Bad fatty! No self-esteem!

There’s been a lot of talk recently about Carson Kressley’s new show “How to Look Good Naked.” I haven’t written about it because I basically don’t give a shit about new television (except Project Runway), and I think Kate’s about the same, and SM doesn’t even have cable — there are bigger pop culture mavens on the fatosphere who can handle it. I hope it’s sincere, I hope there’s lots of crying, I hope it gets more viewers than Biggest Loser (it won’t), and I’m not gonna watch it. That about sums that up.

What I want to talk about is the not-unexpected backlash, because it beats a tired, familiar, hateful old drum: namely, if you allow people (especially women) to feel good about themselves, they’ll never loathe themselves enough to change. It’s actually a really vicious mindset, one that I’m familiar with from abusive relationships — “if I don’t punish you, how will you learn?” But it’s such a popular attitude towards fat that people don’t even think twice about what a poisonous (and, for what it’s worth, counterproductive) outlook it really is. So counterproductive, in fact, that it ought to be funny, except that it’s real people under the lash.

As an illustrative example, let’s look at this review, which I found because some laudable commenter made an attempt at education by linking to the BMI Project. The post itself is pretty standard fare — I’m no model myself, but fat people are going to get diseases, and self-esteem makes you complacent. Barely worth snoring about, in the grand scheme of things. But what caught my eye was this comment, in which the author defends his position:

My wife and I were talking about this yesterday and both agreed that it was something I should have put in the original piece — those people that are in the place between “perfect” and “mildly overweight” (which, I think, is the _vast_ majority of Americans) have every right to self-esteem boost. I understand the pressure that’s on perfectly healthy women to try and starve themselves into an unnatural “ideal.” Anything we can do to make normal women feel, you know, normal, is an admirable pursuit.

That being said, the materials for the first episode say that the women Carson “helps” is 40 pounds over weight. Not obese by any stretch of the imagination, but certainly in area where health problems start showing up.

For one thing, while I’m sure this fellow is an expert and everything, 40 lbs “overweight” is certainly obese according to the BMI. Namecheck it or don’t, but you can’t have it both ways — either there are clearly-defined categories called “overweight,” “obese,” and “morbidly obese,” each with its own precisely defined level of risk, OR you get to define those categories yourself based on what you think is attractive and acceptable. It can’t be a reliable diagnostic tool AND your version of the 1-10 hotness scale.

But of course that’s a peripheral point. The real issue is the sentence in bold above, the one stating that normal women “have every right” to self-esteem. Fat women, of course, do not. Fat women do not have a right to self-esteem.

Now, this guy never said “fat women have no right to self-esteem,” not in so many words. He might even say that he would NEVER say something like that. But that is, in fact, the logical conclusion of what he’s saying above: of course I think normal women who think they’re fat have a right not to hate themselves, but real fatties have no such right, and should instead be told over and over again how abnormal and unacceptable they are, or they’ll never learn. Self-esteem is all well and good if you’re normal, but if you’re considered unattractive, you should be reviled for the freak you are.

Fatphobia is so ingrained in our culture that people see nothing wrong with this kind of mindset. After all, it echoes our attitudes towards other pleasant things, like food and sex and clothes — you can have nice things if you’re thin and pretty, but if you’re deemed unacceptable, all of those treats will just make you worse. Food will make you devour the world, sexuality will make you disgusting and ludicrous, clothes will just encourage you, and self-esteem will make you… well, it will make you think you might not need a complete physical overhaul in order to be worthwhile. And we can’t have that.

I mean, fuck that, obviously. Not hating yourself ought to be a basic human right, not one doled out by weight. And only the world’s biggest assholes would be willing to tell you to your face that you don’t deserve happiness or self-worth if you’re fat. Garden-variety assholes, the kind who just didn’t think or just didn’t think about it that way or really meant well or were only concerned, will find some other way to say it — some way that allows them to deal with the fear and jealousy (“if fat people are allowed to like themselves, what have I gained with all my privation?”) and unquestioned assumptions, but without having to face up to the basic cruelty of telling someone they don’t deserve to have self-esteem. Fuck that noise: it’s still cruelty and it’s still bullshit.

Never let anyone talk you out of liking yourself, or tell you that you don’t deserve it. People want to keep self-esteem away from you, because once you get it, you’ve already won — you’re that much closer to being immune to the rest of the ignorant, scapegoating shit they can throw at you. Nobody’s actually worried that self-acceptance will make you unwilling or unable to change; they’re worried it’ll make you realize that you don’t need to. And frankly, knowing that somebody finds the possibility of my contentment and happiness that damn threatening? Just makes me more inclined to flaunt it.

92 thoughts on “Bad fatty! No self-esteem!

  1. It’s hard enough for women of size to have self-esteem. But it’s absolutely necessary. If you don’t have it, you can’t have a healthy attitude toward life. And if you don’t have a healthy attitude toward life, you won’t be healthy.

    Which should be the goal of anyone. Not to be thin, but to be healthy.

    Fucktards who think fat people can’t love themselves can suck it.

  2. Oh hell yes hell yes hell yes, you go get ‘em tigress.

    Look, even people who abuse alcohol and drugs aren’t told over and over again by “experts” that they do so because they don’t hate themselves enough to quit. So the “hate yourself thin” approach figures to be a dud even for fat people who do have binge-eating disorders, never mind for those who don’t. Not only can’t you “treat” people for a problem they don’t have, but even if they have it that’s an bassackwards way to approach it. “How dare you!” has never cured anyone of anything.

  3. Look, even people who abuse alcohol and drugs aren’t told over and over again by “experts” that they do so because they don’t hate themselves enough to quit.

    This point is so perfect that I had a physical startle reaction, like “holy shit whoa!”

  4. Never let anyone talk you out of liking yourself, or tell you that you don’t deserve it. People want to keep self-esteem away from you, because once you get it, you’ve already won — you’re that much closer to being immune to the rest of the ignorant, scapegoating shit they can throw at you. Nobody’s actually worried that self-acceptance will make you unwilling or unable to change; they’re worried it’ll make you realize that you don’t need to.

    Absolutely perfect. I’ve got nothing else intelligent to add; you’ve summed this up beautifully. Thank you.

  5. Something I’ve never understood: eating healthier and exercising are supposed to be good things you do for yourself. But most people don’t do good things for people they hate – they do it for people they like. So if you don’t like yourself, aren’t you less likely to do good things for yourself?

    I loved the show, and think that reviewer is an ass. Fat women ARE normal women. And we’re sick and tired of being told we’re not good enough.

  6. Look, even people who abuse alcohol and drugs aren’t told over and over again by “experts” that they do so because they don’t hate themselves enough to quit.

    Jesus. This is so true. Not only can other people hate us for our own good, we can’t hate ourselves for our own good. And yet that is the message that women – especially fat women – hear again and again.

  7. One thing I thought was interesting about the show was when they asked the girl to put herself in a lineup of other women where she thought she fit in size-wise. They had like 8 women standing there in their underwear. My first thought was how lovely the other plus size women were. Then it occurred to me.

    These are not abnormally sized women though they may have to shop in plus sizes. But these are real women. This is what women look like and have always looked like. At what point did this become abnormal or an epidemic? And why should any woman ever feel bad about it even for a second?

    It reminds me of the movie Spanglish where the Hispanic woman describes white women as having conflict with their curvy-ness. Instead of celebrating our curves we are often trying to get rid of them.

    It really is sad that I spent 20 years of my life thinking I had no right to self-esteem because I had curves. And now I realize I should have been enjoying it.

  8. Oh my god. Reading that post makes me, as Ralph Wiggum would say, “happy AND angry!” (fj, the happy part’s because of your insight and articulatativenessitude, in case that’s not 100 per cent clear).

  9. What blows my mind is that being thin is not going to make you love yourself. I have been “thin” many times, and it was never enough. In fact, looking back it was when I was fat that I thought I was fucking great. Go figure.

    This mentality really blows my mind. It reminds me of the debate over clothing for fat girls. The idea was that it would encourage people to be fat. You know fi you actually make pretty clothes for big girls you’re encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle? Sort of like making size 0 clothes?

    My husband and I are constantly stunned at the level of stupidity and open hatred shown to fat people. Dh mentioned seeing some stupid talkshow that featured sucessful fat woman, and the audience was booing and yelling crap. My dh was stunned at the level of hatred shown. Unreal.

  10. You know, a short time ago (before finding this blog) I would have read that review and thought he was so thoughtful and insightful and ultimately right. It’s like the blinders are off and the whole world looks different.

  11. Chiara, me too I bet, or at least I would have thought it was seriously worth considering. That’s why I tried to allow for the idea that people are so bamboozled by rampant fatphobia that they don’t really understand that what they’re saying is judgmental and cruel.

  12. It’s been on over here for a while, with this divine young boy called Gok Wan presenting it. I love him, I want to be his lavendar wife.

    It always starts off with about 10 women all dressed in bra and knickers, of various sizes, and the woman who’s the star has to put herself where she thinks she comes in terms of bigness. Of course, they always get it wrong, and they’re always a lot slimmer than they think they are. He asks her to look at the other women and asks her if she thinks they’re beautiful, and why, if she thinks they’re beautiful, why she doesn’t think she has the right to be. It’s a pretty cool little thing, really.

    Then he does loads of clothes/exercise/botox-y type stuff. It gets a bit What Not To Wear at the end.

    I was telling my Mum all about it yesterday actually, because we think her sister thinks that cos she’s fat now that she no longer has to the right to pretty clothes. Her sister is about the same size as my mum – and smaller than me – and we also think my uncle perpetuates her idea that she doesn’t have the right to look good. I told my mum that if anyone made me feel like that I’d tell them to Naff off, politely. It felt good :)

  13. fj, i love your posts. they cut the bullshit so cleanly – it’s like a miracle. i really is astonishing how much of it is out there, and how very much there is left to shovel away.

    “most people don’t do good things for people they hate – they do it for people they like. So if you don’t like yourself, aren’t you less likely to do good things for yourself?”

    exactly. exactly.

  14. Fillyjonk, you so totally rock.

    I have to say, as a fatty with relatively good self esteem (she flatters herself), this is actually something I wrestle wih myself. Sometimes I feel guilty for being okay with my body as it is…like instead of thinking my body is the thing that’s wrong wih me, it’s my lack of self-hatred that’s wrong.

    And then I get all pissed that I live in a world where that’s not a completely insane logical circlejerk, but a reasonable response to cultural programming. Fuck that.

  15. this blog is so totally changing my attitude to my (and other people’s) bodies, i cannot even begin to tell you. i am a thin person with a lifelong self-persecutory mind-crippling fat complex. do you accept comments from the likes of me? can i be your friend?

    i do not think there is another category of people in all of our society against whom other people’s hatred and systematic attempts at inculcating self-hatred are such acceptable and even encouraged behaviors. as you say, this is done to the person’s face. daily. no problem.

    the only other group that comes to mind is child molesters (and i sincerely think they do not remotely deserve all the persecution they get either, because, simply put, no one deserves persecution), but these are people who hurt extremely vulnerable victims and their behavior is officially criminal.

    this really sucks. i’m so happy i found this blog. it’s doing wonders for my mental health. thank you.

  16. The most telling line in that review was “I’m not a beautiful person looking down at all the Morlocks, I’m a Morlock looking down at all the Morlocks. I guess that is where having your head up your ass comes in handy – I can’t figure out how else you could be both above and below yourself at the same time.

    Rebecca, if you think Gok’s great that’s fine, but I don’t. I’ve spent some time around him, and let’s just say they must be very creative in their editing for that show, because he is quite vile. Being gay isn’t a get out of jail free card for misogynistic humor *cough* uses the C-word liberally, bitches out women on sexual level *cough*.

    If I wanted help from teh Gays making peace with my body I would prefer the advice of a lesbian. They would have experience about living within a woman’s body and the myriad of gender-based issues that cause us to be unhappy with ourselves. Why is it always gay men? What superpowers do they possess that grants them all the insight?????

    Obviously, a show hosted by a chic female psychologist (gay or not) or other learned professional would probably be as dry as hell and far less entertaining that a lispy and fashiony male who dresses like a technicolor yawn, but it ultimately would prove more useful in real terms. But of course, a bit of yammering and a few outfit changes fills the 30minutes nicely and keeps the audience slaves to the lifestyle/success/romance fulfillment that fashion purports to offer.

  17. I have nothing to add – except to add my voice to the chorus of “Fillyjonk, you rock!” Thanks for continuing to cut through the bull and expose the assumptions hiding between the lines.

  18. I cannot BELIEVE that link to the AntiGym. That is truly disgusting-talk about taking sadism to a cruel new level!

  19. Look, even people who abuse alcohol and drugs aren’t told over and over again by “experts” that they do so because they don’t hate themselves enough to quit.

    This is … absolutely right, and I have never, never thought of it that way. Wow.

  20. Oh, FJ, thank you for this GREAT post!

    And also, thank you Kate for providing this great blog (and FJ and SM, for participating) to counteract all these horrible messages the shamers keep inflicting on teh fatties of the world. I just keep imagining how someone who has not found a blog like this, or some similar means to cope with the daily barrage of hatred, deals with this stuff when they read it or hear it. It’s almost impossible NOT to internalize those horrible messages that we will never, ever be good enough, and how dare we think otherwise. *sigh*

    What really makes me sad is that I know how few of us fatties have actually evolved to the level where we CAN say “WTF?” when we read stuff like this. I remember being about 19 and reading my first book that dealt with fat women, self esteem, and living your life exactly as you are (I think it was called Making it Big, with a big subtitle I can’t remember anymore – got it from the library). Back then, I had been dieting and dieting and dieting for thirteen years, and my initial response to the book was anger, as in, “But this is going to make fat women ‘give up’ (trying to lose weight), and that’s not right!” But you know, it was the first message of fat positivity I’d ever encountered in my entire life, and even though it took a long time to sink in, it was the trigger that changed my internal universe.

    So I guess I’m hoping that lots and lots and lots of other fatties find this blog in a damned hurry and have similar triggers of positivity, a.s.a.p.

  21. Beautifully written article, plus it makes use of one of my favorite phrases:

    “fuck that noise”

    Woo!

  22. Amen!!!! There is a great series of articles in this month’s “UTNE Reader.” One of the points the writer makes is that thin people can be, and are, forgiven for a multitude of health “sins,” like drinking, smoking, unsafe sex, or even (gasp!) eating junk foot. But fat people are automatically assumed to be unhealthy sloths (I’m sure we’re all familiar with THAT!). Thin folks are considered morally superior to fat folks (again, we’re all familiar with that).

  23. Well, Filly, I was going to comment about how fantastic this post was and how I felt like you hit it right on the head. Also, about how the salon article made me feel quesy, and ew….

    But you’re a fatty, so undeserving of praise and God forbid you get a fucking self esteem bump from getting positive feedback. I would tell you how awesome this was, but for your own good, I’ll refrain. But please, know I’m only saying this for your own good.

  24. One day I was telling my fat sister, who is still trying so very very very hard to lose weight, “Hey, K, y’know, I’m getting into this idea called Health at Every Size, where some of the things you’re doing–like training for triathlons–are really a great idea no matter how big or small you are. There’s a really fantastic blog I read that talks a lot about supporting people no matter what their weight.” And she straight-face replied to me, “Oh, I read an article the other day called ‘My High Self-Esteem Was Killing Me,’ where this woman didn’t think she had a problem because she accepted her body as it was. She finally got a clue and started dieting and exercising, and it saved her life.”

    She didn’t notice my jaw drop, either. Maybe it got caught up in my double chin?

  25. people that are in the place between “perfect” and “mildly overweight” (which, I think, is the _vast_ majority of Americans) have every right to self-esteem boost.

    I hate this idea that there is a mythical cut off point under which you are “ok” (slightly pudgy but thin at heart) and over which you are “not ok” (omg fatty fatty fatty). GRR.

    And what’s more, this mythical cut off point is subjective and movable. I wouldn’t be surprised if their definition of the cut off point equates to ‘about 5-10kg heavier than we are’ – thereby placing themselves in the group who are entitled to self esteem.

  26. Fatadelic:
    I hate this idea that there is a mythical cut off point under which you are “ok” (slightly pudgy but thin at heart) and over which you are “not ok” (omg fatty fatty fatty)

    God, I know. That’s part of what I was trying to address in my “everyone’s an expert” post, but I didn’t manage to mention all the “I’m in charge of biology” phenomena that so bothered me. The one where “overweight” means “still fuckable” and “obese” means “too fat for me” is another one. And — we got one of these recently — the people who seem to know EXACTLY what percentage of fatties have mitigating medical factors (they mostly think these boil down to “thyroid problems,” but hey, they’re the experts), which of course excuses them, BUT ONLY THEM.

    hallie:
    i really is astonishing how much of it is out there, and how very much there is left to shovel away.

    I was thinking, while looking for all the SP articles I link in this post, that eventually every post on SP will just be a pastiche of links to other SP posts, because we’ll have ranted about everything and be sick of doing the rant again. But I also found a number of phenomena that we HADN”T yet written whole posts about — like, I’m pretty sure there’s a post about the “if you get to be happy with yourself, it negates all my hard work” phenomenon, but I couldn’t find one, so maybe it’s all been discussed in comments. There is for sure a lot of shit to shovel before we get to write nothing but recursive trackbacks.

    ama:
    do you accept comments from the likes of me? can i be your friend?

    Hells yes.

  27. Oh yeah, and the AntiGym… I was kinda hoping people wouldn’t click the link, because they don’t really deserve hits from us (not that it’ll really matter), but I couldn’t think of a better illustration for “world’s biggest assholes.” (I did consider linking to Fark.) Anyway, if you click that link, please think of it as parody, even though it’s not.

    And Lollydee, hee!

  28. I’m pretty sure there’s a post about the “if you get to be happy with yourself, it negates all my hard work” phenomenon, but I couldn’t find one

    If there isn’t, I’ve been kicking this one around in my head forEVER, so I would be happy to write it. :-D

  29. Okay, so I don’t know how the whole “trackback” thing works (I just read the wiki article about it and I still don’t get it) but I finally, finally posted about an article that relates to this. The sentence in that article that overlaps with this one (there is more than just one sentence but I’ll start here) is:
    “The continued growth of the obesity epidemic at a time when obesity is highly stigmatizing should make us question the assumption that, given the right information and motivation, people can successfully reduce their food intake over the long term.”
    I realize this isn’t a one-to-one match, but thanks, Filly, for finally getting me off of my tuchus to post to my own blog.
    That, and my little one and husband have been watching videos for the past two hours and allowed me a rare chance to blog. Blogging is way more time consuming than I would have thought. Harder than it looks.

  30. I hadn’t heard any of the reviews, thanks to my passionate head in the sand philosophy, but I did catch some flack on a message board for saying how much I liked the show. It was basically the same nonsense — this is soooooo damaging to women because she “just worr[ies] that some women will love their bodies and ignore getting physically healthy.” Since NOOOOOOOO fat people are healthy, and losing weight is the absolute silver bullet to health.

    /sarcasm

  31. Wow. My favorite of the comments on that batshit review is:

    I know many attractive women who workout, eat healthy and still think they are ‘huge’. It’s shocking how many women look in a mirror and see monsters that aren’t really there.

    If this show can bring some reality to *those* women (skip the obese/overweight every week please) it would be doing a great service.

    “Fuckable women deserve to like themselves! If you could make them confident enough that they would wear skimpy clothing I would really appreciate it!”

    Of course the gingerly disgusted “skip the obese/overweight every week please” is the best part.

  32. Yeah, as long as the monster you see really IS there, thinking you’re a monster can only be good for you!

  33. Wow, those Anti-Gym people really are assholes. I mean, legislation to see that fat children are seen as being victims of child abuse? Yeah, clearly ripping children from their homes is a GOOD THING. <–(sarcasm)

    Not to mention the, slutty women having sex all the time, compared to the supposedly lazy fattie doing nothing. Yeah..sorry, I’d rather be fat than a slut. Is that ok? Meh, I’m done ranting.

  34. I didn’t click the link to the Anti-Gym but I would just venture to say that taking a higher moral ground over women who choose to have sex a lot doesn’t really seem to be the thing to do. After all, isn’t one of the points of this blog that everyone is deserving of respect, regardless of how they choose to treat their bodies?

  35. “Yeah..sorry, I’d rather be fat than a slut. Is that ok?”

    No, not really. It’s ok to be angry, but a statement like that is really missing the point.

  36. I have self esteem that is getting better every day due to blogs like these and the love of my life. Both give me the tools to see that I am attractive, loving, sexy, worthy of respect and all those great things. Keep on keepin’ on!!!!

  37. And frankly, knowing that somebody finds the possibility of my contentment and happiness that damn threatening? Just makes me more inclined to flaunt it.

    I second that emotion.

    It’s like the blinders are off and the whole world looks different.

    That is the beautiful truth.

    As for the reviewer being a self declared fatty, let’s hope 2008 heralds the end of fat fools in the media. I’m done being patient with them.

  38. Jackie, “slut” is another label used to shame women for pursuing their bodily desires. Nothing wrong with being a slut around here.

  39. Oh yeah, and the AntiGym… I was kinda hoping people wouldn’t click the link, because they don’t really deserve hits from us (not that it’ll really matter), but I couldn’t think of a better illustration for “world’s biggest assholes.”

    I knew as soon as I saw “world’s biggest assholes” highlighted that it would be a link to the AntiGym. Hee!

    After all, isn’t one of the points of this blog that everyone is deserving of respect, regardless of how they choose to treat their bodies?

    Yes. Thanks to Sweet Machine and all the others who have pointed that out to Jackie.

  40. Why is it that with EVERY OTHER FUCKING “HEALTH” concern, the “experts” say a positive attitude is crucial? Got cancer? Keep a positive mindset, surround yourself with optimistic, cheery people, and your chances of survival go way up! Don’t like your nose? Sure, you could get surgery, OR, you could learn to love yourself just as you are! BUT… are you FAT?!?!?! Well, you’d better be a self-loathing, workout-starvation MACHINE! ‘Cause the only way YOU can love yourself, Fatty McFatalot, is to get SKINNY! And never mind the fact that once you lose all the weight you’ll STILL be unhappy! At least you’ll be thin! And maybe then someone else will find you worthy, so who gives a fuck if you hate yourself when you’re skinny?
    Yeah. Good advice. Thanks!

  41. This post has been rolling around in my head for the past few days… I’ve been struggling with self-esteem lately and able to sharply contrast what I “should” be feeling about my life (basic satisfaction at the very least) with what I am feeling (crappy) and how I think this relates to weight, at least in part, is that my own assessment of my worth is tied into this sense that I haven’t achieved weight loss, in spite of other achievements of my so far nearly 40 years.
    I know, I know, I say “fuck you” to that part of myself every second of every minute of every day, but I’ve not had success lately at keeping that awful inner harsh part away from the rest of me.
    So how I think this ties in (sorry if it’s been TMI, but based on what I’ve read from others here I’m pretty sure I’m not alone) is that even though I’ve consciously rejected the idea that my worth is related to my weight, my self-estimation (and self-esteem) still suffer at the hands of this inner “oppressor.” And this post was triggered by someone who clearly has an inner judge who thinks he’s not entitled to feel okay about himself while he’s fat (and hairy, as he states).
    I’m getting help, the professional kind, and I’ve been exposed to fat acceptance since I around 1988 (when I read “Shadow on a Tightrope”) and have been working on it since then, too. I don’t know why the self-esteem stuff is so hard right now, if it’s just middle age angst or something else, but if anyone else out there has/is struggling with it, and has suggestions, I’m wide open.

  42. The inner oppressor is the worst one of all. It will say anything, it has no manners and no shame about its nastiness. And you can’t exactly tell yourself to fuck off when you’re being out of line and cruel to yourself – I mean, you can, but for me, it generally makes me feel worse.

    On the other hand, the inner oppressor can’t walk away from you either. So in this case, in my own internal conversations, gentle, continuous, merciless persuasion sometimes works. “Look, don’t be silly. You know better than that. Remember this and this.”

  43. Thanks, Jaed, that gentle persuasion usually works for me. You nailed the description of the “inner oppressor.”
    I think part of what’s going on is, uh, winter. This is my 4th winter in a cold, northern place. If I had the resources, I think a trip to Hawaii would be in order. But I am aiming to ride this out as best I can. It helps to put it in perspective.

  44. I didn’t click on the Anti-Gym link, but I did put my mouse over it and giggled a little. Even if they don’t deserve our hits, they do deserve our contempt, and I liked seeing that little jab in there.

  45. I’m fat AND a slut. Shame on me!

    Yay! Another fat slut! Hello! :)

    (Although, I’m not as much of a slut these days. Too many break ups this year.)

  46. I think part of what’s going on is, uh, winter. This is my 4th winter in a cold, northern place.

    Have you tried increasing the lumens? Thing is, I get SAD myself, and I’ve found it really helps — not light boxes, just better bulbs and more of them. (I suppose a light box would help too, but I’m not convinced it would be enough better for me to justify the cost of a good one.) This year I’m using the new compact fluorescents, and they’ve been great, nice and bright without any hum I can detect.

  47. The anti-gym is disgusting. A friend of mine in Colorado called me a few months ago to tell me about these horrible commercials she had seen, which I then watched on the internet. I couldn’t believe it.

  48. Oh right, well, since my body has nothing whatsoever to do with me, I guess I shouldn’t have taken it so personally! If I lived in there, or maybe even was inseparable from or coextensive with my body, or something, it’d be a different story.

    Good thing we’re all dualists, here in the 21st century!

    :roll:

  49. “trademark registration,” you have provided us a much clearer example of “missing the point” than the original post here. Nice work.

  50. Pingback: undergroundexiles.com » these thoughts inspired by another blogger

  51. kate, I dated a gorgeous, voluptuous women for about two and a half years (she just broke up with me), and it pisses me off to no end when I see idiots imposing an arbitrary standard of beauty on all women, when all women are not alike. I’ve had her cry on my shoulder more than once over some asshole who couldn’t keep his mouth shut, and then I wanted to kill someone else.

    Keep up the awesome writing, and follow the link to see what your thoughts spun off into.

  52. This is totally offtopic, but since if I post this on my blog I’ll be attacked by a million trolls telling me how I should hate myself, I’ll just post it here, way down in the comments. After a round of hothotsex yesterday, I realized something kind of stunning; I don’t want to be thin. There are a lot of things I want: I want to be fit, I want to have lots of energy, I want to be able to buy cute clothes in a variety of stores, I want to feel good about myself. But none of those things require that I be thin. I like my body, I’m used to it, it’s been bringing me funtimes for 25 years now. This is a huge fucking revelation.

    So think about it. Do you actually, truly want to be thin? Have some totally different body? I realized that it’s more like I want to be treated like a thin person, not actually be thin.

  53. Interesting point! When I was thin, I got cold a lot faster, which was unnerving. Also? I thought I looked kinda boring, to be honest. Not that I was hating on myself, but it was like, Oh. I look like how manipulative advertisers and crappy sitcoms think “normal” women should look. Great. I felt anonymous, and I missed my boobs.

  54. m. l. — I’m so glad you posted that — It might have been right at home in the fantasy of being thin post, but I am right on board with you in the sense of wanting to be fit, have lots of energy and feel good about myself. But, as you said, none of those things require being thin.

  55. OMG, there are so many things to talk about.

    Well let me just say, besides the usual “this blog is awesome”, a couple notes –

    i love that this show exposes us to images of beautiful women of sizes and shapes other than the usual stick thin. that in itself does so much.
    and i love that at the end the woman resolved never to diet again, and that that is the happy ending.

    i love that my husband heard the show’s name and very eagerly asked “oooh will we get to see her naked at the end?” lol which just proves to me that men aren’t thinking all the evil things about our bodies that we think they are. they just want to see us all naked. at least the men i know…

    the thing about how “if you get to feel good then all my work is for nothing” – that’s a big one.
    when i was like 20, i was talking to my mother (who is a wonderful person and who i don’t blame for the culture into which she was born, which caused her to have these attitudes and inflict them on me). i was trying to get her off my case, because she was horrified that i had decided to accept my own body as it was and was no longer willing to tolerate her saying anything about what i eat, or my weight, or anything.

    i said to her, “look, you’ve spent your whole life worrying about your body and trying to diet and still you never reached a point of feeling good with your body.”
    so she said to me, deadpan: “but at least i was TRYING”.

    indeed. i’m sure you already know everything i think about that statement and what it means about the modern day perceived connection of thinness, or attempts at being thin, to morality.

    it was then that i understood that she simple wouldn’t be convinced that logcially my approach was better. cuz that was her answer to my strongest, simplest argument. so i just went the agree-to-disagree route and said that i am taking the right approach for me, and she can do what she thinks is right for her.

    which incidentally, is where i leave it with everyone. i dont know if i have the right, or the energy, to try to convince anyone to take the approach of body acceptance… including a friend who has done WW for the second time (guess what happened the last time, and i’m sure she blamed herself for that) and goes on and on about how happy she is to be so tiny and how every day is a good body image day… i have a lot of thoughts about that but i don’t want to jinx her with them. and i have a lot of other thoughts when she stares at my food and spends half an hour deciding whether to ask me for one crouton from my salad. i have a lot of thoughts but then who the fuck am i to tell her what to do, any more than she tells me – and she NEVER tries to tell me to do WW or anything, she knows i am not interested and she respects it.
    but sorry for digressing, all thats a topic for other posts.

    and as for being thin doesn’t make you happy – so true! my mother, for instance, is a beautiful woman, and she also isn’t “plus sized” at all. which to me proves that the 300 pound woman who thinks if she could be a more “acceptable” weight, like my mom maybe, then she would be happy – is wrong wrong wrong. and i’ve seen very thin, very atttractive-by-our-cultures-strict-standards women, feel like crap and even do crazy shit to try to lose weight, announcing to me that they are trying to reach their “healthy weight”. hm. if u have to do crazy shit to reach that weight, it aint ur healthy weight.

    and i’ve seen plenty of fat women who feel great and have wonderful lives. that’s where i learned it. starting when i was 18 and was exposed to other things besides my own mother’s ideas and cultural ideas that supported hers, i learned there was another way to be. and not just “to be”, but to be happy.

  56. oh m. leblanc that was REALLY well said.

    and suzanne i do get what ur saying about the boring thing. tho of course i try not to think that about someone else who looks like that, cuz i don’t want to cross over to hating on someone else’s thin tv-style body if that’s what they look like. but i do indeed know what ur saying.

    by the way to ama and all thin people –
    of course it’s wonderful when thin people are on board with the idea of self acceptance.
    thin people are affected by all of this as well, and have the ability to change the world with their voice just like the rest of us, and can feel great about their thin selves without wanting fat people to feel bad about their fat selves.

    incidentally – one of my earliest introductions to HAES and fat acceptance (tho it wasn’t by those names) was a personal trainer who my mom hired for me, no doubt hoping this would make me thin, as did i.
    but in fact, this trainer – who was TINY, i mean really tiny and really toned and proud of it – helped me gradually understand a lot of things.
    from what i can remember, she never once talked to me about losing weight or fixing my body in some way. we just exercised, talked about how great it is to exercise because it’s healthy and also helps your mood, and we talked about other random things. and she always tried to counter me whenever i said anything bad about my body. she was trying to show me that my body was great, even though it’s very different from her body which was also great.

    i do remember once she said something very negative about someone else, which stung me because she didn’t even realize she might as well be saying it about me as i shared the traits she was talking about with that person. And that statement perhaps revealed certain insecurties on her part, and certainly touched on my insecurities.
    but nobody’s perfect, and i would still say that overall she was a really positive influence. she said so many helpful, insightful and positive things. considering how she looked and the industry she was in, i loved that she understood how LITTLE it matters whether someone looks like the cultural ideal (her) or totally different. And she expressed genuine shock that i didnt think i looked good, and she made a point of telling me all these examples of other people she knew – examples that illustrate how it’s all about what’s in our head.
    And, as a trainer, she never once pulled the health excuse. Even when discussing quite fat people, she talked about how great it was for people of every size, appearance, pimple-situation, or whatever – to feel great about themselves, she helped me learn that that’s how to make others see the beauty in you.

  57. But fat people have to be miserable. How else could we make thin(ner) people feel smug and superior so that they don’t have to confront their own inadequacies and self-hatred? Geez.

    It’s funny you mentioned dualism, FJ, because that’s what this is all about. Our society seems to be unable to comprehend thin/fat as a continuum; either you’re thin or you’re fat, which translates to either you’re acceptable or not acceptable. And, logically, if you’re not acceptable, then you really shouldn’t accept yourself. QED, bitchez.

    Every single post on this blog reminds me of exactly why I DON’T have to hate my body or find my body unacceptable. Now, I just have to move up from there to finding my body beautiful and perfect as it is. Thanks for the help on my journey.

  58. I had a feeling that “How To Look Good Naked” would evoke these sentiments:

    “What? We can’t make fat people feel good about themselves! They should be ridiculed and hated until they are thin!”

    Sad world we live in, where only “acceptable” people can feel good about themselves.

  59. cggirl- What a (mostly) great experience with a trainer…I used to work out with my cousin, who is a fitness instructor/p.t., whatev, and of course is blessed with our family’s fat genes. But she is a super fat hater, and mainly eats brown rice, lean meat, and diet pepsi to stay thin. In any case, the focus when we worked out was always on thin thin thin (this was several years ago). It is so much more fun working out without her :) I am kinda jealous of your trainer.

  60. “Fuckable women deserve to like themselves! If you could make them confident enough that they would wear skimpy clothing I would really appreciate it!”

    Ugh, I know, Christina. I saw a lot of that attitude when I used to post on weight-lifting forums. An endless stream of jokes, insults, and degradation towards fatter members of society, especially women. (One vomitrotous thread about rating the women’s looks (you know, the usual 1-10 scale) had several guys saying that even average-sized women rated below a 1, because the scale was only for “women they saw as sexual beings” — you know, potential fuck partners.)

    Meanwhile, several members were dating attractive women with low self-esteem. Oh, the rage, the frustration, the weeping and hand-wringing, that their modelesque girlfriends had been told that they were fat or ugly by previous boyfriends! If only they could find a way to boost their girls’ self-image! But in the meantime, fattiez r gross lol.

    Sigh.

  61. To me, the idea of a “good/fuckable fatty” is this: Plump body, thin neck and heart-shaped face.

    It’s as if you actually become Jabba the Hutt (?) if your face is round and your neck swells.

    And as a lesbian, I’ve always been astonished when men reveal that the only women they really see are women they find sexually attractive. Everyone else is invisible, or damn well should be. I asked one dude “You do know I’m a woman, right? Why would you tell me that? You think I’m going to agree with you?”

  62. “This mentality really blows my mind. It reminds me of the debate over clothing for fat girls. The idea was that it would encourage people to be fat. You know if you actually make pretty clothes for big girls you’re encouraging an unhealthy lifestyle? Sort of like making size 0 clothes?”

    Ginger I’m sorry but don’t say stuff like that; I really, respectfully, believe that this undermines the real message of ‘body positive’ for all women.
    Plenty of size 0 women eat whatever they want and are just genetically that size.
    I know I am, and I would never accuse your size, whatever it is, of being inherently unhealthy.

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  64. We have the original of How To Look Good Naked in the UK. It’s actually pretty empowering. It has a completely different host than the one that will be broadcast in the US, but from what I’ve watched (quite a lot) he seems to shy away from the stereotypical things you’d think would be said. For example, he focuses on how they feel and putting positive ideas into them about the parts they hate the most so they can learn to love ALL of them.
    He even goes as far as to photograph them in their underthings and put up a giant banner of that photo in their local shopping centre. He has them come along, and then interviews people walking by on what they like the best about the subject. No one really ever has anything bad to say, either. At the end of the day, the girl that wanted to look good naked for others finds out that her knees/breasts/shoulders/stomach/ankles/whatever look good /to her/ just as they are.

    Still. I’m not sure how it’ll translate to American TV.

  65. An endless stream of jokes, insults, and degradation towards fatter members of society, especially women. (One vomitrotous thread about rating the women’s looks (you know, the usual 1-10 scale) had several guys saying that even average-sized women rated below a 1, because the scale was only for “women they saw as sexual beings” — you know, potential fuck partners.)

    This brings up a loosely-related chain of thought that has been rattling around in my head lately as I’m reading this blog. One very good thing about being fat, is that it serves as one kind of instant barometer as to how much of a dick someone is.

    And conversely, one of the things that always made me nervous about the idea of being thin (an idea I never had to live out in real life, as it happens – size 14 is my rock-bottom, near-starvation-rations size) is that if I was thin, I would have to figure out in some other way, whether other people were truly decent, or just decent to those who fit certain criteria.

    Of course, some folks are – helpfully – such assholes that they’ll have conversations like that right out in the open. But others, aren’t. And those are the ones that make me nervous.

    (I know, I know: trust issues, much?)

  66. I have no idea what’s so special about Carson Kressley. He’s a fucking moron, full stop. He’s superficial, and a ‘himbo’, and I don’t care if it’s politically incorrect to say he’s a moron. Here’s a simple solution: why don’t people switch off, and not watch that wanker?

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  69. Here’s a simple solution: why don’t people switch off, and not watch that wanker?

    Presumably because not everyone finds him as annoying as you do?

  70. Fillyjonk, what an awesome post. I just discovered this blog through a friend and love it!

    It completely pisses me off that anyone has the nerve to decide who has the “right” to self-esteem and who doesn’t. I’m glad you put this into words, because they escape me. Which is unusual, for me.

  71. Very good post – I totally agree.

    One thing I do find amusing about this whole myth is that on the Brit version of How to Look Good Naked, you often see these women, after their self esteem goes up hugely finally feeling comfortable enough to think about becoming a healthier weight, or just do more exercise for fun or drink more water. Because once they stop hating themselves, they start to actually care!

  72. you often see these women, after their self esteem goes up hugely finally feeling comfortable enough to think about becoming a healthier weight

    Raft Tree, I take your point — certainly, liking yourself will lead to an increased desire to take care of yourself — but I find the phrase “healthier weight” hugely problematic, for reasons that should be obvious if you read this blog.

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  74. Fillyjonk, no offense, but what contribution has Carson really made to society, apart from acting all camp and getting his lips injected with collagen?

    As for him advising women on looking good? Puh-leaze. He should start working on his own looks.

  75. Ditzy, what is the deal with you? I don’t even WATCH the show. I could hardly care less about Carson Kressley. You asked why people didn’t simply turn him off, as though he were some kind of universal irritant, or a social problem we were railing against. I agree, those who have a problem with him would do well to turn him off, instead of trying to derail threads about self-esteem with obsessive hatred of a TV personality. Everyone else should do whatever the fuck they want about him. Calm the hell down. And quit ragging on other people’s appearance, that’s not what we’re about here.

  76. I think the biggest help I’ve had in my fight against a culture which wants to make me sicker than I already am is my existing mental illness. No, really, I’m being serious here. I suffer from depression – chronic, endogenous depression – and I have since I was about fourteen. I gave up dieting after participating in a set of self-help groups for mental health (if you’re Australian, and you’ve heard of GROW, I can thoroughly recommend them; I believe GROW has groups in the US as well) and realising by worrying compulsively about my weight, I was, in the words of the GROW program, “coming in on the other end of someone else’s maladjustment”.

    This particular realisation made me ask some questions of myself. Questions about what was more important to me – looking good, feeling good, or being good (another set from the GROW program); questions about whether the particular social mores and norms I’d absorbed since childhood were actually healthy or harmful. I wound up concluding the whole dieting process, with its negative self-talk and constant mental putdowns, was not likely to be helping my mental health. Priority-wise, I decided mental health was more important for me than being thin – if I was thin, but still depressed, it wouldn’t matter how damn pretty I was, I still wouldn’t be interested in enjoying life anyway. So I gave up weight-loss dieting, and discovered how much it had been *adding* to my mental illness as I slowly broke a lot of the bad habits of thinking and acting I’d built up over the years.

  77. I agree with what a few other posters have hinted at in doubting the premise that it’s self-hatred which motivates change. As far as I can tell, it’s self-hatred that encourages self-degrading behavior such as overeating or drug use, and it’s only with self esteem one can hope to change those behaviors.

    I question the idea self-esteem would make an overweight person complacent.

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