You’re not fat, redux redux

Since Kate’s terrific essay was published on Salon and in Feed Me!, I’ve been thinking again about the protest “But you’re not fat!” and how it can be so much at odds with lived experience. Many of us, of many different sizes, have been flat-out told we’re fat (and therefore unacceptable, unloveable, unfeminine, and so on) by everyone from complete strangers to our own families. I’ve spent most of my twenties as an inbetweenie or thinner, and I still find it hard to reconcile my past as a fat girl with my present as a not-fat woman — especially given that the characteristics that my fat body had (wide hips, jiggly thighs, heavy breasts) are all still around on my thinner body.

Which is why two recent blog posts really stuck in my mind: they illustrate the way that even when you’re relatively free of fat harassment in your daily life, you can never be free of it culturally. Even when the real people in your life tell you “But you’re not fat,” a host of forces are out there to tell you “Yeah, you are.”

The first is from Sociological Images: a vintage Sears ad (from what, the 70s?) that is just rife with gender and racial subtexts as well.

If little Tracy Harper is chubby, then so am I. What struck me most about this ad is that it is pre-OBESITY ARMAGEDDON!!!!11 hysteria; there’s no suggestion that this girl is part of the downfall of society (although she doesn’t care about being “fashionable,” presumably in her figure as well as her clothes), just that she should look better to make her mother look better. What do you think this ad would look like if it ran today? And would the word “chubby” appear in it?

And then, of course, there’s the “Jessica Simpson Weight Controversy,” in which pop star Jessica Simpson appears to have gained maybe 5 pounds and also joined the unfortunate trend of super-high-waisted jeans. Again, if Jessica Simpson is fat, then I must be a fatpocalypse in the making.

This image was helpfully constructed in classic before/after style by the assholes over at the Daily Mail, which also reports that Simpson’s “before” figure was the result of “two-hour workouts six days a week” with a personal trainer and “a South Beach Diet-style low-carb, high-protein menu” — all in the service of a movie role. In other words, having that figure was her job, and having the figure on the right is what happens when she goes back to her normal job (i.e., singing). What a hideous role model she is! Why, if young girls look up to her, they’ll all end up as fat as little Tracy Harper!

As Liss says at Shakesville:

Got that? Even eating a strict diet, Simpson had to work out two hours a day, six days a week to attain the physique she’s now being crucified for no longer having—and it’s evidently a perfectly reasonable expectation that she do it for the rest of her life.

Simpson didn’t need that rigorous regime because she needed to lose lots of weight: She just had to get to Daisy Duke from where she is now—which used to be considered enormously hot, until she made an extraordinary effort to make her body do something it doesn’t naturally do. Now she’s lambasted for refusing to maintain it by dedicating at least twelve hours a week of her life just to working out, a schedule she called “emotionally destructive.”

These are just some of the messages that bombard us every day; this is the miasma of fat hatred and misogyny that threatens our every breath. This is why people who say “You’re not fat!” or “Why should thin people care about fat acceptance?” are missing the point. We need to disarm the word “fat” as an insult for so many reasons; one of them is that it is nearly always possible to wield. Tracy Harper and Jessica Simpson show that there is no place where you are safe from the charge that you are fat — a line can always be drawn between “acceptable” and “too fat,” no matter what it looks like on either side. As long as we buy into the idea that fat means bad, lazy, unhealthy, unsexy, then we are always vulnerable to the images above. “Fat,” like “bitch,” is an insult designed to put you in your place; as an insult, it has little to do with you and your actual body, and a whole lot to do with marking some bodies and some modes of living as inferior.

That’s why it’s so hilarious when people react to FA blogs by saying that we’re trying to encourage our readers to be fat.  Ask Jessica Simpson: no matter how thin you are, you might be fat already.

104 thoughts on “You’re not fat, redux redux

  1. SM, thank you for being able to articulate so well why this whole simpson thing has me seeing red. i mean, she looks amazing but just a superficial glance at comments from mainstream on-line media (*caugh*yahoo*cough) has me burning through sanity watchers points faster than i can eat a baby flavored doughnut. i am glad to see a good number of high ranking hollywood people, and not so high ranking b listers too, come out in her deffence. not that it’s stopped anything… makes me want to throw something.

  2. “Tracy Harper” is adorable. What an extraordinary, pensive face. Despite ridiculous copywriting, the photography in that ad is lovely–it captures a really interesting expression.

    And I used to wear the Sears chubby sizes sometimes, too! Why do I remember Winnie the Pooh as having been involved in some way with the branding of those? If that’s an accurate memory, that’s kind of awesome, because Winnie the Pooh is both rotund and cool.

  3. No wonder I thought I was fat when I was a child! This was my era (I think it’s late’60s/early ’70s), and I wasn’t all angles like the other kids. I had curvy muscles . I mean “curvy” in a nonsexualized aesthetic way, and boy do I hate the way “curves” now means the iconic boobs and hips that people assume signify “woman,” i.e. “sexay woman”. I was slightly filled out over my bones in a way that almost every other little girl wasn’t. So I was, in my mind, a Chubbette, and it made me self-conscious.

  4. In the painfully revealing words of that shlub who penned the “butterbodies” article on Spike TV that got a lot of attention a week or so ago: women like Jessicia Simpson cannot be allowed to eat whatever they want and be proud of it. Then every other woman will adopt that mentality and “the world will be void of super hot women.”

    I still can’t get over how well that crystalizes the reasoning for fat-shaming thin celebrities.

    And I think “no matter how thin you are, you might be fat already” perfectly crystalizes the sliding significance of a word like “fat.” I know you guys are into reclaiming fat as a neutral modifier like “tall” and all, but sometimes I have a hard time imagining what “fat” would mean if it were neutral, since we only ever hear it used to describe a state relative to the speaker’s expectations or desires. Even for objects (a fat check is bigger than we usually get) but especially for people.
    Sigh.

  5. And, more on topic, I just eat up (ha!) articles like this one that point out that there is no way to “win” this body-judging game. To play is to automatically lose. To be a woman is to be forced to play, unless you can find a way to opt out. Repeating SM’s (and Shakeville’s) message is the only way to get the ball rolling.

  6. women like Jessica Simpson cannot be allowed to eat whatever they want and be proud of it. Then every other woman will adopt that mentality and “the world will be void of super hot women.”

    Not to mention we might start thinking we can make other choices for ourselves like where we work, who we sleep with, whether we have kids. THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT WILL END OH NOES.

    All part and parcel.

    I don’t even friggin like Jessica Simpson but I’m now rooting for her. And hoping she doesn’t pull a Jennifer Love Hewett after this.

    DRST

  7. This whole Jessica Simpson thing infuriates me. Getting into Daisy Duke shape fulfills a lot of men’s fantasies of women sacrificing and slaving and restricting themselves solely for their (men’s) pleasure. Jessica did what she was told, and looked the way everyone wanted her to look. Now that she’s stepped back and decided to live life more on her own terms, and now that her body is in a more natural shape, she’s almost villainized for it. “She can’t want to look this way – then everyone will want to look this way! No one will exist solely to be hot for us anymore! The horror!!!!”

  8. What you all said. The only thing I’ll add: I don’t think it can be said loud enough that NOT ONLY did Jessica Simpson have to work out hours and hours a day to become Daisy Duke, she also only gained about five pounds when she stopped doing it. I know that’s assuming a lot – she probably still “diets” by any standard to, knowing Hollywood as we do – but it’s not like she became SUPER OBESE OMG CALL A TRUCK or whatever. The difference in those photos–and granted, as Liss said at Shakesville, one is an airbrushed publicity shot and one is fairly candid–is not many clothing sizes or pounds or whatnot. Or, in lolspeak: Set point: I has it!

  9. I don’t even friggin like Jessica Simpson but I’m now rooting for her. And hoping she doesn’t pull a Jennifer Love Hewett after this.

    Me too. If three months from now we’re seeing news stories about Jessica Simpson telling us how she lost 15 pounds and just feels so much healthier now.

    The whole thing just reminds me that God forbid a female in the public eye (unless she’s really old, in which case it stops mattering much since nobody’s going to find her attractive anyway) doesn’t look like she devotes hours upon hours each day to making sure her body is “perfect.” Because in recent photos, Jessica Simpson looks to me like a healthy, naturally-on-the-thinner-side woman who doesn’t spend hours each day at the gym sculpting her body. And, it’s so depressing that there’s something wrong with that.

    The fact that so many people see spending two hours a day at the gym (or maybe three, or more) as the highest possibly pursuit and the most noble way to spend one’s time is just sad and shows how far off our values are. I hope Jessica Simpson is spending those hours she had to spend working out in order to keep her body in a condition that was unnatural for her doing things she loves, and things that are making this world a better place.

  10. As someone who’s spent most of my adulthood “on the edge” (at a BMI that is medically “okay” but would still qualify as a “before” picture in the haggard halls of Hollywood) what strikes me about this is, again, that in our culture you are either THIN or FAT, despite the fact that we come in all gradations and distributions. It’s a lot like Madonna/whore, when you think about it. No one could possibly be distilled into such handy categories– in fact, handy categories are a way of dehumanizing women. I’m sure Ms. Simpson simply wanted to reclaim some of the humanity lost to her in those 12 hours of workouts– but unfortunately for her, 5 pounds made all the difference and now she’s not allowed to enjoy her life. After all, her flesh now actually covers her bones!

  11. And I didn’t finish the second sentence I typed. Just to be clear that I’m aware of that. ;) I love edit buttons.

  12. sometimes I have a hard time imagining what “fat” would mean if it were neutral, since we only ever hear it used to describe a state relative to the speaker’s expectations or desires.

    Yes. I was talking about this with some friends. I pointed out that the only people who say “you’re not fat” are people who actually like you.

  13. It’s true. No matter how thin you are, you can always stand to lose a few more pounds…at least that’s what some people would have us think.

    Then again, these are the same people who think women should stay home and bake cookies for men, but never, ever eat one.

    When I bake cookies, it’s for me, my friends…pretty much everyone BUT Mr. Twistie. Why? He’s got diabetes and I don’t want to kill him.

    I refuse to agree to body shame. I refuse to shame a famous ‘hottie’ for gaining a handful of pounds after giving up a near-starvation regimen of underfeeding and over-exertion.

    Food is fuel. I will fuel my body. I have no shame in that.

    Fuck anyone who thinks I – or any other person on the planet or off it – should feel shame for eating a damn sandwich once in a while.

  14. I think that Jessica Simpson is wearing ill-fitting and unflattering clothes to get media attention, and then she is going to lose a bit of weight and wear more flattering clothes and be on the cover of the tabloids as a ‘WEIGHT LOSS SUCCESS STORY’ and the whole thing is a massive publicity stunt.

  15. I think it would be great if this all started as a massive publicity stunt, but Jessica quickly realizes that she is merely being a slave to other’s expectations and she doesn’t want to put up with the bullshit anymore, and she’ll rock the high-waist denim and multiple leopard belts for years and years as she goes on to have an even more successful singing career.

    After saying that, sadly, it sounds completely absurd, and I’m sure we’ll see her in a few months with “Back with a hot new bod!”

  16. For singing shape? You’re doing about an hour of core work every day, without fail. Two or three is not unrealistic, and serious rehearsals can run over 8 hours if you need to head into serious perfection territory. Then as a star, you’re doing another 10-15 hours a week of working out so you’ve got the strength to do the dancing that goes with being a star. If you’re known for your dancing, add in another hour or two a day of dance class. Minimum.

    So when Simpson says that those 10-12 hours a week of working out were destructive? She’s not kidding. She’s putting a minimum of 2 hours a day into working out already, and on some days, it can be over 12. With the extra workouts for that role, she could have been in the position of *needing* to do 14 hour days more than once a week.

  17. I heard suggestions before that it was a publicity stunt and didn’t buy it, but Jupiter’s suggestion that she’s purposely wearing unflattering clothes puts the whole thing in a different light. Of course, maybe she’s just tired of others telling her how to look, and that extends to her wardrobe, or maybe that outfit actually looks good to her (it does seem a bit more ‘country’), but it also seems just as reasonable that she’s angling to lose weight at some point and have a big comeback.

    I was watching TMZ the other day (it was on in the background, I wasn’t really watching it, I swear!), and the guy who runs the whole thing brought up that she can’t complain about people judging her body now, because she basically built her whole career around her body. She put so much effort into being ‘hot’, and that’s what she based her value on, so how can she be upset that we are upset that she doesn’t want to put that effort in any more? In a way, it would be like if she had an amazing voice, and then suddenly something happened where she couldn’t sing, and she was upset with us for not liking her voice anymore. I’m not saying I agree with any of this, but it did make me think for a second.

  18. But why aren’t you giving her the benefit of the doubt? That she’s just living in her body and doing her job? What if she doesn’t think her clothes are unflattering, and she actually likes them? Talk about policing each other.

    I don’t really care if she presents her own value as appearance-based; we don’t have to place value on her based on that.

  19. My mind sort of boggles at the thought of being thin as a career in and of itself. I wonder – if I were being paid for it, if it were the only thing I had to do for my job – could I do it? Would it be worth it? I kind of doubt it. If the pain and misery of dieting is the price for fame and fortune, I have one more reason to be happy I’m a nobody.

  20. Volcanista – I think others would argue “why aren’t you giving her the benefit of the doubt that this IS a publicity stunt,” because they can’t see it as a good thing that she would be happy with her body just as it is. The fact that it is a publicity stunt is just a possibility, and a very reasonable one, given our culture and the environment Jessica is in. It’s really, really, really hard to stand up for yourself and to be happy with your body in the face of all this scrutiny, so while I don’t at all think she’s not capable of it, I do think that it’s possible that she isn’t actually standing up for herself and she’s just maneuvering to boost her career. And that’s not a comment on her, it’s a comment on her environment.

    And, I completely agree that we don’t have to place value on her based on her appearance regardless of whether or not she has.

  21. If she actually stands her ground on this one and refuses to diet and do the ZOMG WEIGHT LOSS interviews and whatnot, I will have to seriously rethink my position on Jessica. (And buy her shoes, some of which are very cute, but to which I am currently opposed on principle.)

  22. My mind sort of boggles at the thought of being thin as a career in and of itself.

    I remember an interview a while back where one of the Desperate Housewives stars said something like “They pay me not to eat.” I’m guessing she was just being honest about what a lot of female celebrities feel. I have no doubt that many of them are naturally thin, but to stay as toned and extremely thin as most of them do no doubt requires hours a day at the gym and extremely strict diets. It really is like being thin is their job, and the absurd thing is that the average person is supposed to feel guilty for not looking just like they do.

  23. Oh, and I may be the only person in America (or perhaps the world) who likes Jessica Simpson’s jeans. I’m all about the mom jeans. I’ve been thrilled the past year that I’ve been able to find jeans that don’t stop at my hip bones. Because, yes, I like to wear granny panties, and it’s nice to be able to bend over without the entire world knowing that. I personally wouldn’t choose the animal-print belt, but I like the mom jeans.

  24. On Jessica Simpson, can I say, those belts are ugly. Ug-leee. She looks fabulous, but those belts have got. to. go!

    JS is one of those people who is famous primarily for being famous (because dear gawd, she can’t sing her way out of a wet paper sack). Most of her celebrity cred has been based on her being white, blond, willing to play up to stereotypes of dumb women, and attractive within certain narrow parameters. The press feeding frenzy over her weight has a lot to do with their perception that her entire “job” has been to stay white, blond, dumb, and attractive.

    I personally wouldn’t care if she never got work again because I find her annoying, but dear mama, she looks just fine to me. Note to the press, women’s bodies change with age and they don’t owe it to you to be pretty.

    However, I do feel if you’re going to be famous, you owe it to the world to have some talent.

  25. TM, I think that in a wide variety of cases, being mainstream “hot” at people has taken precedence over acting.

  26. OMG,

    This stupid Sears ad probably contributed to my mother’s unknowingly torturing me as a young girl! I have one memory that is still so fresh in my head of going to Sears and of course looking through a circle of hung clothes for “Chubbies” and there was another mother there with her tortured daughter also about my age. We overheard that mother tell her daughter “see, if only you didn’t read so much you wouldn’t be in THESE sizes!”. Then my own mother turns to me and says “aren’t you glad I’M not like that!”

    I only cringed major bits inside after she said that to me as I had been told in a zillion ways since I was 4 how I was fat and fat was not acceptable as a girl.

    The ad just brings it a little too close to home for me!!

  27. killedbyllamas, you are sadly correct. They should just be open about it, and have academy awards for Hottest Hottie, Muscular-est Hunk, Strictest Diet, Most Extreme Physical Transformation, Most Intense Workout Regime, etc.

  28. I’ve never posted before, but I’ve lurked and read and pondered. Thank you for this post. I don’t know that I can articulate what it is about your thoughts today that has resonated so strongly with me, but I can tell you that I needed to hear the truth you have expressed. The times that I have been called “fat” it has been to “put me in my place” – and I have given that word and that idea too much power over me. No longer.

  29. Lori, that was Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives. The full quote: “I have often felt there was a lot of pressure on me to look good…It’s like they pay me not to eat. It’s a living hell.” Here’s a post with other horrifying quotes from actresses, but be warned, it bills itself as a “diet and fitness blog.” (I’m sure there was a sphere-o-sphere post on that quote, but I can’t find it atm.)

  30. “see, if only you didn’t read so much you wouldn’t be in THESE sizes!”

    Omfg. Stop reading, start dieting: that sums up the patriarchal attitude toward women perfectly.

  31. UGH. I’m so sick of it all.

    You’d think it would be inspiring me towards further FA-dom, but honestly, all this flak about Simpson has been pretty triggering for me lately. The fact that I’m deep into my winter depression (SAD hits me like a truck every year without fail, I’m actually starting to look into whether there might be a climate somewhere that agrees with my body more), and that I’ve got a massive cold, might have a small role in it too. But lately even on the FA and feminism blogs, all I’m seeing is endless parades of people who look the way I’m never in a million years going to look, and it should be freeing to realize I won’t and don’t have to, but somehow instead it’s kind of depressing.

    I got on the subject of FA with a friend last night. This is a man friend who is fabulous in some ways and totally annoying in others. He’s fun and a good listener and he means well, but he’s a tad judgmental and, like a lot of male friends I’ve had, pretty heavy on the “shoulds.” As in, what I should do or how I should live or if I’d just XYZ I’d be happy. I told him why I am not exercising lately, explaining about, among other reasons, the fact that my parents nagging me about it as something I “should” do makes me very inclined to NOT do it, as movement is something I do for me and my body and I refuse to treat it as a chore.

    He was like “well that sounds like an excuse not to, you should do it anyway.” I started getting into FA with him, and talking in a broader context of just accepting people for who and what they are. I told him how lucky we are that we can walk and run and use our arms and speak clearly and bla bla bla. I said, “you know, that could end tomorrow. We could be paralyzed. Does that make us bad people?”

    I was trying to drill into him the simple concept that a single person’s health isn’t another person’s business. He said “well what if people who are just naturally lazy use this as an excuse and are unhealthy for it?” I said, “yeah? what if they are? You can say it’s better to be healthy. Okay, sure it is. But not everybody’s healthy. You could also argue it’s better to be straight, since then the state mostly stays out of your pants and your bedroom and your marriage. But not everybody’s straight either. It’s up to us to adapt to variety, not up to variety to conform.”

    He wasn’t really sure what to do with that.

    I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except that I feel tired and burned out and like nobody except SP gets it. I feel like I might as well not bother, because I’m fat and nobody listens, and later if I’m somehow “pretty” by the standards, they’ll take a picture and then not listen, so we’re all damned if we do or don’t.

  32. Omfg. Stop reading, start dieting.

    Sadly, SM, one of my younger female cousins thinks this is true. She doesn’t understand why anyone would want to “waste their time reading boring old books.” And I don’t feel like I can say anything to her because her mom (my aunt) is a nutrionist/dietician who encourages her.

  33. But why aren’t you giving her the benefit of the doubt?

    Because I have followed Jessica Simpson’s career and she has done quite a few publicity stunts.

    And also because some of the least flattering photos were sent to publications by her press agents. If you are managing someone’s career, you simply do not send out a selection of unflattering photos to publications unless it’s part of a publicity stunt.

    Of course I may be wrong. And I don’t actually care what Jessica Simpson looks like or what she wears–what I care about is something as serious as body-image issues being (potentially) used as a way for someone to sell more records or get more endorsements or whatever brings her more money.

  34. “You can say it’s better to be healthy. Okay, sure it is. But not everybody’s healthy. You could also argue it’s better to be straight, since then the state mostly stays out of your pants and your bedroom and your marriage. But not everybody’s straight either. It’s up to us to adapt to variety, not up to variety to conform.”

    Awesome.

  35. As in, what I should do or how I should live or if I’d just XYZ I’d be happy. I told him why I am not exercising lately, explaining about, among other reasons, the fact that my parents nagging me about it as something I “should” do makes me very inclined to NOT do it, as movement is something I do for me and my body and I refuse to treat it as a chore.

    Was he encouraging exercise for weight loss, or to deal with your SAD? It’s certainly your business in either case, but he may have been thinking of the mental health benefits.

    I have an anxiety disorder, and regular aerobic exercise is, after Zoloft, the best way for me to control it. And my husband now knows that, if I’m seeming really on edge, it’s likely I’ve slacked on exercising and he’ll encourage me. And, he’s right. For me, I’m miserable when I’m anxious, I value feeling mentally healthy, and so he’s just encouraging me to do something that does help me to be healthy and happy on my terms. If he was saying, “You should exercise because you should lose 30 pounds, so you’ll be healthy,” that would be different. But, he knows that my own definition of well-being for myself involves controlling panic attacks, and exercise is a really important way for me to do that.

    Anyway, your friend might still have obnoxious intentions. I know that I got extremely depressed during the second trimester of my pregnancy, and several people recommended exercise, and while I’m sure they were right on some level and that exercising would have lifted my mood, I was having trouble doing anything more than crying on the couch, so it wasn’t particularly useful, and just ended up feeling shaming, as if I was being given yet one more reason for why what I was feeling was all my fault.

  36. Said actress Gene Tierney (1920-1991): “I loved to eat. For all of Hollywood’s rewards, I was hungry for most of those 25 years.”

  37. Lori, since the subject of my SAD didn’t come up with him, I’m assuming it was more of a generalized “but teh media sayz it’s healthee” kind of thing. Not really for weight loss. He kind of prefers bigger girls and actually, thinks I’m pretty hot. But lately I just don’t feel up to the struggle to find a space I can do… what? You can’t take a long walk inside. I prefer to exercise out-of-doors and, especially, out of sight. It’s a moving meditation for me almost, and I prefer the company of my dog or no one at all when I’m getting my groove on (unless you want to talk dancing, but the Club Soda doesn’t exist anymore and I don’t feel safe going out dancing by myself anyhow).

    I keep coming back to the idea of researching out a few general areas that meet “good place to live” criteria for me, and directing energies towards moving that way someday. I am sick of long, cold, dark winters that take up half my year and throw off my moods, do unpleasant things to my skin and hair, make me sick with colds and flu, and screw with my general well-being. I’m also very attracted to the idea of being able to rollerblade around. Or possibly ride a bike… better still a horse.

    Hmm, sorry, tangent. Every winter I dream of living elsewhere. Following the sun. Maybe someday. But I don’t know where I’d go, and I suppose it might be hard to be so far from family.

    Also, a nod and an eyeroll to, “stop reading, start dieting!”

    AS IF. In fact, I think later I’m going to eat and read at the same time.

    Don’t forget, fat fuels the brain. ;)

  38. SugarLeigh, I eat and read SP at the same time most days (I play on the internet on my lunch break). It’s like I’m being EXTRA FAT at the universe. It makes me very happy.

  39. SugarLeigh, SM swears by her lightbox, and I forget how much they cost, but I think they can be really helpful with SAD! I don’t know your financial situation, or your health coverage (I think light therapy is also good if you’re covered), but that’s an option if you can’t easily move!

  40. Can I just point out that from the Sears ad the little slogan “Our kid’s clothes are made for mothers” just makes me want to weep? And I too remember being forced to browse these racks, with a mother who likely wished she could WISH me thin, just like she wished she could have wished herself thinner. I may have BEEN that young girl whose mother said I needed to stop reading so much; because while my brother ran around outside, I was inside reading voraciously. But I digress.

    SugarLeigh I totally dream of warm and summer this time of year…even though come summer time I will be dreaming of Spring or Autumn (my favorite seasons).

  41. I saw that photo of Jessica in a supermarket aisle and I wasn’t wearing my glasses. My first thought, “Who’s the hottie?” Then I got close enough to read it and went, “Ew! I don’t like her!”

  42. Oh man, Sears’ “half sizes” just gave me a flashback to the seventh grade, when I owned only two pairs pants, Sears’ “Pretty Plus”, in RED and BRIGHT YELLOW. Good grief I looked like a clown. Apparently Sears’ kids clothes were “made for mothers” who want to dress their kids so they look like fools.

    Bright yellow pants… ~~~shudder~~~

  43. killedbyllamas, I’m with you on the Jessica Simpson shoes — I see them, think they’re cute, look inside, and, with a shudder, put them back.

    Maybe I’m just lucky to be not-thin, where a five-pound weight difference isn’t even visible on me, and I don’t even think that most people would have noticed that I gained 30 lbs (over 2 years) if 10 of it hadn’t gone straight to my chest.

    We’ll see what JS does in the near future, but high-waisted jeans? Are hell on short-waisted people. Hell, I have to wear low-rise jeans just to get them to look like standard mid-rise jeans look on the model.

  44. “I eat and read SP at the same time most days (I play on the internet on my lunch break). It’s like I’m being EXTRA FAT at the universe. It makes me very happy.”

    Ha ha ha! That makes ME very happy too. ^_^ I might need to hug you a lot.

    Volcanista, right now my financial situation is… well, terrible. But I’ll keep that in mind for sure. Might be do-able in the future.

    April D, spring is maybe my fave time of year, and at least here in MI, some of the best weather of the whole year happens in the fall. ^_^

  45. Hmm, sorry, tangent. Every winter I dream of living elsewhere. Following the sun. Maybe someday. But I don’t know where I’d go, and I suppose it might be hard to be so far from family.

    It’s not all that bad really. I vastly prefer the way I feel during a California winter to the way I feel during a Wisconsin one. Dealing with a 2-3 hour time difference when calling the parents is not a big deal, and it is easy to set aside money for visiting in civilized weather. June. June is good.

    But zee money is in Wisconsin, so I have my bright lamp, and I get as much exercise as I can to help my mood. (which isn’t much at all, because somehow it is hard to get out and walk when it is -10F as the high for the day)

    *hugs* I know SAD sucks.

  46. SugarLeigh, if you can handle humidity, Houston is warm, bright, and cheap. Oh, there’re about two months of summer that suck pretty hard, but mostly it’s a good place to live.

  47. I think this thread proves we need a Shapelings Spring Break party. Beaches, sun, surf, cute waiters bringing drinks, who’s with me?

    DRST

  48. SugarLeigh, If you don’t want to live somewhere hot, Denver gets 300 days of sunshine a year :D

    As for Jessica Simpson: As little as I like her movie role choices or music or the way she presents herself, I am always on the side of women living their lives or whatever. So while I can’t imagine the pressure she must be feeling, with millions of people lambasting her for her weight, I think she looks adorable and I hope she’s able to stay strong and live how she wants, rather than caving and going back to that grueling diet lifestyle. More famous women need to tell the P to suck it.

  49. Oh man, Sears’ “half sizes” just gave me a flashback to the seventh grade, when I owned only two pairs pants, Sears’ “Pretty Plus”, in RED and BRIGHT YELLOW.

    Oh, good grief, I remember “Pretty Plus”. I had Sears pants in bright red and bright blue. What made it extra traumatic is that the first set didn’t fit and my mother
    freaked out. God, I still remember her yelling at me more than 30 years later.

  50. I also read while I eat lunch most days! Maybe that’s the secret reason why we’re fat!

    The Jessica Simpson thing really annoys me – why is a small change in her weight even news worthy? Ridiculous! And on the theme of “nothing is ever good enough”, they’re also simultaneously slagging off Mischa Barton for LOSING weight.

    Seriously does my head in! How are we all supposed to conform to the ideal when there is no ideal? Pfffft.

  51. Jupiter’s suggestion that she’s purposely wearing unflattering clothes puts the whole thing in a different light.

    High waisted jeans are very trendy right now. I see no reason to assume she’s wearing them to purposely look bad. (Nobody assumes that when an acceptably thin celebrity wears them.)

    I don’t buy the idea that it’s a publicity stunt because Jessica Simpson’s weight has always fluctuated. When her career was bigger, her weight was in the tabloids every day: “Jessica Simpson gains weight!” “Jessica gets scary skinny!” She’s just not naturally tiny, and like most people who try to keep their weight below their natural weight range she can’t permanently maintain her thinner weight.

  52. SugarLeigh,

    I can totally relate to your SAD issues. I live in Upstate NY, enough said. I always say if you can’t bust out of here to FL in February you may go a bit insane. All schools up here get a week off in February for said purpose.

    It’s kind of sad that a few of us seem to have those same memories of disappointed mothers DEALING with their fat daughters. Since reading everyone’s posts I’m wondering if it was Sears, JC Penney’s or Montgomery Wards whose “chubby” section I was in. I believe they called the size “chubby” and not “pretty plus” unless they changed it. This must have been around 1972 or so when I was experiencing this as my mother died in 1974.

    After she died my father had a difficult time getting me clothed. As a student of a parochial school I was in uniforms mostly but sometimes I was not in school. I remember him asking the mother-in-law of my brother to take me shopping with her to a Lane Bryant store which was in Wash. DC. I remember going there and it was multi-storied from what I recall and I felt like I was in heaven as there were sooooo many clothes in my size and in the hip fashion trends. I felt like a “normal” girl for the first time in my life. Well it was one instance but it helps balance out the bad memory with the good!

  53. SugarLeigh-

    Have you thought about doing workouts from home? I can never seem to get myself out to the gym on Sundays, so I bought a $10 bellydance video. It’s fun stuff! And I get to prance around in pretty clothing that I found at a thrift store.

    I feel your pain regarding SAD, though. I live in Seattle and nearly cried when it was sunny today. Then I just stood outside photosynthesizing for a while. :)

  54. The Sears ad brings back bad memories of chubby and pretty plus…and the polyester knit pant outfits with a short or long sleeved shirt with horizontal stripes in white, black, and a color, and pants of a matching color. I don’t know how many years I wore those. Not by choice – that’s what Mom picked out of the Sears catalog.

  55. Thanks for the kind words and the suggestions and the general I-feel-ya notes, everybody! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who feels that winter is a letdown.

    Shoshie, I mostly don’t work out at home anymore. I did when I lived in the apartment. I did yoga (in the nude), bellydance dvd’s (in whatever), and DDR. Here, there’s no place to set up DDR, no room for yoga, and my parents do NOT get to see me bellydance, EVER, because I refuse to risk having them suck all the joy out of it for me forevermore, which is exactly what would happen.

    With Dad working from home it’s hard to get the place to myself.

    Mostly, I just don’t feel comfortable exercising here. This house is not Mine anymore. I don’t really have a space, my old room was consumed by a sewing room and there’s not a spot in the house that’s not otherwise claimed. The place I sleep is still My Sister’s Old Room, and my mom keeps some clothes in it… among other flaws, our 100+ year old farm house suffers from extreme partitioning and general lack of space or storage.

    Which is not to say my parents didn’t try to make me welcome, so I don’t like to say anything, especially about the bedroom, because it makes them feel bad… I certainly am not going to ask Dad to paint over the stuff on the walls… he doesn’t even like to go upstairs, and hates going in her room… Mom endured packing away her things and trying to make it look more like a “guest room” in preparation for me. But I’m still sleeping in my sister’s room, on her bed, with my mom’s things in it, and mom’s and sister’s things on the dressers so I don’t even get all that space to myself, let alone the closet (did I mention most of my clothes, along with almost everything else I own, are in storage?).

    UGH. Okay, that sounds so much like whining. I know I have it so much better than I make it sound, honest I do. And really, if it wasn’t for my parents taking me back in I would be homeless and destitute and hell, maybe dead now, so I should be a little more Zen about it right? And I try to be… but it’s harder in the winter!

  56. I love it! And you are absolutely right, the media sucks! It’s makes so hard for a person to be normal, especially children. That’s why you see so many stars and models looking anorexic, where their ribs are showing. And who cares whether it’s winter or summer, people need to just feel comfortable with who they are as long as their healthy!

  57. I don’t buy the idea that it’s a publicity stunt because Jessica Simpson’s weight has always fluctuated. When her career was bigger, her weight was in the tabloids every day: “Jessica Simpson gains weight!” “Jessica gets scary skinny!”

    I think she’s trying to return to her tabloid domination. But this is based on what people I know are getting from her publicity folks, who are usually the last to send out unflattering photos.

    That said, I hope I’m wrong, because it would be shitty of her or her management or anyone to do this as a publicity stunt. And if it turns out I am wrong, I will be the first to write a public apology.

  58. And, more on topic, I just eat up (ha!) articles like this one that point out that there is no way to “win” this body-judging game. To play is to automatically lose. To be a woman is to be forced to play, unless you can find a way to opt out. Repeating SM’s (and Shakeville’s) message is the only way to get the ball rolling.

    Lu, I love this quote.

  59. I would occasionally get “You’re not fat” when I was a kid.

    Then it was “You’re not THAT fat”.

    Now it’s, “But you carry it well” or “I don’t care”. “Carrying it well” means, I think, that I’m tall, stand up straight, and (as appropriate) show cleavage. “I don’t care” is, I think, most honest.

  60. I have to do something. I am so done.

    I’m tired of my little girl being bombarded by these tabloids at the check outs when we go for groceries. She is only 5 but can read.

    On the way to the parking lot to load groceries in the car she said these words to me, “I’m going on a diet because I’m too fat”.

    I’m angry ….. furious as hell that these rags have to sit on these end caps down every aisle. You can’t escape them. I don’t want my daughter exposed to this anymore!

    I am considering switching to Good Food store , a health food/grocery because they don’t carry these rags. It’s going to UP the cost of my food bill, but I cannot stand it anymore. I spent over 1/ 2 an hour on the way home explaining to my daughter why she’s fine as she is, beautiful. How she doesn’t need to diet.

    This is the 2nd time too.

    I’m also about to phone in to the radio show in the morning and tell them all to STFU about Simpson already. They’ve carried on about this for days now.

  61. Ishtar, I’ve taken Zoloft at two different times, and both experiences were the same. Initial reaction REALLY good. Eventually, while my moods were OK and I felt a LOT less crazy, my libido went straight into the crapper. Like, zilch, zip, nada. Even worse, I began having (WOOP WOOP WOOP GROSSOUT TMI ALERT!!) extreme diarrhea. As in, zero warning, BAM! GOTTA GO NOW! TRY TO SQUINCH UP YOUR BUTTCHEEKS AND RUN DAMMIT RUN OH FUCK THAT’S IMPOSSIBLE!!!

    As in, I did not make it to the restroom in time, more often than is acceptable in a grown humanoid. As in, I started carrying backup undies, a washcloth, and body spray in a Ziploc baggie in my work tote, and considered it a win if I didn’t have to employ said backup undies during a workday. Yeah, not fun. :-/ So even if I’d felt in the mood for teh sexx0rz, the diarrhea negated any possibility of enjoying it for fear of … well, you get my drift.

    I dropped Zoloft and took Wellbutrin for a while, which brought back my libido and eliminated the diarrhea, but within six months or so, I was feeling dopey, lethargic, and completely without ambition for any damn thing, so I ditched that, too, and haven’t taken anything since.

    I keep saying I’m gonna get a light box, but I haven’t done it yet. Anybody have a brand recommendation?

  62. MsChilePepper

    Thanks for the feedback, scary as it was. :-)

    I can’t go on Wellbutrin and many other anti-depressants because my doc and I discovered that meds of a certain type induce seizures in me. We discovered that when I was on Remeron for a few days and suffered a seizure that left me unconscious for about 40 minutes and with cuts and bruises on my body from where I thrashed into furniture.

    I’m also sensitive to most of the other meds that are available so my choices are rather limited. (I was initially ok on Cymbalta, Esperide and Molipaxin but eventually reacted to those too.) She’s started me on a very low dose of Zoloft for two weeks and then we’ll reassess.

    Thanks for the heads-up about the diahrrea though. I’ll pack the spare undies just in case.

  63. Thank you for this post.

    I have gained 24 pounds over the last six months. I am a bit alarmed by this because autoimmune disorders and reproductive cancers run in my family, and one of the symptoms of both of these is drastic, unexplained weight gain/loss. Whenever I bring it up, though, people blow it off. “Oh, don’t worry about it. You’re not fat.” Drives me out of my mind. Is this the corollary to Fat Is Unhealthy? Not-Quite-Fat is A-Okay No Matter What? Bah.

  64. “see, if only you didn’t read so much you wouldn’t be in THESE sizes!”

    Is that why diet books, tabloids and weight loss ads have simplistic content? So you can read it quickly and get right back to hating yourself?

    Hmmmm….I wonder if I can pare down my master’s thesis to less than 200 words and a bunch of pictures?

  65. SweetLeigh, I lived in Michigan for 5 years and that was the worst my SAD ever got (well, grad school could have played a factor too). Ever since, I’ve stayed west of the Great Lakes, which helped somewhat. An even bigger help was getting a light box and following the Body Blues program of B vitamins and outdoor walks. Not that I don’t think longingly of living in New Mexico…..

  66. Yeah, Jessica Simpson is about the size I am, although it looks like she gains weight more in the upper body and I gain it in the lower–although my hips have always been wide, I’ve got a wide pelvic bone. And that’s “fat” now? Meanwhile Marie Osmond is now at that exact same size and shape and is doing diet commercials. I don’t understand. (If you look at Osmond in the commercial–not the airbrushed, fake “after” picture they show, with the toothpick wrists, but the actual woman talking to you–and the “before” picture they show, she has maybe lost a pound and a half, tops, and is just wearing a less fitted outfit in the “before” picture.)

  67. Oh, and, yeah, Tracy Harper is adorable.

    When I was a kid, it was Lane Bryant’s for me. We had a NICE store in Pittsburgh. The kids section was on the 3rd floor, I think. Maybe 5th. But it was awesome. My aunt used to take me downtown on the bus and we’d go to lunch, then to Lane Bryants and Kaufmanns and Gimbels and my aunt would have everything she bought sent to her house via delivery so we didn’t have to lug it around, then we’d go to a movie. Those were some happy times. My aunt Non was awesome. After days like that, I’d sometimes forget how hard it was being a fat kid, because Non just loved me.

  68. It’s not us that want people to be fat, it’s the diet industry and others who make money off of weight loss, that want us to be PERCEIVED as fat.

    Clearly as you mentioned about Jessica Simpson, that at this point you might be fat already and just don’t realize it, says a lot. It says it has gotten to the point now, where tomorrow someone who was considered thin today, could be obese. Well, actually wasn’t it already at that point?

    It’s not the fat acceptance people who have money held in the interest of labeling as many people as they can fat, it’s the diet industry that does. Perhaps these people who are so quick to suggest we’re the ones who encourage others to be fat, should realize we’re at a point where there is no need for any encouragement. Just by exsisting, you may be fat.

    The bar for what is acceptable body size gets lower and lower every day, and soon enough these haters will find themselves being considered obese, and perhaps will finally understand that the real crises here is ruining perfectly healthy bodies to attain a ideal.

  69. Well put, Jackie, hear, hear! *applause*

    Buttercup? HUGS! Thanks. Also, thanks for sharing those lovely memories of your wonderful aunt! And heck yeah “Tracy Harper” there is quite possibly the cutest kid in an ugly pink outfit (white tights were never my thing either) I’ve ever seen.

  70. Hmmmm….I wonder if I can pare down my master’s thesis to less than 200 words and a bunch of pictures?

    Then you could probably take over Anna Wintour’s job at Vogue. She pretty much does the same thing every month.

  71. I want to print this out and hand it out to all the women in my office so freaking obsessed with dieting and weight loss. I just want to tell them, “No matter what you do, it will never be enough! Do you really want to live your ENTIRE life that way?!?!”

  72. I’ve been cruising this site a while and this is the first time I’ve commented (old schooler with the ‘net, I’m fairly new to this whole blogging concept). So I’m going to try not to turn this into a gigantic rant.

    Seeing this entry today just made me feel so much freakin better. And seeing some of the stories here, I’d give a big freakin hug to everyone who posts here if I could. I remember the godawful “Petite But Husky” uniform sizing the year I went to private school.

    I had a shitty nightmare last night that some girl in a music club I used to play at was calling me fat and ugly, and said that I couldn’t get laid– and for some reason called out men I’d hooked up with in recent years. Then when I tried to verbally retaliate, I found myself unable to speak!

    Better yet this girl was blonde and skinny, full of makeup and skintight clothing– if this was in real life, I would’ve just said something snarky like “Thanks for the newsflash! What else are your wonderful powers of observation going to tell me?” or “So? How the fuck does it affect you?.”

    (Though the irony about “can’t get laid”– I got laid more when I was a size 20/22 than when I was a 12/14. I find that ironic considering I didn’t get any when I used to obsess over my body like society expects us to! I guess not EVERY man out there worships skinny blondes.)

    I’ve faced that crap most of my life and you know, at this point, I’m really not fazed. I get upset time to time but I’m not going to be one of those miserable fucks who’s just obsessed with fad diets, religiously going to the gym JUST to look good for some guy,and whatnot. I think I wasted more of my life when I used to be obsessed with my negative body image to the point of taking diet pills, which I stopped doing 3 years ago upon learning about the heart damage they can cause and realizing I had an addiction problem with them.

    Granted I was pissed when I gained all the weight back and then some. The pills helped me lose weight but the consequences and addiction were more unhealthful than being fat itself– you can’t make a naturally fat person thin any easier than a naturally thin person fat.

    So if Jessica Simpson is what the media considers FAT? Wow. What a warped world we live in. I hope society turns itself around in due time…and it becomes a post-feminist and post-size acceptance one.

  73. Okay, I’ll admit to a) not reading the entire post cuz b) I have no idea what Jessica Simpson is up to, nor do I care–you put yourself out there as a celebrity, deal.

    But, I did see the ad. Here’s the deal, guys, I’d be willing to bet I’m quite a bit older than most of you, and I remember chubby sizes and husky jeans, etc. I never wore them, most kids my age didn’t. When I was growing up, fat people were rare…unless they were over like 40, grandmamas and the like, and fat kids? Even rarer. Hefty kids almost always had some health issue that was the root of being overweight. We played outside until dark, we ran, we swan, we biked. We walked and biked to school, where PE was mandatory. We ate closer to the earth. There was no “fast food” and the only packaged food was the very rare Swanson’s TV dinner that we had cuz Mom had a really rotten day. Sodas and chips were picnic food, not everyday fare. And at least for our family, desserts were a sometimes thing, and rolls with dinner? Only for Thanksgiving. We ate fresh, wholesome food, it was the way America ate in the 50s and 60s. On the other side, we ate a wide variety of things, from fried chicken, my mother’s “Mexican” meatloaf (to die for), steak, gravies, etc., but because it was all part of a natural, balanced diet, and we got plenty of exercise, we just didn’t gain weight.

    Was there fat-bias, to be sure. Because a fat kid was an oddity, s/he was even more noticeable when it came to childhood meanness.

    I was 5.5″ and 115 in high school. I look at pictures now and I think holy cow, I was THIN! But I always thought I needed to trim a few pounds. Why, you ask? Because I happen to have thighs that naturally curve out at the tops on the inside, but other than that, I had fabulous legs…and those thighs marred them. *sighs* I didn’t really start to put on weight until my late 30s, but even at 135 at like 30–I thought I was way overweight. At 34 and 145, I was too heavy for the Air Force (they’ve changed the rules a lot now). At 56 and 215, I’d kill to have the body I had 25 years ago, but for far different reasons.

    The main lesson to take out of this, my sweets: society is fubared and we allow the media to dictate what we think, either by agreeing with them (it still irks the crap out of me when I think of the things GUYS said about Tyra Banks), or by letting them get our knickers all in a twist over their stupidity.

  74. Oh, and I might add, no I do NOT think “Tracy” is fat. This appears to be a case of racial bias as well as fat bias. She’s normal, healthy little girl, but with a slightly different build than the “mainstream.” Once again, media *ptui*

  75. Rachel, I had a dream like that the other night, with the weird variation that my subconscious apparently decided to “fix” it — as soon as the other girl started calling me names, the setting turned into a Lane Bryant dressing room and I noticed she was exactly my same size. It was very strange.

  76. I think what gets me, is aside from just the innumerable topics discussed here of how society has this picture that fat = “unhealthy, stupid, lazy, etc.” Or how about those morons who say obesity is “immoral”? (Right, because skinny people simply don’t lie, cheat, steal, etc.)

    What gets me is that some people are just so retarded to just complain about things that don’t affect them. Is is out of their own insecurity?? Nothing better to do? General cattiness? I naturally expect this in tabloids but I could be a poster child for so “You have such a pretty face but…” So? Is that supposed to be my only aspiration in life? Look desirable by one person’s standards?

    I think a new post should be “How The Hell Does My Body Type Affect Dumbasses Who Bother Me”. :)

  77. Wow, murfnik, you didn’t read the post OR the blog! Good job!

    I don’t think you’re a troll or anything, but in two comments you managed to hit both trumped-up nostalgia about an imaginary time when everyone was thin, and a complete missing of the point of this post (“Tracy’s not fat”), which you admit you didn’t read.

    Why do people comment when they haven’t read the post? I genuinely do not understand this behavior.

  78. murfnik, I remember this amazing time when people actually read a blog post and at least some of the 90+ comments on it before lovingly describing the rose-colored awesomeness of their childhoods.

    Seriously, why do you think you are adding to a discussion when you refuse to bother even to read the post? You think reading 5 paragraphs of a post means you have 5 paragraphs in return, and then, what, you read the next 5 paragraphs and come back for another 5 of yours?

    Also, maybe if you read the fucking post you’d have an idea why even if you don’t give a shit about Jessica Simpson or other celebrities as people, you might want to give a shit about the cultural messages surrounding them.

    I eagerly await any Chili’s-based anecdotes you can bestow on us.

  79. “Why do people comment when they haven’t read the post? I genuinely do not understand this behavior.”

    There’s no excuse for commenting at length when you haven’t read the post – I agree. But I also want to point out you ladies write *very well* and say things that are more nuanced and smarter than people are used to! I love your level of detail! … And I love that you will go back and correct or point out when someone is clearly missing. A lot of internet discussion involves very fast back-and-forth and people who merely SCAN an article. Thank you for re-affirming my commitment to read carefully and if possible the comments as well!

    Thanks also for calling out the nostalgia thing. A common perception is that Americans now are fatter than they have been so I guess some people just decide this “seems” true, and offer up personal anecdotes as truth and “evidence” as to why this may be. Growing up I remember fat kids, fat bias, etc. I hear stories about my friends’ mothers being on diet pills as children and worrying about their weight and having their mothers harangue them about it, etc. etc.

  80. I’m only 25 but there were fat kids in my school- my mom was morbidly obese.

    Guess what, she was fat in 1960s too. I have pictures of my heavier ancestors in photos from the 1930s and 1940s.

  81. *there’s no edit button:

    “pictures in photos” ha that’s redundant, ignore it. :) Well, I’m a mathematician, not an English major, and it’s been a long day. Nor’s there an edit button :)

    I’m just agreeing with what Kelly said about thinking fat pepole didn’t exist in the early/mid 20th century. They did. There was fat bias back then too; it just didn’t start being publicly talked about until more recent decades.

  82. N.B.- Ms. Simpson looks NOTABLY happier in the second photograph ( circumstantial, perhaps) and, to my febrile mind, MUCH more appealing. I am not a particular fan, nor do I know much of her history, but the second photo is far more alluring.

    To Rachel: fat meant something a little differerent then than it does now. Simply being overweight by our contemporary standards was the norm then, i.e. a few extra pounds were considered enhancing. Granted, they still had their “fat” line of demarkation, but it was substantially different from our contemporary one. ( I have a few early century yearbooks which neatly illustrate the point). It’s a more damning indictment of our current standards of acceptance than you might guess.

    Point taken FJ & SwM: just try advocating those notions out loud…

  83. To Rachel: fat meant something a little differerent then than it does now. Simply being overweight by our contemporary standards was the norm then, i.e. a few extra pounds were considered enhancing.

    I have a book from 1898 where the heroine is repeatedly described with adjectives like “dainty, delicate, fine boned” – i.e., with markers for “thin” in our culture. In the illustrations, however, she is built just like me – I’m 5’4″ and 220 lbs. By modern standards, in other words, she was obese. Yet her contemporaries didn’t consider her fat.

    We ate closer to the earth. There was no “fast food” and the only packaged food was the very rare Swanson’s TV dinner that we had cuz Mom had a really rotten day. Sodas and chips were picnic food, not everyday fare. And at least for our family, desserts were a sometimes thing, and rolls with dinner? Only for Thanksgiving. We ate fresh, wholesome food, it was the way America ate in the 50s and 60s.

    I dunno where you lived, but my parents were teens in southern Minnesota in the 40’s and 50’s; mom lived in a small town and dad on a farm. Mom’s mom wasn’t much of a cook (terrific fried chicken and snack bars and cakes, not so hot once she got out of that comfort zone), while dad’s mom was an excellent cook. Both families had white bread, rolls, and desserts on a daily basis (if you count snack bars as a dessert).

    My mom’s mom did not believe in raw veggies, except for a coleslaw with a cooked dressing grandpa liked. My mom had her first green salad when she was 15, in home ec at high school. Dad’s mom was a little more adventurous but also not much for veggies unless they were buried in sugar, cream sauce, or an oil-based dressing. My dad had homemade cookies and Blue Bunny ice cream before going to bed every night until he moved away from home. He was stocky and his sister was outright overweight (by modern standards) when they hit twenty (haven’t seen many pics of them earlier).

    Looking at my class pics from 1966-1973 (three different states, three different school systems), yep, there were fatties. One guy in 6th grade had a leg brace but none of the rest had any health issues that would limit their activity. I know some of them were more active than I was – heck, my little sister was fatter than I was, and she was also about twice as active AND ate less (she was always dieting from practically age six on).

    We were rarely allowed soda or snacks or fast food (we got McDonald’s Christmas Eve that we took to mom’s work – she was a nurse – which was a HUGE deal, yet my sister struggled with her weight the whole time and I was not exactly scrawny. Yet my scrawny friends were generally allowed all the soda and snacks and actually had real live cookies jars WITH COOKIES on the counter ALL THE TIME that they could raid anytime they wanted, which blew my mind when I first realized it (and definitely contributed to my “dieting makes you fat” conclusions). The second half of the sixties, at any rate, were not exactly health conscious, in my experience, or at least not in suburban St. Paul, MN, St. Joe, MI or Charlotte, NC…

  84. Clearly, my mind is still blown over how my skinny friends ate all this stuff / lived the lifestyle my mom insisted would “make you fat” with no ill effects, which explains why that last paragraph approaches incoherence…

  85. “We ate fresh, wholesome food, it was the way America ate in the 50s and 60s.”

    HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.

    Two words: Wonder Bread.

  86. We ate fresh, wholesome food, it was the way America ate in the 50s and 60s. On the other side, we ate a wide variety of things, from fried chicken, my mother’s “Mexican” meatloaf (to die for), steak, gravies, etc., but because it was all part of a natural, balanced diet, and we got plenty of exercise, we just didn’t gain weight

    Damn. I taught the idiom “dumb as a sack of hammers” before I read this comment. Ah, well, the opportunity will arise again.

    By the way, to anyone who thinks the American diet used to be healthy and balanced (whatever the fuck that means), I suggest reading Perfection Salad or Something from the Oven, both by Laura Shapiro. Both are great reads.

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