We take it back, diets totally work… to make you fat

Sweet Machine and I were discussing yesterday the Dan Savage-style “I lost weight by overcoming disordered (binge or compulsive) eating, so diets totally work!” argument. I pointed out that, by that logic, dieting also works to make you gain weight, since anorexics who normalize their eating patterns are generally able to regain and maintain their previous weight. Sweet Machine joked that we should change our refrain to the subject line of this post: “Diets totally work to make you fat.” And I laughed, and then I was like “well hell, diets DO totally work to make you fat!”

Brian at Red 3 wrote about this yesterday, when he was receiving a lot of emails saying things like “well what about the fact that people never used to be fat”:

There is something that our population has been exposed to for the last few decades which has been shown to induce weight gain.

Dieting. Nearly every fat person in this country has been on a diet. Most probably have dieted for most of their life. Not only do most people on diets gain the weight back, most gain back more than they lost. As our diet culture has expanded, its gripped more and more people who’d have never dieted before. And at younger and younger ages. I can’t tell you how many fat people I’ve seen bemoan how they thought they were huge when they were young, but looking back realize they weren’t much more than average. As fat has been hyper-stigmatized, its directed people into a system which has only ever proven useful for making people GAIN weight. You want to know why there are so many fat people around? How about blaming diets for once instead of doing everything possible to blame everything else.

Of course that’s leaving aside the fact that people certainly DID used to be fat, and that the actual average weight gain has been about 15 pounds over the last 25 years. But Brian is right on here: if there’s anything all fat people have in common, it’s a history of trying like HELL not to be fat. Insofar as there are more fat people than there used to be, I see no reason why gluttony and moral failure is more likely to be at fault than the obesity panic itself.

Okay, so the fact that people have gotten fatter as anti-obesity hype has gotten louder is merely a correlation — like the correlation between fat and ill health. The causation could run the other way, like everyone seems to think it does; the panic could be a reaction to so many Unacceptable Bodies running around. And while nearly everyone reading this blog would be able to attest to the fact that dieting makes you fatter in the end, that’s just anecdotal evidence — the other side has that too.

But consider this: We know that eating more cannot make you permanently fat if you’re physiologically inclined to be thin. We also know that fat-shaming and teasing from family members increases teen’s chances of eating disorders and simultaneously doubles their chances of being overweight. And finally, we know that dieting permanently alters metabolism, regardless of how fat you were to begin with and how much weight you lost — meaning that once you’ve dieted, eating the same amount of food will now make you fatter. (The link is to one of the first studies with that finding, but there are lots more — here’s a recent one.)

Imagine, then, a population in which there is no genetic or other physiological predisposition towards fat. Everyone is roughly 5’5″ and between 120 and 150 pounds. (If we’re going to throw out predisposition in weight, we have to throw it out in height, or it’s just too silly to contemplate. And the BMI doesn’t discriminate between genders, so neither will we.) Over time, portion sizes increase; food insecurity is reduced and replaced with improved access to low-quality, high-additive food; sedentary jobs and social activities rise in popularity. In troll parlance, everyone becomes a lazy glutton.

Now imagine the same population (remember, we’re totally laying aside genetic and physiological size predispositions, because we’re being deliberately simplistic). Over time, the physical ideal becomes smaller and smaller, although the average size does not. More people are shamed and teased for their size at earlier ages. A large percentage of the population starts restricting food intake even before puberty. Dieting and shame become lifelong projects, and prerequisites for moral value. Every so often, the physical and psychological ramifications are too much, and people go back to the calorie intake they used to have before extreme restriction. Sometimes they also overeat because semi-starvation has made them so obsessed with food.

Read the above links, and tell me which population you think would be more likely to gain permanent weight. Which one will have a greater number of fat people — the population where naturally thin people eat more, or the one where naturally thin people permanently fuck their metabolisms through cycles of disordered and restrictive eating?

Cliff Notes version for anyone who couldn’t be bothered to read the links: it’s the second one. In the first population, people can gain weight with difficulty if they’re eating vastly more than they need or want, but their metabolisms will speed up and they will need more and more food to maintain that weight. In the second, they will need less and less every time they diet, and any normalization of eating habits will lead to weight gain.

Now, naturally, things aren’t nearly as simple as the above scenarios. For one thing, there is variation in people’s natural body size and shape, and not everyone functions like the naturally thin subjects in the study Kolata discusses (though everyone’s energy expenditure is permanently slowed by dieting — except apparently those with anorexia nervosa, but I haven’t checked up on that). For another thing, I’m sure that in real life there are naturally thinner people who are constantly taking in energy far in excess of what they need, and who just eat more as their metabolisms speed up to compensate. And there are naturally fatter people who stay thin by eating less and less as they need less and less to survive. Both are disordered patterns, though as it happens one is seen as morally virtuous, the other as morally corrupt.

But even in this fictional, simplified universe in which everyone’s inclined to be thin, interspersing dieting with normal eating is more likely to make you fat than simply eating more. And we’re living in a complex universe, where you can be born with a tendency to gain and hang on to weight, and where even a small deviation above “normal” (not the same as average!) weight makes you more likely to experience teasing, forcible restriction, and lifelong cycles of dieting. And once that’s happened, normal eating — and yes, fat people eat the same as thin people overall — is going to make you gain weight. In other words, the more likely you are to be fat, the more likely you are to be made even fatter by dieting.

It may not be as simple as “diet culture makes everyone fat.” These things are never simple; we wouldn’t have over 500 posts on this blog if they were. But in this case, correlation and anecdotal evidence match up with research. For the “fatties eat too much and don’t move enough” hypothesis, they just don’t.

194 thoughts on “We take it back, diets totally work… to make you fat

  1. Anorexia seems to re-jigger the metabolism, making it extremely inefficient for a long time and possibly permanently. So people who’ve recovered from anorexia seem to need muchos calories ever after.

    I am no scientist but I wonder if the metabolism is highly sensitive to triggers, and once you flip a particular trigger, you turn something off or on. Permanently.

    I think Brian’s take is spot on. The one thing we all have in common is a history of dieting. There was a noticeable rise in average BMI in the 1990s, which correlated nicely with the low-fat/high-carbs movement (remember fat-free Entenmann’s, anyone?). More proof to the point.

  2. Harriet, you were the writer I was thinking of when I said that anorexia patients seemed to work differently. I had taken your word for it, though, since you’ve generally got your facts in line, and thought I should mention that I hadn’t double-checked it myself. :)

  3. Awesome. I just put up a post last night about the stupidity of dieting, when I get home tonight I’ll have to toss in a link to this post. Thanks for the links (well, and the awesomeness).

  4. I also think that the rise of the diet industry has a very insidious connection here. After all, sort of like those Nicorette ads designed to entice quitters to fall off the wagon (so that they have to start over again and buy more Nicorette), the diet industry can expect nothing but financial gains from their customers’ failures. If their diets really worked, they wouldn’t have that steady stream of “repeat buyers,” would they?

  5. You know, the less I ate, the fatter I got. My medical tests actually showed me in ketosis, and everything, with massive vitamin deficiencies. This is probably going to make some fat-haters head explode, but I starved myself into my highest weight ever.

    So someone please pass the baby-flavored donuts. I no longer count calories, worry about “bad” foods, or anything other than “Am I hungry? If yes, what do I want? If no, check back in half an hour.”

  6. Please explain something. Why are blogs like “pound” and “bigfatdeal” on the fatosphere list? From what I’ve seen, both are written from the presumption that dieting is harmless — some remarks indicate they even think weight loss is possible at more than a <1% level. And, why aren’t more anti-diet (aka. anti-weight gain) bloggers challenging their assumptions and claims along these lines? Why are they being allowed to present themselves as “pro-fat/size acceptance” when they’re misrepresenting (or in denial about) dieting?

  7. I guess I’ve known this for a long time because of my own experience with dieting, but I’m currently reading Rethinking Thin and I’m on the chapters where she is discussing the studies that show how hard it is to make fat people thin and thin people fat and how all the trying screws up metabolism to have the opposite effect. I really really really wish someone had told me this when I was 14 and saved me all the trouble of dieting and gaining weight when I could have been slightly less squishy and a whole lot happier if I hadn’t tortured myself all those years.

  8. First off, I love this blog. I’ve been lurking for awhile and using it as cheap psycho therapy to help me recover from an eating disorder and subsequent disordered eating.

    Secondly, where does one find these baby flavored donuts? Does it come with a grande mocha-toddler-chino?

  9. Thanks for the New England Journal of Medicine link. Weight Watchers mania has struck my office mates and it’s nice to have a solid scientific reference to shove under their noses when the blather about points and fantasizing about “eat less, exercise more, drop multiple sizes and suddenly look 10 years younger and drop dead gorgeous” gets too annoying.

  10. My pediatrician just sugested putting my two and a half year old on a diet. I wonder how big we can get her before she is five.

    And then she said I was in denial and that it was all my fault that my child was going to become a statistic, and that she was just an advocate for the health of my child. I was having trouble speaking since I had asked to not talk about this in front of my very verbally advanced child but she only complied when I walked out of the room halfway through her lecture.

    We were there because of a cough – finally left with a prescription for Bronchitis.

  11. ” I really really really wish someone had told me this when I was 14 and saved me all the trouble of dieting and gaining weight when I could have been slightly less squishy and a whole lot happier if I hadn’t tortured myself all those years.”

    You and me both! If I could have skipped all those years “bonding” with my well meaning but certainly fat-hating mother by sharing a Weight Watchers and then various other (South Beach, etc) diet regimes then I too would have been so much happier…AND likely still somewhere at that smaller size 10 that I so bemoaned at the time (instead of the much happier but larger size 18-20!)

  12. Awesome post, FJ.

    Here’s my anecdata: I weighed between 140 and 145 lbs. for YEARS. (For anyone who hasn’t heard me say it a million times, I’m 5’2″.) I thought I was hideously fat then, AND thought I must be overeating and not exercising enough, even though in retrospect, I was eating pretty normally and at least moderately active. I let the “fatness” dictate my understanding of my eating and exercise habits, rather than looking at my actual behaviors objectively. Or thinking about the fact that when I hung out with my thin friends, we usually ate exactly the same things in the same amounts.

    Then I got depressed and did start overeating junk like mad. I got up to 180 lbs. And I went on my first diet. The cycle started.

    Now, I’m more active than I’ve ever been, and I eat intuitively — which involves lots of fruits and veggies as well as burgers and fries, and portions that make me satisfied but almost never overfull. And I weigh 185.

    What do you suppose the chances are that I’d be 40 lbs. above the weight I naturally and effortlessly maintained for years by living normally, if I’d never gone through the binge/diet cycle?

    And for those who point out that I first gained serious weight by overeating, let me remind you that one of the main reasons I did that was because I already thought I was too fat to be loved at 145 lbs., so I said fuck it, I’m going to take the endorphin rush that comes with eating junk, since I’m a disgusting fat cow anyway.

    In a non-fatphobic world, I would have recognized that 140-145 was just where my body naturally hung out, and there was no rational reason to wish I were smaller. In a non-fatphobic world, I wouldn’t have hated myself for being so “disgusting” at, like, a size 8, and I wouldn’t have hurt myself by eating myself sick. In a non-fatphobic world, I would have learned about the joy of movement a hell of a lot earlier, instead of seeing exercise only through a prism of humiliation and punishment. In a non-fatphobic world, I never would have spent thousands of dollars on diet programs.

    All of which is to say, in a non-fatphobic world? I probably wouldn’t even be fat.

    And people naturally inclined to be fatter wouldn’t have gotten fatter still by abusing their bodies for years on end.

    If people really want to end the “obesity crisis,” they should try seeing what happens when they knock off the hate.

  13. Heather – I did the exact same thing in high school. I haven’t seen anything close to my senior-year weight since I started eating three (well, six) meals a day.

    My abilities to get up on time, concentrate, remember things, solve problems, pay attention, exercise, stay optimistic, and get a decent night’s sleep also increased exponentially when I started eating again. But hey – that’s just quality of life, right? ;)

  14. And then she said I was in denial and that it was all my fault that my child was going to become a statistic, and that she was just an advocate for the health of my child.

    Fire her ass.

  15. I was one of those tweens who was starving myself. Terrible thing to do when I wasn’t even ‘fat,’ but I grew and matured quicker than any other girl I knew, so I felt like That Fat, Ugly Girl. Needless to say, it’s taken me years to finally rearrange my lifestyle again. Becoming a veggeterian is what really got my life back on track, and I began to accept my body. It’s not a diet for me. Not eating meat was the ‘magical window’ into figuring out how to eat healthy (and not just eat less) and how to love my body. Also, joining an athletic team was probably the biggest metabolism overhaul I ever had to do. The reason I think about what I eat is because I do have to eat enough food to be able to maintain myself through rigorous workouts, but I also have to eat the right foods so that I have more energy and can stay in shape. In the end, I don’t think my metabolism can become what it was before, but it definately is possible to change your metabolism. I don’t think you can ‘break’ your metabolism, either. When you get older, your body’s metabolism naturally slows down anyway. Add that to dieting/recovering from a diet, and it’s really no surprise that people ‘in group two’ gain more weight.

  16. @upsetmom

    I agree with Sniper, it’s time to find a new ped stat.

    2 and a half years old and she wants the kid on a DIET? Your growing and developing (both physiologically and neurologically) TODDLER?

    Not acceptable. You did the right thing by walking out.

  17. Ah, the people “didn’t used to be fat” mantra.

    I was on a cruise once, and got roped into a shill of massage therapy/miracle cream and one of the women presenting the fat-busting massage talk said:

    “Artificial sweeteners cause cellulite.”

    Obviously she’s never seen 19th century nude photography. There wasn’t artificial sweetener then, but there sure as shit was cellulite.

    If you think there was A Golden Age In Which Everyone Was The *Right* Size, do me a freakin’ favor and take an art history class.

    Otherwise, you’re just embarrassing yourself.

  18. I’m not so sure the effect of dieting on one’s metabolism is always permanent. In “The Great Starvation Experiment” by Todd Tucker, the volunteers (all men – that might make a difference) gained an average weight of 27 pounds after the study was over, and stayed at that higher weight for a long time. But after many years, their weights started drifting back down to their original weights. I find this fascinating, because it seems to show such strong homeostasis when the body is properly fed.

  19. I started dieting at age 11 because I was 5′ 1″ and 115 pounds. Of course, I was also fully grown and was routinely mistaken for a woman in her twenties. (Which freaked me the hell out, but that’s another story). It was the “100 pounds for five feet…” rule that did me in. I have no idea what my setpoint would be without the 30 years of (often extreme) dieting, but I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be a whole lot higher than the 115 pounds that freaked me out in the first place.

  20. Great post! I really needed this today. I was just searching online for some info about the NIH changing the BMI standards in 1998, and I came across the infamous “You Can’t Reason With a Junkie” post. I was foolish enough to read the awful, hateful comments.

    Some days, coming here is like coming home. :)

  21. Please explain something. Why are blogs like “pound” and “bigfatdeal” on the fatosphere list?

    Well, first, Pound isn’t on the feed. But both are on the blogroll here because, above all, we really like the writers there. We don’t demand ideological purity from people who crack us up and are fun to hang out with.

    We are not, shy, however, about stating in unequivocal terms that we part ways with Wendy, Mo Pie, and Weetabix when it comes to the issue of dieting. (That link was the first in a long-ass series. Check the September archives.)

    Furthermore, we get a lot of people coming through here who like what we have to say about respect, dignity, and self-esteem, but are not ready to let go of the desire to be thin, and are turned off by our firm anti-dieting stance. Where those people are concerned, we often refer to blogs like BFD and Pound as “gateway drugs” to fat acceptance. We refer those people there if they keep insisting that we allow them to talk about diets here.

    The cognitive dissonance that occurs when a woman in a fat-hating culture lets herself consider the possibility that fat might not be categorically horrible, unhealthy, and unattractive can be brutal. Very few people hear about fat acceptance, immediately throw out their scales, eradicate all their thoughts about “good” and “bad” eating, instantly begin to see themselves as attractive, and never look back. For most of us — certainly including me, in the years before I wrote this blog, and to some extent, still — it is a LONG, complicated, difficult process of learning and unlearning.

    For someone who’s not ready to embrace an anti-diet stance but is interested in the concept of fat acceptance, there are few better resources than BFD and Pound. I would much rather people visit a blog that offers huge doses of fat-positivity along with some diet discussions than a diet blog centered around the idea that being fat is hideous, full stop.

  22. Upsetmom, that is horrifying–and one of my worst nightmares come true. I have a four-year-old who is just on the edge of “overweight” on the totally ridiculous BMI-for-kids scheme, and I live in fear of the day I’m going to have to cold-cock some medical professional for trying to make it his fault–or even mine.

    I guess if I were feeding my baby baby-flavored donuts while strapping him down on a couch all day to watch TV, I could volunteer to stop doing that, but since he eats as healthily as I can possibly arrange for him to do and is plenty active, I think I’d just have to go with the violence. :)

    I do hope, as Sniper suggested, that you fired her immediately.

  23. Oh she is SOOOO fired. The worst part was that she wouldn’t shut up in front of my kid, my kid is a smart kid and understands more than she talks and she talks more than most five year olds.

    I am talking to my dr tomorrow, he is a family practitioner, and I haven’t bothered to talk to him about weight yet though he hasn’t mentioned it in any negative way when talking about my problems but tomorrow I go in for the same cold my daughter was in for today and I will talk to him about the obesity epidemic and his opinion and see if we ca n all go to the same doctor.

  24. if there’s anything all fat people have in common, it’s a history of trying like HELL not to be fat

    Just speaking up to say that I’m an exception (that proves the rule?). I’ve been fat since I was a kid, and somehow managed to never diet. Too busy being awesome. And possibly being raised by a bachelor (whose dieting insanity didn’t start until he remarried).

    You know, though, as I’m thinking about it, I kind of want to do some research on population data. I mean, if body size maps on a bell curve (like, I dunno, any other statistic) and population numbers overall have increased significantly in the past 50 or 100 years….maybe the fat-haters are right, and there are more fatties around now in pure numbers, even though the per capitas didn’t budge. Hmmmm.

  25. My fat baby eats dog flavored doughnuts.
    And BabySprite. which is actually emer-genC
    Hey doughnuts wasn’t in my spell checker dictionary how weird is that?

  26. To upsetmom – please do not risk staying on with that pediatrician for another moment. The risk is very real – child neglect hysteria is as rampant as fat hysteria, and it isn’t worth a moment’s involvement with social services should your pediatrician really believe her own BS. SHE is there to serve YOU and your child, SHE is the employee, and should be treated as such; fired immediately for being so unknowledgeable about her own job.

    I’m glad for the explanation about BFD (and it seems to me elastic waistband too) that they’re cool and fun blogs and cool fun people, but there is a difference of opinion on dieting and such. That was bugging me and I wasn’t sure what the deal was with it.

  27. “You know, the less I ate, the fatter I got. My medical tests actually showed me in ketosis, and everything, with massive vitamin deficiencies. This is probably going to make some fat-haters head explode, but I starved myself into my highest weight ever.”

    My own experience exactly. The massive vitamin deficencies, as well. And still ‘morbidly obese’.
    Anti-hunger advocates aren’t kiddling when they say ‘hunger is invisible’.

  28. Lots of posts while I was reading – very good decision to never go back to that doctor again – ever! Kudos, upsetmom, and now you know one thing to ask before going to another one. A family GP is my own preference as well; they know the whole family and they’re not so paranoid about butting in on every single thing involving the children.

  29. Alright, y’all, I’m sitting in a pharmacology lecture listening to someone barely veiling her fat-phobia during her explanation of diabetic medications. Like, “Glucophage is awesome because it causes weight loss and we all know that most type-II diabetics are OOOOOBEEEEESE. But it can cause lactic acidosis, which is sort of dangerous. The sulfonureas, on the other hand, are a bad idea for the OOOOOBEEEEEESE because they can gain (gasp!) one to four KILOS!!”

    Message: doctors are being taught to fear fat. Doctors learn in a training environment that discourages independent thinking (and I cannot begin to tell you how much that disturbs me). What doctors need is well-informed patients and patient advocates that can steer them in the right direction after they’ve left that toxic environment. Please please please try to find the courage to challenge your physicians. If they still don’t listen, then fire them. It’s possible though, and hopeful, that you will plant a spark of curiosity in their heads that will prompt them to investigate and maybe help other patients.

    Good luck, upsetmom. I’m sorry your ex-pediatrician has bought into something so dangerous. Just imagine all the moms and dads that will swallow it whole! (Pun intended.)

  30. One thing that I haven’t seen mentioned re: the increase in weight over the last 25 years is our increasingly age-skewed demographics. Baby boomers (who comprise 28% of the adult population) today are 44-63, versus 19-38 25 years ago. As people generally gain weight over the course of their adult life, before losing weight in their elderly years, the baby boomers are in the time of their lives when they’re likely to be the heaviest. It seems to me that this demographic fact alone could explain much of that 15 pound average weight increase. Has anyone seen any studies along these lines?

    @Heather: something similar happened to me. A few years ago I went on the South Beach diet, and was religiously counting every calorie, avoiding all refined carbs, and eating no more than 1200 cals/day while working out 1.5 hours/day – and after several months of this I had gained ~5 pounds.

    @Hlynn: I know several people who’ve been healthier after becoming vegetarian – heck, my fiancee has been vegan for 7 years and loves it – but I reached my heaviest weight while on a vegetarian diet. Personally, I messed up my glucose metabolism on so many of those “Lose 10 lbs in 2 weeks!” high-carb diets in the late 80s (remember when carbs were the answer to all our weight woes?!?) that I have to be really careful about not eating too many carbs – they just make me feel lethargic. I’m at my healthiest and feel best eating mostly veggies, high fiber cereal & grains, and some lean meats.

  31. I went off my last diet over the summer…I have gained some weight since then. But I workout pretty regularly, feel awesome, and the best part is, I have NO IDEA how many calories I’ve eaten today, except that there were enough that I am not hungry right now.

    My favorite thing about FA? Not obsessively writing down everything I eat, estimating points from packages in the grocery store, thinking about how many minutes on the elliptical I will have to do to make up for eating. I seriously have at least an extra hour everyday to…well, work, but I am a grad student so that’s ok :)

  32. Brilliant post, and it comes (as usual) at an opertune time for me because this morning I stepped on the scale to find that I seemingly gained two pounds since the last time I weighed myself (maybe a month ago).

    At once, my mind started racing, in spite of my trying to shut it up. Because I’ve gone back and forth between dieting and a disorder for years, starving myself to 188lbs (before starvation would take me no further), and now I’m nearly thirty pounds heavier, and though I regained most of that weight back when I was still dieting, there is still a screechy voice in the back of my head that saw the scale and said: DIET!!!!1111!!!

  33. “The risk is very real – child neglect hysteria is as rampant as fat hysteria, and it isn’t worth a moment’s involvement with social services should your pediatrician really”

    True, and in a CMA moment can I request links to legitimate sources on fat and 2 year olds? Just in case I’ve missed some.

    One I found is from Mayo Clinic, a VERY mainstream source:
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/childhood-obesity/DS00698/DSECTION=5
    BUNCH OF BMI SHIT HERE but then it says:

    “Because BMI doesn’t consider things like being muscular or having a
    larger-than-average body frame and because growth patterns vary
    greatly among children, your doctor also factors your child’s growth
    and development into the overall weight assessment. This helps
    determine whether your child’s weight is a health concern.

    In addition to BMI and charting weight on the growth charts, the
    doctor also evaluates:

    Your family’s history of obesity and weight-related health problems,
    such as diabetes
    Your child’s eating habits and calorie intake
    Your child’s activity level
    Other health conditions your child may have”

    She did none of these, she just looked at the weight. She didn’t even have a current measure of height as we were just there for a cough.
    Unless history counts as looking me up and down and sneering about denial.

  34. Tari, I think you may be another freak of nature. :) But I’m glad you are — I’m always so gratified and relieved to hear about people who managed to grow up without being surrounded by diet culture. I was put on my first one when I was 5 or 6!

    Faith, mocha-toddler-chino made me LOL. “What’s with the baby donuts” will certainly be on the FAQ, but the short version is: we eat donuts cause we’re gluttonous and babies cos we’re evil, so baby-flavored donuts serve all our needs.

  35. Sorry; I posted my last comment accidentally before I was through; you can combine these into one comment if you wanted to.

    However, when the smoke clears and I read a post like this, I realize that I can’t go back there, because there is what probably got me here in the first place. I need to just focus on feeding my body what it needs and giving it the exercise it craves.

  36. Oh, and Art3mis, that’s interesting… I haven’t read about that so I don’ t know. I guess it is possible that you can correct damage to your metabolism… certainly I’ve heard that exercise will improve your metabolism, so theoretically if it’s not too damaged you can normalize it? IANABC (that’s the “biochemist” version of IANAL), so speculation is all I’ve got.

  37. Speculation and links to studies, of course, which beats what the trolls have. :)

    (I have temporarily revoked my ability to edit posts by signing out of WordPress, because manning the moderation queue did me so much psychological violence yesterday and I want to keep from doing it unthinkingly. So I am making lots of comments in a row. Sorry about that.)

  38. the diet industry can expect nothing but financial gains from their customers’ failures. If their diets really worked, they wouldn’t have that steady stream of “repeat buyers,” would they?

    When I tell people that I think Weight Watchers has a pretty good racket going, I’ve been accused of jealousy and of wanting to keep everyone “fat and unhappy like me.” But one of the huge red flags about WW, to me, is that if you reach your goal weight you get to stop paying, as long as you keep showing up to every meeting AND NEVER GAIN OR LOSE MORE THAN TWO POUNDS AGAIN. (Please correct me if I’m misstating. I’ve never been a member. That’s what i’ve heard from websites and from people who did join.)

    When I heard that, my first thought was, “these people must not have the same kind of PMS that I do!” My next thought was “Of course. It’s intended to be an impossible condition to meet, so they can keep getting money out of you.”

    Obviously she’s never seen 19th century nude photography. There wasn’t artificial sweetener then, but there sure as shit was cellulite.

    *nods* I think the word “cellulite” was invented in the 1960s when bathing suits got skimpier and the beauty industry needed to make people feel self-conscious about wearing them, but the actual cellulite has been with us since time immemorial. :)

    My fat baby eats dog flavored doughnuts.

    I wonder what kind of donuts my chubby dog eats.

  39. I think we just need to cut to the chase and say that fat beings of any species cause global warming.

    Well, I think my dog’s farts definitely qualify as hazardous emissions.

  40. Wait now we are eating bacon baby kitten flavored doughnuts while we force feed our toddlers greenhouse gases?

  41. Kristin, a breaking point for me re: dieting came one day when I was filling out my little WW thing with what I was going to eat for the week, and I just couldn’t make the math work out, and I just started crying because I was SO HUNGRY. And then I had this stunning moment of clarity when I was all “Wait a minute, I am PAYING MONEY? To cry REAL TEARS? About food that is CURRENTLY IN MY REFRIGERATOR?”

    I remain grateful that that was my only real attempt at actual food restriction dieting-the rest of my life I’d just made do with intense body hatred.

  42. And then I had this stunning moment of clarity when I was all “Wait a minute, I am PAYING MONEY? To cry REAL TEARS? About food that is CURRENTLY IN MY REFRIGERATOR?”

    I wish I’d had such a moment. My moment of clarity/sanity came from reading this blog.

  43. Wait now we are eating bacon baby kitten flavored doughnuts while we force feed our toddlers greenhouse gases?

    See, greenhouse gases have no calories, so they’re totally fine!

  44. fillyjonk,
    I just wanted to pipe up and say that I love the way you deconstruct the oppositions’ argument calmly and critically. It’s one of my favorite things about his blog – the sense that sense is being made. Also – the idea that people never used to be fat? Kills me. I mean, please. As someone somewhere stated above (sorry, I quick scanned but I can’t find who) one look at ANY art form ANYWHERE from ANYWHEN will show that not to be the case.

  45. Yes, that’s right, Jmars. :)

    What I wanted to respond to, though, was this:
    “It was the “100 pounds for five feet…” rule that did me in. ” OMG. I always think about this. Even when I wasn’t fat, in junior high, I had reached almost my full height (which is 5’4″ now). I actually starved myself to 113 pounds on one of those diets from some doctor’s book that told you to have sugar-free gelatin as a dessert. This was after puberty. I was hungry, so hungry, and so unhealthy-looking. Even with the additional inch of height I gradually attained later, there is no way on Earth that 120 lbs is a healthy weight for me. Again, the only way I got anywhere near that (126) was by inducing a near-anorexic state in myself for months. Luckily I didn’t fall into full ED-hood, but I went far enough that I understand it, and understand how close I was. Thank you, clueless height-weight charts!

  46. SingOut: As if I needed further convincing that most women regardless of weight or beauty had/have body image issues, I just clicked on your link and you are so lovely! My moment(s) of sanity also came from SP and the rest of the blogs they link to.

  47. Wait now we are eating bacon baby kitten flavored doughnuts while we force feed our toddlers greenhouse gases?

    No. I’m thinking more like a tur-duc-en type thing… a baby flavored donut deep fried inside a kitten all wrapped in bacon. For a more filling fatty snack just add greenhouse gases as the “au jus”. But only on the side…and dip into it only with the very tip of your fork tines…you know, to avoid over-doing that 0-calorie dressing!

    ^_^

  48. Re. pro-diet, so-called fat/size acceptance blogs.

    Personally, I can’t think of someone who ignores the truth and is driven solely by emotion or wishes as “nice” or find their ongoing reliance on wishes instead of data remotely comfortable. Their personalities are built on foundations of sand. Thinking of them as “nice” is like trying to think of children as peers — it can’t be done when you’re an adult.

    Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny? I guess I’m looking for the “Bright” version of this movement, where the scientists and skeptics live.

  49. Thanks, kristin. :)

    I have to confess, though, that that photo was taken about eight years ago. One of my ‘issues’ revolves around investing in a new headshot. I was about 130 pounds when that photo was taken, and I was convinced that I was FAT FAT FAT. I’ve since successfully dieted myself up to about 180.

    Thanks, Diet Industry!

  50. I’m thinking more like a tur-duc-en type thing… a baby flavored donut deep fried inside a kitten all wrapped in bacon.

    STUFFED WITH COUGH DROPS

    Confused, you are more than welcome to not read BFD or Poundy, or click links to them when those links are made available to you. Kate considers Wendy a friend and thinks BFD can be a useful “gateway drug” to more hard-line FA; you don’t have to. You don’t even have to read them! The internet is awesome that way.

    But if you’re going to complain about being so inundated with our constant links to Poundy and BFD that you can’t even FIND the part of the movement that cares about science… could you at least find a better place to do it than a post full of links to scientific studies? Because in this context I’m not finding your criticisms too compelling.

  51. Luckily I didn’t fall into full ED-hood, but I went far enough that I understand it, and understand how close I was. Thank you, clueless height-weight charts!

    The “close to ED but no cigar” is so interesting and relevant for me. I did the same thing (dieted to a BMI-acceptable but still way too low for my body weight at 134 lbs. and 5’7″) and felt dangerously close to ED territory. I remember crying when I ordered a plain Auntie Annie’s pretzel and got one covered in butter. Crying.

    In a sense, dieting in and of itself seems like ED when you really think about it (willfully restricting calories, fantasizing or even dreaming about rich, fatty foods; feeling guilty/like a failure/out of control if you break the diet; the ridiculous obsession with calories, fat grams, and control; the hunger pains mid-morning and in the late afternoon a few hours before dinner and right before bedtime, etc.) That just doesn’t seem normal and socially/societally acceptable…yet it is–and not only that, it’s socially/societally mandated. And that’s disturbing and wrong beyond belief, but when I talk to people about it, dieting is still couched as “moderation” and “lifestyle change” and “not letting yourself go.”

  52. Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny?

    I think there are a few links in the post you are commenting on. Perhaps you might click them and find some studies and information supporting the arguments made therein.

  53. Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny?

    Are you saying Kate can’t consider somebody who doesn’t see the truth of fat acceptance a friend? Do you, in your own life, only associate with people who are completely rational about all their beliefs, and are not wrong about anything? Wouldn’t that be very, very lonely?

  54. My mom quit dieting when I was 12, because “…every diet makes me fatter!” I had already entered the diet mindset, had done WWs once, and had entered the exciting world of self-loathing, self-restriction, and a “binge” mentality when I made like a kid and ate too much chocolate at Xmas. Therefore, her decision to stop was what lame old moms did, and *I was going to be different*.

    Hilarious.

  55. At 15 I went on a healthy eating diet. I exercised quite a lot and dropped a lot of weight. From 178 pounds, to 130. Although, my weight gain in the first place was kicked off by a medicine I took when I was younger which destroyed my metabolism. Having come from a very slim family, I think I was always supposed to be slim, so that’s why I believe the diet may have worked. However, I became obsessed, as previously stated and am now around 110 pounds. I’ve managed to gain weight, having been 98 pounds.

    I do not believe dieting works, not fad dieting. Healthy eating works, combined with exercise. However, I always tell people to go by the rule “Always eat when you’re hungry.” Else you’ll just become unhealthy. If you don’t eat enough for your frame your body will eventually give out. I have anemia, malnutrition, poor circulation etc etc, from a lack of eating the right foods.

    Although I am a firm believer that people can lose weight if they want, I also believe that people come in so many shapes and sizes. For the average 5 ft 5 person, 160 pounds could be perfectly healthy, for another, 120 could be fine.

  56. I did, kristin. It’s part of my ‘Fantasy of Being Thin’. I kept thinking, “I’ll get new headshots when I lose the weight.”

    In the meantime, I’m going to auditions with a photo that doesn’t look so much like me anymore, which is not professional, or particularly healthy.

    Kate and Co. have convinced me to invest in new shots. I’m saving up. :)

  57. Some people are indeed BORN fat. Most of the people in my family have weighed between 9 & 12 pounds at birth, been plump to fat all the way through childhood to adulthood &, if they dieted, got fatter, but were fat even without dieting. I am 5’6″ & was around 155 pounds at 16 & allowing for the normal, natural changes of aging, childbearing, & menopause, I figure that my natural weight now is 180-185. My last bout of compulsive exercising/watching what I ate (working out 4 hours every day for over three years) coincided with my trip through menopause, & since I went back to exercising one to two hours daily & eating normally, I have rebounded to 195-200 or so, certainly not abnormal under the circumstances. When I was first pregnant with my second son, the doctor doing my first prenatal exam listed under “possible complicating factors” “mother obese”; I weighed 156 pounds at that exam. My sister weighed between 180 & 250 during her adult life & the more she dieted, the fatter she got.

    One of my best friends now, who is coincidentally a pioneer in fat rights, was born fat & was always VERY fat, as a child, adolescent & adult. She discovered fat acceptance for herself as a survival mechanism, because it became apparent she would never be thin. She is not moderately plump to slightly fat like most of us who post here, she has ranged between 350 & 400 all her life, with very normal eating habits. She is fat because that is how she is genetically, metabolically made, how her body is. Indeed, all the science indicates that body size is at least 80% genetic, as well as that there is no difference, on average, in the eating habits of thin & fat people. I personally know people not much more than half my size who eat twice what I do (& in many cases exercise less) & I also know people twice my size who eat less. And, yes, the population has increased a great deal in the past 50 years, not to mention that the largest single generation in history, MY generation, the baby boomers, are aging, & some weight gain is normal with aging. And, as this “fattening of America” has occurred, average life expectancy has also greatly increased.

  58. Robert: Do you happen to be from the northern Virginia area? I know someone with your name who has a similar history if not!

  59. I’m new to Shapely Prose, but I imagine I’ll be around for a while.

    I’m both a WW survivor, and a mom of one, (soon to be two) gorgeous girl(s). I NEED to get my head around HAES asap- for them and for me.

    I knew at WW that I hated the focus on weight loss as the only goal, but I’d never heard of HAES, let alone FA. I had weigh-ins that went like:
    them: you’re up 1/2 pound, what did you do wrong this week?
    me: I shaved three minutes off my 2K swim time! I made it all the way up the hill on my bike without having to walk! Go me!
    them: Well, maybe you’ll do better next week
    me: (internal only) FOAD. (aloud, defeated) yeah, maybe.

    Thank you, thank you for this place where maybe I can get my act together and show my girls an example that bucks this fat-hating idiocy, and they can learn to listen to and love their bodies before they hit their 30s.

  60. Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny?

    If you don’t think it’s right here, feel free to leave.

    Although actually, I think being funny matters more than just about anything.

  61. Can I just say that this post is teh awesome?

    I tried once explaining to my mother-in-law that people really aren’t that bigger and gave the statistical difference of 15 pounds. Her response was, “well, see that’s all the really skinny anorexic people balancing out the obese people”.

    I love my mother-in-law, but *headdesk*

  62. Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny?

    (whispering) It’s all around us. Careful. I’ve seen the smart ones who are also funny before, at work. They’ll devastate you with a good Heisenberg joke. Just smile and back away. (/whispering)

    Ahem. Junkfood Science, and Gina Kolata’s writing appear to be good places to look for pure scientific aggregation and analysis, and of course you can always use PubMed or go to your local medical university library to do the first level analysis yourself. I generally need to do so in order to verify and feel comfortable that I’m not being mislead.

    Another F/A blogger who focuses primarily on the scientific would be a welcome addition to the community, too.

    You could sign up at wordpress or blogger for free!

  63. Where’s the intellectually-honest, science-driven version of the fat/size acceptance movement, where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes funny?

    matters more than whether or not someone writes funny… what? blog entries? paragraphs? sentences?

    Perhaps you eman, “where truth matters more than whether or not someone writes FUNNILY”, or some other applicable adverb. Wittily. Irreverently. Drolly.

  64. My head is spinning a little bit here. I accept that diets make you fat, and I accept that BMI is horseshit ….

    So,how do we know that the whole population is getting fatter? I just tried to read that Time article linked in the OP and couldn’t pinpoint it. And yes, my brain confuses “normal” and “average”. Is the increased weight gain of the population over time also including increased heights of the “average” population that are occurring with each generation, or is that statistically insignificant? Forgive me if this has already been addressed or if it’s really obvious.

    Ack, I need a nap.

  65. “For the average 5 ft 5 person, 160 pounds could be perfectly healthy, for another, 120 could be fine.”

    Yep, and for another, that could be 220. My great-grandmothers were mainly plump, round little things with tiny bones and massive bosoms — the sort that give rise to the term “matronly” well before the OMG! Obesity Epidemic. My grandfathers, by and large, WERE large, santa-types, who worked 12 hours a day on the farm, and would have been confused about the concept of a diet – the concept of diet was grow enough food to feed the family.

    The men especially were mainly taken out by diabetes, but mainly at ages over 80. In a time with less medicine available.

    They’re good genes, I’ve got.

    I know you think you know, but you really don’t. For all of us, eating healthily and exercising regularly is healthy. For some of us, WE WILL STILL BE FAT.

  66. First, I love this blog.
    Secondly, I’m from Brasil, Know??????rsrsrsrsrsrsrs
    I have 18 year, in this very moment I am eating a bread with ham, without any weight in consiência, confess that I was already very paranoid !!!!!! But today, I accepted !!!!!!!
    Kisses

  67. Suzanne, here’s the relevant line from the Time article (and you’ll see why I chose it):

    “Even the most strident obesity skeptics concede that across Western populations, adults are on average 7 kg heavier than they were 25 years ago.”

    Unfortunately, further breakdown is in Campos’ or Oliver’s books (or Kolata’s — I forget which), and I don’t have any of them in front of me. I think that 7 kg takes into account the aging population, but I’m no 100% sure whether it takes into account height increase. Shockingly, hard to find stuff on this on the internet. :) I still went with a less-than-ideal source because 15 pounds, even if it’s a flawed figure, is still so much less than people seem to think we’ve gained.

  68. I had an intuitive eating breakthrough recently that I think is relavent to this post… kinda… mostly I just want to say something :)

    So, I have always eaten everything that’s placed in front of me. I don’t think about it, I just eat. Not binge eating, just not really paying any attention to whether or not I was hungry just whether or not there was something to put in my mouth (dirty girl).

    I’ve been trying to eat intuitively since… October maybe? It’s been weird because it hasn’t been ALL ABOUT food like every diet/lifestyle change I ever went on. I have simply, quietly, been giving myself permission to eat what I feel like eating and scolding myself when I make moral judgements about my cravings (i.e. “I can’t have baby flavored donuts, they’re BAD”).

    In the past week or so I have been leaving food on the table, because I am full. I’m not a bottomless pit. I know that if I want more of something later I can have it and I don’t need to gobble it all right this second.

    It feels really good and I wanted to share.

  69. When I was sixteen I was 36-24 -36 and 160 lbs and five foot four and three quarters – I figure that is my optimum weight -(not my optimum height I want to reach higher in the cabnit than you) but I never expect ones optimum weight to last past three kids and twenty years but I sped up the process with a crash diet of three months of medically supervised weightloss at 700 calories a day and three hours of exercise as I tried to loose 30lbs so I could go to camp and learn to rock climb. I only lost ten pounds. I wasn’t allowed to go to the camp since I was so fat and unhealthy.

  70. “Even the most strident obesity skeptics concede that across Western populations, adults are on average 7 kg heavier than they were 25 years ago.”</i.

    “Strident.” That’s very cute. We live in a world where weighing “too much” is seen as a moral failing on par with dumping nuclear waste in the water supply, and it’s the people who insist that fat people are human who are the strident ones.

  71. Thanks, Fillyjonk. That’s the line that was confusing me — uh … are the same people being measured 25 years and 7 kg later, and if they are, is that so relevant … etc etc etc

    You all do such a good job of breaking it down that I don’t trust any stats anymore ;)

  72. Unfortunately, further breakdown is in Campos’ or Oliver’s books (or Kolata’s — I forget which), and I don’t have any of them in front of me

    It’s also in a paper written by Paul Campos among several others, available on the internet. Kate has linked to it before, but I have no idea which post it was in.

  73. Oh I see, good question! Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re taking the average weight (a sample, not a census) at T=1 and then the average weight at T=25, rather than following the same people for 25 years. I don’t think the “strident skeptics” (gag me) would accept it otherwise.

  74. And Becky, yeah, that was my problem… I’ve seen it a million times but neither Kate nor I could find the article. If someone finds it, I will totally update (once I allow myself to log back in to WordPress).

  75. Yeah, it’s funny how so few people mention dieting as cofactor in making people heavier. Just like the mention of medications causing weight gain gets whitewashed too. They have to make it all about not having the superhuman self-control required in order to be liked. I think most “adults” never really grow up; they get bigger and put different stuff in their mouths than when they were 9 years old, but most of them don’t think with any greater degree of sophistication than when they were in fourth grade and aren’t interested in trying. SP feels like the real “adult table.” Not that you need me to tell you to keep it up, but do it anyway.

  76. Robert, I really don’t quite get your point. I’m glad you are getting over your obsession with weight loss and being way too skinny – very glad. If you’ve read much of the data you know that it’s far more dangerous to be too skinny than too fat – the mortality rate is far higher. But how did being obsessed and starving yourself lead you to the conclusion that ‘healthy eating and exercise’ works for everyone insofar as it will make them lose weight? Why should it? Why do you firmly believe that in the face of so much scientific proof otherwise? You yourself say you were predisposed to thinness in addition to starving yourself half to death (literally into very bad health), so what makes you believe other people can and will lose weight (or even should) through “healthy eating and exercise”?

    Do you see the disconnect here? I might not be making it clear.

  77. Sunday, I flew home from a visit with my family. I hadn’t left the bedside of my father. He’s 6 feet tall, 180 pounds. He’s always eaten moderately in terms of portions and has eaten healthfully as long as I’ve known him. He has a farm, where he handles cattle, splits wood, drives fence posts. He’s lean and muscular.

    He had SIX by-passes. Six.

    Two years ago, he restricted his already-sane diet because he was *pre-diabetic.* After the open heart surgery, they have classified him as diabetic and he is on medication. They sent a nutrition counselor, who came in and told my mother what my dad must eat from now on. It’s no different than how he’s been eating since being tagged as *pre-diabetic.* Keep in mind this man has always eaten healthfully.

    As she talked, I was screaming at her in my head. He’s been doing all this stuff for years and he had six by-passes. Six. Stop acting like it’s going to add years to his life to do what failed.

  78. upsetmom- STFU! Someone seriously told you you couldn’t go ROCK CLIMBING because you are too FAT??? Why, is the fucking rock going to collapse underneath you??? Come see me. I will take you climbing anytime. And, yeah, I have weighed anywhere between 200 and 230 pounds since I started climbing, and I haven’t broken a rock yet!

  79. I’ve said for years that I wouldn’t be as fat as I am if it weren’t for diets. Managed to diet myself up to 250lbs before I stopped. I stopped dieting, I stopped gaining weight (Graves Disease aside, I do the same thing when I go hyper and then back to normal. Hyper – lose weight, stable – regain the lost weight and then some. Freaked the heck out of my doctor the first time that happened).

    I also like to point out that if all the commercial diets did work, why do they have to keep changing them to “new and improved!”. If they worked, then they wouldn’t have to keep changing them and people wouldn’t have to keep going back on them when they inevitably regain the weight they lost.

  80. Um, I had to come back. I just checked my yahoo mail, and the yahoo homepage has a story about how obese diabetics can now get cured through low risk WLS. Sorry to derail, I was just…disturbed.

  81. I made the mistake of making a comment on sfgate.com’s reprint of that ridiculous story, about how many of these people are being butchered for nothing, how bariatric surgery increases your risk of unpleasant things like, say, DEATH. Death on the table, death from complications, suicide from having your life ruined, malnutrition because the parts of your stomach that used to absorb nutrients are now gone.

    I got a bunch of “nuffers” as Cute Overload calls ‘em, who tsk’d at me and told me how wonderful it was that I wasn’t preventing people from “saving their own lives”.

    I gave up after that.

  82. I got a bunch of “nuffers” as Cute Overload calls ‘em, who tsk’d at me and told me how wonderful it was that I wasn’t preventing people from “saving their own lives”.

    Yep, discussing the risks of WLS makes you the Dr. Kevorkian of fat people. Stop her before she kills again!!

  83. I think this post is just an excuse to keep on bloating and gloating. :p

    Seriously, I am a little hesitant to think that without the 18 years of dieting, I might not be as fat. Both because personally I’m not far enough along with my body acceptance most days to think that maybe I’m meant to weigh 180 instead of 250 without feeling sad and because there is something, a smidge, of the ‘acceptable amount of fat’ mentality lurking around the edges of it. But that might just be my issues. I haven’t thought it through yet.

    However, it has always struck me as funny that, coming from a family of fat people, I am the only one who was forced to diet as a child. And then I dieted all throughout adolescence as well and I just happen to be fatter than anyone in my immediate family.

  84. I think this post is just an excuse to keep on bloating and gloating.

    Isn’t everything!

    Seriously, I wish we’d been in that article so we could adopt that as our next tag line.

  85. Oh, still barring myself from logging in to edit comments, but I meant to say:

    I don’t think it’s productive to think of it as “I’m meant to weigh this lower amount.” I mean, it can be fun to ponder counterfactuals, but there’s no more real-world value to “how much would I weigh if I’d never dieted” than to “what would I look like if I had a different dad” or something. The value of understanding the relationship between dieting and damaged metabolism is so that a) we all resolve to quit doing it and b) people who push diets at kids realize that it’s achieving the opposite of what they want. In your case and my case, dieting is one of the factors that led to us having the bodies we have, the bodies we’re trying to love. In future cases, we can use this knowledge so that new fat people have the best-functioning bodies they can have.

  86. kristin – Yep I was 160 lbs in 1987 and so was 30lbs heavier than the high end for my height and the Outward Bound people wouldn’t let me go unless I got to 130.

    I really wanted to go, btu no such luck. a year later I was 180.

  87. I developed an ED in high school initially when I was too depressed to eat. I really did want to just disappear. And I started to. Some friends and family got concerned for me but for the most part the other girls were curious. They asked me what I was doing and how. I told them I was just SAD. So sad nothing mattered. But a terrible thing happened. Once my sadness started to lift the tiny thrill of finally being very thin did not go away. It was easy to eat next to nothing. But I was weak and sickly. And turns out I was doing MAJOR damage to my metabolism. That stint of disordered eating lasted maybe 14 months. But the repercussions have gone on and on. My metabolism is very slow. My set point is really really stubborn. So after years of trying to rewire my brain, to FORCE myself to maintain a deprivation diet, I found acceptance. I am strong and healthy and free and that’s all that really matters. Thank you shapelings!

  88. If they’re not taking height into account…

    We could get statistics on average population height versus average population weight back at T=1, calculate the oh-so-not-full-of-crap BMI reading and compare it to average BMI now?

    Who wants to bet that the difference is either statistically insignificant, or can be explained away in the revisions made to the cut-off points for “overweight” and “obese”?

  89. I believe this is one way sumo wrestlers put on weight. They don’t start out capital-F fat, generally the trainees are “stocky” or “big-boned”. They make themselves bigger by having a restricted diet for a while then eating normally. And the traditional way is this practiced on a daily basis: they skip breakfast, have a large lunch, nap, train, then eat a moderate meal at night.

    Sounds just like what a lot of people trying to lose weight do. Skip meals or have very small ones, overeat to compensate, exercise hard, feel guilty about the overeating and have another inadequate meal. Except sumo wrestlers do it without the guilt, and being able to follow this diet pattern is one of the reasons the sumo lifestyle is supposed to be a tough, disciplined one. Western fatties doing much the same thing, however, have no self-discipline at all of course!

  90. Sometimes they also overeat because semi-starvation has made them so obsessed with food.

    Amen. The last, and I mean last, time I tried to diet I had a dream about candy bars after only one week.

  91. Our family doctor was always trying to put my mother and I on 1,000 calories a day diets, keshmeshi (I was 5’2″ and about 127 pounds) – when I did try it, I had some extra broccoli and told him, well it’s ok to cheat with the plain steamed veggies, isn’t it? He said no, it wasn’t good to cheat at all. Jeez. 1,000 calories a fricking day. I decided if I only got 1,000 calories I was going to get those calories however the hell I wanted. So I’d breakfast on chocolate milk or eat a candy bar or just a bowl of pasta. When I hit 1,000 calories that was it. That and nautilus training worked for a while – if becoming 110 lbs is your goal, I suppose. Of course when I’d go off I’d gain back and then some, over and over. That is just so helpful in the long run. Now I’m in the 200s somewhere (I don’t know where at this point) when I naturally would probably have stayed around 130 had I not dieted again, or 140 if I hadn’t dieted AGAIN, and so on. The weight always stabilized when I ate regularly. So, like many others, I’ve dieted myself up to a much much higher weight and now have to accept it. I do wish to stop others from going on that ridiculous cycle, though, and just staying healthy wherever they’re at before deprivation diets. Whether that’s 140, 200, or 300 lbs. Dieting does the exact opposite of what it’s supposed to, every time. Unless you continue starving, and not many want to.

  92. RHC – my experience is kind of similar – I also developed depression in high school, didn’t eat, and went from slim to very thin. But when the sadness lifted, I went in the opposite direction from you – I overate because it was so wonderful to enjoy food again. Between that and the damage I did to my metabolism from the not eating (two years worth) I’ve gained 70-80 pounds from my thinnest (nearly doubling my body weight from 105 to somewhere in the 175-185 range – I’m not sure as I don’t own a scale). I think I would have gotten fatter as I got older anyway – everyone in my family had, but the two years of not eating followed by several years of intermittently overeating and not eating for shorter periods due to stress and anxiety definately sped up the process.

  93. La di Da, that point is simultaneously awesome and adorable. (Maybe that’s just me, I think sumo wrestlers are cute. Also, when I mentioned this to Dan he said “maybe that bird was a sumo wrestler, which is totally adorable by the way.”)

  94. upsetmom: did you ever get to go climbing?

    What makes me SO MAD that outward bound did that is that I worked for a very similar, though much smaller, program, and the change in students’ self-esteem after 30 days of living outside, backpacking, climbing, etc. is really remarkable. They totally robbed you of that experience. And jesus, the logic is like stupid parents: you are TOO FAT to be active!

    But that doesn’t mean you go climbing now if you still want to…

  95. Amen. The last, and I mean last, time I tried to diet I had a dream about candy bars after only one week.

    Holy smokes! When I used to obsessively count calories, I totally used to have “eat-mares” where I’d dream that I was eating some forbidden food and wake up all panicky … “Whew! Glad that wasn’t real …”

    I’m cracking up at the memory, but I guess it’s kinda sad, really.

  96. I had candy bar dreams too! I totally forgot them until you guys brought it up, but when I was restricting/throwing up a lot I used to dream about gorging myself. (Often with the added frisson of being worried that someone would catch me.)

  97. And jesus, the logic is like stupid parents: you are TOO FAT to be active!

    Had a faculty member teaching school/sports physicals tell us that if a kid came to us and they were really obese that we shouldn’t let them join sports until they lost weight. Why? you may ask, and I’ll tell you: so we don’t get sued when the kid falls over on the field dead from a heart attack. Ta da! Modern medicine, at your service!

    I used to have dreams of food, and even to this day I know it means that I wasn’t paying close enough attention to my body shortly before retiring. It’s sort of a “Damn! I shoulda had dessert!” moment when I wake up from those dreams. And speaking of candy bars, I remember in middle school that I was selling candy bars to raise money for a school trip, and I hid in my closet and ate them. Something tells me that I wouldn’t have done that if I didn’t know I couldn’t have any in the open.

  98. During my six-months of severe restriction, I would have nightmares/dreams that I was eating myself out of rooms made of white cake with pillars made of doughnuts. I’d wake up feeling SO GUILTY.

  99. I have to work my way back up to wanting to go climbing I broke my arm last spring and am still panicky about pain.

    We just got a trampoline so that safe jumping should help me get my balance back. If the weather ever dries out enough to use it that is.

    This whole fat is evil thing is so ingrained that I am here alone with my daughter as she sleeps thinking what if it is something I am doing? What if the doctor is right and I am over feeding her. She is such a perfect little thing, she dances more than she walks and we walk her brother the half mile to school most week days. I only skipped today because of the coughing and cold. We walk to pick him up three out of five days but I pull a wagon so she can ride if she wants after a day of playing. So I do two miles a day and she usually walks one mile plus. Her portions are the same as her very thin brother but she eats more veg and variety. He eats cheese and bread in one form or another and the doctor didn’t even blink when I told his diet at all his check ups.

    I am heartbroken. I feel like I have been accused of child abuse. I don’t want her to go through the pain I have with weight and doctors assuming what ever wrong is because of the weight. I don’t want her to attempt suicide at 18 the way I did because no one could love me since I was so fat.

  100. No worries about checking that out, fillyjonk. I’ve presented this stuff to pediatricians and had them argue with me. Yikes! Because no one can really explain why recovered anorexics need so many calories, only document it. One researcher actually found that recovered anorexics burn calories while they sleep at a rate that should be impossible. Which is one reason why relapse is so common–you can’t just eat normally after you’re weight restored. You have to eat a lot more.

    And why is this so different from the diet-your-way-to-obesity paradigm? Beats the hell out of me.

  101. So… many… thoughts…
    Awesome post.
    Definitely been trying to hammer similar thoughts out for a while now.
    I want a real scientist (no offense to anyone here who is a real scientist) to talk about mammalian populations and weight/height curves. I imagine our animal cousins come in ranges of sizes and weights when their food supply is steady (or even if not). If not, where do the obese mice come from?
    fillyjonk — regarding the lap band surgery and diabetes — I think that diabetes makes everyone nervous — but, it’s diabetes. It’s deadly.
    What I think is — this study went out 2 whole years. Ooooo, loooong tiiiiiime. Even those in the study (small sample size, btw) who did not have the surgery lost weight, as is somewhat common with people recently diagnosed with type 2. The question I have is: are the risks and long-term consequences of the surgery over a lifetime (not to mention costs) outweighed by the benefits. While diabetes was “in remission” (not cured) after the surgery for a majority of the lap band patients, it’s unlikely to never return, unless the patient dies of something else before it has a chance to. It also was driving me crazy that the leap was made from the lap band procedure done in the study (in Australia) to the gastric bypass that is done here in the U.S.
    We need more than 2 years of data. We need to not generalize to statements like: “obesity surgery cures diabetes.”
    Cost-wise, a person newly diagnosed with uncomplicated diabetes is likely to generate costs somewhere in the neighborhood of an average of $5,000 a year more, maximum, than someone without it, so it would take between 4-6 years of diabetes remission to say that the costs would be similar, not counting the post-surgery or follow up surgery costs.
    Little one is calling — I have to go.
    I hope Junkfood Science will take this study up and examine it closely.
    –I have nearly 15 years of diabetes under my belt

  102. We need more than 2 years of data. We need to not generalize to statements like: “obesity surgery cures diabetes.”

    YES. This was my primary reaction. “Cures,” really? If a two-year remission is a cure, we’ve “cured” cancer. Over and over again.

  103. She is such a perfect little thing, she dances more than she walks and we walk her brother the half mile to school most week days.

    She sounds lovely, and you sound like a good parent. Your daughter eats well, she exercises, she plays and runs and dances… she sounds like a happy little girl. It’s impossible to raise a child free of angst, but if you give her the HAES lessons early in life they’ll stick with her. Even when a kid goes through a phase of rejecting the parents’ values, those values stick one way or another.

  104. I am heartbroken. I feel like I have been accused of child abuse.

    upsetmom, you sound like an incredible Mom. With an insensitive shitty doctor. She is wrong. You, the Mom, know what’s best for your kids.

  105. And then she said I was in denial and that it was all my fault that my child was going to become a statistic, and that she was just an advocate for the health of my child.

    Fire her ass.

    And may I respectfully suggest writing a letter to her clinic/supervising hospital, with a copy to the med school from which she graduated, telling them why you’re firing her ass.

    Clip it at the roots, where it grows.

  106. Had a faculty member teaching school/sports physicals tell us that if a kid came to us and they were really obese that we shouldn’t let them join sports until they lost weight.

    *runs SCREAMING*

  107. upsetmom, you may want to look for writings by Joanne Ikeda, a registered dietitan who has made the case against labling children as obese and promotes a “health at every size” approach for children, too.

  108. I heard something interesting lately. That kids learn how to be adults not from what their parents tell them, but from watching how their parents treat themselves.

    My SIL is very very thin, crazy obsessed with staying that way, and hardly eats. As in, we all go out to a great restaurant, and she finds some excuse to leave the table completely every time and not eat. Serious ED stuff IMO, but I’m not a doctor. She’s always telling me she’s worried because her kids aren’t eating, and freaked out that her daughter, at 3 y/o, was hysterical crying that her baby dolls were all “Too fat!”

    I’m fairly certain that she’s not starving her kids, or criticizing all of the chubby plastic dolls in the house. I would hazard a guess that they are picking up her neurosis just from watching how she acts toward herself. I think if you treat yourself respectfully about your food intake, your kids will be fine with it.

  109. I’ll sum it up like this – the modern world is rigged to doom any efforts to be thin. Its either starve and be miserable on some nutty diet or indulge in all the nonsense that’s on the supermarket shelves. Unfortunately to be and stay thin one must be vigilant in what one eats and leave 90% of what is offered up as food – where? back there. This is hard to do, we all have different situations and deal with different things and as someone said “hunger is invincible” Not everyone is vigilant, or wants to be. So when people say diets don’t work – well what “diet” are you on. Are you dieting and then after you look “good” for that event you go back to “normal” eating and gain. And nowadays, what is “normal” – burger, fries, greek, chinese. Don’t copy abnormal people who never seem to gain no matter what, know your body and in my opinion – do you. Focus on yourself and don’t feed into the media or anyone else. Self loathing only leads to misery that leads to destructive behaviour. That’s my 2cents/pence!

  110. upsetmom, you should also look at the writings of Ellyn Satter, who’s written much about children, food, and weight. She rocks. ellynsatter.com.

  111. Type 1 and 2 diabetes are still relatively mysterious. A quick search via PubMed turns up some interesting cases: two women who had kidneys removed due to cancer had their diabetes go into remission after the nephrectomy, for example. The studies about diabetes being “cured” after WLS (whatever type of surgery it is) all do state at the end of the report that the two year period is short term, which you pretty much never hear in the media, and that “more follow-up is needed”. So WLS for diabetes remission is still strictly experimental. You need a hell of a lot more evidence and proof than a few short-term-followup small-scale studies to claim a cure.

    But why bother with the facts when you’ve got surgery to sell and fat people to shame? Pish tosh! No time for science, we have to get the fatties off the streets!

  112. Re: not letting the kids join sports until they lost weight: I’d laugh at this if it wasn’t so true. Gym class and all those sports were for the kids who were already active, not for people who, oh, might have benefitted from actually learning how to play instead of being ridiculed that they weren’t any good at it because they didn’t even know how.

    But that would make sense.

  113. Oh, Robert, Robert, Robert! I guess that all of those years when I wanted to lose weight, I really didn’t want to, because I didn’t lose it. Now I see the error of my ways. Thank you so much! Now that I have dieted myself up to being a biggrossfatty and am finally HAPPY, I should change my thinking. I think that I will become thin, just because you say that I can do it! Thank you so much for your enlightened post!

    And thank you to whomever let this one through… My days of worrying are about offending are over! Anyone who is too busy/lazy/whatever to read any part of this blog does not deserve our patience. I’m too lazy (because I’m fat) to be patient.

  114. Hahaha – and I guess I really AM lazy because I missed that major error in my last post. That’s what happens when I think faster than I can type/delete/retype. Ooops…

  115. LilahCello, that’s why we send a couple of them in every so often. :) People get to sharpen their claws, plus they get to see how incredibly boring and repetitive the comments we “censor” really are, and how little we need to give them space to air views you can get anywhere on the internet or off it. They’re pretty much all just cliche talking heads. Reasonable people do come in here and have doubts, but they present themselves completely different.

    Robert is an interesting but still common archetype… he doesn’t THINK he’s a troll, he actually thinks he’s magnanimously bestowing upon us the favor of his approval. He’ll come in and enlighten all these little women about how they can be healthy even if they’re *gasp* 160 pounds! They just have to eat well! He knows because he’s done it!

    Thank you SO much for your contribution, Robert.

  116. Upsetmom, if I may, your daughter sounds like a lovely little person, and I hope that you will not let your cruel doctor’s words torment you.

    I know this isn’t evidence of anything, just a personal story, but I’m sharing it just in the event that it helps you. When I was a little girl, my doctor put me on diets as well…looking back at the pictures I don’t know why. I had a little tummy, but I didn’t look much different than my peers, but the doctor said I needed to diet and I never lost that voice. I dieted off and on, to the point of a disorder, from the age of six. I was convinced I was at fat, disgusting, slob when I weighed 140 something pounds; I was my full height of 5’4″ at the time…I was also 11 years old. An injury and binging made me gain weight in my teens, and being genetically predisposed towards being fat…well…you know where this is going. Today I am recovering from a lifetime of dieting and disordered eating hell, and while I’m not thrilled with myself…I’m closer than I’ve ever been.

    So if I was in your shoes, I would just let your gorgeous little girl be who she is. If she is like every two year old I’ve know, she runs around like a mad woman, and I have no doubt that you know that an apple is more nutritious than a cookie. I think if you teach her that, teach her to chose foods she likes that make her feel good, teach her that food is just food and not the devil or the savior, and teach her that no matter what she weighs, no matter what she looks like, no matter what she does, she is worthy of love and respect, that everything will be okay. I can’t promise she’ll be thin or that nothing of our crazy culture will ever affect her, but with a mom like you she stands a fighting chance.

    I know it’s hard not to listen to the mythical beings in the white coats, they seem to have the answers and some of them give these answers as if they were the Ultimate Truth, but they really are just people. I deal with them both in my family and in my professional life, and I have yet to meet one who isn’t flawed. The most important thing is that you raise a happy, confident, girl, who knows what she is worth (and she is worth everything wonderful she can imagine), and though I don’t know you, just from what you’ve said so far, I have a feeling you’ll do that just fine if you trust yourself.

    Hang in there!

  117. Recovering anorexics don’t have to eat absurd amounts of food– it just *feels* like it. :-)

    j/k (sort of). In recovery from anorexia, I was eating much more than my theoretically slowed metabolism should have required to gain 1# per week. My theory is it’s because of all the “repair” my body had to do (which was probably going on in my sleep, as the study Harriet is referring to might suggest), in addition to just gaining weight.

    8 years later I seem to need more than what is “recommended” for my age/weight/height/sex/activity level, but I think the recommended amounts are underestimated. (I’m reminded of the British writer who tried to get down to a size 0, and began by cutting her intake to 2000?)

  118. Hi Thaisa — Your post made me happy!!!

    I am, at this very moment, eating white pizza with spinach, pancetta and drizzled with lemon oil!! But bread and ham are good too.

    You are 18 and that’s a good time to accept yourself. I’m sure you are beautiful!

  119. Forgive me if my previous post was a little non-specific. I am quite ill at the moment and I guess my posts on my various websites have been rather slack. I’m going to have to reply to everyone I saw reply to me in turn, so bare with me as it’s 6:30 am and I haven’t slept yet.

    To AnnieMcPhee – I mixed up two different themes with no apparent connection in my post. The long and the short of it is, before age seven, I was very slim. Due to some strange medication for a condition I have, I gained quite a lot of weight, my metabolism was ruined and from age seven to fifteen I was overweight and towards the end, ‘obese’ according to BMI standards (Although, I think everyone here has established how inaccurate BMI is.)

    A good deal of my weight loss was due to just quitting the bad foods I ate (…and before you jump all over me, I wasn’t making an assumption that everybody on this website eats junk food. I however, did eat rather a lot). I used the word diet wrong the first time I mentioned it. The point I was trying to make was that dieting does not work, because they make you obsessed with portion size, calorie content, fat content etc. I wasn’t telling everybody here to go on a diet, or that you need to lose weight. I was a much happier person when I was fifteen, than I am now.

    To LilahCello – This may come as a shock to you, but I did read the blog. I was simply offering my opinion. Although admittedly with rather poor wording, and illness should not be an excuse. I’m sure you get great many ignorant people on here, so your sarcasm, (However unintentional my offense) I’ll accept. Although, your wording is suggestive that I am intolerant of people who are larger. I have been ‘obese’ and I have been ‘medically emaciated’ and not a huge amount of people can actually say they have experienced both of those things in their life time. I was speaking from my own personal experience in my post, but as I said, some people are designed to be the size they are, and that’s the size they stay.

    To Fillyjonk, and everybody else – I genuinely came to this site because I thought it was an excellent idea. As I said before, if something like this had existed a few years ago, I doubt I would be in and out of hospital now. I cannot stress enough that I did not mean to cause offense, however with talk of the sharpening of claws, and speaking about me in the third person in such a way, it is surprising that I find myself even replying. Your offense was intentional, that’s the difference. Forgive me when I spoke about people being a healthy size for their frame, and if saying 160 pounds was offensive. I didn’t intend that to upset anyone either.

    I thought perhaps I would have some good viewpoints to offer, having suffered from Compulsive Overeating Disorder in the past, experiencing obesity, and now suffering from Anorexia Nervosa. I am well aware of the greater health problems experienced by those who are underweight, because I am going through them at present, so nobody need remind me of those.

    I’ll say sorry once again if my post caused offense, as I really did not mean to. It must be my eating disorder gnawing away at my brain, ay? Hopefully this will not be censored so that the people I offended can see this, and hopefully change their minds.

    Thank you.

  120. Last night I dreamed I ate a chocolate cake,
    (I ate a chocolate cake)
    and when I woke up I was sure it was true
    so I weighed myself just to make sure and drank a
    diet coke
    I want to be skinny

    - – “Fatso,” Jonatha Brooke & Jennifer Kimball

    It’s funnier when they sing it:

  121. Another upset mom here, and glad this came up ’cause I’ve been dying to ask the crowd here for an opinion:

    Took my 13 month old for a well-child visit today and was told by alarmed doc (an osteopath who I have always found very cool) and nurse that she had fallen from 95/97 percentile to 20/30 percentile in height and weight and this was very concerning, a marker for “failure to thrive” (although she did not diagnose that). Factors: 1) this is since her last visit at 5 mos old, yeah, I’m not Johnny-on-the-spot with the dr. appts. 2) she has had a cold for the last week during which she rejected most solid food and I know babies will lose weight quickly when they’re sick and quickly recover, 3) she’s been breastfed and until relatively recently I could not get her to eat any outside food (spitting, crying, fighting at any attempt) – since shortly before her birthday she started eating things she could feed herself and has been picking up new foods fairly quickly, but she’s still picky and prefers to nurse, although the milk is not what it used to be. Since I am a very laissez-faire kind of mom, I figure her appetite is her guide and haven’t worried about it too much except as it limited my own freedom to leave her for too long. :)

    Now, she is definitely not underweight for her age, it’s just the *percentile* change that’s a problem. I had recently commented to my husband that I thought she was filling out as the solid food started taking hold. I may be totally delusional, but she looks like a totally normal 1 year old with a little extra baby chin and chubby legs and a little potbelly. You can look at her and see she is very strong and healthy. I told the doc that I believed this was just her pattern because she started eating later than other babies and that it would all balance out in the end. But really this is messing me up because of all the things I never expected my baby to have an *underweight* problem.

    They took blood to rule out problems like (I assume) diabetes or something, which I am fine with. But doc wants me to come in for WEEKLY WEIGHT CHECKS ARRRRRRRGGGGG to make sure she’s gaining. Of course, it could all work too well with the whole milk and such they want me to give her and next thing you know I’ll be getting the talk about her being too big.

  122. To be clear, here is where the issue (for me) lies in what you, Robert, had to say:

    “Although I am a firm believer that people can lose weight if they want, I also believe that people come in so many shapes and sizes. For the average 5 ft 5 person, 160 pounds could be perfectly healthy, for another, 120 could be fine.”

    If you had read the blog, you would see MUCH evidence pointing to the fact that not everyone can lose weight. There are many articles and studies pointing to this – may I even venture to say proving it (as far as anything can be ‘proven.’) People who are heavier than “average” take great offense to the idea that if they just put their minds to it, they can do it. It’s not true, plain and simple.

    Also, your comment that a 5’5″ person could be healthy at 120 or 160 doesn’t give much of a range, and makes it sound like everyone should aspire to be right there – that if they weigh more, they can’t possibly be healthy. That same person could be perfectly healthy at 250, 300 or (gasp) even more! You should probably read The Obesity Myth to see the studies where women (especially) have a large range of “overweights” that actually contribute to lower mortality rates than those who are underweight.

    Beyond that, it is nobody’s moral imperative to be healthy. Even if someone did nothing but sit on the couch eating all day, that’s nobody’s business but their own. They are not driving up medical costs anymore than those people with depression, cancer, or heart disease. People would never advocate to cut them off from health care. Besides, many fat people don’t carry health insurance (because they can’t afford it or choose not to), and many skip the doctor all together because of poor care by doctors who assume the same thing that you did; only people in a certain range can possibly be healthy.

    The reason I said that you hadn’t read the blog is because all of this has been covered extensively.

    So there I go. I may have been troll-baited, I may not have been. I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt ONCE. I believe that we ought to embrace those who want to learn about fat/size acceptance, as probably everyone here does. But most of us are not about hearing how we can do it if we just try. Many of us are concerned only with being comfortable in our own bodies, weather that means HAES, or just having a shred of self-esteem after years of nothing but shame.

  123. I see your point. I’m not intent on trying to disprove it, however when BMI was invented, surely that was such an accurate ‘breakthrough’ in medical science. Now look at how we see BMI. So many theories, in all areas, are proven, then torn to shreds some years later. I’m sure it’s just my inherent mistrust of all things scientific speaking. However, it gets silly when I turn on the radio to find out “Not enough brown bread in your diet leads to cancer.”

    Anyway, that’s a rant for a therapist when I turn forty, not here. It is however, perfectly logical that if there are ‘skinny’ people in the world who eat and eat and never seem to gain weight, then there must be ‘fat’ people in the world who could eat a ‘normal’ or ‘small’ amount of food and never drop any weight.

    “The results did not mean that people are completely helpless to control their weight, Stunkard said. But, he said, it did mean that those who tend to be fat would have to constantly battle their genetic inheritance if they want to reach and maintain a significantly lower weight.

    The findings also provided evidence for a phenomenon that scientists like Hirsch and Leibel were certain was true – each person has a comfortable weight range to which the body gravitates. The range might span 10 or 20 pounds: someone might be able to weigh 120 to 140 pounds without too much effort. Going much above or much below the natural weight range is difficult, however; the body resists by increasing or decreasing the appetite and changing the metabolism to push the weight back to the range it seeks.”

    It was a very interesting article although, which I did indeed read yesterday. My computer refuses to load any of the others, for some odd reason. It would be interesting then, to experiment with people who throughout their entire lifetime have never had a weight range. People such as myself, who have either constantly gained, or constantly lost.

    I’m sorry again for the 120-160 pound example. But it was just that, an example, it wasn’t meant to be read into as deeply as it has. It was more along the lines of “Sometimes people like red cars, some people like blue cars.”

    When it comes to me believing everyone can lose weight (The possibility not being outright denied in the above quote.) I wasn’t suggesting people do, if anything I was probably in some strange way trying to be positive. As when it came to me losing weight, I had several obstacles to overcome. I am allergic to several kinds of foods, and a lot of healthy foods which break down fats such as oranges, lemons, limes, anything citrus, most things with a high vitamin C content. Most things with citric acid in…dairy products, eggs…and a few other things.

    And just like in the television adverts when you see someone having recovered from cancer walk up a fight of stairs, that’s how I felt when I managed to do what I did when faced with those odds.

    When I said what I said about weight loss it was because I have faith in people, not faith in medical science. Such as someone climbing a tall mountain, or wanting to be a photographer. It had nothing to do with anything proven or unproven, it was just my faith in people being able to overcome almost impossible odds. I have to have faith in people achieving difficult things, as if I don’t recover from my illness I will not be around in one or two years to continue posting on forums. I hope that sounds somewhat logical, and even if you still think I’m a troll you can at least see my reasoning.

    I am not telling people to go out and lose weight. I “dieted” for five years and did nothing but gain weight throughout that time. At the same time if someone is comfortable with their size, NO MATTER what size that is, then I have a great deal of respect for them. Some of the skinniest people I know, myself included, are the most self-conscious people I know. Confidence doesn’t have a size. I thought it did, once, when I was ‘fat’. I was jaded, as I’m sure most people are at some time or another in their lives with the whole ‘grass is greener’ philosophy. It took until I was on the other side to realise that.

    I’ve only recently looked into the concept of HAES, but fully encourage it. It is also interesting, I find that comparing both me being overweight, to me being underweight, I have had far more insults (Even from strangers on the street) from being underweight. “You look disgusting, eat a burger.” “God, I’m glad I’m not as skinny as you.” “Shouldn’t you be dead?”. It might be because of the more recent size zero debates and people putting the dangers of being underweight more and more in the spotlight. However, I do not believe abuse is limited only to those who are ‘overweight’. I hope I’ve said something even slightly worthwhile.

  124. I’m sorry, Robert, I didn’t want to jump all over you. I hope you feel better soon, and thanks for replying :)

  125. I think it’s possible that Robert really does mean well, but means something very different by “read the blog” than we do. Remember back in the old days of Usenet, when you used to drastically overstate the amount of time you’d been lurking, in order to appear like you’d been doing due diligence? Maybe that’s just me. It always makes you end up putting your foot in your mouth, is my point, because you didn’t actually lurk and you don’t really know the context of what you’re talking about. Anyway, I think Robert is equating “read one of the articles linked” with “read the blog.”

    But Robert, if you’d actually read the blog, like more than a couple posts, or even fully absorbed this one, you wouldn’t say things like “I believe people can lose weight because I have faith in people.” The notion that to beat the 95% diet failure odds you just have to be in the 5% that really wants it is totally spurious. That’s abundantly clear if you read the linked articles. I haven’t heard anyone else reporting problems with loading them.

    I see that you’re trying (and this is a situation where I will give the benefit of the doubt, because a concern troll responds differently than a misguided but genuinely well-intentioned person). But I really, really recommend that you read more before continuing to dig.

  126. Fillyjonk. It’s my computer, the internet in my shared house is awful and seems to just decide when and when not to load pages. The above post of mine was to Annie.

    Absolutely no idea in what context you use ‘Lurk’ there, probably due to the fact I have no idea what Usenet was or is. However, I’ll read the blog again, and again. Then perhaps a forth time in hopes that more of the external links will load along the way.

    I’m not generally one for facts and figures, as they continuously seem to change with the times, and my ‘faith’ well. I’ll stop ‘digging.’

  127. I had to pop up in response to the couple people mentionning their crazy-diet inspired dreams. I wondered if there was any research or writings (at least on the interweebles for now) regarding the effects of your diet on your brain, especially regarding dreams.

    A long while ago I had read about a researcher who studied the effects of eating certain types of cheese right before bed had on the sorts of dreams you would have. I also have a co-worker who SWEARS that her dreams are batty anytime she eats broccoli for dinner.

    Just what kind of effect does drastically reducing your calorie intake to the point of food-obession have on your nightly brainwaves??

    I did find some intersting info and wanted to share (just so no one thinks they are the only one who dreamt about twinkies or eating themselves silly only to wake up guilty).

    Atkins Diet causes bad dreams

    Causes of Nightmares – Kinda interesting; links nightmares to traumatic events and the content of dreams often mimic those traumatic events. Hmmm if dieting isn’t traumatic I don’t know what IS!

    Cheese affects dreams Ooo I found it!

    Anyways just wanted to share while the topic of dreams was being bandied about. :)

  128. I’m not fat and I’ve never really been a dieter (tried Atkins twice for a week each time, months and months apart. I had to quit when I literally became sick–like with a high fever–both times), but you know what totally threw my metabolism out of whack? Having mono for six months when I was 21. I lost 20 pounds and the second I got better I gained 40 back. My point is: diets mimic starvation and disease. No wonder our bodies fight back with everything they have. They’re supposed to.

  129. @April D: I have a friend who, tragically, doesn’t eat Krispie Kream donuts because they give her horrible nightmares. Any other kind of donut is okay though.

  130. To ChiaraG, the other upset mom. Don’t let them make you nuts. When my premature son got a check-up after coming home (and being exclusively breastfed) it looked as if he’d hadn’t gained any weight in the last week or so. I can’t remember how long it had been. I KNEW this couldn’t be right since he’d been nursing nearly non-stop and he was BIGGER.

    I made them weigh him on another scale and it turned out that the first one needed to be re-calibrated. “Never mind!”

    It sounds like you’re already suspicious of their “worries” but I wanted to share a possible solution to the mystery.

  131. @robert

    Hi Robert – I’m not a regular poster here, but I’m a fairly regular reader, and I just wanted to say I appreciate your comments. Your willingness to share some of your story adds value to the site, and I’m glad the moderators allowed your comments to post.

    One reason I don’t comment often here is because of the (understandable) sensitivity to posters who don’t have a thorough grasp of the HAES philosophy and its nuances. I’ve been reading the research for years, but the “movement” or “community” around FA is very new to me, and it’s not easy to convey in a single post how much you get or don’t.

    While it’s not surprising that some of the individuals at the crux of the movement are weary of repeating themselves and want folks to do their homework before posting, I have to say that I value greatly the opportunity to read the occasional comments of those who are still working out details, who have well-reasoned questions, or share experiences that are uniquely individual and illustrate that things aren’t as simple as they appear.

    This is all just to say that your taking the time to post, and then to elaborate and clarify, is appreciated by at least one lurker. As is the fact that the lovely women who run the site approved the posts so that I could read them.

    Everyone has their own story, their own journey and their own successes and struggles.

    Reading the little bit about yours makes me realize how good I have it, and makes me realize how often I judge without meaning to. (I’m very likely someone who would have jumped to a conclusion about your thinness.) I hope your health stabilizes and that you have a chance to enjoy your life without these physical struggles. Thanks again for sharing and good luck.

  132. It’s just me, I know I would supposedly really love them if I ate one hot, but I just can’t get over the lamination!

  133. They taste like angels.

    Meh. Let me know when there are doughnuts that taste like Eloi.

    This is probably the best exchange ever.

  134. ChiaraG – I’m sorry to hear your daughter’s doctor has you worried about her weight all the sudden.

    It’s true that sudden changes in percentile range in young children can be alarming, but I find myself considering both the long-ish period between checkups (no judgments here – I’m constantly behind on getting my kids in for checkups as well) as well as your daughter’s recent cold.

    I think going in for a weight check or two can’t /hurt/, assuming you don’t think such things are going to mess with your own mental state too much (i.e. if you have a history of bad ED, I could see the weekly weight checking being triggering). When my twins were newborns, we had to do the weight checks thing, and while it wasn’t fun, as soon as they were back on track growth-wise we were able to stop. So while “weekly weight checks” sounds scary, it’s entirely possible you’re only talking about two weeks’ worth here.

    That said, I personally think a child’s behavior and other physical cues are the best indicators of if they’re getting enough to eat and drink. Just like when babies are newborns, paying attention to diaper output is an excellent indicator of sufficient intake in toddler-age children as well. Also, as you say, your daughter is active and strong and (her recent ordinary cold notwithstanding) healthy.

    Children who are not getting enough to eat are lethargic, listless and withdrawn. They don’t participate in physical activities, nor do they engage in much social interaction. This doesn’t sound like it describes your daughter, so I am sure you’re all right.

    Personally, I think you have two basic options: 1) Boost the hell out of your daughter’s caloric intake in the hopes of ending the whole weight check business as soon as possible, so you can go back to your usual routine sooner, 2) Only make one or two of the suggested changes to your daughter’s diet, and trust that her recovery from the cold will help take care of the rest. This may mean you go through the weight checks for a couple weeks more, but it may be necessary in order to establish a new “baseline” for her. Good peds pay more attention to the growth curve than to where exactly the curve is on the chart, and in my (admittedly limited) experience, it’s not unusual for kids’ places in the percentiles to change pretty dramatically between 3-6 months and a year (between learning to walk and the introduction of solid foods, that hardly seems surprising to me).

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck and sorry about my seeming inability to shut up – grin!

  135. Thank you Stacey, That meant a lot. I only found about these FA communities about two days ago, so am still finding my feet. A lot of this info is brand spanking new to me. It’s nice to hear from you, thank you.

    ChiaraG – I have zero experience with babies, but when my mother wanted to gain weight, her doctor suggested porridge directly before she went to sleep. No idea if that helps. Since it’s also good for you, it will be healthy weight she gains.

  136. I don’t eat Krispy Kremes because I grew up with fresh-baked Dunkin Donuts (not the trucked-in stuff they have now) and the first time I had a Krispy Kreme was from the supermarket – blech! Some varieties might be good fresh-baked, I don’t know, but I do know the cream-filled ones taste like I bathed my tongue in Crisco so double blech. Once in a rare while I’ll go to DD at 4AM just because the donuts are just arriving then and they’re still good…just never as good as they were. When I really want something wonderful I make real cream puffs, and that works even better though.

    Robert and Stacey, I just found the FA movement too (before the NYT article though) although I had long since accepted my fat and quit dieting. It is quite wonderful to finally find out that some of the things I already really knew are actually true, and that some of the BS I still believed, sorta, is NOT true.

    It would be really really nice if snopes would start making some posts debunking these things as well, but I just looked and it seems a lot of posters there are very into dieting, so whatever. Sigh.

  137. Becky – You wrote this awhile ago but… I think about what i would be like if I had not had that ED in school. Would I be the same size or larger or smaller? Who knows. Also I didn’t mention but I cringe to think about the damage I did to my bones during that episode of barely eating. In their teens, women formulate much of their bone density and it starts to drop after 25-30. So right when I was supposed to be getting LOTS of nutrients and minerals, I was getting way less than optimal or even good. It’s sad but i think this is true for most high school girls. We spend so much time hating our bodies and not taking care of them….. I wonder if this will ever change. We definitely need the “I am Kate Harding/ Katecus” T-shirts!

  138. y’all leave Krispie Kreams alone

    Because they’re all mine!!!!!!! Mwahahahahahahhaa…..

    :::ahem:::

    Sorry.

    AnnieMcPhee: Krispy Kremes aren’t baked. They’re fried. (But yes, you are correct that buying them at the grocery is hideous and wrong.) “Hot Now” is the way to go.

    fj: Heh. Laminated? I usually call it six coats of high-gloss lacquer — made of 100% sugar (and probably some more fat).

  139. Laminated? I usually call it six coats of high-gloss lacquer — made of 100% sugar (and probably some more fat).

    Have you ever gone to a KK shop and watched them being made? They come down a conveyor belt and pass thru a hot streaming curtain of glaze.

  140. I don’t eat Krispy Kremes because I don’t own a car and I’d have to rent a Zipcar to go get some. Which would make them very expensive donuts if I was going to get a Zipcar for that reason alone. C. doesn’t care for them so I’d be the only one eating them, and as others have noted they’re really only worth a special trip while they’re hot, and if you aren’t anywhere near them you don’t know if they have hot ones at that moment or not. So I generally don’t bother. When I do have donuts (every few months or so), Voodoo‘s my brand. (KH, I think that bacon maple bar has your name on it if you’re ever in PDX.)

  141. I have to say, this was a very interesting article….It brings to light a growing problem that we have as a society….Where if you are fat, you are instantly labeled with other seemingly unrelated falacies…Like being lazy….Which isn’t the case with most people…In my family, all the men are pretty normal build or muscular, but all the women, and I mean ALL the women are pleasantly plump…(fat, if you will)…But are quite attractive…I have an incredible appreciation for a women with extra curves and make no secret of it…My girlfriend is about 5’4″ and 230#…Where as I am 5’9″ and 220 with muscular build….You guys keep it up with the blogs and help get rid of these crazy stereotypes…In many countries, It is quite a virtue to be fat…

  142. Leave it to me to use the wrong word – ALL their donuts are fried? I know all the cakey ones are fried (I’ve made donuts once or twice myself, but never found it really worth it), but usually the light, fluffy, powdered, cream-filled stuff isn’t. I knew some DD bakers, which came in handy for cool snacks that no one else got :D (Such as Boston cream munchkins – mmm.)

    Sorry Kate – it’s just with the Boston cream in particular, which was what I had and is my favorite, the filling was too much of a turnoff, esp. compared to the very pudding-y DD ones. Anyway, if I don’t take, everyone else can have more, so enjoy :)

  143. meowser… voodoo is my love. I’m totes going to get married there someday. maple and bacon is actually a yum-o flavor combo btw.

  144. @upsetmom.

    The paed is right, your daughter REALLY needs to cut some things out of her life. She probably needs to loose about 160lbs of stupid doctor for a start!

    I am hearing you on the worry with the weight and all. My DD (21 months and cute as a button) is on the 50th centile for weight and the 91st for height, we are tall people, and the last time the child health nurse saw us she gave me a lecture about making sure she weighed enough (which i have had since she was born, and resulted in me stopping breastfeeding well before i wanted to, at 7 months, because the natural slow of weight gain caused by the increase in activity was blamed on my breastmilk being “poor”) and THEN she went in my kitchen and saw my butter (i refuse to eat margarine because i once tried to cook with Flora light and it went round and round in my 300 degree pan and WOULDN’T MELT and i was like am i f*** putting that inside me!) and gave me a lecture on childhood obesity and how low-fat choices are the best! WTF!? All the time my (apparently far too thin) daughter is standing next to us munching on an organic carrot listening to this piteous excuse for medical advice. Some people are mad, let’s assume they can’t help it and simply not pay them to tell us anything useful.

    Re: successful weightloss. When i was 15 i was 5’11″ and 144lbs and i thought i was HUGE. My nicknames at school were “horse” and “man” and boy i felt massive. When my mum (who was very naturally thin as a young woman but then greww fatter as she got older and had 6 kids and HATED her gain. My sister has always been obese (probably because her dad abandoned them when she was 6 and when my mum married my dad she didn’t get on with him and then once she was heavy there was even more rejection and unhappiness in her life – i know she is my half-sister technically but i don’t love her a half, she is my sister) and mum was constantly telling me not to be like her. When i was 11 i got stretchmarks on my inner thighs (because my legs had grown 3 inches in 5 months?) and she put me (5’7″ 125lbs) on a diet. By the time i was 15 i knew how many calories were in everything i ate although by then THANK GOD she had calmed down and told me i MUST eat 2100 minimum as i was growing. By the time i was 17 and had filled out properly (34E boobs) i was about 168lbs. Then when i was 18 my mum got ill with cancer and i stayed home and nursed her, got depressed and gained about 30lbs. When she was in remission i went back to uni, (literally) starved my way to 160lbs then regained what i had lost and more. Again, starved down to 165 or so, then regained to 200lbs.

    When i got pregnant at 25 i was 209lbs. The medical folks went nuts, tried to get me on a diet, to go to an exercise class, tried to tell me i’s “risk out” for my homebirth if i went over 100kg (i was 95kg already and 11 weeks pregnant!). I was pretty miserable about it but i thought whatever happened would happen, having lost 2 pregnancies i wasn’t going to risk my kid for anything. Fast forward a bit, at 34weeks i weighed…..95kg. I didn’t diet, i didn’t do extra exercise, i ate what i wanted when i felt like it.

    It was only after i gave birth (at home, as i wanted, because actually fat women’s vaginas are not clogged up with chub, they can push babies out just FINE) that they realised the reason i’d gained so little was that for years before my pregnancy my thyroid had been underactive due to an autoimmune disorder where the body attacks it as if it were a foreign object. Hashimoto’s as it is called, runs in my family (all my family are obese too) and yet i had never been tested for it in all the years i’d been told again and again to lose weight. At 209lbs i swam 2 miles a week and walked 4 miles a day to and from work. Lazy cow! Pregnancy makes your body make a lot of natural steroids so you won’t attack the foetus and lo and behold, it stopped my anti-thyroid response too.

    At 41+4 when she finally decided to come out i was 101kg dead on. On day 4 after her birth i was 95kg. 3 months on, with breastfeeding and my still-recovered thyroid (it began to fail again about 3 months post birth and i got medicated 9 months post birth) i was 85kg. I took up running to stave off postnatal depression because i wanted to keep breastfeeding and not take medication and got nice and fit again.

    Today, medicated, running 3 times a week (mainly with my lovely perfect girl in her buggy) and doing a weights class and a 1km swim once a week, and eating whatever the hell i want WHEN i want and not thinking about it, i’m 72-75kg, depending on where i am in my cycle and how much weight i’m lifting.

    I am so grateful that my body was able to reset the damage i did it by repeatedly crashing into starvation, and so glad that after all that time i spent fretting about my weight and appearance i am now at a place where i love this skin i inhabit. At this weight i have had a four foot 11 nurse ask my weight and when told it say “do you want weightloss advice?” even though my BMI is about 23.something i could see she went “12 stones, that is heavy, i should be about 8 stones, she should lose weight” without even looking at how tall i am.

    This has been giant but it felt good to get it out. Thanks for your blog and for telling us what we have known for as long as we’ve been blaming ourselves for our normal healthy bodies doing what they’re supposed to.

  145. the last time the child health nurse saw us she gave me a lecture [...] and THEN she went in my kitchen and saw my butter

    Jesus Christ, booShambles, you have a nurse coming out to your HOME? and poking into your KITCHEN and taking notes on the FOOD you have? And we think we have it bad here with the busybodies.

    Glad the medical profession finally deigned to treat your medical condition ;-) and you’re doing so well.

  146. last time the child health nurse saw us she gave me a lecture about making sure she weighed enough … THEN she went in my kitchen and saw my butter … and gave me a lecture on childhood obesity and how low-fat choices are the best!

    So one minute she’s lecturing you about how your daughter is underweight and the next minute she’s lecturing you that your daughter is in danger of being obese? Also, what is it about the number 200 pounds/ 100kg that makes people freak out so much? 200 pounds is not that heavy for somebody as tall as you!

  147. I’m another former yo-yo dieter, most of which I did while in the USAF in the 80s. I was 5’7” and 142-147 lbs. which put me in the Weight Management Program. They wanted me below 137, I believe it was; I never did make that and I was honorably discharged for being fat in 1987. But not before I had been turned on to diuretics by the Flight Surgeon at the base in Italy where I worked an office job in ‘84. I nearly did myself in when I was in Turkey because by that time I was abusing the diuretics for weight loss and then developed dysentery while already chronically dehydrated.

    Even that didn’t stop me from dieting, though, just turned me against dieting “crutches.” I gave it one more go in the early 90s and lost 25 lbs. after a lot of deprivation and time spent at the gym.

    I only got off the dieting yo-yo ride when I started school again in the mid 90s and decided I could either be slim (ish) or get good grades because I just didn’t have the time to do both AND work (which I had to do.)

    I have leveled out at around 250 for the last 7 or 8 years and have no health problems except for some upper back/neck pain from big boobs. Oh, and high cholesterol.

    Lastly, whoever said that other countries have different views on fat was spot on; while I was stationed in Turkey, the Turkish workers (all men) in the chow hall were constantly and diligently working at feeding all the women up cuz we were too skinny!

  148. Yep, that’s the deal of it – it was like she was trying to give me all the health advice for the entire nation (all parts of the scale) without actually LOOKING to see which bits were relevant to ME and MY CHILD. To be fair on the home visit it was a development check and they come to the home because they find kids are more relaxed and chatty and less stressed out there, so they can see more clearly how the child is doing. She has the vocabulary of a 3 year old, she knows her shapes and colours, she can count to 20 (although after 15 it goes 14, 18, 18, 19, 20!!!), she knows all her body parts down to things like earlobes and eyebrows, and wrists. She can run and jump and i am trying to figure how to STOP her climbing. She knows about 10 songs with actions. She’s 21 months and i couldn’t BE more proud of her. The HV noticed how advanced she was but for some reason instead of thinking “everything is fine” they think “my job is to advise, what can i advise on?” and that was why the lecture came.

    It frustrates me because i just want her to grow up to be her natural weight, whatever that is, and not screw her body up in either direction by punishing it with eating craziness (either too much or not enough). I know it is unrealistic in this world but i’d like her to be able to eat what she wants when she’s hungry without thinking about it.

    FWIW i’m a BIG believer in butter. Most low fat spreads are SO low fat they don’t have fat in them. WHat the hell are they made of?! Emulsifier, oh like paint, yeah that’s really edible! Why is it people can accept there are thin people who eat 4000 calories of crap every day and don’t gain weight but not accept that there are fat people who eat 2000 calories a day and don’t lose it?

    Re: the 100kg thing – hilariously that is the obstetric cut off. If i was 4 foot 10 it would have been 100kg too. How crazy is that? And how crazy is telling me at ELEVEN weeks pregnant that if i gained more than 5kg i’d have to give birth in hospital?! My newborn BABY weighed 3.5kg! That was my ob who i met once, that day and then never again. My midwives only weighed me the last 2 weeks (i was past my due date and they were keeping an eye on how much water i was retaining to make sure my high BP was benign and not pre eclampsia) and they never wrote it down in their notes, only the ones i kept at home. Midwives ROCK! LOL.

  149. Midwives DO rock! My son was born at home. I was 230# when I got pregnant, lost about 7, then gained a total of about 12-19# by the end. He was 8#12. I’m pregnant again, starting at 265#, lost 10, and now at 23 weeks, am back to pre-pregnancy weight. My midwife does seem to have a bit of fat-fear, but she never talks about it. She checks weight at every visit, but that may be a New York state regulation. She knows that I eat well and was witness to my amazing first birth. I hate it when doctors get all freaked out at one glance. Almost every woman who has a baby intuitively knows how to do it (if she’s not harassed all throughout her labor and delivery). If our bodies couldn’t handle pregnancy, NOBODY would have babies. I think of all the literally starving mothers who can carry and birth babies, and while that is FAR from ideal, I think that if they can do it, there’s no reason why a fat body can’t.

  150. My reason for pointing out my weight was that even though I gained very little, he was very healthy and good sized. I had enough extra going into the pregnancy that my body was able to make use of what was already there waiting.

  151. Weirdly, with both my pregnancies I left the hospital weighing less than I had when I became pregnant. Sure, I gained during, but after the birth, I was lighter. Of course that didn’t stop the weight piling on very soon afterwards :D

    You’re right – I would have been mortified if a doctor had been so hideous as to tell me he/she couldn’t properly examine me because of the fat – I never heard that one!!! Though with my second birth, one week I gained a little more than they thought I should, so had to wait two hours to see the dietician, who told me what I needed to eat, and the next week gained too little – same result. Um – hello? It evens out, you dopes. Not everyone is going to gain exactly X pounds per week, jeesh. Our bodies ARE designed to handle pregnancy and birth!

    I did know one woman who had a beautiful daughter, but the thing was this – she was absolutely obsessed and definitely anorexic; terrified of gaining an ounce during her pregnancy. So the poor baby was so crunched up in there or something, and she couldn’t push her out very well (obsessively exercising to tighten everything up) that the girl ended up with CP and missing a leg, etc. Now I am not a doctor, so I can’t say much here, just that the doctor said that was why it happened. You’re not supposed to be emaciated when you’re 9 months pregnant. Doctors might do well to worry more about those who don’t gain weight than those who do. I’m frankly still horrified that some of them are telling women right on the table that they can’t examine them because of the fat – I seriously never heard that one; it must be fairly new. Oh, and it must be bullshit too. Hooray for midwives and home births! :)

  152. My Dr. freaked when I gained 7lbs in my 5th month of pregnancy with my (only) baby. I had only gained 10 lbs at that point! I got a big lecture on not gaining too much and for the rest of my pregnancy I had a food journal and didn’t gain another pound. It was so sad to be so worried about gaining too much weight while pregnant. And I wonder why I’ve admired the dicipline of people who starve themselves?! It’s sick and I hate it but it’s true. Stupid scale number.

    But ha, he still doesn’t know I had Pepsi while pregnant and I’ll never tell.

  153. I really hope I am not intruding on y’all’s space, as a thin person, but I just wanted to say that I really appreciate this post and am trying to figure out a way to get to a point with my sister that I can email her a link to it. She is 5’4″ and a size 0 and thinks she needs to lose more weight. I hadn’t seen her in a year and a half and I just saw her this past weekend and she has a completely different face now, just because she’s so skinny. We went out to lunch and she had half a cup of onion soup and half a caesar salad. I’m really worried about her.

    I would also like to mention that the thin pressure is really really insidious and becomes internalized even if you are thin and you don’t even know it’s happening. I was always slightly underweight growing up–I would get within, like, four pounds of the bottom marker of the range I was “supposed” to be in, but that was the closest I could ever get. So I always thought I would be overjoyed if I could put on some weight so they would stop bugging me. Then within the past couple of years of being on hormonal birth control and, I figure, just that I’m fully an adult now and am settling into my body, I’ve gained about 20 pounds, and my first thought when I realized this was “holy shit I have to lose those 20 pounds”. I spent a couple of months going to the gym three times a week and stuff, and I didn’t lose the 20 pounds–got a lot stronger, and learned I love free weights, but not so much with the weight loss. Body hatred is I think a symptom of the major problems in our society; we all have it to some degree, because we grow up looking at airbrushed people in magazines and being teased for every aspect of our appearances that doesn’t conform to that.

    My sister told me my new weight of 142 pounds was “enormous”–she’s really messed up about this stuff. I’m 5’8″. Even the almost-entirely-made-up height-weight charts tell me I’m supposed to be from, like, 130-160 pounds. Anyway. I’m kind of rambling; mainly I’m worried about my sister who is exhibiting signs of ED, and hoping I can be a helpful voice for my friends, most of whom are both taller and fatter than me. (Is it okay for me to use the word fat in this way? I would like to be able to use it without it being a negative judgment on people and/or their appearance, but I totally understand if it isn’t okay for me to try to do that, because as a thin person I probably don’t and will never quite get it.) So I plan to lurk around here for the forseeable future, and would like to join in the conversation if I wouldn’t be offending anyone or making anyone uncomfortable by doing so.

  154. Tons of thin people here. More than welcome. (I have to confess I can’t wait until we have a FAQ so people don’t feel like they have to make lots of disclaimers.)

    Have you looked at Big Fat Deal? Mo considers her blog to be kind of a “gateway drug” to fat acceptance, and your sister might be more receptive to it than she would be to this one. (Just thinking out loud, anyone with a better idea do please jump in!)

  155. Slythwolf, I am so sorry to hear about your sister…common as the situation is, it never fails to break my heart. You are doing a wonderful thing trying to help her, and I wish you a lot of luck. If she’s showing signs of an eating disorder, I would imagine that she is probably going to need professional help, and I only hope that she’ll be willing to consider it. No one should have to suffer through that; you both will be in my thoughts.

    And you are more than welcome here. You are right when you say that societal pressure to fit a beauty ideal hurts everyone, and hatred certainly does, whether you are part of the hated group or not, so the more people who want to see that change (and make the world a friendlier, happier, freer, place for everyone), the better!

  156. I should add, by the way, that I actually find the disclaimers pretty charming. I’ll just be glad when people can set their minds at ease in advance and not have to worry that they’re intruding.

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  159. This article basically sums up my life for the
    first 25 years of my life. Dieting, apologizing
    to others for my size, being told by well-meaning
    friends and family that if I lost weight, I could
    be more like them and less like me and then
    sweep the real issue under the carpet:
    our societies disdain for fat people. I’ve
    learned from experience that if someone doesn’t
    like you because you are not the “right” size or
    if you are okay being fat, then they probably
    wouldn’t like you anyway. It scares me, though
    to think what’s going on to happen if the fat
    hysteria in this country continues to build
    momentum.

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