Read ‘Em

-Lauredhel: Fat acceptance and Oppression Olympics fail on The Gruen Transfer 

An excellent elaboration of Rule 11, among other things.

The critique of the panellists completely fails to connect this one simple fact: That arguing “you wouldn’t tell racist or homophobic jokes, so why tell fat jokes?” misses the point that people do tell racist and homophobic jokes. Bram Williams alludes to this near the end of the segment, but the dots are not connected. These jokes are everywhere. The jokes in the this advertisement all have resonance because we’ve all heard them all before.

So how is the ad supposed to work? “We’ve conquered racism, now let’s work on fatphobia?” “We’ve conquered homophobia, now let’s work on fatphobia”? “Fatphobia is the last acceptable prejudice”? We haven’t, and it’s not. And it’s downright offensive for a bunch of white sexist blokes working on their personal growth to try to create traction by stomping all over other oppressed groups.

-NYT: Striking a pose for girth

-So much wrong with that headline, but it’s a pretty good article on Yoga for Fatties. (My only real gripe is the line about the use of props in a plus-size class, which implies that said props are unique to those classes — fatties can’t hack it! — as opposed to being a staple of beginning Iyengar yoga that about a zillion different schools have adopted.)

Anyway. I’ve heard this “we shouldn’t be shunting fat folks into separate classes” argument before, and while I do think it’s true that ALL yoga teachers should be trained in modifications for fat bodies, the reality is that even if they are, they won’t necessarily have the time to devote to helping fat students in a big class. And a lot of them aren’t trained, and have never thought about how fat might interfere with the typical expression of some poses. And a lot of them are teaching at gyms where body shame is the norm. And probably most importantly, plus-size yoga classes provide a safer space for fat people who want to try yoga but are intimidated by the thought of walking into a room full of thin people in spandex. So I’m a big fan of the concept, but I would absolutely like to see more awareness of fat people’s needs among general yoga teachers. (Thanks to a Damsel writer for the tip.)

-If you missed it, Obama thinks workplace “wellness” programs are a swell idea and has a team studying the “best” ones and “explor[ing] the feasibility of developing such a plan for federal employees and their workplaces.” FANFUCKINGTASTIC. That totally won’t fan the flames of employment discrimination against fat people or bring yet more fat-shaming into yet more offices. It’ll just make us all HEALTHEEEEEE!

As Zuzu, the first person who sent this to me, said in an e-mail:

If we had single-payer, these things wouldn’t be tied to keeping your job, and if doctors didn’t have to deal with bill collecting instead of providing care in the first place, maybe there would be enough resources for prevention of the kinds of diseases that doctors are always associating with being fat and overlooking in thinner people. Which would mean lower costs, since things would be caught early, what with people not having to do things like walk out of the ER with head injuries or refuse necessary treatment because it’s too expensive.  Or wait until a condition becomes life-threatening and expensive to treat before seeking help.  

I can’t really top that.

-This has been up on the sidebar via Twitter for a couple of days, but Marjorie Ingall wrote a terrific essay on dealing with kids’ curiosity about fat people — how do you teach them not to scream, “Hey, look at the fat lady!” without reinforcing the message that fat is bad? We discussed this topic a bit on the thread about Joy Nash’s “Staircase Wit” video, but I’m still not sure I know what the answer is.

All right, that’s all I’ve got right now. Reminder to Chicago Shapelings: I’ll be selling/signing books and hanging out at Vive la Femme, 2048 N. Damen, tomorrow evening (5/15) from 6-8 p.m. There will be awesome fat people, awesome plus-size clothes for sale, and refreshments! And if you’re interested in hanging out afterwards, let us know over at the Ning site.

161 thoughts on “Read ‘Em

  1. On the kids-and-fat-folks thing, I was babysitting with three adorable little redheads with whom I tend to spend most of my Saturday nights. The oldest (I think he’s 5 or 6) was playing near me while I was sitting in a recliner. I was wearing shorts, and he suddenly noticed my big ol’ thigh staring him in the face. He giggled and said, “You’re really chubby right there.” I said, “Yeah, that’s cause’ I’m fat.” He said, “You’re not supposed to say that. You’re supposed to say ‘Pleasantly Plump’.” This was made almost unbearably adorable by his slight lisp. I then basically quoted Joy Nash. I told him that his parents may have asked him not to call people fat, but fat isn’t bad. Some people are fat. Some people are thin. Some are tall. Some are short. None of those things are bad. They just are. He said, “Yeah,” and went back to his toys. Kids can be pretty awesome sometimes.

  2. Wait, are you not doing a reading at Vive La Femme? It’s just a book signing (not that that’s bad or anything, I think I told my friend it was a reading so I don’t want to make false promises)?

  3. An additional thing I found was there’s a bill introduced in NY that would “tax the sale and rental of movies, admissions to movie theaters and the sale of snack foods and sweet drinks. In addition, corporations would be barred from taking a New York tax deduction for expenses incurred in advertising any of the affected items, including video games and systems.”

    Because only fat and unhealthy people go to the movies. It’s not like I ran 4 times this week and want to relax by going to see Star Trek.

    I’m sure someone in the Fatosphere will address this better than I will.

    (And I’d hope people wouldn’t need to be told to avoid comments there, obviously)

  4. I recently injured myself (pulled the piriformis in my left hip and it’s spasming and compressing my sciatic nerve, so’s I had a pain in my butt!), and was stuck on my ass for three days. So, of course, I blogged and posted on FB about the pain in my butt.

    My cousin who’s one of those people who really can’t be arsed to learn anything about anyone who can’t up her cool factor (and nerdy fat writer cousins in Oregon do not up cool factors) posted, “When you get better, you should do yoga!”

    After being dumbfounded for a moment, I posted back, “I do yoga. Every morning.”

    I’ve actually gotten a helluva lot of unsolicited ‘medical’ advice from people since I was injured. And it’s really rather annoying. I’ve got a treatment plan from my doctor, thank you. Oddly enough, Unsolicited Medical Advisor, increasing exertion will not help a sprained butt muscle heal (actually, it’ll probably also cause my arthritis to flare).

  5. Wait, are you not doing a reading at Vive La Femme?

    Probably not. The venue isn’t all that conducive to reading, so I’m looking at this as more of a social event. I will most likely say a few words, however, and I might read like 3 minutes’ worth of the introduction.

  6. Maqrjorie Ingall is still around? I used to read Sassy when I was a young teen and she was my favorite :D

  7. It’s really a shame that we can’t ditch the fat = unhealthy mentality… because if we could, having workplaces support fitness programs (I’m not sure what they could do with regard to diet without stepping over the line into paternalistic territory) would make them so much more accessible to people who don’t necessarily have the time or the opportunity or the cash to participate in structured programs.

    If my workplace were willing to pay for pilates classes and give me some time during the day to atted them, I’d be doing a lot more pilates (which is awesome fun, btw)

    I don’t know if Obama’s aware of what he’s setting fatties up for. I’d like to believe that it’s just a thoughtless oversight on his part, on account of my blind Obama love. :p

  8. Little makes me crazier than yoga instructors (on tape, for me) moving into poses that I will never be able to hold “properly” because I will always have ginormous boobs (not to mention the stomach that is there!). In an effort to break past (unhealthy) mind sets, I’ve been only doing what I can and when I’m not told alternate positions or modifications, I modify them to the best of my ability (safety first!).

    And a bite of an aside. I am so tired of being told repeatedly I need to get off my fat ass and DO something so I won’t zomg die of teh fat, and then I actually DO get over my fears and worries, I find absolutely nothing FOR me. Can anyone tell me where to buy workout-type clothes that are made for fat women that don’t cost a small fortune? I mean, honestly. Can I just get a pair of pants that fit me comfortably and some tops to go with them? Can I? Without spending money I don’t have?

  9. “If my workplace were willing to pay for pilates classes and give me some time during the day to atted them, I’d be doing a lot more pilates (which is awesome fun, btw)”

    Hell, I’ll pay for them myself– just give me some time during the day to do them!

  10. I found the post/transcript on the mind-meltingly offensive “jokes” ad fascinating. As usual, I have a foot in both camps.

    I agree with you that “the last acceptable prejudice” line is way oversimplified. You get where they’re coming from, but it’s not strictly accurate, is it? and thus misleading and devaluing to persons who still encounter other types of prejudice regularly .

    However, the general idea — to point up the offensiveness of “fat chick/guy” (although they did drop the ball[s] on the “guy” part) jokes by juxtaposing them with sociopath-level jokes about other groups which would NOT be acceptable if told in MANY sectors — may have merit.

    At the end of the day, though, as executed — shudder. For one thing, it’s not unreasonable to argue that the kinds of people who WOULD tell those other jokes might get a bang out of it and find some kind of twisted validation in seeing such “humor” given a public forum.

    Also, what struck me immediately was that all the other “jokes” involved violence/death. Which fails on two (ironically, opposite) levels. First of all, if you’re trying to convince your audience of the hideousness of fat jokes, go for broke: do they not *have* (Reader Be Warned) “Save a Whale, Harpoon A Fat Chick” t-shirts in Oz? (that one has always creeped me out)

    Secondly, and in all seriousness, it criminally minimizes the experiences of racial and religious minorities and homosexuals, many of whom HAVE been targeted and KILLED throughout history. As much as I hate size prejudice, I don’t think anyone could reference too many fat lynchings or pogroms. It’s a false equivalency. And ick.

    Thoughtfully comparing the ugliness of fatbashing speech with other less-media-acceptable forms of irrationally prejudicial speech is an exercise that might benefit many, especially if that’s what it takes to make them STFU. But I wish we could get there without destroying the village in order to save it.

  11. I’m starting to get really scared. I’m a person with Type I diabetes (for 25 years now) and fibromyalgia (for 9). I’m BMI-obese. And I’m only 30 years old.

    I know that I can be a productive member of society – I’m doing that right now. I work, volunteer, support family and friends, play, swim, read, knit – a whole lot of things. I know that I’m a great asset to any firm that I work for – I’m diligent, loyal, laid-back, and independent. But all the things I mention above – more and more, they seem like they are going to govern my ability to get and keep a job. And because of those things and our current health-care system, I really need to be able to get and keep a job. These kind of news bits are starting to make me feel really helpless. :(

    That’s not a complaint about the post, by any means – just a little venting about the topic, I guess.

  12. Did anyone else hear that Congress is also voting to enforce a soda tax, because soda contributes to obesity? Really? Because my skinny ass friend in college who drank soda like it was water never reached Obese.

    Also, the Soda people are preaching our side now to combat this proposed tax.

  13. Anoif : “If my workplace were willing to pay for pilates classes and give me some time during the day to atted them, I’d be doing a lot more pilates (which is awesome fun, btw)”

    I work in an office building that has a freaking gym in the basement and my company’s brilliant idea? Offering hefty discounts on a gym franchise that doesn’t have a location in downtown Chicago or anywhere within spitting distance of where I live (yes, it’s about me, dammit).

  14. Word, Anoif. Employee wellness programs that are actually devoted to employee wellness (imagine that!), physical and mental — the ones that are not primarily about reducing the company’s bottom line by discriminating against employees who don’t participate and reinforcing institutionalized prejudices, but rather are simply about making all kinds of health resources more accessible and available to everyone (HAES!) — are great. Sometimes they can be in conjunction with “Work-Life Balance” type resources, where you can get free help with managing your finances or getting outside counseling about work problems (with no risk of prejudice against you for seeking it), dealing with other life problems like grief… that kind of thing. The radical idea that people are better workers when they’re happy and healthy inside the workplace and out of it, and feel like their employer cares about them…

  15. just wanted to chime in on the yoga thing…

    I have just completed 2 of 3 modules of a 200h Yoga Alliance Teacher Certificate, and I am a size 24. I will be completing the third module in July.

    The greatest part of my experience to date has been our Teachers constant reminder that props do not necessarily make poses easier, they just make them accessible, and in fact often make the pose deeper because they have helped people achieve proper alignment where they have not been in alignment before. His meaning – do not judge those using props as weak.

    Time was taken going through each pose showing all modifications and prop uses so that all participants would find the pose accessible.

    Anyway, I look forward to offering my own round yoga body class, and my goal as always will be so that at the end of a session, students will be more comfortable moving to a regular yoga studio/class if they so desire.

  16. …and this is why i’m glad i’m self-employed.

    though in the back of my mind i’m thinking about making a ‘living statue workkout’ video series, cos gosh darnit if i haven’t grown some muscles since i started this job. but not til i’m ‘famous’. or know some filmmakers who are/aren’t douchebags. but it’ll fuck with people’s heads so much :D

  17. If Obama doesn’t manage to get single payer coverage he will forever be an asshat in my book. This is my personal test for him.

    Thumbs down on the advertisement. I think I was most turned off by the fact the director came up with the idea while he was participating in fat bashing. Its like a Klansman having a change of heart and now wants to talk about how he loves black people. Yeah, not convinced you give a shit.

    Why should there be any discussions about how to talk to kids about fat people? It was enough for my parents to say ‘keep your mouth shut and don’t make comments about people because you’ll make the whole family look like assholes.’ End of discussion.

  18. Sparkle Pants – I don’t know what your budget is but JMS has some good stuff and as it turns out they are having a sale right now.

    I’m not even going to try to make a clickable link but here’s the site: http://www.jms.com/category/6030000000.html

    I’m sure this has been asked before but I can’t remember so I’m asking. Can anyone recommend good videos for yoga? I just use regular yoga videos right now and modify to what works for me but it’d be nice to have actual instruction on moves that will work better. I can’t do anything more strenuous than yoga/pilates/slow walking because of my stupid-ass leg and I hate the gym. So recommendations would be appreciated. :)

  19. It’s important to talk to kids about fat people, VITALLY important, because the majority of the stuff they hear about fat people is overwhelmingly bad. In actually talking to them about it and explaining how it all works, you might shrink the number of douchehounds in the next generation.

  20. Oh and Sparkle Pants I totally recommend Walmart of Kmart for plus sized workout clothes. Plus they’re inexpensive.

  21. I basically want my employer to butt out of my life. I want them to be amenable to what I want – that is, flexible hours, more money, more help around the office, cost of living increases commiserate with the actual cost of living – but “programs” do nothing for me – partly because I think organizations are generally dumb, and partly because I don’t like the idea of regulating activities. So, sure, give everyone an extra paid hour every day – let us exercise or nap or go shopping or go home (my choice, every time!). But this whole “wellness program” stuff makes me anxious.

  22. mary sue —

    how’d you know that i have to write a 12 page paper on the handmaid’s tale today? and that i am in fact avoiding writing it at this very moment by reading shapely prose?

    thank you for reminding me to get back to work.

  23. @Kaz: I know the logic of why you should talk to kids about x group but you can’t possibly cover all of the bases. My contention is a blanket statement about not making comments regarding bodies combined with an environment that encourages acceptance of all people is the best way to keep the rudeness at bay.
    There was a discussion a month or so ago about how we should talk to children about people who may be differently abled. I still maintain its not an issue when kids know to not comment about people.

  24. Thing is, kids have questions. When you’re six or seven years old, you don’t necessarily know why people are fat, or why some people have different hair, or anything else. They’re curious, because that’s how they learn. If you just tell them not to ask questions, that doesn’t tell them anything. They still don’t know, and so they’ll pick up the answer from somewhere else altogether, and most likely the wrong one too. I’d much rather that the kids I work with asked about fat people, so that they can be told that it’s just the way some people’s bodies are, than be told to shut the hell up and end up finding the ‘answer’ from the media, which is unanimously because fat people are stupid and lazy.

    Kids NEED to ask questions and have these answered, or they don’t learn anything except that their need to learn isn’t valid.

  25. April & Valerie — thank you!! :)

    I just wanted to tell everyone that I won fat bingo almost instantly at ONTD today. I mean, I lost all my sanity points in the process, but it was fun.

    I just started doing Kundilini yoga (as in I’ve done it twice lol) and the stuff I’ve done is very basic (Raviana’s AM/PM set) and fairly easy. The breathing gets me though. I’ve lost a lot of lung capacity since I stopped playing a woodwind instrument. Also, my muscles get all jellyish after 2 minutes of repeating some of the motions. But it’s fun and feels great! I am most fond of the chants and meditations. It’s really relaxing for me.

  26. Sparklepants: I like Junonia workout clothes, but I don’t know if they would qualify as inexpensive. They are better quality and do seem to hold up longer. I just try to buy on sale when I can.

    April, I mentioned this above, but I really like Abby Lentz’ DVD:
    http://www.amazon.com/HeavyWeight-Yoga-Body-Have-Today/dp/B0013BK168/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1242323271&sr=8-1

    As far as kids, I tell kids it is rude to comment on people’s individual bodies. We can talk about fat people in general or types of bodies or whatever, just not individuals.

  27. Thanks Sticky. I must have missed that. Thing is I have googled for this but I really prefer to have a recommendation from people that I trust. :)

  28. I’m not saying that children shouldn’t ask questions at home. I’m saying that in scenarios like the one above where the kid talked about the woman’s fat thighs someone failed to tell this kid what is appropriate and what isn’t in public.
    Its like my little cousin. I think she was 10 at the time. She asked me one day if I was pregnant. Now I come from a pretty traditional family. She knows none of us could come home preggers unless a man and ring preceded that visit by ten months. She was just being a nosy little shit and wasn’t thinking about what she was saying. Had her parents made it clear that discussing people’s bodies is impolite that wouldn’t have happened. Fine talk with mom and dad later about whether cousin Valerie is preggers and they can ‘honey, she’s just fat.’ But acting as if children’s inappropriate questions and comments are innocent and people will understand children are curious is nonsense.

  29. I never said not to tell them it isn’t polite, you also NEED to answer the question. Children are innocent – if they ask about someone, it really really isn’t malicious. The best strategy is to inform them that their question is not polite, but then also to answer it. Their attention spans are short, and telling them you’ll discuss it later, to a child, is like telling them to shut up anyway. By the time ‘later’ rolls around it’s been a lifetime already.

    Nothing wrong with saying “That isn’t a nice thing to ask about someone, especially in public, but the answer is…”

    Sometimes, it also takes a few times for something to sink in. No kid quite gets it right the first, or sometimes even the tenth time you tell them that something isn’t polite. It’s one of those things that happens.

  30. @maggiemunkee: It’s part of the implant you get with a master’s degree in education. It also includes the eyes in the back of the head and the ability to write horizontally on a vertical surface.

  31. Regarding yoga videos, I came out of 8 years of competitive dance (yes, fatties can compete — and win! dance competitions) with serious joint injuries. I absolutely love the Kripalu Gentle DVD. Matter of fact, it’s the basis of my morning practice, sans the floor poses. I just don’t like crawling around on the floor, it’s a thing.

  32. Yeah Kaz we’ll have to agree to disagree on this. I don’t believe that people who are fat, people who are black, or people who are differently abled should have put up with comments and questions from kids because they’re curious. I think that can be prevented. When I was a kid, I asked questions about my neighbors kids who were biracial. I knew I’d stepped in shit when I did it. Sure enough, there was a nice spanking waiting for my ass at the end of the day. My parents were angry that I’d basically othered guests in our home. Now, I’m firmly against using corporal punishment. But you’d better believe that was last time I ever made a comment about someone’s body.

  33. I don’t believe that people who are fat, people who are black, or people who are differently abled should have put up with comments and questions from kids because they’re curious.

    Nobody’s saying they should. Kaz is saying that when YOUR kid makes a comment about someone else’s body, you A) tell them it’s not polite, and they shouldn’t do that in public, and B) have a private discussion about human diversity, ideally before the kid learns on the playground that fat people are disgusting and unhealthy, etc.

  34. When did I EVER state that these questions should be directed at the people themselves? I’m assuming these young children asking these questions aren’t out unsupervised. It’s the job of the parent/guardian/other who is WITH the children to be answering the questions and providing explanations, since most of the children I know? Wouldn’t be asking the stranger. It’s generally a tug on the sleeve and a ‘Dad? Why is that person…’, under which circumstances NOT answering the question is highly unproductive.

  35. I know this is off-topic, but I need a place to vent about a commerical that’s been running where I live.

    It’s an advertisement for this place that does lap band surgeries; on it they have people talking about how it worked so well for them, so it’ll work for you too! But the thing about the commercial that really makes me want to scream is the the little jingle they sing at the end: “Less of you, more of life…”

    *headdesk*

    Sorry to derail the conversation, I just needed to get that off my chest.

  36. Good gracious. The conversation doesn’t warrant yelling. The comment that my concern was addressing was the woman above where a kid pointed out her fat thighs. And in previous discussions on here there have been people who did have to deal with kids stares and questions.
    If you want to continue this then you’re welcome to email me at vjkeathley@yahoo.com. But I’m not going to take up anymore space from the blog.

  37. The comment that my concern was addressing was the woman above where a kid pointed out her fat thighs

    Valerie, it’s a little disingenuous to argue that, when your last comment began, “Yeah Kaz we’ll have to agree to disagree on this.”

  38. And especially considering that the woman talking to the kid about her fat thighs? Was babysitting. As in, was in a caring and authoritative role over the child, was not in public, and I’m assuming had volunteered to be in that position. You take on the role of caring for a child, part of that is answering their questions.

  39. ’m saying that in scenarios like the one above where the kid talked about the woman’s fat thighs someone failed to tell this kid what is appropriate and what isn’t in public.

    valerie, that was me with the thighs. We weren’t in public. We were in the child’s home, where I was babysitting him. I am glad the subject came up, because his mother isn’t skinny, and I wanted him to know that it is okay for people to be fat. This is a child who feels comfortable around me. A child whose ass I have wiped. His comment on my thighs was not a public comment on my appearance.

  40. I was first introduced to yoga as an after-school class when I was in the 4th grade. My instructor was a curvy Indian woman with ample belly folds who taught in a sari. I wonder if women like her are confident enough to wear those mid-riff baring saris today; the image of yoga and beauty have changed so much.

  41. It’s not disingenuous when my original post was spurred by Liberalandproud’s comments about babysitting and another comment about talking to kids about fatness.

    Frankly I thought the kid was being rude. If Liberalproud welcomed that as a teaching opportunity- good. She’s apparently a nicer person than I am. I’ve wiped a lot kids asses too while babysitting. I’d be pissed if one of them thought it was okay to talk to me about my body.

  42. Really valerie? ‘Cause kids do that. Even those that have been taught that it’s rude. It’s really unfair to be pissed off at the kid for having a natural curiosity. Kids are curious about everything that is different. My own children made comments about my belly when they were little, not as an insult but an observation that something is different than they are. Kids do that with skin color, eye color, hair color, hair texture, anything else you can think of, they ask about it.

    Yes we have a responsibility to teach them that it’s not polite to point out strangers in public like that but if you’re on the receiving end of a comment like that, it’s really unfair to be pissed off at a child about that.

  43. When I was a young teen my younger cousins asked why I had spots on my face or something (which was acne). I was a little annoyed but assumed they had never seen someone with much acne before or had never been able to ask about it. I myself remember being curious about whiskers, long nose hairs, etc when I was a kid.

  44. “it’s really unfair to be pissed off at a child about that.”

    My body is off limits for comments from anybody.

    I think the divide is fundamentally this- some of you are mothers or want to be mothers or really like kids or all three. I don’t. To be honest with the whole conversation reminds me of why I don’t need to be a mother or like being around kids.

  45. Honestly, whether or not you like being around kids, they’re a part of society like anyone else – just a part that hasn’t learned all the rules yet, let alone all the facts and reasoning that we all take for granted. Like any other part of society, they deserve that help and support to grow – especially if, like you said you’ve done, you’re babysitting them. When you’re in that position, it’s your job to be nurturing them, and neglecting a mind is just as dangerous as neglecting a body.

  46. Valerie, there’s a difference between not liking being around kids and being a jerk when you are around kids.

    Kids are not little adults, and when they’re at the blurting-out-random-observation stage of development, their brains quite literally are figuring out there are other people who exist beyond themselves and their immediate family. Learning that people other than themselves are a) different and b) have feelings is very important. Overreacting to a shouted out comment with embarrassment or reproach will just tell the child that all differences are shameful.

  47. I’m really not going to get into an argument with you here because for starters that would be unfair to the rest of the group but this has nothing to do with being a mother, liking kids or not, it’s about understanding that kids are curious creatures and that they learn by asking questions. If you got pissed off at the child – a child that trusts you by the way – for making a non-judgmental observation, you are sending that child a message that their thoughts are not okay. Instead, that should be seen as an opportunity to help a child further understand that we are all different and to not ever be judgmental about that. The child that is guided down that road is less likely to grow up into the adult that goes onto blogs and screams at us that we are disgusting, lazy slobs that should just put down the damn fork.

  48. At no point did I say that people should be jerks to kids.

    I said parents need to give a blanket statement to their children that bodies are off limits for discussion in mixed company.

    In fact with the example I gave of my younger cousin I just smiled and shook my head no. Her parents were there but they weren’t paying attention. Of course, as an adult I’m expected to eat shit and just say that’s what kids do.

  49. I think the divide is fundamentally this- some of you are mothers or want to be mothers or really like kids or all three.

    Valerie, I neither have nor want to have kids, but I still think you’re painting yourself into a corner here. Kids can be annoying, sure, but usually not in the same way adults are annoying. Most adults, if they point out part of your body in some way, are doing so with some agenda in mind. Many kids do so because a) they’re curious, and b) they don’t know it’s off limits because no one has told them yet. And the reason for b? Because they haven’t yet absorbed enough body shame to realize that that an adult saying the same thing would be considered rude. It might very well be really painful to have a kid tell you you stand out in some way; it might trigger the same painful feelings you’ve experience before. But that doesn’t mean that the kid isn’t asking out of genuine curiosity.

    Believe me, I get where you’re coming from. I still remember the absolute burning shame I felt when a little girl asked me (when I was about 18 and just sitting on a bench talking with my dad) why I had a mustache. She actually told me she wasn’t sure if I was a man or a woman, and at that time in my life, that was probably the worst thing any stranger could have said to me, in terms of my internalized shame. I hated that little girl when she asked it; I hated myself even more. But what I realized later is that she was genuinely curious precisely because our culture is so strict about gender policing that she probably had never seen a woman who wasn’t plucked and waxed within an inch of her life. In other words, the normative beauty ideal had not registered with her enough to make her hesitate to ask me about my facial hair—but it had altered every adult in her life in terms of their gender presentation, so that she genuinely didn’t (as I didn’t!) know you could have facial hair and still be a woman.

    I wish I had told her that everybody has hair in certain places, and some people have darker/more hair than others. It would have been a great teaching moment, I think. But I was so filled with self-loathing that I just glared at her and hung my head in shame. I helped to teach that girl, not that her question was rude, but that my body was shameful. She didn’t intend me any harm. I harmed both of us with my reaction.

  50. I don’t like kids even a tiny bit, but even I can see that if a child says or asks something inappropriate that is a great time to educate them on 1. the answer to their question and 2. why it is inappropriate.

    (Like for example that it can really hurt people’s feelings because of how they’ve been taught to think about their weight and may have actually hurt yours and that is why you may have initially reacted in a not very nice way to the question.)

  51. I think part of the issue here is the age of the child in question. The example of a ten year old.. yeah, she should have known better and may have been deliberately trying to be rude. A five year old though? Just curious and innocent and still learning about how the world works.

  52. I clearly remember being about 12 when I noticed my (thin) babysitter’s belly was protruding and asked if she was pregnant.

    I wasn’t trying to be rude. I meant no harm. I had actually forgotten about it until this discussion but man she must’ve thought I was an asshole. Or maybe she thought that I was a kid that sometimes blurts things out without thinking about how that might make the other person feel.

    I’m glad she didn’t yell at me or tell me it’s not my business.

  53. At 10, she may have been trying to be rude, or was simply being impulsive. Even at that age, kids are still really impulsive, and I know when I thought someone was pregnant, my first thought was generally ‘yay! That’s awesome! Bigger family!’ not necessarily whether it was the right thing to say.

  54. I’m having my mind blown by the irony of the (apparently) shameless remarks about not liking kids or their company (no caveats, so apparently all kids, based on nothing more than their age) ….. in a diversity-positive space.

  55. Vixen,

    Jeez, it’s like you LIKE kids or something! Why, I positively shudder at their sticky little hands, their impertinent little brains.

    Tolerance can only carry so far! Do you have any idea how much of a drain these kids are on both our healthcare plans and our tax dollars?

    Everyone should be adult at birth, is what I say.

  56. An adult at BIRTH? But… but… then I’d be out of a job! Think of all the industry revenue all these non-adults create! If there weren’t kids… wait, actually, if there weren’t kids, we might have more adult sized playpen ball pits, which isn’t SUCH a bad idea…

  57. You’re right, Vixen. I’m bigot. I don’t like kids. Please school me in Critical Childism Theory.

    Oh wait that’s right I’m single and I have to pay tax money for kids to go to school that I don’t even have. Oh oh oh don’t forget when I get a measly percentage of my income taxes back, parents get to write their kids off. Did I mention I make 13,000 a year but that’s just a little too high for the earned income tax credit. If I’d had a baby though I wouldn’t have to pay a dime. I could even get foodstamps! Oh and what was that? My family basically gets doubled taxed because we made the ‘lifestyle choice’ of being in a same sex relationship- yay more school money! Our entire fucking society surrounds the needs of kids. A woman can’t even show her tit on cable because ‘deh kiddies might be watching.’

    Its not that I have a real problem with EIC, school taxes, or welfare. But complaining about people who don’t like kids is like the white guy bitching about BET.

  58. Yes, yes, being a member of society is horrible. Certainly nobody’s tax money has ever paid for your education.

  59. And for my one brave attempt to get away from the subject of vile kiddies, ( I have two, and I love them to bits) I really want to know – that whole idea of making an anti-discrimination commercial… it was bungled so badly by the guys who were given the task of coming up with one, and yet it could have been done right – I’m betting that a lot of us have advertisement-ready genius and could really do the job right.

    That being said, all I could think of is something along the lines of, “Fat people – they’re cute like pandas, only less fuzzy!”

  60. No. Its not the fault of the kids. In fact, I’m fine with paying those taxes because I do care about kids. But for someone to assert that we’re marginalizing a demographic that is catered to in every possible way in our country is ridiculous. And as a single person I find it offensive.

  61. But complaining about people who don’t like kids is like the white guy bitching about BET.

    No, it really isn’t.

    Complaining about having to pay taxes for schools when you don’t have kids is complete nonsense.

    Valerie, I say this as someone who is child-free by choice: stop digging.

  62. I don’t have kids myself. Nor will I. For reasons which are my own. So I ‘suffer’ those same tax disadvantages.

    At least I manage to view children as unique individuals, not mere symbolic manifestations of a lifestyle choice which differs from my own.

  63. Telle,

    I was going for a parallel to the thinking that there is only one body type, only one template, one shape to rule us all.

    I can’t tell if you thought that was funny or appalling.

  64. But for someone to assert that we’re marginalizing a demographic

    Who is saying this? You said that there should be no discussion about how to talk to kids about fat bodies because your parents just told you not to make comments about bodies. Other people disagreed because they think there are some contexts in which it would be useful to answer the kids’ questions instead of just telling them they’re rude. You got more and more defensive about this point, even though no one is yelling at you and then you made a blanket assumption that everyone who disagrees with you must have/want kids.

    Look, I agree with you that being precious about children is tied to heteronormativity. But there’s a huge difference between being precious about children and thinking they make better adults if they know why the things they’re saying are wrong.

  65. Kimerbley O,

    Actually, I found the idea of giving birth to a full sized adult slightly horrifying :)

    I know that’s not where you were going.. but that was the first image that came into my head and it made me cross my legs :)

  66. Did I mention I make 13,000 a year but that’s just a little too high for the earned income tax credit. If I’d had a baby though I wouldn’t have to pay a dime. I could even get foodstamps!

    Wow… this sounds to me like your problem is with mothers.

  67. I didn’t even consider the giving birth part of the equation. Owwie. I’ve heard the regular version equated to shitting a fridge.

  68. I was thinking more along the lines of those commercials of babies with CGI lips, talking like adults.

    Giving birth to an adult would only work if we bred like pod-people, with a full-sized replica ripening in the greenhouse while we slept.

  69. @SW

    1. I was characterizing what Vixen said.
    2. Yeah I get defensive when I make a point, say agree to disagree, and then there are posts implying that I was mean to kids…actually the word was ‘jerk’. And normally capitalized words mean a person is yelling or at least strongly emphasizing something.
    3. The “blanket assumption” was me being honest about my perspective because I did feel disingenuous on that count.

  70. Valerie, I would be the one who said ‘jerk’. I did not call you a jerk, I said, and I quote, there’s a difference between not liking being around kids and being a jerk when you are around kids.

    I’m sorry if you took my blanket statement as being directed towards you, that was not my intent at all.

    I was speaking as a former early childhood education professional, who got out of the industry (yes, school is an industry these days) because I saw mothers and fathers being complete jerks to their kids when they dared to not act like a perfect adult, even though childrens’ brains are so physically dissimilar from adult brains that the difference is easily spotted by non-medical personnel.

  71. Fucking A fillyjonk I said I don’t actually have a problem with taxes that are beneficial to everyone.

    I just don’t like people asserting that being honest about my perspective is written off as ageism. That’s the trump card, ya know? Vixen pointed out that a demographic had been marginalized in the discussion and now the discussions over.

  72. So, you’re complaining about something you don’t actually have a problem with? That’s odd.

  73. Not to mention, of course, the fact that the kids most likely to continue coming out with potentially harmful “Mummy, why is that man’s nose so enormous??” type comments beyond the age where many kids would have got the message and/or long after their Mummy has said “it’s not ok to talk about other people’s bodies” or whatever, are also “differently abled” (ick, I hate that term, speaking as a disabled person) e.g. autistic kids, kids with learning difficulties etc.

    My daughter has gone from “I was a bit scared of that lady on the bus because she had two chins” to “why are they saying bad stuff about fat people?? that’s really wrong!” in a pretty short time (like me she is somewhere on the autistic spectrum, so it certainly wasn’t a case of telling her once, which I suspect doesn’t work with most kids anyway – kids forget stuff!), by the way, but the way I taught her did NOT involve shaming her for asking innocent questions. It’s perfectly normal and good for kids to wonder about all aspects of the world around them, and you can teach them not to wonder quite so loudly and/or obnoxiously without making them feel bad for wondering.

  74. Anyone who thinks they were were told once by their parents that talking about people’s bodies was off-limits and that they lived by that rule forever after is mistaken. I guarantee you made embarrassing remarks about other people’s body when you were small. You just don’t remember.

    And yes, I am confident enough that this is a universal phenomenon to make that blanket statement.

    Every toddler who is verbal remarks about things they’ve never seen before — which is EVERYTHING, since they’re toddlers and have only lived a couple years.

    When they see a person with a size or color or deformity they’ve never seen before, it’s an amazement that they feel compelled to announce to the world.

    My younger son once accosted a little person in Target with a wondrous, “You’re so small!” My other son once asked the lady in the drive thru window why she had a “circle on her chin.” (It was a round growth of some kind.) I could name several other instances, as can every parent on the planet. It’s the nature of the beast.

    I don’t care how many times you tell a kid that it’s unacceptable to comment on people’s bodies, they can’t extrapolate until a certain age. “I wasn’t talking about her body, I was talking about her chin, Mom!”

  75. Vixen,
    I’m having my mind blown by the irony of the (apparently) shameless remarks about not liking kids or their company (no caveats, so apparently all kids, based on nothing more than their age) ….. in a diversity-positive space.

    Why should their be caveats? As has already been mentioned, kids brains don’t work like the brains of Adults. Plus as adults we are also OBLIGATED behave in certain ways around them (I for one am not rated PG most of the time).

    I don’t support taking away the rights of kids, or hurting kids or even being rude to them, however, I am not obligated by some standard of diversity to LIKE them or to LIKE that I am obligated to protect and coddle them. They un like most “othered” groups actually are different and require certain things from us as adults.

    And for me, there is nothing to like about that. I don’t BLAME them, I just chose to avoid contact with them.

  76. I don’t care how many times you tell a kid that it’s unacceptable to comment on people’s bodies, they can’t extrapolate until a certain age. “I wasn’t talking about her body, I was talking about her chin, Mom!”

    OMG so true. Or they’ll just “but”, because to s child their exception is always THE exception.

    “Don’t talk about people’s bodies.”
    “BUT THAT LADY HAS A …”

  77. I said I don’t actually have a problem with taxes that are beneficial to everyone.

    Yeah, how could I possibly have gotten the idea that you resent mothers getting assistance.

  78. My workplace has a great wellness program. It has won awards, so maybe it will be one of the ones studied. (I know I can be a bit naive and overly optimistic sometimes.)

    It’s very similar to what Ayelle described. Different types of exercise groups and classes are offered: running, walking, swimming, biking/spinning, pilates, yoga, water aerobics, and maybe some others I wasn’t interested in. It is entirely voluntary, and your supervisor is supposed to allow you to flex your schedule so you can attend if you choose to. There is an incentive for some of the activities, but it’s small(4 hours of administrative leave). It’s an attendance based incentive, so I always felt it was more a reward for following through than anything else. If you sign up for a class, someone else can’t.

    Off topic, I have trouble with this movement sometimes. I want to be apart of it and help, but I haven’t experienced a lot of the awful or negative things other people have, and at first glance it’s difficult to identify. This is a perfect example. When I see “workplace wellness programs”, I think of mine, and think “That’s great!”. It doesn’t occur to me at first, that someplaces might tie them to insurance premiums, publish information that should private, or make them mandatory. It’s difficult to be uninformed.

  79. I was so grateful that my daughter wasn’t generally audible or comprehensible when she commented on an elderly man’s flat cap and posture.

    She said “A dada wa-wa.” Which means “A daddy quack-quack.”

    She was *absolutely right*, mind you. And then there was “Hello chubby ladies!” shouted through the plate glass window at a couple of very chubby ladies eating their lunch in a restaurant… She’d only heard the word used of babies, where it’s a compliment.

    It got easier after she turned two.

  80. FJ I said that what I said was stupid. I don’t have a problem with paying for school taxes or assistance for WIC, foodstamps, daycare, or whatever. I was just trying to make a point. and I did it poorly.

  81. MarlieNow, that does sound like a good program. But my problem is with my workplace concerning itself with my personal life or with my personal self. Philosophically, it’s none of their business, but I know that the fact that employers usually pay a substantial portion of workers’ health insurance often makes them think it’s their business. Which is one of the biggest problems with our health-insurance system. The rationing/commodifying of mental health care is another big reason.

    Ailbhe, that “chubby ladies” thing is pretty cute.

  82. In case it wasn’t clear, I meant that the problem is that employers are expected to be involved in the provision of health insurance because otherwise no one could afford it.

  83. Lu: See also “Your tummy is lovely and round, can I hug it?” and “I like your tummy better than Daddy’s because it’s squishy,” and so on. These are all social disasters waiting to happen, but SO LOVELY.

  84. And then there was “Hello chubby ladies!” shouted through the plate glass window at a couple of very chubby ladies eating their lunch in a restaurant… She’d only heard the word used of babies, where it’s a compliment.

    Awwww!

  85. Back on the topic of yoga…

    I’m lucky in that the instructors I have (even the slim, lithe, vegetarian straight-edge one–who, FMS bless him, makes it a point to say that you should do what makes YOU happy), have been awesome about my size and disability. There really *are* modifications for pretty much every situation you can imagine. A good instructor shouldn’t allow any body-shaming to happen.

    Sometimes it is hard, going to a studio and seeing the gymnists and MMA fighters. But once the practice itself starts, most people are so focused on the asana that they’re not noticing you at all. And while I do feel noodly afterwards, it’s in such a good way…

    Okay, off my platform. ;)

  86. Wellness programs are awesome when they’re about giving options, but really shitty when they’re about control. Thanks but my health is not part of my job performance.

  87. Sorta OT, and from a lurker too! Hopefully not too OT.

    1. I switched pilates instructors recently and couldn’t put a finger on why I like the new one so much more. Then I realized it was because I never hear fat-shaming value-loaded words like skinny, sexy or bikini. The last instructor went on about how she’d make us the hottest thing on the beach, etc…and it’s such a part of the background noise in many women’s lives (or at least in mine!) that I didn’t realize it was there until it went away! It’s like when you have a low-grade headache or bellyache for a couple days, and all of a sudden you realize…I feel better! (That said, I have not seen anyone very fat in the class. I bet she’d be respectful and cool with modifying, though. She usually gives at least 2 levels for each move as it is.)

    2. Kids are kids…they’re going to bust out with stuff sometimes that’s going to make their parents/
    babysitter/etc. want to crawl in a hole and die…but if anyone could tell me how to get my 50-year old relatives to stop making random fat-shaming comments in public, I’d be much obliged! :-)

    And also I MISSED THE PHILLY EVENT BECAUSE I HAD TO WORK SO I’M GOING TO WHINE IN ALL CAPS OR MAYBE JUST COME TO BROOKLYN.

  88. I just don’t like people asserting that being honest about my perspective is written off as ageism. That’s the trump card, ya know?

    Valerie, that is dangerously close to a violation of Rule 10. And you’ve been flirting with Rule 7 all day. Pull this “I’m going to argue with everyone, then move the goalposts when they point out my argument doesn’t even make sense” bullshit again, and you’re banned.

  89. I love yoga, but I don’t go to classes much, so I generally adapt poses myself. Some of the ones where you’re supposed to wrap your legs around each other just don’t work for me – my legs are too short and fat to be able to do that!

    Also, I have a lot of problems with my Rack of Doom, which has a tendancy to suffocate me in certain positions – shoulderstands, I’m looking at you! I can do them but I get a face full of boobs, and sometimes worry about falling out of my top ;)

    I’m naturally very flexible though so I tend not to have too many problems, but I do agree that all instructors should be taught appropriate modifications of the poses for those who have problems. And while its never bothered me, I can see why having a “fat yoga” class might encourage fatties to have a go when they would have been too scared to otherwise – its sort of like the “women’s only” weights room idea. It takes away the fear of sticking out in the crowd.

    I also posted about the Gruen Transfer ad, although rather less coherently than Lauredhel. I braved some of the comments that were after the video, and I was actually quite surprised – hardly any “don’t give the fatties ideas” and a lot of people who seemed to have had epiphanies. I’m still not sure how I actually feel about the damn thing, I go back and forth, but the comments did give me some hope that it wasn’t all as bad as I thought!

  90. I have an idea for raising employee “wellness” for all those service industry employers out there: stop paying your people starvation wages! Hard to get healthy when all you can afford to eat is ramen.

    Oh wait, the idea isn’t that people be healthy, it’s so employers can squeeze the last few nickels out of their minimum wage slaves before discarding them.

    Single payer health coverage would be nice, but much like national marriage equality, I don’t think I’ll see it in my lifetime.

  91. A lot of the yoga studios around here push weight loss (I’m sure because there’s such a market for it), which I think is so counter to most of the philosophy behind yoga that I can’t believe their heads don’t explode. I went to one studio for a couple months where certain instructors would make comments and jokes about weight loss during classes, which pissed me off and then that distracted me from the poses (I don’t go there anymore, though that’s mostly because it was so strenuous that I really wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. I’m not doing yoga to punish myself).

  92. Kate it was clear FJ put me in my place. In fact she embarrassed the hell out of me and did it again this evening. Fine I deserved it. So why do you feel the need to make me feel worse by threatening to ban me?
    I admitted that I said something stupid and I’m embarrassed about the whole thing. Embarrassed enough that I don’t want to come back.

    I wasn’t trying to stir stuff up. I’m not a troll. Fuck I’ve never actually been called a troll but I was today.

    I’m pretty sure this post is going to be met with at the very least a snarky comment and I’ll get banned anyway. But not everybody who gets in an argument on here does it on purpose.

  93. If Obama doesn’t manage to get single payer coverage he will forever be an asshat in my book. This is my personal test for him.

    Prepare to be disappointed. I’ve long thought that it’s precisely because single-payer would be the right thing to do that the USA will never do it. (Yes, I’m cynical. My moniker is mostly a reminder to myself not to be a total douchenozzle to other people in forums in which I comment. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.)

  94. Hi everyone!
    The youngest child in an alcoholic family part of me really wants everyone to be nice to each other now, please. Perhaps I can do something funny, tell a joke (not like the ones featured on The Gruen Transfer), or put on a play for you. Puppets, anyone?
    They could be adorable fat puppets, if you like. I will get very stretchy socks and make stuffed sock puppets and they will be many different colored socks and have cool yarn hair of a wide variety of textures. Vintage button eyes, perhaps.
    Do you want to see me dance?
    Okay, back to your regularly scheduled misunderstanding and such. Sorry for the interruption.

  95. Oh, Wellrounded,

    I know you mean well – but sock puppets? Know who they appeal to? KIDS. Nasty little questioning non-adults, who will probably deliberately ask why your puppets are fat and why the yarn hair is many different textures.

    And yes, I would like to see you dance.

  96. shinobi –
    They un like most “othered” groups actually are different and require certain things from us as adults.

    that could equally apply to many disabled people (slightly reworded to replace “adults” with non-disabled people or something), particularly those of us with things affecting brain function. and the thing about being obliged to coddle them, that’s more the fault of the parents… kids are pretty resilient, and provided one refrains from being an asshat they’re usually fine. unfortunately a lot of parents do go for the cotton wool approach.

  97. I’m still giggling over the comparison of birth to shitting a fridge. Luckily for me my girl was born via cesarean section. I remember trying to read one book about birth before it happened. It mentioned the feeling of trying to pass a bowling ball. At that point I had to close the book, and push it far away, and think of something else. Obviously the garden pod replica is a great idea!

  98. aww wellrounded, your description makes me wish there were fat sock monkeys with vintage button eyes. I would squeesh their little round bellies ^_^ Maybe a fat sock kitteh…sock panda…so many possibilities….

    I think it was a bit much calling Valerie a troll (which only one person did, I’m not trying to generalize to everyone else). It’s not like this is the first time she’s ever commented here, and it seems like everyone here was arguing in good faith. I’m not arguing that regular readers and commenters never flirt with violating the comments policy, just that someone who wants to be part of a community, has participated in it before, and is arguing in good faith does not make a troll, who by definition comes around with the express purpose of derailing and starting shit.

  99. @ Sarah B – the soda tax is unlikely to ever go through, because of the corn lobbyists, since the stuff’s so full of HFCS, which they’ve already got ads about, they certainly don’t want *less* consumption of it!

    The movie tax already exists, in the extraordinary markup you must pay to buy any foods there if you don’t smuggle in some candy in your purse.

    And as for the unacceptable jokes ad, while I agree that something more along the lines of the aforementioned “Save the whales, harpoon a fattie” type thing would been more consistent with the others, more likely to be read as sick and disgusting, I don’t mind the ad. The people telling the jokes don’t look as though they *actually* find them funny – yes, they’re supposed to laugh, but they actually look rather uncomfortable, and using a woman, Asian male, and possibly Aboriginal or biracial male (hard to tell without colour), as opposed to “drunk white males at a bar” reinforces how utterly out of place those jokes are. Maybe it’s because I’m Jewish myself, but the non-fat jokes fall firmly into the category of “sick jokes nobody considers remotely acceptable anymore” – and anyone that still *is* the type to say them…well, I think they’re beyond what any mere ad can affect, if nothing else has yet.

    The “superconsumers” ad, to me, was disgusting and passed on the exact opposite message of what they were supposedly trying to convey. Unless it’s proving that FA is “unsellable”, which I hope *wasn’t* the point.

  100. I think it was a bit much calling Valerie a troll (which only one person did, I’m not trying to generalize to everyone else).

    That was my husband, who has less patience than I do, though he also has a lot more experience on the internet than I do, so I usually value his opinion on these matters. (Having said that, he made that comment LONG after I’d identified Valerie’s comments in this thread as problematic. That comment didn’t change my opinion one way or another.)

    Whether a commenter fits the classic definition of “troll” is actually irrelevant to our decisions on who stays and who goes. In this case, the point, as I indicated above, is that I do not believe Valerie has been arguing in good faith on this thread. I could be wrong. But if you didn’t click that link yet, do it now. Specifically:

    We only get bitchy after we’ve perceived a consistent pattern of disrespect for the comments policy and/or the spirit of the blog. If you don’t perceive the same pattern, then one of two things is happening: you haven’t read all the same comments we have, or you have different standards than we do. Either way, it’s our call, and arguing with us about those calls is far more likely to get you on the shit list than change our minds.

    (No, you’re not on the shit list, Heather Mae. But there’s a friendly reminder that arguing with our moderation decisions is a good way to end up there.)

    Kate it was clear FJ put me in my place. In fact she embarrassed the hell out of me and did it again this evening. Fine I deserved it. So why do you feel the need to make me feel worse by threatening to ban me?

    Valerie, the point of my comment was not to “put you in your place.” It was to make it clear that I’m not fucking around. (It is customary to warn people that they’re getting close to a banning.) A large portion of this thread is devoted to you getting into arguments where, at best, you were carelessly misreading other people’s comments before going after them, and at worst, you were deliberately being inflammatory to see what kind of responses you could get. Because I don’t know you, I don’t know which was the case. But people don’t get a trial by jury here when the mods decide we’re sick of dealing with threads like that.

    Before you say once more that you’ve been shamed out of this community, let me tell you what happened a couple of months ago. There was a thread similar to this one, where one person was drawing a lot of fire, and it ended up with a ban warning. The commenter in question argued that she was not trying to make trouble, it just sorta happened, and she didn’t think she deserved the banhammer. My recommendation was for her to take a break from the thread, then — to stop digging, as folks have recommended you do — and come back to the blog on another day when she was less keyed up. That’s what she did. And since then, I’ve seen no problem from her, and I’ve enjoyed many of her comments. I’m not mentioning her name here, because I strongly suspect most people here have completely forgotten about or never saw that thread, and as it stands now, she’s a valuable member of the community who doesn’t deserve to be called out.

    So I would recommend you do the same. If you want to demonstrate that you’re operating in good faith, give up on this thread as a lost cause — trust me, it is — take a breather, maybe think about how we got the impression that you were stirring shit. Come back in another thread on another day and start fresh. In short order, everyone but you and the mods will forget this thread ever existed — and if this really was just one bad day, that will become clear to us, and we’ll hold no ill will.

  101. Only one person called valerie a troll, yes. And trolls try to stir up shit. But valerie was stirring up a lot of shit, and it was just getting more and more out of hand, so I can totally understand someone who doesn’t regularly read the comments thinking she was a troll. It was trollish behavior.

    It IS really frustrating, valerie, that you said some very strongly worded and nasty things, and then when people called you on it, you (defensively) said you didn’t really mean it, moving the goalposts so that no one who was hurt by your words could engage you in a conversation about it anymore. No one was putting you in your “place,” unless you mean the place where you own your words – people, actually, were disagreeing with you because you said some nasty shit. And now you’re trying to make it seem like everyone was picking on you and not getting over it fast enough. Even the non-apologies have been defensive (and kind of whiny), instead of sounding remotely genuine. Seriously, you’re still digging.

  102. back to yoga…someone asked earlier about books/video with modifications. I just purchased the Yoga Journal – Yoga at Home issue that they have out. It is pretty good. There are several sequences to choose from, most showing modifications or at least describing the modifications.

  103. I’m going to go against the grain, change the subject, and say I disagree that the Foundry ad was promoting the idea that other forms of bigotry were done and dusted. Adam Hunt, the ad’s creator, acknowledges that racism, anti-Semitism and homophobia still exist and that all the jokes, which were not written by him, are still in circulation among the kind of human detritus that finds shit like that amusing.

    Nor do I think the ad is saying size discrimination is equivalent in every way to these other forms of discrimination. I think it’s saying that discrimination takes many forms and they’re all essentially rotten. As a Jew I don’t personally feel Hunt is cheapening the memory of the Holocaust by making his case in the way he does. I think he’s making a necessary and valid point using shock tactics. I do, however, concur that the fat joke he chose is not on a par with the others, (though IMO it does serves as an effective example of why fat is a feminist issue), and agree that Vixen’s suggestion of “Save a whale, harpoon a fat chick” is probably more in keeping with the precedent of violence and murder.

    True, both ads were made by and discussed with a bunch of white middle class guys, most of whom don’t appear to get it but, frankly, ad men are like lawyers. It doesn’t matter whether they personally endorse the product or believe the story they’re selling, their job is to take it at face value and put the point across go as many people as possible as effectively as they can. After that the ad stands on its own merits. The J. Walter Thompson ad not only fell flat on its face, it served as a salient reminder of exactly why ads like the Foundry’s are needed, as does the fact the Foundry’s ad was banned. Also, who’s to say that some of those white middle class guys won’t think about size discrimination later? When Kate started this blog, by her own admission, she held a slightly different view about size prejudice than she does now. Baby steps, folks.

    Finally, regarding the Foundry’s shock tactics, maybe it is because I’m British that I have a different perspective to that of some of my fellow Shapelings. America has at least had NAAFA for 40 years; by the sound of it FA is as novel a concept in Australia as it is in the UK. How better to reach people – maybe, otherwise quite pleasant people – who don’t even recognise sizeism as a legitimate form of discrimination? And what better way to shame those who practice it into realising just how ugly, sociopathic and indefensible it is?

    (I blogged more about this, for anyone who might be interested)

  104. So I would recommend you do the same. If you want to demonstrate that you’re operating in good faith, give up on this thread as a lost cause — trust me, it is — take a breather, maybe think about how we got the impression that you were stirring shit.

    Seconded. In general, if you find that (as in this thread) even the people who agree with the point that you’re making think you’re being a shit-stirrer, you are either in a space that is very unfriendly to your POV, or you’re doing something wrong. It’s up to you to figure out which of those is the case, but either way, a breather is recommended.

  105. Marjorie Ingall is still around? I used to read Sassy when I was a young teen and she was my favorite :D

    Thank you! I’ve been going insane trying to figure out why her name sounded so familiar!

  106. The puppet show? Definitely will include a part where a smaller puppet says about a fat puppet — “wow, that lady (monkey, panda, whatever) is FAT” and the fat puppet will say, “yes, I am fat. Today is your lucky day! You get to learn about fatness and how it’s just one of the many wonderful shapes bodies can come in, c’mon, I’ll show you!” (cue music).

    Oh, I so don’t want to get on with my day…

  107. I’m still amazed that my comment about what I experienced as a sweet and lovely teaching moment seems to have spurred a shitstorm. And I was all proud of myself for having a Joy Nash-inspired reply at the ready!

  108. liberalandproud, I think you did indeed have an awesome reply. I think there are a few problems with assuming that the whole burden of educating children about fat (or disability, or whatever other issue) should be on parents. One is that sometimes kids need more confirmation of something than just their parents’ word. I have a son who will test every boundary a bazillion times. I can tell him a hundred times not to kick the seat of the person in front of us on a plane, I can threaten, I can try to hold his legs down, I can offer bribes, and he’ll probably keep kicking. Because, sure, I’m saying that he’s bothering the person in front of him, but I also tell him not to jump on the couch while he’s eating a lollipop because he could choke, and he’s never actually choked. So I might just be saying one of those mom things that he can keep pushing at. If the person sitting in front of us turns around and politely asks him to stop kicking the seat because it bothers them, though, he’ll keep his feet still the rest of the flight. Sometimes the most effective and powerful way for children to learn something is to have somebody who is not their parent tell them.

    Plus, a lot of kids are NOT getting positive messages about fat. So if we just assume they are or should be learning everything they need to know about bodies at home, most kids are going to be getting very negative messages. If people aren’t willing to tell children who aren’t their own that bodies come in all different shapes and sizes, and that’s okay, then those children might never hear it from anybody. And it does suck that in many cases what spurs that conversation will be a comment that is embarrassing or insulting to the adult (like SM, I once had a child ask me why I had a mustache, and I was soooo humiliated and had no good reply, and just assumed I’m gone too long between bleachings), but that’s how a lot of learning opportunities come about. I know that, as a parent, I am always grateful when another adult is willing to be a partner in helping to reinforce the values I’d like my son to have.

    One of my most embarrassing moments as a parent to date was when my son very loudly said in a grocery store: “That woman is really fat!” He honestly didn’t mean it rudely. We use the word fat at home, as a neutral descriptor. My son will sometimes tell me that he loves me because I’m “so silly and chubby and squishy!” He wasn’t trying to be insulting or rude. This woman was markedly larger than most people he’s seen, and he noticed, and sometimes even if they have been told otherwise what a child is thinking just comes out of their mouth. I was so embarrassed I just hurried away and hoped she hadn’t heard or seen us, and told him he couldn’t say things like that to people, because we don’t comment about the size of people’s bodies. I’m still not sure, though, how to teach that we don’t talk about people’s bodies without inadvertently teaching body shame. Because at that point my son honestly didn’t know that being fat was anything somebody might be ashamed of or feel badly about, or that others might think negatively about, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there yet.

    Anyway, it’s complicated and difficult. But, I think you had a great reply, and I do wish that more people, parents or not (myself included), would be able to move past any embarrassment or anger they might feel about comments like that and respond as well as you did.

  109. Thanks Lori. I’m sitting with them again tomorrow night, and I’m looking forward to it. Great family, really.

  110. Hey, I’ve been offline thanks to a lightning strike that fried our modem. So this will be long….

    Valerie, I think you may have left by now, but I wanted to respond to this:

    Our entire fucking society surrounds the needs of kids. A woman can’t even show her tit on cable because ‘deh kiddies might be watching.’

    Respectfully, I think you’re seeing something real here but describing it in a way that doesn’t help your case or kids or parents or anyone else.

    I’d say, rather, that quite a lot of our entire fucking society revolves around the need to convince adult women that their entire lives should be spend hacking off little bits of themselves so they can fit into a mommy-shaped mold in which their only identity is in finding perfect bliss and fulfillment in raising up beautiful cute well-groomed happy camera-ready children while their (of course) male partner goes off and does something that interests him — which work is invariably seen as being genuinely important and a reflection of his interests and gifts; rather than being seen, as mothering is, as somehow precious and dear, “the most important job in the world,” yet so trivial that any observing stranger is sure they could do a better job than the mother they’re judging.

    I totally get that this state of affairs sucks for you. But you seem to think this is a great deal for mothers or people who like kids. May I just say — it really isn’t. It creates a situation that’s exacting and exhausting and leaves you open to blame from anyone at any time with any agenda. It excuses cuts in social support because childfree people feel they can fulminate about what “parents ought to be teaching their kids” and withdraw social support accordingly… Meaning that the ideal of the Perfectly Self-Sacrificing, Blissed-Out and All-Providing Heterosexual Mom gets proportionally *more* amped up, and becomes an ideal that makes your life, and my life, and a lot of other people’s lives such a lot more.

    (Like, speaking personally, if all I were expected to Sacrifice For The Sake Of The Children were higher taxes — to ME, in MY current life circumstances, that would feel like a dramatic decrease in expectation of sacrifice… because for one, although we’re not wealthy we could spare the money; and for two, right now it feels like I’m often expected to sacrifice my personality and interests.)

    This arrangement is also not good deal for kids — who are NOT always or often charming or camera-ready; and who DO have exhausting and frustrating bodily needs that frankly cannot be entirely met by a single person, even by a parent who truly enjoys the work of caregiving for young children. They deserve to have a web of support from a lot of people because their parents really can’t teach them everything.

    And I think that’s where it’s (maybe, I’m still thinking this through) appropriate to acknowledge that the developmental needs of kids, as a group, *do* annoy grownups sometimes. Maybe some grownups are less prone to that annoyance and maybe some are extremely prone — but I dare say most grownups get a little frustrated by thirty “But WHY?”s in a row, or by wiggly and loud little kid bodies in a space where sound echoes and people are trying to read, or whatever.

    (Most kids also, it’s worth mentioning, get annoyed by grownups whose backs can’t handle crawling into the fort they just built, or can’t play tag for as long as they can. It’s not just grownups who wish things would go differently than they end up going due to the particularity of another person’s body and/or personality and/or stage of life!)

    The thing is, though, as Bitch PhD has said, our species reproduces, which means that even people who haven’t themselves reproduced and don’t enjoy the company of children will encounter them from time to time. That is a) unavoidable and b) brings, um, certain advantages. Even if you find almost every aspect of little kid-dom annoying such that you don’t want to be around it AT ALL, the kids will most of them grow up. I’m in my thirties; the annoying toddler who made me want to scream “SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!” when I was fifteen and in a movie theater with my friends may have been one of my students last year that wrote a beautiful paper which made me think about something in a new way, KWIM?

    So I think it’s really good to just acknowledge… well, several things, I guess, in as non-judgmental a way as possible. Own up to the fact that you’re not owed a child-free day any more than you’re owed a day free of older people. Interactions with small children will sometimes just really suck, and you often won’t have a lot of warning — kind of like how the weather will sometimes just really suck, and you often won’t have a lot of warning. It sucks; you’re not BAD for feeling annoyed at an annoying situation; but neither are you owed a life free of such annoyances.

    (The “you” there is generic, btw. There are plenty of days when I have to remind myself that I’m not owed a day free from kid annoyances.)

    But then also take stock of, okay, how much can I realistically handle in the way of little child interaction; and what can I do to help out in ways that don’t make me crazy? Probably not volunteering in a tutoring program or teaching in an early childhood classroom, if you don’t love love love little kid time; and probably not being a parent if you quite dislike little kid time. Great! Totally fine and valid. Of course, it’s important to realize it’s not the kids’ fault; we’d never say, “Those annoying kids, forcing me not to be good at early childhood education by virtue of their being so… kidlike!” You just don’t like that sort of stuff.

    But then, okay, how else might you be able to help? I absolutely think the discrimination and oppression inherent in taxing same-sex couples twice for public schooling is wrong, wrong, wrong. However, non-parents absolutely benefit from there being good schools. And anyway, taxes in general — to support schools and social programs that let *other* people WHO LIKE THAT SORT OF WORK AND ARE WELL-TRAINED AND WELL-PAID FOR IT deal with children in developmentally-appropriate and compassionate ways — seems like a really good way for people to help out who don’t actually like the company of children. You don’t have to field one annoying question when you fill out your tax form! You don’t have to feign interest in what a stegosaurus eats!

    But if you protect your own (very legitimate and understandable) psychological limits and needs by foisting off your share of social responsibility on this imagined class of perfectly self-sacrificing parents (mothers?) who meet your standards and never fail to keep their kids from annoying you…. well, it just re-inscribes the problem. By insuring that there will be this ideal that you… and me… and any woman who makes any sort of choice whatsoever related to childrearing or, hell, reproduction… will fall short of, and be penalized for. The penalties differ, but I think, geez, how about we just get rid of the ideal, you know?

    (I haven’t even touched the whole patriarchy-hurts-men-too side of this, but I need to stop. Suffice it to say that I think many fathers and childfree men are hurt, too, but my brain’s too tired to elaborate.) :)

  111. In terms of how to teach kids that it’s not nice to comment without teaching shame, the line “some people don’t like their shape, and unless you know how they feel it’s polite not to point it out” works reasonably well. I’m not entirely happy with it, but it seems to do the job. It doesn’t imply that there is anything wrong with the shape, just that some people aren’t comfortable with it.

  112. Well, poo. More comments while I was laboring over that long-ass comment, including the very apt advice to Valerie to disengage from this thread… which makes my directing my comment to her rather counterproductive. I feel so behind the times! Oh well. There’s other stuff in there too. :)

  113. Lori: I have said, “Yup, some people are fat, and some people are thin,” or similar. Then *later*, like out of earshot, I said “Please don’t talk about people where they can hear you.”

    I don’t want the potential-for-shame bit overheard. The matter of fact bit seems less harmful to me.

  114. Thanks, Sweet Machine! If you’re right that it’s a gem, then I think it’s also the sort of gem that’s so large only Joan Collins could wear it.

    This isn’t about kids’ comments about bodies, but my older son (who is five today!) once astounded us with, “I just don’t know what to do about all this fuckness.” The f-bomb I’m pretty sure he heard from me; the grammar was his own creation. I’ve no idea what he thought it meant.

    Oh, and there was an Amish man standing about five feet away at the time.

  115. I appreciate the response Kate and Sweetmachine. I do see how it looked like I was trying to stir up shit. It wasn’t my intention and I’m sorry it played out that way. I was overly sensitive and reacted to Vixon’s comment about kids in a really visceral, illogical manner. And I managed to make everybody on the board think I’m a crazy Thatcherite. I’m sorry for that response.

    FIne, engage me about those words. Make me own them. Sarah A your post was beautiful. But, there’s nothing for me to say except “yeah you’re absolutely right and that’s actually more in line with how I see things. I was just trying to avoid breaking rule 10 with what I said about about taxes. I did it poorly.”

    What I should have said (if anything) was ‘I see where you’re coming from, Vixen. And you’re right this wasn’t a very diverse way to talk about a faceless group of people. I do feel that widening identity politics to include groups aren’t politicized identities in the traditional sense is minimizing groups that really are aggrieved by the system particularly when this is one of the few groups in our society that our government sees fit to substantially support with our tax dollars and legislation although I recognize that system is also severely lacking. And I think- paranoid though I might be- that you were threw in a red herring because you wanted to stop the discussion.”

    I don’t say I’m sorry or admit that I’m wrong very easily. But when I do its genuine. So, my feeling embarrassed is about all of that.

    I do really, really wish that some people were more willing to either say ‘you really hurt me when you said this’ or just allow the mods to handle it. If someone is down and they’ve already admitted defeat- why keep kicking by calling them ‘whiny’? What’s the point of making someone feel shittier than they already do. Most people who admit they were ‘embarrassed’ aren’t being insincere. I’ve seen the shitstorms that Kate referred to. And I just stay out of it because I know that it will be handled appropriately by the moderators and I don’t need to belabor the point.

  116. And Liberalandproud, I turned your lesson into a shitstorm because I was projecting my own issues onto your anecdote.

  117. A Sarah – Thanks for the wonderful message. I enjoy reading your posts so much. You are able to articulate so well how I feel but am unable to clearly voice. Some days when the mothering feels a bit lonely you have provided me with real comfort.

    And I cannot resist Happy Birthday to your son! May 15th is a splendid day for a birthday (I turned 35 today.) My youngest turns five in two weeks. I love birthdays!

  118. Huh. I live in a state (OH) where public schools are paid for by property taxes, which is hideously unconstitutional and all sort of other things (classist, racist), but I never noticed that we do have the benefit of not double-taxing same-sex couples.

    Not a good reason to keep doing it this way, though.

  119. Reading this brought to mind the time I was sitting with my little brother in church. He was around 3 or 4, and I was 12 or 13. I spent most of my time with him, as my parents were pastors and very busy, and I adored him and loved teaching him new things.

    So my dad was preaching from the pulpit, mom was off tending to something (offering, other kids…) and a bald man was seated in front of us. I could see the thoughts forming in my little brother’s head, and he started to point at the man’s head. I gently put his hand down, and whispered “we can talk about it later.” He looked at me and his eyes lit up and I watched in horror as he tapped the man on the shoulder and loudly exclaimed – for all the congregation to hear – “I wish I was bald, so if I ran out of paper I could color on my head!”

  120. Amy, Happy Birthday! liberalandproud, you can totally babysit anytime. :) And Valerie, thanks. :)

  121. Man, A Sarah, if you had a blog, I would be hooked. :) Brilliant, as usual.

    Seconded! On both counts!

  122. I know that the fact that employers usually pay a substantial portion of workers’ health insurance often makes them think it’s their business. Which is one of the biggest problems with our health-insurance system.

    That’s what worries me about single-payer. Imagine how much more the government will think our weight is bureaucrats’ business if taxes are paying the bill. Sure, employers can make life harder for their fat employees, but the government can make being fat essentially illegal by requiring people to maintain what they believe is a healthy weight in order to qualify for services. That scares me a lot.

  123. we might have more adult sized playpen ball pits, which isn’t SUCH a bad idea

    I totally agree with this! I’ve often wished there was an adult sized play place with balls and slides and tunnels and things that served wonderful cocktails and played good music.

    “I just don’t know what to do about all this fuckness.”

    A Sarah, your son is awesome! I can’t think of a better way to describe all the paperwork on my desk today!

    but if anyone could tell me how to get my 50-year old relatives to stop making random fat-shaming comments in public

    I totally agree with this one! I am not a fan of most children, but I will gladly take their curious questions over fat-shaming old people any day! I just spent months fixing up my house after some hurricane damage last fall only to have my grandmother say, “Your house is finally coming together and looks great. Now, if only you’d lose that weight.” Great, thanks grandma! Irk!

  124. I really didn’t mean to pull the pin on the conversational grenade, nor yet stop the conversation; I’ve got no little ponies in this race.

    Valerie, you said, “‘I see where you’re coming from, Vixen. And you’re right this wasn’t a very diverse way to talk about a faceless group of people. I do feel that widening identity politics to include groups aren’t politicized identities in the traditional sense is minimizing groups that really are aggrieved by the system particularly when this is one of the few groups in our society that our government sees fit to substantially support with our tax dollars and legislation although I recognize that system is also severely lacking.

    We probably view this from somewhat different perspectives. I find myself not so much concerned with the political implications as the human-thought-process implications (there MUST be a better phrase than that) of generalizing about “faceless groups”. It’s all too easy to do, and I did find it sadly ironic.

    I do see your point. Not all forms of “marginalization” have the same effects, obviously.

    Estrella, loved this: “I wish I was bald, so if I ran out of paper I could color on my head!”

    Out of the mouths of babes.

  125. Sure, employers can make life harder for their fat employees, but the government can make being fat essentially illegal by requiring people to maintain what they believe is a healthy weight in order to qualify for services. That scares me a lot.

    On the other hand, when medicine is a for-profit industry, decisions are going to be made based on what will make the most money, not what people want or need. People have far more of a voice in the running of the government than they do in the running of corporations, as sad as it is that they seem to have so little voice in either. Given how much of the population is overweight or obese by medical standards, if they decided they weren’t going to put up with fatphobic policies under a government-run health program, they could vote out the fat haters and get in people with different ideas. We have much less power when dealing with businesses.

  126. As a Jew I don’t personally feel Hunt is cheapening the memory of the Holocaust by making his case in the way he does. I think he’s making a necessary and valid point using shock tactics. I do, however, concur that the fat joke he chose is not on a par with the others, (though IMO it does serves as an effective example of why fat is a feminist issue), and agree that Vixen’s suggestion of “Save a whale, harpoon a fat chick” is probably more in keeping with the precedent of violence and murder.

    Seconded. I’m personally not offended at all by the anti-Semitism comparison; in fact, I’ve made it multiple times myself. The idea is to prevent such horrors as pogroms and concentration camps from happening to fat people, and those things started out with the kind of demonization of Jews as Greedy People who Ruin Everything, just as fat people are frequently portrayed today.

    (And Jews in Europe a century ago who had features that allowed them to “pass” for Gentile frequently did change their names and identities to Gentile in order to avoid harassment and discrimination. Which nicely illustrates the idea that just because you can “do something” to pass for not being a member of a stigmatized group you are in fact a member of, doesn’t mean you should have to do that; i.e. some things really are too much to ask of people.)

    I’m more afraid of what will happen if we DON’T learn from what has happened to the Jewish scapegoat multiple times (not just in the last century) and how that kind of hate — yes, that extreme — could easily be turned on fat people. I do think the analogy is more believable coming from a Jewish person, though, although given the media’s dislike for how most of us look and sound, I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath at us being allowed on TV to talk about it. And I agree with Lauredhel that sexism doesn’t even seem to be on this guy’s radar, and that his “look at me, I’m so not a bigot” routine is all the more irritating as a result.

  127. Whipdizzy, that is just wrong! Maybe your grandma is friends with my aunt who suggests botox and lipo to random people in stores.

    BTW, and I don’t think anyone noticed because I’m not a regular commenter AND I commented in the midst of the great kid debate, but I put my foot in it with the thin privilege above by referring to fat-shaming comments made in a workout class as “background noise.” Um, it’s background noise because I’m thin(ish). Given the time I’ve spent on this site, I should know that those comments are NOT background noise to a lot of you guys, they’re in-your-face-with-a-giant-80s-boombox noise. So if anyone noticed and thought, “I wish it was just in the background,” I apologize. If not, excuse my neurosis and have a great weekend!

  128. Countries that have universal health care often offer gyms and healthy living amenities to workers at their workplaces. I fail to see the problem with that, frankly.

  129. Really, the only problem I see with the kid’s idea about baldheadedness is one would not be able to see what they had drawn without several mirrors, though it might be fun to scribble on your head and then take a look to see what you had done… On second thought, crayons would definitely not work on skin, so they would have to be markers, or oil pastels, or paint… I am so tickled by the image of a middle-aged man coloring his bald head because he’s bored in church! I hope he uses scented markers… I’ll have to imagine this tomorrow when I get stressed at work….lolololol

  130. As a friend from the great white north eh…

    Amy – The univeral health care here in Canada does not make it legal for health care to be denied to anyone. In fact, that is the point of the health care system here – everyone has the RIGHT to access the health care system. Now that doesn’t mean we haven’t had our fair share of crazy ass MD’s trying to make up their own rules, but they’ve seen harsh consequences(media feeding frenzy, demonstrations) based on those attempts forcing those very same MD’s to do major damage control for their clinics, and personal lives.

    I would say the general science is taught the same, as is the general fat phobia, the major difference being, that here, care cannot be refused.

  131. That’s what worries me about single-payer. Imagine how much more the government will think our weight is bureaucrats’ business if taxes are paying the bill.

    What do you think happens now if you’re in the individual market? My husband has a BMI of 28, which makes his insurance premium jump 25%. He is quite healthy, and so his insurance is still affordable. But it’s hardly the case that the market doesn’t discriminate based on weight as it is.

    Countries with single payer do not have fitness requirements. There’s absolutely no reason to think that we would, nor is there any reason to think that our current system is to be preferred on these grounds.

  132. But complaining about people who don’t like kidswomen getting a tax refund while trying to raise a kid on $13,000 a year is like the white guy bitching about BET.

    Fixed it for ya.

  133. I am well over 150# overweight, and my bulk makes some of the yoga poses a challenge. I attend a local yoga studio sporadically and the instructors are generally good with assisting me in modifying poses. It’s always done in a matter of fact way that acknowledges I need assistance without judgment, and I really like that.

    I’m not embarrassed about sharing my yoga space with “normal” weight women. I refuse to let others try to humiliate me for something they don’t understand, and I refuse to feel humiliated about something over which I have only partial control but am still trying to address the best way I know how.

    All that being said, I don’t go to the yoga studio much because I find it frustrating. Even with modifications there are a lot of things that are extremely difficult to do. Sometimes even just moving from one pose to another is a challenge.

    Plus, it’s not just bulk that makes the individual poses difficult to achieve. The weight also impairs my balance. All of this makes me more awkward in performing yoga. I often feel that my awkwardness, clumsiness, is rather disruptive to the meditative environment in a studio.

    I would LOVE a yoga class tailored to the balance and bulk issues of the seriously overweight, so that the teacher could focus on modifications just for weight issues, and everybody would be experiencing very similar challenges. It would feel much less disruptive, and we could explore more in depth pose modifications and methods of moving from one pose to another.

  134. My employer is offering one of these “wellness” things where they do a blood workup (and of course BMI) and then if you have “potential health problems” they set you up with a personal “lifestyle counselor” who helps you come up with a plan to address these. What chance do you think there is that this information isn’t kept in a dossier in my personnel file somewhere in the event of layoffs? The fact that I am one of the better employees in my group would be meaningless to the bean counters. When push comes to shove, it’s all going to be about Teh Fat. Yet here I am, working killer hours with NO time to exercise other than a half-hour walk doing loops around the parking lot at lunchtime, going to meetings where David’s Cookies are the featured refreshments, and they’re offering this “benefit.” If it were really about your health, I might consider doing this. But as it is? No freaking way.

  135. pinkpelican, I just came back here and noticed your comment!

    If falling over repeatedly in balancing poses is disruptive, then I have ruined a LOT of yoga classes! Balancing positions are hard for me. It takes a lot of muscle development for many people to do them, regardless of size — your body just needs time to develop muscle strength appropriate for your shape and size, which it will eventually do — and my body grows muscle really slowly. I am also extremely thin. So I don’t think you should feel self-conscious and like it’s all because of your fat — people really aren’t looking at you during the class! (And if they are, they need to learn to focus.) Also, when I’m balancing, and someone falls over next to me, it only rarely makes me fall, and even then it does not bother me because I 1) should be learning to meditate well enough to do my yoga peacefully in a bus terminal, and 2) I fall over so much myself that, well, fair enough. I just tell myself that if I stop pushing myself and stop falling over, I’m not doing it right – you’re supposed to push a little.

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