I Am Carnie Wilson

This started as a comment in response to Lesley’s open letter to Carnie Wilson (in response to Wilson’s appearance on Tyra, in which the woman who broadcast her gastric bypass surgery on the internet complains that people now pay too much attention to her weight), but it got so long, I decided to make it a post. Here you go.

I love this letter, but I actually can muster some sympathy for Carnie by remembering back to the first time I got fat again after a very “successful” diet. I had so totally believed that I was in the tiny percentage of folks who would keep it off forever, I just kinda kept going “Buh?” every time I went up a size, until I was officially fat(ter than before), at which point I was utterly devastated. I felt ashamed enough just knowing that my friends had witnessed the transformation and knew how “weak” I was; if it had been public, I don’t know how I would have gotten up in the morning.

That in itself might not be enough to engender any real sympathy for Carnie — hey, I didn’t ask the whole world to congratulate me on my weight loss! — but here’s what does: I totally would have asked the whole world to congratulate me if I’d had an outlet to do so. The only reason I didn’t was because nobody knew or gave a rat’s ass who I was. As it was, I was one of the worst small-time, local diet evangelists ever, because I really believed the following things:

  1. I’d discovered the magic weight loss secret. (Brace yourself — eat less and exercise more!)
  2. I was never going to gain it back.
  3. I was being helpful by telling everyone I ever fucking met how I’d lost the weight and you can too!

I was a huge troll, basically. (And it’s not lost on me that my fat acceptance evangelism is in some ways just the other side of the coin.) If someone had put a mic in my hand, I totally would have babbled smugly for hours and given them permission to broadcast it anywhere they liked. So in retrospect, I’m extremely grateful that I am not famous and I didn’t even know about blogs back then.

Having said that, I can’t believe Carnie Wilson hadn’t dieted and gained it back a kabillion times before the surgery, so she loses a little sympathy from me on the “You should have freakin’ known better” front. Except… she was no doubt assured by doctors, advertising, Oprah, whomever, that gastric bypass weight loss would be permanent. That’s how they sell it — why else would anyone put herself through it? It’s easy for fat acceptance activists to say, “Well, duh,” but we’re extraordinarily well-informed about the dangers and the failures of the surgery. And sadly, a whole lot of people who get the surgery are not so informed — even if they’ve done what looks like due diligence

If you Google “gastric bypass risks,” you get a whole lot of pages from doctors giving the standard spiel: “X, Y, and Z could happen, but they probably won’t, and if you stay fat, you’ll die soon anyway.” The internet is flooded with people talking about how awesome WLS is, how even the nastiest side effects are totally worth it, how having surgery that leaves you permanently malnourished will feel like the best thing you ever did when you fit into a size whatever dress. So don’t listen to those killjoys who say it’s too dangerous and you might gain it back anyway! They’re just jealous!

There’s so much of that noise out there that even if you do come across some horror stories, you can brush them off as anomalies. And keep in mind, people considering WLS have almost certainly, at some point, bought into the idea that they can diet the weight away permanently, even if the vast majority of people can’t. When you’ve already engaged in that degree of magical thinking (which I sure have, so I’m not judging) a new set of risks and failure rates doesn’t hold any real meaning. Other people have to go in for multiple subsequent surgeries to correct problems. Other people can’t ever eat solid food again without vomiting. Other people gain the weight back anyway. Other people die. Not you. You? Are just going to get thin.

If The Obesity Myth hadn’t come out when it did, there’s a chance I could still be desperately searching for the magic bullet instead of preaching that there isn’t one. So no matter how much I want to say, “You should have freakin’ known better, Carnie,” I relate to her a little too much to leave it at that. I even had a twinge, upon looking at the old Thin Carnie People cover Lesley linked to, of remembering how awesome it felt to be the tiny person (metaphorically) standing in the huge pants. The whole world really wants to congratulate you when you lose a lot of weight, as if triumphing over your own hunger and genetic predisposition is an accomplishment on a par with… well, something that’s actually an accomplishment. It’s fucking intoxicating. You’ve spent your whole life hearing how ugly, lazy, and disgusting you are (if only from your own brain), and now here you are being praised for your hotness and discipline at every turn. It’s only natural to think, “See, this is the real me, not that fat slob I was before!” and want to shout that from the rooftops. (The reality, of course, is that you were probably both hot and disciplined before you lost weight, but you didn’t have the confidence to work the hotness and you didn’t even count all the hard work and tenacity you displayed in your daily life, because there wasn’t evidence of it right there on your ass for all the world to see.) Accordingly, when you start to gain the weight back, it’s only natural to think the real you is receding, not returning. Which leads to the next diet, and the next and the next, and then maybe the surgery, if something doesn’t jar you out of that cycle.

So I can’t help but feel sympathy for Carnie Wilson being stuck in this position of having made her weight loss unbelievably public, only to find the same obsessive attention turned on her weight gain. I can’t help it because I still am Carnie Wilson somewhere down deep, even if my public persona (to the extent that I have one) is now “that Kate Harding chunky chick.” I don’t hate my body or fervently hope, let alone try, to erase parts of it anymore — but I will never forget how it felt when I did, or how it felt when I managed, briefly, to erase dozens of pounds and was constantly lauded for it. I don’t condone weight loss for its own sake, I don’t believe it’s a wise gamble, and I think people who do lose a lot of weight should really shut the fuck up about it, if only because one’s shame over the almost inevitable rebound is directly proportionate to the amount of crowing one’s done over the loss. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get it. I will always get it.

So if Carnie Wilson ever decides to make peace with her body and finds her way to the fatosphere, she’ll be welcome in this little part of it, anyway. I’ll even send her a free “I am Kate Harding” T-shirt.

68 thoughts on “I Am Carnie Wilson

  1. We’ve all learned the same lesson. The first time I lost a lot of weight I went all “third secret of Fatima” on everyone else too, so I really understand how she feels, even if I do think she sort of asked for it.

    Incidentally, what’s going on with this fashion for moving nipples around on photos of big-breasted ladies? I’ve noticed this in other photos too. In that Playboy snap of her on Fatshionista it’s obvious that her real nipples can’t be where they’ve put them. When you look closely (not that I have *cough*) you can see where they must be in real life, and also that she’d have a jolly nice rack even if the airbrusher had just left them where they started.

  2. Yes, I can sympathize too.
    I lost a great deal of weight through long, repeated fasts (originally to successfully treat a serious illness; than excessively to keep off the weight I had happened to lose in the process), plus hours of daily exercise. I preached about it too (though I was still very fat, just somewhat less so than previously).
    Imagine how surprised I was to not be able to get out of bed one morning — the starvation plus extreme exertion had damaged my heart and other organs literally almost to the point of death. Who would have thought that a person could starve to death while ‘obese’? Not I, not then.
    I’m really fat again now, as I was meant to be, and still working to slowly undo some of the physical damage. But yes, I’ve been there, and am also glad that I wasn’t famous then.

  3. Even though people should not treat others’ bodies like their own personal property, I really can’t gain (no pun intended) any sympathy for those that make their weight loss the equivalent to the solution for world peace. Weight loss should be a private matter. I know that being commented on how good you look for tons of people is a huge security blanket, but there is a way to respond to all the hoopla without treating yourself like a canonized saint.

  4. I know that this might be cruel, but I can’t help but hope that enough famous WLS patients gain the weight back for the myth of permanent weight loss from WLS to finally be exploded. I know that it’s like hoping for unicorns to stampede Las Vegas, but a girl can dream.

  5. My sympathy circuits have been permanently damaged by the incessant whining of people who deserve no sympathy whatsoever. So I don’t feel bad for Carnie. What goes around comes around you know.

    But I do hope she is able to find a way to deal with this in a healthy way. (In short, I hope she finds your blog Kate.)

  6. I know that this might be cruel, but I can’t help but hope that enough famous WLS patients gain the weight back for the myth of permanent weight loss from WLS to finally be exploded.

    Oh, I totally thought the same thing — and in fact almost included a remark to that effect in the post.

  7. It certainly doesn’t help that losing weight gets more media play that ending the war or engaging in policies that really might move us toward peace.

    The government, corporate giants and media are treating obesity and weight loss as the ONLY thing that means anything.

    Incidently, my lover did her master’s thesis on lap-banding surgery. What was remarkable about her findings is that almost NO ONE in her surveys lost the amount of weight their doctors wanted to, you know, promise diabetes, cariovascular disease and cancer prevention. Almost no one.

    The game is rigged against fatties. Even when WLS surgery fails, it has nothing to do with biology, immunology or physiology. Fatties are junkies and liars. They ate their way back to fattyhood.

  8. The very fact that we can become slimmer for short periods (due to meds, diets, stress, etc) of time, is what makes being fat so difficult. It makes people draw the conclusion that we could be slim all the time, if only we put our mind to it. The problem is, in our heart of hearts, we draw that conclusion as well. We look back on those thin times and think, I was so beautiful then, I didn’t have any problems then, everyone loved me then, etc. We berate ourselves for not being able to keep it up, because we were at one time slim, so it is conceivable that we could be again in the future if only we worked hard enough, prayed hard enough, loved hard enough, etc.
    I feel for Carnie (although I am admittedly empathetic to a fault.) She was told the same tripe we all were, and to “fail” so publicly at something that is supposed to fail safe I would imagine would be very difficult. What’s worse is that, without FA, Carnie has no recourse but to blame herself. I think this is when she needs FA the most, and when we as people should step up and help her. She could be a most valuable asset. Imagine how far it would go to have such a public figure placing the blame on the WLS, where it belongs.

  9. I found myself nodding to this a lot. I have sympathy for Wilson, and for Latifah too, actually – without community, how hard is it to love your fat body in the public eye? Say it too loud and all the Doctors Of Fox come after you with comments fatist, scaremongering, racist, classist, and misogynist, and the media controls your income potential.

    Having lost weight a bunch of times, I have to say it was sort of an ephemeral accomplishment — for me each time the personal equivalent of brokering world peace. It was a dangerous and painful constant negotiation, my own starving — with the danger of caloric insurrection each minute of every day. Looking back on that place I *still* think all the times I lost weight it was a bullheaded accomplishment of sorts.

    Sure! It’s not healthy, it’s fatist and patriarchal, slave to corporate ideals, not going to create lasting change, psychologically toxic, and participating in your own oppression – but it’s also really hard. And anytime anyone does something really hard, it’s an accomplishment in our current understanding of accomplishment. Whenever I was being praised for “small pants” I didn’t feel praised for being slimmer, I felt praised for being In Pain And Sticking To It.

    Which is dysfunctional and sick, yeah, but it’s a dysfunctional sickness passed around like an airborne virus in this culture.

    So I have a lot of sympathy for Carnie Wilson. And all the dieters. People don’t learn otherwise until they learn otherwise, and it’s hard to believe that your failure to keep the weight off isn’t the “magical” thinking. Everything, everywhere, says all you have to do is be Good and you’ll be Skinny, for different values of Good — it’s hard to say “Society? It is you that is wrong, and your thinking that is magical, for I am in the jeans my genes command.”

  10. What bothers me is this: If WLS is a success, the doctors are credited. If it is a failure, the patient is blamed.

  11. I wonder if part of the reason she went so public with her WLS in the beginning was to show how she too could be part of the hollywood thin club that she was, for so many years, left out of. She wanted to show everyone that … See? I fit in with the glam skinny crowd too!
    Except when her body rebelled and regained to it’s natural set point.
    I think Hollywood/the music industry/theater/etc. is so unbelievably hard on women…..(duh). She felt she had to “prove” to everyone that she belonged in that industry; only her plan backfired. And now the media she once welcomed into her life to share her success has turned on her and is now broadcasting her shame and ‘failure’.
    I’m extremely sad for her. Yes, she set herself up to fail, and of course she should have known better, but being part of an industry that pays one for their looks and their weight – or lack thereof – she’s a product of her environment.

  12. Whenever I was being praised for “small pants” I didn’t feel praised for being slimmer, I felt praised for being In Pain And Sticking To It.

    Interesting angle, and one that I think has a great deal of inherent truth.

    I don’t think that it’s the mere state of being slim (and certainly not the state of being healthy) that garners praise and respect. Rather, it’s the knowledge that one has suffered.

    As with just about anything else in our Puritan-rooted culture, if you’re not exhausted and in pain all the time, you must not be working hard enough, and thus you must be sinning.

    Pleasure at the expense of others is of course scorn-worthy. But pleasure that harms no-one and that can actually improve one’s own health and therefore ability to be a productive citizen shouldn’t ever be questioned.

  13. I know that this might be cruel, but I can’t help but hope that enough famous WLS patients gain the weight back for the myth of permanent weight loss from WLS to finally be exploded. I know that it’s like hoping for unicorns to stampede Las Vegas, but a girl can dream.

    kate217, I don’t think you even have to hope. I think its inevitable. I think the media is going to go absolutely apeshit, plastering pictures of the Fatty Failures. They would never miss a chance to slap down some fatties, especially what are surely the most appalling examples– those for whom the most extreme intervention ever, the “easy way out,” failed. Oh, you uppity fatties! Trying to be in the Kool Kids Klub, but too in love with buckets of Crisco and mountains of cupcakes! FAIL!

  14. I’m adding in that I’m annoyed by her “at least i’m not THAT fat” -esque statements.
    She was telling Tyra that’s she’s nowhere as big as she used to be…”i’m not 300lbs!”… as if to insinuate, ew, god, i’m not THAT.

    And what if she were? What’s so bad about being 300 lbs?

  15. I *still* think all the times I lost weight it was a bullheaded accomplishment of sorts.

    I hear that — but the way I look at it is, I could also stubbornly put my mind to, say, building a scale replica of the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks. That would be a bullheaded accomplishment of sorts, but one that consumed a hell of a lot of time and effort without much of a meaningful payoff.

    Having said that, I also hear you on the pain and suffering angle, and I think Tai’s elaboration is dead on.

  16. I feel sympathy for her too. It’s hard enough to regain weight, it must be horrible to do it in the public eye. And I think Lesley puts too much blame on her for making her weight into a public issue – yes, she’s the one who made a big deal of her weight loss, but I find it hard to believe the media hadn’t already been making a big deal of her fatness.

  17. I feel sympathy toward Carnie Wilson too. I don’t want to, but I do. My FA journey is still in its infancy, and I struggle a lot with the idea that I am “giving up” and am therefore, a total failure. I know logically that this is ridiculous, but I’ve been so programmed to equate weight loss with success — as many of you know, it’s hard to change that kind of shit thinking overnight. I also used to be fanatical about WW and was convinced that if I, and everyone I knew that would listen, just did it RIGHT (this time), we would be successful and have a jolly good time dancing around like the successful women in the commercials. I have good friends — nobody’s called me on my supposed failure. But I can’t imagine having to deal with that noise in the public eye. I hope she has some support.

  18. Kate wrote: If The Obesity Myth hadn’t come out when it did, there’s a chance I could still be desperately searching for the magic bullet instead of preaching that there isn’t one.

    Yeah. I’m kinda back there now – I’ve been working out (again). I feel better, my stamina is increasing, yadda yadda.

    But: I haven’t lost weight.

    I hadn’t consciously thought I would. I wasn’t exercising to lose weight, I was exercising to increase strength and stamina. And yet, there it is, that STUPID little voice of my mother’s telling me that if I don’t lose weight it’s all a waste of time and money.

    I can’t even yell at her – she died a few years ago.

    Bree wrote: I really can’t gain (no pun intended) any sympathy for those that make their weight loss the equivalent to the solution for world peace.

    Um…emotionally speaking, losing weight was a way to bring peace to my world, at least when I was younger. It got my parents (temporarily – until the weight loss slowed) off my back, it earned me praise, and so on.

    The problem is conflating life in our stupid society with what actually matters. Most people have enough income, housing, and food security that we don’t have to worry about starvation or dying of exposure. So we worry about stuff that doesn’t matter, like body size. It’s a weird culture.

  19. I could also stubbornly put my mind to, say, building a scale replica of the Taj Mahal out of toothpicks. That would be a bullheaded accomplishment of sorts, but one that consumed a hell of a lot of time and effort without much of a meaningful payoff.

    *laughing*
    Oh, yah. But if you do, I TOTALLY think you should be on the cover of People for it.

  20. I was a huge troll, basically.

    Ahh, not really. Being a troll implies seeking to incite conflict for it’s own sake; honestly believing what you say precludes you from being a troll, even if it can be difficult to tell the difference in regards to viewpoints that are sufficiently absurd to you. I’ve been accused of trolling for expressing what I think to be reasonable positions.

  21. I feel bad for her…. because I know how she feels. Not in the sense I had WLS, I was never heavy enough to, though I asked about it and even tried to find illegal alternatives to get it… I even decided I would gain another 50 lbs so that I could get it…

    I feel bad for her to be so publicly ridiculed for her weight, no one deserves that. No matter what mountain top you shouted from, no person deserves to go home feeling worthless all because of their looks….

    On the note of celebrity weightloss a radio station up here decided to pay someone they call “Dumb”, who is btw fat, to do nothing but drink water for a month. Stop eating for a whole month

    He’ll be healthier they say. I was so appauled by this, I tried to call in and say they’re promoting eating disorders and not all fat is so unhealthy and zomg your gonna die tomorrow. Maybe he does emotionally eat but you know what isn’t helping? Them making fun of him day in and day out for being fat. Maybe he really doesn’t last time I checked a bagel and some bacon for breakfast isn’t what I’d call over eating at all…

    I had to go into work I don’t know if he agreed though I’ll have to look that up

  22. And I think Lesley puts too much blame on her for making her weight into a public issue

    Well, she did have her friggin’ surgery on the internet. I don’t think Lesley’s wrong — the whole story just pushes different buttons for me.

  23. honestly believing what you say precludes you from being a troll,

    Depends on where you do it. If you honestly believe dieting is awesome and come around here to enlighten us? You’re a troll. And the way I harangued my fat sisters and tried to teach everyone I ate with my diet secrets was pretty fucking trollish, even if my heart was more or less in the right place. It’s a matter of not respecting other people’s boundaries, because you’re so convinced that you! are! right!

  24. I’m thankful that I heard about this information BEFORE
    considering gastric bypass surgery. Now, I realize how
    important it is as a fat person to arm yourself with
    knowledge. It doesn’t make life any easier but it helps
    to know that the size acceptance movement is a worthy
    cause.

  25. I’ve never lost huge amounts of weight on purpose. Over the past several months, I’ve lost some weight (I’m not sure how much, because I refuse to own or use a scale for the sake of my own sanity) due to some extremely stressful situations going on in my life. Every time my friends noticed my weight loss, they congratulate me; that pissed me off so much. Friends who hadn’t seen me in a while would say “Oh, you look great, have you lost weight?” as if weight loss was the only way for me to look good. When I mention how I lost a lot of weight during my first semester of college, people think it’s awesome, even though I lost it because of the extreme emotional trauma I was experiencing. After all the crap I’ve been through and the things I’ve accomplished, the one thing people tend to focus on the most is my weight and my (unwanted and stress related) weight loss. Yeah, it’s nice to be congratulated on something, but not something I didn’t even attempt or want., especially weight loss. I think the thing that makes me so mad when my friends talk about dieting and the weight they want to lose is the fact that they could be putting so much engery into more meaningful things than the size of thier jeans.

    That being said, I feel some sympathy for Carnie Wilson. I didn’t even put my weight issues out there and it’s being made public issue; she became a victim of a monster she created.

  26. I’m just curious what Kate and some of the other posters here really feel towards those of us here who HAVE had WLS? I was into fat-acceptance before I knew what it was and never really fell prey to the dieting fads that have negatively affected your lives. I lived uncomfortable in the knowledge that my peers and family members worried about and/or judged me but I knew I was just the way I was meant to be… fat. Then I got really sick, gained almost 100 lbs. in 2 years and got so big that my small frame had a hard time supporting me when I left the house. So I did a lot of thinking, writing, and reading and I decided to have WLS. I know this isn’t a popular concept around the fatosphere but there it is: I am a WLS patient and I am in full support of fat acceptance and HAES.

    What gets me is this gleeful condemnation of WLS I so often encounter. Is there or isn’t there a place here for me? Kate? You’ve even posted the personal testimony of another blogger who decided, after a lot of soul searching, to go ahead with WLS. In this post you question the basis of that decision and the decision of every other reader, whether you know they’re there or not, that has had WLS. I’m not going to defend every form or individual instance of surgery–I personally think the lapband is dangerous and a huge rip-off. But I do not think that claiming that WLS in general is doomed to fail, leave you malnourished, or enslave you to a liquid-only diet for life is universally, generally even, factually correct. When you support comments from posters openly and eagerly awaiting my “inevitable” failure you make me (and I’m guessing at least a few others) feel totally alienated from the few people I hoped would understand why I never gave a flying fuck about meeting society’s beauty expectations in the first place. So what’s the deal? Would you guys rather bash me and my decision or can we actually have an open dialog where we discuss the appropriate parameters for WLS and question the medical assertions that mislead patients into poor choices?

  27. You know, my first instinct was just to agree with Lesley… but you bring up some good points, Kate. I simply didn’t look at it that way.

    I guess… and I don’t really like admitting this, but I’m trying to be honest… I guess I have a hard time viewing Carnie Wilson as a PERSON. She’s not a “real” person, she’s a CELEBRITY. Kind of like the fantasy of being thin, where you think your whole life would be perfect if only you lost weight, I have this “fantasy of being rich” block. I see her, I know that she’s famous and has gobs of money (compared to me, anyway), and I just can’t believe that her life could be anything but perfect. (But this comes from the fact that most of the big problems in my life have been financially related.) Like I said, I’m not proud of thinking like that, and I didn’t really realize I was looking at it like that, until I read your post.

    Ugh. I guess I’m not such a nice person after all, am I?

  28. The whole world really wants to congratulate you when you lose a lot of weight, as if triumphing over your own hunger and genetic predisposition is an accomplishment on a par with… well, something that’s actually an accomplishment. It’s fucking intoxicating.

    God, yes. It’s an incredible high, to finally, FINALLY be acceptable. Approved of, even.

    Until you start thinking about it….and realize that their praise isn’t really about you, it’s about this unrealistic societal ideal, it’s about giving them hope even if it’s false hope, it’s not about you at all. Because you’re still the same person you were at a different size, and if that person wasn’t worthy of praise and acceptance, she shouldn’t be worthy now. It’s generic, non-personal, interchangeable praise that has nothing to do with you.

    And the crash down from that high when you figure this out feels worse than just about anything else.

  29. Except… she was no doubt assured by doctors, advertising, Oprah, whomever, that gastric bypass weight loss would be permanent. That’s how they sell it — why else would anyone put herself through it?

    Yeah, and that’s also how Carnie herself sold this surgery to millions of people. Not only will you be beautiful and admired forever, like you’ve dreamed of since you were 4 years old, you’ll be totally comfortable in your body with no health problems whatsoever ever! A lot of people are dead, or suffering worse than they ever dreamed possible (along with their loved ones), because of her. When she has an answer for that, then maybe I’ll feel sorrier for her that people are staring at her big fat butt.

    Yeah, I know life had to suck for her in a lot of ways, having a gorgeous thin sister (and another blonde gorgeous bandmate) she was constantly compared to, not to mention having to suffer artistic comparisons to a cracked-genius father she’d never be able to live up to creatively because almost nobody has, and who was probably also pretty much impossible to live with. That Radiance interview from 1996 that Lesley linked to just broke my heart, because it sounded like she was over all that, she’d made peace with it, it showed incredible strength and positivity. But obviously it must all have been a lie if just a couple of years later she was having the digestive bonsai on the Internet in front of everyone. Suddenly all these “health problems” she never mentioned before (like sleep apnea) were going to kill her if she didn’t get herself cut up? There’s a lie in there somewhere.

    That does NOT excuse her whitewashing the possible complications of this surgery and her refusal to acknowledge that hers was anything but the “typical” case, given that she had access to state-of-the-art surgical and followup treatment that simply was not going to be accessible to your average Wally World checker. Kate, I admire your generosity of spirit, I really do. I just cannot forgive her. Not yet.

  30. Deciduousfruit, I can’t speak for Kate, but this blog is not a pro-WLS zone, just as it is not a pro-diet zone. That doesn’t mean we hate people who diet or people who’ve had WLS. I fail to see any “gleeful condemnation” in this post, which is all about empathizing with Carnie Wilson. You may want to dig in our archives for the Dieting Kerfuffle from a few months back.

  31. Well, she did have her friggin’ surgery on the internet.

    Yeah, but what I’m saying is, this was before my time but I would bet a lot that her weight was an issue long before that. Being a fat female celebrity makes your weight an issue, whether you encourage it with your words and actions or not. I feel like Lesley’s post failed to acknowledge that. It’s easy to say: “You’re weight is nobody else’s business”, but when you’re fat other people make it their business.

  32. This is beautifully put, Kate, and I don’t disagree with it conceptually.

    I think I have a difficult time being more empathetic simply because there’s so many years between me and the last time I had that I Am A Weight Loss Superhero! feeling – and now when I do remember it, it just breaks my heart. Because I was all of 18 at the time, and striving and fighting for that recognition of weight loss had defined my whole damn life, as far back as I could remember.

    I don’t think badly of Carnie Wilson as a human being; I feel sad for her, and I can’t imagine what it must be like to be so exposed. However, I do hold her responsible in a broader cultural sense for helping to make “weight-loss surgery” a household word. I do hold her responsible for contributing to the media’s sense of entitlement to perceive and portray fat bodies (famous and otherwise) as public property.

    And finally, I have trouble being empathetic because the interview with her in Radiance that I linked to really was a critical a-ha! point for me as a fat activist, so when she became this intense proponent of WLS, I felt deeply, deeply betrayed. That’s more about me than her, clearly. :)

  33. t certainly doesn’t help that losing weight gets more media play that ending the war or engaging in policies that really might move us toward peace.

    Coincidence? I think not.

    Also? Arwen for president. Tal for chief of staff. sweetmachine for secretary of state.

  34. Depends on where you do it. If you honestly believe dieting is awesome and come around here to enlighten us? You’re a troll. And the way I harangued my fat sisters and tried to teach everyone I ate with my diet secrets was pretty fucking trollish, even if my heart was more or less in the right place. It’s a matter of not respecting other people’s boundaries, because you’re so convinced that you! are! right!

    Obviously you can be well-intentioned and still be a total jerk, but being a jerk doesn’t make you a troll. Trolls are a specific kind of jerk who deliberately seeks an adverse emotional response, or the derailing of an otherwise productive discussion with irrelevant or excessively controversial posts. The term originated as a reference to trolling, a fishing technique, as trollish posting is a form of baiting, making the comparison apt.

    The meaning is also evident in the common phrase, “Don’t feed the trolls.” If trolls were not specifically people whose goal it is to cause anger and discord, this wouldn’t make sense, as people simply trying to argue a point would not want to cause flaming and drama.

    Hmm, I guess I’m something of a language nerd to care so much about the degeneration of precision in the definition of words.

    Imagine how surprised I was to not be able to get out of bed one morning — the starvation plus extreme exertion had damaged my heart and other organs literally almost to the point of death. Who would have thought that a person could starve to death while ‘obese’?

    That’s crazy. Just goes to show how poorly built we can be sometimes, if the body would sooner cannibalized organs and heart muscle than fat.

    I’m just curious what Kate and some of the other posters here really feel towards those of us here who HAVE had WLS?

    …gained almost 100 lbs. in 2 years and got so big that my small frame had a hard time supporting me when I left the house.

    The specific trumps the general. “Health at every size” sounds nice and communicates the concept but it’s not strictly true, as it is possible to reach sizes at either end that are harmful, as your case demonstrates. There is no reason why there should be any conflict between your decision to undergo such a procedure and your stance in regards to FA in my view.

    As for others who bash WLS, I’d imagine that a lot of them are simply unaware that cases like yours even exist. Educate them. If they still bash WLS in general afterwards, then there’s a problem.

  35. Well, I’m the original bleeding heart, so I can absolutely feel sympathy for Carnie on this one. Do I see some other sides? Sure.

    I get that opening the door to the public on your weight when it’s headed down means people feel (with as much foundation as we have the right to knowledge about anyone else’s life) we get to know what’s happening when it’s on the way up again. I also am with kate217 (as I frequently am) in thinking that widespread public knowledge about the overall failure rate of WLS must surely – someday – have an effect on how frequently it’s recommended.

    But really, I just feel sorry for this woman. I remember what it felt like to lose weight and gain it back. I have to admit that if I “suddenly” had an awesome body I’d never had before, I’d show it off – I’d be buying couture clothes until I ran out of money, and if Playboy came calling – well, who knows? Sure, being objectified would get old in a hurry because that’s not my personality, but for a while I’d be working what I had, just like I’d drive a “suddenly” acquired new Maserati day and night. It’s a novelty, a new experience.

    I don’t know what Carnie was told about the down-sides of WLS. It happened long enough ago, maybe the negatives weren’t seen as significant? Or hadn’t been charted simply due to the lesser number of procedures? I dunno. But I do know that I wish she’d turn this around and become a celebrity testimonial to the sad failure of WLS to so many.

  36. DecidousFruit,
    You are correct that WLS is not necessarily doomed to failure, in that not 100% of the people who get it will have problems. (Uhm because if they did I’m pretty sure NO ONE would get it.)

    The fact is mortality rates for these surgerys are extremely high, A estimated 4.6% of patients die within a year of having the surgery. This is a huge percentage, see this post at junkfood science for more info. There is actually a whole series of different articles on bariatric surgery over there that are worth reading.

    You are very lucky that your WLS has been successful and that you have not had complications resulting from it. So is Carnie Wilson. But what statistics are available indicate that this is a dangerous surgery that can cause long term health problems like malnourishment osteoporosis and death.

    It is not an attack on you, or other people who have chosen to brave the risks and have WLS for one reason or another to observe that not only is WLS dangerous it is not always successful. (As in the example of Carnie Wilson, and I also have a friend who is regaining less than a year and a half after her surgery.)

  37. Sweet Machine, you can speak for me any time.

    Deciduousfruit, this might sound flip, but it’s my honest answer: It’s your decision whether you belong here or not.

    This is an anti-WLS and anti-dieting blog. That doesn’t mean we’re against people who diet or have had the surgery; it means it’s not a place to “have an open dialog where we discuss the appropriate parameters for WLS ,” because our position is firm and clear: we don’t support WLS. We support friends and readers who have had it as friends and readers (and occasionally guest bloggers), but we don’t discuss the pros and cons here, because we essentially believe it’s one big con, pun intended.

    Like Sweet Machine, I don’t see the “gleeful condemnation” in this post, and that’s certainly not what’s in my mind when I write about WLS. As far as I’m concerned, you’re welcome here, but if you want me to say WLS is a good idea in some circumstances, or that the risks somehow aren’t substantial because they don’t affect every single patient, that’s not going to happen. So whether you stay or not, in light of that, is your call.

  38. I have a lot of empathy for Carnie because being in that world at that weight would have been absolute hell. People in Hollywood treat you like nothing if you are a not a certain weight and worse if you are over a certain weight. It truly is all about how you look which boggles the mind.

    I understand how a desperate person would go to extremes to lose weight. I don’t agree with much of WLS but can understand the allure of a ‘quick fix’ when you have suffered so much trying to lose weight. Some people do need to do it to save their lives, so everything has a positive and a negative side.

    We are all living and learning and I think this community should send a public letter to Carnie that we all make mistakes in life but that one should learn from it and not condemn oneself to a lifetime of unhappiness and self hatred over weight, fer god’s sakes. IF you lose weight, good, if ya don’t, good too since your life shouldn’t be about your weight.

  39. I don’t even know who Carnie Wilson is, but this is a great and very honest post. It’s good when you realize that not everybody is at the same level of body acceptance as you are, and might need to hear some of your past experiences. But I would like to focus on this, if you don’t mind:
    ” I was a huge troll, basically. (And it’s not lost on me that my fat acceptance evangelism is in some ways just the other side of the coin.)”
    Do you think you could ever go back? Not necessarily to being a troll, but to wanting to be thinner, disliking your body, and maybe even believing diets could work? (ok, maybe not this last part). I ask because I see many people who were, say, left-wing all their lives magically shift to right-wing ideology as they get older. I don’t know if this happens to fat acceptance, but I guess it never is somethig as fixed as we’d like it to be.
    http://www.escrevalolaescreva.blogspot.com

  40. I lost all sympathy for Carnie Wilson a few months ago when I read an interview she did for OK! about how she was determined to lose the weight for good no really I mean it this time. She said a whole bunch of self-hating and fatphobic things and she literally used every “it’s not a diet”-ism in the book– She was Starting A Weight Loss Journey and Ending Her Toxic Relationship With Food and Committed To Getting Healthy Again and blah blah blah .

    At one point, the interviewer asked something like, “Have you ever considered just being a role model for larger women?” and her response was basically, “Pssh! No! That’s crazy talk!”

    There several photos of her with the interview and she looked great (the whole interview isn’t online, but some of the photos are here: http://tinyurl.com/6mr8ot ). I thought about all the fat (and not-at-all-fat) women who looked at those photos and said to themselves, “God, if she thinks she’s fat and hideous, there’s just no hope for me” and it just made me profoundly sad.

    So, yeah, no Carnie Wilson love here.

  41. I just wanted to make sure it was clear that I condemned no WLS patients in my post. I mentioned my girlfriend’s master thesis on lap banding.

    The findings of her thesis were the following: Almost none of the patients in her survey lost the total number of pounds that was medically advised; the WLS didn’t ameliorate co-morbidities of obesity (hyperlipidemia – high cholesterol – hypertension, and type II diabetes as successfully as physicians predicted. However, her thesis found that the large amount of weight loss correlated with patents reporting that theu felt they were healthier, even though their physicians would have wished for better outcomes.

    Her thesis won awards at the state level and she and her research partner were invited to present the paper at the national conference in her specialty.

    The thesis basically indicated — to me — that weight loss and body fat loss might not be the magic bullet the government (CDC & company) and corporate medicine insists that it is in prevention and treatment of co-morbid conditions of obesity.

    I wouldn’t recommend WLS on a whim to anyone, and I don’t assign Carnie Wilson responsibilities that rightfully lie with doctors. I would also never demonize anyone who went through WLS.

  42. I can’t see this post or most of it’s responses as a ‘gleeful condemnation’ of anyone who’s HAD WLS. Gleeful condemnation of the institutions that promote, exploit, and push it? That I’ve seen. Here, elsewhere in the Fatosphere, and you know what? Rightly so. It’s a dangerous life threatening, health threatening procedure that has been and still is being promoted for mostly esthetic reasons. Promoted as a magic bullet for losing weight NOT as a final, no-other-alternative option. And even that aspect of it has been distorted. Define: ‘Final option’. Is it “I’ve tried to lose weight hundreds of times and nothing works” or “My medical condition is threatening my life”? For that matter, define ‘Life threatening medical condition’. These days the scienterrific community isn’t even sure whether fat causes diabetes or if diabetes makes you fat. WLS happens to be one of the experiments (We STILL don’t know the long term effects of WLS. It’s an EXPERIMENT) that called this into question when diabetes that mysteriously disappeared in a lot of patients, eventually came back. But I digress.
    Unfortunately people have been vilified by the Fatosphere in the past for having WLS but F/A is an evolving thing and I think you’ll find less of that as it grows. More likely you’ll find out right condemnation for those who are experiencing complications with their WLS coming FROM the WLS community. Just as Carnie Wilson is being derided for her ‘failure’ by the media. This post isn’t one of those.

  43. Wow. Kate, this post is awesome.

    And i love everyone’s comments too.
    It really helps me hold my resolve not to diet. I’ve never really lost any significant weight, i mean, maybe 12 pounds or something and it was SO much work. I never had that sort of experience you describe in a really big level, where everyone notices. So I guess i try to learn from others experiences and give myself some credit for never going further with the dieting thing, rather than buy into the notion that i’m a lazy fatass.

    Also, katy i love ur comment on the nipples. haha. here i wondered if it was some strange surgery, but ur right, its just photoshop. its so odd.

    Ok goin back to reading everyone’s awesome comments…

  44. I feel for Carnie, because she doesn’t seem to feel comfortable in her own skin and looks to have spent a great deal of her life not at ease with herself. I didn’t catch too much about the aftermath of her surgery when she had it, but I do recall seeing an interview she did when she’d come down to the size she was at when she did Playboy. She was explaining to the blonde, thin host whose name escapes me how when she and her husband met, she placed his hand on her stomach so there could be no doubt about who she was. The host, nodding, looked like she was going to barf.

    Someone mentioned Queen Latifah. I am a great admirer of hers. She seems accepting of her size and confident with it. She did have reduction surgery on only her breasts for health reasons in 2003, and insisted on not straying too far from her natural E-F – she ended up a DD and jokingly complained that the doctor had taken one too many D’s. I appreciated that her most recent Jenny Craig commercial – I know, it’s too bad she’s doing Jenny Craig but a girl’s got to make a living – was all about health. I’m healthier and fitter now, etc. She hadn’t dropped inordinate dress sizes but was talking about how great she felt. It showed her in a gym pounding a bag and talking about how much healthier she was. No before/after shots to show weight loss, just emphasis on prolonged life from working out. For a diet commercial, I found it to be a positive message. Perhaps people are finally, very slowly, coming around to the point – it’s fitness that matters, not what size you are.

  45. Ah, and now I find out belatedly the campaign is meant to be about health and not size. “[Queen Latifah, who] has consistently celebrated her plus-size figure over the years, will have a “very different campaign, focused on a healthier lifestyle, not on getting onto a specific dress size,” says Parker.

    http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20167076,00.html

  46. No before/after shots to show weight loss, just emphasis on prolonged life from working out. For a diet commercial, I found it to be a positive message.

    Problem is, it’s not a commercial for working out. It’s a commercial for a diet plan that goes as low as 1200 calories a day. (That’s how I got to the point where everyone praised my skinniness and resolve. Twice.)

  47. Oh, the diet evangelism! I was that chick, oh yes I was. And as I said in a comment on another blog, I had plenty of time to stew in that as I gained back every pound plus more.

    I’m a sucker, I think, because I feel sorry for Carnie Wilson. I feel sorry for Oprah, too. I can’t imagine what it must be like, to have that voice inside your head that constantly recites a litany of self hate and then have it reflected back specifically at you by the media. Not just a constant bombardment of general fat hate, but magazine covers that say HEY YOU. YOU ARE TOO FAT. YOU LOST WEIGHT BUT GAINED IT BACK LOL. Can you imagine? I wish that they could get to a place of self acceptance but I don’t think there’s any space in their brains to get there. It’s sad.

    I’d rather be me, with my fat ass and my loving husband and my smart mouth than someone in the public eye like that. Not in a million years.

  48. Yeah, I read back and saw it was discussed previously. I’m blissfully ignorant of the evil machinations of diet food companies. The message = positive, what they actually do = not positive, I now see.

  49. i’m really feeling you here, kate:
    “And the way I harangued my fat sisters and tried to teach everyone I ate with my diet secrets was pretty fucking trollish, even if my heart was more or less in the right place. It’s a matter of not respecting other people’s boundaries, because you’re so convinced that you! are! right!”

    oh yes. i’m going to be mocked by my girl-friends, probably for the rest of my life, for having been The Sugar Nazi for many years, ending my campaign of terror – oh, not nearly long enough ago. oh yes, all evil in the world – empires were built with bags of sugar and the carcasses of the innocent! – and i think MeMe Roth would have happily come to my sugar-free no-cupcake tea parties. but eventually (and largely thanks to you, i should add) i wised up. now i think if MeMe showed up at my door she’d collapse at the sight of discarded cupcake wrappers. so many, many thanks for that.

    i’m trying not to be too hard on myself about it, and i don’t think you should, either. sure, you were a troll about your weight! loss! victories! just as i was an Anti! Sugar-Empire! Activist! (we were saving the world, you know! one convert at a time!) because from the time we were children, people with loads of money to spend on programming our gullible little brains have been working hard to teach us to listen to what they holler at us over the teevee and bleat it right back out to anyone who will listen and then again to those who won’t. nearly everyone does this, to whatever extent they enjoy. the fact that we’ve wised up, at least a little, as early as our 30s — well, it should be held up as some kind of proof that miracles are possible.

    think about it: we – and nearly all the readers here – have overcome collective BILLIONS of dollars of advertising focused on telling us some very expensive lies. lies that are transparent, harmful, counter-intuitive on every level, and extremely damaging. lies designed not just to fleece our individual wallets, but to burrow deep in the pockets of our brains that love to hold a few tender morsels of self-loathing, where it will multiply like viruses – so we’ll then repeat their advertising messages to everyone we know. we’ve gotten out, at least in this one arena, and we should be really proud of us.

    i think.

    but yes, it’s very hard to think about what an insufferable twit i’ve been in the past, lecturing on nutrition and empires and blah-de-fucking blah. actually, it pains me a bit also to think what irritating habits i still have that i haven’t noticed yet, ones that would only be amplified painfully if someone put me in front of a camera. i can’t bear to watch any video of me ever taken, under any circumstances; i can’t imagine how much worse it would be if you caught me in one of my most sanctimonious phases and then broadcast it to millions. ::shudders::

  50. My apologies for conflating some comments on the linked Shapely Prose thread in response to the anti-WLS guest post with the comments here. I fully understand why there is so very little room in the fat acceptance movement for someone in my position and I have no illusions that being part of the FAM requires you to condone or support my decision. After re-reading the posts I thought were so “gleefully condemning” of Carnie/persons-who-have-had-WLS I can see the mistake as being my own. The sentiment I wanted to convey is that as someone who made that decision and cannot unmake it no matter how much I support every one of you in not making the decision I made (and furthermore entirely changing the playing field when it comes to the impetus for such decisions… like unsupportive medical providers, etc.), I still support FA and wish the hostility towards the WLS industry as such didn’t so often make people like myself feel like we have no place in the FAM. Believe me, I’ve read enough nausea-inducing WLS bulletins to know I’m far more at home here (and “success” or no, I’m still happily plush, if a little more mobile these days) so I’m not gonna tuck tail and disengage. Anyway, cheers all, sorry if I unduly ruffled feathers.

  51. Lola Aronovich asked Kate:

    Do you think you could ever go back? Not necessarily to being a troll, but to wanting to be thinner, disliking your body, and maybe even believing diets could work? (ok, maybe not this last part). I ask because I see many people who were, say, left-wing all their lives magically shift to right-wing ideology as they get older. I don’t know if this happens to fat acceptance, but I guess it never is somethig as fixed as we’d like it to be.

    Despite the we-are-all-Kate jokes, I’m not Kate, and in fact rather unlikely to be mistaken for her, but I’ve had some big surprises in this area. I’m not sure it’s magic, though. The people I’ve known who have changed political philosophies have typically had a reason, even if it’s one I don’t necessarily see as one that would make me switch. It doesn’t seem to happen in a vacuum.

    The reason I spend a lot of time reading here is because I have taken the opposite path from most. I am still a FA advocate for everyone else. I’ve been one for years. I read The Obesity Myth long before I found this site. But within the last year I developed an eating disorder. Or redeveloped. Anorexic as a teenager, I was a closet binge eater through my twenties and was fat. I conquered that around age 30 and was a fat advocate. People now tell me that they always saw me as someone comfortable in my body, with my size. And I was, for the most part. I would challenge anti-fat comments. I loved that I was a fat athlete and my presence on a team was a challenge to assumptions that athletes were supposed to be of a certain body type.

    But a depressive episode and several medications took away my appetite in the fall, and even when I could physically eat again, psychologically I couldn’t. I dropped 60 pounds. I realize the BMI is bullshit, but it’s the only good measure I have to tell you what I look like and it works in this case because it’s so skewed to make only thin normal. I had a BMI of 36; now it’s 24. My doctor is pleased with the number though not how I got there. I hate to admit it but my sports performance has improved a lot because I am a lot quicker at this weight. I would say that I have more difficulties liking my thin body than I did my fat one. Being relatively thin has not done anything magical for me unless you count the new quickness. It has not made me better at my job. It has not improved my friendships. It has not found me a girlfriend. (I had no trouble with that when I was fat and I’m now small and single. Go figure.) It has not made me less introverted. It has not increased my salary, made gas prices go down, or even make my team win every game. I suppose my grocery bill is a bit less since I still find eating difficult (though I do eat more now than I did a few months ago) and airplane seats are more comfortable (you all know what it’s like to try to squeeze a butt that’s over about size 14 into one of them). It’s easier to find clothes that fit in most stores. But really, it’s made no difference in my life, and it’s not worth disliking my body over. But yes, it’s possible after years of FA work for the messages to creep back in. Constant vigilance against society is necessary. I’m working my way back to accepting myself because I recognize that I may not stay a size 6/8 and if I don’t I will be ok. I was ok when I was a 16/18 and at every size in between. It’s not just getting the message out to others that is so important. It’s reinforcing it among ourselves, because everything else out there is telling us that we are not ok as we are. Even now I look in the mirror and point out to myself where I could still stand to lose, and I have little fat left on me. I need this daily reminder that I am ok at any size, be it my current one or a larger one. If I write it enough times and read it enough times, maybe I’ll believe it.

  52. Excuse me, onejewishdyke, how long have you been living in my head?

    ;)

    Not that I’ve gone through everything you’ve been through, but the thoughts? Yeah, you literally read my mind.

    But it’s not always like that. Like Kate answered me once, it’s a process. I have days when I think I’m pretty okay (and compared to how I thought before, that’s quite an improvement). And then there are days when I just can’t come up with a single nice thing to say about myself. And that’s when I need Shapely Prose and the fatosphere in general. Because they remind me that while I might feel this way now, it WILL pass. (Actually, to be honest, I’m having a bad body day TODAY, so I guess I relate to your comment a little better today than I would most days.)

    You’ll get there. It won’t happen overnight, but it’ll happen.

    (And yes, I realize you’ve probably heard all of this before, but I think it bears repeating. I know I need to hear it again from time to time!)

    {{{hugs}}}

  53. Once I got out of school, finally, I started losing, slowly losing – 50lbs over 3+years.

    And people congratulated me, and asked my ‘secret,’ and said “you must be doing something right!”, and started flirting with me (weird), and (jokingly) calling me a skinny bitch.

    I hadn’t started exercising, I hadn’t become a vegan, I hadn’t cut out sugar or fat or carbs or anything else.

    I was getting positive feedback for Nothing.

    And I started feeling good when the scale dropped and feeling bad when it didn’t. When the weight loss slowed, so did the praise. And I started counting down in my head “30 more before the BMI Fascists will Have to Leave Me Alone, 25 more, 20 more…”

    Counting down is where I am now, counting down and fearing the day the Fat Comes Back – counting down, fear, and shaking it off again – “it doesn’t matter, you’re healthy, you like your life, que sera sera”.

    I still look like me in the mirror.

  54. Readin onejewishdyke’s post was a real revelation to me. Because it made me realize a simple truth: whatever size I am on the outside, I’m still the same me inside. I’ve been everything from a size 16 to 28 as an adult, but the way I see myself, think about myself has always been the same. And whether I weighed 180 pounds or 325 pounds, I would always describe my body as “fat.”

    I feel bad for Carnie Wilson, not because of the public attention she’s getting (because I do think she sort of brought that attention on herself), but because I feel bad for anyone who doesn’t like themselves or who is unhappy with his or her life. Carnie was tricked into thinking that she’d become some whole other person once she was thin, and was probably shocked when she realized that many of the problems and issues she’d thought would miraculously be lifted from her by becoming thin were still there.

    Society wants us to believe that all of the problems in our lives stem from being fat and that being thin will miraculously make all of our problems go away. Because apparently no thin person is ever depressed or lonely, or suffers from eating disorders or has sick parents or any one of the other things that happen in our lives. We know better. Too bad Carnie Wilson and so many others chop up their insides before learning that lesson.

  55. Sharn: I clicked the link for the photos from People. It was just so depressing. As I saw the pictures I screamed “BUT YOU LOOK GORGEOUS AND YOUR CLOTHES ARE GORGEOUS AND YOUR DAD IS BRIAN WILSON”. She just doesn’t know what she’s got. I bet when she’s 75 years-old or something (if she gets to live that long), she will look at her pictures from this era and say “there was nothing wrong with me, how could I fall into the trap?”.

    Victoria C: Sorry to burst your Jenny Craig/Queen Latifah bubble, but I think you should read this:
    http://tiffabee.wordpress.com/2008/06/11/cheeseburger-rule-13-weight-stopped-being-about-health-a-long-time-ago/

  56. Cyn –

    From what I’ve read, Brian Wilson is a genius, but he’s also crazy and is/was under the thumb of a guru. Not exactly all that helpful in building a stable family life.

    But yes, she is beautiful, her clothes are beautiful, and she can build her own family now.

  57. And you know what really fucking sucks? That after all the work I’ve done reading up on FA, after training myself to rethink everything I thought about fat and health and public pressure and everything else, after I think I’m entirely on board…
    I can read a post like onejewishdyke wrote, and a little part of my brain still says “Damn, I wish when I was clinically depressed I had stopped eating instead of eating more.” How long does it take to make that go away? :(

  58. Victoria C: Sorry to burst your Jenny Craig/Queen Latifah bubble

    I read it. I’m not sure if you misunderstood my original post, but it was just that I felt striving for health rather than skinniness – and remaining a large woman enjoying her voluptuousness to boot – was a message unexpected and pleasant from a diet company. I pointed out I don’t know anything about the evils of Jenny Craig nor any other diet food company, having never used any nor looked into said companies. I’m fully aware underfeeding oneself is not the path to health of body or mind. (In fact, the more Omega 3 fat I have.. the better my little ol’ mind and body works. That’s one bit of food science I’ve found works well for this body!)

    Tangentially, I think it was a NutriSystem commercial parading overtanned, overthin women and their former more womanly selves where I found myself saying to my husband, “Jesus, they looked better when they started.” I feel downright sorry for the top lady here, and I hope she’s back to being more “healthy” now. ;)

    So, yeah, Carnie. Carnie’s a beautiful woman and I hope she knows it.

  59. Yes, it’s pretty well established that when Carnie was growing up, Brian Wilson’s drug and psychiatric problems were at their most dire. And really, after what was done to him by his own father (horrific, violent childhood abuse, capped off with selling out Brian’s entire songwriting catalog from the 1960s for what turned out to be chump change compared to what it was worth, and keeping all the money himself without Brian ever seeing a dime of it) you can see how almost anyone would have been driven around the bend. That is one screwy family.

  60. Puritanism is not necessarily anti-pleasure so much as a different use of it.
    By delaying some pleasure in order to acheive greater pleasure later.
    Like saving up some of your cash every week to buy something fabulous later on.
    The problem is the downward inflation of competition, who can deny themself the most
    pleasure bcomes the winner.

    I sympathise with the trap that Carnie Wilson is in, you are condemned to go round and
    around in circles, never getting anywhere, never learning anything.
    I can honestly say I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

    Having said that, actually watching Miz W. and her ilk is annoying and boring. I’ve no
    sympathy for her upset over people watching and commenting over the size of her arse,
    because it’s purely about investing thinness with goodness and fatness with badness if you
    do this you will pay.

    I’m not trying to have the WLS debate again, but I for one do not accept any moral
    difference between those who have it for ‘vanity’ and those who have it because their
    __________ hurts (fill in the blank).

  61. I hope she will not project her unhappiness with her body on to her daughter. I can only imagine how she would react if her daughter started to get heavy.

  62. So love this blog. Not sure why this is the post that inspired me to delurk, though. Quite like the new “Charlie’s Angels” header!

    Meowser said:
    Yeah, I know life had to suck for her in a lot of ways, having a gorgeous thin sister (and another blonde gorgeous bandmate) she was constantly compared to, not to mention having to suffer artistic comparisons to a cracked-genius father she’d never be able to live up to creatively because almost nobody has, and who was probably also pretty much impossible to live with.

    What breaks my heart is that she was just lovely when Wilson Phillips first hit the scene, and she seemed much more comfortable with herself than the other two (thinner) ladies were with their own bodies. But at her heaviest she looks really uncomfortable, physically uncomfortable – I wonder if she is like me and hit a point where dieting made her gain weight (the only two times in my life I gained weight it was through dieting – cut calories and my metabolism drops like a stone), but unlike me she was surrounded by people who kept pressuring her to ignore her own experience and continue to diet so she kept dieting and gaining until her body was in a Very Bad Place.

    I swore off diets after the first time I dieted (and gained) in high school but then after I got married I wasn’t getting pregnant and my MIL kept telling me she never got pregnant until she lost some weight, plus I was dealing with a past sexual assault so the idea of gaining weight through dieting wasn’t that intimidating; at that point I could have ended up dieting until I gained to the point of really uncomfortable if my husband hadn’t deliberately and continually pushed me in the other direction (he’s a natural thin kinda guy from a family of natural thins and just could not see dieting as a healthy approach to life). He finally convinced me that my initial conviction that diets were counterproductive was the truth and I then discovered that I only get pregnant when I’m already “eating for two,” if you will. Never did use any formal sort of birth control but if I wanted I could always avoid pregnancy by dieting. This despite the fact that the infertility books agreed with MIL on that front…

    I just can’t fault Carnie Wilson for believing what everyone was telling her, y’know? I’ve got no one in my life giving me grief over my weight and I have someone actively discouraging me from dieting and I *still* fight to believe it’s okay to eat; I have no doubt she was getting pressure from all sides. I also wonder if the guy she ended up marrying may have been more hung up on weight issues than the guy she was with earlier, or if she felt that the weight issues had something to do with that break-up – she was amazingly grounded at one point and I wonder if something happened that knocked her off kilter on the FA front. Unlike most other popular beliefs where people will back off once they realize you’ve got a better researched position than they do, the “cut calories and exercise” approach to fat is not merely pervasive; it’s passionately taught and defended even when strongly challenged. It’s a hard position to hold to without some support somewhere.

    Cindy said:
    I don’t assign Carnie Wilson responsibilities that rightfully lie with doctors

    Yeah, that. She believes what the “experts” have been trying to pound into all of us; the fact that I am confident enough in my own ability to track down and to understand studies in fields I haven’t trained for doesn’t mean she has the responsibility to feel the same way.

  63. I know that this might be cruel, but I can’t help but hope that enough famous WLS patients gain the weight back for the myth of permanent weight loss from WLS to finally be exploded.

    This sounded like gleeful condemnation to me. But then, what do I know. I certain do not wish any complications on people who have opted for a choice I myself found barbaric. Also, I’m not sure if would deter people anyway.

    I feel empathy for Carnie, in the sense that I very much know what it’s like to drop a chunk and pork back out. It’s humiliating and shameful and it feels as though the world has snatched away all the goodies it dangled in your face. It is not fun.

    When you’re struggling to find a place for yourself at the table it often clouds judgment. It’s really easy to assume we’d make different choices, but since I’m not in her fat shoes, I would dare be so arrogrant.

    What I saw in Carnie’s face was terrible shame and grief, mourning what she lost. And that’s heartbreaking and something that needs to happen, if she can hopefully get to the other side of things. She’s a women in the media who has been vilified for being fat and. I don’t think she made wise choices, but ultimately they were hers to make.

    While I am anti-diet/WLS as they come, I don’t carry around sugar cubes to keep my high horse well fed.

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