How it Works

So, the other day I was talking to a reporter who asked–in the role of devil’s advocate–whether it’s appropriate for me to be a fat acceptance activist, when I’m only a size or two bigger than the average American woman. Can I really speak for someone 100 or 200 lbs. heavier than me, or more?

The answer–as I’ve said here before–is yes and no. Can I speak to the experience of living in a much larger body? No. Am I fat enough to have faced discrimination and hatred, and to be motivated to fight against those things on behalf of all fat people? Hell, yes.

Exhibit A. I’m walking home from Pilates this afternoon, and I stop for a red light. Light turns green, I start walking across the intersection, and some asshole barrels around the corner, clearly not seeing me. I stop walking and he hits his brakes–with a resounding skreeee–at approximately the same time. We exchange dirty looks, and I take another step–just as asshole hits the gas again, intending to blow past me.

Me: WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? IT’S A CROSSWALK!

Asshole: WELL THEN WHY DON’T YOU FUCKING WALK, YOU FUCKING WHALE?

Woman sitting at outdoor cafe across the street: WHAT THE–?

No kidding, lady.

Let’s review. This asshole didn’t look where he was going and nearly hit a pedestrian. Therefore, I deserve to be shamed for the size of my body.

Of course. That’s how it works.

Assholes like that do not look at me and think, “Hmm, she looks only slightly bigger than the average woman.” They do not yell, “YOU FUCKING MILD TO MODERATE CHUB!” They think, “fat chick.” And they yell, “YOU FUCKING WHALE!”

And if I have this particular asshole pegged right–which I’m pretty sure I do, however brief our encounter–he is the kind of guy who would also look at someone smaller than the average American woman and think the same thing. It doesn’t matter how often you trot out that statistic, or how many idiot columnists claim that since a majority of the population is categorized as overweight, fat has clearly become “socially acceptable.” In many people’s minds, a woman who is not thin is fat, period, and that is not okay.

Furthermore, the average American woman, for all her averageness, is well into “fat” territory. She teeters on the brink of plus sizes, probably has some flesh that isn’t rock solid, will find herself standing next to much thinner women almost everywhere she goes, and will almost never see a woman her size on television or in a magazine who isn’t A) depicted as lonely, clueless, and a compulsive overeater for “comedic” value, or B) there to talk about the beginning of her weight loss journey. It really doesn’t take any more than that to make a woman think her body is abnormally large–and we all know that the larger your body is, the more shameful it is. So, while the average American woman (or the woman a little smaller or a little bigger) doesn’t face anywhere near the volume of discrimination and hatred that much bigger people do, she probably thinks she’s fat and hates herself for it–and plenty of strangers definitely think she’s fat and hate her for it.

Meanwhile, people both fatter and thinner than she is will repeatedly tell her she’s not fat, in an effort to be “polite,” and/or get her to quit whining. But they’re not there when her boyfriend pinches her belly and says she should do some sit-ups. They’re not there when she orders a whole milk latte, and the barista looks at her like she asked for two shots of dead baby in it. They’re not there when her mother berates her thirty-year-old ass for ordering dessert, and goes on to insinuate that that’s why she’s single. They’re not there when her thinner co-workers make self-deprecating remarks about the size of their thighs, assuming she’ll relate, ’cause… well, obviously. They’re not there when a brand spankin’ newbie at the gym she’s been going to for two years comes up to her and says, “Good job! Keep it up!” They’re not there when her doctor tries to put her on Weight Watchers when she’s come in barfing up blood. They’re not there when she watches TV and sees only much thinner women presented as attractive. They’re not there when she looks at a “plus-size” model and realizes that woman, too, is smaller than her–and has long, relatively thin legs and a practically “perfect” hourglass figure, to boot. And they’re not there when some asshole yells, “You fucking whale!”–or “Fat bitch!” “Fat cunt!” “Lardass!” “Fatass!” “Cow!”–at her from a passing car.

‘Cause guess what–that happened when I was the size of the average American woman, too.

Now, some of you are probably striking up the world’s smallest violin right now, so let me make it clear that I am not whining that in-betweenies have it just as bad as fatter fatties here. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not even close. But this “the average American woman wears a size 14!” shit is utterly meaningless in terms of defining what’s “fat” and what’s “normal” in this culture. Might I remind you that according to doctors, this woman is normal, this woman is overweight, and this woman is obese. Yes, the whole point of the BMI project is to illustrate how fucked those categories are, but it’s one of the metrics for determining fatness that haunts the average American woman–along with images in the media, clothing sizes, and the judgments of both family and strangers. So the next time some barely chubby friend or partner or sister or daughter of yours complains about feeling fat, and your kneejerk response is to tell her she’s not, as if she’s being utterly ridiculous? Take a moment to consider that maybe she’s not. Maybe, just maybe, she’s heard from about 1,000 other sources that she is, in fact, fatty fat fat fat, no matter what you happen to think. Maybe just this afternoon some dickhead called her a fucking whale because she had the temerity to cross the street in front of his car, and she felt too ashamed to tell you about it.

You’re right, of course, to want to get the message across to this woman that there is nothing wrong with her body. She could probably stand to hear that. But telling her she’s not fat is not the same thing. It denies her the anguish she feels about having a body that deviates from the ideal, however slightly–and believe me, deviating even slightly is plenty to cause legitimate anguish–and worse yet, it reinforces the message that her being fat by some other standard would mean there was something wrong with her body.

That’s the underlying problem here–not whether the woman is officially “fat,” but that so many of us automatically equate fat with a host of other negative characteristics, with there indeed being something wrong with your body. The hilarious thing is that just before this wankstain yelled at me, my Pilates instructor–a student teacher who’s not used to me yet, let alone to how all sorts of different bodies work–had been falling all over herself telling me how amazingly strong and flexible I am. (Thank you, yoga.) In the space of ten minutes, I went from being praised up and down for what my body can do to being cruelly insulted because it’s not a socially acceptable size. And if that doesn’t drive home the point that the real problem is not anybody’s fucking fat but a culture that insists fat bodies are intrinsically worthless, I don’t know what will.

Another question that reporter asked me was, “Does it still hurt when people say mean things about your body?” I told her honestly that it mostly doesn’t anymore–but that I only got here because it hurt like hell for almost twenty years, until I finally got fucking sick to death of internalizing all the nasty things people said, directly or indirectly, about my body. Trolls, especially, just crack me up these days; they’re so bloody ridiculous and predictable, it doesn’t even occur to me to do anything but laugh. But sometimes? Yeah, it still stings. Today was one of those times. There I was, walking home on a beautiful afternoon, high from a good workout and the praise of my instructor, and out of nowhere, there it was: YOU FUCKING WHALE.

For a moment, I’d almost forgotten that no matter how much I like my own body, other people will always be happy to hate it for me. For a moment, I’d almost forgotten that’s how it works.

Posted in Fat

184 thoughts on “How it Works

  1. People always ask why I don’t respond when a car honks at me. I don’t have the heart to tell them it’s because of years of having “fat bleep bitch” or variations on a theme yelled at me, whether I was a 14 or a 22.

    GREAT post.

  2. Until I started reading SP, I honestly thought “you’re not fat” was the best thing I could say in the situation that someone complained about feeling fat, because it really meant, both when they said it and when I did, “you’re not slovenly, ugly, mean, stupid, lazy, and unacceptable to be around.” Then I realized how messed up it was that we were using fat as slang to mean all these things. It doesn’t usually mean “with more adipose tissue than average” any more than saying someone is “cool” relates to the temperatures of the person we’re talking about. It has become a slang term, just as much as cool is.

  3. Fuck… yes… thanks Kate.

    I often doubt whether or not I actually have anything to say around here because I’m painfully average in almost every measurable way. How can somebody who’s average really be treated as less than, I mean, I’m exactly the middle, right?

    But then you go and say awesome shit like… well the whole post (I was about to grab something to quote there but couldn’t pick.)

    And of course the agony I feel at being average makes me so angry about how it must feel to be bigger than me. Angry at the world that would mistreat someone for something as fucking meaningless as body size. Ugh.

  4. She teeters on the brink of plus sizes, probably has some flesh that isn’t rock solid, will find herself standing next to much thinner women almost everywhere she goes, and will almost never see a woman her size on television or in a magazine who isn’t A) depicted as lonely, clueless, and a compulsive overeater for “comedic” value, or B) there to talk about the beginning of her weight loss journey.

    ZOING. I know people have a hard time believing it, but I didn’t love my body any more as a size 10 or 12 than I do now as an 18, and in fact might have loved it a lot less, because back then I thought a size 4 or 6 was within reach, in fact was “in me waiting to get out,” if only I could curb my greedtastic appetite. And now that I am much fatter than that I know what a huge hunka horsehockey that all is. If you’re not getting pilloried for being “obese,” you’re getting pilloried for “you might BECOME obese, so watch that intake of yours, missy.”

    And yeah, I really do want to carry a Slurpee with me at all times to dump on the windshields of Dude Nation guys who think all women owe it to them to be reed-thin and submissive.

  5. Thank you. This post articulates some things I’ve been trying to figure out how to say.

  6. On a related note, I went to the gynecologist today for the first time since my teenage daughters were wee little babies. My old OB/GYN guy retired soon after they were born, and he was a really great doctor, not fat prejudiced in the least.

    Since I’ve had mixed results with doctors… one when I went in as a 20 something person of moderate size with a pain in my side that I couldn’t identify. I said it ‘might’ be a gall bladder problem because when I described the pain to my mother she said that’s what it sounded like to her, since she’d had trouble with her own.

    So the doctor “Frau Blucher”, asks me in her harsh accent what I ate before the attack. I said we’d been at a picnic and had fried chicken, mashed potatoes and chocolate cake. So she glares at me and says “You stupid fool, don’t you know greasy food is the worst thing you can eat for a gall bladder?”

    Well no… duh. I didn’t know I HAD a gall bladder problem yet. She then went on to call me ‘grossly obese’ and that unless I lost weight, there wasn’t much they were going to be able to do to help me. Le sigh. Who doesn’t like to be called ‘gross’?

    Recently the pushy psych (who is really quite nice which is why I let her push me gently), had me get bloodwork done. Despite me living now in the ‘morbidly’ obese realm now, my BP was fine, I don’t have diabetes, nor any other thing. My cholesteral was only very slightly high…. so my primary doc (who I’ve yet to meet… and may never do so) gives me a call when she gets the results of the tests (via her nurse of course) to say “Lose weight and exercise and that cholesterol will come down.” Le sigh. Not a word of congratulations on not dying of every other thing a “Morbidly” obese person should be dying of… after all it’s MORBID… I ought to be dead already.

    So I went to the gynecologist and I told her that my psych said she was a nice lady and wouldn’t lecture me about being fat. She didn’t, but she did spend half the time telling me about her husband who didn’t take care of himself and is now unable to move or care for himself. :| And they’re making me get a mammogram.

    What really gets my goat though is that the ‘healthy’ people lecture about how much fat people are costing the health care industry. If I haven’t been to the ob/gyn for 15 years or anything else for 10, why the hell am I draining any bloody industry?

    Um… err well /rantoff heh. Sorry about that.

  7. You go girrrrl!!! Fat acceptance is for every woman who has felt less than due to her weight. This includes skinny women too!! Every woman in our society has some type of weight related issue.

    One of my friend’s mother was so ashamed of her big butt and thighs, she told me a story of where boys would drive by and call her elephant legs, that she almost killed herself getting lipo. Needless to say, my friend, her daughter, has enormous body issues that makes her very very unhappy.

    One of my skinny friends was so unhappy with her cute body because she doesn’t look like a super model. She was getting various plastic surgeries but was never satisfied. She whines that she can’t lose 10 lbs which would make her ‘perfect’. She desperately wants to be 100 lbs.

    None of these people are even ‘overweight’ or ‘chunky’.

  8. And yeah, I really do want to carry a Slurpee with me at all times to dump on the windshields of Dude Nation guys who think all women owe it to them to be reed-thin and submissive.

    Meowser: I’ve personally wanted to carry a paintball gun around with me. Perhaps loaded with something in a shade of flaming pink.

    Kate: Thank for you turning what some wanker did into this awesome post. While it sucks that someone can still make you feel this way, it’s heartening in a way for people like me who are just learning to wade in the fat-acceptance acceptance pool. Because although I’m trying my best to accept myself, I still have to figure out how to drown out all the other voices that will continue to fault me for being fat. And I’m still so incredibly sensitive to that. If I notice someone looking at me, I assume they’re “OMG, look at that fattie.” If I see two people look at me and whisper, I feel the most horrible shame as though my suspicious were confirmed. I feel like I’m always confronted with people who either ignore me because I’m fat or try to throw it in my face. When really, all I would like is to just accept while there will always be people who act that way, there are also people quite capable of treating me like any other human being.

  9. It’s interesting that the word “fat” and its derogatory variants are so easily within reach when an irate person finds him or herself called upon to insult a woman. A lot of the time it’s really no reflection of the woman’s size, or her adherence to any size standard. It just captures all the negative ideas you’ve mentioned that go along with most people’s idea of fatness. It’s similar to the way that “faggot” is always available for insulting men, and generally doesn’t reflect the insulter’s best assessment of the man’s sexuality. No matter how positive you feel about fat, it’s just about guaranteed to hurt. Why is that? Maybe for the same reasons that a gay man who is proud of being gay might be justifiably upset at being called the f-word by a stranger. It’s complicated. Thanks for posting this.

  10. Kate, I think you should know that I am in love with you.

    And this post rocked SO HARD. Gave me shivers.

  11. It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve had a complete stranger do the drive-by “fat bitch”-ing, but I still, STILL get tight whenever I’m in public and near groups of men. Just today I was outside having a smoke and there was a group of young-ish guys standing near me. I’m almost 90 percent sure they were paying absolutely no attention, but I was tense from head to toe because I was just waiting for the snickers, the mutters, the nudging. And I’m nowhere near being an in-betweenie–I am full-metal fat (5’9″, 280 lbs). I would love to be able to trot around without having that tightness spread across my shoulders and putting myself on guard. Sometimes, I’m able to do it. Today…not so much.

    Great post.

  12. This was great to read at the end of a long day.

    I also clicked through the BMI project (not for the first time), and was struck by not just the absurdity of the ‘normal’, ‘overweight’ and other categories, but the obvious sense of style, humor, and grace so many of those pictured display. I hope to be so comfortable in my own skin someday.

  13. I’ve been reading forever and have never commented, but this post really spoke to me. Being smaller than “average” hasn’t helped me with my body image issues. And being apple-shaped seems to only make it that much more apparent that my body is “wrong” according to societal standards (and even medical standards according to many studies), but no one really understands when I get upset about my body. I’m going to make my husband read this so that he knows exactly what I’m talking about when I get so upset about my body.

    Thank you for this post!

  14. This is probably why so many thin people feel awkward about joining the fat acceptance movement. It’s almost become like when Black people say, “Well you don’t understand it at all, cause you’re not Black!”

    I would hate for the fat acceptance movement become something so closed-minded and self-absorbed like that. Yes fat people deal with tons of shit everyday, no that doesn’t mean fat people are the only people in the world to deal with shit, they just deal with significantly more shit than a thin person.

    The goal is to get people to simply understand, if you live in America (and many other places on Earth) these days, and your not what for the majority of people is unnaturally thin, people think they can attack you.

    I think now we’ve gone from making fun of people who have obvious differences, to making fun of people with not so obvious differences. Or things they may never be able to change, but they should be able to cause after all it’s not like skin color. It’s like we’ve gone from being apes to being cavemen, as far as the evolution of how we treat those with differences go.

    I admire your remarkable ability to remain a semblance of sanity when people ask you such inane questions about fat acceptance. It’s like, I want to say “What are you, a three year old? What’s next, “Why is the sky bwue mommy?” Anyone should be able to be a fat acceptance activist, we need all the allies we can get.

    If they were a real reporter perhaps they would’ve asked something more like, “How do you feel that the level of what is considered an acceptable amount of fat to have, is ever lowering?” Cause that is what’s happening. How about how it’s a sign things are getting that much worse because now people who are short of 90 pounds are being called fatasses, or if things continue the way they have been they soon will be.

  15. I don’t think I’ll ever have the words to tell you what this post meant to me. I wish I did — this feels inadequate. Please know that somewhere out there, someone who hated her body all day today feels better because of what you wrote.

    Thanks for turning something so nasty into something like this.

  16. In High School I was confronted with the truth of fat insults when one of the boys called an incredibly skinny girl a “fat bitch.” She promptly lifted up her shirt and motioned to where her ribs were sticking out. Clearly this boy had found that calling people fat had gotten him a good reaction, whether the girl was large or not.

  17. Jackie- I don’t know how you meant it, but you comment about African Americans telling others that they don’t get it and then then follow it up with saying you would hate it if the FA movement became self absorbed like that was pretty fucking awful.

  18. Ahh Talespun….you’d think with all those years of schooling that some of these doctors would have to take a lesson in tact/bedside manner 101.

    One of the few complaints I have about my body is that my left breast is considerably smaller then the right one. True, I could have surgery to correct it, assuming I had the $$$ for it (which I don’t) but I’ve read too much about ‘loss of nipple sensation’ . something that tends to be rather important for me, thank you very much.

    When I had given birth to my son, many moons ago and went back in for my check-up. We were in the army then and you basically saw whoever was on duty, so I’d never seen this dr before. She was a medium size, black major, who seemed very nice…until I removed my paper gown. She burst out laughing and called her nurse in…saying ‘hey…you got to come see this..’ I was so humiliated that I just sat there trying to fight back tears. I know I should have gone to see whoever was in charge of the hospital and filed a complaint…but that was a time when spouses were basically treated like crap and didn’t think it would make a difference.
    But to this day, I still have trouble going to a new doctor, or going out in something that might make it too obvious. I hate seeing other women my size wearing thin strap, shelf bra type tops…knowing that I’ll never be able to wear them because of what I have to come to call ‘my deformity’ Even though my dear husband chews my ass for it. I still feel like I should be in the freak tent at the circus.

  19. Kate, this might be my favorite post ever of yours except for how there are so many other clamoring contenders. At any rate: EVERYTHING YOU SAID. EVERY. THING. Thank you.

  20. Great post! I’m saving this and showing it to everyone who tells me that they don’t understand why I support fat acceptance, because it’s only supposed to be for “REALLY fat people.” (And yeah, who knows what the hell that even means.)

  21. I swear to Jeebus I just had practically this identical conversation with someone.

    And you are cool, which is why they interview you and not me. (Also because you are blonde, cute, smart, and haz book deal.) Because in my present mood, I do not believe I would have given that reporter a polite, considered, and thoughtful response that could be replayed on Bill Moyers.

    I think I might have fixed her with a stony glare — in our culture where every woman has an eating disorder — and said, “Does it hurt if people say mean things about yours?”

  22. Um.

    Jackie?

    What the **** are you on about??

    I see others have checked you, so I will refrain.

    For the interim.

  23. Oh man Daisy what are they thinking? That’s so terrible. It’s like some people think oh well they’re fat… they’re not a real person. Or they’re different, they’re not a real person so it’s ok to embarrass the hell out of them.

    And some people are so darn preachy. On the Chronicle today they were saying that Robbins of Baskin-Robbins died and most of the posters came in with memories of their favorite flavors, but one guy had to come in and bitch that Americans are all fat and ice cream is full of fat and we should live healthier like the Europeans…. which someone posted that you can’t breathe in Europe for the cigarette smoke. So gaining courage from the folks here I posted that he could bitch all he likes, preach all he likes and get on his high horse all he likes, but he’s still gunna die like everyone else.

    And Kate you do rock ;) I’ve been going around being all brave and stuff partly because of this blog… I even went and joined a yoga class which I really enjoyed even if I did do some of it on a chair.

  24. Daisy (and anyone else out there with different sized breasts, which is a helluva lot of us, actually)…

    Check this out (not work safe): Normal Breasts

    http://www.007b.com/breast_gallery.php

    It’s a gallery of real photos of real women’s breasts. Pair after pair of them–women who’ve never had babies, women who have, all shapes and sizes of them.

    It’s a sort of breast-version of the BMI project, and until I saw it, I thought I was a freak for having my right breast be visibly bigger than my left (a problem that increased after my first child, who didn’t like nursing on the right side).

    It turns out that we’re all so used to seeing implants and photoshopped images of breasts that we are each living in our own private little world of “My breasts aren’t right.”

    But the thing is that it’s really quite rare to find unmodified symmetrical racks. And it’s not a sign of deformity to have two different sizes, anymore than it is to have large areolas or small (which can be pink or brown or whatnot and with hairs in them or bumpy or smooth and shiny). And breasts can be big, small, perky or saggy, stretch-marked or freckled or hairy or tubular, etc, with nipples that can be large or tiny. Some of us only have one breast, and that’s not a deformation either (hell, it’s a sign of survival!)

    I think part of Fat Acceptance has got to be, at least for women, coming to terms with our normal, irregular, unique, and very human breasts.

  25. This post made me think of the billboards I’ve seen around that say “Yes, those jeans DO make you look fat, Sarah Marshall” or what-the-fuck-ever they say. I kept seeing them around the city, and when I go looking to find out who the fuck Sarah Marshall is, turns out it’s Kristin Bell (of “Veronica Mars” and “Heroes” fame).

    For my money, as long as that shit can even remotely be some kind of insult to a woman who’s demonstrably NOT fat (even by Hollywood standards)…then there is no minimum height (or weight) requirement for fat acceptance.

    Which you totally said, only way funnier. Good on you.

  26. Just for the record, the reporter was totally cool. It was more of a, “so, have you really gotten beyond all that?” question, not a “What color is the sky?” question.

  27. This post made me think of the billboards I’ve seen around that say “Yes, those jeans DO make you look fat, Sarah Marshall” or what-the-fuck-ever they say.

    Thos signs are horrid! I’ve found myself internalizing them, “Yes, those jeans do make you look fat, Heather.” I think that Kate’s post is spot on about how this really is an everyone issue. Unless you’re in maybe the thinnest 5%, you always feel pressure to be thinner. This is why I’m reading Shapely Prose at probably the thinnest I’ve ever been. That’s why this is so important; even if a person CAN lose weight, it’s impossible to stop the messages in your head just by losing weight, since they’re really coming from everywhere.

    Kate — I feel for your heightened vulnerability after working out and feeling positive about your body. I’m a runner, and when I wear shorts out for a run, there’s a little part of me that winces, and worries, and wonders whether someone will yell, “Put some pants on, cow!” (It happened to a friend of mine, not me. Yet I live in fear that it will — how said is that?)

    I suppose the guy in the car didn’t necessarily know that you were on your way back from Pilates. But it is oddly ironic that we’re often most vulnerable to body criticism when we’re doing “right” by them, according to the orthodoxy. Working out and going to the doctor — way to create some good incentives.

  28. Just as a note of clarification, I do not mean to imply that everyone can lose weight. Rather, I know this is completely the exception to the rule, especially in terms of keeping it off.

    I meant to say something like, “Even if [something entirely unlikely and improbably does occur], you [the royal you] will still be subjected to shitty body-negative messages telling you that you’re too fat to be acceptible.”

  29. Thank you for this. This post? Completely hit home for me. I actually got a little emotional…in a very good way. Thank you, Kate.

  30. Since I was thirteen I began to gain weight even though I ate sparingly and stuck to ‘healthy’ foods. At times I ate only one meal a day, sometimes less, always low fat, mostly vegetarian, and yet my weight kept going up. My hair thinned, I became hirsute, I got two painful periods before I was twenty and that’s it–just two periods; one at 17 and one at 18. I began having extreme abdominal pain, I had dark patches of skin between my breasts and on the back of my neck. I went to doctor after doctor who never seemed interested in all the problems I was having and who wanted to say I had a gall bladder problem (even when the pain was on the wrong side) or looked at me like I had done something wrong. Perfect strangers felt the compunction to tell me I would be so pretty if I just lost weight or feel the need to point out that my once thick hair was now noticeably thin on top. Women who don’t look the way society says we should get treated as though we’ve committed a crime. When I was 27 my hair was so thin I had to spend thirty minutes slicking it back every morning to hide the bald patches. I felt like a hairy faced freak and I wore clever pancake foundation to conceal it. I stopped going to doctors because it never helped and I was tired of being treated like a waste of space. I was 320 lbs and even though I was good at my job, every time the managers hired a pretty young thing she got the weekends off and perks that I never got despite working there for eight years compared to her eight days. I was depressed, I was frustrated, and I was alone. One day, sore and tired from being on my feet all day and doing another thin girl’s work for her because she was too ‘fragile’ for the hard labor (no joke–really happened), blood began to gush out of me and by the time I had walked ten steps to the bathroom, my jeans were soaked. Barely conscious I rinsed the blood off and fell into my bed where I slept for two full days without stirring.

    I went into a mini-coma I suppose.

    I went to bed on a Tuesday and woke up on Thursday morning.

    I went to the doctor on my 28th birthday to find out that I was a diabetic and was sent to a OB/Gyn who took one look at me and said I was a textbook example of PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). PCOS is caused when something in the woman’s endocrine system goes screwy. She stops ovulating, gains unexplained weight, loses hair, grows facial hair, has severe ovary pain, and if untreated it leads to diabetes and several cancers.

    I went to doctors for YEARS with all of these symptoms and not one doctor ever considered that diagnosis, all they saw was a fat person who let themselves go. I found out that the low fat diet that everyone was pushing was the worst thing I could do for myself. I needed fat, salt, and all the other ‘bad’ things that went against the grain. Did you know that when they remove fat from foods it is replaced with carbs and sugar? I didn’t. Low fat is diabetic suicide.

    I had surgery to remove several large polyps from my cervix, got on meds, and ate the right diet. As my weight dropped I still felt the prejudice though. It was a bit easier now that I knew for a fact that none of it was my fault, but even that angered me. Why did it have to be a matter of ‘fault’ at all? When I got down to a 16 from a 26, the tide turned and the girl who I had been a slave to gained weight. Suddenly the bosses were pissed at her and I was offered the perks. That pissed me off more than anything. I didn’t want the ‘reward’ they were offering. How is it that suddenly this girl who, admittedly, wasn’t the nicest person in the world was suddenly being called on all her crap when she wasn’t before when she was a size 6? I felt even more depressed in a lot of ways.

    I kept working though, kept seeing the right doctors, ate lots of protein and felt good for the first time in my life. I met a man who didn’t care about my weight or my hair and fell in love. We’ve been married six years now and despite a lard road we have a child. My weight is back up, although not as high as it was at its peak. I need to diet again but for me, not for anyone else. I will never be thin, I will never have thick, dark hair again naturally, I will always be a diabetic because of the prejudice of others, but I do have a few things I didn’t have before: I know that I am me and that I will not allow society to define me. I know what made me this way and I know it is my choice on how to handle it. And I talk about what happened to me because I know there are others out there going through the same thing.

    Do I still feel the prejudice? Oh yeah. My son’s name is Jonah. He was 2 lbs 2 oz at birth because the polyps that went untreated for so long weakened my cervix and he was born 14 weeks premature. We named him Jonah because he was stubborn in the face of adversity and he survived. When some women heard his name they began to snicker and point at me; the joke was obvious. My husband was chagrined and wondered why I placed myself in the path of their derision like that? Why invite the obvious nasty remarks? Jonah and the whale with me being the whale who carried him in her belly.

    I love my husband and despite his obliviousness at times (he is a man after all), I know he did not mean to be insulting so I explained it to him: Women like that will always find a reason to be cruel. If I spent my life trying to get the acceptance of others I would never find happiness. The ‘whale’ remarks don’t bother me, the fat jokes and the fact that I am treated as invisible don’t either–usually. Sometimes I still have people attack me using that as a club but I know I am a survivor. I didn’t ask for this disease. I didn’t do anything to cause it. Blaming me for my weight or thin hair is like a racist blaming a man for the color of his skin. Is a black man in the wrong? No. Am I? No.

    People who find fault in others are generally avoiding their own issues. The men and women who look at me and voice their disgust at my appearance–well, I just look at them and think, ‘God, how pitiful your life must be.’

    It works.

    If you have the symptoms I had, please find a good OB/Gyn and ask about PCOS. Don’t accept that it’s just a fertility disorder or unimportant because it’s a ‘woman’s disease’. This can kill you. Women with PCOS are 10 times more likely to have reproductive cancers and other conditions and are more likely to suffer from stroke or heart attack than healthy women.

    Spread the word.

  31. Love the post Kate. Like you, I’ve worked on leaving stuff like that ‘behind’. What I have to work on right now, and what still irritates the hell out of me? Comments by people I KNOW, directed at others beside me, while I’m standing right next to the commenters. Like:

    1] A female co-worker pointing with her finger at the big belly of a man in a photo [I work at a newspaper], commenting as if she could be sick any moment: “OOOOH! That is just SO DISGUSTING!”

    2] A (male) co-worker, commenting on the switch from a tv news item back to the average-sized and in my opinion very beautiful anchor-woman: “Well, and it’s back to Miss Piggy.”

    3] Another (male) co-worker, commenting on pictures of singer Peggy Lee when she had passed away, who from the teenybopper in the fifties turned into a full-blown woman in the seventies: “Oops, she kinda turned into Miss Piggy, didn’t she?”

    4] Another (male) co-worker, commenting on the marriage troubles of a Dutch prominent with a tiny Dutch actress (an Eva Longoria-type): “I still don’t understand why he’d want to be with that little fat girl.”

    When people say stuff like that, I still think: so, uhm, then what do you think about ME/MY BODY? I’m about twice/thrice/fource/etcetera HER size (or, in the first case: I kinda have a belly like that, thank you very much). These are people who I normally consider as open-minded and intelligent (and therefore appreciate other people for what they are, say, do, and not just judge them for what they look like), but when they make remarks like that? Not so much.
    But how do you respond to that? I honestly don’t know how to yet.

    – And I totally LOVE Miss Piggy, so what gives?

    PS: hope you said all you did so eloquently in your post to the reporter as well!

  32. Epiphenomena,

    I completely agree with your comment about “fat” being a stock insult for women. It seems like when people are in the mood to be vicious they go directly for the things that we as a society are still having trouble accepting and integrating. In the same vein, it makes me really upset when people talk about girls, usually ones that they just broke up with, as being “crazy” and “psychos” as a stock reason why they were justified in treating her like poo.

    Also, I second the paint ball gun, although some kind of gooey food would heighten the irony for sure.

  33. I go for a stretch where I feel really good about my body, regardless of my weight. It takes something like this to make me retreat into my shell. Had a similar experience in a parking lot – probably reacted a lot less graceful than I would have preferred. Thank you for this post.

  34. littlem, oops I made the mistake of mentioning race. I forgot that talking about the realities of race is a taboo issue on here, and verboten to discuss.

    What I was stating is 1.

    There IS a Black culture, where people who are Black feel that non-Black people could never understand their personal experiences simply for being non-black. Like how fat people assume thin people would have no sympathy for them, just on the basis that they’re thin and must live a trouble free life.

    2. That going from making fun of people who look different, to making fun of people who might not look different but are different in other ways, is not much of a step towards better relationships.

    3. That the interviewer of Kate was an idiot, and instead of, like a child, asking if Kate is suitable to belong to the fat acceptance movement cause she doesn’t seem to be fat enough. They should’ve asked a more intelligent question, like the one I posed.

    I hope that helped, seeing as it would appear those of you who have complained about my post, didn’t read past my remarks about Black people. Clearly I have forgotten that Black people are untouchable, and anyone who ever states anything of them that isn’t sunshine and lollipops deservese to be trolled to death.

  35. They do not yell, “YOU FUCKING MILD TO MODERATE CHUB!”

    If they did, though, I would giggle. ‘Cause at least points for accuracy.

    It’s interesting that the word “fat” and its derogatory variants are so easily within reach when an irate person finds him or herself called upon to insult a woman. A lot of the time it’s really no reflection of the woman’s size, or her adherence to any size standard.

    Exactly, Epiphenomena. When you want to hurt a woman, you call her “fat”, “selfish”, “irrational” or “a bitch”. It’s Women Hate Bingo. I’ve gotten to the point where I see it like Kate sees the trolls here — if you call me any of the above, I’m going to (do my best to) laugh it off without even hearing you because those insults aren’t about me, my body size or my attitude; they’re about the fact that I’m female and I’m not being thin and quiet. This guy didn’t call Kate what he did because she weighs “too much”; he did it because she was a woman yelling at him in public and he only knew one way to deal with that.

    Btw, Kate,have I mentioned that I love that your automatic response to his behaviour was to yell at him in righteous outrage? Some days I do that and some days I’m too tired/taken aback/down to bother, but I always wish afterwards that I had. Way to rock.

    And yeah, I’d only have to lose about 25lb to be a socially acceptable BMI/body shape, so I occasionally feel like I don’t belong here. Except, I really do. Society thinks I’m fat (BMI of 27.5, dontcha know), the part of me that’s internalised that crap thinks I’m fat, and more importantly this is a fight that I’m a part of and that needs fighting. It’s the same sort of reason I came out — I’m pretty much unplottable and could merrily “pass” my entire life, but every person who comes out gives being gay a “face” to their family and friends, role models for those younger or still in the closet, and makes it easier for those who come after. I’m a “face” to my family and friends for the two-thirds of UK adults who are “overweight”, and if I can’t be a representative for those who are much larger than I, at least I can be an ally. Thanks for post like this that remind me I am welcome in the movement.

    I didn’t love my body any more as a size 10 or 12 than I do now as an 18, and in fact might have loved it a lot less, because back then I thought a size 4 or 6 was within reach,

    Yup. Because being “perfect” is “only” about 25lb away — and I could lose that in a few months if I really put my mind to it, right? — it’s been very very hard for me to accept that I might well be this size for life, and never make that magical transition. That it doesn’t matter whether the gap between me and “acceptable” is 25lbs or 250 or anything else; this is where my body is meant to be. For so many years it’s seemed within grasping distance, and it’s hard to give that up. I’m having glimpses of it, though, and it’s pretty fucking fantastic. FA gives me a chance to be far happier in this heavier body than I ever was in my skinny one.

    The goal is to get people to simply understand, if you live in America (and many other places on Earth) these days, and your not what for the majority of people is unnaturally thin, people think they can attack you.

    That is pretty much it, isn’t it?

  36. Jackie, once again I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    Perhaps you could rephrase your thoughts again, in, maybe, English.

    You know, for the rest of us.

    *kthx*

  37. Jackie —

    Ok, so I’m relatively new here. And I was totally going to leave it alone, but since you decided to come back and be defensive and you still seem to not understand, I feel obligated to say something.

    There are some things about being black in America that you will never be able to truly understand if you’re not black. (NB: I am white; I also will never truly understand.) That’s not a judgment on who can be anti-racist, but it is a judgment on the singular position of race in America, and the singular prejudice that black people still face in this country. It is the most ingrained and most pervasive prejudice that exists in this country. (Also an aside, there was a fatosphere blog that recently claimed that fat people have it worse than black people in America. I refrained from calling that poster out, but now regret it. Maybe some of that’s coming through here.) But that doesn’t mean that white people aren’t welcomed as allies. If someone flat out tells you that you don’t understand and never will, that probably means that you were exercising your privilege (see sweetmachine’s link up the page) or making ignorant statements — for instance, claiming that anti-fat prejudice is just like or worse than anti-black prejudice.

    I’m not saying all this just because you dared cross the line of sunshine and lollipops. I’ve taken critical race theory classes in which we do discuss the issues of exclusionary and inclusionary movements — but the difference is coming from a place of educating yourself first, trying to understand, and being sensitive to what privilege means, and why black people might not want you to be privileged at them. (to coopt a popular phrase around here lately)

    —-

    WRT the FatGuy t-shirts: those are interesting. Perhaps this has been discussed around here, but why does the “fat guy” have a beer belly when the “fat girl” appears to be about a size 6?

  38. Jackie: “Clearly I have forgotten that Black people are untouchable, and anyone who ever states anything of them that isn’t sunshine and lollipops deservese to be trolled to death.”

    @@

    Trolled to death? Those two very temperate replies to your comment = being trolled to death?

    More astonishingly: Black people are untouchable? Really? Nobody can say anything about Black people that isn’t sunshine and lollipops?

    I don’t even know what to say. Except maybe to ask, what even counts as an insult in your world? Where a couple of blog comments that take issue with you = being trolled to death; but meanwhile there are these alleged massive social sanctions for saying insulting things to/about Black people?

  39. littlem, oops I made the mistake of mentioning race. I forgot that talking about the realities of race is a taboo issue on here, and verboten to discuss.

    Jackie, WTF. Nobody is saying you shouldn’t discuss race. People are objecting to your flip and insulting dig at black communities.

    What I was stating is 1.

    There IS a Black culture, where people who are Black feel that non-Black people could never understand their personal experiences simply for being non-black.

    That is indeed what you were stating, right before you said I would hate for the fat acceptance movement become something so closed-minded and self-absorbed like that. . So: black people talking about “the realities of race” are “close-minded” and “self-absorbed.” That’s what you said that was problematic; you’ve been called out on it, and “oh noes race is verboten” is not a constructive or a thoughtful response.

  40. Also, Kate, this is an amazing post. It makes me hope I get a job next year at a liberal college or university just so I can tack this up, uncensored, on my office door.

    (Um, okay, I did have some pre-existing reasons for wanting to teach at a liberal college or university PRIOR to this post. But the point stands.) :)

  41. It’s interesting that the word “fat” and its derogatory variants are so easily within reach when an irate person finds him or herself called upon to insult a woman. A lot of the time it’s really no reflection of the woman’s size, or her adherence to any size standard. It just captures all the negative ideas you’ve mentioned that go along with most people’s idea of fatness. It’s similar to the way that “faggot” is always available for insulting men, and generally doesn’t reflect the insulter’s best assessment of the man’s sexuality. No matter how positive you feel about fat, it’s just about guaranteed to hurt. Why is that? Maybe for the same reasons that a gay man who is proud of being gay might be justifiably upset at being called the f-word by a stranger. It’s complicated.

    My suspicion as to why “fat” is such a popular insult to use against women is that, according to the cultural mythos, it allows one to insult both the woman’s looks (“ugly” has been around as an insult to women for ages) and the woman’s character (“it’s your fault you’re ugly ’cause you’re lazy), thereby shaming her twice. And “faggot” for men seems to be mostly an insult to masculinity, as are being called certain slang terms for a woman or female genitalia (pussy, sissy).

  42. Great post.

    I do occasionally wonder how much of the nastiness is fat hatred and how much is misogynism because it seems like a lot of the brain dead dudes doing the yelling and cursing just hate women in general regardless of body size or type. I know insults get tossed at overweight men, too, but somehow the examples I’ve observed didn’t seem quite as vitriolic.

  43. It’s interesting how near-constant street harassment barely registers on some people’s reality scales. I had a philosophy professor one day give us a tirade against “the technologies of isolation,” such as personal music players and cell phones that people use while walking down the street.

    If I hadn’t been absolutely terrified of this professor, who enjoyed throwing chairs around the class “to get our attention,” I might’ve been able to speak up and explain that, at least for me individually, I’ve been using headphones since I was a teenager primarily for the purpose of blocking out random shouts, taunts, and threats of rape as I walk down the street.

    It must be nice to live on the planet he lives on, where the “technologies of isolation” are a bigger threat to our civilization than the systematic dehumanization of half the population. But I guess that’s also part of how it works.

  44. This post? Made of win. That fact that an asshat’s automatic defensive mechanism to assuage his own guilt versus a woman who HE had wronged (ie by almost running you down) was to make negative comments about weight does speak volumes towards the state of our society’s mentality regarding fat and the internalized negative associations that word and its relatives bring to mind.

    And honestly, I’ve always really wondered WHERE that line IS when you magically AREN’T a fat woman anymore. My mom “made it” to a size 6 and STILL hated her body….so I don’t see that there really ever IS an end point in sight.

    Like that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow which you can never reach because the rainbow keeps “moving”; how much weight is enough before that “Fat Whale” comment turns to “Skinny Skank” (Or some other negative comment, because you know, as a woman there is ALWAYS something wrong with you which bears negative commentation….).

    Whether you’re like me and 260 pounds or whether you’re 110 pounds soaking wet; someone will always find some “default” negative comment that can totally ruin your day if you let it. The biggest problem is going to be changing the negative conotations which have been made with words like “fat”, “Whale”, “Miss Piggy” (I loves her!! So determined and strong…yet nothing but an insult now due to her size).

    So thanks for this post, because honestly I think there will always be days here and there when that negative comment does bring the sharp sting of tears to my eyes, even if usually they will roll right off my ample backside…

  45. Why people feel the need to equate fat prejudice with racial prejudice is beyond me. Fat prejudice is disgusting, but it has nowhere reached the limits of racial prejudice, and probably never will. And that’s all I have to say on that subject, speaking as a biracial fat person.

    When I hear these stories of fat people getting harassed on the streets, I have to wonder why it hasn’t happened to me yet. Now, I’m 5’9, 330+ lbs. I’m fat, no doubt about it. I’m sure doctors would be throwing WLS pamphlets at me left and right if they could. But in the 14 years that I’ve been as an adult, there has been no public fat hatred directed towards me while I’ve been out walking, in stores, while out eating. Others can hate on me in secret, but I’ve never been called a fat pig, or anything like that by strangers. Maybe I look too mean.

    It sickens me though that society has become so fatphobic that average-size women are now considered overweight and being pressured to diet, and even worse, fat-hate is being projected on children and schools are policing kids’ weight and eating habits, all though this mask of “concern.” You know, if people would be honest and just come out and say that the sight of fat sickens them, instead of pretending to be worried about our health, I might, just might have a little more respect for their honesty.

  46. This is awesome, Kate. I think I’m going to show this to my boyfriend who (in all his loving goodness) always tells me ‘… but you’re beautiful!’ and doesn’t seem to get why it is hard to be a woman of more than socially acceptable size.

    [i]ZOING. I know people have a hard time believing it, but I didn’t love my body any more as a size 10 or 12 than I do now as an 18, and in fact might have loved it a lot less, because back then I thought a size 4 or 6 was within reach, in fact was “in me waiting to get out,” if only I could curb my greedtastic appetite. And now that I am much fatter than that I know what a huge hunka horsehockey that all is. If you’re not getting pilloried for being “obese,” you’re getting pilloried for “you might BECOME obese, so watch that intake of yours, missy.”[/i]

    Meowser, I totally agree. When I had dieted my way down from a size 18 to a size 12, I sometimes felt more inadequate, because now I no longer was ‘just fat’ (basically a blanket term for ‘of a socially unacceptable appearance’ that overshadows any nuances) but I was just a little ‘overweight’, my skin was not firm, my feet were ugly, I had cellullite and stretch marks, et cetera et cetera. Also, the Center for Nutrition in my home country has led several campaigns to encourage people of ‘normal weight’ to eat a balanced diet so as not to become fat. So even if you’re not ‘overweight’, you have to be on your toes constantly.

    [i] It’s interesting that the word “fat” and its derogatory variants are so easily within reach when an irate person finds him or herself called upon to insult a woman. A lot of the time it’s really no reflection of the woman’s size, or her adherence to any size standard. It just captures all the negative ideas you’ve mentioned that go along with most people’s idea of fatness. It’s similar to the way that “faggot” is always available for insulting men, and generally doesn’t reflect the insulter’s best assessment of the man’s sexuality. No matter how positive you feel about fat, it’s just about guaranteed to hurt. Why is that? Maybe for the same reasons that a gay man who is proud of being gay might be justifiably upset at being called the f-word by a stranger. It’s complicated. [/i]

    Epiphenonema, that’s an interesting comparison… I have this (not very sophisticated) theory about how in our supposedly ‘post-emancipation’, but in reality still very misogynistic world, women are not supposed to take up too much social space and that this is roughly translated into ‘women are not supposed to take up too much actual physical space’ and that this is why the ‘fat’ insult is within reach so easily when it comes to women (and why women are pressured to be thin far, far more than men are). I hope that made sense. My English has become sloppy lately…

    Also, Dutchy, what Dutch prominent and actress and what anchorwoman? (I’m from the Netherlands as well :))

  47. Jackie, Sweet Machine and littlem have already covered what I would have said, but let me just reiterate that both of your comments were way out of line. Stop it.

  48. “Center for Nutrition”

    Sounds like something out of one of the scary chapters in a Madeleine L’Engel novel.

  49. “Center for Nutrition”

    Sounds like something out of one of the scary chapters in a Madeleine L’Engel novel.

    Or 1984. Pretty good double-speak, there, huh?

  50. Jackie, I know everyone else has already told you your comments were otu fo line. But let me just say taht not only are your comments wrong to make they are FACTUALLY WRONG. I have several black friends that have shared their experiences with me to help me understand how their race better affects their lives. I will never know what it is truly like for them, but it always means a lot to me when they take the time to tell me about cultural differences and their experiences with racism.

    And perhaps that is the difference. To me I am grateful that they would feel comfortable explaining that stuff to me. And you seem to think you have a right to be told and to be included by default. And you don’t. Sometimes things aren’t about you, learn to live with this fact and you will be happier.

    Whew, now i’m going to run to Starbucks and get a latte with an extra shot of dead baby!

    (Also, I think in lieu of a paint ball gun we should create a baby donut launcher.)

  51. Not to pile on, but I think that t-shirt that was linked to about the “indian name” is pretty insensitive.

    Talk about a culture appropriated!

  52. Urgh! Do these assholes ever come up with anything new? When I was in school the tormentors favorite phrase to aim at me was “beached whale”. A fat friend’s mother turned that into a positive for both of us. She said that just made us a part of the pod. It made us family because we had a strong social bond. The members of a pod (depending on the type of whale–I’m talking Orcas here) hunt together in a very sophisticated manner, attacking even very large prey and then sharing it. I used to like to visualize us as whales banding together to corner the tormentors and then daring them to taunt us again so that we could rip them apart and turn their hate into our nourishment. Morbid, I know, but it got me through many years of as an object of hate.

    My pod has grown exponentially over the years and I’d certainly like to think that everyone here at SP is in some form a member. Isn’t that part of what fat acceptance is about–banding together to fight the hate?

    Welcome to the pod Kate!

  53. For a moment, I’d almost forgotten that no matter how much I like my own body, other people will always be happy to hate it for me. For a moment, I’d almost forgotten that’s how it works.

    Yeah, I hate that. A few years back, I had one of those moments, only not related to some arsehole calling me names. My partner (who is an artist) wanted me to be in one of his photoshoots as a ‘Fassbinder woman’ (think 70’s if you aren’t familiar with Fassbinder). He normally sources costumes from the ABC costume department, who will make custom costumes, but also stock a large range of costumes and retired clothes from TV shows including period drama. We didn’t want the expense of a custom costume, so we tried off the rack. I was in tears because after hours of searching the one and only plus size 70s outfit was a mumu. A freaking mumu for my freaking abberant and unacceptable body. Well, screw them. I wore it underneath a black corset and it rocked.

  54. Nan: “I do occasionally wonder how much of the nastiness is fat hatred and how much is misogynism because it seems like a lot of the brain dead dudes doing the yelling and cursing just hate women in general regardless of body size or type. I know insults get tossed at overweight men, too, but somehow the examples I’ve observed didn’t seem quite as vitriolic.”

    My take on things: There are a lot of men in this world who are threatened by the fact that women are as smart as them (and in some cases, smarter) and on average can do most things as well, and as such, we’re no longer happy with the assumption that the most any of us can hope for is to marry well and young and spend the rest of our lives cleaning up after a man. We need to be “put back in our place” (see the assholes yelling “Iron my shirts” at Hillary Clinton during her campaign speeches) and one way to do this is to get us to starve ourselves into submission. If we’re hungry, we don’t have energy to expend on things that matter.

    BTW: great post, Kate. And Jackie, I’m a thin woman. I have no problem accepting that my thin privilege means that I do not have a clue what it’s like to face the daily discrimination that so many others do. I’m also an ethnic minority who can “pass” for white due to my white mother; thus I have no idea how it feels to be refused service in a business or to be treated badly in public (both of which have happened to my obviously ethnic father, and recently). That lack of first-hand experience does not exclude me from seeking fair and equal treatment for all, nor does it exclude anyone else from such pursuits. It simply means that I am approaching things from the perspective of the automatically privileged, and must realize that all of my perceptions are shaded by that privilege.

  55. Dear Kate –
    With 3.5 yrs of recovery work from bulimia under my belt, I am still struggling. I want you to know that every day that you write helps me in my recovery. Despite being a successful research scientist, happily married to a man who desperately tries to “get it” and relatively healthy for all the damage I have done to myself, I still call myself all ways of horrible names. Thank you for helping undo some of that damage.

  56. Amazing, amazing, amazing post!!

    Has anyone else here seen the movie Made of Honor. It’s an okay movie, typical chick flick. But, in the movie, they take every chance possible to make fun of the token fat friend. It was just ridiculous, so not funny, and completely pointless. Why must they do that and think it’s okay?

  57. I do occasionally wonder how much of the nastiness is fat hatred and how much is misogynism

    It’s an intersection of the two. That’s why fat is a feminist issue – of course fat men experience fat hate and of course those experiences matter, but for fat women fat-hate and misogyny intersect in that: “How DARE you not be an acceptable object for my viewing pleasure? Don’t you know that’s the only reason for your existence?” kind of way. That’s why sexist men always go for “fat” or “ugly” if they want to hurt a woman. And that’s why it usually succeeds, because women have had it drilled into us since birth that our only real value is in our physical appearance.

  58. I haven’t had a chance to read any comments, but I will. If I repeat, sorry.

    But yes, yes, yes and yes to this post. I don’t think there is a woman walking this planet who hasn’t been made to feel terrible for her appearance. This quickly explains why so many go to extreme measures to ensure that they never age or never get fat or they never deviate from the mainstream ideal.

    Of course you can’t be a part of the discrimination one feels while being 300lbs when you weigh 200lbs. You can’t be part of the discrimination one feels for being a woman of color when you’re blonde and white. But you can certainly draw parallels between the hate that’s doled out daily to every woman for failing to achieve some subjective standard.

    The last time this happened to me, it was actually a friend of my husband’s who felt the need to mention to another friend that he’s not sure why my husband is with me, as I am not only mean but also unattractive. The problem with this statement, though hurtful at first is this: 1) I am not mean to my husband. I am of the firm belief that I owe nothing to any MAN and therefore will not kiss his ass strictly because he owns a penis. Apparently I was correct in NOT extending any courtesy to this jerk. 2) Attractiveness, as we’re all aware, is subjective. Therefore, this guy may not see what my husband sees in me, which is why I am married to my husband and not him. 3) This man hasn’t had a long term relationship in more than 6 years. I know why, but he thinks it because he’s bald…PSST….that’s not it.

  59. Re: fat hatred and misogyny, too many brilliant things have been said to quote them all…

    I’m an in-betweenie (6 feet tall, size 12 jeans) and find myself subjected to an interesting combination of street harassments. I don’t put up with sexual harassers, and I’m big and scary-looking enough to get away with it. So I’m walking down the street and some guy starts in with his rape fantasy, or “show me your tits” or “hey baby shake it oo oo” or whatever, and I respond either boredly or with profanity, depending on the day. And then, whoa. It is astounding how fast “hey pretty mama I wanna xxx” turns into “You fucking fat bitch”. “Fat” in this case meaning “won’t give me time of day”. I agree with all of you who say it’s a scare tactic– it’s only ever used for me in situations like Kate describes in this post– where not only am I *existing* in public, I’m also refusing to be a silent object for some dude. This is probably because I am not fat; I’ve seen enough strangers lecture fat people who were previously minding their business to know my own privilege here, but I do think it’s very telling that “fat” is the first insult an angry man comes up with.

  60. And then, whoa. It is astounding how fast “hey pretty mama I wanna xxx” turns into “You fucking fat bitch”. “Fat” in this case meaning “won’t give me time of day”

    A-fucking-men! I’ve totally had that happen, too. “Mmm, baby.” “Not interested. Piss off.” “Don’t flatter yourself, FAT BITCH.” Yes, clearly, the problem is that you don’t find me attractive. You just… misspoke the first time?

    It’s sort of like the trolls who, upon realizing their comments won’t be published, send lengthy e-mails telling me how incredibly disgusting the thought of having sex with me is, and how they feel so bad for Al having to look at my nasty, naked ass. Um, if you’re so grossed out by fat chicks, why are you imagining having sex with me again?

  61. Here here! As a fatty that probably weighs 100 pounds more than you, I thank you for speaking! It’s not about *how many pounds* – it’s about the common experiences we unfortunately all seem to share.

    Just a side note — Once I was coming home from a lovely walk. I too felt great about myself, feeling the sun on my face and moving my body. After crossing a busy intersection, a cab pulled up, a guy jumped out, told the cabbie to wait and then the guy proceeded to try and sell me Herbalife right then and there! I totally was not prepared fo that one.

  62. I know why, but he thinks it because he’s bald…PSST….that’s not it.

    I don’t often LOL, but that one got me.

  63. The members of a pod (depending on the type of whale–I’m talking Orcas here) hunt together in a very sophisticated manner, attacking even very large prey and then sharing it

    Ha! I love this!

  64. If I hadn’t been absolutely terrified of this professor, who enjoyed throwing chairs around the class “to get our attention,” I might’ve been able to speak up and explain that, at least for me individually, I’ve been using headphones since I was a teenager primarily for the purpose of blocking out random shouts, taunts, and threats of rape as I walk down the street.

    Ditto. Just last night as I took my precious pup for a walk, some guy rode slowly next to me on a bicycle. He was saying something, but thanks to my headphones, I have no idea what and I was able to pretend as if I didn’t notice him at all.

  65. The last time this happened to me, it was actually a friend of my husband’s who felt the need to mention to another friend that he’s not sure why my husband is with me, as I am not only mean but also unattractive.

    Buffy, this reminds me of the story of a former friend of mine. When she started dating her high school sweetheart, his friends gave him a tremendous amount of grief. “What are you going out with her for?” they asked over and over again, “She’s fat.” (She wasn’t, of course, she weighed about 135 lbs). Being naive and insecure, she took their comments at face value and started down a path of eating disorders which she has yet to truly get off of.

    She continued spending time with these guys, as they were her boyfriend’s best friends, and they stopped commenting to him. After they graduated high school, she got up the nerve to ask them why they said what they did, and they were stunned by how much it had affected her. They explained that they were jealous that their friend had found himself a pretty, popular, girlfriend and that they did as they claim most men will do, tried to bust up their relationship (or at least put my friend in her “place,” you know, the one below the boys) to make themselves feel better.

    Wouldn’t be suprised if this wasn’t the same thing your husband’s friend was up to since he can’t seem to connect with anyone himself.

  66. I might’ve been able to speak up and explain that, at least for me individually, I’ve been using headphones since I was a teenager primarily for the purpose of blocking out random shouts, taunts, and threats of rape as I walk down the street.

    Me too.

  67. As for the whole…

    “Hey, Baby”

    “Piss off Buddy”

    “Whatever, FAT BITCH”

    tirade.

    I wholeheartedly agree. Keeping women believing they completely suck doesn’t only serve the beauty industry…it ensures men who would otherwise have to act like gentlemen, GOD FORBID, can actually get dates with women out of their league strictly because women think they’re unable to do better.

  68. That’s why sexist men always go for “fat” or “ugly” if they want to hurt a woman. And that’s why it usually succeeds, because women have had it drilled into us since birth that our only real value is in our physical appearance.

    It has just come to my awareness in the past several months that it’s okay for me to not worry about my physical appearance during medical school. That I’m doing something of much more tangible and wide-reaching value than spending two hours a day in the gym and eating foods that would not nourish my hard-working body and brain. In fact, I would go so far as to say that I would be neglecting my fiduciary duty to my future patients if I starved myself through school just so I would be fuckable to them when they walked through the clinic door.

    Kate, you am the best.

  69. because now I no longer was ‘just fat’ (basically a blanket term for ‘of a socially unacceptable appearance’ that overshadows any nuances) but I was just a little ‘overweight’, my skin was not firm, my feet were ugly, I had cellullite and stretch marks, et cetera et cetera.

    Amen. I am going through this now. I heard it before from intelligent people whom I had no reason to doubt, but for some reason I couldn’t quite believe it until it happened to me. It’s like a cruel joke that your body is smaller but there are still plenty of things to hate about it. Not to mention, I seem to be fixated on the idea that my thighs are huge. Hmm… never worried about that when I was at the higher end of my weight range.

    This post says it best (it’s not really even about whether you are objectively fat or not… apparently having total strangers pass judgment on your body until you starve yourself and disappear is your cross to bear as a woman), but I still get so angry when people bust out with the “you’re not that fat” (I mean, not necessarily to me, just in general, especially online) to temper whatever hateful crap they were just spewing about fat people. You think “not that fat” was enough to keep my mother from putting me on diets starting at, like, age 5? Looking back, it’s astounding to me that being just a little bit higher on the bell curve was enough to permanently cement my understanding of myself as a Fat Person who should struggle with food every second of her life first, and just a regular old person second, from a very young age. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t feel like “being the fat girl” defined who I was. And it also happens to girls who “aren’t fat” at all, all the time. If you’re a woman, you are taught to do battle with your body almost from birth.

  70. Heh, when I starved and exercised myself down to a size 4, some jerk still called me a “fat bitch”

    Men and women use “fat” as the ultimate insult.

    How many times have you heard a woman say, “Oh, she’s just a fat ass” or some variation there of.

  71. Thank you for this :)

    A fellow friend pointed me to your site after I published a rant about fat-haters in my own journal.

    Also, someone I know from LiveJournal was complaining she was fat – and this girl is drop-dead gorgeous the way she is. I “made the mistake” of telling her she’s not fat, just like you outlined. I now went back and commented again, offering her a link to this post. I also told her that I thought she was gorgeous the way she was, and had every right to ignore anyone saying otherwise :)

    Leesa

  72. To commiserate and vent:

    The psychology of drive by yelling always baffles me. I’m moderately fat, but but I’m tall and broad so the effect is that I’m huge. I rarely get insulted face to face, but I get plenty of drive bys. Like some asshole takes it upon himself to scream at me since I’m unlikely to get my daily requirement any other way. It does bother me, but I try and ignore them.

    Weirdly enough, being with me has exposed my husband to the world of drive by “fat bitch”. My best guess is that as we’re about the same height and he has a tendency towards spiky hair and button down shirts it tends to throw both perspective and gender in question. We get harassed for being fat lesbians surprisingly often than one would think. I’m more used to it, but bothers him on a variety of levels. The good news is I think it’s a factor in his getting more engaged in various forms of activism.

    Re: exercixe and fat
    We’re taking ballroom dancing at the moment and while I love the dancing, I HATE the classes. I frequently feel bad about myself. Our private instructor is a teeny woman, like 4’10” ad 80 lbs. soaking wet. One of her favorite teaching tools is to have us stand side by side with her in a mirror and echo her movements. It’s not her fault but I’m way too busy fixating on how I’m 2-3 times her mass to learn anything. However the group classes are awful in their own way. Every class so far has had a guy that is several inches shorter than I and tries to avoid dancing with me at all costs. When I come up in the partner rotation, I feel like I’m the last kid being picked in middle school gym class.

    It’s fun, and we can afford it, but weight/gender issues are really sinking my enjoyment.

  73. I’m in my early forties, and it’s been years and years since anyone shouted anything at me in the street – I’m “average” weight and average grooming – typical middle class middle aged mother appearance. I hadn’t realised until just now how nice it is to have become somehow invisible. I never got any of the “fat” comments, but even a wolf whistle or a “hey, look at me, baby!” comment used to make my heart beat faster in an unpleasant, what’s-going–to-happen–next sort of way, so I can only imagine how horrible the sort of incident Kate describes must be.
    I’d be interested to hear whether other “older” readers (how can this apply to ME? when did I stop being young?!) have also found they become invisible once they leave their thirties, and whether being larger means that some readers don’t acquire the protective colouring that I seem to have these days. Are women only expected to stay thin while they are of an age to be regarded as a sex object , or is it a life long curse?

  74. some dude in 6th grade called me “big bertha” because i was taller and heavier than most of my peers.

    fourteen years later i’m still learning to love myself no matter what my size. at my smallest i am an 8…yet that dude’s voice is still in my head whenever i find myself standing next to anyone petite or slender. whether you’re “average” or not, words are harsh, and stick.

    thank god for women with the love to spread acknowledgement and awareness to others.

    thanks, kate.

  75. Hi Kate! I’m somewhat less…. um… nice when it comes to people like that on the street. If someone called me a whale in that situation I’d have stood in front of their car and hung out a while and backed up fucking traffic because of it. Learn your lessson, bugfuck! Don’t piss off the fatties! My wrath is bigger than yours!!!

    Also: Jackie. I used to think the way you do about the black movement. But then I talked to some of them.

  76. Yeah, I’m in my forties too; and get noticed much less than I used to. It’s nice in a way. I also agree that many men don’t seem to realize that wolf-whistles and such are more frightening than complimentary.

    Am I the only one who finds headphones a bad idea? If I’m being harassed, then I want to know about it in case the harasser turns ugly. Oblivion strikes me as dangerous to me. I find it very scary to cut off my only long-distance omnidirectional sense. Maybe I worry about physical attacks more than some others do?

  77. Am I the only one who finds headphones a bad idea? If I’m being harassed, then I want to know about it in case the harasser turns ugly. Oblivion strikes me as dangerous to me. I find it very scary to cut off my only long-distance omnidirectional sense. Maybe I worry about physical attacks more than some others do?

    Very valid point. As a headphones wearer I find, for general safety as well as ignoring people, there is an optimum volume level…loud enough so that I don’t need to hear every bit of commentary, but quiet enough so that I still know the nature of that commentary. For example, the bike guy I referenced above, was harrassing me in a “positive” way…the only thing I clearly heard was him asking me if I had a man. But I had the lovely tunes of Gavin DeGraw to muffle it a bit.

    Also, I often wear them without playing any music. If I’m reading on the bus on my way to work, I sometimes slip them on to prevent people from chatting me up.

    I am priviledged not to experience much negative harrassment. No one has ever, thank God, yelled at me from a car to tell me I am a fat bitch. I’m sure it could happen, but I’ve just been lucky never to be in that situation. If anyone ever feels they are in danger, I definitely would not recommend headphones…I would recommended going to a crowded place, pulling out your cellphone (if you have one…running into a store or to a payphone if you don’t) and calling 911.

  78. There IS a Black culture, where people who are Black feel that non-Black people could never understand their personal experiences simply for being non-black. Like how fat people assume thin people would have no sympathy for them, just on the basis that they’re thin and must live a trouble free life.

    I think I might be late to this but I just had to echo the comments that said this…

    Jackie, if you are not black, you will never understand what it is like to be black. Just as you will never understand what it is like to be fat, if you are not fat. You will never understand what it is like to be gay/lesbian if you are not. You will never understand what it is like to have cancer, if you don’t.

    You may be able to empathize with people who are dealing with those issues, but you will never fully understand what it is like to BE those people. You will never be able to walk a mile in their shoes.

  79. Maybe Seattle really is as repressed and “coldly polite” as they say. I’ve only once had someone call me a name on the street, and that was decades ago.

    I had an encounter similar to Kate’s a few years ago, and I calmly looked at the driver, who sheepishly shrugged and spread his hands in a “I’m defenseless” motion. I continued across the street. The driver slowly moved on after I reached the other side….

    Now, I was ready to point out that I’m nearly 6 foot tall, nearly 3 foot wide, and was wearing a red jacket, which made me pretty damn visible. But I didn’t need to.

    -Jen

  80. OTOH, when I did Microsoft tech support over the phone, I’d get called “bitch” and “cunt”, along with the the more mild “Now listen, little lady…” Eventually I realized my male coworkers got cussed out too, as “bastard”, “faggot”, and “asshole”.

    It wasn’t that I was a woman that was resulting in the curses. It was the caller wanting to yell. The sexist thing wasn’t getting cussed out, it was the names being chosen…

    And this let me relax and calmly point out that Microsoft policy stated I did not have to listen to abusive language, and to warn that I would hang up if it continued. I would, too.

    It also let me start laughing to myself when someone started on the “little lady” bit. Who the hell is he calling little? Certainly not me!

    -Jen

  81. The idiot road thing has happened to me twice – both times when I was size 8/10 (US 4/6).

    The first time I cried for 3 days and started my first low-calorie diet – I was about 18.

    The second time I was 29, and I flipped the asshat the bird, and obsessed about it for months. I’d gained and then lost a considerable amount of weight since the first time.

    I’m now trying really hard to accept my body as it is and look after it at the size I am NOW, not some fantasy. Because I have hated my body at a range of sizes, and I don’t want to do it any more.

    Thanks for the great post, Kate, and to some of you guys who’ve commented. My daily dose of sanity!

  82. Mary:

    Haven’t seen the movie, but generally in movies like that they have a lot of cheap fat jokes because it’s easy and the target audience will keep laughing even when the main plot is bogged down or whatever. The writer doesn’t have to work very hard making up a script, and is able to whip out more scripts for the studio at a faster clip. Faster = more $$.

    Also the target audience is generally the lowest common denominator. Think of someone of ‘average’ intelligence, and then lower the bar about 20 more points and you’re about there.

    Plus as has been noted on this site more than once… it’s still socially acceptable to mock the fat where it isn’t so ok to mock other differences among people. So the studio doesn’t have to worry too much about offending people and losing $$. :|

  83. My response is that even if you aren’t fat, you should still be in favor of body acceptance. You don’t need to be black to be anti-racist, or gay to be anti-homophobic, or a woman to be a feminist. Nowadays every woman is unhappy with her body, so it would be a good start if women in general started believing in body acceptance.
    http://www.escrevalolaescreva.blogspot.com

  84. Kate, IMHO this is one of the most powerful posts you’ve ever made. It’s a damned shame it took an arsehole to kickstart this particular catharsis but, hey, if it don’t kill you it makes you stronger – and, in this case, it’s benefited us all.

  85. I wanted to add my thoughts to the fat/misogyny comments. I’ve often noticed that the worst insult to throw at a woman is often one that comments on either her body or her sexuality (such as whore, fat, cunt, slut, ugly etc.). These comments, at least in my mind, are centered around a woman’s womanness – as if her *being* a woman (“other”) is the bad thing and the insult is to call her out on her non-maleness (much like insults for minority races or sexual orientations are centered around their “otherness” – like insulting a lesbian by calling her … a lesbian.)

    The hight of insult for a man is to call him a woman however – calling him out on his (preceived) non-maleness or his not-as-male-as-me-ness.

    On the idiot driver that Kate dealt with, I have a story of my own (only it’s my mum’s, not mine). My mum is blind and walks with a white cane. She was walking across a cross walk slowly (to make sure cars saw her) and cars (yes, plural) stopped and honked at her. Honked at her! A blind woman, with a white cane, in a cross walk! It just goes to show you that there are idiot drivers EVERYWHERE.

    As a commute cyclist, I see the angry-young-man driver EVERY day. They’d be funny if they weren’t also incredibly sad.

  86. A very spirited, brassy Australian friend (whose name is also Kate) of mine once related the story of dealing with a crowded barfull of aggressive obnoxious assholes one night. She was there with another woman, an old friend she hadn’t seen in a bit, and they just wanted to hang out and talk to each other – catching up on old times. They got hit on a couple of times in a short span, rebuffed the guys, and – naturally – had to be called names for it.

    Kate stood up on top of the bar and got everyones attention yelling: “for the record – tonight I AM THE FAT FRIGID BITCH and my friend here is the FAT FUCKING DYKE – please keep this straight”. There was a moment of silence – and every woman in that bar pealed with laughter and applauded.

  87. According to BMI standards I am slightly underweight. After years of various problems with menstruation, thermoregulation, hirsutism, abdominal pain, and skin irregularities, I was diagnosed with PCOS. Several years ago, immediately prior to my diagnosis, when I was an extremely ill 94-pound college freshman, I was walking out of the dining hall with a small ice cream cone. A man I didn’t know had the audacity to warn me not to eat the ice cream or I would “lose my figure.”

  88. jen ingram
    i lived your story and you tell it beautifully. i’m trying to spread the word every chance i get and everytime i see the need. damn the doctors who accused me of binge eating, and damn them for ruining my fertility.
    i’m crying as i write this. thank you jen, thank you kate.

  89. Some days, I think I’m doing better. But the truth is, I live in a college town, and when I pass a group of adult men or college guys when I am on foot, my right fist gets all curly in preparation to punch them in the testicles. I don’t want to be this way, but when I see gangs of guys while I’m walking, hate and fear boil up in me because of all the anonymous criticism I’ve gotten yelled at me. And I wear a friggin’ size 12-14.

    After the fatosphere, I’ve begun to muse aloud in the car “I wonder how often she gets mooed at or called a ‘fat cunt’ just for walking down the street?” My girlfriend hears me say this and says: “That’s just awful. I bet it happens.” And then I tell her: “Of course it happens. How many times have YOU shrieked ‘Blah blah blah you fat fuck!” in one of your fits of road rage?”

    I don’t think she knows I take it personally every time she yells that at a driver who is slightly or more than slightly fat.

  90. Kate…you are so right on as usual.

    I’ve never had any drive by experiences, but when I was in middle school, there was this group of guys who would follow me around everyday as I went to my classes and yell all kinds of hateful things (especially fat hatred things) at me. Middle school was hell for me. Pure hell. My body was changing for the whole world to see, and it sucked.

  91. I haven’t read all the comments, but for me the relentless irony of the way our society views body size generally is summed up in this sentence:

    Furthermore, the average American woman, for all her averageness… will find herself standing next to much thinner women almost everywhere she goes

    She probably isn’t, that’s the awful thing. She’s probably standing next to someone who’s pretty much the same size as she is, and who is looking at her and wondering why everyone is smaller than she is.

    I look back now at pictures of people I was at school with who I really envied for what I thought was their thinness, and I can see now that a lot of them were pretty much the same size as me, but I didn’t see it at the time at all.

    I can also see that the fact that some of them were thinner than me just didn’t matter, but I didn’t see that then either!

  92. WORD. It was VERY recently that I figured out “fat” is a stock insult from guys who want to be hurtful to women. I’m fairly thin but was never satisfied with my body (big shock) and actually believed the guys who’d yell “fat bitch” at me when I was out for a jog. I knew they were assholes, but why would they so consistently call me fat if it wasn’t true? It took a LONG time to get over it and I’m glad so many other people realized what bullshit this is!

    (BTW, I mention that I’m not fat only because people were talking about the universality of the “fat” comments almost every woman endures and the effect they can have on all of us. I am absolutely NOT trying to say that it’s ok to yell fat-based insults at people who actually are fat, and I hope it didn’t come across that way.)

  93. Ok, maybe someone could explain this to me. So you are telling me we don’t live in a society where discussions of race are taboo, yet I’ve gotten at least 5 offensive posts towards me for discussing race.

    I wonder when people will start being so impassioned over discussion of weight, when it will be seen just as offensive as discussing race?

    Or am I the only one who sees it that way. You can’t have it both ways, you can’t say no discussing Black people isn’t taboo, but what you said was very awful nasty and mean, but that again, doesn’t mean you can’t discuss race? From what I’ve seen here, I’ve been attacked for discussing race compared with fat acceptance. If that doesn’t say, you cannot discuss race without getting yelled at, what does it say?

  94. Jackie, there is a difference between “discussing” race and making sweeping generalizations about people (e.g. “closed-minded and self-absorbed”) based on their race (or any other physical characteristic for that matter).

    And this?

    Clearly I have forgotten that Black people are untouchable, and anyone who ever states anything of them that isn’t sunshine and lollipops deserves to be trolled to death.

    Yeah, I guess that’s why we all just radiate love for Alan Keyes around here, right? :eyeroll:

  95. AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WINKY SMILEY STUFF AT THE END OF A PARENTHETICAL? Damn it, that’s like farting during a stump speech.

  96. Meowser: “AND WHAT THE HELL IS THAT WINKY SMILEY STUFF AT THE END OF A PARENTHETICAL? Damn it, that’s like farting during a stump speech.”

    I wish I knew the code for the ROFL smiley. I need it here.

  97. yet I’ve gotten at least 5 offensive posts towards me for discussing race.

    Actually, you’ve gotten five offendED posts towards you. Because you’re being racist. Which offends people.

    We’ve never had a problem with discussions of race here when they’re, you know, not racist.

  98. Anecdote of note:

    My size 18/20 self was standing outisde of Exit after a long night of black-clad flailing to thunderuously loud industrial mayhem.

    For some reason, I was wearing my glasses rather than contacts.

    A truckload full of scuzzy dudes pulled up and yelled, “Hey fat bitch!”

    I was in such a post-dancing stupor I realized that it seemed as if I was ignoring them, when in reality I was distracted because my feet hurt.

    FInally, frustated by my seemingly cool exterior, one of them hollers,” I’m gonna FUCK you! I’m gonna fuck you so hard YOUR GLASSES FALL OFF!”

    I was so startled by that image I actually starting laughing like a jackal, which pissed them off further. They then yelled somore generic insults, and then sped away in their manky pickup.

    Moral of story: there is none. But it’s a funny fat story.

  99. Ok, Jackie. Perhaps since you’re having a bit of a hard time understanding the issues with your statements, this right here:

    Clearly I have forgotten that Black people are untouchable, and anyone who ever states anything of them that isn’t sunshine and lollipops deserves to be trolled to death.

    AIN’T ACCEPTABLE. And this is coming from a Black woman, for the record. Also, there are plenty of instances of race and fat being spoken of passionately…I write a blog. Go read it.

    Secondly, Black people are not close-minded when it comes to discussing race and helping others (others being non-Black, in this case) understand. The issue I have with you is that you consider us (us being Blacks) closed-minded because we state a truth. You DON’T know what it’s like to be Black, because you aren’t. However, I do think, that when exposed to the right resources, you can make the attempt to educate yourself on the situation. I don’t know what it’s like to be a thin, White woman. But by reading and taking everything in, I can TRY to understand her point of view. And throwing out random foolishness (‘closed-mindedness”?) ain’t facilitating understanding, and it doesn’t illustrate your point.

    There IS a Black culture, where people who are Black feel that non-Black people could never understand their personal experiences simply for being non-black. Like how fat people assume thin people would have no sympathy for them, just on the basis that they’re thin and must live a trouble free life.

    I don’t want sympathy. I want someone to recognize the difference between the races that ain’t just color and stop considering THEMSELVES at a disadvantage because folks call them on said difference. Again, unless you WANT to get it (to the extent you’re realistically able), you’re not gonna get it. And being offended because your comments are offensive isn’t exactly helping your case.

    But that’s just my two cents.

  100. Jackie

    1) Ok to discuss race issues.

    2) Ok to talk about Asians, African Americans, mixed, white etc…

    3) Ok to ask questions of aforementioned peoples or information about issues pertaining to them.

    4) Not ok to compare apples and oranges ie. racism & fat hatred due to different context and causes heads to explode.

    5) Not ok to generalize about any group including whites.

    6) OK when there is respectful tone to your inquiry or statement.

    For exapmple: I’m asian – “Why should Asian complain because they are smart, hard working, educated, and family oriented. They are good in science and math”

    Nothing about this sentence is particularly wrong or in this case patently even offensive but you don’t really know what it is to be Asian. So if you were to say this, I would be offended that you would presume to project your perception onto my experience.

    For example, I had a white college friend who taught in Korea for about a year and she had the gall to try to explain Korean culture to me as an authority on the subject. Absolutely hated her guts cause she couldn’t get through her thick head that she really doesn’t get it. I was born and bred in a traditional Korean family.

    I don’t know if this is clear enough but hopefully will clarify some points for you.

  101. Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?

  102. Jackie, comparing oppressions is always difficult because we all have different societal challenges.

    For example – Black heterosexuals are allowed to marry, and the fat didn’t have to fight Jim Crow a blink of an eye ago. Being Muslim won’t keep you out of the army, and being deaf won’t (generally) make you unsure of which bathroom you will get beat up for using. People in wheelchairs aren’t the ones usually accused of street crime, and women haven’t been put in concentration camps for being women. Being brown-skinned isn’t seen as a choice.

    So we all have different challenges; and each person has a constellation of experiences around who they are.

    The thing that is often similar between rights movements is the reaction they get.

    There’s often a “Well, I don’t want to have to sleep with them, I don’t find them attractive” reaction. GBLT, fat, disabled, feminist (not women all together), and civil rights movements – we’ve all dealt with some level of reaction regarding our undesirability. Mocking, violent, or governmental.

    One of the other things that often happens is that the dominant culture comes in and tells a fledgling activist movement that they discuss their experience in a particular way or focus on particular issues, because the dominant culture doesn’t want anything to change.

    Often the way that’s phrased sounds very much like this:
    It’s almost become like when Black people say, “Well you don’t understand it at all, cause you’re not Black!”

    Because none of us CAN understand, 100%, all the time, how someone else experiences the world. The dominant culture likes to pretend that it’s experience is really the Way Things Work, and therefore we can imagine how Other Ways Work.

    Nope. I’m a fat white Canadian with two kids and a *great* imagination and I’ve done a lot of reading and talking with POC. There’s no singular Black experience, first of all. But second of all, it’s not about imagining and learning and all in our brains. Being a fat woman is a lifetime of experience, of words and feelings and moments that have informed my brain, my heart, my bones, my sinew: it is not imaginable. However, there are touchstones of experience. Of dreaming of the fantasy of being thin. Of being told it’s the cough drops, the water, the way you eat your toast, that’s made you fat.

    I can find allies – and many thin women, in this crazy culture, are sharing the crazy messages about fat even if they’re not even slightly – and we can recognize each other. However I would quickly become frustrated with someone trying to voice my experience for me who has never felt that shame and frustration of feeling like your body is calling you a liar. Thin people, in this culture, might be made to feel that way.

    So the question is, why do you think you know what touchstones are important regarding any experience not your own? How do you know what you don’t know? What about all those things you’ve never thought about?

  103. I find touchstones important, because it seems people feel that only until things get bad enough for fat people, we can’t do something. It’s not as bad as what has happened to the Blacks, so therfore what right do we have to compare to them. What right do we have to say well it’s horrible being discriminated against, but it’s not important as that guy/gal’s discrimination.

    Every day I see an ad for lap band surgery on TV, before there were no ads promoting what is by most accounts a dangerous and uncessary surgery. So we should wait until they come to pick us up on the trains to concentration camps, cause even though they’ve already found fat people suitable for medical experimentation. By the way I’m Jewish, and while my p.o.v. may not match every Jewish person’s point of view. A great lot of Jewish people see similarities between how fat people are being treated now and the social behaviour BEFORE the Holocaust.

    I’m tired of this, “Well it’s not like Black/Mexican/Jewish/whatever discrimination.” It isn’t, yet. So are we going to just sit by and wait until it becomes bad enough for us to justify doing something major about it?

  104. Jacki

    ‘Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?’

    You can compare the two to highlight certain similarities or differences but sweeping statements are not very descriptive or helpful. It is same as issues to do with race and different group experiences no matter who they are. I wouldn’t presume to know what you go through as a white? person.

    For example I won’t assume that you have had white? privilege experiences if you are white or assume that you have predudices. I would ask you as a person what your perspective is on your experience. Some stereotypes may apply to big groups but as you go to smaller samples, there needs to be finder categorizations to be accurate.

  105. Mmm. I went opaque at the end again.

    Thin, as KH showed, in this culture can give you access nonetheless to touchstones of fat experience. You can be a size 8 and called a whale, and you can be body dysmorphic and buy it.

    This is not something that regularly happens for issues of race.

    So if FA is about people who may have experienced a set of messages about bodies, it’s not because we’re “more openminded”, and if activists of colour are suggesting that folks outside their experience can’t define that experience, it’s not because they’re “more closeminded”.

    Apples and oranges.

  106. If you’re suggesting fat prejudice may get as severe as the violence which has been visited upon other groups, I can accept that’s a fear and an outside possibility – although 3 years ago I would have thought it impossible.

  107. All civil rights movements have some overlap. I have often used Branch Rickey (the Brooklyn Dodgers general manager who signed Jackie Robinson, the first black major league baseball player) as a comparison example when people talk about groups like the Center for Consumer Freedom which have seemed to advocate on our behalf, but are actually a lobbying arm of the restaurant and fast-food industry. Branch Rickey didn’t sign Jackie Robinson to advance the cause of black civil rights; he did it to put asses in the seats of Ebbets Field. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a watershed moment for black civil rights. So it’s a good example of how someone can do the “right” thing for an oppressed group with an ulterior (monetary) motive in mind.

    But comparing the progress of various social justice movements and how they are perceived is one thing, and comparing oppressed groups themselves is quite another. I remember a flyer by the group SeaFATtle which was reproduced in Hanne Blank’s Big Big Love (sorry, no linky available) comparing fat oppression to LGBTQ oppression, as a way of saying there is a great deal of overlap in the way both groups have been perceived over the years. However, I know at least one person involved in writing that flyer, and perhaps more than one, was queer, and so having a foot in both camps gave her a good understanding of the issues involved.

    So I think movement comparisons can be done, but I also think it’s a form of sloppy shorthand a lot of the time, and I’m afraid I’ve done my own share of overindulging in it over the years.

  108. Hear you, meowser. I’ve been guilty of sweeping generalizations because it is an easy way of describing issues or people. Don’t try to do that too much now since I’m more aware of it.

  109. and one way to do this is to get us to starve ourselves into submission. If we’re hungry, we don’t have energy to expend on things that matter.

    Exactly, i-geek, and if we feel that we have to be thin before we will allow ourselves to become ‘visible’ by making a meaningful contribution to society, a lot of us will feel like we’re in the waiting room for all of our lives, thus not getting anything done (I am still in that waiting room, unfortunately, where the fantasy of being thin holds sway).

  110. you can’t say no discussing Black people isn’t taboo, but what you said was very awful nasty and mean, but that again, doesn’t mean you can’t discuss race?

    Of course I can, if what you said about black people was offensive. Telling you not to make offensive statements patently doesn’t mean you can’t discuss race at all. It’s like someone coming in here and posting, “Fat people are lazy and stupid” and us correcting them, and them saying, “Okay, I get it — I can’t talk about fat issues at all here.”

    But I can’t believe you don’t see that distinction. You’re building straw men to object to (“Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?” No, no one said that) and clearly not hearing what is being said to you.

    It’s not as bad as what has happened to the Blacks, so therfore what right do we have to compare to them.

    Well, it isn’t as bad as what happened (if we’re putting that in the past tense) to black people, but the point is that it’s DIFFERENT to what happened to them, and therefore the usefullness of comparisons only goes so far. Especially when those comparisions (“I hope we don’t become as self-absorbed and close-minded as them”) are insulting. You seem to have forgotten that this isn’t a general philosophical debate about how to talk about race issues; it’s in response to an initial, offensive comment you made and still don’t seem to understand the problem with.

    If you really do want to understand why you can’t make the comparisons you are making without being offensive, go back and read the comments addressed to you without automatically being on the defensive. There’s a lot there to learn.

  111. Jackie said: “I’m tired of this, “Well it’s not like Black/Mexican/Jewish/whatever discrimination.” It isn’t, yet. So are we going to just sit by and wait until it becomes bad enough for us to justify doing something major about it?”

    I find it interesting how you’ve twisted your point around to this when faced with opposition to your racist statements.

    I think it’s pretty clear that no one in the FA movement is sitting around, doing nothing, whilst fat discrimination escalates. We’ve watched it escalate from societal commentary on our size, to issues such as gastric bypass surgery that is killing hundreds of people who were basically told, “do this or you die”, only to end up. . .well, dead.

    Most of what FA handles, IMO, is correcting misinformation, and digging out and bringing to light those studies and facts that challenge the party line about weight and health. It’s a social and political movement that reaches out to others as it attempts to challenge injustice.

    The reason people do not appreciate or accept statements that compare fat prejudice to racism is because it’s UNPRODUCTIVE. The ‘oppression Olympics’ helps no one.

    Looking at the comments here, people have been very clear about why your comments were offensive, and yet you still aren’t getting it. To be especially clear, calling an entire race of people self absorbed and close-minded because they dared to tell you *honestly* that you can’t know what it’s like to live in their skin is out of line and, in this context, racist. To then keep arguing your point, twisting people’s commentary, and generally venting your frustration that you can’t be offensive about POC is also out of line.

    I think Meowser’s comment should be re-read. It’s excellent.

  112. Alright, maybe I don’t understand why when I watch a show like The Boondocks, when someone Black makes a statement like “All white people are crazy!” That isn’t considered racist.

    “Well, it isn’t as bad as what happened (if we’re putting that in the past tense) to black people, but the point is that it’s DIFFERENT to what happened to them, and therefore the usefullness of comparisons only goes so far. Especially when those comparisions (”I hope we don’t become as self-absorbed and close-minded as them” are insulting. You seem to have forgotten that this isn’t a general philosophical debate about how to talk about race issues; it’s in response to an initial, offensive comment you made and still don’t seem to understand the problem with.” – Caitlin

    I can’t learn unless I ask questions. Perhaps I don’t seem to understand what the problem is with my comment, because other people here have gotten too emotional to bother educating me on it.

    “But I can’t believe you don’t see that distinction. You’re building straw men to object to (”Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?” No, no one said that) and clearly not hearing what is being said to you. ” – Caitlin

    I don’t see tha distinction, because it seems to me that I was attacked for comparing Black history to Fat history. Nobody said it to me, but that is the message I’ve been getting here.

    “I think it’s pretty clear that no one in the FA movement is sitting around, doing nothing, whilst fat discrimination escalates. We’ve watched it escalate from societal commentary on our size, to issues such as gastric bypass surgery that is killing hundreds of people who were basically told, “do this or you die”, only to end up. . .well, dead.

    Most of what FA handles, IMO, is correcting misinformation, and digging out and bringing to light those studies and facts that challenge the party line about weight and health. It’s a social and political movement that reaches out to others as it attempts to challenge injustice.” – Gemma

    Yet when I mention sizeism as a form of discrimination to most people, they think it’s a joke. I even mention the word Black and everyone gets upset with me. I’m sorry if I’m ignorant in thinking all discrimination should be treated with the same sensitivity.

    I also again would like to know why it’s perfectly reasonable for Black people to make sweeping generalizations about White people, and not a word is said.

  113. I don’t see tha distinction, because it seems to me that I was attacked for comparing Black history to Fat history. Nobody said it to me, but that is the message I’ve been getting here.

    No, I think what you’ve been (rightly) called on is saying that the ‘Black movement’ (!) is ‘closed-minded and self-absorbed’.

    People have actually been pretty gentle – I don’t think anyone’s called you on your assertion that ‘there is a Black culture’ – dude, there are millions of black people all over the world, are you seriously suggesting that they are just one homogenous group?

  114. (Oh, and fwiw, I am in the UK, where most black people prefer (to my knowledge) to be called black, but I understand that in the US the preferred term is African American, so if you are in the US, you might want to consider amending your language.)

  115. I can’t learn unless I ask questions.

    You also can’t learn if you don’t listen to the answers.

    Perhaps I don’t seem to understand what the problem is with my comment, because other people here have gotten too emotional to bother educating me on it.

    That’s an interesting theory. Completely untrue, though. I went back to make a list of comments that tried to explain to you why people are objecting to your remarks, and there were so many and so well-written that listing them seemed completely pointless. Why not just read them yourself? Start with the link sweetmachine gave you about checking your privilege — it would certainly benefit your understanding.

    I don’t see tha distinction, because it seems to me that I was attacked for comparing Black history to Fat history.

    No, Jackie, you were “attacked” — if that’s what we’re calling it — for saying the black movement is “self-absorbed and close-minded” and you would hate to see the FA movement become like that. Stop trying to twist everyone else’s words and deny your own. You made an offensive statement and were corrected.

    Yet when I mention sizeism as a form of discrimination to most people, they think it’s a joke. I even mention the word Black and everyone gets upset with me.

    See above. You didn’t “mention the word Black”, you made sweeping and insulting generalisations about an entire movement. Stop trying to change what happened.

    Alright, maybe I don’t understand why when I watch a show like The Boondocks, when someone Black makes a statement like “All white people are crazy!” That isn’t considered racist.

    I also again would like to know why it’s perfectly reasonable for Black people to make sweeping generalizations about White people, and not a word is said.

    What the actual Jesus? Point me to any person on this blog who is saying these things and going unchallenged. No wait, there aren’t any, because they’re fabrications to defend yourself against — horrors! — people who aren’t willing to let you be casually racist. Just because you didn’t mean to be racist doesn’t mean you weren’t. “I didn’t mean to be offensive so you can’t be offended! Why is everyone being so meeean to me?” is an argument as old as the hills, and about as relevant.

  116. Jackie, please read these two links before you make any more comments on this thread:

    How Not To Be Insane When Accused Of Racism (A Guide For White People)

    How To Fuck Up

    You fucked up and said something racist even if you didn’t realize it was racist. At this point, however, you’re digging your heels in, creating strawmen all over the place, and threadjacking like nobody’s business. If you really want to learn something from this experience, I suggest you stop talking and start listening.

  117. Also: in completely mental news, I just almost had to force myself to eat a salad I really wanted.

    It was Italian-style baby leaf from M&S and it looked so good, as did croutons, so I bought both of them. And then I thought I should get some salad dressing, but wait! Salad dressing has so many calories! It was like, where the hell did that vestigal dietcrazythought come from? So I tried to ignore it and went to look at the salad dressings, and automatically picked out the “count on us” (low cal) one because salad dressing! Has so many calories! Then I mentally smacked myself and tried to find one I actually wanted but oh! The calories! And I ended up standing in front of the salad dressing display in M&S having this huge mental battle with myself over salad dressing. It is AMAZING how deep-down the dietcrazy goes.

    So in the end I bought two different kinds of dressings — because I need to find out which ones I like, having never permitted myself to eat them before — and came home. Then I ended up fighting a completely different mental battle with myself, with “How much salad dressing should I put on? OH GOD NOT THAT MUCH THE CALORIES!” and “How many croutons? I shouldn’t put on too many, right? They’re fattening,” and every bite was, “Is there more dressing on this than I really need? Quick, add more green stuff to soak it up.” All this for a salad. That I actually really wanted to eat. I kept remembering Kate saying that a bit of fat does not cancel out the vitaminy goodness, but some craaazy part of me I didn’t know was there was fighting tooth and nail against adding enough croutons and dressing for me to actually enjoy the thing.

    It. was. madness. I knew already that I hadn’t really completely let go of the crazy diet stuff, but talk about a wake-up call. Salad dressing’s just one of those things I’ve never let myself have (except with a caesar, and then on the side) and I hadn’t realised how entrenched that barrier was.

    Next up: creamy sauces on foods. I don’t even know how that one’s going to go.

  118. Dude, “What the actual Jesus?” is my new favorite phrase.

    Dude, Caitlin is my new favorite Shapeling.

    Especially for this:

    I can’t learn unless I ask questions.

    You also can’t learn if you don’t listen to the answers.

    Oh by the way, Jackie:

    Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?

    Exhibit A: Comments policy. People are doing you a huge favor by explaining so clearly what you’re doing wrong here, but they’re under no obligation to keep it up if they don’t want to, because frankly you’re in violation of explicit policy and risking bannination.

  119. But I can’t believe you don’t see that distinction. You’re building straw men to object to (”Ok so saying there is anything at all at common between fat discrimination and racial discrimination is a no no?” No, no one said that) and clearly not hearing what is being said to you.

    Exactly.

    Jackie, if you think you haven’t asked enough questions to get it, then start asking Google. People have been very generous with thoughtful, specific answers here, and all you’re doing is stirring shit.

  120. Caitlin – I bought (from Borders/Paperchase) a postcard saing ‘it took a lot of will power, but I finally gave up dieting’ and have it pinned over my desk at work. I’m not sure I can claim to have given up fully yet (in as much as still having all the struggles etc) but I am determined not to actually do the silly D thing again, and it’s a nice reminder…

  121. I wonder why the comments of strangers often seem to have so much more power than the opinion of friends of family. In the case of drive-by incidents I mean. I think maybe we infuse these comments with some perceived objectivity. We think something like “well, they don’t know me, but they think I am fat, so there must be some truth in that”. But those people *do* have an agenda in insulting random strangers. They are *not* voices of objectivity, they have some problems of their own (for which they rightfully should be pitied, as somebody wrote upthread).

    So while the stupid voice in my head says “they say that to make you feel good and because they love you” when I hear “you are lovely the way you are” from my (potential) partner, I should also have that voice say “they say that because they are a pathetic asshat” when somebody says something disparaging about my body.

  122. Also, I second the paint ball gun, although some kind of gooey food would heighten the irony for sure.

    How about peanut butter mixed with whipping cream, with red and green (which together make dark brown) food coloring added to make it look like you-know-what. Imagine that hitting hitting Mr. Dude Nation’s windshield from the barrel of a paintball gun!

    Yes, I’m sick and twisted. What about it? :-D

  123. The psychology of drive by yelling always baffles me. I’m moderately fat, but but I’m tall and broad so the effect is that I’m huge. I rarely get insulted face to face, but I get plenty of drive bys. Like some asshole takes it upon himself to scream at me since I’m unlikely to get my daily requirement any other way. It does bother me, but I try and ignore them.

    I probably sound like somebody’s mother saying this, and other posters have said things to this effect more eloquently, but a good “thumbnail” thought to remember when this happens to you is that the person who is engaging in this behavior is saying vastly more about themselves than they are about you.

  124. Incredible post, Kate.

    And while these idiots are throwing “fat” messages in the faces of women who happen to be the unlucky ones who walk past their car that day, it affects so many more than just the target person.

    Perhaps the woman at the cafe, who was also enjoying the day, started thinking to herself, “well if she’s a ‘fat whale’ I must be the whole ocean!”

    Perhaps a little girl walking by heard it and began to wonder if her thighs were a little chunky.

    Perhaps an 7 year old boy got his first in-person glimpse into what it means to act and talk like “a real man” like the idiot in the car.

    Comments like this have wings– because they stick with the girl/woman who was targeted and echo in the minds of anyone who hears it.– even if the comment wasn’t intended for them–in our culture, somehow, it feels like, it was.

    Dr. Robyn

  125. Not to pile on with the whole Jackie issue, but as a real reporter myself, I was offended by her “real reporter tirade.”

    I reserve the right to ask ignorant questions — as long as they are asked with respect and sensitivity — so I don’t put my ignorance into print attached to an innocent source’s name.

    Real reporters aren’t ashamed to ask dumb questions. Sometimes, it’s the best way to be un-dumbed.

    Got it, Jacks?

  126. risking bannination.

    On a completely unrelated note, I’m silently cracking up at my desk because of this. Fillyjonk the banninator! :D

  127. Jackie: “I can’t learn unless I ask questions. Perhaps I don’t seem to understand what the problem is with my comment, because other people here have gotten too emotional to bother educating me on it.”

    You realize that this is what privileged people usually say when called on their privilege, right? “I didn’t specifically set out to be a racist, therefore YOU who are criticizing me must have some kind of psychological/personality defect.” It’s practically a cliche’. In fact, isn’t it on some of those white privilege bingo cards floating around the interweb?

    Of course, the coding changes slightly – sometimes it’s men talking about hysterical fragile women or humorless feminists; sometimes it’s white folks talking about OMG SCARY ANGRY BLACK PEOPLE!!!; sometimes it’s the whole “You’re just grumpy ‘cuz you’re FAT FAT FATTY FAT and can’t get laid!” response.

    Just so you know.

  128. I personally would have walked to his side of the car, opened the door and punched him in his arrogant, narrow minded face. Then again, i’m on the lower end of the intelligence spectrum most of the time..especially when it involves ANGERRZ!!1

    I loved this post. Actually, I love this blog. Keep it up :)

  129. Banninating the countryside… Totally funny, kbllamas.

    Agreed. Also, don’t forget the THATCHED-ROOF COTTAGES!
    Because they , like, Jackie, are practically begging to be banninated.

  130. Dude, “What the actual Jesus?” is my new favorite phrase.

    Heh. Excellent.

    Aww, thanks fillyjonk! *blushing*

    Also, last night I came across “I don’t know why that doesn’t surprise your cunt, but please stop talking like a pirate” and I cannot. stop. laughing. I’ve remembered it a dozen times today and cracked up, and I’m still laughing now. It’s fucking hilarious.

    Anwen: I bought (from Borders/Paperchase) a postcard saing ‘it took a lot of will power, but I finally gave up dieting’ and have it pinned over my desk at work.

    Aw yes! Just when I thought I couldn’t love Paperchase more. Did you get that recently? I clearly must have it.

    I wonder why the comments of strangers often seem to have so much more power than the opinion of friends of family. In the case of drive-by incidents I mean. I think maybe we infuse these comments with some perceived objectivity…I should also have that voice say “they say that because they are a pathetic asshat” when somebody says something disparaging about my body.

    Yup yup, Skreee. I hadn’t thought of it like that before, and you’re very right.

    SALAD UPDATE (never let it be said that I neglect what’s important): I used the rest of the baby leaf & croutons to make an awesome chicken salad with sliced apple, sliced nectarine and toasted pine nuts. I put on as much salad dressing as I needed to make it taste good. It was fucking great.

    SOME PART OF ME IS STILL TRYING TO CALCULATE THE CALORIES IN MY HEAD. It’s like I trust myself to eat intuitively, except for a certain list of foods (so far including salad dressing, creamy sauces and thai sweet chilli crisps) which will IMMEDIATELY MAKE ME FAT. Dude, what?

  131. Caitlin, I still have problems with Salad Accessories too…I caught myself recently putting the croutons for a Wendy’s caesar salad aside, even though I wanted them, and had to stop and say WTF? to myself.

    Also, the banninator comes in the NIIIIIGHT!

  132. Re: Privilage

    I have only one thing to say, and it’s something that my step-dad (may he rest in peace) and I agreed upon quite frequently. And that is you can never KNOW how another person feels, but you can sympathize with how their situation might feel. I’ve always hated it when I am talking about something that bothers me and the person I’m talking to says “Oh I know how you feel!” Ummm, like hell you do, that is unless you’ve magically become me with all my emotions, memories and quirks. I will never know what it’s like to be gay, black, male or anything but a straight, fat mother of an autistic son. So don’t you dare tell me you KNOW how I feel or I might just have to kick you in the shins.

    As for the post, thank you Kate. I adore you, you keep me sane many days. Keep up your wonderful work.

  133. Tink, excellent point. I had a philosophy professor in college who wrote an essay on that very phenomenon, and ever since then I’ve tried really hard not to say “I know how you feel” — when I have the impulse, I try to pause and think about what I’m really trying to communicate and say that instead.

  134. Tink and sweetmachine — I agree. When I catch myself about to say, “I know how you feel,” “I hear what you’re saying” is usually a more useful alternative. And it’s what I mean anyway.

  135. SOME PART OF ME IS STILL TRYING TO CALCULATE THE CALORIES IN MY HEAD. It’s like I trust myself to eat intuitively, except for a certain list of foods (so far including salad dressing, creamy sauces and thai sweet chilli crisps) which will IMMEDIATELY MAKE ME FAT. Dude, what?

    I will take a stab at this: we’re still struggling with a little cognitive dissonance. This is salad, a “known good food,” and there’s societal pressure to treat it as such. Whereas I cannot imagine anyone agonizing over putting frosting on cake, a “known bad food.” (Except I don’t like frosting. I know, what am I doing here? HA ha ha ha.)

  136. This is like, directly related to the personal essay documentary I made for a class earlier this quarter. I posted it up on my blog today (http://jigglybits.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/fat-documentary/) after some difficulties getting it onto YouTube. But I actually went out and asked people on the street if they thought I was fat.

    With that came a whole host of responses. No, I don’t really get into them in the film, but I got everything from a quick “no, you look great!” to “yeah, you’re a little overweight” to “no. You’re proportioned…you know, you’re not PLUMPING OUT anywhere…”

    I went on to ask if the word FAT was an insult, and most people told me that yes, it was. To be fat is to be ugly. It was actually a really interesting social experiment, and it was really helpful to me.

  137. “The psychology of drive by yelling always baffles me.”

    Generally:
    – 1 part testosterone poisoning (also occurs in wimminz)
    – 1 part cowardice
    – 1 part imagined oppression
    (having to compete with dem wimminz/immigrantz/others for OUR jobz)
    – splash of attention seeking
    – blend well
    (do NOT beat, at the risk of “reverse discrimination” accusations)
    – serve in Ego Cups
    (caution recommended; they appear strong but are actually extremely fragile)
    – makes: waaaaaay too many

    “I am of the firm belief that I owe nothing to any MAN and therefore will not kiss his ass strictly because he owns a penis. “

    That “radical notion that women are people” thing does seem to be a problem for the same types that apparently specialize in the drive-by insult.

    “I cannot imagine anyone agonizing over putting frosting on cake, a “known bad food.””

    I’ve agonized over putting frosting on cake. But that’s because I watch too much Top Chef.

    I am refraining from responding directly to Jackie
    1) because everyone else is doing such a patient and eloquent job, and
    2) because I am trying to be responsible and mature in the face of a display of a staggering inability — or is it deliberate refusal?? — to grasp nuance.

    However, I will make the gentle observation that anyone who becomes that enraged watching something as deliberately edgy as McGruder’s “Boondocks” might want to consider moving slowly — perhaps with the help of the remote control — in a direction away from Adult Swim.

    I, for one, welcome our Banninating Overlords.

  138. Gosh darn, Chrissy.

    And the Award for “Having the Most Guts to Go Out on the Street and Edit Her Experiences into a Documentary Feature” goes to …

    Chrissy.

    *applause*
    *speech*

    *attempts to crowd around Chrissy post-ceremony; gets elbowed out of the way by Joan Rivers asking Chrissy, “Who are you wearing?”*

  139. Amen. I’m a size 12/14 and just today was accused by my downstairs neighbor in an e-mail to all the men in the building of being so heavy that my footsteps have loosened his lightbulbs and have knocked wine off its rack.

    Even IF footsteps could do that, why assume they are mine and not my
    (yes smaller) husband?

    or both of us?

    so yes, even “average” size women are still called fat.

    You, Kate, have changed my life. thank you.

    (oh, and i live in chicago too!)

  140. Hi Stacey Stardust: a little late to answer (I didn’t/couldn’t connect to the web yesterday), but the prominent and ‘his’ actress are Jort Kelder and Georgina Verbaan, and the anchor woman is Astrid Kersseboom. I think we can agree both women are not fat.

  141. Caitlin – yep, I got it this week :D It’s got an insanely cheery 1950s lady on as well, which is always a bonus (cf my Queen of Fvcking EVERYTHING fridge magnet with the sultry 1950s lady which never fails to shock my daughter, mwahaha!) Paperchase basically for the win!

  142. Aaaahh, phledge. I think that’s it. I’ll eat all the cake (and cake batter, mmm) going, but adding fatty stuff to salad just seemed to be against the “point” of salad. (Because the point of salad is to be a low-cal weight-loss tool, right? Oh, the ingrained crazy’s like a brick wall sometimes.)

    Anwen ~ Yes! I am there. Paperchase always for the win. I love them.

    *attempts to crowd around Chrissy post-ceremony; gets elbowed out of the way by Joan Rivers asking Chrissy, “Who are you wearing?”*

    *snort*

  143. @ Boudicca

    Awesome story – but I’m just wondering why it was relevant/necessary to point out your friend’s nationality?

  144. Hey Daisy, sympathies on the mismatched boobage. Silly question, but have you ever tried the time honored tradition of stuffing your bra? Like, get a bra where the cup fits the larger one, and then use shoulder pads, water balloons, post-mammary prostheses, kleenex, etc. to fill out the cup where the smaller boob resides?

    If it’s any consolation, my nipples are cross-eyed. Seriously, one points about 30 degrees over the horizon, one about 30 degrees under.

  145. adding fatty stuff to salad just seemed to be against the “point” of salad.

    Well, if it helps you defeat the diet thinking, adding fat to salad actually helps you absorb the vitamins and nutrients from it better. Maybe try reminding yourself of that next time you struggle with it.

  146. Slightly OT, but I on the general topic of our bodies and who they belong to, here’s my Kate-inspired ephiphany of the day: saw an ad for a top cancer center. There’s a picture of the female reconstructive surgeon, below which she talks about being an art history major, and how that gave her this appreciation for women’s bodies, and how she looks at women’s bodies as ‘works of art.’ Now, for all I know she’s a great doctor, and I get that doctors (especially surgeons) depersoanlize the body from necessity, but I started screaming, on the subway, NO. Our bodies are not works of art. They are *living things.* If they create beauty, that’s great. But that’s not their purpose. Their purpose is you know, to let us LIVE.

    Everytime I think I get this stuff, I look and see more. Thanks, Kate!

  147. On the topic of foods that, like cake and salad, are composed of at least two parts, one of which is commonly considered (by the benighted) “BAD”–respectively, frosting and dressing–I’ve had a recurring thought.

    I’m a frosting lover, always have been. At birthday parties as a kid, I used to take off the frosting off my piece of cake and save it on the side of the plate so I could enjoy it by itself. (And thereby inviting “jokes” from people who would say, “oh, you don’t like frosting? I’ll take it!” with a reaching fork. I’d practically snap and slaver like an angry wolf, LOL.) So, sometimes lately, I’ve found myself, say, eating a cupcake or a piece of cake and thinking, “I love the frosting but the cake isn’t so good,” yet continued to eat the cake part. I recently had the revelation: DUDE! If you’re not enjoying the cake, don’t eat it! Eat the freakin’ frosting by itself! It’s paradoxical, isn’t it? I have to take some of the less desired food to balance out the yummy “sinful” part, when in fact, not eating the cake at all would save some OMG CALORIES, if in fact I ever counted them. Crrrazy thinking.

    Also, I have loved salads all my life. Just love ‘em. Loved ‘em when I was thin, love ‘em when I’m fat. But I nearly lost that love through the advent and forced popularization of nonfat crappo salad dressings and “virtuous” alternatives like lemon juice and balsamic vinegar (by themselves). They just taste awful, they turn the lettuce into some mouth-shriveling ascetic scourge, and they just generally ruin the whole experience. Luckily, I turned from the dark side before I allowed my beautiful darling lettuce to become an evil food to me. Even when I was on WW I would always used full-fat salad dressing, lightly applied (because that’s how I like it). If I can’t make my food taste the way I like it, what’s the point of eating it??

  148. Oh dear lord, while I was composing that I got a message in my in-box from the PCRM (I like them because they are vegan advocates, but I have some problems with them, obviously) with the subject line: “We Need Your Vegan Diet Success Story!” It’s all about weight loss, of course. They aren’t interested in my Vegan Diet Success Story, which is that I’m a chub but have normal BP, blood sugar, cholesterol, good hair, healthy nails, etc…. But I’m not a stick figure and didn’t lose weight when I went vegan 6 years ago, so I’m not a success.

  149. Lu, can I just say I completely understand what you’re saying about the frosting. I’ve been working on intuitive eating (and apparently my body needs metric tons of citrus right now), but once I’ve figured out what my body is asking for, I do have a hard time choosing the parts of food items I want to eat.

    If I like one part and not another, I usually have to remind myself that’s it okay to actually modify the sandwich or whatever to suit my tastes. I’m someone with serious food texture issues, and I’m just now learning that it’s okay to ask for no tomatoes rather than picking them out and making a mess or being unable to eat the thing.

  150. I’ve told this story a million times, but I have to share it again:

    I was in the parking lot of a toy store, getting into my car. I’m near a very busy street.

    A group of teenage guys in a car make a dead stop in the middle of this road to scream at me, “Holy shit, you’re fat!”

    So, what exactly did they achieve by this? These kids risked death in order to throw an insult at me.

  151. And to help Jackie out:

    9 Things NEVER to Say to White Colleagues

    3. “There’s no way you as a white person can understand”

    But the knee-jerk response is “If that’s true, then why should I try to understand?” says Howard Ross, the white founder and chief learning officer for Cook Ross, a Maryland-based diversity consultancy.

    Don’t beat up your white colleagues by cloaking them in the shroud of “ignorant oppressor” while wearing the shroud of “victim.” Look for the personal stories that will develop commonalities and shared ideas.

    “Now at some level that’s true–I can never be an African American, Latino or Asian American. But also, it minimizes the various levels of discrimination that everyone deals with and can understand through the human dynamics that apply to all people,” says Ross.

    Visconti adds that saying you can’t understand because you’re white is treating a white person as if he or she is ignorant of culture and diversity issues. “It belittles the good intentions [white people] may have,” says Visconti. “It doesn’t progress the discussion. Considering that nearly [one-quarter] of U.S. households have a biracial or multiracial component, you should never assume a white man or woman is not intimately involved with issues surrounding diversity.”

    6. “You KNOW you’re being racist”

    In the absence of concrete evidence, don’t assume that a comment considered prejudiced was the result of a conscious thought process designed to stereotype, says Ross.

    “We’re learning that an overwhelming number of decisions people make are not made by bad intentions but are made by people blind to their own behavior,” says Ross. “Rather than assume that a person intended to be sexist or prejudiced, assume they didn’t mean any malicious intent.”

    McCloskey adds that often people who are not white assume whites know their behavior is racist or prejudiced: “But being in a place of privilege is such a powerful place to be that the assumption is that everyone is living my life experience.”

    Ross says people should stop before they reply to a comment deemed prejudicial and ask themselves if their reaction is the result of thinking the white person is like “all white people” or is a person who “happens to be white.”

    “If I’m dealing with them as ‘all white people,’ my triggers will be [switched],” says Ross. “If I’m dealing with them as ‘a person who happens to be white,’ then they’ll be [communicative].”

  152. I’ve been reading your blog for sixth months now, but this is my first comment. I just wanted to thank you for sharing what happened to you today and describing fat hatred so well. I’m going to keep this entry in mind when I’m having trouble convincing a thin person that fat prejudice really exists. It’s really frustrating to have to prove to someone that a prejudice exists when they haven’t experienced it themselves, and it can’t be explained away with “thin people have it hard, too!” and other dismissive answers I’ve heard before. Thanks for giving me a way to approach such conversations.

  153. I adore your blog, I just want you to know. I absolutely adore it. Please never stop what you are doing here.

  154. Sarah, thank you. I think alot of people who posted here need to give number 6 a long look over. I don’t feel it’s an issue of privelage either, it’s if we’re going to talk about discrimination, then all forms of discrimination should be available for comparison.

    Too many people were wrapped up in screaming racism, rather than seeing what I was saying is that until people take sizeism as a serious discriminatory factor, what can we do? I’m tired of people acting as if sizeism is a joke, or the answer is to get off your fat behind and walk around the block a little.

    Maybe I should’ve said we should be more proactive like Black people, and get out there and demand our right to exsist. Does that come across any better?

  155. Um. This is an old, old post but I felt like reacting, because it really stroke a chord. I am technically in the moderately overweight category. My family and friends keep playing the “you’re not fat” chestnut, while random unknown people let me know in various ways that I’m a fatass. No woman deemed beautiful has a body size comparable to mine, and my generalist keeps insinuating that perhaps I should, well not diet of course but exercise perhaps? (well, he used to, before I changed).

    And you know what?
    I’ve been considering joining a fat acceptance group. I thought it would be a good idea, especially since I’ve had a massive ED for 15 years and still have problems accepting my body as it is (I’m now mostly recovered ; my food intake has been normal for years, but I still won’t store food at home or spend time on cooking because I’m afraid it would spark a relapse). Anyway, for a while I’ve been lurking in the forum of one of the very few (if not the only) fat acceptance group in my country, namely France [here goes the myth that French women don’t get fat, hehe]. They happen to be based quite close to my place and organize various activities, and I seriously considered joining. But the ambiance seemed mitigated toward non-obese people, not officially but still in a noticeable way. At some point, they barred one of their adherents, a formerly obese woman now moderately overweight, from joining their swimming activity because you see “it’s only for fat people, period”. I was aggravated. To begin with, the adherent who was banned was still fatter than I am (and again, I’m overweight; my BMI wanders around 27 and random unknown people call be a fattie). I just seem to be too fat to be accepted by society but not fat enough to be accepted by fat acceptance groups. I’m not trying to pretend that I have it as bad as a morbidly obese woman, but it still sucks that I meet no one’s criteria for acceptable.

  156. It struck me that it’s a bit like telling people in hospice care not to talk abotu dying because ‘you just think positive and you’ll get better’

    One of the first things they teach anyone involved in palliative care is not to do that. If the person (who IS going to die, and probably soon) says something like that, you don’t dismiss it. It’s like telling someone with postpartum depression to pull their socks up. Or a person who is constantly told by society that she is disgusting that ‘of course you’re not’. Now not only do you feel disgusting, but you feel like you are an annoying burden to your friends and family – it would be better for them if you’d just internalise it quietly and then go away, thanks…

    I get SO IRRITATED when I say ‘I’m fat’ or not even the words, maybe something like ‘I hate summer, I get a rash where my thighs rub together’ and someone says ‘you’re not fat!’

    Yes. Yes I am. And that’s fine! I’m allowed! And I can still be a healthy, attractive, useful member of society. Fat isn’t a death sentence. And death isn’t so bad either, if we’d stop freaking out about it. Let’s everyone just relax and deal with the way things are – I am fat, and one day we all will die. I don’t see why either of those things should stop me from enjoying myself.

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