Exceptions that aren’t

We frequently get commenters who stop in to tell us that they lost weight and kept it off for more than five years, which in their opinion utterly disproves the claim that 95 percent of diets do not result in permanent weight loss. This is probably because when they use figures like “95 percent,” they are pulling them directly from their asses (“maybe SOME people are fat because of genetics, medication, illness, etc. but 95 percent of them just eat too much”; “95 percent of your weight is determined by what you eat, not your genes”; “95 percent of straight guys would never be attracted to a fat woman”; see also “vast majority”) so they assume we must be bullshitting too. In fact, a) that figure is backed up by science and b) it’s 95 percent, not 100 percent, so a couple of exceptions are hardly going to make us tear our hair and sign up for Weight Watchers. But bless them, it doesn’t stop them from trying.

Neither does the cognitive dissonance. Just today, for instance, Kate and SM and I were laughing ourselves sick over an email from a troll who says she DOES believe in beauty and health at every size, just not for fat fat fatties. See, she knows that the VAST MAJORITY (95 percent!) of fat people just eat too much, and she knows it because she ate the exact same stuff as her thinner sister growing up but was still not as thin, but now she’s thin even though she doesn’t diet. Yeah, we couldn’t figure it out either.

But here’s the part of that email that I want to talk about: Part of her “proof” that we are all gluttons is that she once gained 30 pounds during a bout of depression, but lost it again soon afterwards. We get countless indignant emails like this (though I might add that they represent much less than 5 percent of our readership): “I gained weight when I was in a car accident and couldn’t exercise, but then I lost it again as soon as I recovered, so you all don’t exercise enough.” “I gained weight when I lived alone and ate out all the time, but then I lost it again when I made a Lifestyle Change, so you all eat too much fast food.” “I gained weight when I was binge eating, but lost it when I stopped eating so much, so you all eat in binge quantities.”

One thing that claims of this nature have in common is, of course, a particularly navel-gazing kind of hasty generalization — “because something is true for me, it must be true for everyone.” Of all the common informal fallacies, this one might make me see the reddest, because it’s not only logically unsound but fundamentally arrogant and egotistical. But another thing they have in common, and this is what really drives me batshit bonkers, is that they actually prove our point. “So, you say you have been roughly the same weight for most of your adult life, and when extenuating circumstances made you deviate significantly from that weight, it was like you naturally settled back to your usual size? I’ll be blowed… it’s almost as if you couldn’t effect permanent changes in your body weight! Someone should write a blog about this!”

Shapeling Randomquorum recently wrote about a publicity stunt by an Australian personal trainer and wannabe actor, who is trying to gain 40 kg (about 88 pounds) so he can “better understand obese gym clients.” The article notes that “his body had tried to reject the fat at first” — you don’t say! — but with assiduous consumption of “bacon and chocolate milk,” he is halfway to his goal. He plans to get to 120 kg (264 pounds), keep the weight for three months, then lose it by training at his gym. Here’s where the article names and links to the gym, of course. (But it’s all about understanding fatties! Really!)

As Randomquorum points out, this aspiring Spurlock is going to come out of his experiment thinking that all fat people must eat the same way he did, and all could lose weight if they stopped eating and started exercising. “If it required constant consumption of heavy foods for me to get to 264 pounds,” he’ll reason, “then everyone who weighs 264 pounds must eat as much as I could possibly stand, and anyone who weighs 352 must eat EXACTLY TWICE AS MUCH.” After all, it’s calories in, calories out! If only they’d stop eating twice as much as he could stand and sitting on their asses 24 hours a day like he did, they’d be just as thin as he is now. He knows, he’ll say, because he REALLY UNDERSTANDS what it takes to gain the weight (eat everything you see) and to lose it (stop eating everything you see)! Then, he hopes, he’ll get a reality show.

Of course, it’s possible that when this guy’s weight stalls out and then chugs back down, he’ll put two and two together — “I’m eating this much but can’t gain the weight permanently, my clients say they’re not eating this much but can’t lose the weight permanently… is it possible these things are connected?” Certainly it’s clear from the comments on volcanista’s guest post that many of our naturally thin readers came to FA because they knew perfectly well they weren’t doing anything to maintain their weight, and thought it was fucked up that they were still seen as virtuous, healthy, and disciplined. I don’t think three months is nearly enough time for that revelation, though, especially given the comments we get from people who have miraculously, exceptionally, virtuously managed to remain at their naturally low setpoint weight for years.

The most ridiculous trick of the asinine “calories in, calories out” oversimplification is the idea that human experience is additive. Someone who weighs 180 pounds MUST eat 60 pounds’ worth of calories more than someone with a similar activity level who weighs 120 pounds, and someone who weighs 240 pounds must eat 60 pounds’ worth again! This is a delusion so hard-fought that, like Aristotelian notions about the crocodile’s tongue, it is simply perpetuated forward against all evidence. To assert, as the scientific evidence seems to, that in most cases you just can’t turn a 120 pound adult into a 240 pound adult and even if you can she won’t stay there, and vice versa — that flies in the face of the idea that one body type is normal, acceptable, and virtuous, and others are aberrations.

Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much. To think so, to cling so assiduously to thinking so in contradiction to the evidence, is to assert that there is one default body subject to any number of deliberate or accidental mutations. It is to assert that the most privileged body is also the “correct” body, the one to which everyone else should aspire. Oh sure, if you deviate through no fault of your own you are to be pitied (how many times have we heard the oh-so-charitable “but black people don’t CHOOSE to be black, fat people choose to be fat!” as though that weren’t as racist as it is fatphobic?), but if you deviate in a way that’s supposedly controlled, woe upon you. But we don’t have variations on a thin white able male body — we have human bodies, in all their many forms and functions.

And one way in which human bodies seem to behave is that they like to be a certain size. Not all human bodies, of course — because of the multiplicity of ways to be human, some people will be able to lose or gain weight permanently, some will keep gaining weight indefinitely, some will fluctuate wildly for no obvious reason, some will get stuck beyond setpoint because of medication or illness or some other mitigating factor. And not all the time, either — it seems pretty clear, for instance, that dieting will inch your setpoint upwards. But if you’re one of those people, at one of those times, it doesn’t make you better or worse, closer to or farther from the way a body should operate — it just makes you another variation on human metabolisms.

Gaining temporary weight, putting on a fat suit, strapping fake fat blobs to your stomach — in other words, emulating a “defective” thin person — doesn’t mean that you understand what it’s like to be fat. But pushing yourself outside the range where your body wants to be, seeing the inhuman effort it takes to get there, seeing your best efforts to stay there fail as you inch back towards what you weighed before… that can certainly help you see what it’s like to diet, and show you that your body and a fat body aren’t all that different after all. Spurlockabee has a great opportunity to actually become more sympathetic to the painful, futile experience of pushing your body towards what you think it should be. I don’t think he’ll take it, though.

199 thoughts on “Exceptions that aren’t

  1. also, since the gym and the jerk are named in the article, maybe we should start a letter writing campaign to let him know what a shit he’s being…

    who’s with me?

  2. This:

    Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.

    is amazing. I willfully forget about othering sometimes. About the insidious nature of it. About the dehumanizing impact of it. Perfect. Thank you.

  3. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person,

    That was an excellent paragraph on othering, and I’m going to have to think about this part of the statement more. Just Tuesday I commented to someone that “people with disabilities is a minority group that anyone of us could join at any time,” and I realize now that implies exactly what you say; it implies that people who develop disabilities later in life are broken able-bodied people.

    I’ll have to come up with a better point, which will require work because “you too could become disabled at any point” seems to resonate best with some people when advocating for rights of people with disabilities.

  4. Written with style :D

    I have a semi-related question. Please don’t think that I’m asking for advice on continued weight loss, or anything like that. When I hit puberty, I gained a large amount of weight, which I then partially lost at sixteen. I’m twenty now, and have been generally around the same weight range ever since. What I’m asking is, why did my weight change so much at the time?

  5. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.

    I’ve changed my email signature line to this. Also my .sig on a couple forums I am on.

  6. Yeah, it’s funny, I’ve been a “bad fatty” for at least a month now, which is typical of me this time of year as I ride through the worst part of my yearly bout with SAD.

    My weight has hardly fluctuated. This despite dramatic lapse in exercise and lack of consideration for what goes in my mouth (my main concern with my food during winter is largely: will it make me warm? I’ve increased my coffee intake past what I generally allow myself and have been known to substitute meals for another hot drink). There has, perhaps, been some difference in my muscle mass, and certainly there is a difference in the way I feel (cranky and depressed and easily tired, THERE IS NO SUN IN THIS GODFORSAKEN SNOW WASTELAND), but my clothes still fit the same and I’ve not “ballooned” into “omg death fatz” or whatever.

    So honestly, I really don’t want to hear how my weight is something I’m just not controlling carefully enough. Because right now, I’m not “controlling” a damnthing, and in fact, I ate TWO (baby) donuts yesterday, and didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty over it, and today, my pants are still falling off (because I seem to fail at pants-buying, I swear they fit when I tried them on, but that’s a story for another day).

  7. The sad thing is, he probably WILL get a reality show. And it will be a ginormous hit that will blow all of our Sanity Watchers points every time the effing previews for the Next! Exciting! Episode! come on.

  8. just in case anyone is at all interested in joining me in writing a letter, here’s the info.

    the gym is called Doherty’s Gym
    the owner’s name is Tony Doherty
    the jerk in question is named Paul “PJ” James
    the address is 45 Weston St
    Brunswick, VIC 3056 Australia

  9. Also, I absolutely hate the very common phenomenon of “my reality is the only reality, my experiences are universal and translate seamlessly to every person on the planet.”

    So much so, in fact, that I’m going to end the statement there because I don’t feel up to trying to articulate the massive amount of fail intrinsic to that sort of philosophy.

    PS: here’s hoping gym-guy eventually hits upon the point he is SO richly missing right now.

  10. Oh, well, except to chime in that the “MY EXPERIENCE IS EXACTLY WHAT EVERYONE ELSE’S EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE” phenomenon is, as we all suspected, fairly universal. It’s the problem I have with an unnamed family member: zie is convinced that because zie sustained a significant weight-loss via three hours a day at the gym, seven days a week, for the last five or seven years, that everyone who is over a BMI of 21 or so should pretty much be legally required to do this. (Which includes me, although zie has never said that.)

  11. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man

    I agree with every other point of this fantastic post, FJ, but the point about disability is a little more up in the air than the others. First of all I have to acknowledge that there is a huge spectrum of attitudes about disability in the disability activism world, ranging from “there needs to be more research to cure this condition” to “my disability is an inherent part of my selfhood and I wouldn’t give it up if you handed me the cure wrapped in $1000 bill” to “attempt to cure my disability are a form of genocide”. I admit that I fall much more towards the first of those options, and I equally admit that my experience is not universal or more right than anybody else’s experience.

    That being said, I see a real difference between somebody defining me as “a wangless man” and somebody defining me as “a broken able-bodied person”. At one level, I *am* a broken able-bodied person. Or rather, it’s not that my personhood is broken, but my able-bodiedness is broken. There are things I want to be able to do, things I once could do, that I no longer can do.

    I think that’s why when I talk about people with disabilities I’m in support of the movement to say “people with disabilities” and not “disabled people”. I’m a person with a characteristic. In my particular case it’s a characteristic I’d rather not have, although other people who also have characteristics labeled as disabilities wouldn’t make the same choices I would.

    Does that make sense? I’m not saying that as a person with disabilities I’m self hating or ashamed, but I am saying that if you gave me the *choice* between the cure and the $1000 bill, I wouldn’t even look at the money.

    Er. Do they even make $1000 bills?

  12. they actually prove our point. “So, you say you have been roughly the same weight for most of your adult life, and when extenuating circumstances made you deviate significantly from that weight, it was like you naturally settled back to your usual size? I’ll be blowed… it’s almost as if you couldn’t effect permanent changes in your body weight! Someone should write a blog about this!”

    I totally, totally, love this. I’ve had it too, and yes, they are advocating setpoint even though they don’t realize it.

  13. this is a really interesting article, and it’s a point I’ve been trying to make my ‘normal’ friends get for years- they all seem to be commited to the theory of thermodynamics (1lb of fat = 3500cals so eat 3500cals fewer and lose 1lb of fat. Easy huh?).

    I’m going to post a link on my Facebook to this article!

  14. Thanks for this post — and for making me think more about my own judgments and preconceptions. My background is that I was fat for the first 24 years of my life, and then I lost 80lbs through diet and exercise. I have kept that weight off for a number of years now. The reason for this background: I am incredibly guilty of generalizing others’ experiences based on my own and of judging others’ bodies based on my own (and my own conflicted feelings about my appearance). I have been reading this website for awhile, now, in the hopes of resisting these terribly reductive thoughts.

  15. Yeah, Stephanie… I hear you. I had a friend who was convinced that because his mother was told that her life was in danger, AND he would probably be anywhere from really sick to a vegetable if born, but she decided she wanted him anyway and he came out fine, that all women should be required by law to go through with all pregnancies. He was also very vocally proud and snide about the “fact” that his argument, because it was not based in religion, was morally superior AND completely un-arguable.

    It’s so maddening to me that anyone can have their head wedged so firmly up their own ass. His reason is so unbelievably selfish and hateful that I can’t even fathom how it is that he refuses to see that. He’s basically telling his mother, “wow, you chose me, and fought for me, and gave me a beautiful gift… now I’ve decided that because of that, you’re not good enough to make that choice ever again, and in fact, no woman is… because all pregnancies are the same, and a woman’s personal circumstances are meaningless, and all that matters is that maybe possibly more guys just like wonderful me are born.”

    UGH.

  16. Another reason it’s not a counterexample to say “but I lost the weight…” is that the study, iirc, just followed people who had lost weight. It didn’t say much about whether they attempted to stay on the diet, became ill, got pregnant, got injured, or any of the other things that might contribute to a weight gain or loss. Which means that it’s doubly hard to use anecdotal evidence to prove that the 95% figure* is wrong, because one person isn’t a good representation of all of the things that can happen in five years. (Seriously. Think of all that could happen.)

    Which means that someone who has a relatively uneventful five years might well be able to lose weight and keep it off without being a genetic freak, but that those five years might be relatively unusual.

    *where is this from again? Sorry to ask, but I can’t seem to find the study.

  17. The problem with you, Filly, is that you have common sense! If only you could get rid of that (and the majority of your brain cells), then you could live in a world of denial, self-hatred, and eating disorders, just like the trolls. (After all, they seem so happy!)

    *Please note the heavy sarcasm of this post. If I were to lose the sarcasm, I would simply say that you are a rockin’ goddess who should be worshiped regularly.

  18. people with disabilities is a minority group that anyone of us could join at any time

    Kinda.

    Most able bodied adults (as in at least half of us) will be in an accident that leaves us injured and impaired enough that we really *need* the accommodations that a disabled person needs all the time. Fall off a bike and hurt a knee or break a femur. Trip, fall down stairs and break both wrists. Be in a car accident and end up with a severe concussion. Get older, develop a tendon issue and suddenly discover that you have no thumbs.

    It was sort of funny when it happened to me… a lot of my friends assumed the troubles I was having would go away if I had a car. No, not really… until about 4 weeks after the accident, I couldn’t actually get in a car reliably. Driving would have been impossible. I was (and still am) so damn grateful that there is a mass transit stop a block and a half from my apartment, and a grocery store less than a block away. Without them, being hurt would have been almost impossible to deal with.

    But me being hurt isn’t the same as a permanent disability. I got better. Someone with spina bifida never will (barring major medical breakthroughs).

    I can’t imagine how hard it is to have no choice about “yes, the grocery store really does need to be that close”, or “no, I can’t move there, there’s no mass transit”.

  19. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.

    I want to marry this sentence.

    I missed volcanista’s guest post from too much working, but I too am here because everyone thinks I’m so bloody “virtuous” for being physically incapable of gaining more than twenty pounds on my naturally low setpoint. Oh hai, I am also carbon-based! Make me a saint!

  20. Oh, well, except to chime in that the “MY EXPERIENCE IS EXACTLY WHAT EVERYONE ELSE’S EXPERIENCE SHOULD BE” phenomenon is, as we all suspected, fairly universal.

    This is exactly why I have a hard time ever having a conversation with my dad. It totally doesn’t register with him how it’s possible that someone (me) can look at all the same information and data and come up with a different conclusion. He figures that must mean that I haven’t heard all the same info. So he’ll repeat it. Over and over. Until I agree with him (which never happens) or I yell at him to stop and then run away.

    *sigh*

    Also, FJ, this post was AWESOME. You deserve a fatty high five!

    *high five*

  21. Torrilin, I definitely hear you (and in fact the discussions I had were in advocacy of mass transit), but I wasn’t necessarily thinking of just temporary disability; I was thinking of permanent disability that people acquire through injury or illness or that just develop later in life. Examples might include someone paralyzed in an accident or a grandmother who goes blind.

    Sorry I didn’t make that clear!

  22. Long time lurker, first time commenter. This is an absolutely excellent post – especially the observation about “navel-gazing” generalizations. I remember a huge shift in my thinking occurring when I was researching the Americans With Disabilities Act for a client and coming across the argument that in fact the problem is that most of our infrastructure is built for very narrow range of bodies and abilities and in fact that changing the infrastructure is the appropriate solution rather than trying to change the people. What an idea! Building buildings and roads and clothes around what people actually are, rather than some idea of what we think they should be.

  23. I lost over 20 lbs one time due to a severe illness where I was so sick and weak, I couldn’t eat. Once I got well and got back in my groove, guess what? The 20 lbs came back!

    Sure, I could sustain a weight loss, if I continously came down with viruses the rest of my life that made me have no appetite. But sorry trolls and other assorted fatphobes, I’m going to remain fat and virus free (well, except for those obese germs I inherited and should be shunned for).

  24. i’m torn over your statement that disabled people aren’t broken able-bodied people. i feel that way about some of my so-called disabilities, but others really do feel like broken things. i’m fine with being an aspie. asperger syndrome is a convenient label for a lot of odd things about me. diagnosis has helped me to accept that i am just different, not broken, and it’s not a sign of cowardice to negotiate for a life i’m comfortable with instead of trying to force myself to be nt. i feel very differently about depression and physical pain. even though i’ve been forced to define myself through depression for more than half of my life, i still consider depression to be something broken, not a normal variation. i have connective tissue problems and consider that to be a broken thing, too. some of the students i work with are disabled. one of them has specifically told me that she likes me because i’m broken, too, and i still do okay. given the number of hospitalizations and surgeries she’s been though, i do not blame her at all for considering every person who ever claims she is not broken to be a liar. it’s rude to presume someone is lacking by being different, but what if that’s how that person thinks about herself? does that mean that her interpretation of her own experience of being alive is automatically wrong?

  25. “…a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.”

    I’ma stitch and frame it – with baby donut borders!

  26. The problem with you, Filly, is that you have common sense! If only you could get rid of that (and the majority of your brain cells), then you could live in a world of denial, self-hatred, and eating disorders, just like the trolls. (After all, they seem so happy!) (emphasis mine)

    I have to say, I’m uncomfortable with the implication that having an eating disorder involves a lack of common sense. I realize, of course, that starving oneself or throwing up one’s food or binging past the point of fullness is not the height of logical thinking, but I still think the individuals suffering from the disorder possess general common sense. I think they’re simply unwell, mentally and emotionally.

    I hope I don’t sound oversensitive. It’s just, as a woman who is both intelligent and bulimic, I dislike the association of eating disorders with ignorance or vapidity.

  27. “Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.”

    FJ, your posts always have at least one passage that totally blows my mind & I have to immediately jot down.

  28. I love this post, I love it long and hard. As someone who was around 200 lbs for about 8 years, and then lost ~60lbs and kept it off for six years, I feel like this post could have been directed at me, pre-FA awakening. I lost the weight after changing my diet to ease the debilitating migraines I was getting several times a week, and found the changes I made to be “common sense,” and the weight came off very easy for me. At the age of 20, I got to be around 140 lbs, and was really happy. After transferring to college in DC, I decided that I was too flabby, and that I needed to lose weight (I’m 5’6, and about a size 6 at 140 lbs, just to give perspective). I tried desperately hard to get smaller. Usually I would count calories and eat around 2000 calories a day, which apparently is way too low for me, because my body would go “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING” and would give me horrible intense migraines, and make me so dizzy I could barely stand up. So the dieting would last about four days, and then I would crack and start eating everything in sight, and it would take weeks for my raging appetite to finally subside. At one point I sustained a diet long enough to get down to 120 lbs, but this only lasted a couple of months, and after several intense binges (including going to a diner, eating everything in sight, and gaining 4 lbs in one night), I was back up to 140 lbs. Now, finally, I’ve decided to stop fighting my body, and to just listen to it and give it what it needs. It’s perfectly happy at staying between 140 and 160, and let’s me know when it’s too far in either direction. But after all these struggles and this final realization, I still get asked constantly about how I’ve lost weight, how I manage to stay so skinny, and “what’s your secret?! How can I look like you?!?!” Every single human being is different, and instead of trying so hard to figure out what everyone else is doing to have the body type that they have, they should listen to what their own bodies are telling them.

    Anyway, excellent post FJ! You rock!!!

  29. This is a great, great post. Truly vindicating.

    I always think it’s funny whenever someone tells me that they gained weight while they suffered from depression, but lost it again promptly afterward. I’m the opposite: I got nice and skinny while I was suffering from depression (twice!) and then fattened up again when the depression passed. Now I’m fat and happy. And if I only had a dollar for every time someone gave me an astonished look for this, I could be fat, happy and rich!

  30. Deborah and libbyblue, thanks for your thoughtful comments on disability. I see what you’re both saying, and I think you’re right — there’s room for both those understandings, depending on how one relates to one’s disability (and probably depending on the disability in a lot of cases). All I meant to imply was that a disabled person isn’t just a broken able-bodied person, that he or she doesn’t reduce to such. Is that better?

  31. GREAT post.

    …What I’m asking is, why did my weight change so much at the time?..

    No one knows why yet, but natural weight gain/loss usually follows such a pattern. Change for a short time, than stablization at a new point, which your body stubbornly maintains.

    Puburty though is just one of those things. So many hormones are involved.. besides getting height and secondary sexual characteristics, almost all of us also develop more flesh. Some develop a lot more.

  32. FJ: Yes, that’s much better — and I pretty much knew that’s what you meant. I’m a little sensitive to this because there is a certain amount of “the personal anecdote is universal” just within the disability activism community. I know I’m guilty of thinking that everybody with disabilities would get rid of them in a heartbeat given the opportunity, and I equally know I get really frustrated when other people in the community talk about how none of us want a cure, right?. It’s hard not to extrapolate, sometimes!

  33. This week my neurologist wanted to prescribe me on Topamax because it causes weight loss, instead of switching me back to Depakene (what I wanted) because Depakene causes weight gain.
    The entire reason I wanted to switch was because my current medication, Keppra, makes me depressed. Guess what? Topamax may also cause depression.

    I told my neurologist I’d rather be fat and happy than thin and depressed.

    That was Monday, I think he’s still processing what I said.

  34. Sap said:

    When I hit puberty, I gained a large amount of weight, which I then partially lost at sixteen. I’m twenty now, and have been generally around the same weight range ever since. What I’m asking is, why did my weight change so much at the time?

    My guess would be, all the crazy hormones. Hormones do weird shit. I had been underweight all my life, went on birth control at 23, gained 35 pounds. I’m guessing the hormones settled down somewhat around when you were 16 and your body went “Phew!” and settled in to where it wanted to be.

  35. This is one of those posts that says something I knew, rationally, but couldn’t articulate. Certainly not this clearly.

    I want to take this and show it to all the people I run across who just Don’t Get It and make them read it. Especially this:

    To think so, to cling so assiduously to thinking so in contradiction to the evidence, is to assert that there is one default body subject to any number of deliberate or accidental mutations. It is to assert that the most privileged body is also the “correct” body, the one to which everyone else should aspire

    It’s so convenient for a lot of people that the default body is white, thin and abled (not to mention male). The process by which this is maintained as our default, the ideal to hold ourselves up against and judge ourselves, is one of the engines of our entire consumer culture, because there are enormous industries devoted to selling us solutions of various stripes.

    I’m glad you included the reference to ability. I am not (currently) disabled, but I also am well aware that there is no way to tell by looking at another person whether they are disabled or not. Since I started reading SP I’ve been working on my own reactions out in public when I see someone using a wheelchair or cart or needing walking assistance, pushing back the judgment in my head and reminding myself I have no fucking clue about that person’s life or why they need what they need.

    But for me, as someone who does not have a disability, to refer to a disabled person as a “broken able-bodied person” contains a judgment. The underlying implication is that there is a perfect/ideal body (and mind) that is of the highest value and someone who is “broken” can never achieve it, therefore they are less than a real, whole person. It’s the word broken, which has such strong negative connotations, that is the major problem. It ties into long-held stereotypes about the disabled that were always negative and confining. Using that word implies a negative judgment.

    I have no knowledge of what’s acceptable within various communities that grapple with disability, but I suspect this is one of those expressions that differ depending on who uses it.

    DRST

  36. Adding: Some people have height growth spurts at puberty. Some people have weight ones. Some people have the one and then the other. And if you gain a bunch of weight, and then get a bit taller, if you’re not constantly weighing yourself it can seem like you’ve lost some of the weight. Which is not to say that that was what happened in this case, necessarily.

  37. @dana – the source of “95% diets fail” is a single study in 1959 by Albert Stunkard, based on 100 “overweight” people put on a diet. It’s a likely number, but to be honest the science behind it isn’t terribly solid.

  38. The first time I wrote about my decision not to diet I had two people comment on their weight loss, the first was a guy who miraculous lost 50 pounds after spending a winter alone in Alaska. The second had cancer, and had parts of her body surgically removed, on top of the usual treatments which typically cause dramatic weight loss. And then my brain exploded.

  39. Wow–this is marvelous! Thank you for such a well-thought and well-written post. As a first-time-reader over here, I am duly impressed. :)

  40. It’s not true that less than 0.5% of women are aspie! I’m aspie! I know at least three other aspie women! That proves that number is BOGUS!

    Also, it’s not true that only 15% of Americans are atheists. The numbers are all backwards — 85% of the people I know are atheists. That proves it!

    And I ditto the love for: Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much. People in the neurodiversity movement have been saying something this for years to curebie parents: It’s not true that autism is a “shell” hiding the neurotypical kid
    you wish you had and that you will have once there is a “cure.” You can work on facilitating communication and helping your kids think and behave in ways that are less self-injurious or violent if those are issues for them. But openly wishing for them to actually be NT is tantamount to wishing they didn’t exist; there’s no NT kid “hidden inside,” this is your kid.

  41. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person

    For some of us, dealing with a new disability feels a whole hell of a lot like this. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I don’t feel like a defective human being because I can’t do everything I could do before.

    Sorry, I’m having a bad night because I fell down hard on my bad knee. People, clear and salt the sidewalk in front of your place as well as your walkways and steps, us poor lame people has a hard time with ice.

  42. I get a lot of the “Well it worked for me, so it must be true for everybody!” comments in chat rooms regarding weight loss. If it’s not that, it’s preaching advice in trying to convert someone to the religion of “health” (being thin).

    One time I had one of these people ignored, and when someone asked why I ignored them, I said they were a fat hater. Then this troll said, “Oh so cause I hate fat people what I say isn’t valid?” Then I said, “Well, do you really expect people to take statements, from a person capable of hate, seriously?” They had nothing to say to that.

  43. When i first started reading this post, i was a bit indignant – like, “but wait! *i* lost 30-40 lbs almost 6 years ago and didn’t gain it back!” But, as i well know, i haven’t gained it back because i a) got healthy; and b) got un-depressed. Now, if i really bust my ass (which sucks), i can lose another 15 pounds, but as soon as i start behaving like a human again, i gain it right back. I tend to gain around 5 pounds in the winter and lose around 5 pounds in the summer. How. About. That.

  44. a woman isn’t a wangless man

    This made me snicker. I always think it’s hilarious that people assume that male is the default template for humanity, because actually (biologically speaking), it’s not.

    So long as a human embryo has one X chromosome, it will be viable, but with only a Y chromosome it will never develop. The body and brain are developed as male in utero as the result of huge doses of male hormones – without these, the resulting foetus will appear female even if it is genetically male.

    And that always reminds me of this joke (not PC please don’t read it if you’ll be offended!):

    God created earth, and it was good. Then God created woman, and it was better. Then, one day, Eve said, “God, I’m bored what can you do for me?”
    And God said in response, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll make you a man, he’ll cook, clean, be nice, sensitive, sweet, and even open doors for you. He’ll be every thing you ever wanted in a man. But you have to do one thing,”

    Eve asked curiously, “What?”

    God said, “You have to get him to believe that I made him first.”

  45. I read somewhere about the way they get those before and after weight loss pictures and testimonials — the ones that aren’t totally fake, or where they switched before and after photos.

    Find someone who is naturally thin and/or muscular as well as very active, but is currently inactive for reasons beyond her control. A good option is someone hurt in an accident, broken leg, something like that. Bonus if this person eats out of boredom. Take pictures of this person when they’re at their max weight.

    Then take pictures after they’ve recovered from their injury, and their weight goes back down as a result of resuming their accustomed level of eating and activity.

    You can even interview them and they can honestly say “it was easy!” Of course it was. You were getting back to the weight that was normal for you.

  46. I can identify with both sides of the whole people-with-disabilities debate in the comments. I have certain disabilities that I wish I could get rid of, and others that I feel are a part of me.

    Ultimately, though, advocacy for people with disabilities should enable them to do what they like with their bodies and minds.

  47. What I’m asking is, why did my weight change so much at the time?

    As has been suggested, probably for the same reason that a lot of women experience weight changes (not always weight gain) when they get pregnant and have kids – for some people, hormones kick the set point around a bit.

    Although in my experience dieting and the like mess with the set-point as well. The “adaptation theory” says that if we feed our bodies really well (lots of healthy calories), the set point will eventually go down, while if we limit calories or don’t provide the nutrients we need, our bodies are convinced we’re in a famine-prone environment and the set point will go up (to protect us from starving during the next famine).

    Ultimately I suspect the answer is, “Every body is unique and you’re probably better qualified to figure out your own bod than anyone.”

  48. If anyone wants more (and more recent) proof that calories-in-calories-out is a load of horsehockey than the old Stunkard study from the 1960s, here’s one from 2006 that I found in Linda Bacon’s book via JAMA, and it made me remember that JFS had a piece on it too, here.

    It was about the Women’s Health Initiative, which followed over 40,000 postmenopausal women for eight years, and divided them 50/50 into “eat more fruits/veggies/whole grains and less fat and almost no saturated fat” and “eat whatever you want” groups, and tracked the differences over the years in, among other things, body weight. The “healthy eating” group (which employed behavior-mod coaches to keep everyone on their diets as much as possible) ate on average about 360 calories less per day than the control group and lost a small bit of weight at first, but at the end of the trial, the difference in average weight between the two groups was…drum roll please…0.7 kg. That’s about a pound and a half. For all that trouble. (And also, that’s an average. That means some women in the restrained eating group didn’t lose any weight at all, or possibly even gained weight.)

    And in case any of the Atkins fiends want to chime in with, “Yeah, but did they eat low-carb and exercise?”, here’s one for them from Linda’s book, from JAMA in 2007: A study of popular diets — Atkins, Zone, LEARN, and Ornish — found that despite eating anywhere from 271 to 345 calories less per day AND increasing exercise, weight loss happened only during the first six months of the diet, and despite maintaining the diet and exercise plan, all showed regain over the last six months.

    Yes, that’s right. People who are designed to be fat regain weight even if they stick to their diets. And if they don’t regain the weight, it’s because they weren’t designed to be fat. Why is that so hard?

  49. I started to suspect that the whole “calories in/calories out” thing was BS when I was unable to lose a single pound the entire time I nursed my son, regardless of what I ate or how much I exercised. And, I breastfed for over two years, so I had a good amount of time to observe this. My natural setpoint (at least natural-while-taking-an-SSRI, and about 15 pounds above what I weigh when I’m not on it) seems to be in the range of 190 pounds, but I weighed about 220 after my pregnancy and while nursing. If I was eating a lot of desserts and not exercising, I might get up to 228, and if I was exercising a lot and not eating many desserts I might get down to 212, but that was about it. The thing was, I was not eating any more than I did at other points in my life. And, as soon as I stopped nursing, without making any changes in my diet or exercise habits, I lost 30 pounds extremely fast (like in the course of 3 months). And then, of course, my weight loss stopped, and now if I’m really active and staying away from snack foods I might get to 185 and if I’m eating a lot and not being very active I might get to 200, but that’s about it.

    I think what people don’t realize is that, just because you might gain 10 or 15 pounds (or even 30 or 40) if you overeat or stop exercising, it doesn’t mean if you don’t start dieting right away you’ll gain 100 or 150 pounds. When I’m not nursing, I don’t think I could eat myself much above 200 pounds. At times when I have been overeating (not binging, but regularly eating past when I was full, and regularly eating when I wasn’t hungry), at a certain point–surprisingly, around 200 lbs.–my body just rebels. I start getting sick to my stomach. My appetite drops. And, before I know it, I’m back around 190. And, if I’m not eating when I’m hungry, at a certain point my body also rebels, and I just can’t remain a sane and functional human being without eating more, and again I’m back around 190.

  50. Oh, I should add, breastfeeding burns calories, which was another reason why I realized calories in/calories out didn’t actually work the way people say it does.

    I had to do a nutritional analysis for a class I was taking at the time, and according to the numbers (based on my age, my weight, the fact that I was nursing, and how many calories I ate a day), I should have been losing weight at a pretty significant rate. I think it said I should have been eating about 3200 calories a day to maintain my weight, and I was eating about 2000 calories a day.

    So, yeah: calories in/calories out is BS. Ask any nursing mom. From the ones I’ve talked to and my own experience, some seem to drop weight rapidly even if they are eating a whole lot, whereas others hold on to every single pound no matter how little they eat.

  51. Bonnie, Rebecca and Slythwolf – thank you! I had a feeling it was hormones. I never actually had a height growth spurt, I just grew sideways instead :)

  52. libbyblue, I’m with you on this:

    i’m fine with being an aspie. asperger syndrome is a convenient label for a lot of odd things about me. diagnosis has helped me to accept that i am just different, not broken … i still consider depression to be something broken, not a normal variation.

    I’m another Aspie with depression. I love my Asperger’s, and would not be me without it. It’s a big part of me, inseparable from my personality, and has always been a big part of me. None of these things is true about my depression, which I regard as a horrible alien parasite that’s hijacked my brain. I would like to be cured of depression, while I would consider being cured of Asperger’s equivalent to being erased.

    But when I say I’d like to get rid of my depression, I’m not trying to be like some mythical Ideal of Normal Humanity. I’m trying to be like I was when I was happier. I think that’s the crucial point here — that your own body, and your own life, should be your reference point for what’s normal, healthy and good for you.

  53. Fillyjonk: Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person

    Goddless Heathen wrote: For some of us, dealing with a new disability feels a whole hell of a lot like this.

    My response: Length of time definitely affects things. Someone who’s been blind since birth likely has a life where sight doesn’t matter much. Sure, the blind techies I’m acquainted with don’t look for – oh – XBox testing jobs – but using a computer, riding the bus, going to the store, diapering the baby? These are not challenges. They’re everyday life.

  54. Lori: yup. I’m nursing a 10 month old (as I type, even!) and my pants are all too big, no matter how much I eat. Just another example of bodies doing their own thing regardless of what we might thinkthey ought to do.

  55. I think the disability discussion is interesting. I have panic disorder, and while I don’t feel like I’m broken, I also feel like it’s something to manage. But, for me, managing it means finding the line where I can handle my anxiety so its not debilitating, but not really getting rid of it. I didn’t want to up my dosage of medication once I got to the point where I wasn’t having constant panic attacks and to where I felt like I had a handle on my body and mind. I didn’t want to take more and see if it would make the panic attacks totally go away, even though that was an option. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’ve had panic attacks since I was very young (I can remember having one at 5 or 6), and it’s just a part of me that I’m used to and honestly don’t mind, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my doing what I need to do. For whatever reason my body flips into fight-or-flight mode with a whole lot less provocation than most people’s bodies, and I do see that largely as a variation that, if not desirable or even “normal,” is mine. I’m really happy that there are drugs out there that make it possible for me to not be debilitated by anxiety, but if somebody were to offer me a pill that I could take one time and never have another panic attack, I can’t say I’d jump to take it.

    I wonder if the age at which a person became disabled has something to do with it. I took a really eye-opening disability studies course once, and it seemed like, from class discussions and the readings and talks I had with people, that people who were disabled from birth or who became disabled at a young age tended not to feel broken, and were the ones who would not have wanted a cure. People who became disabled as adults tended to feel less like their disability was an inseparable part of their identity that they wouldn’t have wanted to do without. I know it makes sense to me that people who have lived with a disability for their entire lives or since they were a young child–who really only know life with the disability–would not feel broken or like they needed to be cured.

  56. I’m another Aspie with depression. I love my Asperger’s, and would not be me without it. It’s a big part of me, inseparable from my personality, and has always been a big part of me. None of these things is true about my depression, which I regard as a horrible alien parasite that’s hijacked my brain.

    Hear hear. If you can actually cure my depression and anxiety, so that I don’t have to take these frickin’ annoying drugs any more, I’ll kiss your feet. I’m also starting to believe that a lot of my depression and anxiety might actually be exogenous — that is, having an external cause, namely the result of having my reality denied over and over again from the time I was very little.

  57. My sister has never been above a size 6 in her life. Since the age of 10, I’ve never been smaller than a size 12.

    My sister and I grew up eating the same foods in pretty similar amounts. We tended to have the same amount of exercise since Mom signed us up for the same extracurriculars (less driving around for her). So why am I fat and she’s not? Could it be that our bodies are different and have naturally different shapes and sizes?

    Or maybe I’m lying to try and cover up the fact that I’m a lazy, baby-donut devouring Fatty McFatterson. Although if I were lying, I’d try to make it more interesting. Something involving top-secret genetic experimentation or alien abduction, perhaps.

  58. Oh funny. Last night boyfriend and I had too much vodka and were all like “WTF! Why the hell is there this weird idea that there is only one normal kind of body and everyone who doesn’t match it isn’t trying hard enough. That makes NO SENSE!” I’m glad to see a post on this very topic today!

  59. Oh! Oh! – sudden revelation!

    Just as a fat person isn’t a thin person who eats too much, a fat person isn’t a thin person who’s so emotionally damaged they MAKE themselves fat!

    It’s one of those things I’ve carried around forever – that whole idea that if only I weren’t so damaged, so messed up in some terrible, undefined way, I would be thin because I would have no reason to hold on to the fat. I don’t know if that’s part of current weight-loss lore, but it was back in the day when people thought there was a salvageable thin person inside of me – and all that person needed was some therapy and more leafy green veggies.
    You know, it’s easy to push back against the whole ‘fatty fatty fat fat, just stop eating suckling pig every night’ mindset because I know that’s not how I eat – but that insidious, “Poor you, you must be really messed up to be that fat” – that’s harder to resist, because it would be so easy if all there were between me and a size 4 was purging myself of some bad childhood memories and embracing happy-thin!

    I love this blog – so many things have been a complete revelation!

  60. @Dana, the reason there aren’t many studies to point to with the 95% number is that that figure refers to regain 5 years after the diet. Most studies follow people for one year, maybe two — and even then, you’ll see significant regain, but it’s not until 5-7 years that you see pretty much everyone gain it ALL back.

    I’m not into googling all night, but off the top of my head, there’s this study of Weight Watchers participants that followed up (with a phone interview — so weights are self-reported) after 5 years. It spins the results so they sound relatively positive: “Based on corrected weights, weight regain from 1 to 5 y following weight loss ranged between 31.5 and 76.5%. At 5 y, 19.4% were within 5 lb of goal weight, 42.6% maintained a loss of 5% or more, 18.8% maintained a loss of 10% or more, and 70.3% were below initial weight.” But Fat Fu did the math on that one so I didn’t have to. Her results were not so promising.

    The best study to look at, in my opinion, is the 2007 UCLA study led by Traci Mann. They looked at 31 weight loss studies that followed up from 2-5 years. (Mostly 2*.) There’s an article about it here, and you can google to find the whole study. (I think you have to pay, though. If you don’t want to, then just buy our book, ’cause we paid for it and talk about it a lot there.) Here’s the money quote from Dr. Mann: “We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”

    Granted, that study didn’t come up with a 95% figure, either — but A) again, these were studies of anywhere between 2 and 5 years, not all 5 years or more, and B) they note a kabillion different reasons why the actual number of people who regain it all is probably a lot higher than what they got. (Some of that is discussed in the article I linked to.) Another quote from the article:

    One study of dieting obese patients followed them for varying lengths of time. Among those who were followed for fewer than two years, 23 percent gained back more weight than they had lost, while of those who were followed for at least two years, 83 percent gained back more weight than they had lost, Mann said. One study found that 50 percent of dieters weighed more than 11 pounds over their starting weight five years after the diet, she said.

    Note that those numbers represent people gaining back more than they lost, not just gaining all or nearly all of it back.

    There’s stuff out there besides the ancient Stunkard study, but A) like I said, very, very few studies actually follow up after 5 years, B) the ones that do often have some sketchiness (self-reported weights, high dropout rates), and C) the majority of them are, like the WW study above, spinning the numbers as hard as they possibly can to make it sound like sustained weight loss is possible.

    *From the anecdata files, both times I lost a significant amount of weight, I was still keeping nearly all of it off after 2 years. And both times, I’d gained it all back after 5. BECAUSE IT HAPPENED TO ME, IT’S TRUE FOR EVERYONE. CASE CLOSED.

  61. Wow, FJ, this is one of your best posts ever. Awesome!

    Now I’ll just copy and paste the whole thing into my blog comments to answer those people insisting that because they kept the weight off for 2 1/2 years, I’m wrong about diets not working. (Or maybe just link.)

  62. “a woman is not a wangless man”

    it’s funny you point this out, because that’s the exact way I’ve been thinking of FA and it’s similarity to sexism. Back in the day when a woman WAS only seen as just a wangless man (not that it was really all that long ago) just about every piece of “scientific” research out there about women served only to further propagate the idea that women were only weak-willed, less strong, subhumans. Every natural fact was twisted and used only to elaborate on this idea, rather than rethinking it or looking for alternative explanations. Example, Aristotle lived in a time where it was generally accepted that women were subhuman life forms. His exploration into the territory examined the fact that women discharged crap (menstration) without a man’s penis but with a man’s penis was able to create life. Thus theorizing that women must be the subhuman since they cannot create life on their own.

    Rather than looking at the more logical option, that women and men are equally needed to create life (since, you know, men weren’t making babies on their own either), he only used it to further prove an already existing idea. In his book Thomas Kuhn elaborates on how this is generally the way scientific theory progresses, “facts” are established, people work within and with that set of “facts” and the “facts” aren’t much questioned until a breakthrough is made. Then that is the new established set of “facts” and the same process follows again and again.

    So the good news, people won’t be so misinformed about about “teh fatties” forever. Eventually a breakthrough will be made. Even better news, considering things like this blog are popping up and other experiments are starting to at least consider what people like many of us here have been saying all along, a breakthrough may not be far off. However, the bad news, plenty of people are still using every morsel of information they come across to affirm their perceptions. And what’s worse, is that people like this guy don’t even realize they’re doing it. Despite evidence pointing otherwise. *facepalm*

  63. But another thing they have in common, and this is what really drives me batshit bonkers, is that they actually prove our point. “So, you say you have been roughly the same weight for most of your adult life, and when extenuating circumstances made you deviate significantly from that weight, it was like you naturally settled back to your usual size? I’ll be blowed… it’s almost as if you couldn’t effect permanent changes in your body weight! Someone should write a blog about this!”

    This is so the point. Of course, given the praise that is heaped upon those who are able to maintain long-term weight loss, it’s unsurprising that so many of those who lost weight in great part because they were already above their natural set point would WANT to be deserving of the admiration. Just like a lot of naturally thin people don’t get that their natural thin-ness is a product of their genetics and not the fact that their habits are oh so much better than the average fat person’s, a lot of people who have lost weight think it’s something they did to make themselves better.

    Having a naturally lower set point does not make one a better person. I always wonder how desperate people are to think that they’re worthwhile people that they base their self-worth in things like that, or other genetically-driven facets of themselves such as the color of their skin or the contents of their crotch. There’s a lot of those people out there… imagine if that energy was devoted to actually being a better person instead of feeling superior.

  64. Pretty much ALL of the diet commercials for weight loss products (i.e. Nutrasystem, Xenical, exercise machines, etc.) are portrayed by people who were PAID to gain weight. This explains the fine print at the bottom of the ad that says “results not typical”.

    If this yahoo had HALF a brain and read some actual scientific research, he would realize that since most of us have setpoints regarding our weight, than what he will be undertaking is a complete farce and comical to everyone out there with even a modicum of knowledge….which seems to be just us…led by FJ.
    His “experiment” will actually PROVE US RIGHT! *SQUEE* Of course, HE won’t see it that way, nor will anyone else who succumbs to the eat less, exercise more madness. *sigh*

  65. If this yahoo had HALF a brain and read some actual scientific research, he would realize that since most of us have setpoints regarding our weight

    The problem is that if he actually read the studies (and believed them) then his whole career would be meaningless and he would have to change paths rather than being paid tons of money to help people continually chase unattainable goals!

  66. “Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants, while complete weight regain was found in the majority. Diets do not lead to sustained weight loss or health benefits for the majority of people.”

    And again…what if the small minority were the ones who actually had lower setpoints (genetically determined) to begin with and had gained weight because of accident, injury or disease in the first place? I would venture to guess that this would be the real explanation those rarities kept it off longer than five years.

    Sorry for the double post, but there are so many damn fine posts on here! YOU PEOPLE ROCK~!

  67. Ostara, when you said that it reminded me of something I read that was written by one of the early “greats” in philosophy (can’t recall which one, probably Plato). It went into detail about how useless women were, and used as its example, of all things, BEES. Talking of how the males do all this hard work all day and the females don’t do anything. What is a crackup is that he based his assumption on which was the male and which the female bee on his preconceived notions of sex, as opposed to actually knowing the biology of bees and then forming an appropriate metaphor.

    In our modern era, it is of course common knowledge that it’s the female bees, all sisters, who perform all that labor Mr. Philosopher says makes them so much better, and the males, far from being lazy, are languid because they DIE after mating with the queen. And yet we still have movies like Antz and Bee Movie, where social insects are portrayed with male-dominated casts and male central figures, even though any idiot with a third grade education can tell you that ants/bees/wasps are one giant sorority.

    So when it comes down to it, we’re really not that far evolved from Plato’s day…

  68. It IS possible for someone with a high weight-point-set (as we called it back in the old days) to lose weight and keep it off – my niece is now thin, after a lifetime of being kind-of-round, and she’s kept the weight off for more than five years. BUT – she’s obsessive about it – she HAS to be. Never a full meal, lots and lots of diet soda, hours of exercise every day and unrelenting focus on staying thin. I always feel like… you know, it makes her happy, and I have to respect that. It wouldn’t make me happy, though – I’m just not wired that way.

  69. BEAUTIFUL post!!

    This is germane, I think, as well as exposing my age!!

    In the seventies; the Don Shula led Miami Dolphins were considered a powerhouse. Larry Csonka was their marquee back. Larry wanted to increase his already fabulous bulk by 20 or 30 pounds in the notion of intimidating league defenses. Shula said no, you’re staying where you are because that’s where you are the fastest. I believe he won the league rushing record that year. I am not really a sports fan, oddly enough, but I just pay attention. I don’t know what you might call it; try the Myth of Bulk: good for men, bad for women or whatever, but Fillyjonk makes the point beautifully.

    Really.

    Czonka’s weight was his natural one and Shula knew it. These days you find athletes taking steroids, growth hormones and god knows what else to artificially elevate their weight at the expense of their health, lifespan and even humanity. I remember in high school the wrestlers trying to “make weight” ( panic reducing) in divisions that they weren’t really suited for, JUST like healthy, active BEAUTIFUL heavy people try desperately to be artificially light for the SAME cultural reasons and suffer the same consequences.

    F*** the media, they have way too much free time on their hands: gin up a controversy out of sheer boredom….and Devil take the hindmost.

    I suppose that if we ever mature as a species and begin to celebrate actuality as opposed to fantasy, we’ll love the naturally thin, middle and fat on their own merits and not some socially imposed artifice.

  70. @Kimberly O.

    Sorry to diagnose over the interwebs, but then it sounds like your niece has an eating disorder. One of my biggest grips with the psychiatric profession is how they have classed eating disorders; essentially, anorexia is considered a problem not because it’s a horrible disease that ruins your life, but because it may make you have a heart attack, or worse, you may have a body that isn’t attractive to most men. I know that I, at least, had every psychological symptom of anorexia, right down to spending extra time fondling the canned food in the kitchen. I could have taken Tracy Gold’s spot in “For the Love of Nancy”, which I watched over and over to get tips on how to do it right. But, since I was still fat, my family, doctors and therapists all were enthusiastically behind my weight loss.

    I have to wonder how many people’s lives revolve around their obsessions with food, but no one cares because they aren’t thin enough. For fat people, fat women especially, disordered eating isn’t a problem, it’s a cause for praise.

  71. … I thought Plato was surprisingly non-misogynist and it was Aristotle you had to watch out for. But it’s been a while. One of them argued for women’s education because he thought women were intellectual equals to men.

  72. ( Please, oh people of wisdom, correct me if I’m wrong. I just came home from drinking beer and dancing, and don’t even have the brains left to consult a book.)

  73. BUT – she’s obsessive about it – she HAS to be. Never a full meal, lots and lots of diet soda, hours of exercise every day and unrelenting focus on staying thin.

    I think this gets to the unsustainability of long-term weight-loss, though. It’s unlikely that she’s going to be able to keep up that kind of devotion to keeping thin if her circumstances change. What if she has a baby? What if she has an injury and can’t exercise for so many hours each day? What if she needs to take a job that requires long hours and she can’t fit in long workouts?

    People’s circumstances change so much that, while I can understand how for 5 or even 10 years, some people can indeed make being thin the (or one of the) central focus of their lives, I think it’s unlikely that most people can keep that up permanently. Or that they’d want to. I’d feel sad, honestly, for anybody who lived a life where being thin was one of the most important things in their life and took up large chunks of their time, over the course of an entire lifetime.

    Of course, some people can be obsessive about diet and exercise and still regain weight. But, I tend to think that, if I was really, really committed to walking around hungry all day and devoting a couple of hours to exercise, I could probably lose 30 pounds or so. The thing is that naturally thin people do NOT walk around hungry all day, and don’t exercise for hours every day. Just the amount of effort that people who do maintain weight-loss long-term often have to put into it–an effort that, honestly, I think we as a society should look on as selfish or vain rather than virtuous or admirable–shows how unfeasible it is for most people.

  74. Wow, FJ, this is one of your best posts ever.

    Oh no, do you think I should be sick and loopy every time from now on??

  75. Ahahaha I just deleted a comment from somebody who was all “you have no citations, fuck you.” Now granted, I am sick and wasn’t using my own computer so I didn’t feel like looking up and linking everything like I normally do, and this one single post is a little thin on the footnotes. But this is from someone on the “a vast majority of fat people just eat too much! I know that fact because of a scientific study of three fat people I saw in a restaurant!” side. Guess only fatties need citations, huh?

  76. Ha! I love reading about all these silly weight gain/weight loss ‘experiments’ that are all over the place at the moment. In the UK there’s one on the telly called “Supersize v. Superskinny”, based around (bet you can guess), the ‘Supersize’ candidate eating what the ‘Superskinny’ candidate eats, and vice versa.

    Hilarious!

    I get bored after about five minutes though and change channels until I find re-runs of Friends. Can’t tell you anymore of what happens. Soz. :-D

  77. kate, thanks — it was the UCLA study I was remembering.

    And again…what if the small minority were the ones who actually had lower setpoints (genetically determined) to begin with and had gained weight because of accident, injury or disease in the first place? I would venture to guess that this would be the real explanation those rarities kept it off longer than five year

    Also, five years is a *long* time. Five years is enough time (e.g.) to move from mid-adolescence to adulthood, to go from being single to a married mother of two, to go from being a collegiate athlete to a desk jockey, to go through menopause, to age, to become ill and recover, to be injured, and heal. All of these can affect one’s weight. Being in a position where one does exactly the same activities and eating and nothing changes in five years is the exception.

  78. There’s a lot that goes into an individual’s feelings about disability and brokenness, having to do with (among many other factors) the nature of that individual, the level of possible accommodations available, the immediate community around the individual, the culture of individuals with that particular disability, how early the person acquired a disability, the nature of the disability, and a whole spectrum of other issues. I know, for example, that many individuals with Deafness, autism, Asperger’s, and cerebral palsy don’t consider those conditions to be disabilities per se. And some of the most outspoken disability activists come from within those communities.

    But it’s important to remember that not all individuals with disabilities feel that way. @living400lbs, I know you weren’t saying any of the things that I’m about to say, but when you talk about how individuals who have been disabled for longer often don’t feel disabled or broken, it’s hard not to hear “Get over it! People who have been disabled for longer than you manage just fine! You are just grumpy because you think you get to have a perfect body for ever!” Which, don’t get me wrong, I know you weren’t saying. But because people do say such things, the paranoid mind plays tricks.

    When it comes to adaptations, people who come to the disabilities later in life are often going to have less actual ability than somebody who acquired that disability in infancy or childhood. If I were to lose my hearing now, I would never become truly fluent in ASL, simply because my brain is past the language learning stage. When somebody acquires disabilities young, the adaptations aren’t even really “adaptations”, they are just the way the person lives their life and learns to function, just like able-bodied people don’t adapt to learning how to use stairs. But when someone acquires disabilities late in life, they have to adapt with an adult brain to doing things in a different way.

    I’m sorry, everyone. I know I keep beating on this disability horse (poor horse!), and distracting from the really awesome point about individuality versus universality and setpoint weights. It’s just that I’m feeling very broken these last couple of weeks, and wouldn’t mind a body with a bit more functionality — whether I got that functionality through returning to my old body, or whether I got it through more successful adaptation to the skills they need to function in my new body, I’d be happy either way.

  79. Sick and loopy or not, FJ, great post.

    And to answer Deborah’s totally off-topic question with a random bit of useless knowledge: Yes, the United States does in fact issue a $1000 bill. It has Grover Cleveland on it.

  80. Celeloriel, I clearly need to go home and take a nap, because it took me almost a minute to parse you weren’t saying that the United States issued a $1000 bill that has Grover on it. You know, lovable furry blue Grover.

    Although that would be totally awesome.

  81. Fabulous Post!!!
    Just SO true and powerful and beautifully written response to so much crap thats flying around out there.
    Oh fillyjonk what you did for me today!!!
    THANK YOU!

  82. deborah, I wonder if you would see a disabled person who feels broken as similar to a fat person who feels that she’s “let herself go” or has a “thin person trapped inside” or whatever? I mean, it’s far from being a perfect analogy, because you’re absolutely right — disability later in life can genuinely mean a loss of functionality that you’re accustomed to and would rather keep. But I’d say it’s similar in the sense that no matter how broken you may feel at a given time, no matter how much it seems that you are just a non-functional version of your former self, your body still doesn’t boil down to “a body that would be normal if only I could x.” Because “normal” is normative, but your body is individual.

    Actually, from what you’re saying it sounds like not-from-birth disability would be a better analogy to people who were thin but got fat — what you’re comparing yourself to directly isn’t a normative ideal, but your own past, so the feeling of loss and of not-living-up is more acute. (Tell me if I’m misunderstanding that!)

    Hm… it’s a lot to think about and SM is emphatically the disability pol person around here, not me. Possibly attempting to make analogies is going about it ass-backwards. In any event, don’t worry about the threadjack, seriously.

  83. @ Nepenthe:

    I wanted to quote basically your whole post because I was the exact same way. Members of my family constantly praised my thinning figure, but never seemed to question skipped meals or strange eating habits. No one batted an eye when I got up at seven in the morning to exercise for an hour and then spent at least another hour exercising at night. Because I guess they thought I was finally being healthy.

    Though, to be devils advocate, no one stepped in to help my thinner but non-emaciated friends either. I think with eating disorders/disordered eating, in many cases it takes a serious medical crisis before many people are willing to take is seriously. My anorectic turned bulimic best friend was rushed to the hospital because she couldn’t breathe and they found her heart was out of whack. They made her wear a halter monitor, but when the abnormality did not reappear they wrote it off as a one time thing and no one questioned what might have caused it. Maybe it’s because people really aren’t trained to recognize signs of an eating disorder, so they think it’s all about skeletal white teenagers. Maybe it’s because our society has more than a passing interest in keeping women preoccupied with their bodies. Maybe it’s because we’ve glorified thinness we don’t really care how people achieve it until, as you said, they become unattractive. It’s probably all of those things and more, but you are one hundred percent right that the farther you are from thin, the less anyone notices if you take a deadly path to get there.

  84. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much

    Yes and no.

    Weight is more variable than gender and race. Some people with disabilities call the able-bodied, the temporarily able-bodied. Which is for a number of us, eventually going to be correct.

    There is a difference between how people get to where they are, and how they are then viewed, from the latter point of view, I agree that people should be seen as whole and in terms of what they are, not what they aren’t.

    I cannot hand on heart state that I’m not a ‘thin person’ who has become fat. And I do not believe that thin people are immune from fatness either. We don’t really know why people get fat or remain thin.

  85. Sweet Machine, ROFLMAO!

    fillyjonk, I see where you are going with the analogy, but it’s not quite the same. Perhaps a better analogy would be about a thin person who got fat, who by gaining weight lost the ability to do certain things: swim competitively, run as fast, gymnastics. (I know that plenty of fat people can do these things, but some can’t, so let’s say our hypothetical recently-fat lost the ability as part of her weight gain.) It’s not that my image of myself as a person who is able bodied is what’s been taken away from me. It’s that my ability to drive, ride a bicycle, write software, be a kickass systems administrator have been taken away from me.

    Three disclaimers. 1. Our hypothetical thin person who gets fat is going to gain an enormous amount of crap in the world, both new practical realities of her body and facing the vile social ramifications of weight gain. 2. Plenty of people can’t drive, can’t ride a bike, can’t write software or be kickass systems administrators, and they are perfectly happy, whole, entire people. 3. I know we don’t play oppression oneupmanship around here, and I’m absolutely not saying that my situation as a person who gained a disability as an adult is any worse or more unpleasant than the situation of somebody whose job and family fell apart because she gains weight.

    But I do think it’s different. For one thing, I think it’s different when the ramifications are societal versus internal. I am 100% an activist for full social acceptance of an integration of people with disabilities as members of society who are accepted as people with the same rights and responsibilities as able-bodied people, who are not treated crappily, not blamed for “poor decisions” which led to their disabilities, and not accused of being repulsive. And in that case, yes, the wording of “disabled people are not broken able-bodied people” is really important and right. I agree with you that we should not talk about “normal” bodies, because there aren’t any.

    But there are internal ramifications as well. It’s not that people look at me differently (ooh, fourth disclaimer: I have incredible privilege as a person with an invisible disability). It’s that I’ve really lost things I used to be able to do. I do have a baseline for what is “normal”, not for my body, maybe, but for the set of things I’m capable of doing. I don’t mind my disability changed my body. I mind that it took away hacking.

  86. I cannot hand on heart state that I’m not a ‘thin person’ who has become fat. And I do not believe that thin people are immune from fatness either. We don’t really know why people get fat or remain thin.

    This seems to be assuming thinness as the default position: that people start out then, and then either get fat or stay thin. I’m not sure that’s true. There is enormous variability in body size throughout the lifespan.

    I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to be thin. When I was about 13 or 14 I was right on the verge of an eating disorder, and for six or seven months lived on Diet Coke and Wheat Thins, and exercised about 2 hours a day. And, I never got smaller than a size 9. I did manage to give myself heart palpitations, though, and ended up going for an EKG. I can still remember the doctor describing me as “well-nourished” based solely on looking at me. And that was completely absurd because I was *not* well-nourished at the time. I was dehydrated and not eating nearly enough, but I wasn’t getting any smaller than I was.

    So I do think I can safely say that I’m not a thin person who got fat by eating too much. I’m a fat person who can make myself somewhat fatter if I eat too much and somewhat less fat if I eat too little. But, just like I’m a little taller taller than the average woman, I’m also a little fatter.

    Babies come into the world in a vast array of sizes. It’s not like all 20″ long babies weigh the same. And, it’s not like the fat babies were just eating too much and exercising too little in the womb. It’s not even that fat moms somehow in their overeating made their babies fat: my very thin 5’1″ MIL had a 10-1/2 lb. baby, and I have a friend who is probably twenty pounds heavier than I am who has 6 lb. babies. We come into the world in all different sizes–not just height, but also weight. I see no reason why we wouldn’t continue to be all different sizes throughout our lives. If we can accept that some babies, for whatever reason, are naturally fatter than others in the womb, why not accept that some people become naturally fatter, for whatever reason, during puberty? Or after childbearing? Or in middle age? Or that some people are just fatter their entire lives?

    I guess I just think it’s a mistake to see thinness as the default state of the human body. It doesn’t seem to be the case. In societies where there is plentiful food, people’s body sizes seem to fall naturally onto a bell curve, just like height does. It makes sense to me to just see that as one more example of human diversity, rather than as thinking that thinness is the natural state and that fat is something people “become.”

  87. Fillyjonk, I really have to congratulate you on this post. It’s destined for the greatest-hits list. I think I know how hard it is to write such an erudite and well-thought-out article on something that Drives. You. Around the Frickin’ BEND. You made a lot of great points, but when you built to this one:

    many of our naturally thin readers came to FA because they knew perfectly well they weren’t doing anything to maintain their weight, and thought it was fucked up that they were still seen as virtuous, healthy, and disciplined

    is when a little part of me inside finally began to believe what I have known intellectually for years. All that diet advice about calories in/calories out, 2,500 calories per pound or whatever, just doesn’t ring true when you start to analyze it. And it’s hard to understand that many people really are naturally thin and don’t TRY to stay that way, and that acknowledging that doesn’t make you a bad, excuse-making lazy-ass fatty. It makes you a smart, perspicacious body-acceptance advocate.

    This is a mad world in so many ways, and so I really appreciate your voice of sanity (and Kate’s and Sweet Machine’s, too). You three always bring the humor and well-spoken righteous anger, and so THANK YOU!

  88. deborah, I see what you’re saying. I’ve been thinking a lot about some of these things recently as my family deals with my mother’s Parkinson’s and dementia. My brother and cousin also have multiple cognitive and physical disabilities, but they’ve both had them since birth; their senses of themselves (and our senses of them) are completely consistent with those disabilities. It’s not a big deal that my brother can’t read very much, for instance, because he’s never been able to, and he’s living a life that doesn’t require him to do so. But for my mom, who has always been a great reader and who taught English for a while, not being able to read is a huge and grief-worthy loss. I guess the thing that unites these various experiences in my mind is the idea that disability is often contextual. That context is often societal (in terms of access and discrimination), but it can also be an individual’s personal context.

  89. “I don’t think three months is nearly enough time for that revelation, though, especially given the comments we get from people who have miraculously, exceptionally, virtuously managed to remain at their naturally low setpoint weight for years.”

    I don’t know. Reading here has changed my perspective immensely, and it happened in only a few minutes. I simply never know of FA before and never had any concept of the brilliant things you say in your articles. Thank you.

  90. Meowser wrote: I’m also starting to believe that a lot of my depression and anxiety might actually be exogenous — that is, having an external cause, namely the result of having my reality denied over and over again from the time I was very little.

    The thing about this is that the exogenous factors appear to produce endogenous factors–when you’re repeatedly exposed to depression- and anxiety-producing events as a child, it actually seems to affect the way your brain processes neurotransmitters as an adult.

  91. @Lori: I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to be thin. When I was about 13 or 14 I was right on the verge of an eating disorder, and for six or seven months lived on Diet Coke and Wheat Thins, and exercised about 2 hours a day. And, I never got smaller than a size 9… I can still remember the doctor describing me as “well-nourished” based solely on looking at me. And that was completely absurd because I was *not* well-nourished at the time.

    Yup, yup, YES. I did the same thing in my early 20s. I have surely told the story here before of starving myself and getting high on the endorphin rush of controlling my body, not eating (virtuous, ethereal), making it be thin. Even with all that, I got down to, I think, a 10. I was completely disordered in my eating and my thinking about my body, and I got nothing but compliments. I wasn’t “skinny enough” for people to worry about me, but what was going on in my head was anything but healthy. Right now I’m going through a period of emotional anxiety and often finding it hard to eat, and I know that if I kept losing weight I’d be getting compliments. Which is so effed up.

    But anyway, my point is that it took STARVATION for me to get down to what is still considered a larger size for my height, and I didn’t/couldn’t sustain it for more than a year. Thank heaven I recovered on my own, though at the time I perceived the recovery as a relapse into “bad” eating habits.

  92. JupiterPluvius, that is so interesting. Do you have more on that, like some essay or book to link to? I have puzzled over how and whether a childhood full of constant but low-level anxiety and, as you put it, having your reality constantly denied, but not in any overtly traumatic way, would continue to effect your psychology and your emotional life way after the fact.

  93. Here’s another thin person who’s here partly because she knows SHE didn’t do a damn thing to be the weight she is.

    I’m just glad no one told me about bacon and chocolate shake anti-diets when I was in middle school. *shudders*

  94. FJ, I love you. And this:
    “So, you say you have been roughly the same weight for most of your adult life, and when extenuating circumstances made you deviate significantly from that weight, it was like you naturally settled back to your usual size? I’ll be blowed… it’s almost as if you couldn’t effect </i?
    made me seriously laugh out loud at my desk.

  95. Sweet Machine:

    disability is often contextual. That context is often societal (in terms of access and discrimination), but it can also be an individual’s personal context.

    Yes, exactly! That makes perfect sense.

  96. Thank you for this. This is a thought I’ve had for a while, but I’ve never quite been able to articulate it.

    My sister and I are a pretty good example of that logical fallacy. My younger sister is 5’11, “feels fat” at a size 6, and eats McDonalds like it’s going to be taken away from her. I’m 5″6, never been smaller than a size 12, and have maintained a 100% organic/vegetarian diet since I was 14 years old. It doesn’t matter what we do, we both have stayed the same respective shapes our whole lives, with no signs of changing any time soon.

    Using the calorie in/calorie out logic, my sister should’ve had a coronary years ago and I should be slipping into some size 2 jeans right about now. Logic: UR DOIN IT WRONG.

    Also, “a woman isn’t a wangless man..” is the best phrase I’ve heard today. Kudos!

  97. Arwen, you could be right, like I said, I couldn’t remember exactly which one it was, I was leaning Plato because I had to read more of him for that class than the other guys… but we read the other guys too. For the most part it was interesting enough but, really, after a while they all ran together in my head and became lumped into one entity of “ye olde olden-timey philosopher dudez” and the actual people lost all name and personality to me.

  98. Bravo!!!!!!!!! OMG… I love this post.

    I have so much gushing praise I could heap on ya’all that I think it’s better I abstain at this point – rather than blubber. ;)

    You guys are so awesome. Keep up the great blogging!!!!

  99. And, as we know, but I feel compelled to point out – a homosexual person is not a broken or confused straight person, nor a transgendered person a broken man or woman.

  100. Sometimes bad eating habits DO cause weight gain or weight loss. Buy it or not, but people would never be able to gain or lose weight ever (even if for a short time) if that were not true. I’m not defining bad, but bacon and chocolate alone as a diet would qualify, as would starvation. I think each person knows what is bad for them.

    And we can’t know someone’s natural weight by simply looking at them.

    Also, a bunch of anecdotal evidence and personal experience to the contrary isn’t going to prove the point that sustained weight loss doesn’t work either.

  101. I, too, am de-lurking to say what a fabulous post and that I, too, will be posting this link to facebook. Bravo, FJ!

  102. This seems to be assuming thinness as the default position

    I deliberately referred to myself, although I don’t think I’m alone in not having a set point that can be clearly discerned.

    I agree with you that weight can vary in a way that race or gender don’t, within a person.

    I could have been fatter than my highest weight, just as easily I could have been slimmer than my lowest weight. Each point I’ve been at has been as natural to me as any other.

    I don’t think it would be physically possible for me to be thin. When I was about 13 or 14 I was right on the verge of an eating disorder, and for six or seven months lived on Diet Coke and Wheat Thins, and exercised about 2 hours a day. And, I never got smaller than a size 9.

    The unpleasantness you went through is the side effects of dieting/semi starvation. As dieting doesn’t work you’re right, you cannot become thin using diets, just about nobody can.

    However, dieting is a form of weight loss, not the whole of weight loss. In fact, it’s not even the only form of calorie manipulation.

    The thing is, we don’t know how to bring about weight loss that actually works. So yes we are the weight we are. That’s not the same as saying meant to be.

    The way I feel about my weight is, it’s not ‘my weight’, it’s myself. This weight is me. Slimmer or fatter, it would be no less me.

  103. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what was sticking in my craw about this post, but I think I’ve got it. There are people who are fat because they eat too much–and there is nothing wrong with that.

    My one comment was deleted and my other inarticulate one will probably be as well.

    The post started by saying that anecdotal evidence can’t prove that weight loss works. The post then took aim at the idea that people assume all fat people eat unhealthy. Both things I agree with.

    What bothers me is the assumption that no fat people are fat because have unhealthy habits. I’m sorry, but some do. Just as some thin people do. I believe that part of fat acceptance is that one’s eating habits, healthy or not should not be judged. Yes, some fat people have healthy lifestyles, but some do not.

    My point is that it should not matter. Regardless of my exercise and eating habits, my size should be accepted, whether I am thin or fat. My choice to be healthy or not, is up to me.

    Thus, if I am fat, and living on bacon and chocolate, but then decide to eat healty whole foods for a while, I should not be judged on my diet–even if I lose weight in the process. Just like I should not be judged if I am fat and choose to live on bacon and chocolate for forever.

  104. Nice post FJ!

    I needed to read this today since I’m now going through my FIFTH fucking medication change since December. Similar to the ‘eat less move more’ trope, those of us who deal with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, etc have to hear an unending barrage of criticisms regarding psychotropic medication that usually conclude the depressed person is weak willed, just trying to run away from problems, or a victim of a conspiracy by Big Pharma and the psychiatric community. And similar to the ‘I lost 50 pounds and kept it off for 10 years, so can you’ we have to hear about people who overcame depression through G*d, exercise, bucked up like a good camper, or they were on SSRi’s but they couldn’t get a boner so they went off that evil stuff. grrrr

    The result is living with a condition that you hide from pretty much everybody including your FAMILY, constantly defending this as an actual medical condition, never-ending self doubt, and/or enduring those stomach churning looks of pity and the favorite phrase ‘you don’t seem sad.’ Fuck you. Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck you. Fucking Fucker. I don’t seem sad or ‘troubled’ because I’ve learned to adapt to a world where mental illness is an ‘imaginary’ disease unless you threaten to or actually kill yourself, others, or walk around with a tinfoil hat claiming that you’re the Messiah.

    And based on past performances, I can’t help but suspect that my family and friends quietly diagnose the whole problem being about my weight and never finding a good man- oh and don’t forget the part about having no self-control. Wouldn’t want to forget that.

  105. I wonder if this idea that “a fat person is just a thin person who ate too much” is due to the american pragmatic nature. Think about it, we honestly believe ANY ONE can be a doctor if they study hard enough or overcome a fear of blood. And if someone fails the Bar, well… just study harder. We don’t “get” learning disabilities or why folks need to be on welfare– we consider these folks lazy or whatnot rather than realize we’re not all the same. We honestly hold “All “men” equal” near and dear to our hearts as Americans. So if some folks can be “lean, mean, machines” we “all” should be as well.
    Thoughts? What would James, Dewey, Rorty, and West Do?

  106. Every time I read about the trolls claiming “it’s just what you eat”, I want to tell them about my mysterious weight loss last summer: I dropped 10+ pounds (a good sixth of my body weight) and was unable to gain more than a few pounds back even though I switched to full-fat milk, more nuts and protein, bacon and all those fatty foods I generally avoid. There was nothing medically wrong with me. Sure, it’s all what you eat! Try my diet plan: whole milk, cheesy bacon quiches, cookies with all the butter, peanut butter, Clif bars for snacks…it’s kept me at a BMI of 18.3 for seven months! You don’t even have to exercise!

  107. It’s almost ironic, really, that you wrote this today, as I’ve been thinking a lot along these lines lately. Being that I’m pregnant, I’m supposed to be gaining weight. However, I went to an appointment the other day and was told I haven’t gained nearly as much as they’d like me to have gained so far. Meaning that I’ve gained nothing, actually. And I have eaten to my heart’s content, and my weight has stayed exactly the same as it’s been for the past two years, in which time I have continually eaten anything I pleased. And I’m not any bigger! My body found a setpoint and stayed there. Granted, that setpoint is significantly higher than it was years ago, before I started dieting. But regardless…

    The point being: this should not make sense based on the thought process of mainstream society. But it does, because my body is my own.

    Oh, and it really actually amused that, for the first time in my life, I was told I hadn’t gained ENOUGH weight.

  108. Hey pastry, first off, believe it or not we don’t constantly check the moderation queue. I’m sorry your feewwings were hurt, but sometimes we do things like work and go to school and try to sleep off being sick or even just don’t check the mod queue for a while. Your first comment hadn’t been deleted, it was in moderation, and I nearly deleted both just because you got your ass on your shoulders about it.

    Second of all, oh my god, really?? Health isn’t a moral imperative?? You don’t have to be a Good Fatty who eats in small quantities? You’d think someone would write a blog about that! I don’t expect first-time commenters to read everything before they start lecturing, but you know, a couple of other posts would have been courteous.

  109. Hey, fillyjonk, my feelings were not hurt. I just figured that my inarticulation and nonsense caused my post to be deleted. Sorry for my mistake. But now my feelings are hurt. (not really)

    I guess it bothered me in the comments that people were offering all this anecdotal evidence of how they eat healthy and are still fat. Particularly when the post was about anecdotal evidence being used against FA.

    I have read other posts and I know you get it. It just seemed like you (and the commenters) forgot the fact that one’s health is one’s own business in this particular post.

    Sorry if I hurt your feewwings.

  110. To Arwen and others who noted other philosophers:

    I honestly can’t remember if Plato had beef against women or not, it’s been far too long since my last philosophy class and to be honest, the ancients didn’t really move me all that much. The only reason why I can remember Aristotle’s issues with women was because I had a whole big long discussion with my professor about it saying “but… men can’t make babies on their own either… so, er…” He explained the reasoning to me by saying “Ok, were you raised going to any sort of organized religion?” I said, “Yeah. I was raised Catholic.” He said, “Ok, well, what do you think of other religions?” Like the good little liberal I thought I was I stoutly proclaimed, “I think it’s all the same God, just a different name for him and a different way of worshiping.” He smiled knowingly and said, “What about religions with more than one God?” I was taken aback. I knew very well what I thought of polytheist religions. That it was fine for other people to be polytheist, but I could never wrap my head around the idea of worshiping more than one god.

    Aristotle’s culture of women-hating is the same. If you think you already have all the answers, why bother looking for others? Our culture of fat-hating is also the same (and we think we’re so accepting!). We think we already have all the answers, when really, all it takes is a second look and a little deeper thinking to realize that the fat-shaming logic is flawed. Heaven forbid a gym owner think a little more deeply. But you know, us deeper thinking fatties are the lazy ones.

  111. Well I too am one of the folks that has lost a decent amount of weight and now kept it off for about 4 years..but it is the fact that my body settled back into it’s normal size. I had always been around the 200 to 230 range before Cancer hit me at 18..then because of steriods I went up to 280 and down to 260 ish after. I tried to making my eating healther and started exerciseing again and managed to get back down to what is “normal” for me. It always has been.

    I just get so tired everyday of seeing stuff like this that makes me wanna starve myself and hate myself. It is so exhausting. I just wish we could get one of these people to live with us for a week to see what a normal week is for us. I have a feeling in most cases it would end with them not saying “wow..I don’t know why you are fat.”

    Darn us fatties for each too much and exercising too little and ruining their perfect little world. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

  112. This is fantastically well-written and, I think, my favorite post here ever (although there are lots of runners-up.) I shared it on my google reader with a note that said as much — I hope some of my friends read it and actually absorb part of the message :)

  113. Okay y’all, I am SERIOUSLY late to the party, having linked this post from my LJ yesterday but just read the comments NOW.

    I want to put my support (as a fat and disabled adult who was a thin and ablebodied kid) behind the idea that a disbled person’s self image is based on many many factors. It’s way too reductionist to imply that the age they became disabled is the single primary factor. As Deborah and FJ and SM have said, there are myriad influences on self image and disability, including (but not limited to): age of becoming disabled; type and extent of disability; number of disabilities (does the person have one or two or many?); attitude of their community to their disability; quality and quantity of relevant accomodations around them; how much independence can they manage compared to how much is their personal ideal; do they have enough money; do they depend on others for money and/or help; what is the attitude and reliability of those others; and about a million more things.

    I apologize for the lack of parallelism in that paragraph. I’m a little disheartened by the number of comments in this thread make simplistic assumptions about disability and feeling broken based on one or two points of contact with disability. That’s exactly what FJ was posting against, ya know? It’s just — this is wildly complicated, y’all. We crips are as various as any other demogrpahic group.

    Two things seem crystal clear to me. A) No disabled person should have to feel broken in the philosophical sense of being unworthy as a human; and 2) It’s fine for *some* disabled people to feel broken simply in the sense of honestly acknowledging the parts of themselves that THEY WISH worked better — whether or not they’ve ever experienced the nondisabled version personally.

    Gee, I am longwinded when I reach the party late! In conclusion: FJ, you rock my socks. (And Deborah, you already know how my socks feel about you.)

  114. “Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.”

    Oh my God, amazing. This may be the best way to say it that I’ve ever heard. Straight to my LJ, with credit. Thank you, as always.

  115. I am one of those thin people who has generally eaten poorly and been sedentary. I like this blog. I feel it is unfair that fatter people are routinely viewed as more careless about their physical health via exercise and nutrition. I’m sure there are some statistics out there that demonstrate that the exercise and eating habits of thinner people are not so much better (if at all) than fatter people. I appreciate the message of this blog.

    I do still have a lot of questions though and skepticisms. And I hope it is believed that the skepticisms are not based on any ill-feeling toward fat people. [okay, I feel uncomfortable calling people fat people--it is generally used so pejoratively; its kind of like retarded, or is it mentally handicapped, or mentally disabled; what words to use]

    Okay, consider this scenario: let us accept that people do begin to believe that weight is not something that is wholly or even at all, under a person’ [healthy] control. Height for example, is something that most people do not think people have control over; people dont believe there is something that can be done behaviorally about the height of person who is exceptionally short, or someone who is exceptionally tall. Let us also accept that people do not believe that weight and health are significantly correlated. Likewise, people generally do not believe that height and health are significantly correlated.

    Even if this were to be true, do you think people would no longer have any form of prejudice or preference for people who are of a particular body shape? Even though height is not something that is generally considered to be correlated with health nor is it considered to be under someones control, people are still judged (aesthetically) ; short people, especially men, are often ridiculed because of their height–and to many women, height is a significant factor of attraction toward men. Some women, probably, prefer shorter men; and some men, probably prefer taller women. But the majority of women prefer taller men and the majority of men prefer shorter (than themselves) women, and that majority attitude typically finds it expression more often–and short men, for example, may wish they were taller, even though there is nothing they can do about it.

    Something can probably be said about the kind of attitude toward fatter people, insofar as it is often an expression of admonishment or reproach, while the attitude toward shorter men might be ridicule. One could argue over the worser of the two I suppose. However, it is often the case that people simply ridicule fatter people and have no interest in reproaching them.

    Thoughts?

    Another question. There are many things that the majority of people fail to achieve, but we rarely discourage them to attempt to achieve them because the failure rate is high. It seems to me that one significant reason this site discourages people from trying to lose weight is because failure is so likely–and it may even be the case that success is impossible due to biological restrictions. The same sort of failure rate would likely apply to many intellectual pursuits–most people would fail to reach great heights in mathematical ability; most people would fail to get through linear algebra; most people would fail to learn Japanese. Yet, we do not discourage them because a person is statistically likely to fail (based on an abstract population). Some people do succeed at learning linear algebra; some people do succeed at learning Japanese. And some people do succeed at changing their bodies. Failure in things like linear algebra may not just be from laziness or lack of effort(and the amount of effort needed from person to person may vary); some people may biologically lack the brain power for it–but how are they to find out unless they at least begin to try (or at least try something less difficult but on the path)? Of course, a person might say trying to change your body is not like learning linear algebra. A person changes their body to fit some arbitrary standard of beauty; people learn linear algebra… I honestly dont know why people learn that, I probably will never have the desire to :) Well, some people try to learn algebra to compete intellectually–some social standard of intelligence; some do it because they enjoy the experience of learning. Some people might want to change their bodies for their own aesthetic appreciation; their own desire to look in a mirror and just really like what they see–and it might be uniquely personal, not social. Of course, are we to ignore what others appreciate? Are we supposed to somehow overcome our desire for the admiration and flattery of others? That may be more absurd than trying to lose weight. Then again, that might be superfluous if someone can be convinced that there are people, maybe not every person, or even most people, who do find their body beautiful and even find those coveted bodies ugly.

    I personally, would like to modify my body. Even though I am thin, and I am in fact tall, I see how perhaps through exercise and eating well I can obtain a body that appears more fit–a body that I feel looks better. That isnt to say that I loath my body, Im actually quite okay with my body, but that doesnt stop me from wanting something better. But, you might say: 95% of the people who are thin who try to build muscle mass fail! Well, I guess I shouldnt even try! After all, there are probably women out there who prefer my body to the kind I want.

  116. Why is it so hard to believe that people might be genetically different in this area, as in so many others? I know it’s just anecdotal, but: I have a sister. Growing up we were both relatively active junk eaters. We are the same height; I am slightly more active than she, now, she eats slightly healthier than I do. I am a size 8, she is a size 20. But wait, there’s more! Looking at the women on my mother’s side, she is shaped like them – longer legs and shorter waist, and fat. I am shaped like my paternal grandmother, long-waisted and slim. I don’t mean to oversimplify but looking at my family it seems impossible to conclude that there isn’t a HUGE genetic factor.
    The other BS is from people who are looking for a way to feel superior. Fail.

  117. Just as a disabled person isn’t a broken able-bodied person, and a black person isn’t a darkened white person, and a woman isn’t a wangless man, a fat person isn’t just a thin person who ate too much.

    Best quote from this blog, ever. And that’s saying something.

  118. I suspect I will be one of those 5% shortly and I will be a misleading statistic too. I put on somewhere between 40-50 pounds in about 6 months (including almost 20 in 2 months) and ended up (thanks to my very nice shrink who never gave me crap about the weight, just concern at the speed I put it on) getting tested for thyroid malfunction and diabetes.

    Guess what? My thyroid is messed up so I’m on the fake stuff now. I’m hoping to get at least back down to 160-170 when the dust settles and the meds kick in (I’m currently at 190-195 and previously was cycling between 140-150 on a 5’8″ body with a fairly small frame). If I don’t, though, oh well. I live in one of the top 10 fattest cities and I certainly see people my size or bigger rocking cute outfits every day. Good for the development of appreciating larger sized people’s beauty.

    I was just ecstatic that my mom didn’t rant at me (besides telling me to get to the gym 3 times a week) at Christmas. Unfortunately, she plans to go on a 900 cal/day diet because she’s up to 115 or 120 at 5’2″ or 5’3″. Personally I think she looks healthier than she used to and I’m worried about the calorie restriction.

    Danielle–I took Topamax for migraine suppression. Totally knocked my appetite out (I was at something approximating a “normal weight” by the BMI and all that at the time) and did bad things to my sanity.

    I’m legally disabled–bipolar with accompanying tremors on occasion. If I could quit the tremors, I would gladly. I’d have to think more on the bipolarity because if I no longer was it would change who I am more. On the other hand, I’m much nicer (and sleep and eat more normally) on the meds, but it would be nice not to have to take 4 pills a day just to keep on an even mental keel.

  119. simplysquamous, I’ve let your comments on this and another post through because I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt that you’re not a troll despite your insistence that you want to change your body. Please prove me right.

    I’m not going to spend a lot of time on your questions because I don’t have the energy to do FA 101 for you; please read more of the archives. But I will respond to this: Failure in things like linear algebra may not just be from laziness or lack of effort(and the amount of effort needed from person to person may vary); some people may biologically lack the brain power for it–but how are they to find out unless they at least begin to try (or at least try something less difficult but on the path)? Just about every fat person out there has tried to lose weight, to fundamentally change his or her body. It’s not at all a situation like “I never tried yoga, but now that I have I realize I’m great at it!” Again, please read the archives for examples of how fat people (and not-so-fat people) are constantly scolded, berated, and abused into attempting to lose weight. Fat people know every trick in the book. It’s not a matter of discovering some magical reserve of willpower and athleticism that allows a transformation; many fat people in fact do have tremendous amounts of willpower and athletic grace. They just happen to be fat at the same time.

  120. I appreciate your benefit of the doubt. I will spend some time looking through more of the archives. Ive liked a lot of the posts.

    It is true, I do want to change my body. I also want to know french. And play the guitar. Alas, I havent gotten around to doing any of it. And furthermore, I am not much troubled by that fact. And I also I recognize I have natural limits, not merely in how much I can change my body, but also what I can learn; maybe i can learn to play the guitar, but maybe not as well as Hendrix. Do you think me wanting to change my body is a problem?

    I personally dont consider Paltrow, for example, to have the ideal beautiful body (I actually find many different shapes of bodies attractive and beautiful). Fat, in essence, is not bad to me. Fat is important, and fat can be sexy. Breasts–the female body part that contemporary men (and women correspondingly) are obsessed about–are fat! (quite literally) My cute little butt is fat. I dont want to be part of a war on fat. The way the word fat is used is an egregious example of a misnomer and a poor understanding of human physiology.

    Do you think it is acceptable to find some other body besides your own to be more beautiful, yet still not loath your own body, find beauty, or even more beauty in some other body, but still love your own and find beauty in your own? I think that is possible.

    I agree– fat people are constantly scolded, berated, and abused into attempting to lose weight. And I think that is wrong. Beauty graces fat and skinny people, as does health. On the other hand, I think all people should be encouraged to exercise and eat more healthy–fat *and* skinny people.. Yet, we dont need to scold, berate, and abuse people in the process. We encourage people to brush their teeth twice a day and floss and even frown when we hear that they dont, but it doesnt get anywhere near as harsh as the way many people treat exercise, eating habits, and foolishly, fat.

    Do you believe that people should try to view all people, and all bodies, regardless of their appearance, as being indistinguishable in attractiveness or beauty? Do you have any preference regarding the attractiveness of people? Do you find one person’s face prettier than another’s or one person’s body sexier? It seems to me that trying to eliminate my aesthetic preferences would be as futile as trying to drastically alter my body [but I must admit, I have still tried to at least reduce my aesthetic preferences to not much success]. So, in your mind is fat acceptance the same as equal body appreciation?

  121. “Fat is fun in bed!”, I honestly don’t know the provenience of that quote…or even if it comes from someone quoteable, But I’ve loved that sentiment for decades! (Again showing my age) AND I do remember from context that it was unabashedly laudatory and not ONE BIT perjorative!

  122. We encourage people to brush their teeth twice a day and floss and even frown when we hear that they dont, but it doesnt get anywhere near as harsh as the way many people treat exercise, eating habits, and foolishly, fat.

    Toothpaste and dental floss are also a lot cheaper than organic vegetables, whole-grain bread, free-range chicken, and wild-caught seafood. And it takes a lot less time, energy, and physical strain to brush and floss your teeth than it does to work out vigorously every day. The standards for “good diet and exercise” that we get slammed over the head with repeatedly are largely caste markers for socioeconomic status and physical ability. That’s where the harshness comes from.

    And about attraction: Hm, didn’t Kate do a post or two about this? But here’s my position on it. Having more chemistry with some people than others is natural and expected. Being repelled from a certain physical marker because of unwarranted assumptions about the person possessing it is something that needs work. Maybe it’s better to say, “So far, I haven’t found myself attracted to people with characteristic X, but who knows, you can’t predict chemistry — maybe someone will change my mind one day.”

    Randall, the first time I remember reading “fat feels great in bed” was from Michael Ventura in the LA Weekly, about 15 or 20 years ago. So you’re not the only one!

  123. Yes, toothpaste is a lot cheaper than organic vegetables, whole-grain bread, free-range chicken, and wild-caught seafood. However, eating healthier needn’t be either you eat vanilla icing all day or you eat only from a farmers market all day. Just as brushing your teeth once a day is better than not brushing at all, or flossing once a week is better than never flossing. And it is true socioeconomic status and physical ability does affect the access to the food people eat, which is a very good criticism toward government. But until we can alter the government, we can still do what we can. Im not a big fan of diet discussion (that is what should and should not be eaten, and in what quantity), in fact, I hate it; its often full of egos and quackery.

    But basics of healthier eating can be accepted without going nuts over the details–like increase our vegetable intake and eat whole grain and not refined grains. [And I wont say more than that because I am aware of the restriction on diet talk; and I dont want to anyway] The costs of eating out (even at fast food) is often more expensive than preparing our own meals with cheap ingredients. (ive discovered this myself-because I have been eating out a lot lately). Personally I think since the government is so concerned about health now a days and likes lecturing about it, we need to have our government provide the infrastructure to make that obtainable–like subsidizing healthier foods and community health centers. Yes, wild.

    I absolutely do not think that “perfect health” should be encouraged, as that sort of thing just leads to neurosis and irrational fears–we dont have absolute control over our health, and getting sick isnt a moral fault.

    Yah exercise certainly takes a lot more time than brushing your teeth; and yes it does take a lot more energy. However, there are many things that are normalized that take time and energy–for example, education. We go 13 years of education and spend about 9 hours a day learning. We are also admonished often to continue learning even after we end formal schooling.
    Exercise takes time, but it also has exceptional benefits. Maybe as much as brushing our teeth?

    And it shouldnt be about losing weight or making us fit some standard of beauty, it should be about the same thing brushing our teeth is about–our health. I hate cavities and root canals, and I also want to face as few unpleasant health problems as possible–even though exercise will likely not guarantee no health problems at all. Its hard, but I guess the only argument that can be made is that the benefits outweigh the costs of time and energy. There has been times in my life where thats been compelling and times when it hasnt.

    Making situations and circumstances more accommodating to all individuals is something I think our greater society needs to consider–like a 30 hour work week :) and extending those salary caps that Obama is demanding of CEOS that accepted tax payer bail outs to all citizens, which could fund public health centers so I can do indoor rock climbing… =/

    Although exceptionally important to me; I dont always find myself physically attracted to people who I have chemistry with, or for that matter, have chemistry with people who I find myself physically attracted to. For me, they are two different things, that go together when fortune smiles. Yes, chemistry does increase physical attractiveness, but not always substantially. I know, sad :(

    I agree, being repelled from a certain physical marker because of unwarranted assumptions would be something i may ought to work on–whatever the physical marker: say it is tattoos or lots of piercings. But if the lack of attraction is not because of any unwarranted assumptions–say someone just prefers curly hair to straight hair (I dont; just hypothetical) then it seems kind of absurd to expect them to alter their preference to like straight hair equally. Id say most women have no unwarranted assumptions about height, but that doesnt prevent substantially more women to prefer men who are taller than them. Is that preference something women should feel guilty about? And are they to never vocally admit to that preference? Maybe it is simply something they shouldn’t wield like a weapon, ridiculing shorter men.

  124. simplysquamous, I repeat, please read the archives, in which you will find the answers to your questions…and more! By turning your comment into “everything that I’ve thought about in relation to fat, diet, and exercise,” you are seriously derailing the thread.

  125. And about attraction: Hm, didn’t Kate do a post or two about this?

    We’ve also done a post or two about things like how “eating healthier needn’t be either you eat vanilla icing all day or you eat only from a farmers market all day.” But you know, why should writing about something repeatedly in great detail ever mean you’re off the hook for being lectured about it by some drive-by asshole?

    Boy, thank goodness people like squamous and pastry are here to tell us our business without reading a single fucking thing on the blog!

  126. pastry and simplysquamous, you’re both starting to give me stabby pains behind my right eye. Complaining about your deleted comment that wasn’t actually deleted? Lecturing us about things that we’ve blogged about a hundred times but you didn’t actually bother to read? This is a ban warning: knock it off or you’re out.

  127. A person changes their body to fit some arbitrary standard of beauty; people learn linear algebra… I honestly dont know why people learn that, I probably will never have the desire to :) Well, some people try to learn algebra to compete intellectually–some social standard of intelligence; some do it because they enjoy the experience of learning.

    Dude, most people probably can learn linear algebra. And it serves an actual computational purpose in real life.

    I think you really do need to read more of the archives, because you’re hitting points that have been posted about in great detail more than once. Attraction is irrelevant to the discussion of whether or not people’s bodies are acceptable, and I don’t know why you keep bringing it up (except to keep hitting the same bingo square). The good/bad or healthy/unhealthy food dichotomy is a fundamentally false one. And the rest of what you are describing is more or less HAES, one of the main pushes of the bloggers here. Have you at least read the “But don’t you realize fat is unhealty” post, which is basic and important enough to have its own tab at the top of the page?

    I find it interesting how you are conflating what you find attractive in others, with what you want yourself to look like, as though other people might not have different standards of attraction.

  128. I apologize, sweet machine, for giving you stabby pains in your right eye. I have indeed read a bit of the archives, but there is quite a bit, and I really dont know how to find what does correlate with what I am writing about. If you know off the top of your head the posts that might address my thoughts that would be excellent. And if at any point I came across as lecturing, sorry about that; if you could point out a place where you thought it was egregious, that would be great, so I dont write something like it again. I respect your blog and I wouldnt want to get banned.

    Fillyjonk; I havent come across those posts you are talking about and thus I was only responding to one posters particular comment. That distinction might have been banal to many of you, but the poster who I responded to seemed to comment as if she/he did not immediately see it. And since I like this blog, this “asshole” wont be just driving by but will probably be sticking around :( that is, unless I am banned…

    volcanista, yes I have read “but dont you realize fat is unhealthy.” I dont remember it addressing anything Ive said. But Ill reread it just to be sure.

    And HAES?

    How am I conflating what I find attractive in others with what I want to look like myself? And different standards of attraction? By this do you mean what people find attractive varies from one person to another–in akin to beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Im not sure what I have said to indicate I didnt think aesthetic preferences were not considerably subjective. In fact, I said “After all, there are probably women out there who prefer my body to the kind I want.” when talking about my own desires to change my own body.

    sweetmachine, is the last paragraph there derailing the discussion? Do you know of any thread that discusses the topic?

  129. Simplysquamous, we have a search function on the blog: if you search for “attraction,” you’ll find these posts, which address some of the questions you raise. It’s not that we don’t want to talk about these things; it’s that we have, at length, and we’d rather not reinvent the wheel for every newbie. It’s a derail because this post is emphatically not about attractiveness; it’s about fallacious thinking and using yourself as the “universal person” in talk about bodies. It’s true that people often use the same fallacy when talking about attraction, but again, other posts are more relevant places to have that discussion. And if you comment on those posts, it will still pop up in that handy widget that says “recent comments,” so you don’t have to feel left out.

    HAES.

    Here are some other posts you might find relevant to the things you’re bringing up:

    http://kateharding.net/2008/09/09/three-to-four-hours-a-day/

    http://kateharding.net/2008/07/08/on-problems-to-be-solved/

    http://kateharding.net/2008/04/15/on-personal-responsibility-and-healthy-lifestyles/

    http://kateharding.net/2008/03/17/good-bad-straw/

  130. I’m banned now by my own doing, thanks.

    Also, I did have a post from 2/5 that actually was deleted.

    Did you know that prickly was just another name for asshole?

    Good thing we have you guys to be so accepting to newbies. You’re making strides for FA everyday.

  131. simplysquamous, if people who didn’t know linear algebra were constantly told they were lazy, disgusting, worthless human beings who are unlikely to live to 50 and will almost certainly die alone because nobody could ever possibly be attracted to someone who can’t do linear algebra your analogy might hold up. As is…. it’s lacking something.

  132. pastry, I give your flounce an 7.0 on a 10-point Scale of Flounce.

    + passive-aggressive name calling
    + “You can’t fire me because I quit”
    + you’re ruining the movement
    + complaint about deleted comment
    - no exclamation points
    - no reference to free speech
    - no reference to echo chamber

  133. Wow, pastry couldn’t even click the links to the “why I’m such a bitch” post or the comments policy. I’m a little worried… are we being ableist? Is zie maybe physically incapable of looking at more than one page of the internet?

  134. Can I get an extra point for posting post-flounce?

    Yes.

    Normally yes, but in this case I’m taking it away because this was the first hint of self-awareness you’ve shown in this entire exchange, and it’s after you’ve already shown your ass.

  135. simplysquamous, you could not POSSIBLY have read very far and not come across HAES, for serious.

    Sorry if I misinterpreted what you were saying – I thought you were saying that because you find specific characteristics attractive, other people will, too, and so you want to change your body to become attractive to those people. (Instead, you seem to accept that many people will find you attractive as you are, but you want to change your body nonetheless.)

  136. Volcanista– I only said I read a bit of the archive… :(
    And I dont think most people could learn linear algebra : /
    But perhaps I should have used an even more difficult subject… say, like fractions.

    Sweet Machine, Thanks for all the links. Ill look through them.

    Becky. The analogy isnt actually lacking much. Yes, it isnt super great. But your criticism isnt valid to the analogy because it was specifically addressing what I took as discouragement to do something simply because the rate of failure was high. Perhaps you didnt read the whole original paragraph–it was grotesquely long… alas, I still get your point… :(

  137. But your criticism isnt valid to the analogy because it was specifically addressing what I took as discouragement to do something simply because the rate of failure was high.

    Except the point is, people aren’t made to feel worthless if they fail at linear algebra (well, they probably are, but they shouldn’t be; that’s another issue) and the process of learning linear algebra isn’t destructive to you mentally and physically (and if it is, I fully support swearing it off).

  138. I think the problem (other than your lack of faith in human intellect) is that you’re equating not living up to academic goals, and the discouragement you might feel over it, with being a nearly universal scapegoat for all things seen as wrong with western society.

  139. SS, it’s completely different because learning linear algebra isn’t something everyone is expected to do. So the people who try are either people who are naturally inclined toward math in which case they can probably handle it, or people who have a pressing practical reason to learn it. If it were the same with weight loss, there would be no need for this blog. But the fact that almost everyone is expected to try, and made to feel worthless for failing, despite the fact that it’s not possible for most people, makes it completely different from your analogy.

  140. Simplysquamous,

    There are many things that the majority of people fail to achieve, but we rarely discourage them to attempt to achieve them because the failure rate is high.

    I agree with you until you get to the ‘..becuase the failure rate is high.’ bit that is not why dieting is wrong.

    You say as much yourself here:

    and it may even be the case that success is impossible due to biological restrictions.

    Absolutely bang on, except there’s no ‘may’ about it. The problem with diets is not that they are a challenge, it’s that they are fundamentally and intrinsically defunct.
    If your car won’t start and you have to push it, it’s a challenge because it’s not designed to be moved that way, not because you have to use a complex skill set.

    Superficially, it can be difficult to tell the difference at times in the end, it’s a judgement call.
    I’d sum it up by using a test, if you are doing something that is challenging but worthwhile,

    even when you fail, you still succeed If you throw yourself at Japanese for a while, even if you cannot achieve fluency, you will achieve something.

    The opposite of this is even when you succeed, you still fail

    That’s dieting in a nutshell, even if you manage to lose weight, rarer than you’d think and overcome every obstacle to reach your target, you almost inevitably regain it. Your ‘victory’ is actually is actually a loss. It’s very rare that something good follows this pattern.

    As for my point about not being genetically fat or thin.

    I made that point because I’ve been considering people; within FA, who think that being moderately fat is OK, but move the opprobrium against fat people, upward towards those more unusually fat.

    Part of the upshot is that I’ve realised that they’ve probably got that the wrong way around.

    Moderately fat who are less likely to be fat through Kismet and are possibly, more genetically like those who are classed as slim than those higher up the fat scale.

    I am one of those lesser fatties who’s well aware that I am no more genetically fat than I am genetically thin. I am more likely, although I wouldn’t put it so crudely, to be a thin person who got fat.

    I don’t care about that, and I am not ashamed of this, or do you think I should be?

    Fat people’s fatness is varied, (so is thin people’s thinness).

  141. It is true, I do want to change my body. I also want to know french. And play the guitar. Alas, I havent gotten around to doing any of it. And furthermore, I am not much troubled by that fact. And I also I recognize I have natural limits, not merely in how much I can change my body, but also what I can learn; maybe i can learn to play the guitar, but maybe not as well as Hendrix. Do you think me wanting to change my body is a problem?

    Changing your body because you’ve been taught that you owe it to others to fit an externally-imposed standard is a problem, yes. Not that YOU are a problem, but the stories we tell each other about bodies have some serious problems.

    As for the rest, the French, the guitar, and the linear algebra: You know that you can just do these things because you want to, right? Because it pleases you to do them? And not because it makes you New and Improved?

    So do what you want. That said: do you really think that someone who is able to say, “I don’t owe it to anybody to fit their definition of acceptability because I’m fine how I am,” will then say follow it up with, “…but I think I’ll try to restrict food intake for the sake of weight loss just for grins, even though it hardly ever makes weight loss happen and is also unpleasant and a lot of effort”? I guess I think people are far more reasonable than that.

  142. Becky and Volcanista–Hmm… I dunno, Im okay with the specific use of my analogy. It wasnt intended to compare the distress people feel over being fat in our society with the distress people feel over not being able to learn linear algebra. On the other hand, there are lots of people who are raised to live up to academic expectations that they fail to achieve and then feel considerably miserable about it. Society also encourages people to acquire a college education and even insists that what stands in the way of a high paying job is a college education, which is largely bullshit–thus your economic situation is your own damn personal responsibility cause you dont have the right education.

    wriggles- I got a little confused by what you said. From what I have been reading off of links from this site, body size and shape is predominantly–but not entirely–determined by genetics. And thus, significant dieting is futile because a persons genetics will return a person’s weight to what is “ideal” for that peculiar person.

    Yet, you have just said that you were a skinny person who got fat–according to the logic I just laid out, such a thing wouldnt be possible. You could theoretically gain toward the higher end of your “ideal” weight, but your metabolism would prevent you from going any higher. On the other hand, if you are at the top edge of your weight range, and you would prefer to be at the lower edge of your weight range, “lifestyle changes” (which everyone hates to hear), would seem to be a reasonable option.

    I happen to be a naturally thin person, and it takes considerable effort for me to gain weight, and I happen to want to gain weight and build muscle mass–since I am naturally thin, my size is restricted, but it is restricted to a range, and it is unlikely that I am at the top of my range right now–so if I did put a moderate effort in the appropriate exercise, I could put on noticeable, but not enormous, weight/muscle gain. If after a serious attempt, my body does not change, I will just accept that actually my body is at its biological limit and move on to less futile pursuits, like learning linear algebra.

    No, I dont think you should be ashamed of your size. I may want to change my body slightly, but I am not ashamed of it as it is.

    A Sarah– yes, trying to fit some arbitrary external standard would be a problem I think–but if it is a standard, or a goal that I actually appreciate it isnt so much of a problem, that is, unless the goal is futile.

    I think learning the guitar and french would make me New and Improved. SimplySquamous 2.0. Kidding, mostly. The admiration and praise of others, perhaps not all others, but nonetheless some, does affect what I do. This does not mean I will hit the beer bong because my buddies insist it, but it may mean I will stand up straighter when a pretty girl is looking. Yes, I know, awful, that I am affected by the perceived evaluations of others. Its something that is on my mind a lot, and wading through social appraisal “reasonably” is something I thing I have to do, because I dont think it is possible to entirely rise above it anymore than it is possible to rise above the biological restrictions of my weight.

    I may say that I dont owe it to anyone to fit their definition of acceptable or attraction, but that doesnt change how people accept or are attracted to me. People who dont bathe because they think grooming is unnatural still stink, whether they have overcome that social prejudice–and they are rewarded with not being invited to the banquet. I guess it comes down to deciding whose banquet you want to go to. I dont have any interest in sitting at the table with people who are assholes about body appearance, so not being invited to theirs doesnt bring any distress.

  143. Sweet Machine — if other people werent baiting me with their replies, there would be no derailing :( for realz.

  144. People who dont bathe because they think grooming is unnatural still stink, whether they have overcome that social prejudice–and they are rewarded with not being invited to the banquet.

    This is so not analogous to having a fat body. Yes, personal grooming standards are culturally constructed, obviously, and you can opt out. However, if you have access to bathing facilities, you can decide to bathe, with minimal effort and maximal success. If you are fat, you cannot just decide to be thin — in fact, most people will make their lives miserable in the attempt and still not be a thin person at the end of it. Can you really not see how your analogies are inadequate?

    Nobody is “baiting” you; people are engaging with you. They are disagreeing with an analogy you proposed, and you are coming back and saying “Wait guys my analogy is still right.” We get it. You still think that. This is threadjacking because your initial comment was a derail in the first place. I suggest you disengage with this post now.

  145. Simplysquamous – I have no idea about wriggles’s story specifically, but there are a number of different ways people change shape outside of the range we can affect through diet and exercise – fat to skinny, skinny to fat, etc – the point is they’re not something we can do.

    In my family – we have a very obvious age and body shape correlation. Turn 14, change shapes, turn 30, change shapes again. Wham. Like a birthday present.

    Illness can change your composition.

    So can medications.

    In some of the obesity research (again, I don’t know if this is what wiggles was referencing), there is a difference being drawn between “lifelong fatties” and “people that are skinny until X age and suddenly everything changes”.

    If you’re fat, the lifestyle changes that you can make for health won’t make you societally not-fat. Whether or not anyone here is at the top or bottom of their ranges is beside the point, whether or not they’re healthy or not is beside the point. We are judged by ignorance, each one of us, based on shapes that correlate not at all well to the popular mythos of shape and lifestyle.

    If you are thin, you maybe don’t understand how deeply painful it is to be judged like that for many if not most of us and most importantly how that internalizes. If you try to learn Japanese and fail, you are unlikely to be mocked as a stupid lazy smelly crazy sex-afraid desperate obesessive in popular culture.

    There’s a whole package of STEREOTYPES that come with failure to lose weight, that do not come with failure to climb everest.

    As for attractiveness, and whether there’s something inbuilt that has us prefer tall to short or lean to fat: that’s both cultural and economic.

    In some societies, bound feet, or lip plates, or thick thighs, or ankles, or facial tattoos, or birds in the hair were considered attractive. Hairlessness or hair, smell or cleanliness, fat or thin – meh, so much of it is monetary.

    And that’s for social pairing, hierarchical pairing, and looking at people on the street.

    Actual LOVE can, and does come between compatible people of all shapes, sizes, symmetries, abilities.

    Fat and short are mostly genetic, with the ranges set by plenty, and fat short people exist. Your proof that people can find that attractive and it can survive need look no further.

  146. This is so not analogous to having a fat body. Yes, personal grooming standards are culturally constructed, obviously, and you can opt out. However, if you have access to bathing facilities, you can decide to bathe, with minimal effort and maximal success. If you are fat, you cannot just decide to be thin — in fact, most people will make their lives miserable in the attempt and still not be a thin person at the end of it. Can you really not see how your analogies are inadequate?

    Sweet Machine,
    I can see how my analogies are inadequate when they are applied to things that they were not applied to. I was so not comparing *the effort* required to groom to the *impossibility* of not being fat if that is your genetic destiny. And Im not quite sure how what I wrote came across to you that way. From my perspective, you are seeing prejudice where there isnt any; you have already pegged me as a troll and an asshole, so you see my comments as something they are not.

    I wasnt even referring to body or weight, for example. the prior paragraph, I was responding to sarah about fitting standards–not merely the standards of body. And I was talking about my needs for admiration and praise.–in general; in fact, I referenced guitar, french, beer pong and standing up straight: nothing about being fat. Oh, but I do actually mention “biological restrictions of weight” in that paragraph at the end. Im not sure how anything I said there gave you the impression that I believed people can just “decide to be thin.”

    And instead of just quoting the part about bathing, you can include the part that I explicitly state I dont have any interest in sitting at a table with people who are assholes about body appearance. ” I guess it comes down to deciding whose banquet you want to go to. I dont have any interest in sitting at the table with people who are assholes about body appearance, so not being invited to theirs doesnt bring any distress.” Shouldnt this be part of fat acceptance? Recognizing that there are people out there who do not hate fat people because they are fat, that there are people who will “invite you to their banquet” regardless of your size, skinny or fat–and learning to build relationships with those people and not the assholes that tear people down because their bodies are different than their own or dont meet their personal aesthetic preferences?

    No, my analogies are not inadequate. The ways you have been interpreting my comments are inadequate. You interpret everything I say as coming from some trolling asshole. Proving to you that I am not a troll may be as futile as a diet, as you seem to be stubborn with your first impressions.

    If you are thin, you maybe don’t understand how deeply painful it is to be judged like that for many if not most of us and most importantly how that internalizes. If you try to learn Japanese and fail, you are unlikely to be mocked as a stupid lazy smelly crazy sex-afraid desperate obesessive in popular culture.

    Arwen–you are right, I probably dont understand how deeply painful it is. I havent experienced what it is like to be fat. I can only sympathize. From how I observe society, I dont feel it is right how fat people are treated.

    In some societies, bound feet, or lip plates, or thick thighs, or ankles, or facial tattoos, or birds in the hair were considered attractive. Hairlessness or hair, smell or cleanliness, fat or thin – meh, so much of it is monetary.

    Actually, I think it has been demonstrated scientifically that birds in the hair is universally considered attractive…

  147. From my perspective, you are seeing prejudice where there isnt any; you have already pegged me as a troll and an asshole, so you see my comments as something they are not.

    Believe me, you have so not received the troll treatment around here. People we think are trolls? Get banned and then mercilessly mocked until their trollishness becomes part of the SP vocabulary. I gave you the benefit of the doubt — which includes, by the way, a detailed list of links that might answer your questions, as well as specific reasons why this is not the thread for your particular comment — precisely because you did NOT seem like an asshole. But my stabby pain is growing, and you will find yourself at the pointy end of a banstick after one more shit-stirring comment.

    Perhaps you should consider that if the majority of people here have “misinterpreted” your analogies and comments, then they are not communicating what you intended them to.

  148. SS, I don’t think you’re a troll, but I think your analogies are inadequate because you keep pulling arguments completely out of context, making an analogy toward them, and then replying to arguments with: “But my analogy was just about this one tiny part of your argument removed from any and all context.” It may be a good arguing style if you’re interested in reading debates, but not if you’re actually interested in engaging with people and learning from them.

    Shouldnt this be part of fat acceptance? Recognizing that there are people out there who do not hate fat people because they are fat, that there are people who will “invite you to their banquet” regardless of your size, skinny or fat–and learning to build relationships with those people and not the assholes that tear people down because their bodies are different than their own or dont meet their personal aesthetic preferences?

    Part of it, sure. But for one thing, that’s not always possible or desirable. I don’t want to cut ties with my family. I don’t have the option of avoiding the coworkers who have desks next to me. For another thing, poisonous social relationships aren’t the only problem fat people face or even the primary one. Destructive media messages are a problem, poor medical treatment is a problem, discrimination by employers and lawmakers are a problem. Honestly, I think you need to do a lot more listening and reading before you start trying to give us advice.

  149. I’ve been having this argument with my girlfriend and her good friend, both of whom practice medicine.

    Thus far, weight loss surgery isn’t making everyone thin. A lot of folks who has WLS will only lose maybe 50 percent of their weight.

    My girlfriend insists that its because people who have WLS have a seriously fucked relationship with food and they overeat their way back up over initial losses.

    But this doesn’t make sense to me. Gastirc by-pass and lapbanding force your body into controlled starvation. How is it possible that so many people defeat such a severe physical modification.

    I know some people who seek WLS have very damaged relationships with food. I know some people’s relationship to food isn’t rehabilitated before or after WLS. But surely not EVERYONE who goes through it starts to overeat afterward? The evidence just doesn’t support this conclusion for me.

    I’ve noticed this about the medical providers who are now in my life. They utterly agree with the Philosophy of Dr. House: Everyone lies.

    And no one lies more than fat people, apparently.

  150. Cindy, I think they are making the facile assumption (as so many do) that all fat people are binge eaters. That’s patently untrue. And in the case of WLS, you’re right, it’s particularly untrue, because it does seem like it’s impossible to overeat once you’ve had that done. Trying might kill you, not just make the weight loss attempt fail!

    SS, for what it’s worth, I was just disagreeing with you, not baiting you. And your last couple responses left me completely confused about what you were even talking about. So I think there’s a communication gap there.

  151. Perhaps you should consider that if the majority of people here have “misinterpreted” your analogies and comments, then they are not communicating what you intended them to.

    Sweet Machine,

    Yes. You are right. They are not communicating what I intended them to. On the other hand, you are the only one who verbally demonstrated any problem with my grooming paragraph. And really, many good writers can be misinterpreted frequently by intelligent people if not enough care is taken when reading, especially when the ideas are mildly complex. Regardless, in future comments, and for any future analogies, I will try to make the objects of the analogies extra-explicit. For you my Sweet Machine.

    But my stabby pain is growing, and you will find yourself at the pointy end of a banstick after one more shit-stirring comment.

    Ohhh :( Hugs?

    Part of it, sure. But for one thing, that’s not always possible or desirable. I don’t want to cut ties with my family. I don’t have the option of avoiding the coworkers who have desks next to me. For another thing, poisonous social relationships aren’t the only problem fat people face or even the primary one. Destructive media messages are a problem, poor medical treatment is a problem, discrimination by employers and lawmakers are a problem.

    Becky,

    Definitely

  152. Heh, I would have responded, but I was at dinner! And then I was trying to figure out what it meant. (At first I couldn’t figure out if you meant the “assholes about body appearance” were being assholes about their own appearance, similar to the people who choose not to bathe and so everyone else has to suffer, i.e. fat people? Which would be really offensive! Or if you meant people who were intolerant of others who don’t bathe or lose weight as expected? Confused!)

    What wriggles is describing comes up now and then – someone who doesn’t seem to have any “setpoint” at all, if I understand wriggles correctly. It seems really unusual, though – that is definitely a rare exception to how human bodies work, and not something on which to base health policy. Everyone’s body is different so I’m not saying wriggles is wrong about their own body. But it doesn’t disprove the diets-don’t-work idea, either.

  153. On the other hand, you are the only one who verbally demonstrated any problem with my grooming paragraph.

    My god… I mean, you’ve demonstrated your rank inability to read any actual text on the website, but to think you haven’t even figured out who is IN CHARGE OF THE FUCKING BLOG HERE? Guess what: If you piss off Sweet Machine, or Kate or me, you don’t actually HAVE to piss off anyone else. Though believe me, you have.

    And really, many good writers can be misinterpreted frequently by intelligent people if not enough care is taken when reading, especially when the ideas are mildly complex.

    Yeah, that’s what we were telling ourselves about you — that you just hadn’t bothered to figure out how to put words in your eyes. But now we’ve decided that you’re just an everloving supercilious dipshit. Sorry you won’t get a chance to try to read or write any better.

    You may not be a troll, but you’re a snotty little fuckstain. If you’re looking to improve, start there.

  154. OFFS. I’ve been taking a blog break, and I haven’t even read everything that’s gone down yet, but I was ready to ban simplysquamous 2 days ago, and I can’t fucking believe y’all were that patient with such a blatant douche. FJ and SM, you are better women than I am, and I thank you.

  155. SM, Kate, FJ: You are all lovely people for tracking this – patient and smart and ready to take action to keep this place as safe as possible. I was just catching up on my Shapely Prose (gotta build up those SW points for the week ahead!) and was baffled by the length and breadth (girth? snort) of the trolly posts here. Why do trolls, even if they start out in a gray area, feel that they deserve A) everyone’s undivided attention and B) the expertise of Teh Fatties to tell them what fat prejudice is like? It reminds me of what my lovely friend Deirdra once said about people curious about The Other: Just because I’m black doesn’t mean I’m gonna answer all your questions about black-ness. Do your own research. Google it, whatever.

    Plus: Calories-in, calories-out is very entry-level algebra. I guess I have some linear algebra to learn?…. /snark

  156. Simplysqueamous,

    Your confusion is due to more than one thing. Firstly, you assume that everyone on this board agrees on everything.

    We do not.

    I find that a lot of FA sceptics such as yourself make that error because you tend to have the same ‘beliefs’ amongst yourselves, you assume we do too, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

    Secondly, you seem to think I said that I was ‘a thin person who got fat’, again, other people said that, not I

    What I said was; I cannot state categorically that I am genetically destined to be thin (as an adult), or fat. I suspect, that I could have been either, OK?

    Again, the reason why dieting fails, is not due to genetics, unless you mean in the very general sense; the fact that we are human as opposed to say, canine, is because we have a configuration of human not canine genes. That’s not saying a whole lot.

    The human being is not genetically designed to lose and maintain-long term- weight loss, BY DIETING. It is not in the design of a human body to respond to dieting in the way we want. The body responds as it is hardwired to respond, it thwarts it on so many levels that it would take too long to list them.

    Let me tell you want that doesn’t mean, to avoid confusion.

    It doesn’t mean that a human being can lose/ put on weight at will, but that is theoretically, I see no reason why it shouldn’t, it’s just that don’t know how exactly how.

    One thing we do know is, that it isn’t going to be through dieting.
    The reason that’s not blindingly obvious, is because you, like many have suspended reality, in order to uphold your ‘belief’ in deliberate weight modification.
    You don’t need to do this.
    You can just accept that dieting is a no-no and unravel the mystery as to what is the yes-yes.

    IOW,

    If we want to lose/gain weight at will, we need to find a way, that actually works with the hardwired design of the human body, and not against it.

    I realise that you are up against it in that you are taking on all comers here, therefore it is easy to confuse what one person says with what another person says.

    The clue is in trying to remember that you are talking to more than one person, when you are talking to more than one person.

  157. I’m not sure that this is relevant, but as a naturally thin person and a scientist I have to say I totally agree with you. As a scientist, because I know the difference between 95% and 100%; as a thin woman, because I basically can’t get fat by eating the food I like, in the amount I like. I didn’t get my BMI at overweight level even after 38 weeks of a twin pregnancy. I’m a reasonably healthy person, just my body works this way – it’s not a merit nor a demerit, and I don’t see what is the difference with other bodies whose weight stabilizes differently.

    BTW, I hope that we all agree that all basic kinds of food should be available (also in the sense of affordable) to everyone, so that no-one – especially children – is forced to avoid e.g. fruit and vegetables for economic reasons.

  158. Again, the reason why dieting fails, is not due to genetics, unless you mean in the very general sense.

    Wait, what does this mean? What’s the very general sense of “genetics?” Our DNA determines most of the ways our bodies work, including how we are different from each other as individuals. Weight isn’t more general than height, which is largely determined by genes. In any case, the study on twins is careful to say “heredity,” which is mainly (but not entirely) controlled by our genetic makeup. The study showed that something like 80% of the influences on our body shape and size are hereditary, and the rest is environmental. Most environmental factors are beyond our control, but those factors do include diet and how and how much we move around, which we have limited control over. (In this case the “environment” category would also have to include things like illness, which can clearly change our bodies.) And this study did not distinguish between short- and long-term changes in body size, as far as I can remember, which means the variations included in those percentages must include very short-term excursions from a presumed setpoint. I would expect there would be even fewer factors that can influence long-term variations in weight.

    wriggles, I don’t think you lacking a setpoint proves setpoints don’t exist; I think it just shows that the human body is varied and complex, so that there are exceptions to general trends. Just like how for a few, rare people, long-term large weight loss is apparently possible! In general, people do have setpoints, though, for real…

  159. For those of you keeping track at home, even though simplysquamous was banned before he could flounce, he gets bonus flounce points for writing me an incredibly long and insulting email sarcastically begging me to unban him. I haven’t yet done the calculations on that, but I think it’s worth at least a full point.

  160. Don’t forget that he wrote a long and insulting email sarcastically begging you to unban him while quoting things I wrote as though you’d written them. Which is so fucking hilarious given a) his demonstrated rank inability to comprehend written language and b) the fact that wriggles had JUST SAID “The clue is in trying to remember that you are talking to more than one person, when you are talking to more than one person.”

  161. Sorry volcanista,

    I’ve just caught up with this:

    What wriggles is describing comes up now and then – someone who doesn’t seem to have any “setpoint” at all,

    The problem I have with setpoint theory is, that it starts off with an obvious truth -that when you lose weight by manipulating calories, you mostly go back to more or less where you started.

    I agree with that.

    Where I part company is that I don’t agree that it follows that we are all predestined to be the weight we started at. As that is subject to many open ended variables.

    Such as stress, hormones, environment. Whether we can change environment or not, it can have a significant effect on our weight.

    Far from being rare, I think this is probably the majority of people, fat people even. Because statistically, something like 3/4 of people who fall into the ‘obese’ category have a BMI of between 30-35. Are they really that different to people between 25-29.9? Or even 20-24.9?

    I have my doubts, the overweight category- those categories are decided by apparent statistical variance in health outcomes- used to be up to 27.

    I think it is the outliers, the underweight and those at the upper end of the weight range, who are likely to be predestined to be thin or fat.

    Another thing, I know that diets don’t work, if you notice, I was trying to explain that to simplysqueamous when I said:

    What’s the very general sense of “genetics?”

    This was about the use of the word ‘genetics’ in this point:

    And thus, significant dieting is futile because a persons genetics will return a person’s weight to what is “ideal” for that peculiar person

    I may have misunderstood what s/he meant. I thought s/he was saying that genes specific to individuals cause individual diet failure.

    Reading it again after your correction, I’m not so sure.

    What I meant was that the body is ‘programmed to ensure diet failure’. In all of us, not some. The exceptions are so minimal, that it’s difficult to come to any conclusion as to how they’ve managed to achieve/sustain significant weight loss.

  162. Wriggles, it sounds to me like you’re saying you agree that it’s difficult to impossible for most people to shift their weight permanently, but that the spot from which they can’t shift it isn’t hard-coded into the genes — i.e. that some environmental and behavioral factors can influence your set point. I don’t actually think anyone disagrees with you there! (I’m sure volcanista doesn’t — she may not be a biologist, but she’s a scientist and thus knows that nothing is 100% genetic.) Dieting, for instance, is a fucking super way to nudge your setpoint up.

    And of course “point” is a misnomer, and it’s really a range, meaning that (as an example totally pulled out of my ass) a person whose current body wants to be around 170 can still weigh 180 or 190 indefinitely with no problem if she has a chronic illness and can’t move around much, for instance. The fallacy is in thinking that if she doesn’t start exercising she will eventually go on to weigh 200, 210, 220 with no end in sight, or conversely that if she would only start exercising and restrict her food she could weigh 120 till she dies. Either one of those can be true for some people, but not most — even in the very limited-time studies Kate linked to.

    I got weary of the discussion up there so I didn’t read some of your interaction with volcanista and squamous, but from what you’ve said here I don’t think you and I, at least, are in disagreement. Simplysquamous has shown himself to be a disingenuous, smarmy, egotistical sort of person, so it’s possible that he was trying to sow discord and causing people to misunderstand each other.

  163. but from what you’ve said here I don’t think you and I, at least, are in disagreement.

    Thank you for this FJ, I agree, I also wasn’t trying to get at volcanista, merely explaining that she seemed a tad askew in her estimation of me.

    I hope you don’t mind me saying this, ( I know you’re probably done with this thread) but I think the issue with squamous is that on one hand, we in FA tend to try and hold to incompatible attitudes when it comes to trolls.

    One, we know that they’ve chosen to wilfully delude themselves.

    Two, we believe that if we explain it to them, they will get it.

    You are right it’s exhausting.

    From the start of entering the FA fray I’ve felt that asking for proof about the efficacy of WLD’s, or fat peolple’s ability or not to change their weight. Doesn’t make any damn sense.

    It’s like being in a room with the proverbial elephant; we can see smell it, feel the hairs on it’s swishing tail, we are all pressed up against the wall.

    One of those people pressed up against the wall might be a waggish existentialist and say: apart from all that, prove there’s an elephant in the room.

    The fact of asking for proof is proof that you’ve choosen to ignore the most obvious ‘proof’ of all; reality.

    By offering logic and ‘proof’ to people who’ve wilfilly deluded themselves we have to be careful not to give validity to what we know is nonsense. The details we can query, but the upshot is utterly evident.

    I say delusion- when you see the truth and suspend reality to impose something in this place. As opposed to belief, where the conclusion is neither one way or t’other, so you make a call according to what makes most sense to you.

    I’m not saying that we shouldn’t fight, I’m saying we can fight from belief in ourselves and our own experience, not from way inside troll territory.

    Anyhoo,

    This thread has been excellent and has given me much to think about.

    Thank you to everyone for that, I’m grateful.

  164. I am short, fat and rock linear algebra.

    Like the rest of the women in my family. (Except they don’t all do linear algebra.)

  165. Two, we believe that if we explain it to them, they will get it.

    I disagree, actually, if we’re talking about real trolls. The problem with people like squamous and the few that occasionally get through the mod queue is that they present themselves as NOT trolls; i.e., they start out by saying they share our goals or they are trying to understand but just have one question, or something like that. They start out from a place of inquiry, and while sometimes they do something obvious like talk about the fat people they saw at Chili’s, other times they don’t. I didn’t let squamous through the mod queue because I thought “I just need to explain the blazing truth to him;” I let him through because he seemed like someone who might get something out of reading the blog if he could just shut up for a second. I was sadly mistaken in this case, but that’s how it goes.

    With all due respect, you have no idea what our straight-up trolls look like, because we don’t let them see the light of day.

    Though I was kind of fond of the one who just commented “lol fatties” — it was more the essence of trolling than the substance. Eau de troll?

  166. I’m not criticising you for posting S/S, especially the first post, which I agree made an excellent point and asked a very apt question and phrased in unusually well.

    I answered it myself because it’s the type of question that someone exploring FA would probably wonder about.

    Unlike you though, I didn’t really expect to get anywhere with S/S, not because I’m sooo clever- I wish- but because with weight, the trolling is in the stance, not the manner.

    Asking for proof or evidence that DDW (or any other weight loss thus far). Is one big troll in itself.

    The rotund had an article on CiF recently, one of the numerous trolls there accused her of being like an ‘AIDS denier’.
    But what, I ask, did AIDS deniers do?

    They ignored that people were getting sick in the same way, the sickness progressed in the same way, and said, the evidence just doesn’t support the existence/ link between HIV and AIDS. Just like the them really.

    If you think of what you have to at least by default go along with to believe fat people are somehow conspiring to remain fat to piss you off. Or because dieting is like algebra. Is troll hardcore, end of.

    So as civil as S/S was, he’s playing the same game a lot of literate deluders play with themselves, that of thinking up to the point their delusion will allow and then snapping back into place when there’s no more give.

    If any weight trolls want to examine the other side, simply stop pretending you don’t know the truth, that is all you need to do in essence.

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