We Saw The Epidemic, And It Was Us

If you’ve been reading Lesley’s More to Love recaps over at Fatshionista, you already know that the show is allllllll about Fat Pain. (If you haven’t, be assured they’re worth your while. I’m not sure anything could make me glad that this show is on the air, but Lesley’s writeups come close.) Sample paragraph:

Luke wants to hear more about the laydeez’ Fat Pain, though seriously y’all, can we hear something about what they do for a living or what sort of music they like or even their favorite fucking colors? ANYTHING but more Fat Pain. But Luke demands it! Desperation Vampire that Luke is, he wants them to “open up” their Fat Pain to him such that he can gobble it down and taste every sweet drop of their despairing tears and heartache. YESSSSSS.

SO WHAT I’M GETTING HERE IS THERE’S LOTS OF FAT PAIN. Fat Pain about prom. Fat Pain about dating. Fat Pain about, importantly, not dating. Fat Pain about wearing a bathing suit. Fat Pain about wearing other clothes besides a bathing suit. The show hinges on two things: fat, and pain.

Now, I find the show exploitative and awful, like any reality dating show but calibrated to offend me specifically. But insofar as these women are real people — and I think more of them are than on a typical reality show, for the simple reason that their weight curbs the likelihood that they’re rushing to or from a Professional Reality Contestant career — I feel their fat pain, if you will. I generally don’t share it, but when I read in Lesley’s recap that someone cried or expressed worry that nobody would love her or was terrified to appear in a bathing suit or what have you, I believe there’s a grain of sincerity to those revelations.

Imagine my surprise, then, when Dodai at Jezebel devoted an entire post today to ignoring these women’s Fat Pain by confidently declaring them Not Fat. See, one of them’s a fitness instructor and another one’s a plus-size model, one of them’s pretty and another one seems to think she is. Also, they all seem to be mobile, they’re occasionally allowed to be seen on camera without food hanging out of their mouths, and pictures of them would probably be shuffled to the bottom of AP’s headless fatty file. By Dodai’s lights, they’re not fat at all! All of that excruciating air time spent on talking about how they grew up hating their bodies or learned to later, how they feel self-conscious when they should be having fun, how they worry about finding love, how they get more than their measure of shit from the people around them? Don’t worry, you guys, we TOTALLY think you’re pretty!

About one of the contestants, Dodai asks: “In which universe is this woman … fat, unattractive, or someone who finds it tough to meet a man?” Maybe… maybe the universe that put her on a dating reality show with all the other fatties to match them up with a fat man who only likes fatties? Because there’s no way she could a) otherwise get on TV (ha ha!) b) otherwise go on a dating show (ha! ha ha!) c) find a man who wasn’t fat (who’d stoop so low!) d) find a man who wasn’t exclusively into fat women (please, you slay me!) e) find a man if she wasn’t competing largely against people who are even fatter than her (as if!) or possibly f) find a man at all? MAYBE THAT FUCKING UNIVERSE? THE ONE THAT MADE THAT SHOW? (Malissa, by the way, seems by all accounts to be kind of a jackass, but even she has confessionalized about how people judge her for her weight. Ya think?)

It’s certainly the same universe Jezebel is in, or at least the same universe it was in a few posts later when Kate made the incredibly controversial claim that healthy behaviors are de facto valuable even if you unhitch them from population statistics. On that thread, the commentariat was falling over themselves to say how sick they were of the idea that obese people could ever be healthy. (I know, when can we EVER escape THAT concept, amirite?) A few choice quotes:

Obesity is dangerous and bad for your health, this isn’t about “chubby kids” or teenagers going through transition time this is about children who are not getting the proper nutrition and exercise they need which is making them unhealthy and setting them up for life-long health problems and complications. Weight is not purely a matter of looks weight has a HUGE affect on your health and overall well-being and to add that’s for both sides of the coin.

Can we all stop equating obese with “fat” or “overweight.” It’s like squares and rectangles: obese is a type of being fat or overweight, but fat/overweight does not equal obese.

Does everyone just feel there’s an implied angle that has to do with forcing people to be thin? Are we assuming that when they say obese they mean simply overweight? I don’t understand why it’s a problem to try to stop obesity. Why are we turning something into an issue about body image that doesn’t seem to be presented as an issue about body image??

As a medical professional I can state without equivocation that truly obese people are not healthy. Sorry but it’s true. But chubby, or ‘overweight’ people can absolutly be healthy.

Obese–to me–is not an objective and medically based assessment of health or wellness, it is more a subjective assessment of how you look to other people.

That last one really sums it up, huh? “Obese doesn’t really mean a weight — it means whether I think you’re gross.

Taken together, the More to Love post and the comments on Kate’s post (minus, to be fair, a strong showing from the sensible contingent) send a clear message: the obese are unhealthy, obesity is unhealthy, we should fight obesity — but we don’t mean you. We mean, you know, The Obese. The unhealthy, lazy, indulgent, gluttonous, immoderate, sedentary, not at all pretty Obese.

Here’s how the four More to Love contestants mentioned in Dodai’s post would stack up in the BMI Project, according to the stats reported on Wikipedia (yeah, you heard me):

  • In which universe is this woman Malissa fat, unattractive, or someone who finds it tough to meet a man?” is five pounds off from “obese.” If she’s actually five or more pounds above her self-reported weight of 170, she’s part of the Epidemic.
  • “Mandy, who is not fat and is, in fact, a fitness instructor” is overweight. You got us there — guess she’s the maybe-okay “chubby,” not the dreaded “obese.” SHE MUST BE THE PRETTIEST.
  • “Anna, who is not fat, and makes her living as a plus-size model” is one pound from being obese. If she is, at any point, one pound heavier than her self-reported weight of 220, she’s an Epidemic Carrier. An Epidemician, if you will.
  • “Tali, the simply gorgeous Israeli stylis/decorator who is not fat” is obese.

This so-called epidemic is not made up of theoretical fucking people who are just as fat as you can possibly imagine. It’s made up of people you see every day AND WHO YOU PROBABLY THINK ARE “NOT FAT.” That’s the point of the BMI Project. That’s the point of the good work that Jezebel has, for the most part, been doing, making it clear that fear of fat is an injustice visited on all of us, of any shape. Jezzies seem to be okay hearing that from their thin editors — since we all know they’re really talking about thin girls, right, and it’s not okay for thin girls to have to think they’re fat! They might start to eat too little, which when you’re thin is called an eating disorder!

In fact, though, the difference between body shame for thin women and fat women is only one of scale. There’s not a magical cutoff where shame becomes healthy. There’s not a magical cutoff where bodies become unacceptable. There’s not a magical cutoff where weight loss pressure suddenly breaks free of patriarchy and societal scapegoating and becomes pure and beneficent concern for health. There’s only an arbitrary demographic cutoff where someone who was okay one pound ago becomes a statistic to scare children with.

And a lot of the people you think are “not fat“? They’re already past it.

208 thoughts on “We Saw The Epidemic, And It Was Us

  1. I should add that I normally think Dodai is super-smart and she usually does NOT make my head explode. Kudos for all you do, Dodai! This post made some common mistakes that anger me!

  2. This so-called epidemic is not made up of theoretical fucking people who are just as fat as you can possibly imagine. It’s made up of people you see every day AND WHO YOU PROBABLY THINK ARE “NOT FAT.”

    This. This should be on billboards everywhere.

    I don’t know how to stress the fact that the “obesity epidemic” is made up almost entirely of people who even the most nasty fat-hating troll would likely not identify as “fat” without further marginalizing the very large people who DO exist and aren’t smelly, lazy, disgusting, or ugly, either. But, the fact is that even most “morbidly obese” people do not look anything like what the average person thinks of when they hear the word “obese.”

    It’s always a problem when people decide that they can use subjective definitions of something that has a technical definition that is being used. When statistics indicate that 1/3 of adults are obese, that does NOT mean that 1/3 of adults are people a person hearing that statistic would consider disgusting, enormous, or unhealthy. However, those people are still obese. But it is VERY hard for people to accept that their coworker (or themselves!) with a BMI of 32 is far more representative of the “obesity crisis” that the 600 pound woman on a talk show.

    Of course, the barrage of pictures of headless fatties that always accompany stories about obesity doesn’t help, and has probably gone very far to shape that perception. But, yeah: obese is NOT a primarily aesthetic category, despite what most people seem to think.

    Again, though, I wonder how to stress that without somehow marginalizing or dehumanizing the very real people who are very large. I find it so easy to fall into the “But most fat/obese people aren’t like that” position, even when that’s not what I intend.

  3. How disappointing. I’ve already dropped Pandagon and Feministing because of fat-hating. I’d hate to have to do the same with Jezebel which has been fairly non-asshattery of late.

  4. But, the fact is that even most “morbidly obese” people do not look anything like what the average person thinks of when they hear the word “obese.”

    And even if they do, if the person KNOWS them, they will probably say “oh, you might be fat but you’re not, like, obese.” My husband and his mother both weigh in excess of 300 pounds and regularly leave people aghast if they refer to themselves as “fat.” Why? As far as I can tell, because they’re real nice.

    (I think that’s how you avoid marginalizing people who are on the upper ends of obese — yeah, the More to Love women are smaller than they are, but the truth is that The Obese are an imaginary construct with no real correlation to living people of any size.)

    ETA: This:

    “It’s always a problem when people decide that they can use subjective definitions of something that has a technical definition that is being used.”

    sums up perfectly why this stuff makes me cappy.

  5. Oh, thank God I’m not completely losing my mind. Jezebel was leaving such a bad taste in my mouth today and you put into words what I had been thinking. Some seriously ugly things are being said there in response to Kate’s post and it only makes it worse when you realize that these same people are patting themselves on the back for being so very open minded and accepting of others. Before discovering SP I probably would have taken those comments as a personal indictment against my own body, now I just think it’s a stunning indictment of the person making the comment.

  6. I think when most people think of obese, they think of the 700 lb man on the discovery show or the headless fatties on the news. The term has a derogatory connotation, as do most synonyms for fat. You don’t call someone you like “fat.” You don’t call someone you feel sympathetic or attracted to, “fat.” That’s just mean. And saying someone isn’t fat is a compliment. At least in the bizzaro real world, anyway. I’m sure this blogger has her heart in the right place, but it comes off bad.

    8 years ago, my eyes were opened up to the privilege of being the attractive fat. There was an older women we worked with who was fat and not conventionally attractive. The younger men we worked with would snicker and call her Jabba. Another female coworker and I were fatter than her, but we were “pretty,” at least enough so that derogatory comments were never made in our hearing. We considered ourselves lucky and felt sorry for the older woman.

    Almost a decade later, I wish I could go back and yell at the younger me to tell those idiots to shut up and treat her like a person.

  7. A.
    MENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN.

    Dodai is one of my favorite writers on Jezebel and generally seems to have absorbed a fair amount of fat acceptance (RIP, Megan on that site, even more so.) Maybe that post was dashed off or poorly thought through.

    I also think the Jezebel commentariat has been making positive steps in that direction, following the writers and probably a few patient super commenters. The comments on weight posts are gaining in reason. Ya’d think Kate being added as a guest blogger would have sent a sign to the rest that there might be something to this whole obesity panic debunking if at least one great writer has made a career out of it.

  8. As far as I can tell, because they’re real nice.

    And, probably aren’t smelly, at least most of the time.

    I’m always surprised at how often “smelly” comes up in people’s descriptions of The Obese. Seriously, it’s like number one on most people’s list. I have to say that I don’t get it, because while there are groups of people who, in my personal experience, have been smellier than others, The Obese are not part of that group. And yet that seems to be the first thing most people will say when asked why they don’t like fat people: “They smell.”

    So I’d say even something as simple as not smelling–which most people I know with the means to access soap and deodorant, the physical and mental ability to care for their hygiene or have a responsible person do it for them, and the same cultural expectations the average American has about hygiene manage–would be enough to make somebody not really obese, since it seems to be a largely olfactory classification for many people.

  9. it only makes it worse when you realize that these same people are patting themselves on the back for being so very open minded and accepting of others

    They’re also doing that “let’s talk about fat people like they’re hypothetical aliens” thing that I find really, really, shitty.

  10. “In which universe is this woman … fat, unattractive, or someone who finds it tough to meet a man?”

    In addition to what you said, I assume that at least for some of them, that universe would be the one in which they aren’t been equipped with pretty dresses and professional makeup and such (they are being professionally primped, right? I haven’t actually seen the show, so someone correct me if they’re doing their normal clothes-and-makeup routine).

    Not to say that I would consider them unattractive off-show, but just that practically everyone of the “correct” age range looks within a standard deviation of conventionally beautiful if you equip them with sufficiently ritzy clothes and hair/face/skincare product.

  11. Now I have to say that I’ve met plenty of non-obese people who I thought smelled bad. A lot of that is body chemistry…

    And it just makes me sad that the women on More to Love are so self-deprecating because they really are beautiful. I still understand their worries, though – especially since I’m similar in height and weight to Malissa and similar in size to Mandy.

    That show makes me cringe in general.

  12. They’re also doing that “let’s talk about fat people like they’re hypothetical aliens” thing that I find really, really, shitty.

    The fat people they’re talking about are hypothetical aliens.

  13. I see one of the points Dodai is making: these are physically lovely women, some of whom may also have fabulous personalities (though God forbid we see those), and the program’s producers have chosen to focus on OMG WHAT HORRIBLE LOSERS THESE WOMEN ARE NO ONE COULD EVER LOVE THEM THIS GUY IS THEIR LAST CHANCE, and in real life, most of us are and/or know lots and lots of happily married and partnered fat women who are nowhere near as conventionally beautiful as these women.

    I mean, yeah, I’m Anna’s size and shape, more or less (though I don’t have that quirky cat-eyed Regency-heroine face and flowing hair) and I get lots of male attention (both wanted and unwanted), strangers stopping me on the street to tell me I’m beautiful and where did I get my {item of clothing}, etc., etc. The idea that nobody on Earth except this one guy finds women who weigh more than 150 pounds attractive is kind of nuts, even though Hollywood and media does its best to perpetuate it.

  14. THIS. THIS is why I gnash my teeth when people say “but the gals at Shapely Prose aren’t really fat.” THIS is why I hate headless fatty photos illustrating news stories about the “overweight and obese.”

    Yes, there are things I deal with that the “officially obese but not, y’know, morbidly obese or super obese” don’t. But most officially obese people? ARE NOT MORBIDLY OBESE.

    Gah. Argh. Blargh. *Words fail, goes in search of caffeine*

  15. Shit, I’m morbidly obese and I get “you’re not really fat” all the time. I think it’s because I… have a job? Am mobile? I really don’t know, but it’s maddening.

  16. You guys have all said it much more eloquently than I could have right now. The general population doesn’t realize that when they’re talking about the “obesity epidemic” (I hate that term) they’re talking about what they think of as average everyday people. Including themselves.

  17. Oh thank god for this post, since I have been near losing my mind all day over how stupid the internet got.

    Re: smelly fat people: I know that on my mom’s side of my family (including me), we sweat a LOT, thin or fat or in between. Like, a lot a lot. And so we get to the point where we *look* like we’re having heat stroke or something because we’re sweating buckets, but it’s just that we like cooler weather and has nothing to do with physical exertion. Anyway, the reason I was thinking about this is because this was actually a huge deterrent to me in gym class in school — I was so afraid that people would treat me like the Fat Smelly Kid that I exerted myself as little as I could so that I wouldn’t sweat. And then, of course, I wasn’t enjoying exercise, so I convinced *myself* that I was the Fat Smelly Kid, when in fact I was just the Chubby Kid Who Sweats A Lot When It’s Hot.

  18. Just went to the doctor today about my new pregnancy (yay!). I am now above 35 BMI, and I am also probably the healthiest I have been in years, if not my life. I am annoyed, however, that my BMI has been highlighted on my forms, as some sort of indicator of how healthy I really am.

    Bah. I’m fatter than those women and not as pretty as they are, either. And yet, here I am, happily married with baby #4 on the way…. I can’t understand why those women on the show feel like their weight is holding them back from happiness.

  19. The idea that nobody on Earth except this one guy finds women who weigh more than 150 pounds attractive is kind of nuts, even though Hollywood and media does its best to perpetuate it.

    Yeah, that’s what I find so infuriating about the show. Fat women do not seem to be marrying or dating or having sex at lower rates than thinner women.

    I think a lot of it is just that, finding a partner can be really hard sometimes. Sometimes it’s not. Sometimes you just happen to meet the right person at the right time, and it clicks, and that’s it. But, as somebody who has never dated as an adult and never had to actively seek out a partner (I met my husband when we were both 18 and it just clicked), I have to admit that I find the idea of ever having to do so kind of terrifying, not because I’m fat, but just because it seems so difficult and threatening. Shows like this just prey on women’s insecurities by making them feel like, unless they fit some ideal, they simply will NOT be able to find anybody who would love them.

  20. “..when you’re thin is called an eating disorder!”

    and when you’re fat that’s called not doing nearly enough. I’m so sick of this shit. The comments over on Jezebel about the childhood obesity epidemic were so disappointing because these are women who I think of as whole lot like me.

    As I read all the fat-hating crap out there on the internet, I often find myself just getting really sad about it. It really helps to come here and find my anger about these injustices and lies. Keep on keeping on FJ.

  21. And then, of course, I wasn’t enjoying exercise, so I convinced *myself* that I was the Fat Smelly Kid, when in fact I was just the Chubby Kid Who Sweats A Lot When It’s Hot.

    And then people wonder why they don’t see fat people at the gym. But, God forbid a fat person were actually SWEATING next to them, I’m sure all we’d be hearing is how those sweaty, smelly fatties are ruining gyms across America. Because it’s not like it’s normal for people to get sweaty and smelly while working out.

    Just went to the doctor today about my new pregnancy (yay!). I am now above 35 BMI, and I am also probably the healthiest I have been in years, if not my life. I am annoyed, however, that my BMI has been highlighted on my forms, as some sort of indicator of how healthy I really am.

    Congrats, Raisin’Cookies. Did they give you crap about it, or just note it on your form. My BMI was like 31.5 when I went in for my first prenatal appointment, and they did have to input it like 200 times and order some extra tests, but the two nurses doing my intake were actually really apologetic about it and kept telling me it was just policy and it didn’t matter. I would have felt pretty crappy about it, though, if they hadn’t been really positive. I have to admit to being relieved when I met my OB and saw she was just about my size, because it made me feel more secure about not getting weight lectures (I haven’t) or having her act like my pregnancy is a disaster waiting to happen (she hasn’t). You’d think, though, from how the medical profession in general acts, that fat women weren’t having babies in the same numbers (or higher, according to most statistics I’ve seen) than thinner women. If 2/3 of the country is overweight or obese, and overweight and obese women are having at least as many babies as thinner women, then fat women having babies is the norm, not the exception. It’s crazy how so many doctors treat a fat pregnant woman like she’s something rare.

  22. I don’t believe many people at all have a clue about weight or can weigh up somebody properly… All most people have to go on is a subjective guess that is probably way off.

    Specific weight is rarely mentioned if you are an actual fat person (and not an actress who has the audacity to weigh more than her skeleton znd skin combined). Unless you are a cartoon character: both “fat Freddie Flintstone” and Homer Simpson come in around 225. I find that hilarious since I’ve got about a hundred pounds on them :-)

    But, if I was to ask Joe on the street, “Who’s heavier, me or Homer Simpson?” they would probably go with Homer…

    I’ve never really thought about it but FJ’s right – most people must be equating the scary, epedemic-producing Obese ARE the 600 lb people and (ooga booga) where are the hiding if there’s supposed to be hoardes of them (us).

    The program is embarrasingly overwrought with painful emotions but I think for anyone who’s not fat watching it, for those who will laugh at the ladies’ teariness I think even a few might realize that mean spirited fat comments do hurt – at least I can hope so…

    So I’m happy taking the good (they gave everyone’s hight and weight out – kudo’s for bravery) with the bad (incessant crying over fat pain – we’ve all been there and don’t want to see it ’cause it’s awkward) but I’d like to think that the program really isn’t for fat people to watch – it’s for the thin and insensitive who need to start somewhere with babysteps…

    PS: thanks for the comments on “smelly” – that drives me nuts too! It reminds me of a talk show where some skinny lady “went there” and said we couldn’t – ahem – wipe ourselves… Ghastly!!! I couldn’t believe it! And just like that god knows how many skinny people watching began thinking that too!

    Yup – I’ll take More to Love over that sh*t anyday!

    Baby steps! It’s always darkest just before dawn…

    Cheers!

  23. I was talking to a small group of students once about HAES–as part of a unit about identity, I was telling them a bit about my own. I briefly explained how HAES had been important to me in helping me to accept and enjoy my body, and that liberation led to a huge boost in my confidence. It was slightly nervewracking to be talking to these 17 year olds about something that felt relatively private, but I pressed on to model some thinking for an upcoming project.

    One of my students responded to what I had revealed to them by saying, “Awwwww. . .don’t worry, Ms. W. *I* think you’re skinny.”

    She’s a sweet girl, but it was infuriating, and I was not quite able to articulate why that was the case until this post. It felt as if my experience as a fat woman had just been erased in one sentence. Now I would be prepared to do more than to say, as I did at the time, ‘Well, then. . . you’re sort of deluded.”

  24. I haven’t watched More to Love, mostly because I don’t have cable currently, but I agree with a lot of this. Even though I’ve only recently started with fat acceptance, I figured out several years ago that my weight wasn’t the reason why I couldn’t get dates. It’s not that there’s no one out there who finds me attractive, because I’ve had guys (sometimes creepy guys, but still) express interest (no girls yet, sadly). It’s that I’m tall AND smart AND fat, and that combo intimidates a whole lot of people of either gender. Add that on to the fact that I went to college in a town where most of the guys wanted women to at least act dumb (it was a combo of Exceedingly Preppy and Exceedingly Southern), and there weren’t really that many non-straight women (for fairly obvious reasons), and it’s really no surprise I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to date me, who I also wanted to date. The few guys who showed interest were always trying to belittle me to make themselves feel better, and if it wasn’t about my weight (“you should just be happy I’m interested”) it was about my hobbies (“only dumb girls like to knit”) or abilities (“you only pretend to like singing opera, no one really likes it”). Thank goodness I didn’t let my low self esteem get the better of me, or I could’ve ended up in some bad situations.

    All that having been said, I’ve also experienced the “oh, but you’re not fat” or “well, you don’t smell bad” comments. My BMI is like 50. I’m apparently morbidly obese. Because I’m nice, that excludes me from the epidemic? 9.9 Oh, and also, I’d really like to know what morbidly obese even MEANS. Can you show me a picture? Why isn’t everyone above a certain BMI dropping dead, if we’re all “morbidly” obese? I tried to put a poll in a recent entry of mine (pre-FA blog), but I don’t have enough readers there who care to get any kind of accurate answer.

  25. Well, I’ve heard that a size 18 is totally “not fat” but these women are all less obese than me and yet, from the photos, probably have bigger boobs! I am reminded that I don’t measure up even to the fat version of the patriarchal beauty ideal.

  26. Here’s the comment I posted on that Jezebel post:

    You know, as a child I was technically classified as obese. I have very dense bones, and I was built like a brick sh*thouse. From the time I woke up to the time I went to bed, I was moving. Running, biking, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, playing with the dog, playing street hockey… I ate healthy food because my mom was very health-conscious (still is), and I dare say I was one of the most fit children in my school. In grade 6, I was 135lbs and I was still under 5′. That’s the cusp of overweight and obese according to the BMI.

    That fitness, that childhood of playing and swimming, it saved my life when I was hit by a car. Anyone with less muscle on them would have been hurt a fuckton more than I was. I suffered multiple fractures to my left leg around the knee, and a completely shattered left shoulder. A couple years later, I had to get my right knee surgically broken to stop my growth, as my growth plates had fused together in my left leg, and I was growing like a god damn weed. All of my height is now in my torso.

    Unfortunately, my injuries while not life-threatening, were still severe and many of those things I loved doing before were all but impossible to me. My knees popped easily, twisted easily, my left arm lost much of its range of movement, I couldn’t run anymore as my gait is altered uncomfortably, I lost my sense of balance, and I gained weight.

    By the time I got to grade 9, I was 5’5″ and 160lbs, which is not obese but is still classified as overweight. I didn’t think much of it, I didn’t have many body issue images, I was pretty comfortable in my own skin until my grade 9 gym teacher made us all weigh each other for some “fitness module.” I was the heaviest in the class. She took one look at my chart, gave me the “body check” with her eyes, anyone whose ever been called fat knows that look, and announced to the class while holding me by the shoulder that THIS is what happens when you eat junk food and don’t exercise. I was absolutely shocked, and my self-esteem crumbled. People started calling me fatty, I stopped eating. I would pretend to eat my dinner at night so my mom wouldn’t know, and I was so ashamed of myself for the first time in my life.

    There were no pools near where I lived in my teen years, no bike paths, everything was spread out… While I can walk all day, I have to take frequent (every 20 minutes or so) breaks so my knees don’t twist. I was anorexic through high school and didn’t get over my “disordered eating” as it were until I moved in with my partner at 18.

    Shaming “obese” children is not the way to advocate healthier lifestyles. I have never eaten any worse than my skinny friends and skinny partner, I come from a long line of hardy stock. People with dense bones, big frames, and lots of muscle. I’m bigger because I’m meant to be. Even when I was eating a handful of peanuts every day as my only meal, I never once went below a size 14. That one stupid f***ing bitch, that god damn gym teacher who was 5’2″ and slim and blonde and gorgeous, ruined my self image for nearly a decade.

    Why can’t we just want people to be healthy and happy with how they are? Why must we lace in “fat loss” and “weight loss” with healthy lifestyle programs? There is no f***ing ideal weight, no ideal body type. People are different, people are always going to be shaped differently and weigh in at different weights. I’m so f***ing sick of this “war on fat” bullsh*t.

    http://jezebel.com/5350512/as-always-its-more-important-to-look-good-than-to-feel-good#c15159569

  27. You know, I do think it’s relevant to point out that the remaining contestants are all conventionally beautiful with hourglass figures, and not that fat. But it could be done in a way that wasn’t so dismissive and completely clueless (in what universe? Really?)

    As for the rest of it… ugh. Brilliant rant FJ.

  28. Oh, God. And normally I like Jezebel. This just fills me with sadness. I really think you hit the nail on the head- people are so scared of the word fat and society has made it such a negative word that any attractive woman cannot possibly be “fat”, because “fat” people are ugly and smelly and nasty, don’tcha know?As opposed to real fat people, who are awesome HUMAN BEINGS and can be just as (or more) beautiful than any thin girl. Queen Latifah is 180000000000000000 times more attractive than Paris Hilton, both physically and inner-beauty-wise, for example. And she’s fat. Yep, she’s fat. I think that MSM wording is another cause of this problem- it’s like “curvy” and “voluptuous” mean something kind of like “fat, but the good, socially sanctioned, pretty kind of fat”, as opposed to the taboo word fat- which in MSM use means “those nasty headless donut-eating people that raise the health care costs”. Hence, the Jezebel fail. (And I really think I wasn’t the only person who thought Queen Latifah was way sexier and more awesome in Chicago than Catherine Zeta-Jones or Renee Zellwegger. I have such a huge girlcrush on her.)
    *goes off humming “When You’re Good To Mama”*

  29. announced to the class while holding me by the shoulder that THIS is what happens when you eat junk food and don’t exercise.

    HOW ARE THESE PEOPLE ALLOWED TO TEACH ANYTHING OR EVEN WORK WITH PEOPLE?!

    Sorry, I got pissed, it’s a miracle you didn’t tell her off or you know, punched her in the nose.

    Great post, I hate it when people say things like “you’re not fat like that!”. Fatness is so “othered” that some women don’t even realize what they’re saying anymore. I’ve seen women point to other women’s fatness and I’ve had to bite my tongue to avoid commenting that she probably weights about the same as them, give or take 10 pounds.

  30. Thanks, Lori. Luckily, I have a very positive set of doctors, apart from one who suggested I diet while still breastfeeding my baby. I wasn’t really aware of HAES at the time, so didn’t tell him to shove it.

    Even though I have had very few negative experiences due to my size, I am still constantly wary and always, always aware of it. Always.

  31. OMG, I was freaking out reading those shit comments at Jezebel today. I’m so glad you said something here, because I was dying to know what the SP take would be on them.

    And fat automatically means unattractive? Since when? You can’t be fat AND pretty. Color me shocked since I am fairly confident that I am both.

  32. This reminded me of a watershed moment in my FA journey. Gather round, children, it’s story time.

    My Econ professor last year was fat. Not Hollywood Fat, but real, honest-to-goodness obesity crisis boogabooga fat. As an example of short- and long- term goals, she used herself as an example. The point was supposed to be: she’s fat and could stand to lose weight, but if she had the flu, losing weight wouldn’t be a good goal. So she started the example saying, “Okay… so I’m fat, right?”

    Silence. One girl blurted out, “no you’re not!”

    Which was when I realized that “Fat” means so much more to our culture than a size. Same thing with “obesity.” This professor is obese, but if she has the gall to be aware of her size, she is coddled, complimented, and lied to.

    At that point, something in my brain switched on, and said, Fuck it. I AM fat, and when people talk about the Obesity Crisis, they ARE talking about me. It’s not my problem, it’s theirs.

  33. @Tassia, my jaw is on the floor.

    My boyfriend likes watching More to Love, because he likes to hate reality TV and see me yell “FEMINISM!” at the screen. I wish that Emme, instead of walking on for her fucking useless “You’re still in the running toward becoming American’s Next Top Model” announcements, was conducting some group therapy for the contestants back at the house. I am so tired of hearing about Fat Pain that I have also yelled “I’ll give you something to cry about if you don’t stop crying!” at the television, though I would also cry if I were a contestant on a reality dating show.

    Because the more I watch these things, the more I’m convinced that they work by inducing Stockholm Syndrome in the contestants.

    Let’s take a group of people away from their families, friends, dogs, cats, jobs, and anything that makes them happy and, let’s be honest, remotely interesting and imprison them in a gaudy, poorly-decorated mansion that looks like the typical Rich Person’s House from the soap operas I watched with my babysitter when I was 8. And let’s add in a whole bunch of soap opera wealthy trappings: jewel-toned cocktail dresses, limos, emphasis on weddings & proms & princesses and the idea that any time you put on a fancy dress and there is a man there that it’s some kind of special important occasion in your life. Finally, let’s surround you with a bunch of other people who have been ripped away from their comfort zones and who are “not here to make friends” and put all of you through a series of humiliating “challenges” where you compete for the time and attention of The One Person Who Is Nice To You (The Bachelor/Luke/Bret Michaels).

    The longer it goes on, the more surreal it gets – the weird competitions, being on camera all the time, the daily round of “Stand There While People Judge You” – it is fucked up. I think that’s why everyone cries all the time, not because they are developing feelings for Luke that in any way resemble actual adult human love, though hey, I don’t want to undermine their choices, but I can see how even “winning” time with him would start to seem appealing, because what if you go through all this crap and then find yourself rejected on national television? Also, anything to get out of that house with its constant mandatory cocktail parties for a few hours.

    I don’t get it. I keep waiting for one of the women to say “Okay, this was an interesting time and you seem nice, but I want to go home now. Call me if you’re in my city, we’ll have a drink with no cameras around and talk about what I want to talk about.” Is it their contract keeping them in place? Stockholm Syndrome!

  34. You know, I was this close to signing up at Jezebel, because of Kate’s guest stint and some of the articles were interesting if a bit “celeb” heavy but the vitriol on the fat kids thing was more than I could handle.

    “OMG THEY’RE FORCING US TO ACCEPT FAT PEOPLE AND TREAT THEM LIKE HUMANS! We can’t do that! Obeeeeeeeeeeeeeese! Obeeeeeeeeese!”

    I just don’t have the energy right now. Probably because I’m fat.

  35. *checks armpits*

    No nasty smells coming from this deathfattie.

    It’s a sick, sad world, that’s all I can say, when people get so upset because god forbid they have to see fat people in public. I got three words for those people: GET OVER IT.

  36. Gaahhh! It never ceases to amaze me how often this discussion comes up. Hubby was chatting with our neighbor, whose wife is my fab swim coach about how annoyed I get when swimmers expect to put me in the slow lane because I am fat. His response-”But she’s NOT FAT!…Why would you say that?” Um, because I’m 5’2 and at least 220. So, yep I’m FAT. Healthy, moral, a decent person, but….fat.
    And ditto on the weird image of fat folks who can’t wipe. What the heck is that about?

  37. It’s a sick, sad world, that’s all I can say, when people get so upset because god forbid they have to see fat people in public.

    And, 90% of the time or more, I don’t even think it’s the fat people they are actually seeing in public. It’s the fat people they are SURE are out there, the ones who weigh 650 pounds and drag their oxygen tank into McDonald’s where they proceed to feed their litter of 300 pound toddlers three super-sized value meals each.

    As somebody on another board I frequent pointed out, the 600 pound person eating three hamburgers at McDonald’s and feeding their enormous children nothing but a steady diet of Coke and Cheetos is now right up there with the single mother of 7 kids on welfare who drives a Mercedes and dresses in designer clothes and just keeps having more and more kids so she can keep raking in the dough from the government. Everybody is SO SURE that they are not only out there, but representative of most fat/poor people, but it’s hard to verify even a single actual sighting of either.

  38. And ditto on the weird image of fat folks who can’t wipe. What the heck is that about?

    I think that is particularly frustrating because there are people who, because of their size or mobility issues, can’t wipe themselves. There are also non-fat people who, because of a physical disability, can’t wipe themselves. And, you know what? They make accomodations. We don’t walk around assuming that quadrapelgics must be gross and smelly because they can’t wipe themselves. Obviously when there is a regular hygiene need that somebody can’t meet in the usual way, they will find an accommodation that allows them to do so.

    Obviously this would only be an issue for a very small percentage of even extremely obese people, but for people who do have this issue, I have no doubt they work around it and make accommodations.

    I find the scorn heaped upon the very fattest people particularly inexplicable and particularly offensive, because I don’t understand how anybody can think that most people who weigh 500 or 600 or 700 pounds ate themselves to that size, and would have been 130 lbs. if they just ate right. I have a hearty appetite, and I don’t restrict what I eat. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve been eating out a lot, and have been overeating on a regular basis, and I’ve never even gotten close to that; I’ve gotten maybe 15 pounds heavier than I usually am. How anybody thinks that you can simply eat so many donuts you end up 600 pounds is beyond me. There are obviously other issues at work in those cases, and that people like to hold people at the true statistical extreme of the weight spectrum up as people who are somehow deserving of extra shame and extra hatred is just disgusting.

    But, I guess it’s a matter of not wanting to admit that, if circumstances were different, that could be them. If there’s a diet of 20 Big Macs and three boxes of Twinkies a day standing between them and that person, then they can feel secure that it could never be them.

  39. YES. I noticed this in The Husband just last night!

    News story about how the fashion festivals have been using token plus-sized models. The news reports that the fat girls got more applause than the regular models. The Husband calls bullshit – I say umm, why? You’re challenging the report that they got more applause? I don’t understand. News reader goes on to say that the average Australian woman is a size 14-16. The Husband goes… REALLY?! Umm yeah, and that’s probably why the plus-sized models got more applause, because the women in the audience were so excited to finally see clothes on someone who looks even remotely like they do.

    Then they interviewed one of the plus-sized models. The Husband announced that she wasn’t fat, and couldn’t be more than a size 8. I laughed at him – I think she was probably about a 16 (based on the sizes the news reader reported).

    So yeah, the fatz everyone is so afraid of are absolutely hypothetical aliens. Brilliant post FJ.

  40. And a lot of the people you think are “not fat“? They’re already past it.

    THIS!

    I am 95kg. I wear UK size 18. BMI tells me that I am obese. Once I identify as any of these things to my friends or family, their whole idea of me changes. I can see it happen.

    For instance, a friend found out my weight and suddenly started telling me I should take up cycling or running. Another friend was talking about obesity so I told her that I was obese. She replied with a long pause and then “….are you ok?”

    I’ve been 95kg and obese for a while now, but because my friends weren’t aware they weren’t concerned. Once they found out, they suddenly had to fit me into their preconceived ideas of what a 95kg obese person was like (read: unhealthy, inactive, struggling with life).

    It’s completely bizarre.

  41. Another friend was talking about obesity so I told her that I was obese. She replied with a long pause and then “….are you ok?”

    Wow. Like you had cancer or herpes or something. Why couldn’t they turn it the right way and see that it was their idea of what obesity looks like that is wrong?

  42. Lori, your last two comments are brills! Even by your usual standards.

    I totally agree, by the way, with the people saying that Dodai’s point — that the remaining women, even on the Fat Laydeez Show, are the smallest and most conventionally shaped and conventionally beautiful — is absolutely a valuable point to make, and is well-taken. But to approach that by calling them Not Fat — on a show that not only lays bare but will not shut up about the effects of their fatness on their lives — is by itself problematic, and in concert with the comments on the other Jez post I thought it was really telling.

  43. I hate when people tell me I’m “not fat.” I am barely above five feet tall, and I weigh the better part of two hundred pounds. I’m fat. I’m unequivocally Obese. I’m Evil Death Fat Too Hideous To Be Contemplated.

    Even if it wasn’t rude enough to begin with that people have to interrupt me to correct me on a word I am using to describe myself, even though I’m using it in a neutral way as opposed to an obvious effort to slam myself, it’s double-rude when I’m owning and reclaiming Fat and people are basically INSISTING that because fat means awful, I can’t be fat. By any definition of fat EXCEPT “individually determined standard based on the Ew! Scale,” I am indeed fat. So you are saying I’m awful then. Thanks.

    But it says something else too… people getting on the health thing don’t even seem to realize what a flimsy excuse it is… they’ll gladly judge someone who looks LIKE me that they don’t know, and use “health” as their shield to avoid having to examine the part of themselves that is happy to think ill on someone they think is ugly. But because they know me and like me they can’t accept that I’m fat because fat doesn’t mean unhealthy or just fat, it means a terrible human being who is intrinsically unattractive because only looks can make a person attractive and everyone must think the same traits look pretty. They’re giving themselves away.

    I had more to say but I think it dried up. I feel sad.

  44. JenniferP, everything suddenly makes sense to me now.

    I have to admit, my first reaction upon hearing that Tali “had many doors closed to her because of her weight” was to call bullshit. I agree with whomever upthread said that there was a point in Dodai’s post, but it came with a heaping dose of fat fallacies.

    Also, someone pointed out (probably Lesley) that even though the remaining 4 (3 now) women are pretty svelte, Luke did eliminate some of the inbetweenies early on as well.

    On another note, I left my deodorant at my grandma’s this weekend, and my not fat self has been going au naturale all week…or should I say eau naturale?

  45. All I have to say to this post (and the comments) is word!

    This reminds me of the FA post I made on my blog. After explaining my FA journey and talking about the blogs I read. I posted a picture of myself with my height, weight, and BMI (it was like my own mini-BMI project). According to the BMI, I’m obese. I didn’t get any comments on that post, but I hope my picture and my BMI number made a few fatphobic heads explode.

    The fat stereotype needs to die, and quickly.

  46. Brilliant post, Fillyjonk—thank you. I had taken a break from Jezebel for a while, but I when I started reading there again recently, I thought things might have improved. Guess I was wrong. Seeing the ridiculous comments on Kate’s post really angried up my blood. I’ll read the rest of her posts, but most likely I’ll skip the comments.

  47. Oh, maybe fat people should start wearing shirts that say “this is what the obesity epidemic looks like”, kind of on the same lines as those shirts that say “this is what a feminist looks like.” It might stun a few people.

  48. both “fat Freddie Flintstone” and Homer Simpson come in around 225. I find that hilarious since I’ve got about a hundred pounds on them :-)

    But, if I was to ask Joe on the street, “Who’s heavier, me or Homer Simpson?” they would probably go with Homer…

    Curveycat, this drives me batty, too! The hubs and I were watching a Simpson rerun the other day where Homer gets stuck in a water slide at an amusement park and has to be rescued via crane. After this humiliation, he decides to go on a diet, and gets on the scale to see his starting weight of…260 lbs. It’s pretty clear that Groening et. al. had no clue what real weights look like on real people!

  49. I stopped going to Jezebel a long time ago because of these ignorant and infuriating comments. I pretty much gave it up when a woman said the government needs to force all fat people to lose weight, for the “good” of the world.

    As a medical professional I can state without equivocation that truly obese people are not healthy.

    This person is NOT a medical professional, in any sense. To make such a base claim without ANY type of science to back it up. These “professionals” need to stop mixing their personal biases in with established science, because they DON’T GO TOGETHER.

  50. Shit, I’m morbidly obese and I get “you’re not really fat” all the time. I think it’s because I… have a job? Am mobile? I really don’t know, but it’s maddening.

    Yeah, imagine the shock of my boss when I told her I wouldn’t fit into the XL t-shirt she bought me on vacation. Uh, I wear a 6X! Or my male friend who got verbally violent when I complained about how fat I was. (YOU’RE NOT FAT! SHUT UP!)

    I’m fat, OK? Morbidly, super, gigantic OBESE. OK?

  51. So, how timely is this? This afternoon, I went off to do an interview for Nightline. (It’ll air next week. More details later.) Right after I walked in, the guy who was going to interview me said, “So, I have to say this… I don’t think you’re fat.” I was like well, there’s a long answer to that, but the short one is, I’m 5’2″ and weigh about 200 lbs.” To which both interview dude and camera dude went, “No way, really?”

    Then after the interview, and after hearing that whole convo, the camera dude was like, “You know, every time you called yourself fat, I just kept thinking ‘no, you’re not.’ I couldn’t get my head around that.” (Note: He was not being stupid. He was expressing cognitive dissonance, and it was almost cute.) Me: *shrug* “My BMI’s over 35. This is what the obesity crisis looks like.”

    FJ, I’m so glad you wrote this post. I am such a huge fan of Dodai’s, but man, that post sunk my heart, and I didn’t have time to comment much or e-mail her today. I mean, I think I even agree with what she’s saying — not only that these laydeez are among the thinnest left, but (I think) that it is SO FUCKED UP that women who look like that think they’re nowhere near conventionally attractive and are therefore unlovable. And it is fucked up that a lot of women think they’re fat if they’re anything but a size 0 or 2. But it just so happens that these women ARE fat — dangerously fat according to doctors, unlovably and definitely unfuckably fat according to Hollywood and fashion magazines, and a bit on the chubby side according to the average person’s standards — so calling them “not fat” is entirely the wrong approach to pointing out what’s fucked up about their pain. Because fat and pretty are not mutually exclusive, and Fat Pain is real for women a hell of a lot smaller than them. (THANKS, SOCIETY.)

  52. I’m fat, OK? Morbidly, super, gigantic OBESE. OK?

    I’m about the same size as Kate and SugarLeigh – 5′ 1″, size 18. If I’m feeling good humored when somebody thinks they’re complimenting me with “you’re not fat” I say, “No, seriously. I could crush you.”

    That may not be the most positive response. (-;

  53. The hubs and I were watching a Simpson rerun the other day where Homer gets stuck in a water slide at an amusement park and has to be rescued via crane. After this humiliation, he decides to go on a diet, and gets on the scale to see his starting weight of…260 lbs.

    I was reading a book a while back, a young adult novel about Quakers that was quite good, and the author kept alluding to how HUGE this one character was. He was very tall (I think they said he was 6’3″), and apparently extremely fat. He could barely fit in his car, chairs creaked when he sat in them, he breathed hard when he walked. I will say that, overall, it was a positive portrayal, because he was not primarily defined by his size and was a positive character, but I was sure, if they revealed his weight, he’d be 400+ pounds.

    When they finally mentioned it, they said he weighed something like 250.

    My husband is 6’5″, about 230 pounds, and has a BMI of 27. Ten years ago he wouldn’t have even been overweight. People still tell him he’s thin. The idea that a man who is 6’3″ and 250 pounds would be enormous is laughable. Hell, when I was 225 pounds, at 5’8″, I had people telling me I was curvy, not fat.

    I assume the author had no idea what people look like at different weights. She just assumed 250 pounds was impossible large, and didn’t realize that a man that size would look something like this. But I think it just shows how completely out of touch our perceptions are that people can so easily imagine that a very tall adult man is practically immobile at 250 lbs.

  54. But because they know me and like me they can’t accept that I’m fat because fat doesn’t mean unhealthy or just fat, it means a terrible human being who is intrinsically unattractive because only looks can make a person attractive and everyone must think the same traits look pretty. They’re giving themselves away.

    I don’t think it’s just about being unattractive, though. It’s being smelly and sloppy and lazy and greedy and stupid (because obviously any IDIOT know that you just need to put the donut down and stop drinking soda all day) and taking up resources that you do not deserve and being a drain on society. Which, surprise surprise, are exactly the same words people use when criticizing the poor (particularly those receiving government assistance) and racial minorities (particularly those who are poor).

  55. The only person I’ll let get away with the “you’re not fat” thing is my partner, because he says “You’re not fat to me.” followed by him picking me up and me squealing like a child. I’m pushing 200 lbs, I’m 5’7″. He’s 6’2″ and 140lbs. I keep offering to trade metabolisms with him, no such luck yet. :P

    I am fat, I’m obese by society’s laughable standards, but you know what? I feel, and look, great. I feel better than I have in years, and I eat like a champ now, not because I want to lose weight, but because I just really love vegetables and fruit. I always have.

    The lightest I’ve ever been at my final height is 145lbs, in my “ideal” range. I felt awful, my ribs stuck out, I was tired, I was depressed, I was anxious, and I felt sick all the time. Headaches, abdominal pain, even my knees hurt worse (which is interesting, since everyone told me for years that if I just lost some weight my knees wouldn’t be as bad as they are). I would not go back to that, no matter how “fuckable” it made me, and I’m plenty fuckable now, thanks. It was unhealthy for my body type.

    Big frame, anorexic days I was a size 14, I’m now an 18.

  56. I find the scorn heaped upon the very fattest people particularly inexplicable and particularly offensive, because I don’t understand how anybody can think that most people who weigh 500 or 600 or 700 pounds ate themselves to that size, and would have been 130 lbs. if they just ate right.

    FOR FREAKIN’ SERIOUS. The only people who “eat themselves that size” are Sumiori who a) have the genes to gain a lot of weight, and b) undertake a very specific kind of program to do so (starve, binge on fish/rice/veggies, starve, binge on fish/rice/veggies, ad nauseum). But even there, genetic capacity to be really fat comes first.

    This is probably why it’s been easier for me to convince people who are effortlessly very thin of the importance of size acceptance than it is to convince people who think they’re “20 pounds overweight” but are actually “normal” BMI; the thinnest people know that they couldn’t wear my size if they tried, and the average-sized people think they’re just a few errant bites away from it. No, dude, try catching some PCOS first.

    And this?

    There’s not a magical cutoff where shame becomes healthy.

    NEEDLEPOINT SAMPLER!

  57. Delurking again — it’s been a while since I commented, but I read SP All.The.Time. — to agree with the notion that many people have no idea what people look like at different weights.

    In a writing group I was in quite a few years ago, a dude submitted a story wherein there was a Monstrously Obese character, who weighed all of 200 pounds. One brave and fat-accepting member of the group said, “Huh. So, I weigh 225. Was she fatter than me?” And that empowered several of the rest of us to disclose our weights as a reality check.

    Dude couldn’t handle the truth and left the group, but I still remember how striking it was to hear the numbers.

  58. Tassia, that is pretty much EXACTLY my life (or at least body ;)) story. I’m about the same size as you, your lowest weight is about the same as mine (and I felt equally crappy at it), and I also never got below a size 12 post-puberty, no matter how little I weighed.

    And, apropos of not much, I just want to add that I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this idea that somehow a diet that would be a starvation diet for a person of “normal” weight is not only appropriate but healthy for a fat person. That is utter bullshit. I’ve lost about 12 pounds in the last 6 weeks, due to really awful morning sickness that has been lasting all day. I’ve barely been able to eat, I’ve been throwing up most of what I have eaten, and it has sucked. For the last month I’ve been exhausted, I’ve been moody, I’ve been anxious and forgetful and unable to do much rational thinking, I’ve been getting dizzy after 20 minutes of exercise when I used to be able to exercise for an hour easily, I’ve been just basically responding the way people respond when they are not getting enough calories to keep their body going. Yes, I could probably last longer in this state than a person who weighed 80 pounds less than me but 1) that’s a GOOD thing, not a bad one, and 2) it doesn’t make it feel any less shitty. Fat people can probably, in most cases, survive on a starvation diet longer than a thinner person, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still starving during that period.

    I’m finally feeling a bit better and able to at least eat what feels like “enough” to me, and it is SUCH a huge difference. I can think. I can focus on writing up my syllabus and getting ready to teach. I can go for walks. I can be in a good mood. I’m not sitting on the couch at night crying to my husband about how I think I’m hungry but there’s nothing I can eat (a feeling that I’m sure isn’t much different whether you are choosing not to eat because you’re dieting or really feel like you can’t eat because you’re sick). It’s just shocking to me that people think it would somehow be good for fat people to exist in a state of perpetual starvation until they get to some optimal weight. Not getting enough calories is not getting enough calories, and it’s not any more pleasant or bearable or magically healthy if you’re fat than it is when you are thin.

  59. As a medical professional I can state without equivocation that truly obese people are not healthy.

    Sie forgot to tell you that sie’s a radiologist and doesn’t actually see or talk to patients, just looks at pictures of bones and organs all day.

    Seriously, though. I always want to say to people like that, “Am I ‘healthier’ off psych meds, or am I ‘healthier’ on them? I don’t mean sometime in the distant future when maybe I can discontinue them, but right now, am I better off having drugs in me that keep me out of the bell jar but make me fat, or am I better off in the bell jar? Because those are your choices, medical professional person. Which one is better for my health?”

  60. Lori – My husband is also 6’5″ (6’6″ laid flat on a chiropractor’s table). He weighs about 280, and while he is fat, none of those things have happened to him either: No chairs collapsing, no getting stuck in cars (though he is uncomfortably crowded in some, it’s primarily due to height, not weight), and his fitness level is just fine, thank you.

    I get told I’m “strong” rather than fat. Probably because I’m not terribly pretty, and do have a good amount of muscle, while still not fitting most people’s idea of obese – which I am.

  61. OMG, Homer Simpson is 260 pounds? Dude, I’m 6′ and 350ish (closer to 365 now, but I gravitate in the 350 range) and most people guess my weight as 100 lbs lighter. My two older brothers are 6’7” and 6’8” and probably pushing or past 400 lbs, but they still get people guessing their weight about 100 lbs lighter (I actually don’t know how much they weigh, I just know it has to be more than me because they’re not skinny either and so much taller). I find this fascinating, that people think anything above 150 lbs at ANY height is fat. I mean, me and my brothers, we’re just built big on top of being tall. We come from a long line of good peasant stock. XD My mother says that one of her ancestors was this huge Swedish guy who came to American in like 1850 and was apparently 6’3” and chopped wood for a living.

  62. No, dude, try catching some PCOS first

    Hah! Or in the case of the radiologist who knows everything there is to know about endocrinology – Go find a cure for PCOS if my fat bothers you so much.

  63. Lori – I feel your pain. I just had gall bladder surgery two weeks ago, but had to wait a month and a half before I could get it (thanks, having no insurance), and the entire time I was waiting I couldn’t eat practically anything. I could MAYBE stomach beans and rice, but forget things like cheese or milk (which I love) or most acidic fruits and veggies. I spent most of the day in bed, not just because of the ever-present nausea, but also because I was just too weak to do anything. I was probably eating maybe 1200 calories a day, maybe. I ended up losing 15 pounds, and I felt like utter shit the entire time. Now that the surgery’s been done, I can finally eat again and feel happier than I have in so long. And I don’t CARE if I gain all that weight back, because at least I’m not starving anymore! And that diet, the one I was on because I was so nauseous and sick whenever I ate, is what most people would WANT me to be on!

  64. What percent of people in the U.S. are “mega-obese”, anyway? If it turns out that the percentage of Americans who–and this is completely arbitrary–are sized out of Avenue/the dudely equivalent is, like, 1% of the population, that means that OMG WTF DEATHFAT is less prevalent than schizophrenia and only slightly more common than autism. Should there be more research into what makes people so large? Sure – it can be rather bad for the joints, for mobility, etc. But that’s more of an issue of health research in general rather than A NATIONAL EPIDEMIC.

    Booga booga booga.

  65. My money was on transcriptionist.

    Bite yer finger. We go through thousands of records a year from multiple locations nationwide; if that doesn’t adequately demonstrate the heterogeniety of human bodies and what’s actually in them, nothing will.

  66. I have got awesome legs. Really super-awesome. Kick-ass, strong, muscular, and completely cut. (I get fat around my waist, never on my legs, kinda guy-style.) I have to assume that my legs weigh between fifty and sixty pounds apiece, based on my general size and proportions. To get to my “non-overweight” BMI, I’d have to CUT A LEG OFF. No kidding. Or, you know, there are always the chemo option, the move-to-starvation-ridden-Third-World-Country option, the intestinal parasite option, or the ED option. I am so sick of “medical professionals” like the idiot radiologist. I’d like to know which of the above she’d suggest (my money’s on anorexia) and why the hell she thinks it’s a good idea.

    I’d also love to have her follow me around all day, see if she could keep up.

  67. I’m trying to find a wedding dress. There are very few in-shop dresses in my size (bridal 18). I keep telling my mom that I just want to find the fat girl wedding dresses and NOT try to squeeze into dresses that are too small to fit over my t&a. She keeps telling “You’re not fat.” I want to tell her I’m 1lb shy of “obese” BMI. I’m a fat girl. It’s ok. Don’t try to make me feel better. I’m ok about my size. I’m not ok about the sizes these stores carry.

  68. “Obese doesn’t really mean a weight — it means whether I think you’re gross.“

    It’s like how “gay” was used when I was a kid (and maybe still used, who know what kids are saying these days).

    I have the Fatosphere as a whole and Kate in particular to thank for desensitizing myself to using the word fat to refer to myself. I’m one of those small percentage of women with a BMI of greater than 40, but most people wouldn’t think of me as deathfat.

    I just had an interesting experience yesterday meeting someone in person who I had spoken to on the phone a couple of times and she seemed to be a bit surprised by what I looked like. It definitely felt fat-related.

  69. FYI, the US CDC data on body measurements (PDF) has the 95th percentile for all women age 20+ at 41.6 (table 14) and for men at 38.6 (table 15).

    So unless I’m reading this wrong, 95% of all US adult women have a BMI below 41.6; 95% of US adult men have a BMI below 38.6.

    The official definition of “morbid obesity” is a BMI of 40.

  70. I want to blame Discovery Health for some of this. Seriously, if you watch that channel for any length of time you start thinking that half of American adults are at least one of the following:
    a. at least five hundred pounds,
    b. pregnant and completely ignorant of the fact until labor kicks in,
    c. have a mysterious and undiagnosed disease that would take Dr. House at least two episodes and a month’s worth of Vicodin to figure out,
    d. undergoing sex reassignment surgery.

    I’m waiting for “He Didn’t Know He Was Pregnant!”, the story of a trans man who finds out he’s pregnant just before giving birth.

  71. Last year some time, I was out for dinner with a group of colleagues, and one of them (who is mostly very nice) was saying about how disgusting she was when she was *gasp* 11st (157lb), you know, she did the “bloated face” thing and puffed out her chest and arms. I didn’t say anything much, just raised an eyebrow, but a little while later, she offered me a glass of wine and I said “no thanks, I’m a bit sleepy already, and you don’t want to have to carry me to the station, I’m over 13st!” (I was roughly 190lb, I think) She nearly fell off her chair, and of course started with the “you’re NOT!!” business.

  72. (And I really think I wasn’t the only person who thought Queen Latifah was way sexier and more awesome in Chicago than Catherine Zeta-Jones or Renee Zellwegger. I have such a huge girlcrush on her.)
    *goes off humming “When You’re Good To Mama”*

    OMG, if I weren’t into women already, she’d have turned me lesbian with that number!

    I wear a size 30 and people will pull “you’re not fat” out of their asses. Really? Honestly? When plus size clothing stores don’t even go up to your size, I think you qualify to use fat as a descriptor.

    (Especially if you walk around in public hoping some jackass stringer for the newspaper doesn’t photograph your body to use in an article about how people just like you ruin America and make the baby Jeebus cry. I’m not only fat, I’m the kind of fat that causes headlessness to happen!)

  73. “And then people wonder why they don’t see fat people at the gym. But, God forbid a fat person were actually SWEATING next to them, I’m sure all we’d be hearing is how those sweaty, smelly fatties are ruining gyms across America. Because it’s not like it’s normal for people to get sweaty and smelly while working out.”

    There was anther weight related article on Jezebel a week or two ago and some of the comment threads were about exercising (or the article was about exercising, I can’t remember) – one commenter was wondering if fat shaming really does happen at gyms, because zie never saw anything like that happen in hir gym. For some reason that made me really depressed…

  74. I’m waiting for “He Didn’t Know He Was Pregnant!”, the story of a trans man who finds out he’s pregnant just before giving birth.

    Ha. Only if he weighed like 800 pounds too. I gave up on discovery and TLC a looooong time ago for that reason.

    This whole comment thread reminds me over ang over again how much I love you guys. Shapelings are awesome!

  75. I just went and read some of the comments on Kate’s childhood obesity post over there and rrrrrrrrrr.

    overweight is not obese, and obesity is an IMPORTANT issue.

    not into fat-shaming, but yes, I do think it’s appropriate for the government to promote healthy, obesity-combating policies. being overweight may not pose all the risks that people associate with it, but being obese does.

    Iiieeee. Kpfff. Gh.

    I am obese, AND YET, I am at this moment investigating ballet and yoga classes in my local area because I finally got supplements to fix my anaemia and have energy again and I am SO EXCITED about getting back to dancing.

    But. But. I am obese. So how can this be?!?!? And how can I work a lifting-moving-on-my-feet job for 5-9 hours a day? And how can I do all this and still walk/get the subway everywhere because I don’t own a car? And still eat all the fruit and veg I can afford/have the energy to cook? How? I am obese. How?!?!?!

    MY body is an important issue, yes, FOR ME. NOT YOU. I AM NOT A PROBLEM FOR YOU TO FIX. So you can fuck the fuck off with your fake fucking concern for me and “the children!!!!” I was just fine til I read your condescending bullshit.

    Fucking idiotic concern trolls.

    Charlotte reminded me I need to get a “This is what a feminist looks like” shirt, though. It will go nicely with my “Well behaved women rarely make history” one. Mm.

  76. People refuse to believe that their personal perceptions of “Obese” or “Overweight” is not even remotely the same as a technical definition of Obese or Overweight.

    I wrote about this when the “fatties have less brain” article was out a week or so ago…. someone replied with the standard “Sorry, I’m going to assume that what I consider Obese is the same as what the government considers Obese no matter how many times I’m shown it’s not” nonsense…

    He must have gone to do a bit of research after I asked “yeah but do you think the BMI is an accurate tool” because he came back somewhat educated. I say somewhat because he came back and said:

    “It obviously doesn’t apply to body builders, due to the weight of muscle. There are a lot of problems with it.”

    I mean. Right. Right. OBVIOUSLY it doesn’t apply to folks like him (i read his blog and he lifts weights) – except that it does, no matter how many times he stamps his muscle-bound foot and yells “Does NOT!!!”

  77. The “not fat” thing that Dodai did strikes me as a slip, or a choice of dialogue premised on the thing that’s sprinkled all throughout this thread: “YOU’RE not FAT, oh no! You’re awesome and I like you, therefore you’re not FAT! Fat is BAD. You’re GOOD!” It’s this enormous cognitive dissonance. It’s like people can’t see into your genuine experiences as a Fat Person because they just wanna be NICE to you. It’s sticking to the messed up social “script” we’ve all got, and sticking to the script rarely lets us pick apart what needs picking apart.

    By the television standard of size 0-2 being “normal”, we’re almost all fat. You, me, the person in the cube next to me, my neighbor, the lady at the convenience store, TONS OF US. (lol tons lol) And THAT’S likely the key thing that Dodai’s post wanted to address. “Why are all these perfectly awesome people being given such a shitty label and shitty time?”

    Don’t get me started on the “smelly” thing, either. I’m ultra-super-duper-mega paranoid about being the Smelly Fat Chick. I’m sure it’s irrational, seeing as I understand the merits of showers and pitstick. But STILL, you betcha I overanalyzed last year’s Secret Santa gift of a bodywash-and-moisturizer gift pack. “Ooh, things that smell pretty! I love things that smell pretty! …w…wait… D: THIS MUST MEAN SHE THINKS I STINK! AAAAAAHHHH!!! …wait, no, no, that just means she had no idea what else to get me, and these things cost ten bucks on sale…”

  78. We go through thousands of records a year from multiple locations nationwide; if that doesn’t adequately demonstrate the heterogeniety of human bodies and what’s actually in them, nothing will.

    That’s a good point! It does presume, though, that most people actually read words that they put their eyes on, and the internet has made me unable to make that assumption.

  79. Also, for whatever it’s worth… while that post did cure me permanently of my vague desire to become a commenter on Jezebel, I don’t think people should give up on the publication. Editorially they are in the right place (Dodai meant well and had a good point, as several people have pointed out). Hortense is so entertaining I wish we could steal her. Most of the writing is sharp, and they post so much content that even if you skip every single celebrity-related post (I do) there’s still plenty to keep you busy at work. General thumbs-up for Jez! It’s just that Web 2.0 can suck it. Present company excepted, of course, but most places you just shouldn’t bother reading comments.

    ETA: ChloeMireille made a great point here about how hostile commenters sometimes come over from other Gawker pubs. I still think I don’t want to be a commenter there, but that’s worth taking into consideration.

  80. Speaking of heterogeniety, that reminds me of the stupidest anti-fat claim I’ve ever heard made. I actually heard the argument made last week that people aren’t meant to be different sizes because “all babies start out the same size.”

    Wow, how did I miss the fact that my full-term 9 pound son was exactly the same size as my friend’s full-term 6 pound daughter? Clearly human beings are not meant to vary in size at all, since we all start out exactly the same size.

    But that made me think of how breastfed babies are probably the best example of size diversity. My son was exclusively breastfed and breastfed on demand for the first 4-5 months of his life. So were the babies of many of my friends. And, our kids fell at every single point on the growth chart, from the 5th percentile to the 95th percentile. Obviously when given adequate nutrition, human beings naturally fall into a wide variety of body sizes. It’s crazy that we find this so hard to grasp.

  81. This is off topic and late, but I honestly didn’t know they had created a category called super-obese. Like, not a “legitimate” medical category. I have been a lover of deathfat from early on, but I never actually thought super-obese was a fucking medical category. I don’t know why, I think it just sounded so ridiculous and non-academic that I didn’t actually believe medical professionals used it. Super-obese? Super-super-obese? I mean, are they lazy or what? Could they not think of anything scarier than morbidly obese? Anything more booga-booga? I am truly astonished. A medical professional would literally label me super-obese. I want to see that on my medical file. That is the silliest god damned thing I ever heard.

  82. While Jezebel can be full of Comment Fail, it’s certainly less full of Comment Fail than a lot of other places online. It’s a great site, and even if there’s slapfighting and shrieking in places, there’s a lot of good to be found, too.

    At least it’s not We Are The Real Deal, eh? ;D

    But lordy yes, the people that wander over from other parts of Gawker can be… less than fantastic. I don’t even bother reading comment threads on Kotaku anymore, despite how much of a gamer I am. I can’t afford the kind of drugs that it’d take to make Kotaku comment threads a pleasant experience.

  83. While Jezebel can be full of Comment Fail, it’s certainly less full of Comment Fail than a lot of other places online.

    Enthusiastically cosigned. I wouldn’t even warn people against reading the comments on most threads, and some are really entertaining — quite a feat, and probably almost entirely attributable to the fact that they’re nearly as stringent as we are. It’s probably not a community I want to join (reminds me of when I was doing wedding planning and posted on IndieBride — several million times more smart and literate than most other forums on the web, but I still had absolutely zero interest in going to any fucking meetups or sticking around after the wedding) but it’s head and shoulders above most blogs.

    The commenting option has a lot of pitfalls (and I think it’s generally way overrated!). Jez commenters fall into fewer pits than most, even if it’s not exactly the progressive haven we might want it to be.

  84. A fish, veggie, rice ‘binge’? I wouldn’t wish that binge on my worst enemy. Poor Sumiori.

    And word on the sweat thing. I naturally sweat a lot and usually pretty early when working out. Now cymbalta makes me sweat twice as much. I’m actually having to go off of it because the night sweats are so bad. So I have to stand up in front of my students drenched sometimes. It’s just mortifying. However ya’lls comments make me think I may just explain that I sweat so much because I’m on a med that makes them bareable for 50 minutes out of the day and makes me less likely to give them a zero because they don’t know the difference between to, two, and too.

    Great post FJ.

  85. I was taught that people who are in shape sweat more than people who aren’t in shape. Dunno if that’s true, but I personally have been generally not in shape (as self-defined by my inability to walk up three flights of stairs or run a mile without getting out of breath), and also never sweated much so as far as I knew they went together. As a result, when I work out now I love to look at the sweat marks on my clothes afterwards because it makes me feel accomplished.

    As far as Dodi’s post, I can see she was well-intentioned, and it’s certainly common among well-meaning people to insist that those they like/find attractive aren’t fat. A friend of mine who’s thin once told me, when I insisted I really was fat, “but you wear it well.” Um, ok, so other people are putting plaid fat and polka-dot fat together in one outfit?

  86. Adding to the Lori love here!
    Thanks for articulating so much of the inner dialogue I never get to put out there. And yes, I do think the “stinky thing” comes from some kind of weird disability prejudice, too. My experience with care-taking is that those who leave it to others to do often have to make a big deal out of the disgusting factor ( oh-the failure to wipe!). Hence the intentional separation. But the prevalence of these comments on other forums tells me there is something widespread going on.
    Also loving comments on Fat=Bad, you are good, therefore not fat. Not sure if I have anywhere to wear a “This is What FAT looks like” T-shirt, but tempted anyway. I understand it is coming from an OK place, but Yep-if I call myself green, could you just call me green? But I’m not green, I’m obviously fat. So can you just accept that this is what fat is like? Really, I should know!

  87. One of the things I found interesting in the two Jezebel threads was the lack of regular commenters weighing (heh) in on the topics, particularly those that identify themselves as fat in other threads. Those who regularly read Jezebel will know that there have been several posts recently regarding plus-sized clothing, fashion, and media images, which have generated heated and interesting debate among regular and newer commenters esp. re: discrimination fat women face. I wonder where these women are now. Granted, I have not gone through the threads again today, but several regular commenters come to mind that have been vocal in other threads on fat discrimination and noticeably silent on these two threads. I’m not sure what it means, but interesting to me nonetheless.

  88. Wow, you call Kate “Mrs. Iverson,” use the term BBW, and go on at length about the lusciousness of her thighs! Yet you feel the need to state in advance that you’re not a feminist, IN CASE WE COULDN’T TELL.

    I think you can feel free to keep your “accolades” to yourself in the future.

  89. I just wanted to say that I’m a regular reader here and a regular commenter at Jezebel, and I love both sites. My comment on Kate’s “war on obesity” post was to enthusiastically co-sign that we should focus on health for ALL kids and not just The Obese ones. I noted that my husband is a pediatrician who is currently working with a more general health program at a low-income elementary, and improved exercise options (held for 30 minutes before kids’ most challenging classes) and better food has improved test scores and cut down on discipline problems. It’s also allowed several kids to come off statins because it’s improved their cholesterol. I have no idea if the kids are *thinner*, but it’s an example of why shooting for thinness is so ridiculous when there are so many other outcomes.

    Anyway, I’d recommend looking at whether or not a comment has a little yellow star next to it before judging the site based on it. Only starred commenters are reliably active members of the site, and you’ll find that most of them don’t tend to be posting the insulting crap that you quoted. I had left the site for a while but came back when they instituted a new commenting system that allows you to hide non-productive commenters, and to “promote” the comments of true contributors.

  90. Thanks for fighting the good fight over there, erniebufflo, and thank you very much for the star explanation… I hadn’t been aware how that worked and I like that a lot.

  91. Yep, the stars are awarded by the editors and mods, so you know those commenters are the ones who contribute regularly and who have, somewhat, the approval of the eds/mods. The rest may be regulars and they might be great, but they might also be trolls or people from other Gawker sites, or just not-that-great.

  92. p.s. Kate Harding has earned her accolades, no doubt. But now she has a higher calling, a nobler duty, which yearns to be fulfilled. Although Ms. Harding recently married and Mr. Iverson is the obviously “King of the Fat-O-Sphere,” I would ask her consideration that a male member (heh heh… male member) of the Fat-O-Sphere be blessed by the new monarch with the title of Knight of the Fat-O-Sphere or, at the very least, Court Jester.

    Cause you know, there can never be any space anywhere on planet Earth where women exist without appropriate male companionship/oversight. *gags*

    That “tribute” may require a dissection post of its own.

    Also anyone who thinks men can’t be feminists needs to at the least read Feminism 101 and the Terrible Bargain posts on Shakesvile for starters.

    DRST

  93. Long-time lurker, first time commenter, etc, etc. You know the drill. :) Coming out of lurkdom to comment on this:

    “I want to blame Discovery Health for some of this. Seriously, if you watch that channel for any length of time you start thinking that half of American adults are at least one of the following:
    a. at least five hundred pounds,
    b. pregnant and completely ignorant of the fact until labor kicks in,
    c. have a mysterious and undiagnosed disease that would take Dr. House at least two episodes and a month’s worth of Vicodin to figure out,
    d. undergoing sex reassignment surgery.

    I’m waiting for “He Didn’t Know He Was Pregnant!”, the story of a trans man who finds out he’s pregnant just before giving birth.”

    I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but this comment and a follow-up comment to it kind of bother me. They leave me with a really icky feeling. I think it’s the tone of “Okay, let’s figure out the most extremely absurdly ‘fake’ human being ever … aha, a trans person!” that I seemed to get from it. And, well …

    I’m a trans man. I read this site, just about every day. And I’m real. (I’m even fat, too, for what it’s worth.)

    I do get that the point was that the Discovery Channel only showcases uncommon people and conditions and statistical outliers. But still, trans people aren’t rhetorical devices, we’re people.

    I’m guessing other statistical outliers might feel similarly, including the very large, but I don’t want to speak on their behalf. Thanks for listening.

  94. I wonder if part of it is how people dress too? I have a coworker that I have heard people describe as fat without any qualifications. The thing is is she mostly wears, well, for lack of a better descriptor, mumus, over tapered pants.

    I know she’s smaller than I am, she could certainly find some more flattering outfits if she wanted. Part of me wants to take her shopping all the time. (And another part of me wants to avoid talking to her because she is such a bitch.)

  95. JSTG, I got the sense that the commenter was trying to combine particular Discovery Channel fascinations (I think I’d have gone for something like “He Didn’t Know He Was Pregnant Because He Was Already A Half Ton Tree Man!” or something a little more clearly over-the-top), but point well taken. Let’s make sure we are clear — in what we say as well as what we intend to say — that something doesn’t become an oddity just because the Discovery Channel (or TLC, who I think of as the big offender on this one) treats it like one.

  96. A friend of mine who’s thin once told me, when I insisted I really was fat, “but you wear it well.” Um, ok, so other people are putting plaid fat and polka-dot fat together in one outfit?

    This seriously made me LOL.

  97. Apropos of my own Fat Pain, I suppose, when I went to Jezebel and saw the picture of Malissa (Mal? That’d be a hard nickname to carry), I was reminded of myself.

    Something of her shape I recognize as me, although she’s probably me a size or two ago – before the final diet. So Dodai’s dismissiveness was a bit of a shock.

  98. erniebuffalo, I find the star system to be a bit flawed at Jezebel. There was a period of time where you got a star if you friended or were followed by a certain number of other commenters. They recently changed the star system to be more merit based like you described, but most people who had stars under the old system were grandfathered in, and it doesn’t appear that they have been awarding any additional stars by merit.

    I’m slightly annoyed by the whole thing, because I have been commenting there sporadically for two years, more so when fat issues come up. (my work takes me away from the internet for chunks of time) I never bothered getting a star, because there was no difference in posting, so it seemed a strange thing to pursue, and now with the change my comments are considered less-than, though they usually are highlighted by some starred commenter.

    So my point is, don’t disregard the non-starred commenters!

  99. @ohmaude– for sure, I didn’t want to say to disregard the non-starred, and as a star-holder (I have a different sn over there), do try to promote good comments whenever I see them. It’s just that as a regular, I get frustrated when comments from people who may or may not be regular or good contributors singled out as if they reflect the majority of commenters or the site as a whole.

  100. I’m fat and I can’t wipe my butt. There, I admitted it. I recognize it’s not common, but I have short arms and an apple shape after my lovely twin pregnancy.

    So I use nice warm water instead, and you couldn’t pay me to go back to toilet paper. *shrug* When out or a guest at someone’s home I just use one of those post-partum squirt bottles, it’s like a mini-bidet. If I’m home I just hop in the shower. No biggie, actually. And now if a tampon leaks I’m all set.

    I don’t smell like shit even though I can’t wipe my butt cuz I’m Teh Death Fatz. And it wasn’t exactly an act of Genius Emerging from Despair to figure out that I had options other then marinating in my own shit.

    Now if only we can become enough of a cultural force that I don’t have to soak in OTHER people’s shit because I’m fat. *grin*

  101. I have been a size 12 and a size 20 as an adult. I have never, officially been within the “normal BMI”. I am also dealing with a host of eating disorder issues and body image issues which don’t go away when I’m a size 12. In fact, some of them are vastly complicated when I am.

    “Not fat” is considered, by the larger society (obv!) a compliment (OMG!!! You’re sooo not fat!) usually in response to the dreaded FAT TALK. Which, BTW, I would never in a million years participate in as I want nothing less than to talk about my body with others.

    “Not Fat” is not a compliment here in my brain and it’s so lovely to hear others espousing this notion.

  102. erniebuffalo, oh I totally agree with that, nothing brings random trolls out of the woodwork like an opportunity to hate on “teh obese” you know, for their health. You are right, you don’t see those commenters on any other thread.

  103. I don’t smell like shit even though I can’t wipe my butt cuz I’m Teh Death Fatz. And it wasn’t exactly an act of Genius Emerging from Despair to figure out that I had options other then marinating in my own shit.

    It’s almost like most people are able to accommodate any physical differences or limitations they might have, and that most tasks can be accomplished in a number of different ways!

  104. It’s almost like most people are able to accommodate any physical differences or limitations they might have, and that most tasks can be accomplished in a number of different ways!

    Well now you’re just being crazy. There’s only one way to do a given task, and that’s the right way. Creativity is a plague upon our perfect society! Women, especially fat women, are the reason our economy is in the shitter! DOWN WITH THE FAT FEMINAZI HEATHENS!

  105. JSTG, I’m sorry for making you feel “not-real”. I didn’t intend to do so; rather, I intended to make a point of how Discovery Health enjoys highlighting statistical outliers all the time, and I have the sneaky feeling that if they heard of a person who was a statistical outlier in more than one category they would turn that person’s life into a reality show faster than you can say “Jon Plus Kate”. But the road to hell, etc.

    *hugs*

  106. I’m having a little problem with the use of numbers to describe the “outliers” in deference to the ooogaboogaobesityepidemic. I’ve seen a number of posts here that cite “500, 600″ pounds as an indication of the extreme, and the representation of ALL obese people in the eyes of fat haters.

    While I understand the point being made…that most obese people are not that weight…..it still feels like “othering” to me. Those 500, 600, 700, 800 and beyond fatties are STILL included in the fight for fat acceptance. Sure, they have physical issues that most of us may not be able to fully understand, but they are still part of the movement and NOT unworthy of being included as human beings struggling against the masses to be treated with dignity and humanity.

    As a “death fatz” fatty myself…..I struggle with stares from the world outside my home. Stares when I cram my ass into a tightly armed waiting room chair at the dentists office. Stares when I lean over the shopping cart for two minutes at the grocery store because of back pain. Stares when I climb a flight of stairs at Pike’s Place Market in Seattle slowly. Stares when I get in and out of our boat after a long day of fishing and crabbing. Stares, and even name calling, when I ride a bike or exercise at the gym (WTF?!). Even stares and whispers (from other adults) when I volunteer at my child’s school as a Room Parent because no one else wants to do it. It is very dehumanizing to be treated as if I am incapable and unworthy of even simple courtesy. There may be things I CANNOT do, but that doesn’t make me, nor ANY other fatty less human.

  107. I am soooo glad you wrote this. I saw it, on Jezebel, which also (if I’m remembering correctly) has a big FA thing on their front page.

    I was just like, did this gal have a brain tumor for breakfast? Or is this some kind of joke I don’t understand? And then I kinda moved on b/c I was at work anyway.

    I get so worn out about this issue sometimes. It’s like all I can do is go and self-isolate b/c I find myself being either too confrontational or not confrontational enough (on the “you’re not fat!” or “ze’s not fat!” tip.) I think FA needs some training on how to deal. Protocol. A unified message. A rap. Talking points. SOMETHING!

    I just want to go home sometimes and hide. Or scream and yell and be very angry. Neither of which are good for me. :(

    Anyhoo, I’m really glad y’all said something about it b/c I didn’t know what to say/do/think.

  108. “So I use nice warm water instead, and you couldn’t pay me to go back to toilet paper.”

    In much of the world, this is the norm. Using paper and not water is considered dirty and polluting.
    In other, related news, I’ve just discovered baby wipes, and I lovez dem.

  109. Thanks Kate!

    Exactly, Lori! Also congratulations and I’m glad your morning sickness is settling down so you can eat. I’ve been railing against the idea that severe malnutrition is somehow healthy for fat people for years now.

    Beri Beri with its neurological damage is healthier than fat? Scurvy is healthier than fatness? Available energy so limited that menstruation ceases is healthier than fatness? Perioperative death rates greater than 1 in 100, and 1 year death rates of 6 in 100, are healthier than live fatness? Really? That’s what bariatric surgeons would have us believe.

    I have ceased to care about the health risks of obesity. I want evidence that the severe nutritional impairment necessary to make even one in five people lose over 10% of their body weight and maintain it more than 2 years actually IS healthy. When the “treatment” for a common phenotype has worse death rates than some terminal illnesses, I start to question it.

  110. While I understand the point being made…that most obese people are not that weight…..it still feels like “othering” to me. Those 500, 600, 700, 800 and beyond fatties are STILL included in the fight for fat acceptance. Sure, they have physical issues that most of us may not be able to fully understand, but they are still part of the movement and NOT unworthy of being included as human beings struggling against the masses to be treated with dignity and humanity.

    I totally understand that, and that’s exactly my concern with how to best approach people’s misperceptions about obesity without marginalizing people who are very large.

    I do wonder, though, if simply making people aware that the very large people they see on the Discovery Channel or TLC are statistical outliers would actually make them more compassionate, rather than less. I think part of the problem is that many people do seem to believe that 1/3 of Americans (at least) weighs 500+ pounds, and all got that way because they are eating too much McDonald’s and drinking too much soda. If they realized that only a very small number of Americans are that large, despite the fact that many of us eat McDonald’s and drink soda, maybe they’d realize that there has to be something else at work.

    But, I do think that’s a really important issue, in terms of how to counter misperceptions without marginalizing anyone. Headless fatties don’t represent your average obese American, but they are people. At the same time, though, the really obese woman (it’s always a woman) of people’s imaginations–the one who smells, who is dirty and ugly, who eats nothing but junk food all day, who never gets off the couch, who is sucking up their tax dollars, who refuses to work, who is teaching her fat kids her own bad habits by feeding them nothing but junk and fast food–probably doesn’t exist, as mentioned by FJ and others. There are actual 500- and 600- and 700-pound people, but they aren’t the monsters that they are imagined to be by people who see them as representing the obesity crisis.

  111. Thanks, fillyjonk and Maureen, for your replies. I appreciate it. It was just something needling at my mind, and I thought I’d mention it since the folks here seem so cool and open to discussion.

    I think Regina T hit on some of my concerns, in a more general and non-trans-specific sense. I liked what Lori had to say in reply. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that statistical outliers are paid too much attention but that they’re paid the wrong KIND of attention–sensationalistic, exagerrated if not outright false, dehumanizing, etc.

  112. First of all, I apologize if I insulted any of you, but I find your response baffling. I refer to Kate throughout the piece as Ms. Harding because I recognize that is the name she uses. I only referred to her as “Mrs. Iverson” once and was trying to make a joke. I didn’t realize that simply typing the words “Mrs. Iverson” was such a hot button issue.

    Second, the term BBW is the one I am most familiar with. Its the term I’ve known since I’ve known about this community. I’m sorry that term offends you, but its a habit. Its not a term I’m all that fond of myself, but I’ve grown accustomed to the shorthand. I think of BBW as more referring to women who are aware of, supportive of, or a member of the size acceptance movement. Referring to a fat woman can refer to anyone, but, to me, BBW refers to a certain kind of fat woman. Again, I didn’t realize it was a hot button issue.

    Third, with regard to her thighs… I won’t apologize for that. I’m not trying to be a feminist. I’m a guy who finds fat women attractive. Here I’m unfamiliar ground. Is it insulting to compliment the beauty of a woman? Can’t a man appreciate both the internal and external beauties of a woman without being made to feel like a caveman? Just what is acceptable in commenting on a woman’s beauty? Was it the word I used? Luscious? I sat for a while on that word as well, pondering if it was too gratuitous. I did not go on “at length” about her thighs. I made a passing mention that Kate is indeed a fat woman. I then went on to apologize in a later post about my choice of words and apparently stepped out of the frying pan and into the fire. I wasn’t trying to degrade or dehumanize Kate, I was just trying to state that she has curvaceous legs. I won’t make the mistake again.

    And finally, I never said men can’t be feminists. In fact, I stated very clearly the following:

    “Now, amongst the accolades, I can hear some of you saying, based on the photos above, “Hey, she’s not fat.” First of all, Kate would beg to differ. And secondly, I thought the same thing. Sure, she’s soft around the edges, but shouldn’t a fat blogger be FAT? Well, even if Harding was a waif, it wouldn’t matter. Did it make an ounce of difference that most abolitionists were white? Or that men fought for women’s suffrage? It doesn’t matter. The message isn’t ,Love me, even though I’m fat., The message is, ,Stop being an ignorant, lying dick and treat all people with dignity and respect.”

    And the point of me asking to be a Knight of the Fat-O-Sphere wasn’t to say that men were needed, but that there are men, like me, who want to contribute to the body acceptance movement: for my wife, for my daughters and for all the women I’ve known who have suffered in their bodies for no good reason. I’m really not sure how to take that comment. Are you saying men aren’t wanted in this realm? Are you saying men should leave the message of positivity to the women?

    I’m really shocked at the response to my post. I try to inject some humor into my writing, and I know it doesn’t always translate over the internet, but I did not expect such hostility over my post. I’m not sure what else to say. I guess I’ll keep my man eyes on man sites because my man-centric view is too insensitive for you all. That’s not what I was hoping for. And I would hope that as feminists, you would be eager to recruit me, rather than to drive me away.

    Peace,
    Shannon Russell

  113. I’m not trying to be a feminist. I’m a guy who finds fat women attractive.

    Fine. Do it on your own turf. I found out that you emailed Kate about this and then, when she ignored you, commented here. You aren’t willing to just “find fat women attractive” — you have to get them to NOTICE and ACKNOWLEDGE you. This isn’t the place for that — in fact, it’s inappropriate anywhere. You do whatever the fuck you want in your own space, but when you stop being a man who finds fat women attractive and start being a man who demands that fat women acknowledge you find them attractive, you become a menace.

    I never said men can’t be feminists

    No, a lot of them are great at it! But they are, you know, trying.

    I would hope that as feminists, you would be eager to recruit me, rather than to drive me away.

    Don’t you dare tell feminists how to be feminists. This is perilously fucking close to concern trolling.

    If you actually want to help the body acceptance movement, you can start by cutting out the objectification. I mean cutting it out entirely. Not “Kate’s got great thighs and she’s pretty smart too.” Not “Kate’s pretty smart, and she’s got great thighs.” Do you even understand why these sentiments are not apropos or welcome here?

    Or, if you need to keep up the objectification, stop trying to make sure we see it. Half your comments here have been links to your blog.

  114. It was just something needling at my mind, and I thought I’d mention it since the folks here seem so cool and open to discussion.

    JSTG, I admire you for being brave enough to bring up your (perfectly valid) concerns. Granted, SP tends to be pretty friendly to non-trolls (and really nasty to actual trolls, hah), but it was still a stretch. I hope you will continue to comment.

    And you’re absolutely right about the wrong kind of attention. It’s what is sometimes described around here as talking around people rather than talking to them – in other words, trying to make a freakshow out of a human experience.

  115. Perhaps the problem isn’t so much that statistical outliers are paid too much attention but that they’re paid the wrong KIND of attention–sensationalistic, exagerrated if not outright false, dehumanizing, etc.

    And also, importantly I think, essentializing. In Maureen’s scenario, for instance the extra-outlierish statistical outlier of a trans man who didn’t know he was pregnant would be presented as somehow reflective of the “trans experience” — people who watch it are asked, by the way the program sets itself up, to generalize from that and think they know something about what it is to be trans. (Sure, the program’s hypothetical, but I think we all know what it would be like.) Which is what Lori’s getting at with the fact that REAL Death Fatties still aren’t like the unidimensional, universally negative cultural imagination of them, a cultural imagination that’s fed by these shows that show you just enough to make you think you know what it is to be a member of that group.

    Luckily Lori said it better than I just did. :) BASICALLY I AGREE WITH YOU BOTH

  116. @Lori…

    I completely agree with you on this. There is definitely a reality check that needs to be heaped upon people who believe ALL obese are in that statistically miniscule range. The prevalence of individuals and the media equating the exceptions with the obesity epidemic just because they happened to see one at McDonald’s or on the street is so out of control it isn’t even the least bit funny. It’s like basic common sense has taken a back seat in this issue and has been replaced with complete and utter ASSumptions….which are rarely reliable indicators of truth and reality.

    Furthermore, I believe it IS useful and necessary to point out that the number of exceptions is extremely low to overcome the mistaken perception people have about the obese. I also believe there should be ZERO pictures of headless fatties (please Maude….let me have a HEAD!) in the media. Doing that is the very reason so many people believe there are high numbers of us in the first place. Being bombarded with those pictures, paired with the negative tone and connotation of the story being told by the newspeople leads people to believe it must be the rule, not the exception. What about trusting your OWN eyes and experiences? amirite?

    The solution really seems to be to return the human-ness to that individual being portrayed by showing their face, giving them heads, and shooting a full body shot-not just one that focuses in on their stomachs or rear ends. Even those shows on Discovery Health have a tendency to narrate negative information over the video of the person they are portraying, and focusing on the bad things in their life, rarely any of the good things about that person, including how loved they are by others.

    My main issue with seeing those numbers related here was that ..it was HERE. A “safe” place. A place I come to for empowerment, confidence building, kick ass posts/commentaries and comfort. Knowing that I can be pretty sure I won’t be marginalized, maligned, treated with indignity, or othered….and even called out when it’s obvious I am missing the point or guilty of an “ism” myself. To put it more succinctly…treated like a human being.

  117. “even my knees hurt worse (which is interesting, since everyone told me for years that if I just lost some weight my knees wouldn’t be as bad as they are)”
    Do. NOT. Get. Me. Started.

  118. HERE. A “safe” place. A place I come to for empowerment, confidence building, kick ass posts/commentaries and comfort.

    … a place where there have been multiple posts written on how larger fatties need to be actively included in the movement, and there’s no cutoff point at which people become “too fat” to be treated like a human.

    Listen, I completely understand why you would feel marginalized when the conversation is about how you are, statistically, marginal. Of course you would. But that’s still a valuable conversation to have, and we need to be able to have both here. We have had and will continue to have the conversation about how every size means EVERY SIZE. We also need to have the one about how “every size” does tend to be sort of a bell curve.

    I keep meaning to write the “no post can be every post” post but for now… no post can be every post. It’s good that people bring things up in comments that couldn’t be covered in the main post, but even so, not every conversation will hit every important point or be about everybody.

  119. Not only did I email her and post on here, I tweetered her too.

    And yes, my posts have been links to my blog because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I’m trying to get people to NOTICE and ACKNOWLEDGE my writing, not that I’m attracted to fat women. If my crime is anything, its shameless self-promotion. I’m sorry if that was inappropriate for this site, but I’m new to this game and I’m learning the rules as I go.

    As far as helping the body acceptance movement, there are many facets to this movement. Not everyone in the body acceptance movement approaches from the feminist viewpoint. Personally, I’ve seen how what a difference it makes to tell a fat woman she is attractive or sexy or alluring. Its a message they are unaccustomed to hearing. And I think its a message you are promoting as well, but by a different avenue. You are trying to get them to see it from within, while I am sending the message from without.

    Which begs the question, can you comment on a person’s physical beauty without it being considered objectification? I could write all day about my wife’s sexy body, but that does not mean that I am dehumanizing her. Again, I’m not a feminist, so I don’t know what objectification means to you, but it seems to be that it would be to concentrate solely on the physical to the detriment of the mental, emotional and spiritual. But as humans, we are made of all these things and more, so to deny an appreciation of any one is to dehumanize isn’t it?

    I understand why the comments are not appropriate in your venue and you will not see me again after today. I understand your position, but your execution was unduly harsh. You responded as though I were bashing her on my site, when all I was trying to do was applaud her work.

    My methods my be crude, but they are without malicious intent.

    Peace,
    Shannon

  120. Not everyone in the body acceptance movement approaches from the feminist viewpoint.

    WE DO

    ON THIS SITE

    WHERE YOU ARE

    Personally, I’ve seen how what a difference it makes to tell a fat woman she is attractive or sexy or alluring.

    Gee, thanks for your charity.

    You give me a stabby pain. And you creep me out. See ya.

  121. I am really glad you commented on this with your post. I saw it on Jezebel and didn’t know wtf was going on. At first I thought it was some joke about something related to the show because I don’t own a TV and don’t follow the show (and I’m glad!) but then I was like, hey. She’s all serious and shit. WTF?

    So anyway. Thanks.

  122. Hey, Shannon? As positive and “feminist” as you’re trying to be, you’re coming across more as creepy than supportive. You’re certainly allowed to be attracted to people. But it’s not always necessary to say so. Because not everyone interprets it as harmless.

    This here image is pretty illustrative of what I”m seeing.

    And yeah, the term BBW is loaded, because (someone feel free to step in and correct me) it generally has an association with the fetishization of weight, not the normalization of it. And the fetishization of anyone’s qualities is problematic and potentially icky. Speaking for myself, a guy that only wants me because he gets a big boner over my fat is just as bad as one that’d only want me if I were skinny. And it’s not great to think of yourself as only attractive to “deviants”, which is what a fetish implies. It’s not the whole truth, but it’s not a pretty picture either.

  123. Holy crap, Lampdevil, I love that comic.

    Which begs the question, can you comment on a person’s physical beauty without it being considered objectification?

    I think so, yes.

    But that’s different from saying “Here’s a lady I think is hot, check out her thighs, ladies aren’t you grateful that I told you how hot you are,” which is how your post is coming across. I believe you that you intend to praise Kate. It’s just that objectification is not praise.

    Part of the reason we approach fat acceptance from a feminist viewpoint (which, as FJ points out, you could learn more about by reading our whole damn archive) is because women are taught to think that their attractiveness to men is what is valuable about them. ALL WOMEN are taught that. And all women are taught that fat is a priori unattractive to men. And all women are affected by that, and around here, it pisses us the fuck off. So when you say, essentially, “Don’t worry, I’d hit that,” you are perpetuating the EXACT SAME equation of “man wants to fuck you” = “worthwhile.”

    And if you are confused about why FJ read your praise of Kate’s beauty as objectification, please reread what you wrote and think about how you are isolating her body parts (into nonthinking objects) and comparing them to objects:
    Hips, hips, glorious hips, and legs like Christmas hams

    Non-objectifying comment: You are beautiful.
    Objectifying comment: Your legs are like Christmas hams.

    It’s honestly not that hard.

  124. @Lampdevil: You put it well. If you’re an Asian woman, you probably don’t want to date a guy who has a thing for exoticism and Madame Butterfly. You want to date someone who finds you super-fab-attractive, including your ethnic background. Same thing for us fat women.

    I will say, though, that it’s probably not necessary to label those of different sexual tastes “deviants.” I expect there’s a subset of Asian women and fat women for whom the particular dynamics of those fetishes really work. And putting, say, a guy who loves feet in the same category as a pedophile is unfair. I don’t know if the kinky-people-community has a preferred terminology. But I’m willing to be enlightened, if anyone wants to chime in!

  125. This is tangental to the discussion of the Jezebel post. But, I did want to say… I Have Sent An E-Mail to My NPR Affiliate.

    Begin threadjackery tangent:

    The Summary:
    “Dear Interviewers,

    I have a suggestion for when some caller asks a Health Expert Guest “what will we do about Personal Responsibility of Teh Fateez in national healthcare cuz they are expensive and I don’t wanna pay for their death fatz.” And also a suggestion for the Health Expert says “great question! Here’s my blah blah about Taking Responsibility.”

    Please tell them to stop being fat-hating asshats.

    Love,

    K8′

    Except I used the words “Health At Every Size” and “Fat Acceptance” and “Challenge Assumptions” and “Avoid Discriminatory Discourse.” I was polite. I Used My Words. I also linked them here at to HAES resources.

    That experience blew my sanity points for today, which means I am not overdrawing my account over at Jezebel.

    Many thanks, Shapely Prose, for being a go-to resource. The world needs you.

    /threadjack.

  126. My dad is very… hmm, how do I put this? He likes his women lean and blonde. I love my dad to bits, honestly I do, but I’m pretty thankful he was absent for most of my childhood cause his views on beauty are pretty toxic to a little girl (and he had 3 of them!).

    Now the man who did raise me, my stepdad, is by far one of the most caring and accepting men on the planet. He taught me from a young age that people are beautiful because of who they are, not what size they are. He’s only ever called my mom beautiful, not “not fat.”

    I had an eye-opening conversation with him when I was about 16 years old. I used to work for him for extra spending cash (he was a warehouse manager), and I was particularly upset one day because a boy had called me a fat whore. He sat me down in his office and he said to me, “Tassia, you are a beautiful girl with a good head on your shoulders, and I’m proud of who you are, and whatever you become in the future. Don’t you dare let some little asshole ruin your day, his opinions don’t matter.” He smiled at me and pushed the kleenex box toward me. “That said,” he said after a pause, “what’s his name? I’ll go break his kneecaps.” and we laughed.

    I wish there were more people like my stepdad, Lauren. He doesn’t see skin colour, or fat. He sees people, and people are deserving of respect.

    My mom and Lauren’s wedding in 1999. And here they are now. A happy healthy couple. My mom eats nothing but home cooked wholesome food, and they walk the dog together every day. She’s been fat since she had her second child (my big sister), and she fought with herself for a long time, but finally she’s accepted herself and I’m so proud of her. I think my mom is just absolutely gorgeous.

  127. Tassia,

    Your stepdad rocks like Gibralter in an axe shredding contest with Stephen Colbert on a gravel road in the Rockies, which have been transported to Everest.

  128. Sniper,
    Thanks for the welcome and the kind words! :) I don’t think I’m brave, though, ’cause everyone was really nice to me when I spoke up. I’ll definitely stick around, but I tend not to post all too often on blogs.

    Unrelatedly, to continue the feedback loop, I AGREE WITH BOTH LORI AND FILLYJONK. Hee.

    Lastly, and also unrelatedly–Tassia, your stepdad sounds like a pretty great guy.

  129. FJ wrote:
    “I keep meaning to write the “no post can be every post” post but for now… no post can be every post. It’s good that people bring things up in comments that couldn’t be covered in the main post, but even so, not every conversation will hit every important point or be about everybody.”

    YES. I completely understood that and really hesitated posting a comment….but still felt a little “othered”….even though I understood the reasoning behind it, and fully support the clarifiying of who the majority REALLY is when discussing TEH OBESITY EPIDEMIC!!!11!

    I guess I’m just still trying to figure out how best to reclaim my own human being-ness without being all “but what about me??”….because, essentially, that’s not who I am….at all.

    I look forward to reading your post about how no post can be every post :)

  130. Dude, if you’re going to be a pompous ass you need to at least be using “begs the question” correctly. Or else you’re an undereducated pompous ass, which pushes you all the way from “ridiculous” into “pathetic”.

    You responded as though I were bashing her on my site, when all I was trying to do was applaud her work.

    “….by which I mean her thighs. Hnrrr.”

    Where do these people come from?

  131. Regina,

    Do you feel this way when I post about how most obese people are not our size? Because I do think it’s important to point out — especially when news stories about the obesity “epidemic” are illustrated with photos of people OUR size when really they’re talking about people who are Kate and FJ’s size.

    I live for the day when an article about the obesity epidemic is illustrated with a man or woman whose BMI is actually 30. Not 60.

  132. Tassia – Your stepdad sounds like an amazing guy. I wish my stepdad had been around when I was 16 (he’s only been around for about 4 years, I’m 23.85 now), because he has the same kind of attitude. He has three gorgeous biological daughters who are ranging from skinny to inbetweenie, and then there’s me, gorgeous and fat, and he’s never once even implied that I was less beautiful than them, or that they were more important than me because they’re skinnier. Last time I went out with a guy (I live about 9 hours away from him and my mom) he told me if said guy hurt me, he’d drive all the way up here to punch him. That’s a pretty cool thing to hear.

    My dad isn’t a bad guy, but there’s a whole slew of other issues involved in our relationship, including his non-acceptance of my size. We’re working on it, though. ;D

    I learn something new every time I read the comments here, I guess because I’m so new to the FA movement. I didn’t even realize the term BBW was suspect, but now I understand why. Thanks again for teaching me something new!

  133. I guess I’m just still trying to figure out how best to reclaim my own human being-ness without being all “but what about me??”….because, essentially, that’s not who I am….at all.

    No worries, Regina! You weren’t stepping on toes or anything, I just thought it was worth saying what I said. It was worth saying what you said, too!

  134. I wish there were more people like my stepdad, Lauren. He doesn’t see skin colour, or fat.

    Tassia, he does sound lovely, but I need to take issue with the way you put that. We all see color. We all see fat. That’s why it’s so frustrating to hear “you’re not fat” from someone who only means “you’re not a stereotype of a fat person” — what this very post is about. And it’s why white people who claim to be colorblind are actually perpetuating racism.

    I imagine all you meant is that he doesn’t judge people based on size or race, which is great. But there’s a really important difference between not judging and not seeing.

  135. @Starling: I hadn’t meant to haul out the “deviant” thing in a genuine fashion. I meant it more of a sarcastic way, but alas, sarcasm doesn’t always come through. My apologies! I’m something of a kinky person, myself, but I guess I’m not exactly up on the proper conversational protocols. I think I my statement came from a memory of someone once lamenting “I can’t stand those Fat Admirer guys, they fetishize me and it’s creepy”.

  136. Oooh, Señor Creeptacular was totally willing to bestow his invaluable and life-giving Male Attention on all of us. Did you see how benevolent that was? He’s a regular Luke Conley, himself with his “Christmas hams.”

    I was actually thrilled to see that get met with fillyjonkian fury. ‘Cause I get sick of that thing where dudes think they’re owed a giant cookie for conferring on women their insultingly half-assed pseudorespect.

  137. @Kate; Yeah, I suppose that’s a better way of putting it. He’s non-judgmental. I always found his optimistic views on people in general to be fascinating, considering his time in the military over in eastern-Europe.

    I can understand that the colour-blind thing can perpetuate racism for Americans. Minorities of any kind need protection from hate crimes and other human rights violations. I don’t live in America, though. I’ve noticed that our countries, while so very connected, are also fundamentally different at their core.

    America is assimilationist, we’re multiculturalist. We celebrate the differences and embrace the similarities. We’re all human, after all. There is no preferential treatment based on race, only money (thank you conservative government, sigh).

    I honestly had no idea how different we were until my sister married an American and moved there. One of your cell phone companies, Verizon I think it was? They demanded that she produce both a urine sample and hair scrapings to even be considered for an interview. This blew all of us away, that just doesn’t happen here. Government jobs, like the RCMP and the military will require urine samples, but it’s against the law to do random drug testing. We see it as an invasion of privacy. It’s standard fare down there. I feel bad for all of you with your broken healthcare, civil rights violations, and lacklustre political representation.

    Our conservative party is exactly like your democrats, so I imagine our liberals and new democrats all seem like crazy tree-hugging hand-holding one-for-all socialists to America. I do hope you guys can get everything sorted out, your neighbours to the north are worried about you.

    I kind of went off on a tangent there, should totally make a blog post about that. Anyway, sorry if my terminology in the original post was incorrect, I did mean non-judgmental.

  138. withoutscene, on September 3rd, 2009 at 3:10 pm Said:

    A medical professional would literally label me super-obese. I want to see that on my medical file. That is the silliest god damned thing I ever heard.

    Well, it’s clear to me that you need a cape. And a theme song.

    Da dada daaaahhh, Super Obese.

    Faster than a speedy drive thru,
    Stronger than the Zone Diet
    Able to eat hot Krispy Kremes in a single bite
    It’s an emu, it’s a coconut crab, no, it’s Super Obese!

  139. @emmy – I literally LOLed at that.

    And hooray for the sporadic reappearance of coconut crabs in SP comment threads! I always forget how much I love those guys until someone here brings them up again.

    Also, is it just me or is super-obese a way cooler sounding thing to be than morbidly obese? Because as a deterrent, that name just isn’t doing it for me. In fact (if it were possible) I might be inclined to fish-rice-vegie binge my way up from morbid to super-obese just for the better title! And the cape!!

  140. America is assimilationist, we’re multiculturalist. We celebrate the differences and embrace the similarities. We’re all human, after all. There is no preferential treatment based on race, only money (thank you conservative government, sigh).

    Yeah, as a dual citizen who lived in Canada for 14 years of my life, I agree to an extent about the assimilationist/multiculturalist distinction, but you can’t seriously believe there’s “no preferential treatment based on race.” Being white means having the luxury of not noticing racism, but that doesn’t mean it’s not at work. You might want to ask some people of color if they’d agree with that assessment before you state it with such certainty.

  141. “I live for the day when an article about the obesity epidemic is illustrated with a man or woman whose BMI is actually 30. Not 60.”

    Check out Health Magazine’s October issue.

    A few months ago on the fatosphere feed there was a call for people willing to be interviewed by Harriet Brown about fat-related disorders like PCOS. I offered myself up, and my story will be featured in the article. Long story short, started skinny, got PCOS, became “obese” at a size 12-16/BMI 31, had 3 miscarriages, got diagnosed with PCOS, put on medication, got pregnant, have gorgeous 2 month old. I’ve by no means read the article but from what I understand it’s effectively on how “obesity boogah boogah” is negatively effecting fat women, and they’re using me as an example.

  142. @Tassia – As a fellow Canadian with American family, I think it is true our culture of racism can be different, but it really does exist here, too, all the way to the shittiest racist behaviour. I think the target might be different: the Canadian governments aren’t doing any better for the First Nation folks of Vancouver than the southern states have done for their African-American populations.

    Plus, anytime you have prejudice working for, then you can’t really be colour blind, even in Canada.

    I like to use the example of writing, since folks on the internet tend to feel comfortable with words: if I write “I was sitting next to this banker on a plane,” your average North American will get an image of someone, and that someone is unlikely to be a fat sari-clad South East Asian woman.

    If I say “I was talking to a gospel singer on the bus”, you are unlikely to think of a pimply Japanese teenager.

    Is this wrong of us? No: it’s probably true that there are fewer South East Asian women working as bankers than middle aged white dudes. However, it is in us enough that we have stereotypes, and our brains turn stereotypes easily into brands. Just like colas or cars, we start associating good things with the package we’re used to.

    The number of those categories that go by default to white people, and to white men in particular, perhaps even in the minds of the children of sari-clad South East Asian female bankers – well, it’s an easy exercise in the lack of colour blindness in each of us, regardless of how much we don’t wish to carry prejudice.

    The best thing we can do is be aware of our stereotypes, and make sure they don’t become “brand” preferences.

  143. Oh, and I should add, those prejudices can’t become “brand” expectations. I should also put that in. A good friend of mine grew up being asked to sing soul music, for example, in Vancouver, because of her ethnicity.

    Whereas I, a white girl, have never been asked to haul out and sing the Sound of Music, even though I, like many singers of musicals, are white girls.

    Hell, I’m even a fat lady, and no one EVER asks me to sing opera to close down the night.

    (Which they totes should.)

    So. Right. Even “positive” associations end up becoming expectations on an entire population, and that makes a group of people into something other than individuals.

  144. living400lbs wrote:
    “Do you feel this way when I post about how most obese people are not our size? Because I do think it’s important to point out — especially when news stories about the obesity “epidemic” are illustrated with photos of people OUR size when really they’re talking about people who are Kate and FJ’s size.

    I live for the day when an article about the obesity epidemic is illustrated with a man or woman whose BMI is actually 30. Not 60.”

    I totally hear you on this. I mean, if it weren’t so darn serious an issue, it would almost be comical. The whole “shock factor” designed to drive home to the masses just how “serious” the problem (what problem again?) is, just serves to produce panic and knee jerk reactions….feeding the diet/pharma monster…..which seems to be their intention anyway. In all reality, I AM part of who they are talking about anyway because my BMI (that magical measuring device that turned millions obese OVERNIGHT) IS over 30.

  145. The only current thing I see on there is from the natives. I’ve been everywhere from Victoria to Toronto, never seen Quebec or the maritime provinces cause I haven’t had a reason to. The hate crimes I’ve seen in my life involved Asians every time. Lebanese, Vietnamese, Pakistani, Chinese, etc. Mostly prevalent in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto; and even then, it’s mostly just gang violence. There’s not a whole lot you can do about that. They bring their hatred with them when they immigrate, and I wish something could be done to change their minds.

    I won’t get started on the native issue, I could endlessly debate about it and I just don’t have it in me to delve into details right now. Suffice it to say I am well aware of their problems and am a proponent for change.

    Did you read about the man who killed his ex-wife and children? It was called an “honour killing.” Chilling stuff. Happened in Kingston a couple months back, it was one of those things that just shocked the hell out of us as a nation. Patriarchal beliefs led to it, and others like it in the past. I was surprised to see it hadn’t made it to the Feminist blogs I frequent, because it really was a crime against women. Such a sad story, too. Three girls and and his first wife dead, and for what reason? Such a waste of life.

  146. Plus, anytime you have prejudice working for, then you can’t really be colour blind

    Well, that’s just the thing, though. When you have prejudice working for you, that’s when you can afford to be colorblind. It’s only when you’re privileged enough that you don’t get reminded of your race every single fucking day that you can wave a hand and say “gosh, can’t we jut ignore all of this?”

    Tassia, you’re on thin ice with that last comment. The way to not be insane is ABSOLUTELY NOT to start accusing Asians and Muslims of violence. Are you serious?

    I suggest you DO NOT respond to this right away. Do some reading about white privilege. Look at White Liberal Bingo — you are already playing, which is why I suggest you do not keep digging right now. If you continue in this vein you’re not going to like what happens, because we are not a 101 space and we get really impatient when we have to lead people by the hand through 101.

  147. Ashley – I look forward to it :)

    Regina – We are totes fat, we are superfat, and I do have a purple velvet cape. ;) Still, when I first got into fat acceptance (early 90s pre-web alt.support.big-folks) I remember lots of camaraderie and sharing of how to deal with chub rub and seat extenders and so forth — but not many people were vocal about being inbetweenies.

    Since then there’s been a lot more panicking about the “epidemic” and a change in the definition of “obese” and I’m GLAD more inbetweenies are getting into FA. If anything, it is finally getting through my head that yes, even someone who wears a size 12 can actually have a pouchy tummy (I did not know that — I’ve always been fat!)

    So yeah, I think it’s good to learn and share from each other.

  148. Well, that’s just the thing, though. When you have prejudice working for you, that’s when you can afford to be colorblind.

    Right, absolutely. I rewrote that sentence and made it less clear.
    It’s not honest that you’re “colour blind”, because no one is – it’s just easy to pretend when you don’t have prejudice against coming at you.

  149. “I live for the day when an article about the obesity epidemic is illustrated with a man or woman whose BMI is actually 30. Not 60.”

    It’ll happen when an article about anorexia is illustrated with someone who has a BMI over 20.

    The media sure do love their extreme examples, don’t they? Reminds me of that book, How to Lie With Statistics.

  150. I live for the day when an article about the obesity epidemic is illustrated with a man or woman whose BMI is actually 30. Not 60.

    I agree, and it’s obviously not because there’s anything bad or unsightly about people with a BMI of 60. It’s simply because, by using images of people at the statistical extreme, it allows your average reader/viewer to “other” the obesity epidemic. They’re talking about THOSE people–the really fat ones–me and my mom and 1/2 of my coworkers and students and friends, who I know aren’t the gluttonous, lazy, unhealthy pigs they are being made out ot be. You show a picture of a person with a BMI of 30 to illustrate obesity, and suddenly a number of people will realize that the idea that obese people do nothing but imbibe HFCS all day while watching talk shows is in fact not true.

    But, since we are talking about people who make up a small percentage of the population, many people don’t have any close firsthand experience with somebody who is the size of the people used in the photos. I’ll admit that, before I became good friends with somebody who weighs about 350-400 pounds, I had the same “It’s okay to be fat, but not THAT fat” conception most people seem to have. I needed to see firsthand that, in fact, very large people are NOT any different from me or anybody else I know in terms of habits or attitude or lifestyle before I was able to let go of the idea that fat was only okay up until XXX pounds. But without the kind of knowledge you get about somebody only by being friends (or at least friendly) with them, most people will be basing their opinions of how people live and what they’re like from the specials on TLC and Discovery and the hysterical news reports.

    Since most people do know people with a BMI of 30–and likely don’t even think of them as fat, much less obese–if you were to illustrate the “obesity crisis” with them, it would be much, much harder for people to see it as an “out there” problem involving these obese “others” who they have only theoretical knowledge of.

  151. I meant:

    They’re talking about THOSE people–the really fat ones–NOT me and my mom and 1/2 of my coworkers and students and friends, who I know aren’t the gluttonous, lazy, unhealthy pigs they are being made out ot be.

  152. Since most people do know people with a BMI of 30–and likely don’t even think of them as fat, much less obese–if you were to illustrate the “obesity crisis” with them, it would be much, much harder for people to see it as an “out there” problem involving these obese “others” who they have only theoretical knowledge of.

    This is why I’m kind of liking the whole t-shirt idea, though I dunno if it would just make the situation worse. I mean, I get crap for wearing my “And then Buffy staked Edward. The end” shirt sometimes.

    One of the ways to fight prejudice over the long haul is by humanizing the group that’s being othered. When that group has a name and a face and a family to you, it’s harder for (most) people to subscribe to blind hate. Which is why Kate and Marianne’s work on the book and SM and FJ and Sarah’s writing here, and everyone in the fat-o-sphere is so important. Putting a face out there instead of a headless body.

    If we’re talking about systemic change, this is going to take a long time. It’ll be built by every conversation we have here and in other blogs, by every conversation we then have with people outside of the ‘Sphere. And we’re up against a ginormous, rich and powerful cartel of companies and “experts” who make money off our fears. This is not going to get better overnight, but if we don’t keep fighting, it’ll never get better at all**.

    ** – or the world will end due to the giant ants invading or something and it won’t matter. ;)

    DRST

  153. Also, is it just me or is super-obese a way cooler sounding thing to be than morbidly obese? Because as a deterrent, that name just isn’t doing it for me

    It’s like when they decided to call illegally downloading music/videos “piracy”. NAMEDETERRENTFAIL.

  154. Fillyjonk, it was a pleasure to witness your Shannon-handling. You were like Errol Flynn in that verbal duel. Also, I have appreciated those who commented on the “outlier” and trans issues, and FJ’s identifying the point that “no post can be every post” helped me process and appreciate the sort of multifaceted responses and polite dissents that so often occur here in the comments. I always learn so much here.

  155. If anything, it is finally getting through my head that yes, even someone who wears a size 12 can actually have a pouchy tummy (I did not know that — I’ve always been fat!)

    Arrgh. I’ve always been FATTER. I don’t remember wearing a size 12 — I hit adult missy sizes with size 16 pants in when I was 12. I was referring to the picture of Lizzi Miller in Glamour.

  156. Women who wear the smallest sizes can have pouchy tummies too. :) Even size 0/2s.

    It’s easy to forget how little your size range in clothing says about your body type and whether or not you could be considered fat, normal or slim..

    A woman who wears a size 16 at 5’11″ could be very thin, while a woman who wears a size 16 at 5′ could be quite fat.

  157. It’s easy to forget how little your size range in clothing says about your body type and whether or not you could be considered fat, normal or slim..

    This is so true! And it’s also something the BMI project helps me remember — sometimes I look at the people who are near my stats to remind myself that even with the same height, weight, and BMI, our bodies look nothing alike.

  158. THANK YOU FILLYJONK. This is one of those things that I’m sure has been said before and will be said again, but needs to be said often and with great eloquence and vigor. So thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I don’t understand why people just don’t get it. Last year, a fellow student made a fat-hating comment about how “obesity isn’t a disease; it’s a choice” while I was in the room, and it has haunted me. Because I didn’t speak up; I left the room so I wouldn’t explode and spew vomit everywhere, Exorcist-style.

    I am gripped with anger on such a fundamental level when people make comments like that without even stopping to think that in this ridiculous, fat-hating and -shaming culture we’ve created, anyone would CHOOSE to be fat if they could be thin. And a lot of that comes from the place where people don’t understand what it means to be obese. It doesn’t automatically mean 400 lbs., or 300 lbs., or whatever arbitrary standard you want to set.

    That’s why, as much as I adore Lesley’s reviews — which, by the way, is fucking A LOT — they kind of overlook the benefits of the depiction of Fat Pain, which is: people you don’t think of as Fats are, in fact, Fats, and they have Fat Pain. I mean, I’m not saying that it’s not horrible and exploitative, because it is, and it depicts all fatties as basically exactly the same (95% fat pain, 5% other assorted personality traits), and the fact that the show exists at all is really a terrible commentary on America as a whole, BUT–

    But if there is even one person out there for every one of the hundreds of douchehounds at Jezebel who don’t fucking get it, if ONE PERSON realizes the Obesity Epidemic Booga Booga is really ridiculous, and these women are gorgeous and feel badly about themselves for no reason, then maybe the show isn’t all so terrible.

    Maybe that is so tiny a candle to hold up against all of the darkness that is this show that Lesley doesn’t even think it’s worth it to mention. I know empathy isn’t usually a strength in reality-TV viewership, but maybe it could happen.

    And, you know, exposure. Maybe the more the Average Joe sees people framed as fat who look like people he knows and doesn’t think of as fat, he’ll notice the cognitive dissonance, and realize what’s going on. You can lead a horse to water, and while you can’t make him drink, but chances are he will eventually get thirsty.

  159. Yeah SM, I know/know of a few women who are pretty much exactly my height and weight, or exact BMI, and it surprises me every time how vastly different we all look.

    My two sisters and I, on the other hand, all look SO much alike in our figures (but not in our faces!) even though we are all different heights (5’2″, 5’5″, and 5’10″) and BMIs.

  160. OMG, Fillyjonk! I watched that on endless loop too! I think the Pirate King may have had something to do with my sexual awakening, though he has to share that (honor? ignominy?) with Jack Kelly from Newsies. Ah, youthful Mr. Bale singing…

    I’m weird, okay? And have nothing of substance to add!

    “Oh, better far to live and die under the brave black flag I fly…”

  161. The comment about using people with a BMI of 30 in a news story gave me an idea – someone with video-editing skills could take an actual obesity epidemic TV news segment or make a fake one (a la The Onion) and replace the headless fatties with the lovely pictures from the BMI project or video of people walking around (I’m thinking maybe Joy Nash’s Fat Rant video) – it might take some explanation for people to get the point, but once it sinks in I imagine it’d be a pretty good message.

    One other thing I’d like to add to the Discovery Health/TLC sensationalist programs – these shows about fat people don’t just try to find the fattest 1-3% of fat people, they also seem to cherry-pick the people with the most health problems and the worst eating habits. I used to watch these shows A LOT (I also used to be considerably less enlightened about not being an asshole about fat people) and every show seemed to include the list of health problems, talk about how they were going to die at any time if they don’t lose weight, and then show several clips of them eating plates full of cheeseburgers and candy bars. So not only are they not using a representative sample of obese people, they’re not even using a representative sample of “morbidly obese” people or “super obese” people. I wondered for a while where people got the idea that fat people only ate fast food and junk and then I finally remembered back to these shows – all they are seeing in the media are shows about people who probably have a binge or compulsive eating disorder, and then they are generalizing it to everyone who is fat (ie if someone who is 600 lbs on the teevee eats 6 cheeseburgers and 10 candy bars a day, someone who is 300 lbs they see on the street must eat 3 cheeseburgers and 5 candy bars a day). It’s straight up lying through omission.

  162. Great idea about the video, HeatherMae. Your comment also reminded me that part of the hatred is that fat people are being made the repository of/whipping-boy for America’s eating-related guilt. People, having demonized fast food and Cheetohs, for example, may well have intense food shame around such foods (and most people do eat them at one time or another, plus tempting-looking ads for them are everywhere), which they then project onto a hated object.

  163. Monica – Obesity is a choice? Does anyone else hear the echoes of the “well homosexuals CHOOSE to be gay” comments in that statement? If I could choose my body size and sexual preference, there’s no way in hell I’d be fat, because being thin, in our current society, is easier. So is being male, and white, and hetero. It doesn’t mean it’s better, but it certainly is easier. But I can’t choose to be thin any more than I can choose to be hetero. The only thing I can do is choose not to hate myself for being who I am. And choose not to hate anyone else for being who they are, either.

    On a lighter note: I totally agree with Kevin Kline as Pirate King! I was in Pirates of Penzance as Ruth once (because I’m a mezzo, naturally) and our Pirate king was so perfect for the part! If only he’d been better at learning the lines (seriously, his attitude and voice were perfect, but he was a bit lazy about memorization). That was such a fun show. X3

  164. semi-OT but on the subject of not-seeing-color… I just got off a transatlantic plane ride, and took my skymall catalog home.

    After paging through it, out of curiosity I decided to actually go through it and run some statistics, to see if the catalog featured nothing but White Men In Suits.

    I was somewhat surprised by the results. By the time I got sick of counting, I’d come up with 34 white males, 35 white females, one black female, and one male of probably-middle-eastern descent. Paging through the rest of the catalog, not a single black male to be seen (there were a couple more black women, but still very rare)

    I didn’t consciously notice when first reading the catalog to look at the actual products, because I wasn’t thinking about race.

  165. I didn’t consciously notice when first reading the catalog to look at the actual products, because I wasn’t thinking about race.

    Which, if you’re white, is a product of white privilege.

  166. I sure felt privileged to be white when I couldn’t afford any food and wasn’t eligible for food stamps because A) I’m white, and B) I was a college student.

  167. Cheddar, you’re flunking Privilege 101, badly. Read this, Google “white privilege” if you still don’t get it, and do not make another comment here on this topic until you’ve done so.

  168. Also this, particularly this point:

    Privilege is hard for people to embrace. No one wants to admit to having some unfair advantage. In this country of up-by-your-bootstraps, everyone wants to believe that they owe their achievements to their personal efforts alone. It feels far better to think I graduated near the top of my high school class just because I was so much more smart and talented and awesome than my classmates or the many students across the country who failed to graduate. But my considerable efforts are only part of the equation. I know this. Recognizing educational privilege is easy for most everyone. You see a fair amount of lip service paid to the plight of children in failing schools and how we might level the educational playing field. Talking about racial privilege, though, makes people uncomfortable. They equate having white privilege with being racist. They think possessing white privilege makes one a bad person. They think white people are required to feel guilty about the past or turn away from opportunities. None of these things are true.

  169. Man, if I had $5 in food stamps for every time I heard someone say “you’d give me food stamps if I weren’t WHITE!” I’d have enough food stamps to make baby donuts for everyone.

    (I’m a caseworker.)

  170. I got denied for food stamps once. It’s ’cause I was in college, couldn’t get a paying job due to a full time unpaid internship, and don’t have any dependents. I’m actually pretty sure that’s not a situation exclusive to white people. Hell, I’d imagine that if there were strings to be pulled, my whiteness would have only worked in my favor. Though I’d guess my fat ass wouldn’t, because to most people that reads as “gets plenty to eat already.”

  171. This post was absolutely awesome, FJ, and so was that takedown of Shannon Russell. It was literally as if he came in and you just grabbed him by the back of the neck and faceplanted him to the floor like he was some kind of lever.

    I’m reminded of Chris Clarke’s post on how disbelieving and denying women’s experience of harassment doesn’t make you a sympathetic man, which I know you guys have referenced before, and I think it can be applied to a lot of contexts, including Fat Pain. What I think gets to me about it is this idea that as long as you have someone else’s validation of you, that should trump the anxiety of the pain you feel. So if you know you’re fat, God forbid you could actually feel good about yourself by your own efforts. Only when someone else says BUT YOU’RE NOT FAT should you start to feel good about yourself. Not to mention that if you really don’t like yourself, someone else telling you isn’t going to change that, like a light switch.

    I think it’s important to understand that not only because people you know may actually be obese, even if you know them, but also because if you are seriously eating disordered and you’ve internalized all this body-shaming that’s rampant in our culture and you really believe that you are gigantic and horrifying-looking, it doesn’t matter how many people tell you “Oh, but you’re not fat!” Even if you’re not actually fat.

    I don’t really see how we can move forward as a society with body acceptance if we continue to shame people for how they look, and as soon as those people admit that they’ve totally internalized that shame and indeed look and feel horrible, we yell NO YOU DON’T. It’s like not cleaning a room for ten years and then thinking you can just spray some kind of mist and nobody will notice.

  172. I get this all the time. I’m not just “chubby” or “overweight,” not even just “obese,” I’m in that BMI-over-35 category that some of my doctors have called “dangerously obese” with the connotation that it’s just a hop and a skip to “morbidly” and from there another quick jump to death’s door.

    Anyway. All the time people tell me I’m not fat, or maybe “not that fat” as in, some acceptable level of fat that is less than The Obese. Friends have been shocked that I have to shop at plus-sized stores. Even some of my doctors refuse to call me fat or obese, despite obese being the appropriate BMI category for me, and call me overweight. Occasionally I object and even though they know my exact height and weight and in most cases BMI (from my chart and without having to calculate it in their heads), they’re always shocked that I’m “obese.”

    I wish the BMI Project would open up again, actually, and with the option of us providing exact heights & weights & BMIs as well as the basic category.

  173. I too would love to see the BMI project opened up again. If it’s a matter of time and energy to get it going, I would be happy to help out with organising etc.

  174. “It’ll happen when an article about anorexia is illustrated with someone who has a BMI over 20.”

    I get what you’re saying, but you’re a little off in saying it.

    Not to be nitpicky, but the diagnostic criteria for anorexia nervosa from the DSM-IV clearly states that the person must refuse to maintain a body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height. So technically, a person with a BMI of 20 cannot be diagnosed with anorexia nervosa because she’s not underweight.

    ED-NOS? Eating disorder? Unhealthy? Yes, but not technically anorexic.

  175. I get your point, Tea Marguerite, but I think the person who said that (““It’ll happen when an article about anorexia is illustrated with someone who has a BMI over 20.”) was implicitly critiquing that diagnostic criterion. People can be incredibly disordered in their eating, but because their bodies hold on to weight, still be “fat” by some criteria, whether it’s BMI or someone’s subjective assessment of how they look.

    *possible ED trigger following*

    Anecdata: my mom has been anorexic/bulemic for easily 10 years, but because she weighs ~140 and is 5’2″, would be considered “overweight” according to the BMI.

    However, she eats once every other day, and often takes laxatives or vomits afterwards. Her hair and teeth are falling out from nutritional deficiencies, she sleeps constantly, and her mental health issues (net of the eating disorder itself) are *probably* made worse by constant hunger. What’s worse is that she has had doctors give her bullshit about needing to *lose* weight :(

    I’m not trying to jump down your throat, TM, but this very phenomenon is rendered INVISIBLE by the very diagnostic criterion you are pointing out, and that I’m assuming the original commentator was snarking on.

  176. Add-on comment: my mother’s propensity to hold on to weight (i.e. her “fatness”) is probably the only reason that she is still alive after all these years of such disordered eating. Here is one survival benefit of “overweight/obesity” in action.

  177. No, Annitspurple, I totally understand it.

    - ED trigger warning-

    I had an eating disorder at 215lbs. I still have one at 155. I purge after meals, but, because it’s not a binge then purge, I don’t qualify for bulimia. I restrict what I eat, but because I’m not underweight, I don’t qualify for anorexia. I’m not upset to be diagnosed ED-NOS. It doesn’t mean my disorder is any less real or painful because I’m on the not otherwise specified spectrum.

    In a similar manner, I don’t get upset when people tell me I don’t have GAD. I have anxiety problems. I get treatment and medication for my anxiety problems, and I’m not at all bothered by the fact that I don’t fit the diagnostic criteria for one specific disorder subset. That’s the whole reason that NOS exists, from eating disorder to dissociative disorders to bipolar and more.

    I agree that the conversation about eating disorders needs to change to include people of all shapes and sizes, but I don’t think attempting to rewrite the DSM is the way to do it. Perhaps a website like the BMI project– “This is what an eating disorder looks like.” Only, I don’t know anyone besides myself who would feel okay posting their picture.

  178. *possible ED trigger warning*

    More ED stuff (from someone with a psych degree who’s very familiar with the DSM criteria) – I technically didn’t qualify as anorexic either back when I was as a teenager, because my BMI never dropped into the underweight category. But I was eating less than 800 calories a day, often significantly less. And fit all the other diagnostic criteria, except for the bit where I have the body type of my stocky muscular Scottish and Welsh ancestors, and I don’t think it’s even possible for me to get to a BMI under 20…if eating under 300 calories a day for months at a time didn’t do it, I really doubt anything could.

    Ironically enough I’m actually about 20-30 pounds lighter as a non-ED adult who never goes hungry (and is no longer hypoglaecemic, which I also was when I wasn’t eating properly). That’s part of how I came to FA, looking at my own history and seeing what happened when I tried to defy my natural body type. Dieting didn’t make me skinny, it just made me really really sick and incapable of getting anything productive done.

    Fuck you dieting industrial complex. I want my mid to late teens back.

    RE Dodai’s post…it really is a shame how that sort of “but you’re not fat, I think you’re pretty!” thinking seeps into mentality of even the most progressive people. I sometimes wonder if the people really mean what they’re saying, ie. “you actually do not look fat to me, therefore I do not believe that you are”, or if what they really mean is “but you’re not (insert list of negative qualities here), therefore clearly it is not possible that you are fat”. It’s really wierd how hard it seems to be for people to uncouple the physical state “fat” and the negative stereotypes associated with it, even people who’re actually thinking about it and trying not to be prejudiced assholes.

    PS Tea Marguerite – OK, I’ll be the one to say it explicately – the DSM criteria need to be revised. Not just for anorexia, for bulimia too. Because the problem with eating disorders isn’t just that they can make people terribly thin, it’s that even if they don’t make people terribly thin they still make them sick. I have a good friend from high school who’s bulimic and has always been chubby. And her teeth are totally fucked up from the bulimia anyway. These are psychological diagnoses, the person’s weight at any given time isn’t and shouldn’t really be the key issue.

Comments are closed.