Imaginary bodies

One of the criticisms we frequently get from incredulous dieters runs like this: “You can’t possibly expect me to believe that fat acceptance activists never wish they were thinner.”  The idea being, I guess, that fat acceptance means thinking that fat is better than thin, and that it therefore all collapses into hypocrisy if we spend so much as a minute wishing for a tinier waist.  The tone is usually challenging: go on, you liar, tell me to my face that you don’t wish you were skinny sometimes!

Kittens, of COURSE I wish I were skinny sometimes.  Have you seen Vintageous?  I would be so broke if I had a 25-inch waist, not to mention I’d have gone through about 85 wedding dress options by now.  It would be sartorially super to be skinny!  When I went to New York, I could swan around Madison Avenue trying things on for fun.  And it would be such a relief not to have to deal with fatphobia or think about the messages people are getting when I do outrageous stuff like eat, buy clothes, or exercise.   

Sometimes I even page through the Victoria’s Secret catalog fantasizing about the barely legal bikinis I’d buy if I looked like one of their models.  And you know, for that it would really help to be 18, so sometimes I fantasize about being 18.  I sure didn’t appreciate that one when I had it!  And then I get tired of imagining being objectified, so sometimes I fantasize about being male.  Wouldn’t that be amazing to try for a while?  What a load off, getting to relax into male privilege and stop worrying about misogyny for a while… I mean sure, I’d be one of those good guys who really gets it, but I’d still have the privilege to stop thinking about it when I couldn’t deal.  And it would be crazy to have a penis!  And to grow a beard!  I hate them on other people, but it would be wild to have a body that could grow that much hair out of its face. 

Also, did you ever go to the zoo on a hot day, and you couldn’t imagine anything better than being a sea lion?  They’re ridiculous on land, and their brains are the size of an optimal diet meal, but it’s their job to swim around in the cool water in July, all pooping in public.  They also have a level of muscular solidity I could never achieve — they’re basically one big bicep.  And no legs!  Imagine having no legs!

The point here is that there is nothing wrong with picturing what life might be like in a different body.  Accepting the body you have doesn’t mean shutting off your ability to daydream about what it would be like to have a different one, or even to genuinely wish that you could try it out.  We are pretty big-brained monkeys, and at least half that space is used for storing neuroses; the only way we could avoid sporadic dissatisfaction is if we stopped having a word for it.  It’s normal to wish you could have what the other guy has, at least for half an hour so you can see if it’s really so great.

What acceptance does mean, though, is that you realize that wishing for something doesn’t make it possible.  No matter how many hours I spend in contemplation of how great life would be as a thin teenage male sea lion, the necessary procedures to achieve even one of these objectives range from “dangerous and costly” right up through “good luck, bub.”  And even more importantly, acceptance means you realize that wishing for something doesn’t make it an imperative.  Nor does it make it an objective good.  I can think wistfully about how great it would be to be able to see more than three inches in front of my face without optical assistance, and that doesn’t mean I’m honor-bound to get LASIK.  And I can say “boy, I’d buy so many clothes if I were a size 4″ and still be an FA activist, because I can plot my theoretical size 4 wardrobe without thinking that I have to make it a reality.

I recognize that in some ways it’s great to be thin in our society.  I’d be an idiot not to, what with all the time I spend reading and talking about thin privilege.  Few women in Western culture escape their upbringings without body issues, but if you’re on the thin side, it’s easier.  It just is.  But I also recognize that I am not thin, just as I’m not many things that it’s great to be – organized, for instance, or good at math, or impressively mustachioed.  Hell, I’d rather be good at math than thin, because I think that’s objectively valuable, whereas what thinness has over fatness is social acceptability and social (and sartorial) ease.  Better to compare it to things that I’m not that it’s socially easy to be – male, a WASP, an heiress.  These things are valued in our culture.  I am not these things.  I’m other valuable things.  It’s not that hard to come to terms with.

Maybe it’s a bitter truth of life, but just because something is accepted or admired or easy, that doesn’t mean you can or must be it.  Even if you’re the one accepting and admiring it.  The fact that I sometimes wish I were musically gifted doesn’t mean I’m a failure for being good with words instead.  The fact that we deal with truly exhausting levels of misogyny every day doesn’t make it objectively better to be male.  And the fact that I can look at a modelesque nymphet and say “god, can you imagine what it would be like to have gone through life with cheekbones like that?” doesn’t mean that Ms. Cheekbones is better than me, or that I am remiss if I don’t try to look just like her.

We’re not the Thought Police; even if we did say “don’t ever fantasize about being skinny,” you’d do it anyway, because a healthy human mind indulges in flights of fancy.  That’s why instead we say “don’t let that fantasy take over your life.”  Don’t imagine that being thin is the magic key that will unlock your other talents — they’re already here.  Don’t convince yourself that weight loss is the prerequisite for being your best self.  When you imagine being thin, you’re imagining borrowing someone else’s body, which is lots of fun but has nothing to do with who you really are.  So daydream, but once you come back to earth, try picturing this: being strong; being nourished; being present and anchored; being aware of the abilities you have, serene about the ones you don’t, and energized to learn new ones.  That’s a fantasy that will get you somewhere.

120 thoughts on “Imaginary bodies

  1. Few women in Western culture escape their upbringings without body issues

    For. real.
    This really jumped out at me because it’s something that I’ve said to so many friggin people who will never understand how someone as “tiny” as me (5’2, visually athletic?/medium shaped?… i’m bad at this game) could possibly hate their body at times… blah blah blah….

    well – that’s how. because NO ONE ESCAPES *aiieeeee!*

    anyway, that’s part of why i like this blog, because though i have grown out of my adolescent fat, i still identify with a lot of the feelings and concerns that people express here. and i love that you are all wicked smart-asses.

  2. holy christ. bravo.

    that’s all. just: you’re great. and you have no idea how many times i laughed out loud while reading this.

    *ding* i’m putting you on my blog’s list of required reading.

  3. Last night I wrote a post on my blog about how I’m still frustrated with the idea of being any bigger than I am at this current moment, but not I’m almost getting frustrated with my frustration. I don’t want to think that there’s going to be some point I’m going to reach where suddenly I am overcome with self-loathing again.

    This post serves as a great reminder that life’s blessings don’t fade away once you hit a certain number on the scale.

  4. A big part of growing up is realizing that there are many things that each one of us will never be: in my case it includes things like a ballerina, an astronaut, a gold medalist in the Olympics, an accomplished musician. It doesn’t mean I’m somehow unworthy – it means I have limited time and a certain innate skill set, and I just can’t do all of everything.

    It sure is fun imagining what it would have been like had I been able to though!

  5. Put this in the FAQ please.

    For real, everytime I’m cruising the Neiman Marcus or Saks website (PURE FANTASY peeps) and I think “wow, wouldn’t it be awesome if I could wear that Dolce dress?” And then I realize that being a size 4 probably wouldn’t also give me the 6 figure salary needed to dress my fantasy self, so I’d just be more tortured at being able to fit into the amazing clothes but not being able to buy them.

    Somehow… that’s comforting?

  6. Great post.

    A saying from 12-step programs: “If I don’t accept it, it is. If I accept it, it is. The only difference is my serenity level.”

    When I finally accepted that I would be fat and chances are nothing will change that, I found a whole new measure of serenity. Doesn’t mean I can’t pretend now and again, though.

  7. I find that I have many days where I don’t really mind being me, I just wish I could do something about the pain my size causes. Not the emotional stuff, but the pain in my lower back, hips, knees and feet.

    As for clothes? I still have a pair of 30×31 501 Levis that I actually use to wear, will I ever be able to fit into them? Not in this lifetime, but I get them out every now and again…to dream of what was, but also to remind myself what a boring little person I was then. It’s much being…shall we say…’well rounded?’ lol

  8. Hey daisy, I recommend yoga, stretching, and exercise (energizing exercise, not exhausting exercise). And if you’re still in pain, get the opinion of a reliable medical professional, because there might be another cause. I guarantee you there are readers here who are your size or bigger and not in pain — not to mention readers who are much smaller but have chronic pain because of medical conditions.

  9. Really. I wish I was thin sometimes…and 18…I didn’t take advantage of being thin and 18 when I WAS thin and 18…to go back and be able to try on all the cute summer clothes without worrying of my boobs will fall out…my boobs weren’t as gimungous then either…that is a whole other wish!

    I also wish I was tall sometimes. It gets tiresome to not be able to reach things at the grocery that are on the top friggin shelf that I need…

    I also sometimes wish I had small feet. Seems like the cute shoes are only in smaller sizes sometimes…

  10. ARGH! I often do this, no matter how far along I am in my self-acceptance. I always feel my body is an “odd” shape – broad shoulders but small breasts, big tummy but small hips and ass. I keep thinking stuff like, “If I didn’t have this huge tummy, I could wear THIS top, and THESE pants, and maybe even a BELT!” I am totally into fashion, and I just got a 2nd job, in a plus-size clothing store, and I KNOW that style is about dressing the body you have, not ignoring the body you have until you can magically achieve the body you think you WANT. And it’s not like I even WANT that “other” body, necessarily. I try not to blame myself – I KNOW the problem is the clothing manufacturers, and the expectation that our bodies should be re-shaped to fit the clothes, rather than the clothes being shaped to fit our bodies….and that goes for a LOT of women, not just big women. But it’s still hard – I still think about it sometimes.

  11. Ohhh, Sandy, ditto on the shoes. My feet are size 10WW, and flat, with a high instep. (Thanks for marrying Dad, Mom.) There is only ONE place in my town (pop. 100,000) I can find shoes that fit me, and the last time I was there, there was only 1 pair in store that fit. Online shopping in Canada, frankly, sucks, and U.S. online outlets either won’t ship here, or charge horribly enormous shipping and duty. I have to travel 4 hours to the big city to shoe shop, and there aren’t many places there, either. I CURSE my feet sometimes!

  12. (Pardon the triple post, but I should say that, in that store, there was only 1 pair of shoes that fit that I would actually WEAR. *ahem*)

  13. No matter how many hours I spend in contemplation of how great life would be as a thin teenage male sea lion…all pooping in public

    My life is now complete! :D Okay, maybe not quite but this post really made me grin.

    There are LOTS of things I wish I could be. Some I have tried (like Real Estate Agent).

    Some I have not (like becoming a Vet…was 5 or 6 when I realized that some people kept SNAKES as pets and there went THAT particular career fantasy).

    Some are just plain not possible! (Until I was 8 I kept wishing for a twin sister….um. Yeah. Still hasn’t happened ;))

    The point being that WISHING or DAYDREAMING about being someone or something else for a while doesn’t mean that you hate what or who you ARE! And this post really spells that out. I love it.

  14. Exactly… we all think about this stuff. It’d be naive to be like “oh, fat acceptance means that you never ever wish you looked different ever again.” The question is just whether you go “oh man, if only I had size 7 feet, I would buy all the footwear Marc Jacobs ever made” or if you instead say “I think I’ll pay lots of money to live in privation in an ultimately futile attempt to make my feet smaller so I can be a good person, because my big feet of course make goodness impossible.”

  15. Oh sweet Jesus the vintage eyewear on that site…

    Oh shit, OTM, I didn’t even see that! Augh! Look at these! They’d be perfect for my Piggy Moo stage outfit!

  16. I’ve said “Sometimes I fantasize about being able to fly too.”

    Daisy – I had pain for years that was just “oh quit whining”, “getting old” or “being overweight.” Turns out a -competent- doctor was able to find reasons that we were able to do something about, and now I live with a lot less pain and a lot more energy. If you’re living with daily pain and don’t have a clear reason, please consider getting it checked out.

  17. What I want to know is how many of us change our size in our sexual fantasies?? (TMI?? Am I the only one who still has teenage fantasies of sex with celebrities, hot people, etc. while I look really good??)

    Ok, now I am embarrassed for myself.

  18. Heidi, I’m actually not in mine, so I can’t answer that… but it seems pretty normal, given the messages we get that fat can’t be sexy. Worth experimenting with what happens when you deliberately fantasize about sex with celebrities while looking like you look now, though, maybe? At any rate it’s not nearly as weird as not appearing in them at all. :)

    Also I just wanted to say that this:

    I, too, fantasize about being able to grow a beard. Which, as a 37 year old man, is kind of embarrassing.

    made me LOL.

  19. Heidi – nope, you’re not the only one! I often do that. In fact, I did it in a lucid dream recently, too!

    I also often do this thing around ACTUAL sex, not just fantasies, where I imagine all the things I would be willing to try if only my body were a different shape, because of my self-consciousness of, oh, say, having my saggy old tits hanging down when I’m on top. Or there’s the issue of my upper arms. God, sometimes I HATE my upper arms – sometimes I think of them as big beige Cheetos. It takes a partner who loves you as you are – and TELLS you – to get you (me) over it, but if you’re (I’m) only working with more casual partners, it’s harder to build that intimacy and trust.

  20. Jae- I hear you. I have gained a little weight in the past 6 months…maybe 15 pounds or so. And it’s fine right now….but I wonder sometimes if I am going to revert into my old habits if I gain significantly more weight…

    AprilD- I so wanted a twin sister, too! I am the only girl of 4 children, and I would fantasize about having a twin.

  21. Dorianne- it’s hard when you are in a serious relationship, too. There is this one thing that my bf really, really wants to do, and I just can’t get over my self-conciousness about it. sigh. hopefully someday…

  22. It takes a partner who loves you as you are – and TELLS you – to get you (me) over it, but if you’re (I’m) only working with more casual partners, it’s harder to build that intimacy and trust.

    And I find it can be a real catch-22, where you have to get over your insecurities to meet someone (casual or otherwise), but it can be very difficult to get over those insecurities about relationships until you’re in one!

  23. Kirstin–I’m sorry to hear you’re dealing with the same thing. Being in a positive place about myself is new to me and so I am often afraid that it is only the perfect combination of circumstances that prevents me from backsliding. Hopefully as time goes on we are both going to realize this feelings comes from inside us, and no one can take it away.

  24. This post really speaks to how, in a super-competative culture like ours, while it may be *easier* to be young, male, white, thin, etc. . . the game has us all beat, becuase, as you know, someone is always younger, thinner etc. And, even being young and thin isn’t that great for a lot of folks, because by nature we’re more insecure then. It takes a lot of effort to see the range of experiences as things that just are, not as points along a continuum far away from some elusive #1 spot.

  25. Jae- It’s new for me, too! I think the big problem with me is that I used to pretend I was super confident all of the time, and authentic confidence and acceptance seems so much more…slippery?

    Oh, FJ- Just today, a colleague of mine told me she finally went to a dressmaker with a couple of pictures of vintage dresses she loved, and the dressmaker found several vintage patterns for her to choose from. The gown will cost 400 bucks plus the price of fabric (100-150). WAY less than most dresses in stores. THe dressmaker is in South Bend….Not too far from Chicago!

  26. I’m having the same problem with weight gain. I’ve never had a stable weight (anxiety and depression have caused me a lot of weight cycling), and I’ve been steadily gaining since my last significant weight loss. And every time I get close to accepting my body the way it is, I gain another 10 pounds and have to start all over again. And every time it’s harder because the more weight I gain, the further I move from what is considered conventionally attractive. I definately worry I’m going to get to a weight where I just can’t accept it, and then what?

  27. This is an exceptionally great post. Whenever I talk to someone who is largely unfamiliar with body size acceptance, I am inevitably asked, “Honestly, if you could be thinner, would you?”

    And I think, duh, of course I would. Do you think I like being verbally harassed and discriminated against?? Do you think I like going shopping and not seeing cute things in my sizes? Do you think I like being called a fat bitch by random strangers? Do you think I like going to job interviews and wondering if the interviewer won’t give me a chance because he/she hates fat people?

    I was skinny for one brief period in my life, an “accomplishment” that took my my health, most of my sanity and nearly my life. And because of the way I did it, and the subsequent health and mental problems that came with it, I didn’t even enjoy skinnydom. I was too busy planning my own suicide because malnutrition fucked up my brain chemicals.

    But how can you really describe all this in one short answer to someone who obviously is stuck on the skinny bandwagon? Instead, here is the short and pithy answer I always give: “I would rather be fat and healthy than thin and unhealthy.”

  28. “I would rather be fat and healthy than thin and unhealthy.”

    That’s close to my formulation too, Rachel – I would rather be fat and happy than thin and miserable. Although in my case, accepting that was what really allowed me to *get* FA, instead of reading about it and thinking “Sure, it’s great for other people, but . . .”

  29. “I would rather be fat and healthy than thin and unhealthy.”

    Well, and importantly I’d rather be fat and ME than thin and NOT ME. Part of what “acceptance” means to me is that I’ve actually gotten really attached to the body I have, and while imagining having the body of a Delia’s model is an interesting exercise, it’s like imagining having a unicorn. There are lots of other ways that it would be really fun to be, They just aren’t ways I am.

  30. Delia’s!!! Maybe they will have jeans for me…I totally forgot about them, but they were the only place selling juniors plus when, well, when I was a junior!

  31. “I think I’ll pay lots of money to live in privation in an ultimately futile attempt to make my feet smaller so I can be a good person, because my big feet of course make goodness impossible.”

    As someone with gigantic feet, I do think big feet correlate with evil. At least, that’s been my experience.

    Also, whenever I fantasize about being thin, I also imagine that I’ve found the key to world peace, so I have Jeeves gas up the biofuel jet so I can swan off to Rome for lunch with a resurrected Da Vinci to celebrate. ‘Cause why halfass the fantasy, you know?

    Hi-larious post, FJ (as usual)!

  32. It’s new for me, too! I think the big problem with me is that I used to pretend I was super confident all of the time, and authentic confidence and acceptance seems so much more…slippery?

    That’s a really good way to phrase it actually! It’s like the difference between trying and failing and failing because you’ve never tried. Even though they really do hurt equally (in fact, the latter probably hurts worse), the first is so much more frightening.

  33. It’s true in a way for me, FJ. There are times, and this weekend was one of them, when the notion of being able to walk into a store and know that anything your eye lights upon will actually be available in your size sounds darned attractive. Were it so, I would a) be broke, and b) have closets full of burlesque-style underwear right now. But it’s not about actually being thin for me – just about having the choices that a thinner person would have as a matter of course.

    I would say I’d quite like to be 18 again, but that’s not really true either. What I’d like is to be me, now, at 39, with the experience and importantly, the confidence I didn’t have when I was 18, but with the opportunities I did have but was too naive and scared to take. I don’t think the words ‘too late’ apply to nearly as many things as people think they do, but we have a culture that makes it easier and more acceptable to explore your options when you’re young.

  34. kristin, try Alloy! Their junior plus selection is pretty good, better than Delia’s.

    And Tari, I definitely fantasize about having Jeeves on call. (Not to mention Bertie, if played by Hugh Laurie.)

  35. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to wake up and be David Bowie. It’s pretty cool, I imagine.

    But, from interviews I have read, it’s STILL fraught with body issues!

    Rock the fuck on, Fillyjonk.

    Meanwhile, I AM NOT LOOKING AT THE VINTAGE EYEWEAR!!!

  36. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to wake up and be David Bowie. It’s pretty cool, I imagine.

    But, from interviews I have read, it’s STILL fraught with body issues!

    You’d be able to use your nipples for antennae.

    That might cause some body issues though. I bet Bowie is all “god, soemtimes I just wish my nipples weren’t antennae.”

  37. know that anything your eye lights upon will actually be available in your size sounds darned attractive.

    That doesn’t even happen when you wear a ‘straight’ size (like, say, 8 or 10). *sigh*

    I fantasize about having a personal tailor/seamstress/dressmaker. (And, of course, the money to pay for it.) THAT would be AWESOME.

    Of course, I also fantasize about being 5’7, having perfect vision, and interesting-colored hair. Like practically everyone else, I’ve decided these things aren’t worth it in most cases. (The jury’s still out about the hair.)

  38. @ Kristin: THe dressmaker is in South Bend….Not too far from Chicago!

    Wha…?! I live in South Bend!! Kristin, would you be willing to share the dressmaker’s info? (Also, if anyone does make the trip to SFB, as I like to call my “city” of residence, let me know — I’d love to have a shapeling meetup at Fiddler’s Hearth!)

  39. What really helps me is to reframe the question: the answer to “Don’t you want to be [skinny/pretty/clear-skinned/etc]?” is not that I’d rather be thinner but that I’d rather live in a less oppressive society.

    Regarding sexual self-consciousness: the great Margaret Cho has a bit about reading tips in a women’s magazine about how to keep your tits from sagging during sex. Her reaction: “If you care about whether my tits are sagging while you’re fucking me, YOU SHOULDN’T BE FUCKING ME!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  40. the answer to “Don’t you want to be [skinny/pretty/clear-skinned/etc]?” is not that I’d rather be thinner but that I’d rather live in a less oppressive society.

    TOTALLY. And I also meant to say TOTALLY to Emerald saying “it’s not about actually being thin for me – just about having the choices that a thinner person would have as a matter of course.” Which is a fantasy about clothes, not about bodies.

    And this is a useful clarification: if someone said “would you RATHER be thinner,” I’d say “no, I’d rather live in a less oppressive society.” (I am accustomed to my body, no matter what people think of it.) But if they say “don’t you ever WISH you were thinner,” sure, I wish a lot of things. (Chiefly, though I didn’t mention this in the post, I wish that I could change my hair color at will WITHOUT dye. Like there’s some kind of magic hat that you put on, turn to blue, and ZAP all your hair is bright blue until the next time you put the hat on. Awesome.)

  41. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a supermodel/ undercover FBI agent when I grew up. Obviously I’m not one, but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure, especially because that particular combination probably doesn’t actually exist! It was still all kinds of fun to imagine, though. It’s the same with thinking about having an ‘ideal’ body…it isn’t any more likely than being in a real-life Miss Congeniality 3: Runway Espionage, but as long as I acknowledge that, it can be entertaining to consider. On the other hand, I think I’ll try putting myself in my fantasies as I am. Could be interesting!

    Also, Do Want.
    (On a more practical level, I’m probably going to order these, as they are hella cheap.)

  42. kristin, I’m the one SP blogger who’s NOT in Chicago, but I certainly sent a million Vintageous pics to the friend who’s making my wedding dress.

    And llamas, I dunno about that

    (Well, to be fair I guess a bounty hunter != an FBI agent.)

  43. A Sarah- I will ask my friend on Monday the name of the dressmaker. I know that she is actually housed in a traditional bridal store, but that’s about it.

    FJ- Have you found patterns? I don’t know much about it, but I guess a dressmaker can take the vintage pattern, even if it’s not in your size, and make a new pattern for your proportions…

  44. I love to dream about having enough money to buy all the cute clothes I see, not that I would be able to wear them all or even put them all in my closet. I have rather large boobs and I often dream that I was flat chested, but that doesn’t mean I intend to have breast reduction; besides, my honey would kill me if I did. I analyzed it often and I developed early and was teased horribly about it. I must have internalized the idea that life would be easier if I didn’t have as much. I’m feel so embarrassed just writing this.

  45. You know, kristin, we didn’t even think about using vintage patterns! We got two different patterns, one for the top and one for the bottom, that were similar to the shapes I liked. For a 50s-style party dress, it’s actually not hard to find modern patterns that approximate it… those shapes are still around, you just have to be willing to tweak them.

  46. IMPRESSIVELY MUSTACHIOED.

    That’s my fantasy band name, right there.

    Don’t have time to read the comments, but I just laughed out loud at the heiress part: because I wish I were thinner — but I also wish I were richer, and no one would equate me wishing for $120K with plotting my partner’s untimely death for his company’s life insurance dispersal.
    And of course, if I killed my husband he’d stay dead and I could hoard the money – whereas if I diet to thin my body does grow back.

    Interestingly, since I love my partner, I wouldn’t want to kill him. Why would I then wish to kill my sanity and self for a different fantasy?

  47. I definitely wished I were thinner on Monday, when I ended up going to every damn store in this (small) city, looking for a suit that would actually fit me. (I had an unexpected call back interview and had already worn the one suit I owned to my first interview.) (As an aside, the BonTon is currently on my shit list. Tons of lovely suits in straight sizes. In plus sizes, ONE suit, and it was the ugliest suit I have ever seen. If I ever meet Alfred Dunner, I’m going to tell him to stop designing clothes.) Clearly, fat women don’t need suits; after all, no need to dress up to sit on the couch, watch soap operas, and eat baby donuts.

    But then I thought about, and I came to the same conclusion that Emerald did. I wasn’t unhappy because I’m fat, I was unhappy because these stores expected me to be content with one millionth of the choices that thinner women have, and that is bullshit. It’s society that’s the problem, not my body, and honestly, I have this blog to thank for that realization. So thanks, kate, fj, and sm!

  48. “how great life would be as a thin teenage male sea lion” = Tea. Right out my nose.

    This post so hit home with me.

    I wish I were tall. But I’m not and I’m never gonna be.

    I wish I had the money to buy everything in the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. But I’m not.

  49. Hi fillyjonk, hope you see this, thanks for the thought. The lower back is from a curve in the spine, we didn’t find out about it til I hit a certain weight. The feet are from heel spurs and tendonitis, still not sure about the hips and knees. Part of it is I’m a new stepmom to two toddlers (ages 2 & 3), at 45? Sleeping is a wishful dream most nights.

    I’d love to get to the dr…but cash is so tight we can’t even get the cat to the vet for his shots.

    Life will get better!!! That’s the nice thing about hitting rock bottom…you have no where to go but up! *insert evil laugh*

  50. I often wish I were thin. If only for the cloths..or non cloths. I would still dress exactly the same. But I would enjoy being able to shop at places like victoria’s secret. Along with this I also wish I could get things from there for free.

    And that people would allow me to play in a pile of diamonds. I don’t particularly like diamonds because they’re way way over valued (something like more than half the world’s precious gems are diamonds which makes almost everything else more rare but diamonds are still more expensive) But to be in a GIANT pile of sparkles! Maybe some heat lamps, for extra sparkle and napping strength warmth.

    I have treasure hoarding issues…

  51. Ah, the dreams I’ve had over the years…the fantasies I’ve fancied. As a child – and even sometimes to this day – I dreamt of living in the Addams Family Mansion. Of course I’ve always dreamed of the one from the television series I grew up watching. I wanted to go out every morning with Gomez and sharpen the fence.

    I’ve dreamt of writing a best-selling novel about some obscure bit of Victoriana, swatting public figures with a solid brolly (I’m usually a terribly Wodehousian Brit in this particular fantasy), spending a week as a cat, and hanging out with John Lennon for a few hours. I’ve daydreamed about having my favorite Project Runway designers and Tim Gunn come over for a good gossip over my pies and scones, which they would find every bit as tasty as the gossip because I am that damn good in the kitchen. Last night I dreamt of having the cash to hire Chris March to come make his entire collection to fit me because it was just that freaking amazing because I loved his Goth Flapper/Edward Gorey on acid sensibility.

    I’ve dreamt of spending a year in London looking for a reason not to come back to California. I’ve dreamt of having the money to hand Terry Gilliam a huge, freaking wad of cash so he can make his Don Quixote film.

    Dreams nourish the soul. An active fantasy life is a glorious way of adding texture to real life and the only way to truly acheive empathy with others whose lives bear little if any relationship to ours. If I couldn’t dream of being other than I am, how could I truly care about the needs of others?

    It’s not about actually being different for me. It’s about caring that others need, want, and have things I don’t. It’s about knowing that they lack things I take for granted. And it’s about knowing that while the grass may look greener in another pasture, I don’t really want to move there. I love my pasture, brown patches and all.

  52. daisy, I actually wrote a post about this a while back… I know it’s really tempting to say “I wish I were thin because my fat is hurting me,” but it’s your scoliosis and your heel spurs that are hurting you. That sucks and I’m really sorry you’re in pain, but I don’t want you to add to it by assuming that your body size is somehow to blame. (Scoliosis certainly knows no size boundaries, even if you only found it at a certain weight.) By the way, I REALLY recommend yoga for spinal curvature… when you get five minutes to yourself, that is.

    Twistie, that was GORGEOUS.

  53. FJ, that’s badass, but alas, it has to be an FBI agent thanks to…Reading Rainbow, maybe? Some kids’ show that had a segment with a female FBI agent on it back in the day.

    If I ever meet Alfred Dunner, I’m going to tell him to stop designing clothes.

    Yes, please.

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  55. daisy, I know this is none of my business and all, but this:

    “I’d love to get to the dr…but cash is so tight we can’t even get the cat to the vet for his shots.”

    really gave me pause. I don’t know if that was what you intended, but it does sort of look like you would take the cat to get shots, and then if there was some money left over, maybe you would go to the doctor about your own pain.

    If it was somebody else saying that, what would you think about their priorities?

  56. I haven’t fantasized about being thin enough to wear all the awesome clothes I find since I left high school. I fantasize about *them* being big enough to fit *me*.

    (and occasionally about being rich, ridiculously hot (In the Marilyn Monroe boobs-and-hips sense, not in the supermodel sense), and/or capable of swapping genders at will…)

  57. Ottermatic, when I was a first grader in about 1972, I was almost forced into a pair of those “pretty in pink” cat eye glasses, except that they were covered with rhinestones. I refused to put them on and give me glasses “just like daddy’s” military issue Buddy Hollys. EVERYBODY tried to convince me, the optometrist even said I’d see better out of them. (bastard) And that was the choice, rhinestone pink cat eyes if you were a girl and buddy hollys if you were a boy. I wanted to be a boy anyway.

    Heather – I sexually fantasize in my teenaged size, now that I think about it. I was about 180-190 at that time, so still fat but pre-twins and adult weght gain. They involve fat guys seducing me and bondage. I look better with not perky but definitely pre-nursing breasts. :) When it comes to the real thing I’m very happy in my body, and so is my partner so we’re both satisfied. But by forty gravity has had its way with your body.

  58. I think I had my first FA moment (without even realizing it) during my freshman year of college when I realized that being thin would not make that huge of a difference in my life.

  59. My father has bad scoliosis and he has always been thin. No one would suggest to him to gain weight so his back might look straighter.

  60. I have been working on body image & fat acceptance for 28 years, & often feel guilty & as if I am a bad fat activist because I do still wish I were thinner. In my case, I can honestly say that I do not wish I were THIN, I have done so for years, really thin women no longer look all that attractive to me, but I do wish that I could have the firm, well-proportioned, very shapely size 14-16 plus size model-type body which I had just a few years ago, by dint of increasing my exercise to at least 4 hours daily. However, I have CP & arthritis, & while I need to be active & want to be as long as I can move, pushing myself that hard is not good for me. Also, I am 58 years old & menopausal now, with all the attendant changes of aging, including slight weight gain & definite redistribution of weight, so that body will never be mine again. I have to accept that & keep working on my body as it is…at the age & size is it, just as it looks, & as it changes with age…because, after all, this culture likes aging no more than it does fat.

  61. The other day my 13 year old daughter had a girlfriend over, who mentioned that she doesn’t like to eat in front of boys because she “eats too much”. She later said she wished she was a boy, because her life would be so much easier. And guess what? She’s skinny!

  62. Oh, yeah, and the age thing! I going to college full time (undergrad), I’m almost 37, and I’m surrounded all day by 20 year olds. I really don’t look my age and I often end up revealing my age to people just so they’ll tell me how young I look! I really want to stop doing that.

    It’s not at all surprising or shameful that we sometimes wish to be other than we are, since this culture has let us know at every opportunity that we are not okay the way we are .

  63. One of the criticisms we frequently get from incredulous dieters runs like this: “You can’t possibly expect me to believe that fat acceptance activists never wish they were thinner.”

    Which is a little like, “You can’t tell me that homeless activists don’t wish they had their own houses.” I mean, please. Yeah, there are a few people who revel in their fat 24/7 and don’t ever regret it, and good for them. But that is not most of us. How could it be, in the world we live in? Talk about your strawfattie.

    And yeah, DGMS on the money I could spend on vintage clothing with a 25-inch waist. You serrit, kiddo!

  64. Awesome post!

    Threadjack: Sea lions DO have legs. That’s how you can tell they aren’t seals (along with their visible ears). And they get FAT in the winter – 800 pounds fat. And then don’t eat in the summer, because all they want is to get busy. It’s disordered eating!

    I would HATE to be a sea lion. Dolphin, however… :-)

  65. It’s not at all surprising or shameful that we sometimes wish to be other than we are, since this culture has let us know at every opportunity that we are not okay the way we are .

    Very well said, Denise.

  66. RedSonja, I know they have more pronounced back flippers than seals, but I had no idea those would be considered legs!

  67. What a wonderful post.
    I fantasise about being smarter and more articulate. Sometimes I am even thin while being those things but always an academic. I would love to blow the fatosphere away with my wit.
    I failed at being fat and smart and somehow that makes me feel like a bad fattie.

  68. Twistie, we will have to thumb wrestle over Chris March’s collection :-). Ok, I’d settle for having that red velvet shawl collared jacket in my size, preferably in the blue he used. That’s my current fantasy. I even have the shoes to go with it!

  69. “really gave me pause. I don’t know if that was what you intended, but it does sort of look like you would take the cat to get shots, and then if there was some money left over, maybe you would go to the doctor about your own pain.”
    Mia, what I’d think is, there’s someone who decided to get a pet and is therefore responsible about putting that helpless creature’s needs before her own. If you can’t afford a cat, don’t have a cat. But if you have a cat, find a way to afford necessary care.

    I do agree w/ others that living with chronic pain is probably unnecessary, though. Do you *know* you have bone spurs, or just suspect? Because for me, the cheap Dr Scholl’s 3/4-length arch supports are a miracle, and they fit in any shoe other than a sandal. I screwed up my arches/heels/plantar fascia (and my ankles, too) not by being fat but by doing Scottish dancing on a terrible floor.

    A few minutes a day of the right core-muscle exercises can help back pain tremendously. The kids can spare you, I promise, especially since you’ll be more fun for them if you feel better.

  70. Thanks, fillyjonk, for this.
    I can be completely aware that I don’t wish to be tall, gentile, blonde, or in a myriad of other ways “not me,” but weighing less is the thing I still daydream about. And that’s okay. I do also daydream about being able to afford all of the clothes that I want (and pay for them to be altered so the friggin’ sleeves and hems aren’t so long).
    More than wanting to be thinner these days, I long for time in the pool or at the gym. I want to be stronger, faster, I dunno, bionic?

  71. Oh, and I meant to say, re. gorgeous vintage clothes with 25″ waists: you do realize why all the gorgeous vintage clothes are so small, right? It’s because they were made/bought for teenagers who rapidly outgrew them, or for adult women who unrealistically hoped to fit into them (or continue fitting into them). So they *weren’t worn much*. Look at old photos and you’ll see plenty of women our size, some of them wearing fabulous clothing, but that stuff isn’t around anymore because it got worn out! That’s my theory, anyway.

  72. i love this post. fillyjonk, will you marry me? in canada, i guess? and even if we’re not really gay (i’m not).

    damn, that was awesome. you rock the fatosphere. i don’t even know how to express that enough here.

  73. Patsy, I totally know what you are talking about! I never fantasize about being thin, I have no interest in being thin, I was thin once and looked horrible. I do, however, fantasize about being a size 18 again. At a size 30 I can accept my body as it is most of the time, but when I was a size 18 I LOVED it. I know I need to learn to love myself the way I am, but it’s hard sometimes.

  74. YAY. THANK YOU.

    This chimes in so nicely with something I was thinking the other day. Virtually all my colleagues are female, my age (early-to-mid twenties) and a lot thinner than me. I have to admit that the green-eyed monster rears its ugly head sometimes when they all come in showing off their long slender legs in outfits that would look lousy on me even if I could find them in my size. There was such a day this week.

    Then I glanced over at the dog (why yes, my office is wicked cool) lying in a patch of sunlight while I was slaving away at my desk. Fucking dog, I thought. Why can’t I curl up on the floor in the sunshine, warm my bones and forget about deadlines?

    It’s no more realistic to want to be half my current weight than it is to want to be a dog. So yeah, sometimes I still dream about being half my current weight. The thing is that these days it doesn’t drive me half mad with shame and frustration.

  75. One of my friends found that after a few years of horizontal water aerobics, followed by about a year of vertical water aerobics, her scoliosis started straightening out– she’s actually taller! It was totally a surprise.

    I realize this requires time and money, but it’s a way of addressing scoliosis that isn’t about losing weight.

  76. I know this wasn’t the point of your post, but I have a beard. It not so gret akshully.

    I sometimes fantasize about buying clothes in a size 16 or an 18. Have you seen the cute stuff left over on the clearance rack in those sizes?! Of course, my fantasy (of being thin) also involves me having enough money to do so, which inevitably leads to fantasies of being a philanthropist billionaire with my own foundation to sponsor public broadcasting.

    Then I go back to attainable goals and fantasize about owning my own 3 bedroom 1 & 1/2 bath house with a washer and dryer and maybe even a dishwasher! Delusions of grandeur are fine for an afternoon, but they don’t get you the things you really need in life.

  77. Thank you – this was beautifully written, and says things that I would like to say, except I don’t have the talent.

  78. Whew, I’m relieved I am not the only one who has fantasies of being a sea lion. Days filled with swimming with occasional breaks to sun my chub on a rock. Wonderful!

    Some unsolicited advice, Daisy. :) I have had plantar fasciitis (and horrendous heel pain) that was helped by stretching and getting boots that I wear at night that keep my foot in a position that doesn’t cause pain. And I know this is not an option while money is tight but I highly recommend acupuncture for managing chronic pain. I have joint pain (lupus) and it has helped dramatically. I hope you find something that helps! I know living with pain is hard–I can’t imagine chasing around toddlers, too!

  79. I sometimes fantasize about buying clothes in a size 16 or an 18. Have you seen the cute stuff left over on the clearance rack in those sizes?!

    I wish! When I try to buy clearance there always seems to only be 12s left. GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER

    fillyjonk, will you marry me? in canada, i guess?

    Hee, my boyfriend actually made up a song mainly consisting of the line “let’s go to Canada, where we’ll get lesbian married.” It’s incredibly catchy. (The second verse goes “let’s go to Sealand, where we’ll have data security.”)

    Criss, I have heard your theory about vintage sizing before and it rings true to me, since certainly there were plenty of vintage people with bigger waists (even in a corset!).

  80. Thanks O.C., I linked to Jane in a post a while back! (And I’m saving up for the poppy skirt, with a little tweak so the back isn’t longer than the front. Jane is GREAT about customization.)

  81. When I was ten, I fantasized about having breasts, like all my classmates were starting to develop.

    …I still fantasize about that.

    (Also: OMG VINTAGEOUS.)

  82. … sigh … in addition to blowing all of my hard-earned money on new denim, i will also be setting fire to my earnings via the purchase of 20 pairs of cute glasses. you people are killing me.

    but i do need new glasses. i’ve had the same pair for four years (OMG!) and have been sick of them for a while so i never wear them, even when my contacts are sucking my eyeballs dry at 11 at night.

    once i finish up this current stupid work project (deadline monday! no fun for me this weekend! and i shouldn’t be on shapely prose right now!) i will be doing some damage on vintageous.

  83. Reading this post, I realized something: a while ago, my fantasies switched from “when I lose weight” to “when I have tenure.” XD That includes things like buying custom-made knee-high boots and getting full sleeve tattoos. Because once I have tenure at a school I doubt they will get rid of me for looking SUPER FUNKY.

    Excellent post, fillyjonk. Rock on.

  84. Gingembre, I fantasize about being my cats all the time. Lie around all day, chase some string, get some cuddles? Sign me up!

    The other thing about tiny waists on vintage clothing, of course, is that women wore about 20x more “foundation garments” than we do. Hello girdles!

  85. Oh, yeah, absolutely they wore more foundation garments. That’s what made the dresses hang so flawlessly. Of course, these days we’ve switched to internal foundation garments (that is, models who starve and exercise until there isn’t a thing for a corset to hold in) and Photoshop for fashion photography, and more forgiving garments for actual wearing, the latter of which is certainly refreshing if unglamorous. But yeah, my 113-lb mother used to wear a girdle. Then, of course, she said F all that and stopped wearing not only girdles but also bras…but that’s another story…and let me just say, OUCH! I cannot imagine how a woman who’s had three kids can ride a horse with no bra. Also, did I mention, *OUCH*?

  86. That vintage site will absolutely be the death of me. So ‘thanks’.
    Luckily, someone with my exact measurements seems to have gotten there first, so the damage was limited, THIS time.

  87. “We are pretty big-brained monkeys, and at least half that space is used for storing neuroses; the only way we could avoid sporadic dissatisfaction is if we stopped having a word for it. ”

    Wow. That line made me stop and think…it seems like half my brain is full of worries about what other people think of me, and it’s such a waste of brainspace! Great post :)

  88. No matter how many hours I spend in contemplation of how great life would be as a thin teenage male sea lion, the necessary procedures to achieve even one of these objectives range from “dangerous and costly” right up through “good luck, bub.”

    I laughed so hard when I read this that I actually had to leave my desk. What’s perfectly brilliant about the humor is that it illustrates your points impeccably.

    Bravo, as usual!

  89. Actually, if we’re talking marine mammal fantasies, I’d be a sea otter. I’m definitely jealous of the way they nonchalantly fall asleep floating on their backs. I can float on my back, but I’m too uptight about water going in my ears to relax that way.

  90. hmm where to begin in responding?

    Yes…I do have heel spurs….diagnosed about 10 yrs ago, even have some cool x-rays of them. I do use inserts in my shoes…..when I can wear the shoes. (more on that in a minute)

    I’ve been to doctors…all they do is give me pain meds…which make me sick…so I stick with motrin &/or arnica.

    My husband and I are staying with his parents for awhile until he’s done with school. Hence that lack of $$$ and my MIL doesn’t allow shoes to be worn in the house…which is why my insets don’t really help. But we won’t be here forever!! I know lots of people are full of wonderful advice…thank you…I’ve heard it all.

  91. The fat acceptance activistis imagining what it’s like to be skinny and feminists imagining they’re male have got nothing on so-called secular humanists who spend their weekends pretending to be elves or vampires or Klingons.

    Hypocrites!

  92. So Alexandraerin, should gamers be alerted to potential legions of new gamers if they would just design some RPGs around bring skinny teenage male sea lions, then? I’m confused… :)

    Daisy, don’t let your MIL force you to be in pain! Go get some shoes you will only ever wear in the house! She can’t object to you wearing brand-new, never-worn-outside shoes in her house, can she? I bet even a cheap pair from Payless that would accomodate your insoles would help a lot.

  93. Fillyjonk,

    The reason they call them “legs” on a sea lion is because of how their hips attach – sea lions can turn their flippers under them and galumph along like an incredibly awkward dog. Seals’ flippers aren’t jointed like that, so they kinda hunch along like an inchworm.

    Even more OT – there’s a beer called Red Seal that has a picture of a sea lion on it. Makes me crazy…

  94. Probably not the right place to put this, but I just read this on a blog, and since she had such a good comeback to some idiot who felt it appropriate to comment on her weight, I just wanted to share:

    http://diannesylvan.typepad.com/dancing_down_the_moon/2008/02/for-racu-an-ane.html

    I know we have talked on this group a number of times about people who feel it is right to comment negatively on strangers. Still, I guess I couldn’t believe the gall of this woman and loved the way this woman handled it. Hope you don’t mind me sharing. I’ve never read this woman’s blog before but someone else linked me to it.

  95. I was thinking about this post again after work today. Sometime during my workday today (as it does once or so a week) I have this thought: “I should go to medical school and become a doctor.”
    This is about the same as the thought: “It would be really great if I weighed about 70 pounds less than I do.”
    While it might be within the realm of the possible for me to go to medical school, what that would require is not something I’m interested in pursuing because it would be at the expense of what I have in my life now. I have no desire to put my 3-year-old way down on the priority list, or to have much less income (I’m just exactly right at the median income for the state that I live in), or give up my current career, or give up sleep, or exercise or the balance in my life that I work hard to maintain each day.
    Weighing 70 pounds less would likely require similar “sacrifices.” (And being a doctor might be more realistic than maintaining a 70 pound weight loss).
    And no one, as far as I know, thinks I’m an unhealthy or less-than-whole person because I don’t give up everything I now have to go to medical school (and really contort my personality because I’m so not a “type A”). But plenty of people might look at me and deem me unhealthy or somehow “unfulfilled” just because of my weight.

  96. A Sarah – just in case you ever come back here for that dressmaker in South Bend, my friend FINALLY emailed me her info: She is Debbie at Bernardo’s for the Bride, which is next to the farmer’s market. She is the only dressmaker there (my friend couldn’t remember her last name), and she can make basically anything from what I am told….Sorry it took so long, and I hope you get this!

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  100. I know it’s old, but I LOVE THIS POST. And I will totally be linking it if (when) I get round to posting about how I think, sometimes, it might be nice to be a guy.
    x

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