and nutrition. I crafted a plan. I stuck to it. And the pounds started melting off. I went down a handful of clothing sizes. I’d never had more fun getting new clothes. I knew was succeeding at something incredibly hard, and I was a better person for it. I was going to be able to wear really sexy clothes and people would really notice.

    Then I plateaued and got desperate. Then the weight started coming back. And I discovered that now I hated what I saw in the mirror. I felt horribly unsexy. I found it hard to dress even remotely nice, because I felt I had nothing to show off. When I thought about exercise, diet, or weight, all I could think about was my failure and how awful the body was that I was trapped in. Worst of all, it affected my perceptions of my husband, because I could see now that HE was fat too, something I’d never cared about until that moment.

    Dieting, succeeding, and then failing took something precious from my psyche. I think I discovered the Fantasy of Being Thin. It’s been years now, and I think I’m just starting, in baby steps, to get it back. I realized this week that don’t notice that my husband is fat anymore. He has gained and lost since then, but the truth is he doesn’t look or feel any different. I also look in the mirror and realize that I actually have a nice face. I still hate myself in 95% of all photos, but I’m trying to turn that into an intellectual exercise on how to pose for photos such that they come out in a flattering way.

    I have said before now that dieting is a trap, but it was really my despair talking. Now I realize it’s true and perhaps why. Dieting is a TRAP. And really believing that is a fresh, big step to getting back what I lost. I think I can have it back.

    So thanks for the fresh perspective. I’m very grateful for being directed here.

  475. Thank you for this. I know I’m late to the party, but I cannot thank you enough for the work you are doing here.

    I’m a thin woman [for now, my family don't tend to get big until we have kids] married to a fat woman, and it kills me to see the way she is treated and the way she is expected to feel about herself, because she doesn’t look like, well, me. It’s so nice to not be the only person telling her that she is beautiful, and allowed to like the way that she looks.

    Sometimes, I feel guilty for being thin, because comparatively I have it pretty easy. I’m thinking this blog might help with that too.

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  479. I want to print this out a zillion times and put it in bathroom stalls, on college campus bulletin boards, on telephone poles, on exercise machines at the gym, at gas pumps, in menus at restaurants, and in fitting rooms at clothing stores. Everyone should read this, there’s a lot of hope and self love to take away from it. I too used to feel like loving my body “as is” was like settling, and I too once felt I could only truly love it when I was a size 10. And I too once felt that people saying “diets don’t work” was like them saying “you’re going to fail at life FOREVAH!!!”

    The way you’ve conveyed The Fantasy of Being Thin here is perfect. It not only demonstrates here how overcoming the fantasy can be so much better for your overall outlook on life, but that it doesn’t mean giving up on a healthy life or “settling” for a life that is second best or giving up hopes and dreams. The only thing you give up when giving up on the Fantasy of Being Thin is putting your life off for something that may or may not ever happen in the uncertain future; life’s just too short to waste time hoping for all those maybes.

    Thank you for writing this. It’s the call to carpe diem I never thought I could fully hear (mostly because I used to think seizing the day was for thin/thinner people) at a size 14. I only wish I would have read it before I went to college and willingly surrendered all my insecurities up to the Fantasy of Being Thin. As a result, I missed out on a lot of fun memories I probably could have made, and gave up on becoming a performer, all in lieu of trying to be thinner (because, you know, those things would have automatically been more easily attainable were I thinner). *sigh*

    P.S. Would you be terribly opposed to this being printed a zillion times and plastered all over my neck of the woods at least? ;) (sarcasm mostly, but I’d be a lot more tempted to do it if you said you were ok with it)

  480. I gained weight with the meds I had to take in order to keep breathing, and for years I would hear from my husband, “…when you get back in shape…”

    Well, I took up martial arts because I wanted to learn martial arts, not to lose weight. And then I started lifting weights, so I wouldn’t get hockeypucked all over the floor quite so much. And as a side effect, I lost quite a lot of weight, and packed on a goodly amount of muscle. I wound up, in fact, a muscular size 4. And what did my husband say? He said, “This isn’t the shape I was expecting.”

    Apparently I was supposed to diet and work out until I was 17 again.

    Age and injury have taken their toll. I’ve gained the weight back – although I DID lose the husband. If he’d studied for a year, he couldn’t have come up with anything more hurtful. Unfortunately, I don’t just wish I was thin again – I wish I was young again. I wish I was undamaged again. I’ve been struggling, this past year, to accept that I won’t be thin again. Ever. That I won’t be able to do the things I loved. That there is a cycle to life, and I am in a different place on that cycle. Knowing that it’s true doesn’t make me feel better.

  481. Shiloh said, “The studies I’ve seen do argue that the people who keep the weight off have to be really obsessive about their diet and exercise routines …”

    Word. That was me. I WAS the 5%; I kept that weight off for more than ten years. But I hadn’t starved it off; I’d worked it off, exercising between three and SEVEN HOURS. A DAY. Once my health broke and the exercise pattern changed, I went right back to my original size … and a little bigger.

    J.Y., I hope in the interim, you’ve found a different partner. His behaviour wasn’t Dom; he was being an abusive, manipulative, controlling BULLY. I recognize the behaviour from my own partner.

    MeanAsianGirl, I hope you’ve found some comfort since your first post. It really saddens me that one of the things you wanted to be was … white. Do you know how many white girls are tortured by their partners who tell them they wish their girlfriends were Asian? I’m one of them. Never heard the end of it. Always had the Asian girls pointed out to me. And you know what? No amount of dieting or exercising ever made me Asian.

    It didn’t make me any darker, either. I feel bad for the other women who were hoping for thinner/white, too. You know what happens when you’re white? Especially if you’re really, really white? You get a raft of shit because you’re not darker. You get people who aren’t afraid to say it to your face. You get people who aren’t afraid to yell it to you across the street. Plus there’s the added bonus of five minutes in the sun = second degree sunburn. Now THAT’S sexay!

    I came late to the party; I’m hoping that the folks who came earlier are doing better with their struggles between their fantasy lives and the Here and Now. I would love to hear an update from y’all, to find out how you’re making out. I’m going to believe that you succeed more often than you fail at living the lives you have, in the hopes it will help me find what I need, too.

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  483. this is probably the best thing i have ever read! and it is so true….right now as we speak the fantasy of being thin is on my mind but i’m starting to realize that i don’t always have to be what the fantasy is….i just have to be me.

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  486. W.O.W. This article really hit home. I’ve been reading a lot of articles on this site which were all great but none really made me think ‘i have to comment’ But you make such a great point here that I had to. I wont start with my quest to be thin but to be beautiful. I thought, when I get contacts have flawless skin and other things that are so dumb I wont bother posting my life will be so much better. But then I did- get contacts and better though not flawless skin. And i thought, my life is going to be so great now. I’ll have more friends my parents will love me and I might even get a cute guy though that would just be icing on the cake. And guess what. I did make new friends but because I was now actually trying. But my mom still insulted me on a regular basis and my dad didn’t magically stop being an asshole obnoxious former pot smoking alcoholic. And as for the cute guys well (tee hee) I turned them down. But back to my point. My life didn’t change. Just like it didn’t change when I was anorexic and 15 pounds thinner.
    In fact I nearly lost all contact with my best friend of two years because-shocker- she didn’t approve in fact was so angry that I was starving myself. And so I stopped hanging out with her because sometimes she would force feed me when I refused to and I didn’t see her as trying to help I convinced myself she just was trying to get in the way of the thin fabulous me. But now I see what complete bullshit that was and I feel so guilty for hurting her (she also saw me self mutilate but thats a whole other story) And for what. So I could fit into a pair of jeans that I ordered a size smaller than I was (4) and starved until they came and i could get into them and zip them up. And I was happy for a bit. But then I wanted to be a size 3 and 2 and 0. But during that whole time I was never happy. I was never as happy then as I am now a size 6/8. )though in some stores I’m a 4 or a 10 go figure)And I let myself eat chocolate and pizza and ice cream and I only do workouts that are fun like bellydancing and GIlad on fit tv. And I don’t actually do Gilad because it’s a great workout but because he is hilarious to listen to. And you know what? Living like this for the first time in my life I love my butt/badonkadonk. And I’m comfortable with my 34DD boobs(which didn’t shrink when I lost weight so I think them and I are just meant to be) even though its harder to find tops because they make me an XL in tops. Because you know what. I may have to wear some XL tops but it’s cool ’cause I look damn good in them. And I’m fine with being considered plus size by the modeling industry because I am so much prettier than skinnyminnies like Agyness Deyn and Kate Moss. And come on we “fatties” get whistled at and they get mistaken for boys. I prefer the former thank you very much.
    By the way fillyjonk kate harding and sweetmachine you guys rock!

  487. Nazira, I’m glad this spoke to you and SO glad that you are in recovery from your eating disorder. But we don’t tolerate thin-bashing on our site. I let your comment through because it’s your first one, but please know that we have lots of thin readers, all of whom deserve respect in terms of their bodies and genders.

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  489. I am one of the lucky ones. At the very tender age of 23 I figured out that the Fantasy of Being Thin is hardly a worthy religion and could then start living my life where before I had always believed that I needed to wait until I was thin before my “real” life could begin. I felt kind of relieved, knowing that I now had the rest of my life to obsess about other (hopefully more relevant) things.

    Yet I recently suffered a relapse. It started when I got a terrible throat infection and decided to soothe it with chocolate mousse and magazines in bed. One of the magazines I got was a Cosmpolitan and hidden inside was a terrible thing: an article about one reader who bared all for a team of males to give their opinions. The woman was beautiful (by all standards short of the runway) but the critisism was unbelievably harsh (who do these men think they are? Brad Pitt?). It left me shaken. Five minutes before I was completely in love with my own body, (which was at least two sizes up and much more cottage cheesy than the one in the magazine) but after reading the article I felt consderably less confident. Not only did I have a hideously sore throat, I was also fat and ugly.

    Thank God for you guys. You reminded me what it was like to think logically about fat. I only wish that more women could see this and could find it in themselves to believe the simple truth.

    Keep up the good work!

  490. This is a fabulous post. And I have just started reading the BOOK! Fabulous also.

    What is the step after hope is gone? I have accepted that even though I’m in treatment for binge eating disorder and even though I have mostly stopped binge eating, I will still probably have to live the rest of my life being too large for my own physical comfort. (After a year of treatment, I have managed to reduce bingeing by about 70% and have gained weight.) Not sure what to do about this. I am really really uncomfortable being 350 pounds. I ache and I waddle. I can walk to the end of the block and that’s it. My rolls of fat hang down and get in the way of my legs feeling comfortable when I’m at the computer. I understand too that no matter how I feel about myself, the world of employers will judge me on how I look, and so far, very very few think that 350 lb. women would make good employees. I am thankful that my town has a good homeless shelter because I may be headed there if no one will hire me. Did I mention I have primo work skills and great experience? Doesn’t seem to matter if you are judged to be a lesser being because of body size. I have no control over how people treat me or think of me, apparently. I guess that becoming more “normal” looking was a hope I used to have that might positively impact my ability to live in the world comfortably. What is the step after that is no longer a possibility? I guess that part of my fantasy of being thin was also a fantasy about being able to live a comfortable life where I could support myself and enjoy some activities. I did those things when I was about 100 lbs. less than I am now. I don’t seem to be able to do those things or have that life at my present size.

    I really just don’t think that I want to live at my present size for another 10 years or however long I have because of the quality of my life and poor prospects for earning enough to survive on. What sort of hope should I aim for or what kind of hope is there for people like me? What am I missing that I just can’t buy into the idea that I can have a fabulous life the way I am now? Just doesn’t seem probable. So, what am I missing?

  491. When miserably sick last week, I visited the urgent care clinic, as one often does (at least when insured). While waiting for some prescriptions, I was placed in a room that obviously doubled as some sort of weight-loss counseling area. On the wall were some images of people walking on the beach, dancing, and doing some other crap that was apparently supposed to read as Living the Good Life. (As members of consistently heterosexual pairs, I should add.) And a sign asked me, “What would you do if there was less of you?”

    a) OK, guys, use the subjunctive. That’s what it’s there for–to suggest a possible future state. I’m normally not a prescriptivist, but I insist on perfect grammar when being patronized.

    b) Exactly what I’m doing right now. Kiss my grits, you insinuating asshats.

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  493. When I’m thin, I’ll know how to walk in high heels.

    And I’ll have… things that GO with high heels. lol. Not fleece vests and cotton housedresses.

    Also, being thin will make my nose smaller and more feminine. hahaha!

    No, at this point, I don’t even know why I’m trying to lose weight. I weigh 148 lbs, am 5’4′,’ have married the man of my dreams, who adores me, and we have three healthy, beautiful children; what else is there for a woman to ask for?

    The angst about squeezing into a size 6 might have made some sort of convoluted teenaged sense at age 17, but now?

    It’s as if the never-ending struggle to lose weight takes on an emotional life of its own. But I’m twenty-eight, for cripes sake.

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  497. Hey! Love this. I was thinking about this very topic just this morning. It was exactly what I needed to hear. Accept you now because getting thinner is not going to make you any less hard on yourself if you have insecurity issues…

  498. This post really breaks my heart. My fantasy of being thin has never been very strong, I have to say, I have always been thin enough, I gained a lot of weight at 15 because well, body changes are awkward and they suck, but I had lost it again by 17. Now I feel fine (ok, lies, those 10 pounds I wish I could lose still haunt me from time to time, it just seems like such a small amount, so simple…), and I don’t think there are many things, except perhaps going swimming, that I don’t do because I’m too fat. However, my father is fat. He has always been fat and he has never found fat acceptance in his heart. He’s been sad for as long as I can remember, and at some point I think I became his fantasy of being thin. I hated this at 15, I felt bad enough already about my horrible 15 year old body without having both my father and my mother telling me I was fat and I should really lose weight. I now forgive my dad for that, because I realized some time ago where he was coming from. He was never worried about my health (I was never obese or had fat-related health problems), or felt I was anything but beautiful, even at my largest; he just didn’t want me to go through what he went through. He hated the thought of his daughter having to live that life. He didn’t want me to be like him, and I feel so sad that such a great man has never been able to see that, just because he is fat. Maybe I’ll show him this website, but I fear he is now too stubborn to get it.

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  504. This article really hit home for me–and I’m thin. But before you all start rolling your eyes at me, believe that I have lived with as much angst about my weight as any fat person. And I believe that’s true for 80% of women (I guess the other 20% were lucky enough to have mothers who never talked shit about their own bodies?). We ALL believe that the bridge to our dreams, our true potential, our wildest fantasies, is built on a loss of pounds. That the REAL me is skinnier–no matter what I weigh to begin with. At one point I even did get super skinny–my “goal” weight (which was unhealthy). And i STILL felt every bit as “too big” as I had before. I discovered, over the years, that there was no amount of weight I could lose before I felt satisfied. And that’s because I didn’t really want to lose weight. I wanted the magical transformation I believed would come with losing weight.

    Is it any coincidence that upon becoming a happy, settled person for the first time in my life, I stopped paying any attention whatsoever to my weight? I honestly have no idea what I weigh (and I used to know the measurements of every part of my body). And I actually don’t care. My weight has almost NO relationship to the real stuff of my life. If I gain, if I lose, who cares? Certainly no one. And now, thank god–not me, either. And the funny thing is that I’m closer than I’ve ever been to becoming everything I always wanted to be.

  505. Love this, thank you.
    It’s amazing how much can be overlooked, neglected, forgotten in our obsession with thinness.
    It’s not just that if you’re fat it’s seen as a problem–it’s the only problem, and losing weight will solve everything.
    I recently was diagnosed with adhd (add in my case) and am feeling amazingly better with diagnosis and medication. And have spent time thinking about how it took so long to get this diagnosis, and why– gender bias, etc.
    This post made me see another piece–every time I felt out of control, overwhelmed by chaos, I responded by attempting to control my eating.
    Looking back I can see how senseless it was–how could my weight make me lose my keys for the third time? We’re so fucking conditioned that fat=out of control, thin=in control, that I thought I could diet my way out of adhd.
    Once I started getting this treated, I found I don’t want to diet anymore–I don’t need the fantasy or illusion of control.
    And then I found this site and it’s helping me so much.
    Thanks for the site, and this post.

  506. This article made me shed a single tear. (So dramatic, I know, but true!) I have been struggling with loving my body for a long time, and I still have a goal in mind. I eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, and listened to my body more than I ever have- I don’t eat some “rich” (as my grandmother calls them) foods, jaleopeno poppers, triple layer brownies, etc., because I have IBS and they give me an upset stomach and sometimes the runs, NOT because they’re “bad” foods. But if I feel like eating an ice cream sundae, I do. Because I’ve learned not to obsess over food, and have learned that NOT eating an ice cream sundae ever again is STUPID. OF COURSE I am going to eat one eventually. And if I feel like eating one, I don’t make excuses. I just go out and get it, eat it, and guess what? I might not want to eat one for a few months. Cause I have learned that is just how my body works. Now I want to be a size 12, but not because I’m too fat at my current size 18, but because when I was a size 12 I was STRONG. I could run. That is what I want more than anything else. Fat may or may not be in my genes, but being a strong able-bodied female is. That is the only issue I have with my weight- and really, it is not even my weight. It is me! I am the fat person who sits around nearly all day and watches TV, and I can own up to that. So its stupid to hate myself for a problem that I created- I’m not strong because I rarely use my muscles, and that’s my problem, not my fat’s. So there is no reason to resent my size 18 butt, and the only reason to get it on my fan bike (bike with a fan? its awesome) is to gain strength, not lose weight. Sorry if that was rambling and random, it was just really emotional to read this and to realize I still had thin fantasy residue in my brain. Now I have to change that thin into strong, and the fantasy into realistic dreams, like running around my neighborhood like I used to only a few years before. :) Thanks, Shapely Prose!

  507. My fantasy of being thin is that I would some how magically turn into this bubbly outgoing person that was the life of the party, instead of the quiet, laidback person that I am who sits down looking around nervously when all her mates are up dancing and enjoying themselves.

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  510. First of all, you are a damn good writer, girl!
    Have you ever wondered why they photoshop the HELL outta girls on magazine covers and ads? They are playing on your weakness of “When I’m thin I’ll invest in cute clothes and make-up” They make it so you associate their products with being young, skinny and flawless. So, you go buy those things to make you feel more acceptable and the products and clothes are lousy anyway!

  511. While I’ve inherited the same short, narrow frame that’s been getting passed down to all the women in my family since FOREVER, I still spent most of my youth keeping a running tally of all the calories I’d consumed that day/week/month in my head.

    When I finally got the fuck over it and abandoned the count… hey, whaddya know? I suddenly started doing a lot better at…(wait for it)…math!

  512. I’ve always had plenty of “When I’m Thins”, but the biggest one was always “When I’m thin, I won’t feel like I’m required to put out just because it’s the only way anyone will dare to touch me and I need physical contact.”

    I wish I could get over that last one.

  513. This fantasy also enters the male half of the population as well, Kate, just maybe not as obvious.
    When I’m thin, the other guys won’t pick me last for sports.
    When I’m thin, I won’t watch a girl I’m attracted to and asked out walk over to a muscle type and flirt with him.
    When I’m thin, I won’t be so akward in public.

    You get the idea. I will admit is it somehow more socially acceptable for guys to be overweight then women, but the fantasies persist regardless.

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  515. Ha. Know whats funny/sad? I had all these thinness fantasies too. I actually did lose the weight and became perfectly slim. Funnily enough none of the fantasies miraculously came true. I feel pretty much exactly the same. My coworkers still talk behind my back, just for different reasons. Now, well, I can walk to work slightly faster. I don’t get stares on the bus from random people whose opinions I shouldn’t care about anyway. Thats about it.

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  517. I’ve decided to print up this post and paper my living room with the copies. Just when I was about to succumb yet again the FoBT (being sure that with thinness would come wealth, happiness, success, and shiny hair), I reread this and have been reinvigorated. Thank you again. I don’t have anything to add but thanks.

  518. I just stumbled across your post and it so eloquently – and like a hand to the forehead – summed up my current experience. Thank you for the wakeup call! And it is good to realize I/we aren’t alone in this human condition.

  519. What about when you still do the things you want and being fat only stops you when it’s physically relevant to the activity? I can’t personally accept that and possibly never will. That may be stupid, but I think it’s more reasonable than the “if I’m thin I will be _____” that’s related to something emotional. I understand why having an emotional attachment to being thin (or fat) is bad (and I’m sure I also have one) but I can’t get completely behind the idea that you shouldn’t strive to be smaller if your size gets in the way of something you want that is also something REASONABLE to want.

    My own personal example is if I weighed 50lbs less I could go skydiving. As I would have to go tandem there is a weight limit for the places I’ve found. I would go skydiving if I was 50lbs lighter so that’s one reason I want to lose weight. Actually most of the reasons are because being fat gets in the way of a physical action or at minimum makes it very, very uncomfortable and possibly dangerous. My weight also came up when I went scuba diving and during one horseback riding excursion. I was just at the acceptable limit for both places so I got to do those things.

    I’m healthy in all aspects other than weight. I don’t think it’s unreasonable or unhealthy for me to want to be significantly smaller to meet requirements and I know not having to stand on the sidelines makes me happier.

  520. Thank you for this. I once struggled with bulimia because I was so convinced that being thin would make all my problems in life disappear. I was a size 2 at my smallest, and I tell you, nothing in my life was easier. I eventually realized that all these ideas of who I would become when I was finally thin enough were all in my head. I am now a size 12-14 and am happier with my body now than I was when I was tiny.

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  523. Rachel, over on the-f-word in her post about the bariatric patients who had that letdown after not having their expectations met once they got to their goals, got me to thinking:

    A major way to work through the Fantasy of Being Thin, as a therapeutic exercise, would be to take a lined notebook page, write on the left side of the notebook page, all the things that society sells you to induce you to get to your goal weight, then in the middle, what you know about yourself (deep down inside) whether it’s because of how your body is put together, what your personality is like, how you are treated, where you like to go and what you like to do; then on the right side of the page, how anything written in the middle of the page would be realized (NOT the stuff on the left, because that was written by thin people or apologists for fatphobia … and doesn’t concern you … as much as it concerns the shills and the salespeople for thinness) at your current weight …

    Then, should your weight change, repeat the exercise.

    Compare the pages over time.

    This is the Ben Franklin Close for the Fantasy of Being Thin, and could prove a great diagnostic tool … and decision-making aid. ✐ ✐ ✐

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