It’s Not All About You (or Me)

All right, you guys, I just deleted another new comment on the monster Fantasy of Being Thin thread, because — although I’m sure the commenter was quite well-intentioned — it was another variation on a theme we see every time we talk about giving up the ol’ fantasy: That’s great for you, but it’s impossible to be happy in MY body, because it’s so bad, you can’t even imagine!

Shapelings, shapelings, shapelings. I’m not even going to take this opportunity to blow sunshine up your asses about how hot and capable and whatever else you all are. If there’s one thing that thread demonstrates, it’s that overcoming low self-esteem is a long, grueling process; bloggy affirmations barely make a dent. I won’t bother with those right now.

And if there’s another thing that thread demonstrates, it’s that it is okay to talk about your insecurities here, where there are a whole ton of people who can relate.

But.

It is still not okay to slam your body in such a way as to suggest your repulsiveness is a verifiable fact — much less insist that this means you, unlike everyone else here, really do need to diet.

And here’s why (setting aside all the other reasons I’ve gone into a gazillion times): when you post a comment here, you’re not just talking to yourself. Or just to me or Sweet Machine or Fillyjonk, in all our not-that-fat, thick-skinned glory. Or even just to the other commenters on the thread. You are talking to the few thousand people who read this blog daily.

And among those few thousand people:

  • There is someone fatter than you. (Okay, technically, one person actually does have to be the official fattest Shapeling, but since we don’t know who that is, just go ahead and assume it’s not you.)
  • There is someone whose shape is less conventionally attractive than yours.
  • There is someone who has all the same problems as you but is also a member of other oppressed groups.
  • There is someone with one or more disabilities.
  • There is someone recovering from an eating disorder.
  • There is someone currently struggling with a full-blown eating disorder.
  • There are a couple thousand someones who are here because they’ve struggled with low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and/or disordered eating patterns over the course of their lives.

So when you say, “But MY body is disgusting because of X” or “I still need to diet because of Y,” what you are saying is that X and Y are disgusting and unacceptable characteristics, full stop — and the problem is, you can bet someone here shares those characteristics, or is worse off than you are, by your standards.

If I can’t convince you that the body you’ve got isn’t intrinsically horrible, then maybe I can at least convince you not to insult other readers, who really don’t need to hear your negative opinions about bodies like yours, which also happen to be bodies like theirs.

You know how annoying it is when some relatively skinny chick stands there and talks about how disgustingly fat she is right in front of you? And you’re like, “Hello, what does that say about me?”

And you know how it’s even more annoying that if you actually call her out on it, she’ll inevitably say something like, “Oh, but I totally wasn’t thinking about you!”

Yeah. It’s the same thing. It’s being so focused on your own self-hatred that you forget the implications it has for the people around you. That’s really not cool.

So, if you think the fact that you weigh X lbs. is justification for slamming your body around here? Think again about the people who weigh even more — possibly a lot more. If you think your discomfort in your own fat body is a good reason to hate it, think again about the people with disabilities and illnesses that make living in their bodies even more uncomfortable, but who are still trying their best to love those bodies. If you think calling calorie restriction something other than a diet makes it okay to discuss around here, think again about the people recovering from eating disorders, who really don’t need to hear that rigidly controlling your food intake is just swell if you do it in the right spirit. And if you think it’s fine to say, “But ____ characteristic means I really AM unattractive, unlike the rest of you,” think again about all the other people here who share that characteristic. There are more than you think, I promise.

Bottom line, when you insult yourself around here, you will inevitably be insulting anyone who happens to be like you. And the reason we’re all here is that we have a lot in common, remember?

So just don’t do it. Seriously.

85 thoughts on “It’s Not All About You (or Me)

  1. Thanks for this.

    I know that people often don’t mean to insult anyone but themselves much of the time (which is sad) but it is always a bit like a punch in the stomach to read someone talk about how their weight (which is often less than mine) is surely just unacceptable. It reinforces that part of me that thinks that I’ll be 100% for FA as soon as I’m not so fat.

    Also, and this is totally my thing here but I’ll throw it out there, a thing I try to do is to stop fetishizing ‘normal’ body parts and shapes. For years I thought I could be more fat positive if only I didn’t have this pcos body and then, in my early days of body acceptance, I decided to totally focus on the “good” parts of my body. You know, I had “nice” legs and “nice” arms so if I hid the omgawfulgross belly, then I was set. But more and more I think this is a kind of trap too that still encourages us to privilege thinness b/c we value those parts of are bodies that most resemble what we are taught to think of as beautiful. So we praise our small waists and hide our hips or we cover our stomachs and wear jeans that show our legs, but we’re still buying into the idea that our fat hips and fat stomachs aren’t part of our beauty. Anyway, it’s hard sometimes b/c even on most FA blogs you find a lot of “dressing for your shape” which generally translates to “dressing to more closely resemble feminine ideals” and I think, in a sneaky way, this can feed people’s ideas of *their* particular body being wrong.

    Hmmm, it’s late and I may not be making the connection I want to make…maybe someone with a fully functioning brain can untangle it. :)

  2. Well said, Kate.

    I’ve been pondering how to get across this very idea on my own blog: that insulting oneself for fatness, or being pleased with one’s own weight loss — or sometimes even just *mentioning* one’s own weight loss, when there’s no real reason to — can not help but send a message about *other people’s fatness.*

    We live inside culture. And this oppression is woven into our culture insideously. You can’t say an individual thing without ripple effects.

  3. You rock.

    Once upon a time we had a roomie who was, well a bit of a hound dog. He used to talk to me about his dating problems and I had to tell him to stop.

    Because one day he’s going on and on as usual about how hard it was to meet women and how he hated being single. And I pretended I didn’t know perfectly well that he meant ‘thin blonde women 15 years my junior’ and started naming women he could ask out.

    He had all kinds of excuses. But he stopped me cold when he dismissed asking out one woman because she was way too old.

    Me: She’s my age.

    Him: I meant for me. You know, because there’d be an age difference.

    Me: Less than there was with your last girlfriend.

    Him: But she’s OLDER than me.

    Me: Yeah. And?

    Him: I just don’t think that’s right, the woman being older than the man.

    Me: You mean like me being older than *Husband*?

    Him: That’s different!

    Me: Go away. There’s a reason you’re single.

    Moral of the long winded tangent? No, it’s not different. And it’s not different when the subject is body hatred, either.

  4. Attrice i do get what ur saying. And i have to say, my solution may be the cowards way out – i just don’t think too much about it. Meaning, if i see something in which i look good to myself – i KNOW that i am, at least to some extent, socially conditioned to think X attributes “look good”. But I still just allow myself to enjoy it. Is that so bad? Maybe it’s not necessrily a slippery slope to negative stuff, maybe it’s just what it is.

    And Kate thanks for those links to the posts on the rotund. I read them. It’s very interesting and food for thought. But I also wonder, how far do we have to take these interpretations?

    A wise person once told me: “just becuase SHE’S pretty doesn’t mean you’re any LESS pretty”. the point was, it is possible to just take or give a compliment without it implying everyone else looks bad. If someone likes my attribute X that doesn’t necessarily always mean they dislike someone else’s totally opposite attribute Y. And not EVERY compliment or positive visual stimulus is just conforming to some fascist ideal.
    Sometimes somebody really just loves your brown eyes, and also loves someone elses grey eyes, and why can’t we just try to see those pretty things in ourselves?

    I totally do get your points, and how we don’t want to go to a place where only one look is valid or the best one. I’m just saying I think it might be possible to accept copmliments or like certain things about our looks without necessarily invalidating the other ways of looking.
    As for how much social conditionaing affects what we think looks good – ya i’m sure it does. I’m just not sure that means we can’t get something nice out of it without doing damage.

    I don’t know if that makes any sense… Or if i’m right about that or not, maybe that’s just me and whatever limitations i still have, and maybe one day i will see it differently.

    As for Kate’s post here tho, as well as the original one about the thin fantasy – i couldn’t agree more.

  5. Yes you’ve expressed it better than I could, the impacted self obsession that is provoked by self hate.

    It’s hard to realise it doesn’t come for free, you make yourself raw the when plain air hurts. Perceiving this helped me to let it go, it wasn’t me being honest or facing the truth however painful, it was just me hurting myself.

  6. You know how annoying it is when some relatively skinny chick stands there and talks about how disgustingly fat she is right in front of you? And you’re like, “Hello, what does that say about me?”

    And you know how it’s even more annoying that if you actually call her out on it, she’ll inevitably say something like, “Oh, but I totally wasn’t thinking about you!”

    Yeah. It’s the same thing.

    This makes TOTAL sense. I can only speak for myself, but I can say that I try really hard not to put that kind of thinking into my comments here for that very reason. (If something has leaked through, I apologize – but I do TRY not to let it!) The way *I* think of it, this is a fat ACCEPTANCE blog. Not a let’s all put ourselves down, because misery loves company blog. The way I figure it, if I really want to talk about how bad I’m feeling and how I want to like myself but I’m having difficulty, I have my own space to do that in. As you like to say, Kate, this is YOUR sandbox. If I want to play, I’ll be considerate to other people and think about what I’m saying before I type it. If I want to be all self-depricating, I can go and play in my OWN sandbox.

    If someone likes my attribute X that doesn’t necessarily always mean they dislike someone else’s totally opposite attribute Y.

    cggirl, I totally get what you’re saying. It’s called diversity – and I, for one, think it’s a wonderful thing. I think the world would be a horribly boring place if everybody looked the same and had the same positive attributes/qualities as everone else. *snore*

  7. this post is related to an issue I have worried about a little. I found this blog a month or so ago, and it was my introduction to the size acceptance moment, and I have fallen totally in love. But I have been hesitant to post any comments, even though some posts really resonate with me, bring me to the verge of tears, etc, because I’m thin. It’s not that I think you guys are going to go all “no thin chicks!” on me, but I am well aware of the fact that this space is providing something you can find almost nowhere else, and that for me to divert it to myself could turn into a way of reinforcing my own privilege, even if that’s not what intend. It’s something I’ve seen often enough in feminist discussions with what my friend calls the “but what about teh menz!” protests. No, it’s not that we don’t care about teh menz or acknowledge that life isn’t perfect or easy for you all the time, it’s that you get LOTS OF OTHER CULTURAL SPACES without any fear of being silenced and we’d like our own once in awhile, thanks.

    And you know, who wants to listen to the thin girl complain? Or maybe even worse, talk (brag) about what she doesn’t have to complain about?

    I mean, I’d like to think that I wouldn’t come off as “I’m so glad I’m not fat because if things are hard for me now what would THAT be like!?!” because I don’t think that way at all, but I definitely held off on making an “I’m thin and my life is still complicated” comment on the FoBT thread.
    I have my own “fantasy of being tall,” which has the semi-advantage of being obviously unobtainable, but no less inhibiting to my taking responsibility for what it means to be the person I am.
    also there is the “fantasy of being older” which obviously I can’t avoid facing so…maybe I’ll grow out of it? :-)

    bbrugger, once a guy friend of mine whom I’d had a crush on started talking about how “oh, no wonder no one wants to date me” or something. His issue was totally trivial, basically a joke, but I was thinking…hm, maybe actually it is because you are the kind of guy who would say that in front of someone you rejected.
    Other times he complained about how he only seemed to attract attention from people who were overly awkward/obsessed/crazies.Thanks friend!
    By this point I’d realized we would not have worked well together and mostly over him, but you know, still awesome to hear.

    yeah, thin girls get rejected too. And I definitely don’t get much flirty/sexual attention from men in general. I prefer it that way, but still, I am pretty cute. I think it’s my own attitude that holds them off.

  8. I am always learning and growing here (which is more than I can say for my research, when I spend hourse here reading comments!)

    Attrice- I think you are awesome. I totally do that to myself about my belly. I am trying to stop.

    This post makes me think of something I read on Manolo for the Big Girl yesterday, where the blogger asked readers’ opinions on exposing “lumpie squishies” (her code for fat arms), and showed a really lovely model with kind of fat arms. It made me so mad, because my arms are so much fatter and I go around in sleeveless shirts and dresses all the time and feel pretty hot, dammit. And there were women, fat women, posting about how showing fat arms isn’t really acceptable. It seemed so, well, contrary to the purpose of the blog.

    Thanks to all of you for your insights.

  9. attrice, I just want to high-five you for your comment; I think, even the most self-accepting among us, have a hard time shaking the idea of ‘acceptable’ body shapes because we get that message from all sides. It’s absolutely something we should challenge ourselves about.

  10. Bravo, Kate!

    And I need to say thank you to everyone here. I had a moment yesterday where I caught a glimmer of crossing out of that cognitive dissonance that was the subject of FoBT. I went to take a shower last night and stood and stared at myself in the mirror, stark naked, and for the first time just thought “There is nothing wrong with me!” instead of “My body is perfect except for…” No matter how much I tried, there would always be something that caught my eye that would make me groan. But last night…I finally felt like maybe it was honestly ok to love my reflection – cellulite and all.

    And for that I really, really need to say thank you. Reading everyone else’s stories and knowing there are so many people out there who have found that kind of self-appreciation and who are trying to…its, well, its more than an inspiration, but I don’t know another word for it!

  11. Kate, I just want to thank you for this blog and especially for these two posts. I referenced the last one in my livejournal (limited to friends) and started a chain of discussion about body acceptance with a friend who has fibromyalgia and deals with that same issue not only in regards to weight, but in regards to how the fibro limits her sense of health.

    The more I learn about accepting myself, the better equipped I am to show compassion for the struggles of others. Your blog helps with that and helps my friends to see that I am striving for the best for me and not just making excuses for something I don’t want to change. (As if anybody could believe I wouldn’t have changed it if I could have after all I did trying to when I believed I could.)

    Acceptance isn’t about giving up on something. It’s about understanding the difference between things we have control over and the things we can’t control and embracing life as the gift it is instead of rejecting the parts our culture tells us we should hate.

  12. Compliments are compliments. Some people may use or hear them abusively, but that’s not what they’re for. They’re supposed to be for helping people understand that you like them.

    Me describing myself as a “fat hog” when I weigh 160 lbs is not a compliment. It is self abuse, and it is not healthy. That’d be why I don’t do that… I do have fat, and weigh more than I’d like, but that doesn’t mean I’m a horrible person.

  13. Hey, just a clarification, because I see several valued contributors saying “shit, I’ve been so self-centered”: Just because it’s not ALL about you doesn’t mean it isn’t EVER about you. This can be a place to talk about hurdles and insecurities. What we got yesterday, and what we object to, is people insisting that we agree with them that their particular bodies are hideous, give them permission to continue to think so, and champion their efforts to change themselves. If you find yourself saying “well you just have to admit that being over x pounds is unhealthy” or “well you have to admit that if you’re having trouble moving, you have to diet” or whatever, check yourself, because no, we don’t. And there’s someone else here in the same boat as you who disagrees.

  14. And ielerol, no surprise if you couldn’t get through the 283957892346 comments on the FoBT post, but we got several “I’m thin but I worry about x” comments. Some of my favorite Shapelings are thin!

  15. ielerol: Welcome aboard! You def. are not the only thin Shapeling, so please do not hesitate to join in. I am sure that your body has not made you immune to insecurities and judgement of society, and if you want to learn about what others are going through, share what life is like for you, and find ways to make life better for everyone, than you are in the right place.

    Hope to see you around!

  16. Hey, just a clarification, because I see several valued contributors saying “shit, I’ve been so self-centered”: Just because it’s not ALL about you doesn’t mean it isn’t EVER about you.

    Thanks for that, Fillyjonk — you always beat me to saying what needs to be said!

  17. “You know how annoying it is when some relatively skinny chick stands there and talks about how disgustingly fat she is right in front of you? And you’re like, “Hello, what does that say about me?”

    And you know how it’s even more annoying that if you actually call her out on it, she’ll inevitably say something like, “Oh, but I totally wasn’t thinking about you!””

    My cousin does this all the time!!! She weighs 110 and she’s always complaining about how fat she is and how desperate she is to lose weight because she can’t imagine life as a “fat cow” like her sister.

    I weigh 210 pounds and I everytime she says stuff like this I just want to hit her. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and I called her out on it. She immediately went into ‘OMG you totally misunderstood me, you’re a whole different case.’ I would love to know what the hell she meant by that…..*grumbles*

    And something else I wanted to mention but is not related to this topic; yesterday I bought my first sleeveless blouse!! I was so happy and I absolutely love it. I would never have been able to do it without you guys, I feel so much better about myself thanks to this blog and the amazing people here!

  18. Thank you for this great post, and for the last one, which had me riveted. I think this is often an issue on mother-daughter relationships. Both my roommate, who is also fat, and I have mothers who like to demean their bodies in our presence. My roommate seems to have it worse, since her mother is significantly thinner than her, while my mother is only about 20 lbs thinner than me. And when we call them on it, they both say “Oh, honey, I was only talking about myself!”

  19. Thanks for writing these two posts. They totally make sense to me and have really made me think about my own behaviors and the way I internalize society’s messages without realizing it. I’m going to be more concious about how I talk to myself about my body. Thanks for helping me see this.

  20. This post is exactly why I read your blog. We all have to love who we are right at this very moment or it just isn’t acceptance. I’m still not quite all the way there. In transition, but I’m learning to love all my physical bits as well as the mental ones. I just look at my self or my thoughts and say “This is me. This is who I am. Get over it.” and it’s working. Thanks for everything you write.

  21. Thank you for this post, it’s spot-on. Part of what started my ED recovery was realizing that by vocally hating my relatively thin body, I was being insulting to other bodies of all shapes. It was a huge revelation.

  22. You know, sometimes we say very cruel things to ourselves that we would never in a million years say to anyone else, not to a stranger, not even to an enemy. And it’s true that sometimes we do need to vent, to just spew the bile out (ew, but true) in a journal or blog.

    But not on *this* blog.

    The reason, for example, that I have an online journal of my own is so I can freely indulge in my moods, my insecurities, the devil inside me, when I need to, and get some feedback on those things. I come *here* to receive a badly needed dose of empowerment and to learn about a whole new way of looking at myself and at our culture.

    I really do encourage writing as a means of therapy for people struggling with eating disorders, mood disorders, body issues, or the host of other troubles that flesh is heir to. Create a little space of your own on the internet where you can say whatever you want, if you want others to read and possibly relate to you. Or keep a private diary. But when visiting other people’s spaces, a respect for that site’s culture a good thing.

    I love come here. Thanks Kate, Fillyjonk, and Sweetmachine :).

  23. Eve, I have a similar mother. Always on Weight Watchers, always complaining about how fat she is, always with the “good foods” and “bad foods.” I love her, but it’s been much easier for me to work on accepting my body now that I live across the country.

  24. cggirl,

    I hope I didn’t come across as trying to dictate people’s thoughts about themselves or that I’m against diversity in looks. If anything, I’m for a radical expansion of what we think of as beauty..radical enough to include everyone, every inch of everyone.

    Because, for me, it’s an incomplete victory to only love and admire those parts of myself that most closely resemble the social ideal because I’m still stuck in that old way of seeing only I’ve expanded it slightly to include me.

    As for society dictating what we find attractive, I have a funny story:

    Years ago, when low-rise jeans were fist coming out, I found myself totally fascinated by ‘muffin tops’ on women. At first, I interpreted this as a negative thing (I mean, it was *fat* spilling over the tops of their pants!!!1!) but I slowly realized that I thought it was intensely sexy. The part of my brain that was blocking this information was filled with all the images and ‘facts’ of sexual attraction that we learn in this society and I had to ignore that to get to the truth of what turned me on.

    It’s something I think about when I see a group of dudes honing in on certain fat body parts constantly. I wonder how many of them are totally into big things or squishy stomachs, but they ‘know’ that can’t be right so they just parrot the disgust they’ve learned everywhere else.

  25. Wonderful, as usual, Kate. So here’s a coping-with-real-life question for you. What about people who talk about food/calories/fat all the time but are not talking directly to you? I sit in a cubicle at work and the woman across from me is fully obsessed that if she loses 5 more lbs she will be the perfect woman. (Ref your Fantasy of Being Thin.) To my eyes, she is already thin. She also has about 5 thin friends here who congregate daily at her desk. They stand there for at least 20 minutes and talk about their food religions. Keep in mind that they are RIGHT NEXT TO my desk — the one with the 230 pound chick sitting within clear earshot! Daily I vacillate between ranting at them, pitying them, or educating them. Till now, I’ve just tried hard to ignore them. But your point about having to put up with this kind of talk from your friends make me wonder if I really should speak up. It is incredibly insensitive! Sometimes I wonder if they are not purposefully “preaching” around me in the passive-aggressive hope that I will hear them and come to diet-jesus. (Could people really be like that??) So, my long-winded question for the Shapelings is, How would you handle this situation?

  26. Yes!

    I am not overweight and do not engage in anti-body talk *regardless*, but I had two friends that were complaining about their weights once. They are taller than me and weighed the same or less than me. That made me undesirable by default. I yelled at them for body bashing (that it was going to make me start hating my body, when I had previous felt fine about it)and stormed out, I never never been so upset with my friends.

    And they never did that again. Verbalizing your concerns can help, but in this case (body-bashing), it only reenforces them. You have to start somewhere to improve your body image, and not talking trash about yourself is one place to start.

    You do sucha great job of making this a safe space.

  27. Attrice: Thank you so much for that wonderful insight into your brain and communicating your self-awareness about the muffin-top attraction. We can DEFINITELY use more insights like this. (Well, I can, at least.)

  28. Another spot-on post. One of my most treasured values is being commuity-minded, and in such an individualistic society where self-hate is the dominant discourse it *so* nice to read that it’s NOT okay to hate on yourself because self-hate is not good for the soul and other living things and the self hate is never just limited to self.

    Kate, I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but this post has given me hope that there is a place for me at the table. I appreciate that so much.

  29. Wow, even as I just finished typing that comment, the woman was at it again. I’m so angry right now and I want to go over and tell her how it makes me feel but I have no idea what to say. She is a work colleague (not a superior, fortunately) so I can’t completely alienate her. Help!!!

  30. I found this post fascinating. I totally fall into the “thin fantasy” trap, and I find myself many times feeling like no one else understands why I might feel the strong compulsion to diet because they don’t have my body. And then I wake up the next morning and the compulsion to diet has lessened.

    I’m left wondering if this attitude (that I really need to change because my body is so much worse than anyone else’s) is somehow related to the way in which our thought processes change in the midst of depression. Because, let’s face it, self-hatred is a manifestation of depressed mood. And when people become depressed their outlook on the world becomes much more grim and self-centered (this is not in a bad way, but in the way that there is little energy/ability to move the focus beyond how bad you feel or feel you are).

  31. GameDame: I don’t have that particular problem, but I have from time to time had the problem of groups of people congregating to discuss a new video game or something in front of my workspace. If it gets to be a problem for me I just say “hey guys, I’ve got something I need to concentrate on here, can you grab a conference room?” if it’s more personal talk (unlikely in the mostly-guys environments I inhabit), a joking “Whoa, TMI! Get a room!” also works. In your situation I’d be tempted to put a little gentle-funny anti-diet message in there — as Miss Manners and Dan Savage agree, humor is a useful tool in telling people they’re being asses without being a dick yourself — but it depends on your personality and relationship with that coworker, y’know?

  32. Spins,

    Yes, I think the self-centeredness could be related to the energy lack. But I also think there’s an element of hopelessness to it. When I was depressed, I didn’t want to pay attention to the world because it wasn’t for me. I had this notion that I wasn’t worthy; I had no right to enjoy sunshine or laugh with friends. Those things were reserved for real people. So I focused on myself.

  33. GameDame, I honestly don’t really know what I’d do in that situation. I like to think I’d be all empowered and RAWR, but I’d be just as likely to sit there fuming silently and imagining their heads exploding.

    In theory, my suggestions would be:

    1) What Kimu said — a simple, “I’m trying to concentrate, could you keep it down?”
    2) “Hey, I’m trying to overcome a lifetime of disordered eating patterns, and hearing other people obsess about calories is really hard on me. Would you please not have conversations like that right next to my cubicle?”
    3) “Oh, for Christ’s sake, STFU. Nobody cares about your diet.”

    I probably wouldn’t go for 3, but it would be satisfying.

    Spins, what you’re saying relates to something else I’ve been thinking about posting on. I absolutely think depression creates a sort of selfishness — certainly intense self-absorption — although as soon as you say that, it sounds like you’re judging people for something they can’t help, which is obviously not the point. I need to gather my thoughts on that one.

  34. fillyjonk, what an awesome site. I’m trying to concoct my lethal but humorous comment for tomorrow, but with all the writers here in California on strike, it’s proving difficult. ;)

  35. “It’s something I think about when I see a group of dudes honing in on certain fat body parts constantly. I wonder how many of them are totally into big things or squishy stomachs, but they ‘know’ that can’t be right so they just parrot the disgust they’ve learned everywhere else.”

    Well I’m straight but I totally get what you’re saying.
    When I was in highschool there was a fat girl in my class who was so beautiful I couldn’t get my eyes off of her and she had such a lovely voice. One of the best face I’ve ever seen , and I don’t say that in a ‘pity about the body’ way just that her face was truly outstanding .
    BUT of course I never said to her how beautiful I thought she was ! I didn’t dare because yeah it’s weird to find fat people beautiful right ? she would’ve thought I was joking right? I still regret I didn’t compliment her . I have never been cruel to someone fat but I wished I had felt it was okay to express that someone fat is attractive.
    I’m way more outspoken now because I feel that I have the right to love whatever I love! So I’m not afraid anymore to say that I find wrinkles and scars charming on men and women.
    Oh and since it’s a fat acceptance blog I confess that I’m fascinated by the texture of fat people’s skin it looks so soft and fresh I just want to touch it.

    I’m sure lots of people feel this way but they don’t want to admit it because of the culture we live in . I don’t care wether people think I’m a weirdo if I think someone is beautiful I won’t hide my feelings because doing so reinforced the idea
    that some features/traits can’t be beautiful.

  36. Oh and since it’s a fat acceptance blog I confess that I’m fascinated by the texture of fat people’s skin it looks so soft and fresh I just want to touch it.

    I find this kind of offputting and essentializing, like talking about how much you like black people’s hair.

  37. Oh, yeah, I meant to respond to this, too:

    It’s something I think about when I see a group of dudes honing in on certain fat body parts constantly. I wonder how many of them are totally into big things or squishy stomachs, but they ‘know’ that can’t be right so they just parrot the disgust they’ve learned everywhere else.

    HELL yes. At least, it’s something I’ve assumed for a while. And I think it especially explains the phenomenon mentioned the other day, wherein some guys (often teenaged ones, granted) flip their shit over fat women who dare to look presentable. If you’re fat and you have the gall to fix your hair or get your nails done or wear colorful clothes, you are somehow deeply offending the men who have to look at you.

    There is really no logical explanation for that, other than, “I find myself attracted to fat women who don’t look like slobs, and THAT IS NOT OKAY! STOP IT!”

  38. This is a wonderful post. I used to be shocked when people accused me of being self-centered or told me it wasn’t all about me…”How could I be self-centered? I don’t even LIKE me!” I didnt’ get it AT ALL. I wish I’d read this years ago! Once again, it might’ve saved me thousands in therapy. :-)

    And ielerol, I’ve also mentioned here that I’m not fat because I wasn’t sure whether it was appropriate for me to hang around and comment, and I’ve felt really welcomed. I think this blog is really helpful for anyone – at least the posts and comments really help me understand what friends and family go through when they confront fat hatred, and they also help me bust through my insecurities even though though they aren’t directly linked to my weight.

  39. ”How could I be self-centered? I don’t even LIKE me!” I didnt’ get it AT ALL.

    Oh, word, AnotherKate. And all right, this is officially going on the list of things I need to post about.

  40. “I find this kind of offputting and essentializing, like talking about how much you like black people’s hair.”

    Well since I’m half black I think I get what you mean and didn’t meant it that way.I didn’t meant it like some are fascinated by the otherness of someone which make the person an other and not a human like a beautiful animal. I meant it in the same way that I like wrinkles and scars …things that are not conventionally considered beautiful. My grandmother is fat and I have always loved the texture of her skin so I find it beautiful like my mother has green eyes and I find green eyes beautiful or like I find some smell beautiful.

    English isn’t my first language so I don’t translate my feelings well. I apologize if I have been rude.I didn’t meant to be.

  41. ”How could I be self-centered? I don’t even LIKE me!” I didnt’ get it AT ALL.”

    I was/am part of a twelve-step program, and one of my favorite expressions that I ever heard (and use a lot) was addicts have this mindset, “I am the piece of shit that the world revolves around.” I am horrible, awful, mean, bitchy, enormous, lumpy, ugly, [insert disparaging adjective] and EVERYBODY knows it.

    It took me a LONG time, and it’s still a work in progress, to realize that nobody that I would ever want to hang around with really gives a shit about the size of my arms or ass or thighs or muffin top.

  42. That makes more sense, Jade, thanks.

    “I am the piece of shit that the world revolves around.”

    Holy shit is that astute!

  43. jm, I totally hear you.

    I meant to comment on the other thread about how an important step in FA for me was realizing that pretty much? No one is as unhealthily obsessed with me as I am. That made it a lot easier to do things like finally wear a bikini in public, because in addition to reminding myself that if folks don’t want to see a fat girl in a two-piece, they can FEEL FREE NOT TO LOOK, but also…also probably no one is worrying about me or my thighs, like, at all.

    It has been an ongoing process for drama-queen me to realize that I am just fading into the background along with everyone else, and that I am definitely my own worst critic; as other people have said, if I heard someone criticize a friend the way I criticize myself, the gloves would be off, you know?

  44. Not to be ze bearer of bad news, but I just wanted to give you all a heads up, there may be some douchehounds headed your way.

    In case you didn’t see it in the billionfafillion comments on TFoBT post, someone trackbacked to you and there post was…not overtly horrible, but pretty much against what was going on in the post.

  45. Yeah, there were a couple of “I’m fine with self-acceptance as long as it doesn’t involve accepting myself” trackbacks. Not too worried about it, as I don’t think they have the circulation we do (A-list! Holla!)

  46. Oddly, one of the epiphanies I’ve had about my weight and my self-esteem was that if I said or even thought what I thought of myself about other women, I’d be horrified. So why should I treat myself any worse than every other person on the planet who deserves my respect?

    Sorry for that nasty sentence structure!

  47. thanks for keeping this a ‘safe’ environment Kate !
    BTW i loved your Thin Fantasy post, printed it off, and used it as a topic of conversation with my shrink yesterday.
    I think i felt tired on this road to self acceptance.. knowing that i couldnt go back to overeating or dieting, but being stuck somewhere in the middle of it all.
    Your words of accepting your body, it’s limitation and allowing yourself to let some of the ‘what if’s’ go is really key. I will always have fat arm, it is something that I will have to let go, put on a sleeveless shirt, and move onto living my life.

  48. GameDame, I suggest that you look over politely at their conversation for a while, and then insinuate yourself in it by saying “God, i know. If I could just lose 4 or 5 pounds I’d look like fucking Christy Turlington. I’m down to only one box of donuts a day but I just can’t seem to do it!”

    That should do the trick.

  49. Why is dealing with coworkers such a pain in the ass? People are bored, so they talk about food.

    I told my coworker (who I love) that I was starting a gym regimen. We came back from Thanksgiving, and she was like “how’s your diet?” I said “when did I say I was on a diet? I don’t diet. I’m going to the gym, not confining my lunch to celery sticks and rice cakes.”

  50. attrice – don’t worry u totally did not come off like ur telilng people how to think. i do get what ur saying, and i do think it’s very important, and ur raising important questions that can help all of us.

    and the same goes for the stuff on the rotund, i was responding more to the rotund posts just in the sense that i DO agree with them but i also kinda cut myself more slack than she does, and i don’t know if that’s good or bad, i’m just kinda admitting where i’m at…

    and i really identify with what u say, attrice, about finding something sexy even if it’s not traditionally supposed to be. you give the example of the muffin top, haha, and i can tell u from experience that i have actually received many compliments from a certain someone on the chubbiness of various unexpected areas like my stomach and around my hips… and the cool thing? i actually understood that it was a compliment. not a put down, not a weird horrible fetish to want to touch *gasp* what bridget jones would refer to as “wobbly bits”, but just a nice thing.

    so ya, while i do admit that i have my limitations and things where society influences me – and i try to find ways not to let that go to the negative mental places – i do agree with what ur saying. and i do notice that trying to dress to “flatter my body shape” CAN have it’s darker, more insecure side. definitely.

  51. ”How could I be self-centered? I don’t even LIKE me!” I didnt’ get it AT ALL.”

    “I am the piece of shit that the world revolves around.”
    Love it, jm! I’m a 12-stepper too and another one I hear a lot, and use a lot, is “I’m an egomaniac with an inferiority complex.”

    GameDame, I so relate. I am trying to recover from an ED and my office is a very difficult environment for that, lots of food and diet talk, especially about being “good” or “bad.” It’s awful.

  52. Re the guys who are hostile because of their attraction: Totally.

    I’ve had this happen in the workplace, too (eek), where some guy simultaneously gets flirty and somewhat hostile. Or perhaps flirty and THEN hostile when he perceives “I’ve just been rejected by a fat chick” (when the correct answer there is “this fat chick does not hook up with coworkers”).

  53. I just came out of a meeting. During the break, I came in with my lunch and apologized for eating in the meeting room, explaining that I hadn’t yet eaten and couldn’t wait until 4:00, when the meeting would be over (and the deli would be closed 0 Thursday is spinach melt day. mmmmmmmm).

    My boss and one of the engineers (both men) got started on diet talk. My boss is trying to lose 15 pounds. He said that he’s getting back into eating more healthily and going to the gym 12 days out of every 14. (He takes the weekends with his daughter off.) My only contribution to this extended conversation was that the healthy food and exercise would give him health benefits regardless of whether he lost weight (to which he paid lip service), but they continued the discussion of cardio v. weight training, and what type of weights, etc. I just at my sandwich and my fruit.

    Game Dame, you might want to gently tell your office neighbor that you would appreciate her keeping the diet talk out of earshot of your desk. I would normally say that if she refuses, you can take it up the chain all the way to HR (she is, after all, creating a hostile work environment for you), but fear in this case that might backfire since corporate America has bought the whole “obesity epidemic” snake oil by the barrel.

  54. this is the first of these blogs that i have read, and i really enjoyed it. thanks, kate, for saying something that most people don’t have the guts (pun intended) to say. the thing is, everyone has something that they don’t like about themselves. EVERYONE. but what i have learned is that you need to learn to treat yourself like you are your best friend. if your best friend were standing next to you, looking in the mirror and talking about how disgusting her thighs were, what would you say? if you are any kind of friend at all, you would say NONSENSE! YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL & AMAZING! i am not speaking of delusions, simply of learning to love yourself as much as you do or would like to love everyone else!
    i won’t pretend that this is easy, or even that i myself am good at it. it’s a process and a lesson – i don’t think most people master it until they are too old to give a crap what they look like any more, they are way too busy living and loving!

    god bless!

  55. Great post. I’m another lurker that has mostly stayed away (I can’t remember if I’ve ever commented, I don’t think so) because I don’t think I can consider myself “objectively” fat. But then, where on earth do you draw the line on that? I don’t know who gets to decide that someone is “fat” or “not fat”, maybe we’re all just more or less fat.

    I’m a little hesitant about posting this because it might offend somebody, but I will try anyway. I truly do not want to hurt any feelings, quite the opposite. I want to be sure that I don’t make life hard for nice fat people in the future…

    I interpret some comments as maybe saying that you don’t like it when thin women call themselves fat. Or if you didn’t mean to say exactly that, I’ve seen that sentiment elsewhere. To be honest, I am sitting here reading fat acceptance blogs in size 8 jeans. By a lot of people’s standard I’m probably really thin. By some other people’s standard, I’m really fat.

    Is it awful if I call myself fat, if I’m not hating on myself and my fatness? I have had some conversations about this, prompted by other people thinking I’m too fat for whatever. My approach has been to accept the premise and attack the conclusion. Okay, I’m fat. So what does that have to do with anything? If I’m fat, it’s obviously not a huge problem, because I’m doing very well.

    Of course I could have said that size 8 is only fat in Hollywood fantasy-land and actually I am a healthy weight and not fat at all [, OMG how dare you call me that.] But wouldn’t that be buying into the idea that IF I had been fat(ter), it would have been a horrible thing?

  56. Pingback: First Fat Faux Pas « Femmeknitzi

  57. I interpret some comments as maybe saying that you don’t like it when thin women call themselves fat.

    Mia, I actually get plenty of comments telling me I’M not fat enough to call myself fat, and it drives me nuts, so I definitely hope I don’t do that!

    And this blog is absolutely for anyone who has trouble accepting their body at any size, for any reason. Body image issues plague all of us — and it can even be especially hard to be your size, I think, because then you get the “But I’m SO CLOSE to thin!” thoughts running through your head. And as for people who think if they were your size, they’d be throwing a party, they need to go read all the comments (including some from me) about how a lot of us thought that, then got to your size or smaller, and found we still wanted to be thinner, thinner, thinner.

    My approach has been to accept the premise and attack the conclusion. Okay, I’m fat. So what does that have to do with anything? If I’m fat, it’s obviously not a huge problem, because I’m doing very well.

    Of course I could have said that size 8 is only fat in Hollywood fantasy-land and actually I am a healthy weight and not fat at all [, OMG how dare you call me that.] But wouldn’t that be buying into the idea that IF I had been fat(ter), it would have been a horrible thing?

    It’s really cool that you take that approach, and yeah, you’re absolutely right about the second part. But also, give yourself a break. It’s fair to point out that no, you’re NOT fucking fat by real-world standards — you’re significantly smaller than the average American/Canadian/British woman — and anyone who looks at you and sees a fat person needs their head read. Pointing out how ridiculous the beauty standard is is a valuable thing, too, even if you’re sort of, temporarily hanging fatter people out to dry. One step at a time, you know? You don’t have to save the world all by yourself in one day.

  58. Yeah. It’s the same thing. It’s being so focused on your own self-hatred that you forget the implications it has for the people around you. That’s really not cool.

    And, although it’s been said here many times many ways (bonus points for holiday song ID), it’s really exactly the point.

    Kate: 10000000 plus A Million

    Fat Talk (Bonding or Put-Down/Competitive Variety): 0

  59. …if I said or even thought what I thought of myself about other women, I’d be horrified.
    I hear you on that one, Sara. I’m sure I can’t be the only one here still battling absolutely brutal self-body talk, despite looking at other women my size or larger and thinking they’re beautiful.
    Can you help me reach that epiphany? :) I’m working so hard on it!

  60. m. leblanc, on November 29th, 2007 at 8:38 pm Said:

    GameDame, I suggest that you look over politely at their conversation for a while, and then insinuate yourself in it by saying “God, i know. If I could just lose 4 or 5 pounds I’d look like fucking Christy Turlington. I’m down to only one box of donuts a day but I just can’t seem to do it!”

    This is AWESOME! I’ve been working all day to think of something humorous and you’ve saved me! Thanks! I am going to use that one tomorrow and tell y’all how it goes.

  61. Sara, I’m impressed; I had to have a therapist make that point to me. (“Would you ever say to another person the sorts of things you think about yourself?”) And, of course… no, God no, not in a million years. And most of the time, I wouldn’t have even thought it of another person, let alone said it out loud.

    So, when the insensitive twits in your life do idiotically criticize themselves for things that apply equally to you — resent it, sure, and correct them if the situation calls for it, absolutely…but also keep in mind that they’re not saying fat arms are universally gross. They are saying THEY are gross, and the self-hatred is manifesting itself in the arm region that day. Odds are, if they’re saying this in front of you and they are not otherwise assholes, it has genuinely not occurred to them to have unkind thoughts about your arms. In a twisted way, it’s a compliment. Not to minimize the twit factor, but at least it’s not always malicious or contemptuous twittery. Speaking as a recovering twit.

  62. I made a blog post, and it’s your fault.

    So I was thinking about this and how I once would have found the type of comments we’re discussing here completely unremarkable and unoffensive and that snowballed into other thoughts and then I made a blog post on my “I ate cereal today” blog.

    Also, this comment doesn’t want to post for some reason.

  63. Of course I could have said that size 8 is only fat in Hollywood fantasy-land and actually I am a healthy weight and not fat at all [, OMG how dare you call me that.] But wouldn’t that be buying into the idea that IF I had been fat(ter), it would have been a horrible thing?

    For me, it sometimes helps to translate this kind of thing into a body characteristic that’s less emotionally/socially loaded. For example, if someone says “Gosh, you’re tall!” and you’re actually 5’2″, it would not be inappropriate or tall-intolerant to point out that that’s nonsense. (Or conversely if you’re 5’8″ and someone calls you short, you might perfectly well mention that spending all day around six-foot-tall models has distorted their thinking badly and you’re not, in fact, short.) It’s not buying into the idea that X is bad to point out that you don’t really fit into characterization X.

    (This is assuming the person didn’t say it as an insult. If they did, well, a little consciousness-raising on the order of “Did you really just say that? You think the worst thing in the world to call somebody is ‘fat’?” might be useful. Depends.)

  64. TM, I released your original comment and deleted the subsequent flailing. :)

    Guys, if your comment won’t post and it doesn’t say “awaiting moderation,” it probably sent you to spam; just let us know, because we have to train the spam filter not to do that.

  65. I work with two women who are constantly dieting, then beating themselves up for failing. They are both younger than I am – and smaller. More than once, they’ve gone on about “good” food and “bad” food. When I reached the limit of my tolerance for this, I asked them how food could have a moral component. Food can taste good or bad to you. It can be fresh or rotten, but it does not, by itself, carry any moral weight. I then pointed out that there was no benefit to saying they had been “bad” because they ate something they desired because it robbed them of the ability to enjoy themselves yet accomplished nothing except negative self-image. Strangely, the diet talk has died down around me.

    On another tangent, I would like to note my desire to smack the crap out of the next person who says “I didn’t mean you. You’ve had children. I’d totally be fine with my body if it was because I had kids.” UM? WTF did you just say to me? That I get a pass? That my body would NOT be okay if I hadn’t bred? You don’t get to tell me fat is gross and then make up some excuse why it’s okay for me.

  66. Oh. I don’t know if I shared this on another thread but I am a non-traditional student (graduating in 2 weeks!) and the last class I needed was a gen ed math course, so I am surrounded by freshman. One day a group of three girls was talking about how gross they were for eating something the night before and how they HAD to make sure they didn’t gain any more weight because ewwww. The young black woman who sits next to me turned to them and the following exchange happened:

    YBG: Can I ask you guys a question?
    Three: Sure.
    YBG: Are you happy?
    Three: What?
    YBG: Are you happy?
    Three: Yeah, mostly. Why?
    YBG: Then why you feel the need to torture yourselves over your weight? You look fine.
    Three: Guys like skinny girls.
    YBG: You know what? I’m too damn thin to get a guy in my neighborhood. If I had to weigh in like a jockey, I’d have to put bricks in my pocket in order to get a date. There is nothing wrong with you. You just need to retrain your men. Or start dating in my neighborhood.
    Random Skinny White Boy: You’re all hot. I think most of the girls in this class are hot. And not everyone likes the same body type, okay?
    YBG: So who isn’t hot?
    Boy: Apologies to anyone offended by this, but I can’t date redheads. They remind me of my sister.

    I wanted to thank that boy for having the courage to say what half the guys in the class were thinking but were too afraid to admit out loud. Well, not about the redheads, but you get the idea.

  67. I had an intern a while ago. A very sweet girl with a very big and obvious eating disorder.
    I made a point of working really hard at not saying anything self-hating or self critical around her, and trying to set a good example. One day she was complaining over and over about how ‘disgusting and fat’ she was, and finally I said “honey, what do you think of me? I must be twice your size!” And she was horrified! She told me that I was MUCH skinnier than she was, and that I looked great. It was only when I pulled out a tape measure and measured us both that she believed me. She kept commenting on how much she just couldn’t believe it for the rest of the day and a few days after that.
    I think part of the disordered thinking is the inability to relate ones own feelings if shame and self hatred to any sort of external standards. Otherwise it would matter at all when your boyfriend of your best friend or your sister told you your thighs are great.

    The thing about ‘all about you’ is that sometimes it is so big and so universe blotting-out, that you can’t see beyond it. I (am embarrassed to admit) know that on occasional isolated days, I’ve seen someone and thought “wow, she looks great. I wish I were that thin” only to realize as the person came closer that I was, in fact quite a bit smaller.

    This site, this space, these IDEAS are important because you can’t ever be thin enough to be immune from the pressure, or safe from the feeling that you ‘don’t measure up’. If it were *just* about meeting some bogus BMI designation of fat, I don’t think these blogs would have the thin (and every size) readership that they apparently have.

    Like I’ve said before, I want this for every woman I know.

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  69. I realise it’s probably not my place to invade your space like this but…

    I have a friend who I’m really concerned about with regards to her own self-hatred and inability to get past her perceived “imperfections” and, if any of you lovely Shapelings would be willing to offer my advice, I’m about to post a little bit about it on my blog and you’re free to comment and advise if you wish to.

    I hope you don’t mind me intruding like this, Kate. It’s just that the people here seem far more… well, sane I suppose, and articulate, than most and I don’t know who else to ask for help.

  70. Guys, if your comment won’t post and it doesn’t say “awaiting moderation,” it probably sent you to spam; just let us know, because we have to train the spam filter not to do that.

    ^^;;;

    Thanks! <3

  71. Hello, I’ve been lurking on this blog for a while, just wanted to add my comments.

    I have struggled with being overwieght for years even though I did all of the stuff they told me to do (i.e. excercise, don’t eat junk food) and still remain fat while watching my size three sister sit around the house all day eat nothing but macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, ice cream and buttered microwave popcorn, and still maintain her size.

    It used to burn me up that I was condemned to a lifetime of eating salads and cardio workouts while remaining a size 14 while my sister could do whatever she wanted and nobody would make comments about her weight.

    I am new to the whole fat acceptance thing, and I find your blog to be comforting on my bad days.

    What I wanted to talk about was the part about the skinny chick complaining about her weight, that has happened so many times with my stepsister who is a size 0 by the way, and has an amazing body. I don’t know how many times I told her you’re not fat when she used to come to me and pinch the skin on her stomach and complain how disgusting she was. Which like you said made me wonder, “What does that make me?”

    Which brings me to my final comment, if we don’t love ourselves and our bodies, who will, because the skinny people certainly aren’t going to do it.

  72. Hi there, I’ve just found your blog! I love how straight-talking this post is. I’ve struggled with an eating disorder in the past but like to think that it’s firmly behind me. And whilst I’m not overweight, hearing of others strictly controlling their diets is a major trigger of relapse for me (regardless of whether or not they NEED to lose weight) and I have to find strength to stop this relapse (it gets easier though the more I do it). Anyway, I’m not quite sure what my point was…

    I love how this post puts everything into perspective and encourages people to think beyond body weight. We are SO much more than what we weigh yet somehow we live in a society where that is all that seems to matter. Ok, that’s it. Big love for writing this post. x

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