Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?

Here’s the thing: I blog about fat acceptance.

Fat acceptance, as you can probably guess from the words “fat” and “acceptance” being right together like that, does not go over so well in some circles. Even in some progressive circles — which are usually known for not hating entire groups of people because of their appearances, not thinking what other people do with their bodies is anybody’s beeswax, and not uncritically accepting whatever moral panic the media tries to whip up, but wev. Fat is different! Don’t you know there’s an obesity epidemic? Don’t you know that fat kills? Haven’t you ever heard of Type 2 diabetes? Don’t you realize how much money this is going to cost society down the line? Won’t someone please think of the children?

So, before I start getting comments like that, I want to lay out ten principles that underlie pretty much everything I write about fat and health.

1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who give a damn about critical thinking would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

2. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.

3. What’s more, those groups do not represent anomalies; no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period. And believe me, they’ve tried. (Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin, is an outstanding source for more on that point.)

4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.

5. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?

6. Most fat people have already dieted repeatedly. And sadly, it’s likely that the dieting will cause them more health problems than the fat.

7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?

9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”

10. If you scratch an article on the obesity! crisis! you will almost always find a press release from a company that’s developing a weight loss drug — or from a “research group” that’s funded by such companies.

So let’s just be clear that if you want to tell me fat people are disgusting and unhealthy in comments, all I’m gonna do is point you back to this post. And/or point you to other posts from my blog or from one of my favorite fat bloggers, and/or bombard you with quotes from the aforementioned Gina Kolata, or Paul Campos, or J. Eric Oliver, or Michael Gard and Jan Wright, or Glenn Gaesser, or Marilyn Wann, or Laura Fraser. Seriously, you don’t even want to get me fucking started.

Oh, also? BMI is complete horseshit.

743 thoughts on “Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?

  1. Very nice post! I’ve thought BMI was a crock since I heard about it; I’m busty and there is no allowance for those two large pillows of fat and glands that reside on the front of my body.

  2. With people like you and Joy Nash in this world we might actually have a chance to be seen as human beings and not just fat lazy slobs.

    You rock and stuff.

  3. JOY ,

    I’M SO GLAD SOMEONE HAD THE GUTS TO JUST STAND UP AND SAY “THIS IS NORMAL AND SEXY”.EVERYBODY NEEDS TO KNOW, CAUSE MOST OF THE WORLD ISN’T PENCIL THIN.THANK YOU FOR BEING A TRUE ROLE MODEL ! I HOPE YOU STAY FOREVER! MUCH LUCK AND LOVE.
    -MARIA

  4. I understand your points and believe some of them to have valid thoughts and feelings.

    I am a nurse and work in the hospital. The majority of our critical ill patients are obese. Obese patients, however they got there, are usually congestive heart failure, Diabetes, and respiratory problem patients.

    I respect you very much and love that youre trying to build “fat” rights, and I use the word “fat” seldom because I think its a hurtful word.

  5. Y’all, psst, I’m not Joy.

    I adore Joy. I would be thrilled if I were Joy. But I’m not. I’m just somebody she linked to.

    That said, I’ll cheerfully take the compliments directed at her. :)

  6. “You wanna start a revolution…”

    Girf=lfriend, let me tell you, between you and Joy, I am filnally coming to grips about myself. I will always be fat, I accept that now. So, will I be accepted ? Probably not, but fuck it. I don’t care. I’m past caring what others think o fme.
    My time has finally come !

    Thank you So Much !!!!

  7. I am sorry I did not get the “Skinny” gene, I got my dad’s genes. And my husband, who weighs 100 lbs. less than me is the one who has high blood pressure and had a heart attack from eating poorly……

  8. Thanks for speaking up! I think it’s disgusting that it’s still considered pc to put us down; publicly, to our faces, behind our backs, on tv, in books. Maybe if we all start to stand up for ourselves like this, we can break out of that negative, ignorant mold!

  9. Kate! Thank you so much for writing this! So informative and uplifting! I will never understand why it’s ok for people to call fat people names or discriminate against us, but prejudice about other things is practically criminalized. Maybe we should all unite and make it against the law to run around saying all the things that folks say about fat people. Include it in the hate crimes laws. Ha! That’d be great! See? Between you and Joy I am getting some smarty pants confidence!! ;) Thanks so much!!

  10. Great list, but let’s add number 11. Fat people should stop feeling sorry for themselves. I am not saying that you should be proud just because you are fat, but because of who you are. I am pretty sure each of us has something to offer the world, and if we let our self-confidence get in the way, we are not only denying ourselves fullfillment but we are depriving the world of US.

  11. Trace, I hear what you’re saying, but given the degree to which fat people are shamed and alienated in this society, I’m not going to rush to tell people to buck up and drop the self-pity. Because I don’t think it’s just self-pity; I think it’s very understandable frustration. In some cases, desperation. Keeping your chin up only goes so far.

  12. This post was very eye-opening and informative, thank you for linking me, Joy! By the way, I love what you have to say and I think you should get out there even more then you already are in the media and let the world know that it’s OKAY to be fat. It’s not a crime, or a four letter word, and we shouldn’t walk around with our heads in the sand anymore. Show off your curves, walk tall with pride in your eyes! If you practice self confidence and acceptance in YOURSELF, then the world will eventually come around and accept YOU too. Since I “met” Joy Nash on-line I have had a dramatic change in my perception of myself. I have a new “can do” attitude that is unstoppable!! Rise up, my fat cohorts! Do not be ashamed any longer! Be the best “you” you can be!!! Now get to it!!

  13. So, Kate, you’re pretty much one of my heroes.

    I work at a women’s gym and honestly, I see women there who are heavier treating their bodies a thousand times better than women who are thin. Sometimes it seems like the heavier women are actually enjoying life more.. I find some of them more conscious of their health, finding camraderie in the hard work, and celebrating their bodies much more than the skinny ones. I know a lot of thin, neurotic woman whose manifestation of insecurity is acting like they have a one-up on bigger women.

    Unfortunately I think that’s the problem — self-acceptance is often a necessary pre-req for acceptance of others :/

    Keep up the great work :D

  14. Amen sister. I myself eat at least 20 grams of fiber everyday and I am VERY active. I walk and exercise daily. Not to mention, gardening and odd jobs around the house. I try to drink as much water as I can stand and limit my fat and sugar intake.

    And I am and have been a size 14/16 (sometimes 18) for some time now.

    Have you noticed how much Ann Coulter and MeMe Roth look alike? And I thought evil came in many forms…hum..

  15. Great blog. I read “Rethinking Thin” By Gina Kolata as well. It has helped me more than I though imaginable. What really got me in the book is where she talks about working hard. Where she says people dieting are the most determined, hard working people you will ever meet. Society calls us fat and lazy, yet we take on the diet challenge all the time and do it for years upon years, but hey we must still be lazy right. Thanks you for blogging about this, It does mean a great deal to many many people that someone is putting the word out there, so Thank you.

  16. This is a wonderful post! I have so much amo now for the jerks who post nasty hateful comments about me just because I’m a bigger woman. You rock!

  17. sometimes i think the first path to general acceptance is through sexual imagery. everywhere one looks, it’s always about the surgically enhanced, ‘thin’, adult film actress. In modeling, it’s always about the thin, six foot plus, tall model (the average woman isn’t that tall to begin with), and this rolls onto mainstream film and television. I can’t remember seeing a mainstream film with a fuller figured actress, the only exception to this rule is watching foreign films starring actresses like Monica Belluci and Sophia Loren.

    You’re right, a lot of the supposed issues are a crock, and it’s interesting to see that diet industries/corporations earn millions of dollars each year. If companies like Jenny Craig were so successful, and they provided a permanent ‘fix’, then why are they around decades later, and why do all of their celebrity speakers relapse, and what gets me is that no celebrity or journalist addresses this on a wide level.

  18. I have to say to Ian, the nurse, although I doubt he will get to read this, but are there not almost an equal amount of patients that are skinny (or not obese) that have heart problems, congestion, and diabetes? Also, like this blog states, it is likely if there are more obese people it is because they got that way by doing nothing (i.e. exercise) and eating crap.

  19. As many have said before, thank you so much for just speaking the true. No, not speak, screaming it for all to hear. It’s been too long that we as a culture have been obsessed with the impossible (and unhealthy) ideal of the waif as being beautiful. I mean come on, looking like you just escaped from a concentration camp is not sexy to me and I’m sure it’s not to a lot of other people. For me, I look in the mirror and say ‘hell yeah, my body is rocking!’ and I feel great most of the time, but when I get to seeing pictures of myself especially those next to my friends who are all pretty small, I can’t help but think, ‘man, I look big.’ but I’m not. Unless you count a size 8 as being big. It’s a (no pun intended) huge problem that we need to face and I give you a standing ovation with crazy whistling and yelling for just being plain old right. Thank you.

  20. What i hate, is the fact that Dr. Phil and everyone have on these shows with 500 pound people. Yes this does happen, yes they dont mean to make them selfs that way, even yes to the fact in some right they didnt always have a choice. But they feed the coman mis conseption that if your fat, i mean 2 pounds over weight or 2000 pounds over weight that you don’t eat right and dont exersize. I eat better then just about any skinny person i know. And i hate to watch people i love and care about “starve” themselfs because sociaty is telling them there to fat! And even when they hate it because sociaty is ragging on them, they rag on someone else.Why cant people see us as people? Why cant we all just get along

  21. Kate, thank you. Thank you thank you thank you. It is because of people like you that I am finally coming to terms with myself. I have so many medical conditions that have nothing to do with my weight, or if they do they only make my weight worse, not better that I have easily become discouraged. My father has been horrid through it all, and I have finally come to the decision (after years of allowing him to abuse me through his fat hatred) that the next time he decides to treat me as if I’m stupid and don’t see the news that I’m going to tell him to blow it out his ear. If it weren’t for people like you, Joy Nash and Paul at BFB I wouldn’t have the cajones to finally stand up for myself.

  22. To the nurse: The reason all your critically ill patients are fat is because the thin ones with the same health problems died already.

    Your patients have survived as long as they have because of the protective nature of their fat!

    It’s like the research showing that helmet laws lead to an increase in head injuries: The injured folks are those who would have died in the past because they weren’t wearing helmets.

    Nice try, though!

  23. 7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

    It’s too bad that these three points alone aren’t enough for everyone:
    “8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?

    9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”’

    Good luck. I hope all your postings convert one or two here and there.

  24. I’ve been thinking about this entry, and how very valuable it is. I’m wondering if someone could create a button image that says “But don’t you realize that fat is unhealthy”, with maybe a cute representative graphic (or several buttons for choice? I don’t know) for some of us size positive bloggers to link to here on our blogs. I would totally go for that. I am teh suck at graphics design, though.

  25. While I’ve heard some argument from the so-called health community that fat cells can contribute to internal inflammation, that’s about all I’ve heard about fat being unhealthy in any real sense. Otherwise, either it is an expression of genes or it is an expression of an underlying medical condition or it’s both.

    With me it’s definitely both. I’m on what you’d call a diet, although not calorie deprivation, because of this. I’m very close to becoming diabetic and it’s not caused by my body fat; rather, the increase in body fat is related to the onset of my prediabetic condition. So I changed my diet to deal with the underlying condition and we’ll see what, if anything, it does for the weight. I know my body’s permanently changed regardless. I’m almost a hundred pounds overweight. I am not doing this to look like a swimsuit model; my skin’s stretched out way too far for me to ever do that even if I were interested. (I hated swimsuits even when I was slender!)

    I guess what I am trying to say is it is not always fat hatred that motivates this stuff. OK, I’m not totally comfortable in my body, but I never went above 200 pounds before two years ago and I’m still having a hard time with it in terms of physical range of motion and so on. But I really don’t give a rip what guys think of me anymore, I’ve been burnt one too many times, so this is totally for me.

    That said, I am totally not in denial about fat hatred in general. I have noticed that being 5’6″ and 230 pounds has made me invisible in a way that being 130 did not (and I will never see 130 again, and it’s just as well). Then again, I don’t think the little twerps realize they’re doing me a favor ignoring me. The last time I got hollered at from a moving vehicle was in 2003 and it hasn’t happened since. Yay!

  26. Someone once said, ‘if at first you don’t succeed try, try, try again, and then give up, ‘cos you don’t want to make an idiot out of yourself.

    Not sure of the relevance, but just felt like repeating it. Thank you.

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  29. I’m decended of a long line of peasents who have survived many famines – my family are predisposed to being fat.

    I have heard that dieting can be successful if you maintain your weight at the lower level for 2 years, as your metabolism can ‘reset’ to the new weight. I’ve not managed this myself. Part of the problem is that at the new weight, you have to eat less – if you go back to the way you ate at your higher weight, you will put the weight back on – I’ve done it (twice).

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  31. Amen! I love your blog and this essay is a perfect retort to all the massively stupid “studies” in the news every single day.

    I am linking to it because everyone I know should read it!

  32. I think I love you!

    And I think I’ll go hug my “large belly that would have totally won in a battle for survival cause it hordes food 300 years ago” a little bit now. Cause it loves me back. :)

  33. I’m new to blogging but really loving it because of people like you! Seriously, I’ve been out here thinking that I’m the only one with these thoughts and now I’ve managed to connect with people thinking the same way. Just fantastic. Thanks!

  34. Wow, finally – a curvy woman with sense and confidence!

    I’m a UK size 20 and get narky comments even though I don’t look that big (most people think I’m about a UK 16).

    I also suffer from PCOS and have had years of being told it will “go away if you lose weight” – Newsflash people…I starved myself down to a size UK 8 once. The PCOS was just as bad.

    Glad to have found your blog – I’ll be reading regularly from now on!!

  35. Pingback: More on hating your fat friends… « Fat Chick Crafts

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  37. I love this blog. I really do. I completely agree with the notion of fat acceptance and I think it’s great that people are like, adopting, y’know, sane views on fatness and all that. I never completely bought that weight and health go hand in hand always.

    However, I have to take issue with one little thing you said in this post: “Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized).”

    I’m underweight (5’6 and 110 lbs.). I am not this way because I starve myself, nor am I this way because of some illness. I am this way because of my genetics. My dad is underweight too, more so than I am, and he has no health problems either. How can you say the obesity epidemic is a load of crap and then say that underweight is extreme and on par with being so fat you’re immobilized?

    Maybe I’m misunderstanding what you mean by “underweight” (because you do seem to believe people can be naturally thin) But even if you didn’t necessarily mean BMI underweight, you may want to revise that. Some (not all!), it seems, in the FA community have no problem believing obesity isn’t always unhealthy, but can’t POSSIBLY bring themselves to believe one can be underweight (BMI) and healthy or underweight through genetics. People, it’s only bad if you starve yourself to get that way, or have an illness that made you lose weight.

    (It’s actually my underweight that enabled me to be more accepting of the notion that hey! Weight and health are not really all that intertwined! And if I’m underweight through no fault of my own, people can be overweight through no fault of their own. Oh, and I realize that not many people my height could be healthy at my weight. *I* can, however.)

  38. Margaret, this is a great point. From the sentence construction I think Kate intended “underweight” in this case to be the other extreme of BMI from “so fat you’re immobilized,” but of course the phrase should be “dangerously underweight.” And, like fat, the health risks there are also either from habits (that is, not from being underweight but from starving to get there) or from common cause (e.g. you have Crohn’s disease which causes both low weight and other health problems). Weight as a POTENTIAL INDICATOR of poor habits or health problems, or even an exacerbating force — but NOT a cause — is something we need to embrace on both sides, just as we need to embrace body autonomy across the board.

  39. fillyjonk is right Margaret. Kate is not saying that being underweight is unhealthy in itself, but rather becasuse the risks are likely to be there: When you compare someone in a closer range, that lives better, they are likely to be healthier. And it’s not about the weight, but how one nurtures themself, genetics (A big one, and this is why you would not be included in her example), and more. The fact that you are genetically underweight, and you live right is is simple fact in why you would be ok as long as you live the way you do. And I defend thin people in my activism as well: Whether you’re underweight because of habits or not, you deserve respect, equality, and defense.

  40. Actually, Fillyjonk and Jon B. are both close but not quite on the money. (Thanks, though, guys.)

    What I meant was, studies show that on both ends of the BMI chart, there’s a slightly higher mortality risk than in the center.

    That has nothing to do with the respect due the very fat or very thin. And it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with the way people in those categories live. It just means that, to the extent that BMI relates to health at all, “underweight” and “extremely obese” are the categories most at risk, and their risk is about equal.

    I certainly believe that one can be underweight through genetics, and that one can eat well and exercise moderately and remain underweight. Eating well and exercising will improve anyone’s health, but they won’t necessarily change anyone’s weight. That might be the number one point of this blog, and it applies equally to thin people and fat.

    But statistically, the “underweight” category is still associated with slightly more health risks than all but the “extremely obese” one. That doesn’t mean any given person in that category is less healthy than any given person in the “overweight” category (which has the lowest mortality risk). It just means that when you reduce people to numbers and categories (which is categorically NOT the point of this blog), that’s how it shakes out.

  41. I gotcha.

    I do wonder if many of the underweight health risk “discoveries” have the same problem as the overweight ones–that is, saying “oh, well more people who are this weight have x health problem more so than others so the WEIGHT causes the problem” while conveniently failing to take diet and family history and other such things into account.

    Anyhow, that’s enough of that. I’ll stop derailing the comments. :P

  42. Hi Kate. I really like your site and your writing style. Please have a look at my site. http://www.onexsport.com. I would like to invite you to send in a photo of yourself doing yoga to my photo contest. My site One X Sport is for plus sized women who enjoy sports and fitness activities.

    Cheers and warm regards.
    Melanie

  43. Pingback: Fat Acceptance. Sure, I’ll have some!

  44. I just found your blog. I think this is a wonderful post. I myself have never been even close to overweight (not bragging) but my father was very obese. All the hostility toward the obese is not helping any supposed problem. I have become convinced that if anything it hurts the problem. Those with real over-eating disorders are only going to respond negatively by the anti-fat media and make their disorder worse. Those who are not “skinny” but are healthy are then guilted or shamed into feeling worse about themselves. Good for the beauty and diet industry, bad for people’s health and self-esteem.

    I LOVE that quote: “You cannot hate people for their own good.” It’s exactly how I think.

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  46. Gee, thanks for deleting my comment! I thought you were too broadminded to censor people who don’t subscribe to your own beliefs – but I guess not.

  47. I thought you were too broadminded to censor people who don’t subscribe to your own beliefs – but I guess not.

    Nope, guess not!

    Also, you might want to look up the difference between “censorship,” and “refusing to tolerate nonsense on one’s own blog.”

    Also, try reading the fucking comments policy.

  48. the “fat” issue is always a thought provoking one, so it is always interesting to hear the voices that are out there, scientists and lay folks alike. the most important point here is certainly that you can’t hate someone into being thin, and that compassion is essentially, regardless of whether you stand on the relationship between body weight and health problems.

    as a researcher, i naturally find parts of the blog problematic, but that is very much part of the point: constructive discussions need to happen, on this issue especially. so keep writing and reading, i’ll keep doing research, and hopefully, at some point, the two will find the truth.

  49. You rock! I have always had a problem with BMI as fundamentally skewed. It’s a great project! It’s time for the woman of the world to take back the media. It is a woman’s body not a little boys. We are supposed to have tits and ass!

    Keep up the great blog!

  50. Great site – I found you through the BMI photos on Flickr. I’d like to respond to Ian, the nurse who said that most of his/her patients were obese. I worked as a critical-care Registered Nurse for 18 years, half that time in upstate New York, and half that time in San Francisco. And in both places, I observed that the absolute sickest patients were bags of bones. It was such a pronounced difference from what I saw out on the streets that I wondered, “If fat makes you sick, where do all the sick fat people go?”

  51. as a researcher, i naturally find parts of the blog problematic

    Dear matt, sorry, but your comment sounds a bit arrogant and condescending to me. Dropping your “researcher” status like that sounds very much like “your science is bullshit, but trying to love yourselves is kind of cute” to me.

    Well, I’m a medical doctor and certainly a researcher, too, and it’s not “natural” at all for me to find anything about this blog problematic, as you call it. Nor is it for any of my colleagues. Whatever part of our researcherness is supposed to do that, it’s not working.

    Whatever beliefs you adher to in this question, I hope you’re not forgetting they are no more than that, beliefs. Being a scientist does that to us sometimes. Giving us a delusion of absolute truths. Sadly, there are none, and we’re all free to read the existing evidence any way we personally think is more convincing. If you read it differently than e.g. Kate does, I’d love to hear your arguments.

    But if you honestly believe that the points made in this blog are somehow inherently antithetic to current research, I’m afraid you just haven’t been reading your resources thoroughly.

  52. *lol* Instead of a trophy, how about giving me something brave, smart, thought provoking and brilliantly written to read, every day? …oh, wait.

  53. Maybe we should have a Comment of the Week feature, like the Comics Curmudgeon does! Only ours will be uplifting instead of pants-pissingly funny.

    Maybe.

  54. This is the most wonderful blog I’ve found in all of 2007! I even enjoy the comments! I already said this via email, but you guys TOTALLY ROCK! Don’t change a thing and never stop. –Natalie

  55. I even enjoy the comments!

    Seriously, the commenters here are so fucking awesome.

    And yes, Sweet Machine, I’ve actually had that idea before, and Em just might be our reason to start!

  56. Everything about this post, and then everything about Em’s comment, just made my week. And possibly my month. And maybe my year. Hero Trophies all around.

    -S

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  58. Nice job on this blog, Kate!!! People are just so crazy about weight nowadays that sometimes I think fat is the new leprosy.

    Keep posting!

  59. “If fat makes you sick, where do all the sick fat people go?”

    Well said Anna, I’ve had reason to consider this question again recently after Sandy Szwarc was criticised on another blog re: heart health and fatness claiming she was biased stating that PubMed numbers of studies are conclusive.

    Your question is the question, where are the actual (fat) bodies in actual heart wards ( and of course other wards) in actual hospitals as opposed to studies.

    I do not say this to be provocative biased but it is something that needs to be asked, because the people I’ve heard ask this question based on their own experiences i.e. being medical professionals (mainly nurses like you for some reason) or hospital visitor volunteers, I’ve never heard it directly from a fat person, funnily enough as I think we still believe it or are unsure.

    The upshot is, is there a disparity between bad heart health in fat people according to studies and actual heart health in actual fat people ?

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  61. WOW,
    Im in love with you. Seriously!
    Ive been dissing BMI everywhere possible forever!
    DId you know (in my case) that one can be overweight and anorexic at the same time?
    No?
    Well when I went into treatment at one point in my life, I was.
    What a mixed message. Gain weight, you fattie!
    Oy.
    I LOVE your blog. I have been both 400 lbs at one point in my life, then later on, underweight.
    Ive lived both sides of this sick twisted socially constructed issue.
    Im excited to read an intelligent blog by a fellow quirky smart blonde on the matter!

  62. i loved this!
    people always say you can’t be “fat” & healthy at the same time, and scoff at me when i say “I AM!!!”
    i work out most days, i eat healthy, yet i cannot lose enough weight to put me into the “healthy” BMI–i got close once & looked skeletal (i was also bulemic at the time!)
    i have a great resting pulse, great blood pressure, wonderful cardiac health, very flexible and strong. i belly dance, weight train, do martial arts, walk almost daily.
    i’m in better health than my healthy weight friends!

  63. Pingback: Fat & Sex Drives « The SUV Driving Bitch Your Mother Warned You About

  64. Awesome site. I have long raged against the unhealthy body images that are constantly shoved down our throats by our culture and was recently labeled as morbidly obese by a health care “un-professional” who spoke it in such a way that it sounded like an epithet. As an artist, I also think that humanity would be a pretty boring looking lot if we all looked like super models…

  65. Thanks for this post! I always believed that it is the lifestyle of the person that determines health rather than weight.

    I am considered obese based on my weight (a UK 16/18). I have a classic hourglass shape – large breasts (but a small ribcage), tiny waist and large hips. I have no health problems except an underactive thyroid and asthma. Plus, I have been a lifelong vegetarian.

    I used to work out 6 hours a week in the gym with a personal trainer plus water aerobics an Tai Chi 2 days a week. I did this faithfully for two years when I was a size UK 22. I did not own a car and biked or walked everywhere. Did I lose weight? Not at all. I just toned up.

    I did the slimming club stuff and after a year, I lost 1.5 stones. I went on a drastic liquid diet and did lose weight. But, the calorie intake was around 500 per day. And I did kung fu 4 hours a week. However, a friend of mine did the same diet, started the same day, cheated midway through and never exercised. Yet, she lost more weight than I did.

    In total, I’ve lost 6 stone and it has taken me years. I’ve kept most of it off, but it is a struggle because my body is just designed the way it is.

    My GP was determined that I, at 39 years old, must suffer from either high blood pressure (normal) or diabetes (tested every year since I was 20, blood sugar remains on the low side of normal). She had my cholesterol tested and was shocked to see that out of all her patients I had one of the lowest levels. She no longer says anything to me about my weight.

    I think it is genetics. Of course, there are some lifestyle choices that come into play, but that is not the whole thing. Some of us are destined to be overweight and others underweight or “normal” weight.

    Either way, whether a person is fat or not, he/she is still a person. Everyone should be treated with respect, not judged or ridiculed.

  66. Can I just say how much I LOVE this? And this whole site….haven’t had much time to explore yet but it’s looking good.

    I’m a UK size 18. I don’t know how much I weigh because I refuse to have those insidious machines of torture, bathroom scales, in my home.

    I’m from a family of two halves: stick-thin people who burn it all off on my mother’s side, chunky farm laborers on my dad’s. Guess which side I take after. Was thin myself till age 7 or so – then someone found out I’d been skipping school lunch (they were, in the UK in those days, truly nauseating) and I got packed lunches and wham – on 3 meals a day rather than 2, I was suddenly a Big Girl overnight.

    And have been ever since. And nowadays, I can’t get through the day without lunch if I wanted to, so even if I get the hang of eating slightly less crappily than I have in recent years (undoubtedly a good thing, and I’m working on it), and find a dance class that isn’t full of thin people who’ll look down their noses at me, I am never going to have my mother’s build. And yet still she keeps up the hate. But then, weight is the first thing she judges anyone by, and if they’re fat, usually the last. (She, meanwhile, shoves veggies to the side of her plate, but dives into a huge dessert…and when she’s finished, will steal bits of anyone else’s! Pardon the pun but, go figure.)

    I ended up here because we just had a news article here in the UK on a reseatch project that was ‘hey…you know, fat people AREN’T necessarily to blame for being fat!’…and I think you can guess what the comments were mostly like, but I was astonished at some of them. Suggestions that we should be banned from public transport, barred from NHS medical treatment, taxed for every BMI point….and yes, according to a few people, put in camps. Excuse me while I emigrate, if they’ll let me on the plane!

    Desperate for some sanity I googled ‘fat hatred’, hoping there was opposition to this kind of idiocy…and thank Goddess there is. Definitely going to spend some more time exploring here. Thank you.

  67. I have been everything from merely overweight to obese and back my entire adult life. It took a long time for me to accept myself as I am and who I am. I’m loving life, and when you love yourself, then others will love you too. That’s my philosophy. It works for me. If I get thin, great. If I don’t, I’m not going to be bugged by it. There’s no way I’m going to kill myself to fit someone else’s perception of sexy, alluring, attractive, etc. I’ll never be a size zero… I don’t have the build for that, but if I never get below a size 20 or 18, so be it.
    I’m definitely going to put you on my blogroll. Your blog is too important to stay in the shadows where the “beautiful people” would like us to stay.

  68. Its interesting to see the fat= unhealthy equation in America. Everytime I go back to India having lost a bit of weight, my in-laws and random relatives will moan “Oh look how unhealthy you’ve become – are you not eating enough?” and then proceed to fatten me up. Its even worse for my husband – being thin means not only is he “unhealthy” but also he is not “prosperous” and doesn’t look like a man of the world.

    And among my husbands family (traditionally a community that places a LOT of emphasis on eating and food) they will always compliment your few extra kilos with a glowing “How healthy you look”.

    n!

  69. I also want to add that having lived in France for a year, I saw a completely diffferent approach to food. We never checked any labels on food, the dieting section was in one corner of the supermarche and comprised a few biscuits and we ate well (wine + pasta + chocolate each night) and walked a lot and never ever checked our weight. And we were actually much thinner and fitter in that one year than we have been since in the US – after watching nutrition labels and portion sizes and exercising like crazy. Its just harder to keep to a moderate weight here, I think.

    n!

  70. Funny how we’re allowed to have our opinions and everything, and the trolls will even say that they respect our opinions, but they HEAVILY imply that we should just go off ourselves (in whatever preferred method they suggest; shooting, in Victoria’s case) because we MUST all secretly hate ourselves, because WE HAVE TEH FATZ!!!!!111OMGWTFBBQeleven

  71. @Victoria:
    Even if you weren’t fat, I’d encourage you to shoot yourself. No really. And I know you aren’t going to read this because you are either too busy working on not being fat or too busy working on getting a gun license, but shit like this pisses me off.

    See, nobody goes around saying stuff like, “If I were an arrogant asshole I’d shoot myself,” because being an arrogant asshole is far more acceptable than being fat.

    People who would shoot themselves because they are fat are people who hold other human beings (see rules 7 and 8) that do not live up to their expectations in such disdain that they demote them mentally and emotionally to “wastes of skin”.

    In real reality (as opposed to that illusory reality you, Victoria, live in) people who are comfortable in their skin are the ones who are living life instead of avoiding death.

    Yes, that is the motivation, isn’t it?

    To be fat is to be unaccepted – social death. The lack of others accepting you could cause you to not accept yourself (which is a whole other problem regardless of weight) – emotional death. And it is supposedly responsible for health problems – physical death.

    So…if you’re already “dead”, why not make it official, right?

    And I, for one, support that decision, Victoria. The world needs fewer folks like you and more folks like Kate.

    @Kate: Sorry for sucking up all this real estate, but it was cathartic.

  72. I really appreciate your points regarding the poor body image that is popular in the good old USA. Thin for the sake of thin is gross (size 12+ and fit kicks the crap out of a waif anyday, physically and aesthetically), but cigarettes and coffee instead of excercise and a square meal seems the popular way to be “healthy”. I long for the day when people approach good diet and excercise not as burdensome chores with the one goal of being thin but as activity for the sake of being healthy regardless of body type. As you say, fat in itself is not automatically unhealthy. Active people that eat well and are still heavy are generally quite robust in both physical strength and immunity. With that I totally agree.

    However, I think you don’t give enough attention to the phenomenon of increasing fatness in the USA being largely reflective of rotten lifestyle. Our genes haven’t changed in a generation so it is impossible that the increase in average weight is due to genetic factors. On average most people fall between the endomorph and ectomorph ends of the spectrum. Their bodies do respond to training load, calorie intake, and nutrional quality. People that can’t gain weight and people that can’t get rid of it are at the tails of the distribution. The rest of us fall somewhere in between and we accumulate significant amounts of fat only when inactive. Unfortunately our collective size (on average) in the US is reflective not of big robust active people but is reflective of calorie dense nutritionally poor diet coupled with inactivity. Obviously with the massive diversity of body types this does not apply to everbody . However, in places like the deep south and West Virginia where suddenly (within a couple of decades) >30% of the population is obese, the increase in size is not from a sudden increase in the frequency of endomorphy in the population. (I recognize that endomorph and ectomorph are not valid scientific terms but here I am using them as a quick and dirty means conveying the concept of “easily gains/retains weight” versus “has difficultly gaining weight”).

    BTW: I just stumbled in here because I googled “Oliver Curry” (someone posted his crackpot shit on a message board that I frequent) and I have to say that this blog kicks ass even if I might catch hell for my comments on this section.

  73. Oh, and before you completely eviscerate me, I am following up Point Number 3 (which is the only point that my comment directly conflicts) starting with the linked book so I’m not just pulling a drive by here.

  74. The actual weight gain of Americans over the past decades is smaller than you’d think. The average American has only gained, what? 5-10 pounds?

    Also, the limits for “overweight” and “obese” were lowered in 1998, so that a lot of Americans came into the higher categories without gaining an ounce. From that perspective, it’s not a good idea to simply look at statistics and say we’re – or since I’m not American, you’re – bigger than ever before and it must mean some negative change in our lifestyles. Surely people are less active than before, but that’s also true of normalweight people.

    Are you familiar with http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com? There’s a lot of interesting information about obesity-related studies there. I’m sure Kate or someone else here can give you a much more detailed response, too, these are just things that popped into my head.

  75. Hey Aaron, stick around and read a little more. You’re not totally on target (on a lot of things — for instance experimentally, it seems that almost nobody can permanently gain or lose significant amounts of weight, and in fact our size in the US is due, at least in part, to general embiggening, of a few pounds and a few inches on average). But if you read the stuff posted about Health At Every Size, you’ll see that we are in no way insensible to the fact that a lot of people are leading a “rotten lifestyle.” The difference is that we don’t think it’s causing an “obesity epidemic” in the “HOLY SHIT EVERYBODY JUST GOT HUGE AND SICKLY” sense that most people think when they hear those words. Are corn syrup and car commutes making people gain the five pounds that might move them from “normal” to “overweight” or from “overweight” to “obese”? Maybe, but check the BMI Project tab at the top of the page to see what that really means. Would it be better if people could eat well and be active, regardless of whether they lost those five pounds (or even the 50 phantom pounds that the Obesity Epidemic spokespeople want to ascribe to our Terrible Lifestyles)? Well, to the degree that it’s fiscally and physically realistic, yes it would.

    The thing is that we, unlike Anti-Obesity Crusaders, actually think that healthy food and activity for everyone (to the best of their physical ability, of course) is a good in and of itself. We don’t need the myth of permanent weight loss to make it a worthwhile goal. So you won’t find anyone here saying that there aren’t people in the US who are inactive and eat crap — though we will say that this is influenced by myriad factors, not the least of which are socioeconomic — or that this is a boon. We do reject the notion that the way to combat this is to make everyone obsessed with being thin.

    I don’t know why I’m explaining all this, but you seem to have gotten HAES on at least a surface level, and you think Oliver Curry is a crackpot, and you’re clearly not a troll.

    I have to say, and this is totally tangential but maybe worth posting about and taking the temp of the readership: personally I’m so suspicious of any pseudo-medical categorization of body types that only allows for three kinds of body. Ectomorph/endomorph/mesomorph doesn’t do it for me any more than vata/pitta/kapha — it’s just so simplistic! But if you’re just using it as a shorthand then I understand.

  76. Absolutely.

    “””personally I’m so suspicious of any pseudo-medical categorization of body types that only allows for three kinds of body. Ectomorph/endomorph/mesomorph “””

    The pseudo-medical bit is why I added the qualifier for the use of those terms. At best those terms reflect points on the spectrum and that is how I intended them to be interpreted. We are all quite unique along that spectrum.

    “””The thing is that we, unlike Anti-Obesity Crusaders, actually think that healthy food and activity for everyone (to the best of their physical ability, of course) is a good in and of itself. “””

    I absolutely agree with this. Nothing could be more true. However, CDC quotes an average rise of 24lbs in bodyweight since the 1960’s (both sexes). Given that across the board we are more sedentary, that cannot be reflective of a healthy change in body composition on the average unless we were substantially underweight back then.

  77. that cannot be reflective of a healthy change in body composition on the average unless we were substantially underweight back then.

    We have also grown though, don’t forget. Up, I mean.

    I’ll have to look into the CDC’s data, because I’ve seen a conflicting account. If you happen to have it, feel free to link it, because we’d like to eventually put together a FAQ for new readers like you who feel drawn to HAES but have reservations about whether the obesity epidemic is really as overblown as we say it is (Deniselle’s link to Junkfood Science is good for that too; I wouldn’t trust Sandy implicitly, but she doesn’t distort the facts any more than some researchers, and never because she’s in someone’s pocket!). We’re not scientists and we can’t answer every question, but we would like to at least put all the questions in one place.

  78. Life expectancy has risen during that time, Aaron. So why conclude that the rise in weight is even a bad thing? Because it seems bad isn’t an answer.

    And we have absolutely no way to conclude why its increased. As noted, height’s gone up, too. Even still, there is nothing showing that the increase is due to a sedentary lifestyle of excess food consumption. Know what else has happened since the 1960’s? The diet industry has exploded into a billion dollar entity. Know what happens when people diet? They gain back more weight than they lost. So, with so many more people being marketed to for dieting and dieting itself surely going up and dieting being linked to weight gain, why should anyone just assume that a modest increase in average weight is because all us fatties are lazy?

  79. Victoria, maybe you should shoot yourself. Why? Because it’s obvious you are a waste of a human being. If I were as ignorant and insulting as you, I wouldn’t punish the rest of the human race by existing.

  80. I should apologize. I am trying to “enlighten” the anti-fat individuals of the internet by posting a link to this wonderful post. It’s safe to say any new trolls you are getting are coming from extremely hostile spaces to begin with. I post at a lot of message boards where insecure men (and women) worship supermodels who are probably suffering from eating disorders. Needless to say, anybody above a size four is “fat” to them. No doubt Victoria came from one of these spaces.

  81. Victoria’s comment is, very sadly, the way many people of the world think – they would rather be dead than be fat. I’d like to stay as I am….fat and alive rathe than thin and dead. LOL

    Kate, you rock, and I would like to thank your mother and father for bringing you into this world. :)

  82. Ok, I retract that statement above about being thin and dead – I’d rather just be ALIVE AND WELL, no matter what size.

  83. About Victoria’s comment, it was ignorant but don’t encourage her to go and shoot herself, come on now. Like she said, you are all intelligent, why insult her when you can educate her? Or at least question her and ask her why she would shoot herself if she were fat (which by the way I highly doubt she actually meant that.)

  84. Skinnyminny, I don’t advocate telling anyone to shoot herself. However:

    why insult her when you can educate her?

    Two reasons, mostly.

    1) The entire blog is here for people unfamiliar with fat acceptance to educate themselves. She chose to mouth off without reading any of it.

    2) She’s a troll who’s not coming back.

  85. (which by the way I highly doubt she actually meant that.)

    Do people get to say whatever the fuck inflammatory things they want as long as they don’t really MEAN it? How much do you have to mean it? Enough to do it? Or just enough to say it?

  86. The entire blog is here for people unfamiliar with fat acceptance to educate themselves. She chose to mouth off without reading any of it.

    Including the very post she was responding to, which has more education in it than anybody could provide in one response to a comment.

    And in any case, why should we be polite and helpful to people who come onto a fat acceptance website just to make nasty remarks about fat people?

  87. Exactly, fillyjonk. Words mean things. If you actually say it (type it, spray-paint it, embroider it on a damn throw pillow), then I’m not really going to waste my time trying to determine if you *mean* what you *say*.

    You said it. You are therefore accountable.

  88. In that case, I find what Brett and Sarah said in response to Victoria equally as upsetting, encouraging her to fill herself. I don’t think anyone should say things like that, whether they are saying it to someone who is fat or saying it to someone else who insulted someone who was fat.

  89. skinnyminny, I think it goes back to what Kate said. Victoria was not here for an education. She wasn’t looking for more info. She didn’t say, “I feel so badly about myself as a fat person, I think about shooting myself.”

    And at the end of the day, it’s Shapely Prose’s house, Shapely Prose’s rules.

  90. I completely understand the ‘her house, her rules’ thing, and yes I’m aware that Victoria’s intent was more about insulting people than educating herself, but I was just saying how I would have handled it myself. Maybe I have more patience for things like that than Kate does, and that’s ok. And yes, she did say that she didn’t advocate anyone telling people to shoot their selves, but only after someone (myself) made a comment about it. It was ignored up until that point.

  91. Skinnyminny, Victoria told me point blank to shoot myself because I happen to be fat. Kindness is not in order here.

    And to her absolute disgust, I will continue to exist. Flab and all. Because it’s the best revenge.

  92. Thank you for writing this. It was nice. I am overweight. While I have been naturally big my whole life, I didn’t help myself as a teenager by overeating. Now I eat very well, but I have a sedentary life. I am so sick and tired of jackass men driving past me at the bus stop and screaming out things like, “WOO SEXY BABEH!!” and stuff just to humiliate me.

    It makes me wonder about some people. What does ME being fat have to do with OTHER PEOPLE. Especially people that I don’t know? Why can’t we all just get along and be friends? Being fat doesn’t make me a horrible person, not worth being friends with. >__>

  93. encouraging her to fill herself

    I would highly encourage Victoria to fill herself, as it’s likely that with that kind of fat hatred she’s never let herself really enjoy a meal in her life.

  94. Why is it up to Random Fat Women to educate Victoria. Let her educate her own ignorant ass. She was treated with more gentleness than she deserves.

  95. Ashley/SkinnyMinny: Look, most of us here *get* the point of your ‘thin-acceptance” blog. In fact, if not for your seriously warped perspective of what constitutes thinness and your overarching and offensive assumptions that fat people are fat because they eat too much (as evidenced by comments on here and on other blogs), activists representing the opposite spectrum of weight-based discrimination would probably ally with you.

    Having said that, I fail to see why you patrol fat acceptance blogs – here and elsewhere – and continue to stir up shit. At first I wrote you off as someone who is young and inexperienced, but now I’m beginning to wonder if you’re just out to troll.

  96. Rachel, how do I have a warped perspective of what constitutes thinness? I do not think fat people are fat because they eat too much in general. Honestly, I really don’t. I know that there are a lot of fat people out there that are just that way, no matter how much or little they eat or exercise.

    Why do I come to fat acceptance blogs? Because but I am sincerely interested in the whole “acceptance” movement, whether it be fat or thin acceptance. I really don’t want to ‘start shit’…with all do respect, if I wanted to start shit, I’d take a much different approach. But I just come here to these fat acceptance sites to learn, study, research, to hear what people on, as you called it ‘my opposite end of the spectrum’ have to say, because I’m genuinely interested, and discuss…maturely, or at least try to.

    I want to apologize to anyone I have offended though. I don’t mean to come off harsh. Maybe I need to work on how I word things so that people will understand my point of view and not be offended.

  97. This is the first time I’ve been to one of these kinds of sites and I got here pure accident. I was checking out different blogging software because I want to host my own blog, not have someone do it for me.

    Anyways, my entire family and extended family is large. Yes, they are fat. Strangely, everyone of them was skinny when they were growing up. We were all athletic super-stars. I’m only 18, and I am still athletic, but it is on the decline. But when everyone in my family hits The Age (21 for females, 23 for males) they begin rapid weight gain. As you could guess we all see the trend and do our best to avoid it. Heavy exercise and dieting begins, and while it helps, none have managed to maintain their skinny appearance.

    Some people are flat out large and they can’t do much about it. My family is living evidence. People need to realize this. Anyone who knows my family knows that’s just how we grow, but you should see some of the looks we get in the cities… well I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about.

    I hope to break the cycle in my family, but I’m not the first to say that. Only time can tell.

  98. … I think I love you. If I weren’t already married I might ask you to marry me.

    No, seriously, you’ve eloquently and succinctly summed up my thoughts on this subject. From now on, when someone starts whining about the “obesity epidemic”, I point them here.

    Thank you!

  99. In a two month period, I lost 30 pounds due to illness. I’m so glad I was fat. If I’d been of “normal” weight, I’d have been in serious danger. Now everyone tells me how good I look, but they shut up fast when I tell them I was sick. I hate that it’s seen as some kind of virtue that I lost weight. I’m doing my best to view it as value-neutral but I’m really swimming upstream to do it. I wish people would simply not comment on my body at all.

    What I really hate is when someone uses fat as an epithet toward someone he/she doesn’t like for some other reason. I heard this one last week from a friend, when we were talking about a third person that did something that affected both of us, and who happens to be fat. I pointed this out to my friend, that it bothered me that the third person’s weight was made an issue when it had nothing to do with why we were annoyed with her. “I wasn’t talking about you,” my friend said. This friend has never said a single word to me about my size, and I really appreciated it that she was one of the very few who didn’t comment on my weight loss at all. So it really hurt to realize that she does judge people by their weight, and she either doesn’t notice that I’m fat or simply doesn’t comment on it because of our friendship, where she has no qualms criticizing someone else’s weight.

  100. Your argument is interesting but, you don’t use any numbers. Without numbers, how to we know whether you are talking about moderate obesity or something more?

    In at least one study, involving thousands of women, a BMI of over 30 correlated with a 4x risk of cardiovascular disease and 2x risk of cancer. See:

    N Engl J Med. 1995 Sep 14;333(11):677-85

    Extract: “Among women with a body-mass index of 32.0 or higher who had never smoked, the relative risk of death from cardiovascular disease was 4.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 2.1 to 7.7), and that of death from cancer was 2.1 (95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 3.2), as compared with the risk among women with a body-mass index below 19.0. A weight gain of 10 kg (22 lb) or more since the age of 18 was associated with increased mortality in middle adulthood. CONCLUSIONS. Body weight and mortality from all causes were directly related among these middle-aged women. Lean women did not have excess mortality. The lowest mortality rate was observed among women who weighed at least 15 percent less than the U.S. average for women of similar age and among those whose weight had been stable since early adulthood.”

    As for losing weight: If you are deprived of calories, you have to obtain energy from somewhere, and will burn fat. This is not easy, and not fun, and most people don’t pursue it rigorously in the long term, but to encourage your readers just to give up on the whole idea is, I think, irresponsible–if you care about their health.

  101. Oh, well, AT LEAST ONE STUDY. Let’s pack it in, Kate. No more butter and scones for me, Mater, I’m off to play the grand piano.

    Shorter FJ: Yawn.

  102. Fuck if I know what it means, I’m just a girl, we don’t know anything about NUMBERS.

    All I know is that if we care about our readers’ health, which we are 100% in charge of (there’s those pesky numbers again), we’ll introduce them to the concept of “calorie restriction,” which they’ve never heard of or tried.

  103. Wait, what’s that? Is there fried butter?

    I think it’s got something to do with thermodynamics. So… yeah.

  104. I think you need to draw a very detailed map, complete with little illustrations in lui of complicated phrases like “healthy eating,” because CLEARLY someone has missed the point!

    You better watch out! The next thing you know they’ll be forming mobs because obviously you are hypnotizing us to all go out there and mindlessly consume mass amounts of anything that is a least 50% corn syrup or partially hydrogenated fat. They’ll be shaking their fists in the air and chanting “Down with the Twinkie Pushers!”

    Good grief! Props to your persistent patience and never-ending humor!

  105. What y’all don’t realize is that Kate has invented a way for the internet to DELIVER FRIED BUTTER to her readers’s mouths without their consent. You’re being fattened right now!

  106. Oh shit, Kate, I should have kept my big mouth shut… I suppose I’m going to get the deep-fried Snickers “punishment.” You are such a harsh blogmistress.

  107. Pingback: Thanksgiving for Fatties « Femmeknitzi

  108. I just found your blog highlighted on wordpress.

    And I love it, just from the few posts I’ve read.

    I don’t pay attention to BMI – I pay attention to when my blood sugar readings go wacky, which is tied to a certain weight. I’ve learned to accept that I won’t be the inactive, skinny college student I was ten years ago, but I also won’t be the inactive, overweight 28-year-old I was three years ago. Because in either case, I was unhealthy. That’s why I think point #2 is the most important thing anyone can take away from this post, though there is incredible importance in the dignity points, too.

  109. I know I don’t exercise enough, but I’m also damned healthy (low blood pressure, low cholesterol, middle-range glucose levels). It’s something I do need to change, but I must have gotten the best doctors, because they haven’t told me that I have to lose weigth just for the sake of it. Even my skinny doctors. :-)

    I’m pretty much in love with your entire site, I just discovered popping over from Delicously Naughty’s site.

    Thanks for it, I just love it all. :-)

  110. I never had a problem with myself, even though I was about 15kg over my “ideal” weight for a couple of years. Then, after birth of my second child my mother suggested I go to Weight Watchers. Biggest mistake of my life. I went from being a confident, sexy woman to a woman who keeps on putting on weight, feels guilty about every single thing that goes in her mouth and has been on every diet in the world, lose a bit of weight and then put back on twice as much. I have just recently discovered a book called “If Not Dieting, Then What?” which gets to the root of this guilty dieting crap. Thank you for putting it out there.

  111. GREAT BLOG….found it on a link from someone else’s page. I, too, am one of those girls who can shop at regular stores AND plus size if I choose, I’m an in-betweener and I like it. (regarding the Old Navy blog from a few months ago)

    I didn’t even know that about Old Navy because the one I shop at never had a plus section to begin with.

    Your words are very straight-forward and frank, I love it.

  112. Pingback: Dan Savage: Pot, kettle, black » The-F-Word.org

  113. Hi. Very nice work. I absolutely adore science– the human body tops my list of interests– and it’s a lone voice in the wilderness that is talking about this stuff right now. Your information in this post is up against a lot of opposition in mainstream society (the voice of the opposition is riding on many decades of what we all once thought to be true, and it’s a powerful wave), but it’s in line with what science is showing us to be true more and more every day. Keep up the fantastic work.

    Cheers,

    Rhea

  114. I know you are probably busy but if you can spare a second or 10 and email me, I’d appreciate it.

    I’m really coming along with the whole FA. I’ve felt for YEARS that I’d have no problem with m y body if it weren’t for the media, celebs, other people… so finding this community has really opened my eyes that hey, thin isn’t all there is in life! I have so much regret about missing out on things because I’m embarrassed of my body.

    The only part of my life that it’s hard is when it comes to doctors, or random people even. Doctors say my weight is too much, bad, etc… being pregnant with my 2nd right now the midwife is insisting on extra tests because of my weight which hurts because I had a healthy baby without problems before and if you look at my lifestyle I AM HEALTHY! I don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. I eat healthy and exercise yet I have an OBESE BMI. *eyeroll*.

    It’s even gotten worse from my mother. She just lost 110 lbs or so after weight loss surgery and now her view on fat has changed and she’s telling ME I need the surgery too! Sorry I don’t want to alter my body like that.. I know she means well but it hurts.

    So how do I handle people who insist that I’m killing myself by not dieting? I’ve tried diets, they don’t work!!! I think if I could just let go of worrying, I probably would lose some of the weight without doing a darn thing! I’d be more active for one!

    So I’m looking for advice on a simple phrase I can say to shut people up.. help????

    Hugs,
    Laura

  115. How about “My body, my choice.” Laura? No one has a right to tell you what to do with your body. I’ve also found that being able to say “Actually, research has shown that….” or a slightly condescendingly toned “I know it’s confusing with everyone in the media going on and on about the ‘obesity epidemic’, but if you actually read the research, there’s absolutely no evidence that supports the idea that being obese causes health problems.” This usually shuts most people up because they haven’t actually read any of the research and if they go on with it, just start asking them for references. Tell them when they give you an article from a reputable scientific journal that supports their claims, you’ll be happy to read it and take it into consideration. Doctors love this *sarcasm*. The best thing you can do for your own mind is to get a good read of the research that is out there. Check out Junkfood Science (link is in the fat blogs section on the upper right) for clear readable reporting on the science and links to the stuff you can use to refute people when they bring this stuff up. I haven’t been pregnant so I haven’t gone through that stuff, but I wish you a happy, healthy pregnancy!

  116. Great post, informative, interesting. I am probably considered “thin” (I’m six feet tall and weigh about 180 lbs) and I’ve never had any real problems with weight (you know, ones that weren’t created in my head due to being brainwashed by the American media). I do wonder, however, what you consider fat. I suspect when you say “fat” you mean a bit overweight, not obese. (I am wondering this because it’s not healthy to be on the obese side of “fat”.)

    Another interesting thing is the CULTURAL impact on being “fat”. For instance, in some societies it is considered beautiful and desirable to be “fat”. In our society, unfortunately, it is a stigma. I find that grossly offensive myself. I hate the way mass media portrays women and puts pressure on women to be scarily skinny, blonde and perfect. Gross!

    Anyway, great article. Have you heard of Shyly? She is a “fat” model, I have a feeling you’d dig her. Contact me if you don’t know about her, I have a feeling you’d really dig her “fat activism”.

  117. I suspect when you say “fat” you mean a bit overweight, not obese. (I am wondering this because it’s not healthy to be on the obese side of “fat”.)

    *epic headsmack*

  118. I was wondering how to respond to that, but *epic headsmack* about sums it up.

    I REALLY need to put together an FAQ beyond this post. And Q #1 will be, “What do you mean by fat?”

  119. And Q #2 will be “if you follow up this question with ‘I assume you mean “slightly overweight” because it’s unhealthy to be obese,'” please refer back to THE POST YOU JUST READ.”

  120. You might as well have put “no pooftahs” on the list 10 times, for all some people get it.

    Unfortunately, there are certain advice columnists who’d think I meant it.

  121. Me: You might as well have put “no pooftahs” on the list 10 times, for all some people get it.

    KH: Unfortunately, there are certain advice columnists who’d think I meant it.

    You got me there.

  122. Thanks so much for writing this post! I’m one of those thin people that eats a lot of junk and doesn’t exercise, and I haven’t really questioned my belief that this is OK, until now. I’ve always thought “Oh I should exercise more and eat better” but i never really took it seriously because, well, I’m still thin so I must be OK, right? So thanks again.

  123. Nice post. But if you want everyone to respect and take what you are saying seriously then repeated use of the word “Fuck” does not help things.

  124. Yeah, Kate. If you want to be taken seriously, you should be more demure. And thin. It’s all about packaging.

    :roll:

  125. When I was young, I was told that vulgarities are an indication of a weak vocabulary. My response is the same now as it was then: I have access to many descriptive, effective words and sometimes I choose “fuck” as the best word to express my current thoughts and feelings.

  126. I believe repeated use of the word “fuck” by a woman can actually be a sign of strength and empowerment, since so many women have been socially conditioned to be “good,” kind, self-sacrificing, demure “ladies,” permitted to experience any emotion EXCEPT anger.

    I am reminded of my 69-year old mother, who used the word “fuck” for the first time ever, about three years ago, and was greatly liberated by it.

    “Fuck” is a feminist issue!

  127. I just discovered your blog yesterday, looking for a way out of wls.. and I must say that I’m truly inspired and think you are brilliant and fantastic, thank you so much, i think I’ll just work with my body instead of wls.

  128. I REALLY need to put together an FAQ beyond this post. And Q #1 will be, “What do you mean by fat?”

    You know, that sounds like a good post too. What do we mean by “fat”? A certain weight? Certain size? If we say “I’m fat”, just what are we saying about ourselves?

    For that matter, what do other people mean by “fat”? Should we use it as a simple descriptive term and ignore the fact that most people use it as a pejorative, or is it better to come up with a different term for value-free reference to someone’s body size so as to avoid confusing the issue or getting into the “But you’re not fat!” conversation? Etc.

  129. I love how, when people can’t think of any other rebuttal, they talk about your language.

    And it’s not just you; I’ve seen this with other (female) bloggers as well.

    I like the word “fuck.” I like the word “shit.” I like “hell” and “damn” and especially the variants of fuck like “motherfucker” and “fuckarow.” I say these words around my mother. You know why? Because even if you change it to “freaking” or “pooey” or “dernit” or “Hades” — it means the same fucking thing! Words are just words, and they mean what we decide. So if you use “fudge” as a replacement for “fuck,” you might as well be saying fuck, in my opinion, except fudge is delicious and fuck is more fun to say.

    So fuck all those asshole hypocrites who think your shit is worth less because you like to add a little spice to it.

  130. Wow — I was directed to this blog somewhat on accident, and I find it really compelling. I’m “overweight” (5’1 and 148 lbs) and I have a wonderful life but I am persauded to dislike myself because of my weight. Thank you. I needed this.

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  133. Thanks for posting this great blog. I have been overweight for much of my 39 years, and as much as I might like to be thin, I don’t think it’s going to happen. And as much as I’d like to think that someday, all people will accept fat people for who they are, I don’t think that will happen either. There’s just too many ignorant people out there for that to happen. I think that most of those people are just insecure and build themselves up by putting other people down.

    All I can do is try to accept myself for who I am (not how much I weigh) and not care what other people think. Thanks again for posting this.

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  136. Found out about your blog through the NYT article. It is great. Wish I had known about it last week– BF had to undergo a quad by-pass. Is a heavy smoker. . but does not see link between smoking and heart disease. On the other hand, she sees fat as the ultimate evil and blight on society. Made me feel grotesque– she would rather die than look like me…I would never dream of lecturing her about smoking–it’s her choice; yet, she feels it completely okay to go on at length about how gross and unacceptable fat is. Thanks for helping me to re-gain perspective and hold my head up.

  137. Saying obesity is not unhealthy is putting your head in the sand. Sure, a few extra pounds may not make a big difference, but if people think you’re fat, especially here in the US, then you are probably obese.

    One of the first things I notice when I come back from overseas trips is how fat Americans seem.

    Attempting to promote fat acceptance is misguided. It’s better to keep trying to get down to a normal weight. You’re right about diets not working, there are all sorts of fad diets that will let you lose weight briefly, but there’s no magic – physics says you have to burn more calories than you eat. You just have to eat less or exercise more… and it takes a lot of exercise to burn a few calories, so in the end it does come back to what you eat.

  138. Jim, I’m approving this comment because I expect there will be a lot of rank newbie questions and we might as well start with you, but I’m seriously questioning whether you read the post you’ve commented on. Your comment boils down to “you shouldn’t say it’s good to be fat because it’s bad to be fat and you’re probably fat,” which is patently absurd. And your claims about “physics” are entirely disingenuous, not only because they’re false but because you are commenting on a post about how they’re false.

  139. Also, in the future I think I’m going to require people to present their biophysicist credentials before they get to use the “omg it’s PHYSICS” line. Only someone who has no clear idea how the body works — and who’s never seen a naturally thin person eat — could really believe that it was as simple as “eat 3500 calories, gain a pound” or whatever.

    On the other hand, if you come in and say “all you have to do to get thin is exist in a monotonically increasing state of semi-starvation, it’s SIMPLE BIOPHYSICS,” I’ll be inclined to let that stand. At least it’s honest.

  140. I came upon your blog through the NYT article as well. I think you make important points about body acceptance and our limited scientific understanding of the effects of obesity.

    I disagree, however, with your insistence that diets don’t work. As someone who’s lost a significant amount of weight (90+ pounds), and kept it off for over 5 years, I guess you’d categorize me as a “freak of nature”. But I don’t feel like I am a freak, any more than you’re a freak.

    I like to think that all human beings are always capable of change, be it physical, emotional or spiritual.

    When I was overweight I abused my body with food – massive, secret eating binges. Now I eat whole, unprocessed foods when I’m hungry, and stop when I’m full. I exercise and feel lean, limber and strong. I wouldn’t say I’m on a diet, but I make a huge effort to listen to my body and respond with what it really needs. It hasn’t been easy to get here, but here I am.

    I’m not trying to be all holier than thou – I understand that many people can eat healthfully and listen to their body’s cues and still be overweight. At 5’6′ and a size 10/12 I’m not exactly tiny myself. But I really disagree with the “diets don’t work” period-end-of-discussion attitude.

    I think it disempowers people of all sizes to make changes in their lives, and is self-perpetuating.

  141. Hi Anastatsia,

    What you’re talking about sounds like recovery from an eating disorder. It’s certainly the case that eating disorders can drive people well above or well below their natural setpoint, and that return to normal eating (to the extent that it’s possible — recovery is always ongoing, as I’m sure you know!) can return them to setpoint, though often with residual metabolic effects like those from diets. But recovery from binge eating disorder is not a diet any more than recovery from anorexia is a diet; it’s an attempt to normalize, rather than disrupt, one’s relationship with food.

  142. I think it disempowers people of all sizes to make changes in their lives, and is self-perpetuating.

    Anastatsia, by your own account, the change that empowered you was to stop “abusing your body with food” and to start listening to what your body wants. That’s an awesome change, and I understand why you feel empowered by it. But that’s not a diet — that’s listening to what your body wanted in the first place, which is emphatically NOT what dieting is about. And wouldn’t it have still been empowering even if it didn’t make you thinner? If not, maybe you’re not as empowered (or as changed) as you make yourself out to be.

    We SP bloggers have a lot of experience with weight changes and dieting, too — and we have come to understand that what is “self-perpetuating” is the cycle of dieting itself, because it’s designed to be. It’s designed not to work, because that way you have to do it over and over again and buy more products and join more gyms. Listening to your body works because your body is designed to work.

    I hope you stick around and read some more of our posts.

  143. I read the article you link to by Gina Kolata, about the study on fat people who lost weight but regained it immediately upon leaving- the idea that their bodies and minds do everything they can to regain that state. I think the thing that you are missing, though, is that all of his test subjects had been fat or thin since childhood. This does not mean they are genetically predisposed to their size- it means that when they were young their bodies were trained to be and stay fat or thin. I’ve read various studies that say that when one is overweight as a child, because the body is still forming, the body creates new, additional fat cells to enable the body to keep expanding. Thus, fat adults not only end up with cells that are predisposed to being full, they also have many more of them- which is why it is so hard for people who have been overweight since childhood to lose weight. (This also works in reverse- when you are thin as a child, your body is trained to stay thin- and I think it’s safe to say the thin prisoners in the study were thin from childhood.) So much depends on what happens while your body is still growing. Because of this, I agree that there is very little a fat adult can do to lose weight if they were a fat kid; and, if one is thin all through childhood, then it is very unusual for one to become fat as an adult if one still has healthy habits.

    Your article sort of adresses this, saying that children adopted by thin people still became as fat as their birth parents; but who’s to say how their thin adoptive parents raised them? Just because those parents are thin does not mean that they never, perhaps, spoiled the child, which could be very possible if they were trying to make the adopted child feel loved. (How well we all know the equation love=food.) Were these children also overweight as children, or did they only become overweight as adults? The article does not address these very important points.

    And what is my point? It is not to blame those whose parents made them what they are today, or ignore the possibility of genetics; but it is to drive home the fact that parents should keep their children active, healthy, and not fat- because it will set them up for the bodies they have the rest of their lives. All of this “fat is healthy” promotion may improve the self-esteem of those whose parents cursed them with too many fat-recepticle cells, but just as the message of the media is stronger than the messages of parents in terms of smoking, drugs, violence, sex etc etc, it makes it more likely that children will become fat because they’re told it’s “beautiful” and “healthy,” despite what their parents do or say. There are many children out there who might be genetically pre-disposed to being thin but lose that inherit trait because of their childhoods. (And if being overweight is truly genetic, why are there so many more obese people than ever before? If it’s all genetic and uncontrollable, shouldn’t the number of thin people and overweight people be the same as 100 years ago?)

    THIS is the thing about “fat acceptance” that bothers me, the idea of teaching children that it’s okay to be fat… because what your body does as a child cannot be reversed, and because while in later life it may be possible to exercise and eat right and still be overweight and still be healthier than someone thin who is lazy and eats garbage, you will still never be as healthy as someone who exercises and eats right AND is thin. If nothing else, think of the extra strain on your joints.

    (And I could write a whole blog about the extra strain on the planet from requiring fewer, wider seats on airplanes, more fuel being used to move more weight, bigger homes, more fabric for clothing, etc etc etc. I’m not out to say being overweight is easy to change, that all fat people are lazy, or that fat people are ugly, but the simple fact is, being bigger requires more of everything (and I’m not talking about food). If you 100% stand by what you say about it being possible to be healthy while overweight, fine, but I don’t understand how you could say millions of people taking up more space on the planet is green in any way.)

    Anyway I hope this is polite enough to meet your posting requirements. I am probably doing nothing but wasting my time and won’t change anyone’s minds, but I believe, at the very least, in expressing what I feel, as do you.

  144. Erin, feel like linking to these studies you saw?

    And do tell me: if you “train” your body into being thin in childhood (and I do fully expect you to go on to say how those children will then pass their “trained” thinness onto their own children, just as a mouse with its tail amputated gives birth to tailless mice), how do you suggest that we go about creating very thin children? Fat shame and enforced dieting, perhaps? Because it turns out that doesn’t work. As you’d know if you read through the post and its links before commenting.

    (And, for you correlation lovers, our attempts at it correlate beautifully with the small rise in obesity.)

    And I could write a whole blog about the extra strain on the planet from requiring fewer, wider seats on airplanes, more fuel being used to move more weight, bigger homes, more fabric for clothing, etc etc etc.

    Oh, please do! I can’t imagine how we’d ever encounter those fallacies if you don’t.

  145. Oh hey, I know, I bet we should give lipo to all fat kids! Then their CELLS would be TRAINED to be thin! Through SCIENCE! And they would never get fat!

  146. Hey FJ and Sweetmachine,
    Thanks for responding so quickly. I think you’re both right on my recovery from an eating disorder – binge eating isn’t officially classified as such but it is gaining more recognition – check out this article in the LATimes: http://www.latimes.com/features/health/la-he-themd21jan21,1,3248183.story?coll=la-headlines-health

    I’ve done a more thorough reading of your blog, and see that my issue may be one of semantics – just that I see HAES as a form of a diet (in that there is modification of eating and exercise habits), and you all don’t. I definitely agree with you about yo-yo and crash dieting, and don’t believe most fad diets can be sustained in the long run.

    The one note I would make is that it was in fact a formal diet (Weight Watchers) that helped me to learn to listen to my body. In the beginning I really didn’t know how to recognize my own internal cues – I was so out of touch and had been for years. Weight Watchers provided me with a structure and guidelines for healthy eating. It taught me to drink more water, and eat more fiber and vegetables. Eating less made me realize how much I’d been overeating before – and not just during binges. I was astonished to discover that I was full after eating 2/3 of my typical serving. I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful without a nutritional touchstone.

    My concern is that blanket statements like “diets don’t work” could discourage people like me – with disordered eating habits who don’t know where to begin – from seeking nutritional help in any from. And I think Weight Watcher’s nutritional advice is pretty sound.

    I guess I also bristled at being referred to as a “freak of nature” because I lost weight and kept it off. Just as I recognize fat people as human beings who should be treated with dignity and respect, I expect to be treated the same in return.

    Anyway, it’s an interesting blog and a challenging dialogue. Keep up the good work!

  147. You know, I bet you’re not the only person who had that experience with Weight Watchers. Of course, I know I’m not the only person who used Weight Watchers as a tool to codify and normalize her disordered eating… so there’s that. And meanwhile there are a number of ways to get back in touch with your hunger and satiety cues without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars. I’m glad WW was a catalyst for you, but we’re not going to start promoting it, or regretting the fact that we may put people off it.

    Here’s a bit of clarification on the difference between dieting and HAES.

    It may be true that people who see the words “diets don’t work” and choose not to read any of the surrounding sentences, or any of the rest of the blog, may not understand what we’re getting at. But there’s only so much that we can do for someone like that, no? You can lead a horticulture, etc.

  148. I enjoyed reading this article, it was inspiring. It opened my eyes to the ways in which our society is cruel to those who are overweight.

    I used to be overweight, I was 5 ft 1, with a BMI of 32.9. Obviously BMI isn’t extremely accurate, but none the less, I was very overweight. Even obese. From the age of about seven I put on a lot of weight from a medication I took. It got out of control from there. I was a gymnast and a trampolinist for a good many years, around 7. From age 7 onwards. Regardless of exercise, I was still overweight. I admit to overeating, however. A great deal of junk food.

    At age 15 I was 178 pounds. I was rarely bullied, I had some very good friends. My decision to drop weight was my own. At age 19, now. 5ft 6 and male I am 98-108 pounds (It goes up and down.) I am underweight and suffer a great many health problems as I realised the only way to not gain weight again was to over-exercise, and barely eat. I have to visit a specialist hospital for eating disorders and now suffer from depression.

    If a website like this was around when I was younger, and people were more aware of the feelings of overweight people. As well as society not being as awful as if it, I may well not be in this position today. Even though my disorder isn’t fully reliant on weight, many issues are involved. I believe if I had never have felt the need to put so much pressure on myself, perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am today.

    I’m glad blogs like this are around.

  149. Your article sort of adresses this, saying that children adopted by thin people still became as fat as their birth parents; but who’s to say how their thin adoptive parents raised them? Just because those parents are thin does not mean that they never, perhaps, spoiled the child, which could be very possible if they were trying to make the adopted child feel loved.

    The correlation didn’t just apply to fat people though. Children who had thin birth parents but fat adoptive parents still ended up thin. As did children with thin birth parents as well as thin adoptive parents. So if adoptive parents are overfeeding their children, shouldn’t the ones with thin birth parents be fat as well? Or are you saying people who adopted children from fat birth parents overfed their parents but people who adopted children from thin parents did not? How does that work? Just coincidence? Do you really think that’s a more reasonable interpretation of the study than fat being genetic? What about the twin study showing that twins reared apart had nearly identical BMIs when they grew up?

    And if being overweight is truly genetic, why are there so many more obese people than ever before?

    Because the criteria for obesity is an arbitrary cut off. If 100 years ago there were a lot of people with BMI of 29.9 and then people gained a pound on average to move their BMI to 30.0 all of a sudden there are a lot more obese people. Which is pretty much what happened – the weight of an average person increased by 10 pounds, pushing many people from the “overweight” to the “obese” categories (as well as many people from the “normal” to the “overweight” category). Genetics don’t dictate your weight to the pound, it’s theorized that they dictate your weight within a 10-30 pound range, so a 10 pound average weight gain is compatable with a theory that weight is genetic.

    And I could write a whole blog about the extra strain on the planet from requiring fewer, wider seats on airplanes, more fuel being used to move more weight, bigger homes, more fabric for clothing, etc etc etc.

    Please. I live in a 500 square foot apartment and drive a compact twice a week to my Brownie meeting and to my parents house for dinner. Don’t even think about telling me I consume more than a person who lives in a home five times the size of mine (average house size in the US is ~2400 square feet) and drives an SUV to and from work every day. Because that is frankly bullshit. (Fat people need bigger houses? Really? Give me a break).

  150. Just because those parents are thin does not mean that they never, perhaps, spoiled the child, which could be very possible if they were trying to make the adopted child feel loved.

    This is so grossly offensive I can’t even fathom the kind of mind that would write something like this. I guess we add “spoiled” to the list of staw fattie attributes.

  151. Did Erin seriously just imply that all adopted children are fat, because of course all adoptive parents spoil them to make them feel loved? Do people even pay attention to what comes out of their mouths (fingers)?

    Psst: I was a chubby to fat kid, but I am now a thin adult, and I bet I eat far less nutritionally (that means JUNK FOOD) than the HAES-following fat Shapelings. Perhaps I am a freak of nature, or perhaps my body just didn’t get the training memos and create all those evil extra fat cells.

  152. Oh, and all the people I’ve seen on ‘Real Housewives of Orange County’ with 12,000 square foot houses are thin. They also own a whole lot more clothes than anyone I know, thin or fat. Perhaps we should blame thin people — or, if we want to go for accuracy, RICH people — for all that “strain on the planet”?

  153. I’m pretty damn sure Lindsay Lohan uses up more “resources” in a week than I do in an entire year. Maybe in five years. More fabric, more leather, more food and drink (not that she necessarily eats it, but she and her entourage have to order the stuff in order to keep their tables), more fuel (her flying 200 times a year is going to eat way more of the stuff than me flying twice), more wear and tear on the roads, more electricity, more pollution (all that shit she buys has to be delivered by more airplanes and 18-wheelers, right?), more water for all the plant life surrounding her house, etc., etc., etc.

    The very idea that poor to lower-middle-class fat people consume more “resources” than the affluent thin is scurrilous nonsense that doesn’t hold up to the most cursory logical scrutiny. Just come right out and say it: Cute young thin people can do whatever they want because you enjoy looking at them, and the rest of us should be in permanent hiding because we gross you out.

  154. Cute young thin people can do whatever they want because you enjoy looking at them, and the rest of us should be in permanent hiding because we gross you out.

    It all makes sense! And when stores refuse to sell clothes in sizes larger than 12 and 14 they’re taking a tough environmental stand. And people who throw milkshake containers at a fat people, they’re the second coming of Che Guevara!

  155. OMG Meowser, you hit it right on the head!

    But you know, if you’re rich, thin and beautiful, consumption doesn’t count if it’s labeled “green.”

  156. (And I could write a whole blog about the extra strain on the planet from requiring fewer, wider seats on airplanes, more fuel being used to move more weight, bigger homes, more fabric for clothing, etc etc etc

    I eagerly await Erin’s push to legislate nudity for fat people.

  157. I’m going to mention this because I think a lot of people can relate…

    My mom is fat. One of her biggest fears when I was young was that I would also be fat, since that’s apparently the worst thing that can happen to a girl. She told me recently, and it jives with what I remember of childhood, that she would watch me like a hawk when I’d eat, for any sign of eating ‘too much.’ As long as she had total control over what I ate, she says, I was ‘ok,’ but as soon as I was able to lift my own spoon I started gaining weight and never stopped. And yes, I was an active kid. I rode my bike all day, every day, when I wasn’t playing soccer in the street, swimming in the neighbor’s pool, running up and down the street, taking ice-skating or dancing lessons, etc etc etc. Guess what?

    I’m fat. I was fat as a kid and – surprise – I’m fat as an adult. I don’t think there’s anything my mom could have done, even if she was the most perfect and far-sighted mother in the world.

    So I’m sorry I’m weighing down your airplanes, using up precious fabric stores, increasing your insurance premiums, and generally increasing the planet’s gravitational mass. I’m sure my mom would change it if she could.

  158. Thank you for this. What anti-fat rhetoric boils down to is disgust at the aesthetic – it has NOTHING to do with health.

    To the health policy makers and other “advocates”:
    If you want America to lose weight, please just come out and say because you only want to see thin people around you. Don’t pull this bullshit about concern about other people’s health. You really couldn’t possibly care less.

  159. Chiming in here… My mother was/is fat: 200+, a healthy 85. I am the same weight range, a bit taller, 59, and not quite as healthy, but then I smoked for over twenty years. (I no longer do.)

    As a child, I was skinny. When I was a toddler, Mom worried about me not eating, and hauled me to doctors because she didn’t think I was eating enough. They all told her, “She’s healthy; when she wants to eat, she’ll eat.” I got a little chubby in my teens, more chubby in college, and added the weight after a baby and nursing. (I had read that nursing took weight off. Didn’t work in my case, but my daughter was/is healthy and lovely.)

    The main point here is that I was a thin child, born to a fat woman, and didn’t become fat until well after maturity. So I don’t think it can be blamed on the way I was raised. I *do* think it can be blamed on genetics, though. Photos of my mom as a little girl look remarkably like the ones of me at that age. IOW, she wasn’t fat then either.

  160. Okay…I just stumbled across your blog. Kudos to you!!! I am overweight…well okay maybe I am just fat. There it is for blogdom to see. You know what? I am a healthy fat person. sort of……

    I started exercising with my kids. I told them we are not dieting. We are learning how to make healthy choices in eating and okay if you fall off and have the four reeces cups in the king size pack….you might have needed the chocolate fix. We are shaping up and toning up and getting off the couch. I don’t care if we loose weight. I am 40 with young children and just want to be around when they are old. Hence the exercising. You know what.? We are doing this as a family….the entire family, hubby included and we are having a blast. It has put a whole new spin on family tiime.

    It’s nice to see someone out there saying that being fat isn’t the death knell the tabloids are making it out to be. I’ll be checking you out from time to time. Read your commenting and posting rules. That cracked me up….

  161. Hi – I actually starting looking at your blog a while ago at the recommendation of a friend (yes, before the NYT story). Thank you for putting up the space for a lot of moving personal accounts about fat discrimination and interesting discussion.

    I do have a picky thing to point out, however – I think you misquoted your source up in point #1 above as far as “some studies have shown that fat can protect against … type 2 diabetes.” If you read the post on Junkfoodscience, she actually states that fat may protect against _complications and mortality_ from type 2 diabetes, not that it protects against developing type 2 diabetes in the first place. This is quite a different thing.

    I will disclose that I am an epidemiologist in training, with an interest in chronic disease, and I hope that this does not automatically put me in the “enemy” category. I am genuinely interested in improving population health based on scientific evidence (really!). I do find quite a bit to agree with in this blog scientifically (for example, BMI has significant limitations as a measure or predictor of health, which I assure you they teach us in Epi 101). However, there is substantial evidence causally connecting visceral fat with insulin resistance and pre-diabetes, which of course is mediated by genetics (as is just about everything). Maybe you could say that being genetically predisposed to put fat on your limbs (subcutaneous fat) rather than around your organs is protective against type 2 diabetes, but I don’t think it is accurate to say that fat in general is protective against type 2 diabetes.

    Thank you for reading, and please don’t assume I’m a troll (although if you feel the need to flame I’ll try not to take it personally).

    -z

  162. Pingback: Two posts in one - or, meet Fae « Starlit Fae

  163. This is my first comment on this blog, so first of all, hi all. I’m 30, 5’11”, and weigh 270.

    Has anyone come up with any reason *why* diets don’t work? I have a theory, but it’s just that, and I’m no scientist, so if there’s any other theories out there, go with them rather than mine :). Anyway, here goes.

    First a couple of facts:

    1. How much muscle mass you have has a direct influence on metabolism, the more muscle, the higher your metabolism.

    2. Consuming less calories than you are burning in a day (ie dieting) causes your body to not only burn off fat, but BURN MUSCLE.

    3. As you lose weight, you burn less calories from everyday activities as you now weigh less, and you also use less muscle (lugging around 250 lbs builds way more muscle than 125 lbs).

    Given those three facts, it’s no surprise whatsoever that people immediately gain all their weight back and then some. When you diet you don’t lose fat, you lose WEIGHT, which includes muscle, thus damaging your metabolism through loss of muscle.

    I’ll stop there for now, I have some other thoughts but I don’t want to make this into a 20 page comment :). If you guys find this interesting, I’ll chime in again tomorrow or the next day.

  164. alright, I guess I have stopped agreeing with you enough to be posted. Darn.

    Incidentally, as for skinny people who live in enormous houses, two wrongs don’t make a right.

  165. oh, and my deleted comment included evidence to back up what I was saying about how childhood is when the body is most efficient at producing excess fat storage cells, as well as my statements about how I don’t think shaming children is the answer and never said so. Too bad I was never given the chance to reply to so many of your questions.

  166. Do people not realize that if Kate/fj/sweetmachine were deleting comments that “disagreed” with them, they sure wouldn’t allow in comments saying that they did so?

    Comments get “lost” for a variety of reasons, only one of them being intentional.

  167. Hi Zinnia! Medical professionals are not automatically the “enemy”! We appreciate thoughtful responses from everyone. As long as you’re not the kind of medical pro who ends up on First, Do No Harm, you’re welcome here. :-)

  168. Do people not realize that if Kate/fj/sweetmachine were deleting comments that “disagreed” with them, they sure wouldn’t allow in comments saying that they did so?

    They would if they read the comments policy, which is very explicit on the subject of stuff getting caught in the spam trap.

    But reading is hard!

  169. I really enjoyed your post, and many of the comments. FWIW i don’t think fuck is a feminist issue, cunt is a feminist issue, fuck is what you say when you drop a can of soup on your bare toes. But i’m in the UK where swearing is normal.

    I am a bit saddened too really as my family is very unlucky. We tend to gaining. It’s not a certainty but we all have a tendency towards it, and most of the women (including me) have underactive thyroids. I am sad because every single obese member of my family without exception has moderate to major health problems because of their weight. At this time i am the only one who is not overweight (on the BMI scale, which isn’t the best guide i know, but none of my family weight lift except me and they’re not just a little heavy) and everyone else who is still alive is morbidly obese. At this point in time i don’t care how my sister or my brother or my daddy look, i just don’t want them to die like the rest of my family have.

    How do you be healthy and obese? Is it just bad luck in my family? Maybe you can email me? My dad used to be ok but when my mum died he piled on a lot more weight and now has high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. My brother has high BP, stomach ulcers, IBS and high cholesterol. My sister has high BP, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, PCOS and all that goes with it, endometriosis, fibroids, hypothyroidism, chronic back pain, the list for her is long and she has been heaviest for the longest too. My dad is exercising more now but he still (says he) eats too much. My brother is more drinking his calories and my sister well, my sister has a real unhealthy relationship to food. It is sad :( I just wish they could be ok.

    I think your blog on fat acceptance rocks and it’s good to know that there is a way to be heavy and healthy. I just wish i wasn’t watching my whole family die in front of me from this.

  170. I just woke up and can’t get back to sleep, and I’m bombed out of my gourd on cough medicine, so I’m just going to say that this is stuck in my head:

    If you like Gina Kolata… getting caught in the rain…

  171. Sorry for last entry. Wanted to make sure I could post.

    Since reading Fatosphere on the NYTimes two days ago, I’ve had a lot of fun reading Kateharding.net.

    As a chubby woman, 5 foot and 172 pounds, and formerly married to a man who’s 400 pouds… still living with him… I would like to say these things.

    Hard for me to buy anything whole-heartedly. I’ve been dieting for two weeks. Took me a year of seriously considering dieting.

    Chubby chaser since the age of six. Maybe younger. Just liked chubby boys for some reason. I’m sure picking apart for why I likedchubby guys is about as interesting and accurate as picking apart someone else’s reason for liking whomever they like. Not worth it.

    I was skinny growing up and got no particular notice for it. Was considered homely by peers. Big, Jewish nose. Full lips Curly hair. Not particularly popular in Irish-American suburbs in the 70s.

    So I’m this skinny, gawky Jew, and I liked chubby guys, who felt good (sinking into fat guys is like swimming in warm pools) and had great senses of humor. I married one. He fits the loveable, funny, fat man stereotype. Lots of wit and good fun. Not particularly ambitious. Doesn’t like anything that feels crappy. Loves all things that feel good. So food feels good, women, booze, pot, video games… etc. I married a man of excess.

    I’m chubby. Love food. Love fat, comfortable men. I’m excessive and deluded. Even so, I work. Someone has to. Always moving. So I’ve got that hardiness that doctors are beginning to admit exists in some chubby people. I’m told I’m “obese” with high cholesterol every so often. Otherwise, have no disorder anyone can detect. Healther than a lot of skinny, young people.

    Still my original point. Trouble is, trouble with the fat thing, is that fat people are prone to over-indulgence. We stroke ourselves a lot. And if it’s not one thing, it’s another. You can tell everyone you have a glandular disorder. You can tell everybody you’re just genetically fat. What you do is eat a lot. Stroke yourself a lot.

    And this is going to cause problems, if not here, then there. If it’s not food, it’s something else.

    It does snowball out of control from time to time. My exhusband is not only fat but unfaithful but has trouble standing. Cheats on me, spends all the money, and I have to do all the housework and shopping. The more he sits, the more I have to work.

    He’s had high blood pressure since the age of 32.

    I’m not all about bashing fat people in the least. However, not about saying “screw you…” and there’s a lot of the “screw you” attitude in overeating… to the perceptions of the outside world.

    Just saw a Spanish, lady comic on HBO who said, “Yeah, I’m fat. Fuck diets… It’s all about memories,” and then she described her dinners. Loved her.

    I’m fat. My kids are fat. My spouse of whatever nature fat. I surely don’t buy everything the fat-bashers espouse.

    Don’t buy anything, really, now.

  172. I did a “diet” and I’ve had weight off since 2002 (kept over 30 off the entire time, although did gain a little bit after a massive work-related nervous breakdown). That’s over 5 years now. However, my idea of “diet” was healthy, sustainable eating that any person, regardless of size, could benefit from; no crazy calorie restriction, just eating reasonable amounts of good food, lots of veggies, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Is that more technically a lifestyle change? :D I also lift weights though (which probably helps me a lot…).

    Incidentally all my friends that tried Atkins and told me how awesome it was have now gained that back and more.

    Good post; I personally think the guidance for weight is completely absurd. I carry more muscle than your average woman. There’s no WAY I’d ever weigh what I supposedly should. And my own feeling on it is that if my blood tests are good and I’m happy with what I can do, then the rest of the world can bite me.

    This also hits home lately as I’ve been looking at some supposedly “plus size” models lately (I say supposed because “plus size” is so stupid… perhaps we should say “healthy size” instead of stick figure…), and these are completely freaking BEAUTIFUL women. Beautiful. No one can tell me that they were not meant to be exactly the size that they are, because just looking at them they are completely amazing and obviously are just the right size.

  173. Trouble is, trouble with the fat thing, is that fat people are prone to over-indulgence. We stroke ourselves a lot

    Hey, SarahLee, I’d take a look at this post I just made. Pay special attention to stage 2.

    However, my idea of “diet” was healthy, sustainable eating that any person, regardless of size, could benefit from; no crazy calorie restriction, just eating reasonable amounts of good food, lots of veggies, fruits, lean protein, and whole grains. Is that more technically a lifestyle change?

    Kelkel, we generally call that Health At Every Size. It doesn’t make everyone lose weight. It does tend to allow your body to find its level. (If you undertook it for the purpose of weight loss and considered all your food in the context of whether it was a “reasonable amount,” fulfilled your veggie or protein requirement, etc., then yes, we’d call it a diet and you’d win the freak of nature title!)

  174. Trouble is, trouble with the fat thing, is that fat people are prone to over-indulgence. We stroke ourselves a lot. And if it’s not one thing, it’s another. You can tell everyone you have a glandular disorder. You can tell everybody you’re just genetically fat. What you do is eat a lot. Stroke yourself a lot.

    We? We? You got a mouse in your pocket, stroking itself or something.

  175. I totally agree that no groups of people should be subject to prejudice and everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness. I also agree that we all seem to have a natural set point in terms of metabolism and weight, and it is quite difficult to stray from that. For those reasons I really do applaud your website.

    However, there is something I disagree with, and I truly hope you don’t take it as a personal attack as its not meant as such. I disagree with a couple of the “scientific facts” listed in this section, which were taken from Junkfood Science. The fact that the author of Junkfood Science claims that fat can protect against type II diabetes and high blood pressure is just false. Study after study has shown that even small amounts of weight loss can protect against both. The thing that really bothers me though, is that the Sandy, the author of Junkfood Science, does not even really link to a real article to substantiate her claim. She links to one about fat being protective for dialysis patients, and that article is actually based on real studies. Thus, that fact is believable. However I could not find in any of the places she mentioned she got her information from a statment about fat being protective for type II diabetes or hypertension It just flies in the face of science and medicine. yes, science and medicine are changing all the time with new information, but Sandy did not provide any evidence to disprove what is accepted as fact.

    Again, I hope you don’t take my comments as being negative or rude. I really don’t want to be considered a trollI just couldn’t ignore the false information being put forth by Sandy of Junkfood Science. Don’t get me wrong – I do believe the fact about dialysis, and the facts that there is no reduction in overall lifespan just because you are overweight. I also think that BMI is a terrible measuring tool. Its the other claims she makes that bother me. If there was a way I could send her comments, believe me I would. I just implore you to realize that not all of the articles you read at Junkfood Science are backed by actual scientific studies.

  176. Erin, could you be any MORE hateful?

    Erin the concerned troll sez: Your article sort of adresses this, saying that children adopted by thin people still became as fat as their birth parents; but who’s to say how their thin adoptive parents raised them? Just because those parents are thin does not mean that they never, perhaps, spoiled the child, which could be very possible if they were trying to make the adopted child feel loved. (How well we all know the equation love=food.) Were these children also overweight as children, or did they only become overweight as adults? The article does not address these very important points.

    Let me tell you about my mother. She was born in some shack down South in the ’40s. She had up to (we don’t know the exact number) 13 siblings in this shack. She was physically and mentally abused. She has permanent stab marks on her back – somebody in her family attacked her. Her parents were addicted to alcohol, and that is what led to their deaths.

    She was adopted, along with her brother, by two loving individuals who were normal-sized. The mother (my grandmother) had lost several babies in childbirth. The father (my grandfather) was a WW 2 veteran. My mom and uncle were treated to a special “first” Christmas after adoption. My mom STILL talks about this day, because it was so special to her. But yet, you would deny her this happiness, because it might lead to weight gain? Are you really that devoid of humanity?

    Erin the concerned troll sez: THIS is the thing about “fat acceptance” that bothers me, the idea of teaching children that it’s okay to be fat

    What do you suggest? Shame and misery?

    Erin the concerned troll sez: it may be possible to exercise and eat right and still be overweight and still be healthier than someone thin who is lazy and eats garbage, you will still never be as healthy as someone who exercises and eats right AND is thin. If nothing else, think of the extra strain on your joints.

    Do you have any proof to back up these stupid assumptions? I’m guessing not, because you’re a persecuted troll just trying to save us fatties! AND THE JOINTS! THINK OF THE JOINTS! Oh, I am so sick of that line.

    Erin the concerned troll sez: If you 100% stand by what you say about it being possible to be healthy while overweight, fine, but I don’t understand how you could say millions of people taking up more space on the planet is green in any way.

    Did you know thin people take up space too? That’s the curse of humanity – we take up space. Maybe we should just start killing off the “undesirables” in order to be “green,” eh? That way, “space” can be taken up by people who happen to make it past your personal approval system.

  177. Erin the concerned troll sez: alright, I guess I have stopped agreeing with you enough to be posted. Darn.

    Oh, poor persecuted Erin! Comes to a fat acceptance blog to bash fat people and doesn’t get treated with respect because of it! AWWW……

    Cry me a river, bitch.

  178. Erin the concerned troll sez: it may be possible to exercise and eat right and still be overweight and still be healthier than someone thin who is lazy and eats garbage, you will still never be as healthy as someone who exercises and eats right AND is thin.

    I am laughing my ASS off at this.

    Erin, darling, the overwhelming majority of fat women around here are healthier than my exercising, right-eating, 115-pound ass will EVER BE. I would give every one of my aching joints to be as healthy as many of them for JUST ONE DAY.

    Thin is NOT a get-out-of-sick-free card. Not by a long shot.

  179. Pingback: the fshk blog » in brief

  180. Hey sunny, sorry it took so long to get your comment posted but to be honest I just wasn’t sure how to respond. (Kate might have a better idea but she’s mega-busy.) The thing is that I really don’t want this space to become a referendum on Sandy’s reliability; she is a great voice for skepticism on this matter, which is why we link to her, but I don’t agree with her on everything, and I don’t think agreeing with her on everything ought to be a prerequisite or even necessarily an issue. I’ve seen threads get derailed over a discussion of whether Sandy is a reliable source, and I don’t want that happening.

    Here’s my blanket statement, and you can actually expect a post on this coming up: science is not monolithic, and there are studies coming down on all sides of the fat question — just some that you hear about, and some that you don’t. That’s the take-home message; the specific details aren’t as relevant as the point that medical orthodoxy is not the same as scientific truth.

    I’d like to say I’ll look into this, and I do intend to, but it’s probably not going to happen soon because of time constraints. On the whole, though, the specific findings of specific studies are not as important as the fact that those studies — lots of them — exist, and there are more of them all the time. There are enough of them that we don’t need to cherry-pick, as we’ve been accused of doing. And they may lack media attention, but not validity.

  181. Thanks for the welcome, sweetmachine! But I do need to point out that epidemiologists are not medical professionals, really (although some doctors and nurses also get training in epi, and some epidemiologists get training in medicine and nursing, but by no means the majority). I am definitely not a medical professional (who works with individuals to improve their health) – I am a scientist who looks at the health of whole populations, disparities between the health of subpopulations, that sort of thing.

    I think that might be the source of a lot of the angst – we do epi studies that say “this risk factor is statistically associated with this outcome in this population” – BUT you have to be careful about translating that result into what an individual should do about his or her health. I think generally folks on this site have the right idea – that what you individually do about your health is a personal decision, and only you know best what your exact situation is. What I hope epidemiology, and biomedical research, do is provide good data to help people make decisions about how to best maintain their health.

    I was glad to see sunny’s comment, because I too have reservations about the quality of the information given on Sandy’s Junkfoodscience blog. She seems to be fairly knowledgeable about how studies are done and analyzed, but I think it is important to realize that the studies she chooses to discuss on her blog are by no means a comprehensive review of the literature on those topics. You are still reading her interpretation of the studies, which I think is not a substitute for looking at the data yourself; if you look at those studies, you may not agree with how she interpreted them.

    I would like to see Shapely Prose get information from a more diverse group of sources, including Sandy’s blog, but also including others – that would be a better way of getting a representative view of what the science says. One source that I think does good work is the Rudd Center at Yale, which actually does research on weight bias, among other things http://www.yaleruddcenter.org/what/bias/index.html .

    Sandy on Junkfoodscience also links to a great source of science information, the Cochrane Library http://www.cochrane.org/ which does comprehensive reviews of the scientific literature on many healthcare topics. It looks fairly user-friendly even for non-scientists.

    -z

  182. Pingback: Fat Acceptance Movement Thingy « Goblin Talk

  183. This is such a wonderful article as is the rest of your site, but it is such a good lead in to the subject. Thanks for writing it.

    (oh and I think ‘you cannot hate people for their own good’ is a quote from Marilyn Wann)

  184. I don’t think it was the spam filter that stopped my comment from coming up. After I hit “submit” and reloaded the page it showed up for about an hour… then disappeared the next day.

    I saved it if anyone cares to see it. I can post it again.

    Oh, and here’s some irony: if you get teens to believe that they are popular no matter what, they’re less likely to gain weight. Bizarre.

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/01/09/school-popularity-affects-girls-weights/

  185. I saved it if anyone cares to see it. I can post it again.

    Great idea; WordPress blogs are free. See comments policy.

  186. Thanks, Erin, we’re always looking for ways to make children as skinny as possible. And we never read news about fat. It’s not like we’re fat bloggers or anything.

  187. HAHAHA

    You guys, Erin interpreted my comment above to mean “please repost your comment HERE, we desperately want you to use our space to air your grievances, and also for the love of god don’t read the comments policy.”

    So she resubmitted it, and it went to moderation because it had too many links and Akismet assumed it was spam. OMG CENSURSHIP

    Anyway, I could post it but I’m not going to. Because actually, yeah, we DON’T post abusive comments, and even if your comment has a very authoritative link from yourtotalhealth.ivillage.com, straw men and whining don’t usually fly around here.

    SEE.

    FUCKING.

    COMMENTS.

    POLICY.

  188. Yeah, I thought you might have, but I thought it was hilarious that it got re-sent to moderation because of all the links, even though her IP has been approved here.

    (Not for long, though, I’m thinking.)

  189. Also, just to head things off at the pass:

    FAT PEEPUL R MEEN! ALL I WANTED TO DO WAS TELL THEM HOW WRONG THEY WERE ABOUT EVERYTHING AND HOW THEY WERE IGNORANT AND PIGHEADED AND LAZY AND UNREASONABLE, AND THEY WOULDN’T LETTTTT MEEEEEE! WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD CAN I POSSIBLY GO TO TALK ABOUT HOW MUCH FAT PEOPLE SUCK? A FAT BLOG IS THE ONLY APPROPRIATE PLACE!

    There, I did your work for you, Erin, so no need to stick around.

  190. Hey, if a semi-anonymous commenter can’t be trusted to tell you the nature of the ineffable, I don’t know what to believe.

    Also, I wonder: does the transubstantiated Eucharist count as carbs, or protein?

  191. Also, I wonder: does the transubstantiated Eucharist count as carbs, or protein?

    *splutter* oh man, that TOTALLY GOT ME. I cant go on a diet, im a catholic and receiving communion would TOTALLY mess up my numbers.

  192. apricotmuffins: No, see, I figure if you’re Catholic, then you could do Atkins or South Beach, because it’s literally the corpus christi; i.e., protein. The communion wine is naturally healthy, in moderation. It’s the protestant denominations who are out of luck… not only does their communion wafer stay bread, most of them use grape juice instead of wine and that’s just liquid calories.

  193. theres plenty of fat people in heaven. Its just, they wont be fat, because their new bodies will be ‘perfect’, which of course means conforming to our current cultural beauty standards.

    Dude, they should use that as an evangelism campaign. “want to loose 50 lbs? just accept Jesus and your weight loss will be in heaven!”

    sad thing is i think it might have been done. somewhere.

  194. “it may be possible to exercise and eat right and still be overweight and still be healthier than someone thin who is lazy and eats garbage, you will still never be as healthy as someone who exercises and eats right AND is thin.”

    When it’s that case: YOU HAVE TO ASSESS HOW FIT THEY ARE TO EACH OTHER! Someone that is thin who has the cardiorespiratory ability to run one mile only, IS NOT more fit and healthy than someone who is overweight that has the capacity to run three miles. That’s what it comes down to, in addition to factors such as muscle tone, the other elements (Because even IF you concede that body composition is an element of fitness: It’s one…… of MORE THAN 15 ELEMENTS OF FITNESS! Failing in one is not failing them all), and more.

    I was fat before. My fastest 1.5 mile run was 8:59. I could squat about 2.5 times my weight. I was flexible enough to do a side split.

    Now that I’m thin, I can’t run that quick anymore. I can squat twice my weight if I get lucky. I’m still able to do a side split, but I have joint problems. I am flexible, but I can tell you right now: Kate has got me beat in that last department.

    Are you going to tell me I’m better off now? Oh, and remember that people that are moderately overweight have the lowest mortality over all. Sorry to burst your bubble.

    (And don’t try to say me being formerly fat is the reason I have joint problems: It’s because of the martial arts and running that I do.)

  195. I’m very busty too, my BMI is way off the charts. According to the BMI charts I’m morbidly mega-obese…..

    I’m almost 5’6″ and weight 194. My BMI is 40, measurements = 40DD, 34, 38

    I do yoga, I eat organic, I walk a great deal around the city everyday…..but I’m morbidly mega-obese.

    I believe there are some societies in Africa that would think I’m hot shit.

  196. jen in nyc, how do you count your BMI? Because I’m 5’2” and 195 lbs, and mine only comes up to 34. Yours should be way lower with those measurements.

  197. I believe there are some societies in Africa that would think I’m hot shit.

    In Africa, and elsewhere. In fact, there are probably plenty of people in NYC who find you hotter than lava. Unfortunately, there are assholes who would call a Rack O’ Doom “sweaty bags of fesh”.

    Ugh. That one will never get out of my head.

  198. Yeah… Jen I’m an inch taller than you and almost the same weight and I’m just about 30…

    Not that it matters since BMI is bullshit anyway but I still think your BMI is probably like 31.

    It’s funny how different bodies are about the same size and differently composed… I’m just under 5′ 7″ 192lbs 38B, 36, 46.

    It just goes to show that height and weight doesn’t give you an accurate picture of how a person is composed let alone anything about their health.

  199. So many things I would like to reply to – my head is reeling. But I’ll just post my story and thoughts in general and let them fall where they may.

    I’m 53 years old, 5’11” tall and weigh 350 pounds. My doctor is mad at me because I’m “morbidly obese” and I don’t have any medical problems as a result. How dare I be healthy AND fat! No diabetes, no heart problems, no cholesterol problems, no high blood pressure, none of the stuff I’m supposed to have as a result of being fat. A couple of weeks ago I went to see my doctor for a sinus infection and while there decided to ask him about pain in my right ankle. I injured my foot during a disaster drill with the Red Cross and was tired of the pain. The doctor was disgusted that I’m not in constant pain because of my weight. Apparently I’m supposed to be crippled because of the weight. Oops, they forgot to tell me that. I told the doc, “I hurt sometimes, in places where I’ve been injured”.

    So the doc sends me to a podiatrist for my injured foot. The first thing the pod tells me is that I probably have knee problems because my ancestors gifted me with knock knees. Yep, it’s hereditary. It’s in my genes. Can’t do a thing about it. Even she was surprised, though, that I haven’t had to have knee replacement surgery or that it isn’t being planned. The only thing wrong with my knees (besides heredity) is the fact that they have both been injured and one of them has a little bit of arthritis. The hereditary part, along with a hip injury, throws my spine out of alignment once in a while but I’m smart enough to go to the chiropractor and get fixed up so I don’t stay in pain. And guess what – I know a whole lot of people who are “thin” who experience more pain than I do and on a more constant basis. But I feel so bad for my doctor. It must be terrible to be so frustrated by a patient who just refuses to fit the mold.

    I’m the healthiest person in my family. I’m also the heaviest. Two of my siblings smoke so they won’t gain weight. Our father died from lung cancer due to smoking. And my mom, who was always slim, died from congestive heart failure. I have two slim sisters – one of them has lupus and the other has heart problems. The one that has heart problems is – and always has been – obsessed with not being fat. She doesn’t want to look like me.

    To sum this all up – I never had any children. My family says it due to my fat. I have PCOS, which is why I couldn’t get pregnant. It totally screwed up my hormones. Until I went through menopause I was hypoglycemic and experienced mega PMS every month. I’m also hypothyroid. Hmm, could there be a connection between PCOS, the thyroid, the pancreas, and my other hormone problems? I think there might be. And unlike my family, I think my fat is a result of all this instead of being the cause. Someday medical science will prove me right.

    I’m not even going to go into all the crap I’ve endured my whole life because of my size. High school was hell. I’ve literally been to hell and back. But I go to my class reunions and have a blast – with my fat body, my wrinkles, my salt and pepper hair, and no makeup. I accept all of me just the way I am and see no need to falsify my appearance just to look “better” for those jerks.

  200. I’m a physician. Many of my fat patients would rather die than stay fat. Some of them do, but not because they’re fat – they die because of their insane attempts to become thin or avoidance of a life-saving treatment with a small risk of weight gain. I can honestly say I’ve never had a patient die from being fat in itself. Being out of shape? Sure, I’ve seen tons of people die from that. Plain and simple, thin people often have a moral smugness that makes them look down on fat people, just as morning people are so often smugly superior to night owls. Perhaps smugness makes one thin.

  201. Hey!

    I’m a reader and occasional commenter, and this blog is one of the first things I read every day. I love your approach, and it’s really helping me to make sense of the get-thin pressure I encounter every day.

    But I wanted to give you a heads up on one of the blogs you’re plugging here, Junk Food Science. This blog often posts useful articles, but the motivations behind it are pretty shady. Sandy Szwarc, who writes the blog, has a history as a corporate shill for the worst elements of the food industry. You can check her past out on SourceWatch. She’s been a staff member for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a notorious right-wing PR group. They’re the guys who get hired by companies like Dow and Monsanto to write ‘independent’ editorials about why corporations shouldn’t be held responsible for the messes they make, form ‘grassroots’ groups for causes like ‘smokers’ rights’ and so on. Funders include ExxonMobil, Texaco, Philip Morris and the Chlorine Chemistry Council.

    Szwarc’s recent work has largely involved defending the seafood industry from evidence that the levels of methylmercury contained in fish are dangerous. She also works for the Coca-Cola company, which of course has every reason to be interested in anything they can find that suggests their products are not responsible for widespread health problems. The site is also affiliated with JunkScience.com, which spends a lot of time doing things like denying global warming and attacking the environmentalist Rachel Carson’s work on banning DDT. (I wrote an article recently about their claims against Carson.)

    I’ve spent a good deal of time researching the CEI and groups like it, and I am reasonably certain that Szwarc’s support of fat rights isn’t actually about feminism or human rights or giving a shit about people’s well-being at all. I think it’s about using ‘fat rights’ as a cover for denying that there is a nutritional crisis at all.

    This goes back to point #2 above:

    Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes.

    If you don’t understand that concept at all, and you simply conflate “fat” with “unhealthy,” then you can make a logical leap and argue that supporting fat acceptance and fighting the worst of the “obesity crisis” moral panic goes hand and hand with denying that the predominance of crappy, nutritionally poor food foisted on us with the food industry is causing a health crisis.

    There IS a health crisis– heart disease, cancer, bowel disorders, type II diabetes and other food-related problems are worsening as people get more and more alienated from understanding what’s in their food and where it comes from. What your blog fights is the claim that this crisis centers on obesity, and therefore we should all panic about fat.

    I’m sorry, but Junk Food Science isn’t on our side.

  202. Hey, therealpotato, we appreciate your comment. Fillyjonk addressed some of your concerns about JFS upthread. If you haven’t read her comment there, check it out. I would like to reiterate (aka plagiarize from FJ) that we don’t want this this space to become a referendum on Sandy’s reliability — but we appreciate your concerns and take them seriously.

  203. Erin really needs to meet my friend V. She’s only a few years older than I am, and she’s battling stage III aggressive breast cancer. She’s always been thin, a nonsmoker, a health food nut, an avid exerciser and meditator, not a substances abuser. Whatever Rules for Perfect Health her gene pool didn’t help her follow, she followed on her own, and she got Really Fucking Sick anyway. I’ll never be as healthy as V.? It’s all about weight and being goody goody goody good? I think V. would beg to differ. Passionately.

  204. Thanks, Sweetmachine– I should have read the whole thread, but 266 comments is a lot. Mea culpa. But I do think it’s something to be aware of, especially given that she seems to tout the fact that she gets a positive reaction in the fat acceptance community. The corporate-funded sleight-of-hand stuff is a lot of what I blog about, and I think it’s important to call out groups like the CEI. But I respect what you’re saying– just thought you’d want to know.

  205. And re Sandy: She broke the story on the Mississippi “fatties keep out” bill. Regardless of what you think of her politics, she was there first. It would not have been fair of SP or any of the rest of us to wait until someone more “politically correct” picked up on her reporting before writing about the bill.

    Also, please consider that most of the mainstream media most people swallow without a second thought is thoroughly bought and paid for by corporate interests — including the sainted NPR and PBS, and most “altweeklies.”

  206. Absolutely true, meowser, though I think that’s all the more reason to keep calling it out wherever we see it.

    And yes, I wouldn’t suggest anybody not cover a story because the blog that broke it isn’t perfect. But junkfoodscience.com does get plugged a fair amount on this blog and in the press. I don’t think it deserves that level of love, but thought that people might not be aware of Sandy’s background– after all, we’re not supposed to be, that’s kind of the point, right?

    And, side note, the fatty discrimination bill?? –tears hair out– argh!!

  207. Okay, I majored in physics in college, and if I could, I would just like to forestall any more “it’s simple physics” stupidity. It isn’t. Once you start merging physics and biology, things get so complicated that it’s an entire damn field of study. Nothing about it is simple, or they’d teach it in grade school.

    I finally realized last week that eating right and exercising will never result in weight loss for me, but I’m going to continue to do it for me, not for all of those people who think that they really can do me good by marginalizing my existence. Thank you so much for all of this.

  208. Fantastic, this post has just cheered me up so much! I try to eat right and exercise regularly, but the dial on the scales just stays the same, and yet, everytime I go for a check up, I’m told that I’m ticking away inside just fine!

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  210. HAES is all very well, but does your mental health not count? If your mental health is suffering because of your size (however shallow some of you may think that might be), is it not better to lose weight until you’re happier with your size, even if that means (shock, horror) getting down to a size 10?

  211. Nicola, of course mental health counts. Better mental health is kind of the whole damn point — dieting is atrocious for your mental health. And if you’re obsessed with dieting, getting to a size 10 (or whatever) is not going to seem like the end, because you see your body as an obstacle to who you are instead of part of who you are. Dieting is crazy-making. Self-acceptance is not.

  212. To add to what SM said, “happier with your size” is rarely what we think it is. See “The Fantasy of Being Thin” for a ton of illustrations of that concept.

  213. If your mental health is suffering because of your size (however shallow some of you may think that might be), is it not better to lose weight until you’re happier with your size, even if that means (shock, horror) getting down to a size 10?

    No, it’s better to learn to truly accept and love yourself at the size you’re at. That’s really, really hard work. But it’s so much more effective at improving your mental health than dieting is.

  214. Nobody gives a damn about the health mental or otherwise of fat people, that’s why we have fat acceptance, so we can take care of ourselves, and inspire others who want out of the fat loathing cult, whatever their size/weight.

  215. I gave a damn about MY mental health, though, which is why I had to help myself. I’m not saying everyone should, I’m not saying every fat person must be suffering mental health wise, and I’m not saying all fat people should lose weight, just that those of you who fat accept should, if you want people to accept fat acceptance, accept that some people don’t want to accept their own fat. I accept and respect your right to accept your own, just as you should accept and respect my right to be slim if I feel that’s better for me.

  216. Nicola, seriously, we have talked about this before, at great length, on this very blog. You might want to read the archives before declaring that we are so intolerant of your “right to be slim.” Also, you might want to be less tremendously boring.

  217. if you want people to accept fat acceptance

    I love this argument. If you want people to accept fat acceptance, you really should stop talking as if, you know, fat is acceptable. ‘Cause that’s totally not gonna play well.

    *headdesk*

  218. How dare you be so intolerant of the tremendously boring, SM.

    It’s true! Those of us who are interesting are just gloating in our own disgusting charm, oppressing the rights of the boring to come onto our own blogs and bore us to death! I am ashamed of myself.

  219. If you want people to take your promotion of interestingness seriously, you have to acknowledge people’s right to cultivate extreme dullness.

  220. Look, I have nothing against the naturally dull. But people who are not naturally dull should not have to torture themselves in pursuit of some dullness pipe dream just to make people like Nicola more comfortable.

  221. I have to say I’m suffering mental health-wise right now, trying to ascertain why Nicola came here in the first place.

    To me, it seemed like she wanted our permission to diet. She claimed that losing weight was what improved her mental health, and here we were saying that we don’t believe that losing weight truly improves your health, mental or otherwise, and it was a “don’t you take my hope away from me!” situation for her.

    If she was honestly expressing what was going on with her, I feel sort of bad for her because it is terrifying to consider that losing weight will not solve all your problems (hence The Fantasy of Being Thin), but she was looking for reassurance in the wrong ways.

  222. Has anybody seen the latest OMG OBESITY CRISIS! article?

    The article is claiming that OMG OBESITY is more dangerous to the world than AIDS and malaria combined. And there are more overweight people in the world than starving people! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?? And we can’t “sustain ourselves” with all these fat people around!

    article link

    UGH.

  223. I have to say I’m suffering mental health-wise right now, trying to ascertain why Nicola came here in the first place.

    Mmmm yes I think this was a case of barking up the wrong fat-limbed tree. She wanted to kinda “pull the rug” from all us deluded fatties and point out that “Dieting is OKAY for ME if I say it is, especially if it fixes my mental health?” Putting aside studies and ample evidence that diets do just the opposite for a moment; Well then why do you need our approval for it? Why come to a Fat Acceptance blog looking to have your DIET accepted??!? *boggles*

  224. She talks about a “right to be slim”? I mean, really now. Yeah, that’s really being infringed upon, what with all us marauding FA activists running around forcefeeding people and all and the cops doing nothing about it :roll: Damn, all that hyperalimentation equipment is expensive, that Pepsi kickback check had better come soon.

    You have the right to spend your whole paycheck on Powerball tickets if you want. But I’m under no obligation to tell you it’s a fabulous idea, even if absolutely everyone else thinks so. Not even if you win.

  225. I demand you all be at least as dull as me. Or at least hate yourselves for being infinitely more interesting.

    Yeah, that’s really being infringed upon, what with all us marauding FA activists running around forcefeeding people and all and the cops doing nothing about it.

    Didn’t you know? Being chased around town by FA activists intent on force-feeding me baby-flavored donuts is what keeps me slim. ;)

  226. I’ll leave you to it. I’m really far too dull to be here, obviously. Good luck to you all, I really mean that.

  227. Kate, you’ve done a lot to help me realize that I’ve truly become insane about food and that it’s gotta stop. So thanks for that, first of all.

    Now, what I’m wondering is if you happen to know anything about the studies that have been done that prove that subsisting on a restricted calorie diet can actually increase your lifespan by a hell of a lot? They’ve done studies in smaller organisms such as mice, with seemlingly convincing results. However, as far as I know, no real research has been done on humans.

    If this turns out to be true, would it cause you to change your mind about your own diet? Of course I don’t think these findings should have any effect on people’s acceptance of fat people, but it might be something to make me reconsider my own eating habits. Then again, who really wants to spend 120 years on Earth obsessed with all the food you can’t enjoy while you’re here?

    Anyway, just wondering what your thoughts are.

  228. You know what’s really cool about FA? We don’t need luck to be happy, ’cause we aren’t relying on some freak-of-nature circumstance to improve our mental health.

  229. Nicola, it’s your claim that we’re oppressing you as a dieter that’s dull. If you can stomach this horrible oppression, you should stick around and read — you might start to feel surprisingly UNoppressed soon.

  230. Ah, thanks. Will remember to check past posts before I ask next time.

    Btw, those CRON people are even more nusto than i thought!

  231. Will remember to check past posts before I ask next time.

    The blog is large and contains multitudes; I happened to remember the title of the post or I might not have found it either.

    those CRON people are even more nusto than i thought!

    Not sure they’re more nutso than dieters though — just possibly more honest. (Which is the thesis of Kate’s post, I guess.)

    As I said in comments, if I thought it would honestly make me not die, I’d do it. I just won’t because I don’t believe in magic.

  232. Nicola:

    I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but I was thinking about you and everyone who wants to reach a “magic” size this morning, and I think it all bears saying. (Again.)

    We’re not going to support your dieting or cheer your efforts to reach a “magic” size, because we all know that the quest to reach that magic size never ends – even if you’re not fat. An illustration:

    I have never been fat a day in my life. For most of high school, I was a size six. Instead of enjoying my body, however, I spent most of that time thinking “life would be so much easier if I were a size four!”

    During college, I became a size four (incidentally, this was due to adding a lot of HAES behaviors to my life, not through any concentrated “dieting” attempt). Was I happy? Hell no – I just wanted to be a size two.

    During law school, thanks to a horrid collision between illness and bad medication side effects, I skipped both sizes two and zero completely and “made it” all the way down to a girl’s fourteen. And I was not happy. I looked in the mirror and thought “I can see every one of my ribs, my knees are knobbly, my boobs are concave, my hair is falling out, I walk with a cane, I can’t sleep because I’m too bony to get comfortable, every joint hurts, and I gave up my career as a competitive figure skater ten pounds ago. But man, I wish those meds would have eaten just a little more off my hips!”

    You see my point: there is no end. There is no point at which you will be happy with your body until you are happy with your body. And you can learn to accept the body you’ve got at any size – not just the “magic” size you think you “must” reach.

    Your body has a natural weight and a natural metabolic rate to which it will generally bounce back no matter where you push on it. These are genetically determined and there is little or nothing you can do about them in the long run.

    What you can change includes your strength, flexibility, energy levels, dexterity, blood pressure, pulse, cholesterol levels, and overall outlook on life. This is what HAES is about – learning to make your body the very best “your body” it can possibly be. Discovering new ways to move, new foods to enjoy, and new ways to love yourself is a quest far more self-affirming than a lifetime of self-castigation brought on by not having the “magic” number on all your dress tags.

    Remember: You inhabit an amazing body. And you can make it do even more amazing things – if you are willing to work WITH it.

  233. Wow, I missed a lot in this thread–very interesting conversation that has been taking place.

    From way upthread, I wanted to thank Mark wholeheartedly for recognizing that dieting is harmful to his fat patients. We need more doctors like you, Mark.

  234. Thanks, guys. I do my best thinking in the shower. ;)

    And I’d be honored to write a guest post. I can either expand on that comment (it was actually much larger, to start with), or if you want me to talk about anything else, drop me a line at listeningtoblue at gmail.

  235. I have something about this upthread, but it sounds like people are only reading the last few comments, plus maybe some of you would like an update.

    I can concur with Dani’s story, except that I started out probably around 185 pounds and a size 18 this past August. I’d been a proponent of FA for a long time, but then went through a severe major depressive episode, couldn’t eat for months because of first that, then medication. As I started losing weight, I started wanting to lose more weight and developed anorexic behaviors. I went down through the sizes: 18-16-14-12, one per month, and always wanted to be one smaller. I just wanted to see the numbers get smaller on the scale and I thought the doctors were going to tell me my weight loss was good and to keep it up even though I was at the point where I really couldn’t make myself eat and I was making my best friend and my mom cry.

    I’m a size 10 now and I have to keep a journal of everything I eat, but not for the reasons I did for years. It’s not about losing weight and proving to Weight Watchers counselors that I am following their plan. It’s about keeping myself out of the hospital by showing my “anorexia team” (though what I actually have is ED-NOS because ironically on the bullshit BMI scale I’m still on the overweight/normal line). It’s a struggle every single day to make myself eat. I have to remind myself that the most important thing is my health and not my size. It doesn’t matter if I regain every one of those pounds or more, if I stay here, or if I end up smaller. Losing 50 pounds has not changed one thing except that I now have to be careful to get enough nutrients and that I had to buy all new clothes (which admittedly were much easier to find but that’s not about me, it’s about what manufacturers make and what stores carry). It has not made me better at my job, or made me start keeping my apartment cleaner, or changed my relationships with anyone at all. I’m still more introverted than I’d like to be. I still procrastinate. I’m still lousy about keeping up with my correspondence. I could stay on that hamster wheel and keep up the unhealthy behaviors and become a size 8, and as soon as I did that, I’d have my eyes on six. Our society tells women that our bodies are never small enough, and the only way to mental health is to expose the man behind the curtain, and realize that you are the one with the power to accept yourself. Is it easy? Fuck no. Is it worth it? I think so, or else I wouldn’t be spending all of this time and money trying to get better instead of trying to get smaller.

  236. Our society tells women that our bodies are never small enough, and the only way to mental health is to expose the man behind the curtain, and realize that you are the one with the power to accept yourself.

    It changed so much for me the day I realized (not long after that “man, I wish my wasted and probably dying hips were smaller!” nonsense) that I was actually disappearing – and the entire “beauty” industry was right there to support my disappearance. I then had one of the most feminist thoughts I will ever muster: “The world wants me to ‘go out – bang! – just like a candle,’ eh? Oh, fuck you ALL.”

    I was lucky; even with all those years of wishing I never really developed an eating disorder. I know a lot of women don’t escape so easily.

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  239. I am a UK size 14-16 (US 10-12) and 5’2. I struggle to accept my body. Which is really stupid – my body isn’t all of who I am, I am a loving, kind person with lots of good qualities. So I’m trying to learn to accept my body exactly as it is, and be healthy whatever weight I end up.

    I was a solid teenager, I always cleaned my plate under the watchful eye of my mum (who is obsessed with weight – hers mainly). During an unhappy marriage, I ate and drank loads and went up to a UK size 20. I loathed myself, which is crazy because my friends and family didn’t! When we separated, I started dieting and went down to a UK 8 and looked ‘great’ – at this point my idea of a healthy supper was 10 cigarettes, but society told me I was fabulous, and who was I to argue?

    I worry about my niece, who at 8 is showing what I think are signs of bulimia/anorexia – she doesn’t want to look like my sister (around US size 22 and 5’3). She wants to be ‘skinny’ when she grows up. And it breaks my heart that her aspirations are all about being smaller – being less of a woman.

    Frankly, I think I have an eating disorder because my eating is all over the place. Which is why I’m so glad I’ve found this site – I’m aiming for a comfortable relationship with food. I want kids, I don’t want my future daughters to grow up thinking a) they are too much for being whatever size and b) they must rigidly control what they eat or they will be too much.

    I am not too much – I am just right. I am who I am. And as a feminist, the idea of shrinking away because society says so appals me – what a crock!

    I don’t bash thin people – my boyfriend is tall and underweight, and can’t put on weight. And is wonderful exactly as he is – I don’t care if he never gains another pound.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble on! Thanks to all the positive comments on this thread, and the idiots can stick their comments up their self-righteous asses.

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  243. Thank YOU for bringing some realness back into the world. I’ve spent my life trying to attain the unattainable size 12.

    I’m 5 ft tall with gorgeous blond hair….the kind of hair people spend hundreds of dollars on….but I hate my body because of the rolls that hang from my size 16 frame. I’ve had weight loss surgery to try to get to that size 12, but the closest I’ve got is 14, and it slipped away.

    I struggle to “fit” into the world, and I’m so Goddammed tired of it.

  244. Thanks for this wonderful website. I have went up and down with my weight for years, and all the “diets” that I have tried has torn my tired body to pieces. I finally learned to love myself for who I am, and have started worrying more about being healthy with good foods and exercise, rather that my weight. I have subsequently lost quite a few pounds by doing so, which has helped me take pressure off of my joints (every 10 lbs. = approx. 67 lbs. of pressure on the joints). I’ve been walking with a cane and wheelchair bound a few times since the age of 28, and this has been a real blessing from God. I know I will never be up to mainstream society’s ideals of “thin” again, but I do not care. I just want to be healthy because I love myself, and want to be here on earth a few years longer. All of you that have accepted yourselves, and have acheived happiness, I wish upon you much blessings. I appreciate all the positive reinforcement you have added to my own life :)

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  246. Wow. I am a naturally thin (and healthy) individual. and I LOVE this post. People should be celebrated for being HEALTHY, not thin. My BMI says I am underweight, but every doctor says that it is just my slender build. I am perfectly healthy. And thee are tons of people who are “overweight” or “obese” who are perfectly healthy. i think our society needs to stop enforcing body issues, we should emphasize on health and understand that those who are not healthy need help, not criticism and even lower self-esteem.

    I don’t know how well that was written but in short: I fully agree with you and you are awesome.

  247. As far as the “FAT IS UNHEALTHY!” myth goes, I’ve been fat my entire life and the only time I’ve ever been diagnosed with high blood pressure was when the nurse kept using the wrong size cuff. That was a year or so ago and it only just *now* occurred to me to think “Huh, I wonder how many other people that’s happened to.”

  248. Hi,

    I was born in the Netherlands and there being fat is a horrible, horrible crime. I’ve been overweight since I was 16 (now have a BMI of 31 and wear 3X clothes) and the amounts of people who feel that you are asking to get nasty remarks thrown at you and cashiers asking you if you buy (even healthy!) food at the supermarket ‘if you really need that’ and people commenting if you eat in public is horrible. I would get several remarks a week. I hear a lot of people here saying that the US has a very bad attitude towards being heavier but actually in my personal experience it was much, much worse in the Netherlands. I have lived in the US for 6 years now and I have had no remarks, challenges or anything like that. There is even a difference between doctors who would try to shame me in the Netherlands and doctors here in the US who told me that since I try and eat healthy and walk or bike almost an hour a day the extra weight is not such a big problem. I think maybe part of the big difference is because in the US I fall into the ‘a little fat’ category, where the same amount of weight in the Netherlands falls under ‘hugely morbidly fat’ in the eyes of society. Also the equation of fat equals ugly is much stronger in the Netherlands than in the US Here in the US I can actually buy nice clothes. When I was 17 I had to make my own clothes, I couldn’t find anything in the stores that fit me that was not made for an older lady. I have been on vacation in the UK and I noticed there that in the UK in my personal experience it seems a lot like the US, more accepting, though it is never completely accepting and that would be so nice.

    Sometimes eating healthy is not that easy. People were mentioning eating disorders as a reason to be fat phobic but there is also binge eating, which is a big problem for me and despite years and years and years of therapy not so easily solved. I do my best, that is all I can do, but it is very hard for me to keep my head high and feel good about myself with a weight that is generally considered too high and having all the shaming fat-based opinions that you carry with you, even if you remove yourself from them. It is easier for me here in the US because people will not use it to shame me in public, but yes if I ask directly to a doctor my weight is still considered too high.

    I am worried about what exactly is trustworthy medical information or not. It is hard to believe that being overweight is not that risky. I agree that research done by companies who produce diet articles is not trustworthy, but how did a whole generation of doctors unanimously come to the conclusion that overweight causes health problems if it is all a big crock? Is our medical establishment so bad? I am not ready to start shunning all the doctors and healthcare that I need to rely on for my wellbeing, to help me with my high bloodpressure and mental health meds. To me saying that where fat is concerned a lot of doctors and the medical establishment are completely untrustworthy is a step that worries me. How do you know the other research is trustworthy?

    On the other hand, it does not matter for me personally in the long run because no matter how hard I try, eating healthy, exercising, I am not able to change my weight and get it much lower in the long term. So worrying about if I’m being unhealthy because of my weight will not help there, because I’ll be bigger no matter what I eat. Putting the focus on eating as healthy as possible, no matter what your weight, and being active makes a lot more sense to me there.

    I also read something about mental health and that dieting might help to accept yourself better, I think actually accepting people at any weight will do more for anyone’s mental health than shaming them because they are supposed to be overweight and that they should be on a diet. And trying diet on diet and failing is also not good for one’s mental health. I think if I had been accepted instead of shamed as a child with my weight I would have had much less trouble and maybe even needed binge eating less as a survival mechanism. I also wish the shaming people would realize that binge eating as well as being overweight does not only have to do with willpower but that there are other issues going on, that people who do not walk a mile in your shoes should not judge. It is almost always not as simple as just eating less and exercising more. For those for who it is that simple, they’re the lucky ones. The only diet that ever worked for me was Atkins and I was told that way of eating was super unhealthy and not good for me and when I started eating normal again I got it all back. So then it is really impossible to be sure what is healthy and what is not.

    I am worried to stick my neck out here like that because of my experiences in the past, but I also wanted to give a bit of insight in how different it can be per country how you are treated if you’re overweight.

    Alexandra

  249. I stumbled on to this website looking for a proffesional to give some advice….but I think this helped me more.I am 24 and have had 4 pregnancies(3 full term beautiful children)But I really struggle with my current body.My husband and I chose to have kids young and thank God we did cuz apparently I am unable to have anymore-however,the thing about having them young is I feel like my body and myself were lost.
    I was always a natural size 6 and now i am an 8-I dont have any problem with the size but its the stretched tummy and boobs that bother me-I feel like I squeeze out of my clothes and so unsexy.The funny thing is I have friends who are healthy size 12 or more and I envy how firm and gorgeous they look-so its not about size really-yet why Am I so depressed?I am 5 foot 6 and weigh in at 140 pounds yet I have had 4 people in the last year ask if I am pregnant!!! maybe its cuz i was so small before and its all tummy but i work out regularly(although I must confess Im not so good at eating a totally balanced diet)I try crunchies …..I know theres surgical options but I feel that money could be used better for less selfish reasons because I am in less dire need of it then some…however……
    I have always struggled with low self esteem-growing up I was always considered pretty but I felt I needed to be above average-its almost like because I was so set up as an ideal before that I feel the pressure-in our small town people make comments like I let myself go-which is funny that they wouldnt say that of my friend after she was pregnant because she was a little bigger to begin with so they say she looks great….now I feel worse-especially cuz many girls I know say they would give anything to have my body and I dont want to complain but yet I still cry and hide on a bad day.i am still ashamed and then i make a batch of cookies and eat 10 cuz I am so depressed.how do you get to the point where you can love yourself?I need practical steps that can be acted out while taking care of 3 kids under the age of 4.(which actually is quite demanding in itself)

  250. Is there a place online that cites to the dozen-or-so studies that failed to show that fat people on average take in more calories or exercise less than thin people (#3)? I don’t question that it’s true, having seen this in action plenty — but it strikes a lot of people as a giant counterintuitive lie, and I’m having trouble citing anything at them that I can link to online. I find plenty of references to such studies existing, but I can’t figure out where they are. (I know they’re in Gina Kolata’s book, which I intend to buy as soon as it’s out in paperback — I really did read the whole post, I promise — but am wondering specifically if there is a spot online for me to point people to.)

  251. This is the right article I am looking for. Fat doesn’t equal to health problem. The health problem is caused mainly by the poor nutrition and living conditions. And it is connected to gene partially.

  252. Jsamuel – I have much more knee joint pain at 125 pounds than I ever did at 180 pounds. I have no idea if there is a correlation or if it’s just age. I wonder if the anorexic behaviors were joint-damaging. Blood tests didn’t pick up any other damage, fortunately. If I did damage my joints somehow, there’s some great irony there that my knees were better off when I was size 18 than the 8 I am now.

    I also am an ice hockey goalie, which may have more to do with the wearing down of joints over time than anything else. Still playing competitive sports into my mid-thirties is hard on the body.

  253. I love your post, but for a different reason than most. I have just begun learning about the fat-acceptance movement. (You don’t even want to know what year I finally started using CD’s.) In a lot of posts about fat-acceptance, it states time and again that you don’t have to eat right and exercise to be healthy. While I completely agree it is no one’s business how healthy or not another person is, I also don’t think we should be spreading a myth that eating poorly and not moving is healthy. I don’t exercise, eat badly, and I’m fat, and I’m ok with that. But I would never say I’m healthy because it’s simply untrue. To have a chance at actually getting somewhere with fat-acceptance, more posts need to be like this one, keeping it completely real and true.

  254. Angela, please do check out this article in Scientific American, which features an interview with Barry Glassner, author of The Gospel of Food.

    Glassner’s final quote on the page: “A diet that is harmful to one person may be consumed with impunity by another.” IOW, there is no single standard for “eating healthy.” I’m fond of citing the anticoagulant diet example — that people on blood-thinning regimens are told to avoid leafy green vegetables, which the rest of us are told we should have strapped to our faces in feedbags — but there are many others. There is really only what works for your particular body (and mind). If the way you’re eating is making you feel like crap, then sure, take some steps to change it as you are able, but please also be aware that not everyone has unlimited access to the “best quality” food at all times, and people have to work with what they’ve got.

    Also, mental health is health, too. A cupcake may not be “better for you” than an orange, in strict terms of nutritional content, but it might not be such a bad thing to consume when you’re having a hard day — or for that matter, to celebrate — as long as it’s not medically contraindicated for you. And that SciAm link also has a mention of a study cited by Glassner in Gospel of Food, one which strongly hints that people don’t absorb as much nutrition from food they dislike as from food they like.

    Likewise, not everyone is able to be as active as current societal and governmental “fitness guidelines” dictate. There are many possible reasons for this, ranging from neighborhood safety to work and family demands to illness and injury, and also, believe it or not, a lot of people just plain old hate exercise. HATE it. No matter how hard they try not to for years and years. I am not one of them, but I can understand how years of gym class humiliations and being mooed at on the street can make a person reluctant to get out there and sweat. I find it hard to believe that someone who is not enjoying being active is really getting a whole lot out of it, and they’re probably a lot more likely to get injured or sick from it than someone who actually is doing physical things because they are freely chosen.

  255. @SP – I don’t know if you’ll come back (since this is ten days later), but here’s
    a cite I found which shows confusion
    in the ranks, at least as far as women are concerned. I think they mention the master study:

    However, nutrition studies
    using self-reported food intake
    data, such as the CSFII data, have
    failed to find such an association,
    primarily because overweight persons
    tend to underreport intakes to
    a greater degree than healthy weight
    persons. Also, at any given
    time, overweight persons may be
    on weight-loss diets.

    The CSFII results are all over the net, but usually to prove smaller and smaller points.

    For Sanity Watchers, remember when Googling journal research: short term weight loss is rarely sustained.

  256. My mother is overweight. However, she does not suffer any health problems because of it. She has been in several heated arguments with her doctor, because he simply cannot accept that her weight is not negatively affecting her health. Finally, he grudgingly said he couldn’t find anything wrong with her (in fact, her body shows the health of a much younger woman), but that he thinks she should still lose weight. she gave up, and went back to a non-dieting lifestyle, where she exercises and eats healthily. She has attempted to diet in the past, but it was always because she thought others thought she should, not because she felt there was something wrong with her body. She’s happy as she is. Heck, she has a better self-image than I do, and I’m naturally thin and take care of myself.

    I hate that people think it’s okay to walk up to someone and say, “You’re so thin!” like they expect to be thanked for pointing it out, and acting like it’s a prize. You don’t see people showing the same sentiments and saying, “You’re so fat!”

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  258. But what if fat DOES equal unhealthy? I was always thin and had good blood pressure and low cholesterol. I gained weight over the past 10 years or so (I’m now 205 at 5’7″) and last doctor’s visit I discovered my bp was 160/100 and cholesterol 205.

    He put me on bp meds and said “Lost 50 pounds.”

    I immediatly went on Atkins (three weeks ago) and started walking every day, lost 10 lbs, and my most recent bp was 104/66. Doctor believes it was a combination of the meds and the diet/weightloss.

    Only problem? After three weeks on low carb, I cracked and ate bread. I KNOW I can’t stick to a diet long term. I’ve spent years (YEARS!) trying.

    I don’t know what to do. I feel like a loser. Is it even possible that it was the exercise and not the diet that helped? Can I stay fat but active and still bring my BP down?

    I really, truly believe that longterm weightloss is nearly impossible, but I don’t want to have high bp and I don’t want a stroke or heart attack.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  259. Well, Janey, my first reaction is that it’s not the fat per se that’s unhealthy, but the high blood pressure and cholesterol, which are correlated with fat. For one thing, if your BP is already down so much with three weeks of walking and 10 pounds of (fairly rapid) weight loss, then where did the magic number of “lose 50 pounds” come from?

    I’m not a medical expert, but I do know that there are many fat people with healthy BP, and many thin people with unhealthy BP. Being fat is not going to doom you. Why not keep up with the regular exercise (assuming you’re enjoying the walking) and think about doing intuitive eating? If you’ve already tortured yourself with the diet route, then adding fear to that method is probably not going to work. Thinking about food as fuel instead of forbidden delights and exercise as finding out what your body can do instead of a doctor-prescribed punishment will keep you from engaging in self-loathing. Remember, mental health is part of health.

  260. Ack…no edit function! Pls ignore winky emoticon and read “Lose” where it says “Lost”. (Oh, and “immediatly” should read “immediately”.

    Tx. :)

  261. Janey, I would guess it was the exercise for the most part, but there may have been aspects to the diet that were influential also, depending on what you ate (did you wind up eating less sodium, for example, because you weren’t having fast food?). Also, short-term diuretic (water loss) effects of dieting can have a temporary effect on BP, but this is usually transient. FWIW I have never heard of an Atkins diet being responsible for “curing” hypertension, and I don’t think “sticking” to one is any kind of prerequisite for treating it.

  262. Janey, you are most definitely not a loser. You have been more active, for three weeks now. You are doing something good for your body already. Weigh all that good of three weeks against … a piece of bread? No comparison.
    Don’t feel bad, go out tomorrow and walk again, and that will make you feel better for sure. Why not think of your body as a friend you want to do something good for?
    I wish you all the best with your bp.

  263. I second what SM says regarding the relationship between fat and BP. If fat caused hypertension, then not only would all fat people have it, but no thin people would, either, and that’s horseshit. It is quite possible, on the other hand, that sedentary lifestyle or (as Meowser mentioned) excess sodium intake combined with a genetic propensity for hypertension can push you up into the elevated numbers. Go with HAES, give yourself plenty of forgiveness and grace, and get a new doctor–this one is doing you no favors whatsoever by blowing you off. The NHLBI guidelines have a lot more to say about this than “LOSE 50 POUNDS OMG” which sounds, hmm, suspiciously like what Thorn’s mom heard before she died. I’m disappointed that they have weight reduction recommendations but they also have suggestions to consume a fruit- and vegetable-rich diet low in sodium and saturated fats, to increase physical activity, and to quit smoking. A flippant “LOSE 50 POUNDS OMG” is not appropriate.

    Oh, and losing weight doesn’t work anyway. Point.

  264. I’m glad I posted that comment last night…your responses were all so helpful. I’m feeling a little calmer this morning and am trying not to beat myself up over not being able to stick to my diet. I’m afraid I made my doctor sound quite horrible, and he’s really not. He did say that a weight loss of 50 pounds would be the best thing, but he also said that not everyone can lose weight and that’s why I needed the medication.

    I found that I really am enjoying walking outside every day so that’s one good thing to come out of this. I will look into intuitive eating and try not to go off the deep end again with a diet.

    Thank you.

  265. Whew! Thank you for this site, this deep breath, this respite from the insanity. I am so fucking tired of hearing about the so-called obesity epidemic. I am so tired of being a scapegoat. I am so tired of leaving my Dr’s office once again ashamed of my body.
    So guess what? I’ve decided not to go along with it all anymore. And now, I’m going to take my sweet, voluptuos self out for a stroll.
    Thank You.

  266. phledge –

    I just read your link about Thorn’s mom. I haven’t been to the gynecologist since 1999. She told me to lose weight. I dieted, lost a little, regained more, and was too ashamed to go back. I weighed forty pounds less then than I do now.

    I’m really full of emotions right now. I just want to thank you all for being there.

  267. Oh, Janey, that brings tears to my eyes. I have a primary care faculty member who, after dozens of fat-phobic lectures, looked me straight in the face and said, “Why on EARTH would obese people avoid doctors? That’s just stupid.”

    Needless to say I cannot abide this person’s presence, but it is absolutely imperative that at some point you recognize that your life is more important than someone’s mocking of it. It takes work and self-love and patience, and I know it’s an overwhelming feeling to learn the lie that is fat hatred dressed up as medical concern. This blog has saved my sanity, and I expect that it’s saved others’ lives. We’re here for you!

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  272. Only one comment:

    “Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized).”

    Fat is only a problem if you’re immobilized, but being underweight is a problem, period? Isn’t it just as possible that the parameters for so-called healthy weight are just as arbitrary on the lower end of the scale?

    I’ve been underweight enough to be seriously ill. I’ve also been underweight enough to be just fine. I’ve never been anything but underweight, just as many healthy people have never been anything but overweight. I probably spend just as much time, effort, and frustration on gaining weight as overweight people do on losing it, and it’s just as futile for me to reach that “goal weight” my doctors have been pointing at on a chart for 20 years.

    I’m sure it wasn’t your intent, but please don’t put me in a pigeonhole, either. Thank you. :-)

  273. Pingback: Happy International No Diet Day! | Menstrual Poetry

  274. Kate,
    thanky thanky for this entry. My mom, who by the wonders of weight watchers has recently lost lots of weight and decided now that she’s smaller it was time to start spewing her internalized fat-phobic gospel at me, sent me yet another article tying fat to illness (specifically heart disease).
    I’ve been sitting here, feeling frustrated and powerless, till I remembered this blog entry.
    Mommy dearest can’t email me anything fat-phobic again until she promises to read it in it’s entirety. :)
    -Emily

  275. I feel in june 2002, I tore my quad tendon and landed in the ER in Weymouth MA, The Dr had the nerve to tell me he could see the damage because I was to fat . He ordered a knee brace and gave me some crutches and said find and orthopedic. I was flat on my back in a hospital. I suggested that since I couldnt lift my leg or stndf he should call and ortho for me.
    He signed my release paperwork and said leave.

  276. Laurak, I took Kate to mean being sufficiently underweight or sufficiently fat as to cause mobility problems. I’m sure she’ll correct me if I’m wrong – and yes, there probably is bugger all one can do about it either way but extremes do exist at both ends of the scale.

  277. Janey, I don’t know if this helps but I was diagnosed with slightly raised cholesterol a couple of years back. It’s genetic; my mum has it too. I freaked, started walking briskly most days; watched my saturated fat intake like a hawk, embarked on what sometimes veered dangerously towards dieting territory, (which sent me predictably bonkers for a while), downed daily cholesterol-lowering yoghurt drinks endorsed by my doctor, and went down a dress size…all of which should have helped lower my cholesterol. The UK system is different from the US one so I don’t know how this equates but, in 8 months, mine went from 6.8….to 6.7. In other words I could’ve been sitting on my fat arse necking lard, chocolate and peanut butter smoothies…and my reading would have been just the same.

    My (highly supportive of my FA stance), doc said my non-budging reading was because my body was simply efficient at manufacturing cholesterol and short of taking statins there wasn’t much I could do to fix it. I elected not to since being peri-menopausal and having fibromyalgia I didn’t fancy any more memory loss or muscular pain than I currently endure. I’ve known skinny people with higher readings than mine. I’ve known skinny people who’ve had strokes. I don’t smoke and barely drink aside from high days and holidays and I’ve decided not to worry about it. According to the blurb that cholesterol-lowering yoghurt manufacturers use to boost their sales, 2 out of 3 people in the UK has high cholesterol. Shouldn’t that mean that 2 out of 3 people have strokes? Since that patently isn’t happening, I’m inclined not to dwell.

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  279. I hate that people think it’s okay to walk up to someone and say, “You’re so thin!” like they expect to be thanked for pointing it out, and acting like it’s a prize. You don’t see people showing the same sentiments and saying, “You’re so fat!”

    Ah, if only it were so…

    I agree that it’s rude either way, but the premise that strangers in the street don’t feel compelled to let you know that you are fat is sadly mistaken.

  280. I just wanted to thank you for this. This is so amazing to read.

    The message that I need to lose weight to be healthy is thrown around so much, it’s great to have a nice little reality check here.

    Also, I’ve struggled with an eating disorder. I’ve starved myself in the past in attempts to be thing.
    So claims that shaming me for my weight is good for my health- either physical or mental- for obvious reason really pisses me off.

    Oh, and on this topic- I went to my therapist and mention how I was worried that my weight loss attempts were becoming too obsessive, and that I was veering a bit too close to that path again. She asked if I binged or overate, I told her no. I was counting calories and knew exactly how much I was eating and I was not over-eating.
    She told me I had an over-eating disorder. Because she couldn’t reconcile what she saw with what I was saying.
    I went home feeling like shit and started restricting what I ate even more.

  281. It’s funny that the nurse up there mentioned congestive heart failure up there with their obese patients. Because I have an aunt who is truly fat and one who is super skinny and used to be an exercise freak. I say used to be because she just got congestive heart failure and won’t be doing much of that anymore. The skinny aunt, not the fat one, got the congestive heart failure.

    And my skinny aunt is one of my favorite people in the world. There are things she could have done that could’ve changed her situation, taken better care of her health. But I’m not going to rail against her for that, I love her and will be there for her if she needs me. No one is perfect.

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  284. I’ve know three women friends who’ve had breast cancer and all three of them had a drastic weight-loss prior to diagnosis. I somehow think the body holds on to toxins and when stressed by a rapid weight reduction, releases them in your system.

  285. The part about fat people surviving illness better is quite true. My aunt recently had heart surgery (due to a congential defect, not from teh fat!) and lost a tremendous amount of weight during her dicey recovery. She is finally doing well. If she had weighed the ideal weight of 120 or 130, she would weigh about 60 pounds now… no wait, she would be dead. I hope she can put all that weight back on soon!

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  287. i’m also big and people are constantly on my back about ‘goin to the [bloody] gym’. But honestly i don’t tire when i climb steps, i can jog for more than 200metres before i become breathless…

    You’re so right, its time people realize that there is more to life than having a model body. i have been forced to remind people of my good traits, including those to do with appearance! i have nice eyes and nice full lips and other things too. i also have attibutes that aren’t tangible but make me a fearfully and wonderfully made person (from the book of Psalms in the Christian Bible).

    i can be who and what i want to be regardless of the weight, and even that won’t stop me!

  288. This is inspirational. I just wish the people I knew would read this blog. I’m not overweight at all, nor do I have any extra body fat, but the majority of my friends are overweight, and it puts me in an awkward position when they say, “I can’t go swimming, I’m fat. I wish I was skinny like you.” I don’t get why they won’t just be comfortable with themselves; I mean, they’re absolutely gorgeous! They also have amazing personalities, way more friends than I do, and each one has been in 10x more successful relationships than I have (I have only been in one, and it totally bombed after two months).

    And people must remember, that back in the day, having some extra baggage was a symbol of prosperity, fertility, and beauty. Larger people were generally more respected and more powerful than skinny persons. :]

    And here’s a quote that I think applies;
    “”The time that you start telling yourself how awesome you are, is the time you stop trying.”

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  290. “I’m fond of citing the anticoagulant diet example — that people on blood-thinning regimens are told to avoid leafy green vegetables, which the rest of us are told we should have strapped to our faces in feedbags”

    But that’s not true. My partner is on Warfarin, and the instructions re: green leafies are that he needs to eat the same amount each day, not none one day and six cups the next. They contain vitamin k, which is a clotting factor, and they need to stabilise the thickness of his blood. As long as he eats the same amount each day it’s fine, because the amount of medication needed is the same. The insert with the pills says the amount of vit k consumed each day should not vary by more than 250mcgs.

    So it’s not actually true that people on anticoagulants are told to avoid green leafy vegetables. That’s a misrepresentation.

  291. Pingback: Love Your Body. I’m Trying! « Finding the Qs

  292. Fat acceptance is new to me, but it’s so inspiring to me! Thank you so much for posting this, and I hope you don’t mind if I link to this in my blog.

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  294. I love you.

    I hate how people think I look healthy… I’m thin. So what? I don’t exactly have healthy eating habits. (I do try, honest I do!)

    But I think it’s beautiful when people have some sense about the stupidity being such bigots in the world that is supposed to be so against bigotry. It’s hypocritical to say the least.

    One thing about myself that people wouldn’t expect someone to be proud of, maybe, is my flat chest. At nearly eighteen, I’m still growing, but I really don’t mind being a AA-cup (not that it matters since I go cup-less), even if I do sometimes get confused for a boy… I’ve become very interested in a number of feminist causes and I just cannot for the life of me understand how so many women can be guilted into hating their bodies.

    That’s the most disgusting thing of all!

  295. Rebekka, as recently as three or four years ago, my then-husband’s uncle was indeed being told to avoid leafy greens with his warfarin treatment. That’s what I was going on when I made that comment. It could well be that they’re starting to modify that now, and that’s great. Thank you for the updated information.

    However, my XH himself, who has hereditary hemochromatosis, was also told to avoid leafy greens, for similar reasons. Since he’s not on anti-clotting medication that can be adjusted for intake, the leafy-green ban has stood.

  296. Thank you.

    The link for this article is going two places. One to a skinny minx of a friend who thinks she’s fat and needs to deal with her issues and the other to my mother who is over weight and needs a reminder that while she needs to be careful about her weight she doesn’t need to be a perfect size 10.

    I too am over weight, unfortunately, like my mum I have to be careful. My metabolism is slow like all the woman in our family and I gain weight very quickly. We have a huge problem with respiratory, cholesterol and heart problems so keeping my weight under control is important to me. I may not be able to avoid these problem’s but I’ll give myself a fighting chance… which is why I joined a gym, because bugger if I’m giving up the chocolate ;p

    Just thank you, for showing the other side of the coin. I’m sick of hearing the “lose weight and everything will be ok” spiel. I will never be skinny, too much work and angst involved, but I don’t have to hate myself because of that.

  297. Hi all
    I saw an interesting documentary. In it were a bunch of women living in a really rural part of Russia and who lived by working on the land 10 hours a day picking potatoes etc. Really hard work so hard the [male] presented could not do it for more than 5 mins.
    All of these women were big, chunky, what we in the enlightened west would calll fat. Fat and muscle. Later in the programme a woman was interviewed, fat, she’d worked her whole life as a welder. Big healthy women, never touched a piece of junk food in their lives [it was never available to them!].
    Why are they fat? Not lack of exercise or bad food. So, maybe genes, maybe it’s just nature. Fancy that! Nature! Remember that?
    I’m lucky I dont have to work picking potatoes but I see that we are so hung up on trying ot to cure fatness. For me I am concentrating on being healthy, and if for me that means fat as well I am up for that too.

  298. I’ve been lurking on this site for months, and I have to say, reading it has put me on the road toward accepting myself and the body I have. I am reading The Obesity Myth, and while it is a little bit depressing to realize my fantasy body is never going to be attainable, it’s also wonderfully freeing to realize that I’ve been right all along–the shape of my body does not make me a bad person, and it’s okay to have self esteem because fat is not a character flaw.

    Thank you.

  299. sickinthebrain, thank you for being so sane and critical-thinking at a young age. And this is awesome:

    I just cannot for the life of me understand how so many women can be guilted into hating their bodies.

    It is great to see just one young woman who isn’t expending all of her energy on hating herself. Now go forth and spread the gospel among your friends! :) Rachel, I love your outlook too.

    {{Twist, Lauren, kikatrixx, Fantine}}

  300. Like Fantine, I am a long-time lurker at Shapely Prose. I just wanted to say thanks for this particular page. I hear the opposite of these points so often (in the media, or in overheard conversations) that I find myself coming back to this page repeatedly, just to remind myself that I’m not crazy and there’s no need for me to worry that I am going to die tomorrow because I ate a pastry today.

    Earlier this week, I was waiting for the gym to open at the university I work at. In the lobby, some people were setting up registration for our new student orientation. They were serving donuts and coffee to the folks. And two old men proceeded to comment that the university was going to kill the students by feeding them donuts and then tut-tut over the “obesity crisis” in kids. It was a *headdesk* moment, with no desk for my head. When did people become so scared of food and so obsessed with policing everyone else’s eating habits?

  301. I too am a lurker on this site, new to FA and to everything that it entails.

    After reading through the archives here and at many other FA sites, I have to just shout my thanks out loud and say hallelujah.

    I have spent the entirety of my adult life hating myself and my body; my family and countless doctors have helped confirm this hate for me couched in the mask of concern, while many other strangers and friends alike have helped to cement it through outright hatred or well-intended thoughtlessness in various forms.

    Never in my life did it occur to me that what I was being told might be untrue or was unfair; that I had a right to disagree with those who continually reinforced the idea that there was something fundamentally flawed about me, and that if I could just figure out the secret, I could change myself forever and never have to disappoint anyone or disgust anyone ever again.

    Now, I realize that I can achieve a level of self-acceptance I never concieved of before – that I can love WHO I AM RIGHT NOW instead of waiting to become someone more deserving of love. This is cathartic on a level that I’m not sure I can describe in words… I feel like I am just now, at the age of 33, realizing that I am a valuable, lovable, respectable, and beautiful person.

    Thank you, Kate, and everyone in the FA movement, for waking me up from the nightmare.

  302. I can love WHO I AM RIGHT NOW instead of waiting to become someone more deserving of love.

    This is so perfectly put.

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  304. I found this entry link hopping – thank you, thankyou, thank you! As if women and mothers needed one more thing to hate themselves about…

  305. I am glad this blog exists, despite the fact that this has been said by about every commenter here. It’s true, though.

    I was chubby as a teen, then anorexic in early college and now cubby again since I stopped limiting my intake to 300 calories per day or something similarly crazy.

    I probably eat healthier now than I ever did when I was skinny. When thin, I ate primarily low-cal processed foods and sodium-rich canned vegetables. Now, my partner does most of the cooking and we each a lot of fresh fruits and veggies, salads, grilled fish, olive oil, avacodo and whole grains. We eat a lot of French dishes as well as my partner learned to cook in France.

    The first time I had my blood pressure and blood sugar checked upon gaining weight, I was shocked. I didn’t appear to be dying from chubbiness! Who’d have thought? My blood sugar was on the low end of normal and my blood pressure perfect. And it continues to be so, despite not having lost any weight. Bizarre, I know. I am a chubby boy, how on earth could it be?! :)

    What I find so fucked up about the Western obsession with weight is that you’ll never be just right. When I was skinny, I was told I was too skinny. My mom said if she found out I was bulimic, she’d check me into an eating disorder clinic. When I started eating again and put on weight, I was told I was gonna get chubby — oh no!!11

    So, anyway, I know this comment is a giant repetition of all the others here, but I wanted to leave a note anyway.

  306. I have come across your blog via The Rotund where a friend of mine linked to. I just wanted to say that everything I read here is like one amazing epiphany.

    I have hated my body and thus myself for most of my life, and whilst I only tried dieting once I gained back the weight twice as much ten times as fast and was thus thoroughly convinced that that was not the way to go. But I couldn’t find another alternative. I found myself thinking, I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to feel like shit about myself anymore. How do I do this?

    And then I come across the idea of fat acceptance.. which is something amazing and yet also amazingly hard to grasp given that all my life I’ve been told and shown that fat is ugly and disgusting.

    You may have given me the key to learning how to truly accept and love myself the way I am. Thank you.

  307. OMG Joy Nash turned me on to your site and I’m so glad she did. I really need the support of SOMEone who’s not constantly telling me “A couple more pounds lost and you’ll look fine” (that includes my infested brain telling me that over and over and over…)

  308. I’m glad you said that last thing about BMI. Because I’m 5’4 and weigh 125lbs, but supposedly I’m “overweight.” I’m a vegetarian and exercise. BMI is horseshit!!!

    And I’m glad to read that someone is reminding people about how human beings need to be treated with dignity and respect. People seem to forget that way too often.

  309. Pingback: Friday Hoyden: Joy Nash at Hoyden About Town

  310. Erica, at 5’4″ and 125 lbs., your BMI is 21.5, which is not overweight (25-29.9). You fall within the lower end of the normal category.

    But I agree that BMI is horseshit.

  311. I am so thankful that there are strong women left.

    You should do work in promoting the acceptance of transgender people.

    Seriously, you’re good.

  312. I don’t know where to put this, but jeez, how about this exercise study from the University of Pittsburgh?

    “Women who want to lose weight – and keep it off – need to be exercising for almost an hour, five days a week, according to US experts.”

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7530345.stm

    “Thirty minutes a day is good for general health, but if you want to lose weight, you need to be doing more, and if you want to sustain weight loss, you need to be doing even more than that.” (Professor Paul Gately, Leeds Metropolitan University).

    Oh, okay, that sounds reasonable. Exercise at least an hour a day to lose weight, while eating 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, according to the study. And then, if you want to keep that weight off, exercise EVEN MORE.

    The accompanying photo, of a pretty and plump lady clutching her chest in an “oh my, I’m out of breath” way, is captioned, “Exercise may be tough at first – but is worth the effort.” Wheee! Thanks for the encouragement. I’ll be sure to fit in 60 to 90 minutes of exercise every day, then, since it’s SO WORTH IT.

  313. Shameless self-promotion alert.

    I posted the the Feministing community blog about this the other day. Most people are supportive but there’s been one condescending tool telling me I’m “beating the odds.”

    Plug.

  314. Pingback: Dear Dan Savage… « Fatistician

  315. I’m all for accepting yourself as you are, but can you do it without insulting the skinny, unhealthy people? It takes as much effort to gain weight and be healthy as it does to lose weight and be healthy. In fact, it takes the exact same thing. I (skinny minnie) get enough mean comments from strangers and from the media without having to get bashed by those who purport to accept bodies for what they are. Please be sensitive to how the too skinny half lives.

  316. Jen, we have a lot of thin readers and one relatively thin blogger here — we absolutely do not condone thin-bashing, and we call it out when we see it. Where do you see thin-bashing in this post?

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  318. @ Kelli Kickham (upthread around March, but this thread seems to live on forever) “Wow. I am a naturally thin (and healthy) individual. and I LOVE this post. People should be celebrated for being HEALTHY, not thin.”
    I just want to say that people should be celebrated, not for being healthy, not for being thin, or for any other quality you can name. People should be celebrated for being people, and for being their own selves as hard as they can be.

  319. I noticed some thin-hate in an early comment from Rochelle: “Have you noticed how much Ann Coulter and MeMe Roth look alike? And I thought evil came in many forms…hum..”

  320. Pingback: Study: Weight Not Necessarily an Indicator of Health | Our Bodies Our Blog

  321. I love this, and I bookmarked it.

    But you forgot to cover the cliche about fat people causing all the babies in S. Africa and all other starving countries to die. I always have to chuckle when I hear that one! I’d love to know how fat people all over the world contribute to the starving.

    And it’s annoying when people keep blindly thinking that being fat is an “American Phenomenon”. Australia is now the fattest nation on earth and even before that, Australians have been quite competitive with the states for the longest time. There are several other nations that come pretty close.

    The point I am making is that (similar to the point you’re making in this post) is that these are just simply cliches that people believe without challenge or question. Fat people get called “lazy” everyday, but these people who buy into the stereotypes are what I call, “lazy thinkers”. Bigotry of any kind is a lazy phenomenon and its sources lie in unresolved issues within themselves, so fat people provide an easy scapegoat for for the weak – a crutch to assist others in feeling better about themselves, their decisions, and their lives.

    The needy also hate fat people. The cliche is that “If you can’t take care of yourselves, how can YOU take care of ME?”. Ug. Since when is ANYBODY responsible for taking care of another person over the age of 18??? People need to take care of themselves. Relationships should be balanced, and simply being fat doesn’t mean that person is weak be it physically or mentally or incapable of truly loving another person. There are just as many thin people that are weak as the fat.

    On every account, the fatophobes are WRONG!

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  323. Pingback: If you want an overweight child to be healthy, teach him/her to love him/herself as is. « Mom In The Dark

  324. I love what you’re doing here put simply! Obviously it was difficult for me to access your site while I was shovelling cakes into my face, but great none the less ;o)

  325. FYI, Kate – I created the Living ~400lbs blog, and linked to Shapely Prose in a few places. Hope you don’t mind :)

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  327. I was doing research on a blog I’m writing and I found your site. I’m a plus model turned musician…i like chicks who blog and their dogs…I’ll write about this site for sure…keep on trucking, mamas.

    nati

  328. Pingback: Obesity - What it is and why we care « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

  329. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve posted a link on http://shapelywomen.blogspot.com, where I’m collecting artwork of normal women – who look fat to me because I live in frickin’ America! – but anyway, it’s the opposite of thin-spiration. Love-my-body-spiration, maybe? If anyone else is reassured by the pics I will be verra verra happy!

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  331. Loved the blog
    Can you take on the people who make SEATS next? Especially airlines… I haven’t flown in years because i am afraid they will tell me I have to buy an extra seat because of my size. Why don’t they just make bigger seats instead squishing as many people in the cabin like cattle??!! And why do all the cafes always have those itty bitty seats? I love coffee and they lose my business because I can’t stay and sit comfortably outside :|

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  334. I read this blog a while ago- maybe 9 months to a year ago. It seriously changed my life- I don’t say that about much, but this did change it. Thanks.

  335. Pingback: Xtinian Thoughts » Blog Archive » A great post on size-related issues.

  336. THANK YOU for posting this information. It has really changed my outlook on life. I read all 60-70 plus pages of your blog in less than a week because it was so inspiring!

  337. I have a question for y’all, especially kateharding. Kate, I admire you so much for your role in the fat acceptance movement. I think you are beautiful and brave.

    I am a big person with a small family, and an emotionally abusive mother (who is, of course, about 100 pounds soaking wet). Despite my age – 38- I have a VERY hard time standing up to her. When she starts in on my weight, the best I’ve ever been able to do is say, “I don’t want to discuss that with you.” SHe doens’t respect that, of course, and I often feel bad later, but it is a big step for me to say something when she starts in on me.

    Her latest suggestion is that I should get weight loss surgery. EEEK. I can barely take myself to doctors, much less let one lay me out naked like that. It must sound dumb to you all, but HUGE issue for me. And then I watch the videos and read the stories and see how, in many cases, people seem to be WORSE off.

    Some years ago, I wrote her a very sincere letter, telling her that I don’t want my weight to be the first thing she sees when she looks at me. I don’t want to be her “fat daughter”, but her daughter who loves cats and photography and helps people for a living. I can’t recall my exact words, but the gist of the letter was that I really need her acceptance, not nagging to put me on a diet. I can try to make healthy choices in eating, exercise, but thet weight loss programs are not a good choice for me.

    She was nice for awhile, now she’s worse than ever. I wrote that letter before I ever heard of HAES, but I think it has so much merit. Now, when she nags me about what she saw on Oprah or read in the paper I want to show her books and websities and blogs that show the OTHER side of the research. Fat doens’t kill you. It doens’t make you sick. Etc Etc

    But I know she’d call me deluded, and only beleiving what I WANT to beleive because I am overweight (0kay, obese) and not because it’s true. Kate, I know you must have been confronted with similar nastiness when you speak up for all of us. So after that long winded introduction, my question is how do you respond? Are there people that you simply CANNOT get through to?

    I don’t think I’ll ever get through to my mom. She wants to control my every thought and breath, and I’m not allowed my own feelings or reactions or needs, so I don’t have much hope that she’ll ever really listen to me about this issue. Still, it will help me to hear from you all.

  338. Thank you, thank you. As one of a family of small, plump women, I’ve struggled with image and weight issues all my life. And yet I’m very healthy, exercise almost daily, eat (relatively) well, and know exactly what triggers I must avoid to not eat mindlessly. I was pointed to your website by Naamah Darling, and I’m eternally grateful to her doing so.

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  341. Thanks for the link to your Shapely Women blog. It’s a wonderful collection of pictures, well worth checking out!

  342. I was forcefully reminded once again that when I need a shot of common sense and a dose of well-informed writing about fat and fat acceptance I should come to this blog. What reminded me? The diet clinic ad masquerading as a health article in this week’s issue of the Mail & Guardian (South African edition).

    A full page article that I couldn’t finish because I was choking on my rage. The writer, a customer of this clinic, wrote about her new weight loss programme that had already enabled her to lose 11kg.

    The statement from this writer that nearly induced apoplexy…”being overweight is not just unsightly and disgusting – it’s also unhealthy!”

    Right. Thanks. Without her marvelous insight I would never have realised just how unsightly and disgusting I am. And how unhealthy I am! Gosh…so nice to have been put in my place.

    I wish I could dampen my emotions enough to write a calm, lucid and informative letter to the editor but unfortunately my desire to ask her what the @*&*^^#@@ hell she was thinking by running that travesty of a “health” article would get the better of me.

  343. Pingback: “But everybody knows that…” « I AM in shape. ROUND is a shape.

  344. I just came across your website after being told I am not acceptable because I am overweight… in a nice way…. if that is possible..never mind the fact that I have spent nearly four years relearning how to walk again after a workplace injury. I have been in and out of hospital and the medical people I encounter all say that I should be ashamed of myself because I am 147kg (over 300 pounds)… however my blood pressure is better than a marathon runner and the doctors get mad at this. I have to deal with an acquired disability, losing my career and my “weight issue”. When I see how many people have embraced life as you all have… I am inspired even more so to go out there and to continue to use my wonky legs – even though the doctors said I would never walk again. The love thing… well… now if it comes… it would be nice… but due to your website.. I did some very healthy retail therapy today and now have resolved to be as glam as possible from now on.. without worrying about what others think!!!
    Thank you for all your comments… they are informative and encouraging!!
    From an Aussie Girl,

    Learnne

  345. Ishtar, I just watched that entire documentary. I probably have a lot to say, but I haven’t written it all down yet. When I do I’ll post my thoughts. :)

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  347. Pingback: In what universe is “tubby custard” less insulting than “fat”? « Wallaby

  348. Pingback: Losing my mind at Sticky Cakes

  349. Pingback: [Feed Me!] Obesity problems–true and faux

  350. I am female, I am 5′ 8″, I weight somewhere around 225 pounds, and I am exceptionally healthy.

    I do not get sick. I do not get flu shots, I do not get the flu. I haven’t been ill in over a year. I was 18 before I ever had a doctor prescribe me anything and that was preop for Lasik.

    I’ve been on one diet (Long Beach) and I will never do it again (It was against my free will and better judgement.) I have normal blood pressure, a low heart rate (resting 55 bpm) and normal everything else.

    I can easily lift more than half my body weight.

    I have a natural hour-glass figure.

    I have wide hips, a large bust and a rather shapely rear end.

    I am attractive.

    I am happy with myself.

    According to the BMI, I am morbidly obese.

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  353. I just started reading your blog today and I think it’s great. I have been fat and hated how fat and ugly I was. Lost 60 pounds and was thin and hated how ugly and stupid I was. Gained the 60 pounds and more back and hated how fat and ugly and stupid I was and am now just starting to like myself even though I am heavier than I ever have been before. Turns out my weight had nothing to do with how I felt about myself. My mom and my friends are always trying to lose weight and I get sucked in just long enough to realize that I’m not helping myself. I guess I’m saying thanks for a place that won’t make me feel like I should still hate myself.

  354. I wanted to thank you kate, sweet machine and fillyjonk for creating this space. I was happy to stumble upon your blog from Salon (glad you added to my life there) and feel right at home here. I loved the BMI Project and appreciate how many gorgeous and confident women there are in the world. And hopefully after reading more Shapely Prose, I will join them too. thanks again for emphasizing the beauty of the body in all it’s forms. and kate, for reminding me that fat is just one of many qualities in a person.

  355. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?

    True: Diets don’t work. Long-term lifestyle change, adjustment of one’s attitude towards and expectations of food (that is, what it’s supposed to be made of) and rigorous exercise? They work for most people who can commit to them. The very concept of a “diet” is ridiculous and implies a temporary expedience.

    But: If obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, a lack of solution would not reverse its crisis status. That’s like saying that since we don’t have a cure for AIDS, it should be ignored altogether. It would be extremely difficult to educate Americans as to appropriate portion size and the content of processed and restaurant-served foods, but it’s work, I think, that would be worth it.

    I’ve been to Chili’s, and I’ve seen people order a fried appetizer, salty burger, and three Cokes. These people are larger on average than people who stay in and have homemade, wholesome food. Larger people shouldn’t be treated any different from small people; and they certainly shouldn’t be stared at or ridiculed. I think it’s a rare person that would argue that they should, and most of them are trolls on this site. But my mother is 5’4″ and 205 pounds, and she’s 55. She is pre-diabetic, is on medication for high blood pressure, and has knee and other joint problems. I want her to be around to see my kids graduate from college. That’s why I encourage her when she exercises, and why I come over and fix her healthy meals (she doesn’t like to cook.) I love her any way she is, but her extra weight is a danger to her health.

    A study finding that fat people who already had health issues recovered better than thin people who already had health issues is in no way correlative to the population at large. Fat people are statistically more likely to develop certain conditions; it’s true that future research may disprove that. But for now, these are the facts.

    I respect the courage of the writers here to proclaim their self-confidence and forge a community of like-minded people. Finding happiness with oneself is so difficult. I worry, though, that some readers may interpret this FAQ as ‘proof’ that the link between obesity and certain diseases and longevity has been ill-demonstrated.

  356. I’ve been to Chili’s, and I’ve seen people order a fried appetizer, salty burger, and three Cokes. These people are larger on average than people who stay in and have homemade, wholesome food.

    How do you know that those people eat like that more than the one time you saw them? And how do you know that there aren’t as many or more fat people staying at home and having homemade, wholesome food? And do you really not see thin people order that kind of meal, or do you just not *notice* it because you don’t have a culturally mandated equation of “thin person” and “eats crap” in your head?

    I absolutely agree with your statement that the lack of a cure for a public health problem doesn’t mean it’s not a crisis; I also agree that people who do have health problems shouldn’t be stigmatized. I think you’re also trying to acknowledge that even in a crisis, individuals are the victims, not the cause, of the problem. But what we want this FAQ, and this blog, to be “proof” of is that people’s bodies are not the legible signs either of their morality or their health status.

  357. How do you know that those people eat like that more than the one time you saw them? And how do you know that there aren’t as many or more fat people staying at home and having homemade, wholesome food”

    I don’t. I admit I’m extrapolating information about strangers based on anecdotal evidence from my own life; the overweight people I know eat more fried and processed food than the less heavy ones. I also have two thin friends I worry about, because they seem to have taken some sort of oath to never eat vegetables or fruit. But on the average, the bigger people I know eat fewer wholesome foods and exercise less than the slimmer ones. I see the food choices my mom makes, and for a smart woman, they really are ridiculous. Way more than the DRV of sodium, not nearly enough veggies, huge servings of starches. I’ve seen her during brief episodes of more exercise and healthier food, and she loses weight. She doesn’t stick to it because she doesn’t like rigorous exercise or balanced meals. But for her, and for so many members of my extended family, there is a connection.

  358. I forgot to mention sleep apnea, which is directly connected to weight and can cause stroke or death if untreated. Unfortunately I have two friends who suffer from this. One wears a C-PAP machine, and the other is currently ignoring it.

  359. I’ve seen her during brief episodes of more exercise and healthier food, and she loses weight.

    But that weight loss may or may not be permanent.

    Consider, also, that many fat people have been told their own lives that (a) they should be exercising and eating healthily, (b) but they must not being doing so because they’re fat, (c) if they say they are, they’re lying, and (d) “junk” food is really, really desirable and something they should never, ever have.

    Is it any wonder that a lot of people end up with complexes about the whole thing? If there is a correlation, it might not operate the way you think.

  360. But that weight loss may or may not be permanent.

    But it was connected to the lifestyle shift.

    I agree about shaming and the fetishization of junk food. I babysit, and I’ve seen mothers who make such a huge deal about their kids’ avoiding the occasional cookie and slice of birthday cake (a la Meme Roth, although nicer) that I’m convinced she’s giving her kids complexes and possibly eating disorders (I grew up in Orange County and went to high school with many girls who were raised like that. One of them had a mom who actually locked the refrigerator at night. Seriously.) Constant harassment is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  361. Long-term lifestyle change, adjustment of one’s attitude towards and expectations of food (that is, what it’s supposed to be made of) and rigorous exercise? They work for most people who can commit to them.

    No, they don’t, actually — unless your “lifestyle” to begin with was very sedentary and you routinely overate. That might be true for some, but see point 3 in the post: “no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period.” Your definition of “diet” might necessarily include “temporary,” but ours doesn’t.

    Also, I have no idea what “adjusting one’s attitude and expectation toward what food is supposed to be made of” means. And I don’t know how you define “rigorous” exercise, but there’s a big difference between the amount of exercise that leads to improved health outcomes and the amount of exercise needed to keep a naturally fat person thin.

    But: If obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, a lack of solution would not reverse its crisis status. That’s like saying that since we don’t have a cure for AIDS, it should be ignored altogether.

    Well, if I’d said anywhere that it should be ignored altogether, you’d be right. What I said was, “If it’s a health crisis, how the fuck do you propose we solve it?” Look up the study led by Traci Mann of UCLA, published in the April 2007 American Psychologist, which is a review of the literature on the search for obesity treatments. Short version: Pretty much everyone gains it back. And not because they all started eating at Chili’s every night.

    Nevertheless, just about every fucking bit of research into “obesity treatments” remains focused on getting people to lose weight, by eating less and exercising more — which has never been proven to cause anything but short-term weight loss and health benefits in the vast majority of subjects. HAES holds a lot of promise in terms of creating long-term health benefits, minus the weight loss, but most of the obesity research community is still focused on trying to get people to lose the weight and keep it off — by doing the same damn things that have been proven not to work in countless studies.

    Larger people shouldn’t be treated any different from small people; and they certainly shouldn’t be stared at or ridiculed. I think it’s a rare person that would argue that they should, and most of them are trolls on this site.

    Emphasis mine. All I have to say to that is, your privilege is showing. A lot. And go read the comments on my recent Salon essay.

    But my mother is 5′4″ and 205 pounds, and she’s 55. She is pre-diabetic, is on medication for high blood pressure, and has knee and other joint problems. I want her to be around to see my kids graduate from college. That’s why I encourage her when she exercises, and why I come over and fix her healthy meals (she doesn’t like to cook.) I love her any way she is, but her extra weight is a danger to her health.

    Read point 2 above. Now read it again. If your mom doesn’t like to exercise or eat her veggies, yes, those things can absolutely keep her from optimum health. They might very well be partly responsible for her weight, if she’s really sedentary and routinely overeats — unlike the average fat person. That does not automatically mean her weight is a danger to her health — it means her eating and exercise habits are. And improving those things may or may not make her lose weight.

    As for the joint pain, would it be improved by weight loss? Maybe. A) It’s a moot point, since with the knowledge and technology we have, the chances of her losing a substantial amount of weight and keeping it off longer than 5 years are virtually nil. B) Plenty of thin 55-year-old women have joint pain. This 33-year-old woman has rheumatoid arthritis and was once told by a doctor to lose 10 lbs. to relieve the pain. That doesn’t mean she ought to listen to him — it means there are only so many things a doctor can do for joint pain, and recommending weight loss is one of the things on the list.

    Finding happiness with oneself is so difficult. I worry, though, that some readers may interpret this FAQ as ‘proof’ that the link between obesity and certain diseases and longevity has been ill-demonstrated.

    Christ, could you be more of a concern troll? Fact is, that link HAS been ill-demonstrated, and blown way out of proportion, because of the assumption that “obesity” = “sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits.” And because studies of “obesity treatments” all rely on changes in exercise and eating habits, but weight loss is somehow considered as an independent variable. Not to mention, well… all the other points in this post, and about a million other points that have been made on this blog, which you might have tried reading before you jumped into a 400-comment thread and said exactly what a shitload of other people have already said.

    I’m giving you the time of day here because I internet-know you, but that’s the only reason. I’m sorry the fat people in your family have worrisome eating and exercise habits — so do some of the fat people in my family. But the actual research that’s sought to demonstrate that most fat people overeat and underexercise has in fact demonstrated that on average, fat people eat and exercise about the same as thin people. Your family members and mine are outliers, statistically speaking.

    And I see Sweet Machine already covered the Chili’s thing. For fuck’s sake, Tart.

  362. Tart, I want to point out how unproductive I feel it is to tie loaded moral terms to food, hunger or food choices. There are others here, more concise and with more experience, who can explain this in more depth. I noticed you used words like “ridiculous” (your mother’s food choices), “appropriate” (for portioning food), “balanced,” “healthy” and “wholesome.” These are not neutral or objective terms. I would encourage you to see what you think about the Health At Every Size approach (which is also not for everyone, nor is it a moral compass), especially as there is some research backing it up–and you have mentioned research/science as a reason for your beliefs about correlating health and size.

  363. Long-term lifestyle change, adjustment of one’s attitude towards and expectations of food (that is, what it’s supposed to be made of) and rigorous exercise? They work for most people who can commit to them.
    Actually, no, they don’t. Not long-term. Nothing works, no matter what name you call it.

    I’ve been to Chili’s, and I’ve seen people order a fried appetizer, salty burger, and three Cokes. These people are larger on average than people who stay in and have homemade, wholesome food.
    This is ridiculous. The repeated studies that Kate cited that show that the eating and exercise habits of fat people are statistically no different from those of thin people are statistical and scientific, though I’m sure they aren’t perfect (since perfect studies don’t exist). But your anecdata trump that?

    I worry, though, that some readers may interpret this FAQ as ‘proof’ that the link between obesity and certain diseases and longevity has been ill-demonstrated.
    But that link HAS been ill-demonstrated. Like whoa. I’m sorry if you think that’s dangerous, but it’s the truth.

    I also have two thin friends I worry about, because they seem to have taken some sort of oath to never eat vegetables or fruit…I see the food choices my mom makes, and for a smart woman, they really are ridiculous. Way more than the DRV of sodium, not nearly enough veggies, huge servings of starches…I forgot to mention sleep apnea, which is directly connected to weight and can cause stroke or death if untreated. Unfortunately I have two friends who suffer from this. One wears a C-PAP machine, and the other is currently ignoring it.”
    This is what is setting off bells for me when I read your comments. It makes sense to care about whether or not your friends and family stay healthy and live long lives. But ultimately, it’s none of your business what they are eating or what health choices they are making, because they are adults, and this all sounds super judgy.

    Fwiw, there isn’t really agreement among medical scientists and nutritionists, either, about how much veggies, starch, sodium or oil people should (or should not) be eating. Those studies are extremely inconclusive and contradictory, even for things like how to treat diabetes.

  364. Tart, I think it’s more that you’ve entered a conversation that has been going on, on this particular post no less, for over a year and a half and over 450 comments…and you’ve entered it to say you’re very concerned about the fatties at Chili’s. Surely you see how this is classic concern troll behavior?

  365. Hi Guys. I love your site and the recent article on Salon.com. When I was in college, I went on a strict diet and exercise regime to “finally get thin” after all those years of being considered fat. I went down to 104 lbs, thinking this was perfectly normal (I’m five-four). Then I once went on a donut binge and afterwards decided to see a college counselor to get to the root of this horrible thing I had done (the donut binge, that is). She gave me a wonderful book about weight acceptance. I can’t remember the name of it now. It was something like Making Peace with Your Weight. Anyway, after reading the book I decided that I was going to stop dieting and eat what I felt like eating! Within two months my weight shot up to 170 lbs, which is not particularly heavy, but at the time it was a very brave thing to do because, in my opinion, people treat you differently when you’re rail thin vs. when you’re pretty chunky. In general, I think that thin people command more respect in our culture. If you are fat, you need to be exceptionally attractive in other conventional ways to command a similar level of respect, e.g., as a woman, having a really nice hairdo and wearing fashionable clothes. Also, I think it in part depends on your social milieu. Academics seem to care less about whether or not you are fat than, say, lawyers. Anyway, you have got to keep getting the word out that 1. people can control their weight only to a certain, relatively SMALL, degree (depending on regular diet and exercise patterns) and 2. most all of us carry semi- and subconscious erroneous beliefs about why people are fat and how to relate to fat people. Are you promoting the book The Shack on your site? In the book, the main character, Mack, spends a weekend with the Holy Trinity. God the Father is, interestingly enough, portrayed as a “large black woman” named “Papa” (in the story, God is, apparently, trying to get Mack to stop viewing God as a He or a She) who has a penchant for gourmet cooking. In the story, Papa spends the entire weekend cooking up these huge, delectable meals to sustain Mack through his various, sometimes trying, experiences. I think the emphasis on food in this book is great and I think it is probably a conscious response to our diet-crazed culture.

  366. Tart, I’m pretty damn sure that if you had been in, say, Ruth’s Chris instead of Chili’s, almost everyone in there would have been thin, because it’s generally thin people who can afford to eat regularly at expensive steakhouses. And you would have seen those thin people eating 28-ounce Porterhouse steaks dripping in butter, baked potatoes with sour cream AND butter, creamed spinach, and Caesar salads the size of a bathtub, and washing them down with multiple martinis, and maybe having some creme brulee for dessert. Would you be Concerned About Their Health? That’s not any “healthier” a meal than the fried appetizer, burger, and three Cokes you describe seeing those uncouth fatties slam down. Think about how much classism is involved in all these IT’S UNHEALTHEEEE!!1111!! tropes. It’s pretty staggering, actually.

  367. Well, if that’s what a concern troll is, then I suppose I’m a concern troll. I wished to argue the veracity of the studies cited in the FAQ. I now know that this wasn’t a good idea. I didn’t mean to offend.

  368. But Tart, you didn’t argue about the studies. You gave anecdata about your mom and some strangers at a restaurant, and you said you’re concerned that we’re leading people astray because facts are facts, don’t you know. Disagreement itself isn’t concern troll behavior; it’s the saying “you are all wrong because I’m concerned that you are wrong” that is.

  369. I said: “A study finding that fat people who already had health issues recovered better than thin people who already had health issues is in no way correlative to the population at large. Fat people are statistically more likely to develop certain conditions; it’s true that future research may disprove that. But for now, these are the facts.”

    I said more than that. I shouldn’t have.

  370. it’s generally thin people who can afford to eat regularly at expensive steakhouses.

    Do you mean that poorer people tend to weigh more, as cheaper food tends to be fattier/saltier? That’s true, but if a rich person is eating like you describe at Ruth’s Chris (or wherever they eat), they’re most likely going to gain some weight, just like a poorer person eating at McDonald’s. I think the difference is that a once-monthly visit to Ruth’s Chris is different from eating fast food every day. Which is not to say that “all overweight people eat fast food,” as that’s certainly not true.

  371. I said: “A study finding that fat people who already had health issues recovered better than thin people who already had health issues is in no way correlative to the population at large. Fat people are statistically more likely to develop certain conditions; it’s true that future research may disprove that. But for now, these are the facts.”

    That’s true. But there is also research, in particular a very prominent study, that shows that mortality rates are lowest for people in the BMI category labelled “overweight” and that “underweight” people are the ones with the highest mortality at a given age:

    Flegal, K. M., Graubard, B. I., Williamson, D. F., & Gail, M. H. (2005). Excess deaths associated with underweight, overweight and obesity. JAMA, 293,1861–1867.

    Also, there is a study that compares Health At Every Size with dieting as an approach to better health for obese women; in the long term, people practicing Health at Every Size had far better health outcomes than people who did not – without losing weight:

    Bacon, L., VanLoan, M. , Stern, J.S., & Keim, N. (2005). Size Acceptance and Intuitive Eating Improves Health for Obese Female Chronic Dieters. Journal of American Dietetic Association, 105, 929-936.

  372. Hey, you know what? I’m fat, and I’ve never even been to Chili’s, thereby disproving everything Tart just said.

    rolls eyes to infinity

  373. Actually, no one has bothered to argue with that sentence much because the rest of it sounded so concern-trolly, but even that’s not really accurate. People who fall into the underweight BMI category, as much as BMI is bullshit for individuals, have much higher mortality rates than normal or overweight categories (not sure about obese – it might be the same? or the same as “morbidly obese”? I forget), because they are at higher risk for some health problems (different ones than you hear about for fatter people) and have low recovery rates.

    Luckily for those of us who are technically “underweight,” doctors shrug, accept those are inherited risks (like any other biologically inherited risk factor), and just keep a closer eye out for symptoms of those problems – they don’t usually put blame on us, or suggest/demand that we should rearrange our entire lives to commit to crazy-making techniques that have been proven again and again to make only short-term improvements in those probabilities at best.

    Also, you’re suggesting that getting sick but then recovering is somehow worse than having a minutely lesser chance of getting sick, but a much higher chance of dying from it. Overweight people live the longest of any BMI category. End results matter a great deal.

  374. hey hey so can i be SP’s resident Thin Scientist?

    hm, maybe that’s better suited to a biologist or someone with medical training. any thin doctors around? :)

  375. But the obese people had the highest mortality rate of all the groups.

    And that study looked at mortality, not disease occurrence and general poor health. From the study: “The impact of obesity on mortality may have decreased over time, perhaps because of improvements in public health and medical care.” This means that medicine has gotten better at keeping obese people alive longer. It doesn’t mean they’re healthy, per se.

  376. And that HAES study makes sense, because diets can be a very unhealthy shock to the system, and stopping yo-yo behavior can only be good for one’s health, even if they don’t lose weight as a result.

  377. hey hey so can i be SP’s resident Thin Scientist?

    You have my vote.

    Also, didn’t we have, at one point, a thread that got into alternatives to “morbidly obese?” I’m thinking melodramatically obese, assertively obese, flamboyantly obese… even Nihilistically obese is better than morbidly.

  378. People who fall into the underweight BMI category, as much as BMI is bullshit for individuals, have much higher mortality rates than normal or overweight categories (not sure about obese – it might be the same? or the same as “morbidly obese”? I forget), because they are at higher risk for some health problems (different ones than you hear about for fatter people) and have low recovery rates.

    Here is the study you are referring to:

    http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2007/06/20/black-women-live-longer-if-theyre-overweight/

    There is a chart here, and you will note that women with a BMI over 40 have LOWER mortality rates than women with a BMI under 18.

    But the best mortality rates are for people with an “overweight” BMI, especially men and black women. There is a LOT of variation when you break up the BMI by gender and race. That would be an interesting angle to study!

    Here is a good example: white women with a BMI of 30-34.9 (“obese”) have LOWER mortality rates than white women with a BMI of 18.5-20.9 (“normal”).

  379. Also, as others have said before me, there is no difference between dieting and so-called life style changes for weight loss. I am a chronic dieter (I still haven’t broken free of that completely, although I am getting better) and binge-eater. Every single diet I started I started with the intention of sticking to this way of eating for the rest of my life – and these were not all fad diets; in fact, the majority of them weren’t. I sticked with it alright for a few months, maybe half a year – in contrast to other people I was even lucky enough not to plateau gain weight back despite calorie restriction. And then I slipped right back into bingeing and gained back all the weight plus some. Intentionally contolling food intake for weight loss, especially reducing the amount of calories one eats, very rarely works in the long term – in fact, for many people it results in eating disordered behavior and eating according to external rather than internal stimuli. FA and associated with it HAES on the other hand has given me and a lot of other people a tool to break free from disordered eating – in fact, I only started to make progress in terms of normalizing eating and integrating exercise into my life once I started to work on NOT focussing on weight loss.

    There is a very interesting podcast by Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity that taps into some of these issues:

    Rethinking Thin: The New Science of Weight Loss – and the Myths and Realities of Dieting (interview with Gina Kolata)

    (For people who have been around FA blogs for a while: I know that the Rudd Center is not always in line with the FA movement, and I myself don’t agree with some of the things they say, but this podcast as well as their studies on the stigmatization of fat people is really good.)

  380. But the obese people had the highest mortality rate of all the groups.

    Uh, no they didn’t. Check my previous post, I have the actual study.

  381. This means that medicine has gotten better at keeping obese people alive longer. It doesn’t mean they’re healthy, per se.

    Yet, it can’t keep the thin and “normal” people alive longer, according to the BMI study I posted. Kinda makes you think, doesn’t it? Maybe fat people aren’t as unhealthy as you want to make them out to be.

    I feel there is a lot of prejudice driving your thinking here. People of “science” aren’t immune to human prejudice.

  382. Uh, no they didn’t. Check my previous post, I have the actual study.

    Am I not understanding this correctly?
    From the study:
    “obesity (BMI ≥30) was associated with 111 909 excess deaths…and underweight with 33 746 excess deaths.”

    That’s 78,000 more deaths for obese people than underweight.

  383. Point taken. I guess this conversation isn’t for me.

    Probably because the majority of us have heard your arguments to the point of insanity. Being nice about it doesn’t change the intent.

  384. There is a chart here, and you will note that women with a BMI over 40 have LOWER mortality rates than women with a BMI under 18.

    Also, while a BMI at the high end correlates with higher mortality rates and higher risk for some diseases it is not at all clear how much of this is directly due to increased body fat and/or high weight and how much of it is due to fat people being more likely to be poor and to experience higher levels of stress. Actually, stress due to weight-based discrimination has been proposed to be a significant factor in fat people’s health by itself (and I am not just talking mental health here):

    Muennig, P. (2008). The body politic: The relationship between stigma and obesity-associated disease. BMC Public Health, 8, 128.

    By the way, I as well as some (but not all) other people in FA do believe that body weight CAN become a health risk at a certain point. But it is a risk you cannot do awfully much about . Actually, as I said before, intentional weight loss often leads to worse health in the long term, either because of its direct effect on the body or because it often results in weight regain beyond a person’s original weight. Plus, controlling calorie intake has some very nasty cognitive effects.

  385. Right, if medicine improved, it would improve for all groups, more or less (allowing for that there are slightly different risk factors for each category, so if you have improvements in care for heart problems but not ovarian cancer, there might be a teeny weeny difference).

    Tart, I agree with others that maybe you are misunderstanding how people are using the word “diet” around here. It’s not being used to mean only fad or yo-yo diets. It includes any so-called “lifestyle changes” (blegh, did you have to use that term??) conducted with weight loss as a goal, at any pace, in any quantity. Even if you make a “lifestyle change” and stick with it, forever, almost no one will lose weight and keep it off. Lots of people will lose weight (in my underweight case, sometimes I gain a few pounds when I make a big dietary or exercise change!), and then after a few months or a year it will go back to where it wants to be. Same for introducing a new exercise regimen and sticking with it at a steady pace, or breaking a leg and becoming suddenly immobilized – you can perturb the system, but then it will adjust and return to equilibrium. To be all scientific and shit.

    Did you not read what I said about mortality mattering? A lot? We wouldn’t care nearly as much about a lot of these health problems if everyone recovered/managed the conditions and lived long lives afterwards. They’re scariest because they kill, and having a higher chance of survival is an ADVANTAGE! Biology, bitchez! :-D

  386. That’s 78,000 more deaths for obese people than underweight.

    You forget that there were not equal numbers of “underweight” and “obese” people to start with.

  387. And yeah, to corroborate what sannanina said, fatter people very clearly receive much poorer care and are treated badly by doctors, and doctors frequently don’t pursue necessary treatments because they assume fatness is responsible for everything. Wasn’t there just an article about how that’s more than an anecdotal problem, something with real numbers? So, lack of proper care (and perhaps more frequent neglect and malpractice by doctors) is a big reason why some of these correlations might exist, and one that can’t be easily corrected out of the data. Harm from dieting (any kind of dieting) is also possibly statistically significant, and there’s a bit more data on that.

  388. Tart, for god’s sake, you’re not helping your “I’m not a troll” case. Please do us the courtesy of reading, you know, anything else on this blog before commenting again.

  389. You forget that there were not equal numbers of “underweight” and “obese” people to start with.

    But…but they’re both numbers!!!!!!

  390. You forget that there were not equal numbers of “underweight” and “obese” people to start with.

    You’re right. My mistake. From that study:

    “Underweight and obesity, particularly higher levels of obesity, were associated with increased mortality relative to the normal weight category.” It’s interesting that this contradicts, for some racial groups, the chart shown on Alas a Blog. It is also contradicted by this: http://www.doctorslounge.com/primary/articles/obesity_death.

  391. Tart – actually the CDC has corrected that number downwards itself two times. (Unfortunately it still gets quoted in the media – although the article you linked to is from 2004 and therefore older than the Flegal et al. study which was published in 2005.)

  392. Statistics are interesting things, so if you’re comparing two studies, there can be a lot of reasons for differences between them. Not sure of the reasons for the articles you’re talking about. (I only see one that Sarah posted, the one on Alas a Blog.)

    I am running out of troll-fighting patience here, so I haven’t read the whole doctor’s lounge link. But I can say just from skimming it that it’s about something different. “In 2000, poor diet including obesity and physical inactivity caused 400,000 U.S. deaths — more than 16 percent of all deaths and the No. 2 killer.” They are putting together BMI measures and some kind of measure of inactivity, because obviously those are the same. How in the world could I ever disagree with THAT methodology?

    Thin Scientist (TS) is going to retire for the evening now, folks.

  393. (I left out the “poor diet” part that is grouped with BMI and activity levels. Wonder how they define “good” and “poor” diet, since no one can agree on how people should be eating?)

  394. Okay, I think it might not be clear what my last reply is referring to. The Doctor’s Lounge article cited the 400,000 deaths per year due to “obesity” number given out by the CDC a few years back – I was referring to that number when I said the CDC corrected it.

  395. These people are larger on average than people who stay in and have homemade, wholesome food.

    Are they also larger than you, who are eating at Chili’s? Do thin people not have to stay in and eat homemade food? Or do they just get to eat in public without some nosy ass making assumptions about them?

    I also have two thin friends I worry about,

    How generous of you to police everyone’s bodies equally.

    It is also contradicted by this: http://www.doctorslounge.com/primary/articles/obesity_death.

    Oh my god, the 2004 CDC estimate? Seriously? Did you just fucking Google up the first source you saw because everyone else had articles for you to read? Your ass is really showing.

    I said more than that. I shouldn’t have.

    No time like the present to start.

  396. Wow, Tart.

    Hmm. Well, here’s an idea. Whether or not fat=unhealthy, I, personally, do not give a flying fuck. I don’t believe it does, but that’s beside the point.

    All your arguments that we’re going to die aside, let’s look at this from a different angle. You’re in an FA blog with the same tired arguments that we should all just do whatever it takes to lose weight and jump on the bandwagon of social acceptability (and yes, that’s what it is and will always be, let’s not lower ourselves to trying to dress it up with pretty bullshit like “health,” because we all know better– nobody’s telling cancer patients they just need to brush their teeth more and they wouldn’t have gotten cancer of the gums, the filthy, lazy, ugly, immoral CANCERFACES!). Okay. We get it. You are uncomfortable with someone being out there promoting the idea of BEING OKAY WITH FATASSES.

    Because of this discomfort, it’s apparently so important to prove to us that fat=unhealthy. Okay, we’re following you so far. In fact, let’s go so far as to say that tomorrow, it is unequivocally proven that fat DOES, indeed, equal unhealthy.

    SO THEN WHAT? What does that mean? What does that mean for this blog? Why is it important to push that here, when it’s pushed EVERY-FUCKING-WHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD?!

    Unhealthy people should hate themselves and shouldn’t have equal rights, so we’re wrong and we should all just go home? Is that it? Blog over? We’re horrible? What? What are you trying to say?

    WHY DO I CARE, NOW OR EVER, ABOUT MY HEALTH IF I’M JUST AN UGLY FATTY THAT NOBODY IS EVER GOING TO FUCK, HIRE, OR LIKE ANYWAY AMIRITE?!

    No, seriously. I defy you to give me any one single reason I should even give one iota of concern for my own health if we get to a point where fat=unhealthy and diets don’t work are both FACTS, meaning, hey, I’m just doomed anyway, and on top of it, everyone hates me for it, SO WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT?

    Whether you are comfortable or uncomfortable, or worried about health or looks or self-esteem or whatever, NONE of that takes away from the importance of this blog and other places, publications, and people who think this way. Because now I shall TELL you the point. The POINT, dearie pants, is that whether we are healthy or unhealthy, ugly or pretty, undesired or wildly desired, we are PEOPLE. And we deserve to be viewed as such, treated as such, spoken to as such. We certainly don’t deserve to have every concern troll with a bug up her ass traipsing into our safe space to tell us how to feel about our bodies or run our damn lives or how to be healthy or anything else that, at our ages, even our damn mothers lost the right to tell us long the fuck ago. We’re grown ups. We can figure out how to live sans help from the likes of you. Certainly, we decide who we love, so if we’re in here trying to learn how to love ourselves in a world that is constantly telling us not to, then dammit, that’s exactly fucking what we’re going to do and I’d like to see you stop us, you smarmy CANCERFACE!!!! NOW GO BRUSH YOUR TEETH.

    I’m sorry to everyone who was trying to be nice to Tart but this made me livid. I’ll go now. *exits in a cloud of smoke*

  397. It is also contradicted by this: http://www.doctorslounge.com/primary/articles/obesity_death.

    Tart, you chose a very poorly written article to support your point. It says several times that the deaths they were counting were attributed to “poor diet and inactivity”, not to obesity. At one point it says, “poor diet, including obesity.” This makes absolutely no sense. Is it poor diet (whether or not the subjects may also be obese) or is it obesity that they say caused the deaths? Were they also counting thin people who had health issues caused by poor diet and inactivity? Were they counting fat people who died from health issues unrelated to their weight, but it was assumed they had poor diets because they were fat?

  398. Nevermind; I was not even aware this study was so well known, so out of date, and had been so thoroughly revised. But I stand by my statement that the article extremely poorly written, unless all you are trying to do is back up your prejudices.

  399. I’m sorry to everyone who was trying to be nice to Tart but this made me livid. I’ll go now. *exits in a cloud of smoke*

    Throws roses on stage.

    Seriously, Tart’s entire argument seems to be, “Well, you shouldn’t be mean to fat people, but eewwwwww!”

  400. You guys, I think we should be talking at Tart’s apparent level.

    See one time I saw TWO fat people who were NOT at Chili’s drinking three Cokes, and one of them was cooking wholesome homemade food. (It was right now, actually, and the cooking one was my husband.)

    Therefore, fat people must all eat healthy food at home QED.

  401. Okay, I really, really should go to bed (and I am probably going to make some mistakes typing this – forgive me, it’s 4 am here). I just – well, yes, I am also frustrated by having to go over the same thing again and again and again. But Tart has been more willing to listen and to discuss the topic than a lot of people that I know. Actually, the majority of my own family members and friends could have written something similar to Tart’s comments, and they are by all means lovely people.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think I need a safe space more than a lot of other people here… even after almost four years of engaging to some degree in fat acceptance I am still very much at the beginning of accepting my body. And every troll still has the power to tip me into self doubts. But, well… I just the think that it’s not really productive to get angry at people like Tart.

    Okay, definitely bed time.

  402. Tart initially got the benefit of the doubt because we kinda know her from Shakesville, FYI.

    Tart, what is your motivation here, if not concern trolling? Are you really that worried about the poor impressionable fat people who might read this post and feel a little less hatred for their bodies? Because don’t worry, next time they go to the doctor’s, they’ll get that hatred level ratcheted right back up. If you’re concerned that fat people aren’t feeling enough shame, well, take that concern somewhere else, because we are fucking over it here.

    As for the rest of us, official Shapeling decree: from now on, all statistics on this blog must be given in the form of Chili’s anecdotes.

  403. I just the think that it’s not really productive to get angry at people like Tart.

    Perhaps not, but it feels good. Honestly, after a few decades of this kind of shit 4,I’m tired of debating nicely. I find it more therapeutic to hand out little demitasse cups of Shut the Fuck Up.

  404. Well, that was a short-lived exit.

    I am going to object, however, to the little mini-jab at the “productivity” of my diatribe.

    I am sure you mean well. And certainly, I am generally a pacifist, in fact, I’m probably the closest thing to a hippie you’ll find after the 70’s, minus the drugs and plus some soap (let’s lol our stereotypes for all they are worth).

    But there’s a reason people burned bras in the 70’s. And we’re naive to think that kind of work is over. Yes, I said it, it’s naive. Coming from the person everyone always chides for being naive, that must mean SOMETHING.

    Equality ISN’T some impossible utopia. We CAN achieve it. But not if we sit here and shut up like nice sweet little women, fatties, POC, whoever.

    I’m sick of guys telling me off for getting angry at them when rape jokes are SO funny. And similarly, it feels very silencing to be told here that it’s not “productive” to get angry at some troll who ISN’T LISTENING. I don’t care about her “tone.” I don’t even care if she’s a “lovely person.” I probably was too even back when I hated Teh Fatz.

    But I’ll tell you something about that “lovely” girl I was– you could have told her about FA then and she’d have made fun of you with the trolliest of them. Because she wasn’t READY for that message. And until someone’s good and ready to hear it, they ain’t gonna. Clearly, Tart ain’t gonna. So I feel perfectly within my rights to tell her to just fuck right off outta my safe space.

    Wow. I really AM pissed tonight. Usually that scares me and I back off, but now, I feel like a little angry cow, stamping my hoof, shaking my bell, and lowering my horns. You just bring it, people of the world. You just tell me I’ve got too much fat, too much vagina, too much star-eyed sentimental fluff-headed hippie peacenik tree-hugging whatever the fuck. Go on, say it. You are all little red flags and I’m ready.

    SNORT!

  405. See one time I saw TWO fat people who were NOT at Chili’s drinking three Cokes, and one of them was cooking wholesome homemade food. (It was right now, actually, and the cooking one was my husband.)

    OMG, fillyjonk, my husband and I were also NOT at Chilie’s drinking three Cokes this evening! And my husband was also cooking dinner tonight! Do you realize what that MEANS? It means that not only do all fat people all eat good, nutritious, homecooked food, but that MEN ALWAYS DO THE COOKING!!!!eleventyone!

  406. But, well… I just the think that it’s not really productive to get angry at people like Tart.

    See rule 2 and this post.

    Tart is already getting way more consideration than your average concern troll, in the form of people spelling things out for her so she shouldn’t have to read or think. This is, as SM said, because she is a contributor at Shakesville so we assume she has the ability to learn. That doesn’t mean we have to not get mad about her bringing an ill-informed, misguided, condescending, and frankly antifeminist (since when are other people’s bodies your business?) opinion into our space and asking us to take it seriously.

  407. You just tell me I’ve got too much fat, too much vagina, too much star-eyed sentimental fluff-headed hippie peacenik tree-hugging whatever the fuck. Go on, say it. You are all little red flags and I’m ready.

    Love this. You win the internets.

  408. OMG! ME TOO with the home cooked healthful meal!

    My god, people, it’s NOT eating every day at Chili’s (or equivalent) that’s making us fat!

    For further anecdata as proof, I work very close to the poorest postal code in Canada. As I walk to work (with my brown bagged lunch) I often notice that the McDonald’s is filled with very thin people. In fact, almost all of the people in there are substantially thinner than I am.

    See? Fast food makes you SKINNY.

  409. killedbyllamas: Ahhhhh was just going to put in a plug for confirmation bias! And I love llamas! Small world, eh?

    We had Domino’s delivered for dinner. But since we ate it at home, is it wholesome? And if I as an obese woman eats it and so does my husband, who is probably an “average” BMI, will we both get Teh Fat or just me? Or if we both stay the same size, will our kitties get Teh Fat? Or do they have to go to Chili’s? Or eat llamas?

  410. That’s an interesting question, Laurakeet. Both my husband and I ate salad and home-made vegetarian lasagne tonight. I guess since he’s thin it was a healthy, wholesome dinner for him, and since I’m fat it was a grotesque, self-indulgent junk food meal for me. He ate more of his healthy dinner than I did, so wonder he’s so healthy and thin.

  411. (It was right now, actually, and the cooking one was my husband.)

    So, does this mean she was cooking her husband, or her husband was doing the cooking?

  412. I want to know what Tart was doing at Chili’s, besides taking notes about everyone else’s dinner.

    Anyway, tonight I didn’t eat at Chili’s OR drink a soda. It’s actually my fifth anniversary of not doing so, which must mean I’m not fat anymore. Time for a new wardrobe!

    We haven’t even started talking about how some diseases (like Tart’s mom’s ‘prediabetes’) actually make you gain weight, instead of what lots of people think, which is that you gain weight and have to have your feet cut off. Which would impair mobility, now that I think about it.

  413. So, does this mean she was cooking her husband, or her husband was doing the cooking?

    My husband was cooking. I don’t think it was really ambiguous enough to warrant the third person.

  414. Sniper: I must conclude you are lying about the salad, obviously. Well…..If you put baby-flavored-donut dressing on the salad, I’ll buy it. And pre-prediabetes-baby donuts for dessert. /snark

  415. No, I know, Eucritta, I was just puzzled by the third-person phrasing. It’s okay, we love you anyway. (It’s late for me so possibly my sense of humor is dampened.)

  416. I have nothing to add except I adore you all. Shapely Prose has helped me more in six months than ten years of therapy ever did. Thank you.

  417. Me: it’s generally thin people who can afford to eat regularly at expensive steakhouses.

    Tart: Do you mean that poorer people tend to weigh more, as cheaper food tends to be fattier/saltier?

    Cheaper food does tend to be fatter and saltier overall, but that wasn’t really my point. My point is that the steakhouse meal is not any “healthier” than the Chili’s meal. Certainly it’s not any less fatty or salty, and you could easily eat three or four McDonald’s or Chili’s meals for the calories in one trip to a steakhouse. (And something tells me the steakhouse-goers are not skipping three meals in order to “make up for it,” either.)

    That’s true, but if a rich person is eating like you describe at Ruth’s Chris (or wherever they eat), they’re most likely going to gain some weight, just like a poorer person eating at McDonald’s.

    Chances are, if they can afford Ruth’s Chris, they’ve got a faster metabolism than people who can’t afford Ruth’s Chris. Therefore, they are unlikely to become Officially Fat regardless of what they eat. (Yeah, there are rich Olympic-level dieters who never set foot in a steakhouse because they have to keep themselves camera-slim in order to keep their jobs. But chances are that even if they weren’t Olympic-level dieters, they would still not be all that fat. We’re talking about control of maybe 20 or 30 pounds, maximum, not 50 or 100 or 150.)

    Which is probably a lot of why they make that kind of money in the first place. It’s not just that fat people are fat because they make less money, they also make less money because they are fat. Like it says in Shadow on a Tightrope, “If you have two heads, they don’t make you president of the bank.”

  418. Anectdata can so easily be turned around to argue against the point the anectdoter is making.

    OK, you know some sick fat people, and you’ve seen fat people eat food. Fine. And you think fat people shouldn’t be fat because of their health and it’s all an easy lifestyle choice and personal responsibility and blah blah blah. Great.

    Tell me, how many people do you know, personally, who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off for more than a year? I mean 50 pounds or more. How many? Because I’m sure you know a lot of people.

    What’s that? None? Or MAYBE you know one? Interesting. If it were easy, if it were POSSIBLE to lose a lot of weight, and if you know all of these sick fat people, don’t you think they would have done it?

    I’ve had some success with this line of reasoning, at least with my family, since we only know one person who’s ever lost and kept off a lot of weight. Even better, she’s a horrible, nasty, ghastly person who nobody would want to emulate. Probably because she’s spending all day considering gnawing off her own arm for its nutrient value.

    Anectdata: We can Fight Fire with Fire.

  419. Hee, O.C., what I thought when I read your comment was, “Anecdotes are a sometimes food.” Hear, hear to everything you wrote.

    Also, I just want to say that I think a salty appetizer, burger, and Coke from Chili’s sounds good to me. (Three entire Cokes would not make me personally feel good, but I could be down with the server refilling my glass twice, if that counts.) Wanna know why? Well, there are several reasons. For one, I have PMS and so I’d be totally down with the salty appetizer. For two, when I think of Chili’s I think of someplace where my toes and nose are comfortably warm (which is not the case currently.) For three, a restaurant means no dirty dishes. For four, Chili’s is loud enough that if we brought the kids they wouldn’t bother other people — plus they’d get crayons, and balloons. (Or is that Friday’s?)

    Re: the cheeseburger in particular. You know what? I’ve been having interview after interview lately, often at restaurants, and I’ve had to choose my order based on the fact that I need to be eating things that enable me to talk, be graceful, and not spill. Often those items are not what I’ve actually been hungry for. So a big messy cheeseburger appeals to me at the moment exactly because it’s not graceful and is definitely spill-prone. It would be a case of finally getting to let my guard down.

    Now, on the other hand, it probably wouldn’t be a wise expenditure of money at the moment… so that makes us less likely to go, but it also adds to the appeal. Like, wouldn’t it be nice to just go to Chili’s and not worry about whether we could afford it? And leave the dishes to someone else? *wist*

    But, gee, that’s kind of complicated and highly-personal decisionmaking that really can’t be boiled down to either a) emotional eating OMG or b) mysteriously lacking knowledge or willpower to eat only the combination of nutrients and calories that promise to make me live longest and/or render me maximally fuckable by the Hypothetical Heterosexual American Dude whose desires have been formed by network television, Hollywood, and video games.

    If you saw me at Chili’s you might be able to guess some of those things, and some of them you wouldn’t be able to guess. Some of them you might not appreciate depending on your own circumstances. (At least, before I had kids, I never once appreciated all of the factors that go into choosing where to take kids to go out to eat. You need something they’ll actually ingest. You need a place that’s not too quiet. You need chairs that don’t tip over easily. You probably need something inexpensive. You DEFINITELY need something quick. You need something that you can pack up quickly in a to-go container and take WITH you if the kids have a meltdown. You may need a facility with a good changing room, or at least big bathroom stalls. And if there is something that will occupy your kids’ attention so you get to have a moment of quiet to think and/or talk to your partner? OMG awesome. Ferfuckssake, parents don’t take their kids to the McDonalds with the Playland because it hasn’t occurred to them that the food at International House of Organic Broccoli Served on China Plates is nutritionally superior… yet I think that’s what I thought before I was a parent.)

    Anyway, I dare to expect that everyone at Chili’s has similarly-complicated things going on when they order from the menu. Yes, even the fatties. Because being fat doesn’t somehow make your life less complex or personal or contextual. You actually *don’t* turn into a person who never has to consider budgets, children’s needs, looming appointments, celebrations, etc. because ALL YOU CARE ABOUT IS FOOD!

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  421. The assumption I see over and over from concern trolls is, “but your Lifestyle Change WOULD work long-term if you would just make it permanent! If you weak-minded under-achievers would just KEEP restricting calories and exercising 4 hours a day and never allowing anything processed to pass your lips, you’d be svelte and healthy and have society’s undying admiration for your righteous self-discipline! But, tsk, there you go, falling off the wagon after a paltry 18 months.”

    Do you holier-than-thou acolytes of the Cult of the Nutritionally Pure know why that is? Because living like that is hell. Absolute hell. The constant mental arithmetic, the self-loathing that fuels one’s “discipline” to abstain from normal eating, the ever-present assumption that you don’t have the right to take sensual pleasure in food, the OBSESSION with what may or may not be ingested at any given hour, the grim discomfort and boredom and despair of persisting in a physical activity long past the point of refreshment or endorphin release in the faint hope that you’ll magically turn into a hardbody…

    It’s a miserably narrow fucking Lifestyle, and no sane person WANTS it to be permanent, so there. Bite me if you don’t like it. I remember bursting into tears in bed one night after losing 30 pounds. It wasn’t my last diet, because I lied to myself and said that my tears were just frustration that I still didn’t look thin yet, and I was discouraged that I still had so far to go.

    But the tears weren’t really born of frustration over my looks (well, maybe somewhat, because just about every woman experiences that). They were from utter horror at the thought of maintaining my current mindset and behaviors for the rest of my life — or heck, even just for however many more months it would take to shrink me down to a size 10. Good God, was being thin worth being this miserable? Was “success” going to mean I’d be this psychotic about food for the rest of my life?

    Terrifying thoughts for the pre-FA psyche. I shied away from them and tortured myself for a few more years before finally deciding that I would rather be fat than neurotic, and that’s a valid choice.*

    So fuck you, concern trolls who think you know what’s best for other people. You don’t.

    *Then this year I stumbled on Shapely Prose and discovered that even people who DO stick to the Lifestyle Changes regain weight, which blew my little mind. Thank gourd I was so rebellious and weak-minded — apparently, I saved myself a lot of pointless misery.

  422. Because living like that is hell. Absolute hell.

    It also doesn’t work for very long. People don’t regain weight after their “lifestyle change” because they’re too weak-willed and lazy to keep up the behaviors; they stop the behaviors because they stop working. People keep up HAES behaviors because they ALWAYS work — by definition they consistently make you happier and healthier. Weight-loss diets focus on weight loss, not health and happiness, so people throw up their hands once the weight loss levels or reverses.

  423. pyewacketsid, that is the best description of being on a diet I’ve ever read. I very clearly remember a moment of despair when I realized it’d have to be permanent too, and like you, I pushed on. But I think one of the biggest steps towards giving up dieting I took was when I realized, at the beginning of a vacation, that if I was going to be starving the whole time, there was no fucking point. So I ate and – shock – had a great time. Revolutionary. After that, I could never quite bring myself to miss out on all the pleasure of things I was looking forward to because I was too hungry to enjoy them.

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  425. OK – so I’m stunned.

    Honestly.

    Sounds goofy since I’m a 48 year old woman who many consider intelligent, I run a business employing around 60 employees and serving 60 – 70 clients in a very difficult industry, and am a person who reads. But somehow, I’ve always thought it was shameful that I’m overweight. Somehow I’ve never considered that it might be OK to be overweight. I’ve always been frustrated because I actually cook rather healthy for my family and myself and always enjoy being active (hiking, bike riding, skating, skiing) but am still most definitely overweight.

    Just today I read about a book by a guy from Colorado University named Paul Campos that blew my mind so I started looking around the internet. I wanted to see if there is much support for this concept that being overweight is not a bad thing. That’s how I found your article.

    I appreciate what you’ve said here and find it something to be worth thinking about.

  426. I just had to respond to: I forgot to mention sleep apnea, which is directly connected to weight and can cause stroke or death if untreated.

    According to my sleep specialist, sleep apnea tends to be a function of a) size amount of chest / belly to displace while breathing, b) chest and abs muscles, c) size of airway. Since all three run in families, so does sleep apnea.

    But it does also occur in skinny people. My sleep specialist, for example, calls himself a “skinny snorer”. My father is also a skinny snorer who has resisted treatment for over 40 years at this point. Granted, when the only treatment was a tracheostomy, I would’ve resisted it to – but now that CPAPs are available, I’ve pushed him to no avail.

    Note also that research on WLS found that many people with diagnosed sleep apnea do not find it’s reversed by losing weight.

    I wrote more about sleep apnea here.

  427. You don’t even need to be fat to appreciate this. I mean, I’m thin. Long live happy fat people. Oh, and Jack Black is sexy because of the paunch, not in spite of it.

  428. We had Domino’s delivered for dinner. But since we ate it at home, is it wholesome?

    No. But if my husband, who works at Domino’s, made me a pizza and brought it home, it would be. However, if he worked at Chili’s instead, it wouldn’t count. It’s PHYSICS.

  429. We don’t have Chili’s in the UK, yet approximately one third of us are “overweight”.

    HOW CAN THIS BEEEEEEEE?

  430. I found this blog by aimlessly typing into google this sentence:
    “Why don’t I care that I’m fat?”
    Reading through Kate’s original piece and the many comments since leave me feeling shaky and upset. What if I can never deal with this? I neither accept nor obsess over my increasing obesity. Instead, I’ve turned everything off. I’m 5’3 and 225 pounds. I just turned 50 and I’m the fattest I’ve ever been in my always-overweight life – including pregnancies. I do almost nothing about it. Somehow I’ve maintained loving relationships with my daughters (but they’re both obsessed with staying thin, for fear of being like me) but everything else is a self-designed mess. I eat and fantasize that I’m elsewhere, becoming agoraphobic, losing friends, working less and less, and drinking alone. I know that exercise is the answer but it’s become harder and harder to do much of anything – physically and emotionally harder. Depressed, yes? But mostly all I feel is numb. I keep wondering why I can’t imagine counting calories or carbs, why I’m so different than everyone else – a gym feels to me like a planet for other people – I behave as if I was born to inherently re-inact the seven deadly sins, majoring in gluttony and sloth. I don’t mean to sound self-pitying. I can’t imagine what I would be if I could change – a happy fat woman, or a striving-to-be-thin one. And I’m writing this and trying not to look back and trying not to imagine the comments that might come my way if I posted this. I realize too that I’m really off topic as this isn’t only about size acceptance. But somehow food and appetite and a pushed down sense of shame seems at the core of living like this, half awake, promising myself that I’ll find the way out of the tunnel, then pulling up the covers again.

    (In dreams I miss swimming. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gotten so fat and incredibly flabby that I’ll never let myself put on a bathing suit again. I believe politically in fat acceptance – in accepting anyone and everyone who lives their lives doing no harm, trying their best to do some good in the world – and I’ve been attracted to people of all sizes for as long back as I can remember – but as to accepting my own fat, I don’t think I could ever get there on a personal level. Which leaves me … nowhere.)

    Sorry if I sound like a twit. Reading all this really confused me, obviously.

  431. eyeshalfopen–while I don’t feel comfortable diagnosing people I don’t know, and may not be telling you anything you don’t already know, it sounds a lot like you’re experiencing symptoms of depression, which manifests for a lot of people as feelings of numbness and lack of motivation. I hope that you’ll be able to find treatment options that help you. Best wishes. :)

  432. eyeshalfopen – I think it’s a good thing that you write here.

    Often getting your feelings out, instead of numbing them and fantasizing to have a different life, can be helpful. As I read what you wrote I’m not so much seeing size/weight as your issue as much as the lassitude/depression.

    May you find motivation to do things that you enjoy. May you begin experiencing more zest for living. May you be able to take small steps, one at a time, toward releasing yourself from your self imposed cloister.

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  436. Also the link to the study is broken in the blog entry linked to in “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.”

    I know it is not your blog, but that blog doesn’t allow comments and I thought you might know where to find these studies.

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  438. Wow! I’ve always been small enough to be considered “not fat”. I’ve also hated listening to my family and friends be fat-haters (the thin ones and the fat ones. You have written so many amazing, amazing things here. Thank you! I will be back, and often.

  439. I’m not fat in terms of my weight, but I’m definitely not as healthy as I appear either. I have not been good about eating well or getting enough exercise. I am far lazier than my two best girlfriends who are overweight (one rather severely overweight and one who is just overweight).

    They eat better than I do, get more exercise are generally happier with themselves and have way better sex lives.

    They are the people I look up to for inspiration on how to live and enjoy it – not super models or movie stars who wear size 4 pants.

  440. so i love the fat acceptance movement! it’s mind boggling how accepted it is to think that being fat is the cause of so many diseases when it is not. it’s a factor sometimes, but only sometimes. wake up, thin people get diseases too. and i think i’m going to adopt this attitude, and work out/eat nourishing healthy food because it’s a health benefit in itself – not trying to lose all the weight. i think that will be healthier. if i lose weight then, fine. i will be beautiful at any size. kate, keep blogging! this was an awesome read!

  441. I just wanted to say that I stumbled across this site and reading this post almost made me cry.

    I’ve been “obese” for most of my life. I actually went undiagnosed for PCOS from age 12 (my first semi-period) to age 17 because my pediatrician insisted that the reason I wasn’t having regular periods was because of my weight. She insisted that exercise and eating healthier would solve the problem. I did so and continued to gain weight. She was then quite nasty to me, something that prompted my mother to ask me if I wanted to switch doctors.

    When I switched pediatricians, a lovely woman by the name of Dr. Bhat took one look at me on my first visit and said “Have you ever been tested for PCOS?” Apparently, I was a text book case. Within six months I was on medications to control my hormone levels and was losing weight. Why? Because PCOS causes a malfunction in insulin levels; once my insulin levels were under control I lost over 15 lbs just because my hormones were normal. I learned that undiagnosed PCOS can result in ovarian cancer and diabetes. And I was completely untreated for years because one doctor simply assumed that my weight was causing all my health problems.

    Learning that there are people out there who are working so that things like this won’t happen anymore is so inspiring. I want to live in a world where overweight people don’t have to struggle with low self-esteem and depression brought on by continual messages, spoken and unspoken, that they’re lazy, worthless, a drain on society, ugly, etc. I want them to never have to have those days where end up crying because they feel that all people see in them is the fact that they’re fat, not their personalities or intelligence.

    I can’t thank you enough for working to raise awareness of this “allowable” prejudice. I can’t thank you enough for helping to dispel the myths that fat people are all automatically unhealthy or that fat people can become thin if they only “exercise a little self control.”

    I will be sending this website to my mother and many of my friends. Thank you again for showing me that there are people out there who realize that fat people are still people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

  442. There are so many things that struck me in this article and in reading through the comments.

    I suppose that you probably wouldn’t consider me fat: at 5’4″, 165 lbs, and wear around a size 10 (US). My BMI (for what it’s worth) is around 28, placing me squarely in the “moderately overweight” category. Yet I have no major health problems – my heart rate is low, my blood pressure is normal, I get sick rarely, exercise regularly and try to eat well. My cholesterol is borderline, but so is my father’s, and he’s 6’2″ and weighs the same as I do.

    My brother, on the other hand, is 5’10” and weighs 135-140 lbs. He has been accused of being anorexic, though he most certainly is not. But he doesn’t exercise, and doesn’t watch what he eats. Who is in better health? According to our annual physicals, I am. I get sick less, have a lower heart rate, and lower blood pressure. At my most recent physical (just a couple days ago), my doctor made no mention of my weight, and told me that I seem to be in excellent health. I love having a doctor who doesn’t make a big deal out of a few pounds.

    Yet, for a lot of my life, I wished I had his metabolism. I was a thin child, and tall, so I assumed I was built just like my father (and brother). My pediatrician thought so, too, and assured me I’d be tall and thin. I think I’ve lived a lot of my adult life resenting the fact that I’m not naturally thin. Therapy has made a big difference in realizing that 1. I’m not fat, despite what I sometimes think; 2. Even if I were fat, it wouldn’t decrease my value, attractiveness, desirability, or worth as a human being. It’s hard sometimes. I know a size 10 isn’t big, but the majority of my close friends wear between a size 2 and 6 – and most of them complain about wanting to lose weight. I think it’s so important not to personalize other people’s self criticism. My friend being unhappy wearing a size 4 isn’t any reflection on me wearing a size 10. It doesn’t devalue me or make me fat because someone smaller than me thinks that she is fat.

    Another thing I’ve struggled with is the constant pull between my brain telling me “hey, you look pretty good!” and society telling me “you’re not a size 0, so you’re fat and should hate how you look.” I don’t feel this way all the time, but I’m realizing that I really don’t hate how I look.

    So, a general thank you for a fantastic post.

  443. This post rocks! I came across your writing through some of the feminist blogs I read, and it was a real eye-opener – while I knew our culture is ridiculously obsessed with thinness and nastiness directed towards anyone on the basis of their body is never ok, I’d never heard anyone speak against the fat = unhealthy idea before, or really thought about the range in people’s natural weights. But of course as soon as you made me think about it, it makes perfect sense. I’ve been thin all my life (sometimes to the point of people thinking I had an eating disorder), even during the periods when I was doing no exercise at all and eating junk all day. My dad’s the same, and my brother’s the same. I can’t put on weight if I try (and I have tried when I thought I was hideously skinny and some extra fat might make me grow boobs….), except by building muscle. But somehow it never occurred to me that the same goes for losing weight. I always felt uncomfortable with the level of fat hatred in our culture but didn’t really know how to deal with it, and you articulate so many things that have helped me understand fat acceptance and communicate it better to other people.

    Thank you!

  444. I lost 50+ lbs and I’ve kept it off for nearly 10 years now. It’s just frustrating to feel initially so excited about this blog, and then read a sentence that calls me a ‘freak of nature’ because I was able to lose weight. While I’m not nearly as informed as I’m sure you all are about obesity research, I don’t like having my opinion disregarded outright because I’m no longer overweight.

    Part of it is that I try and support my friends at every weight but feel discriminated against by them because I’ve lost weight and ‘don’t know what it’s like anymore’. Then to feel that sense propagated here was just frustrating and hurtful… because I do feel healthier where I am, and I was never sedentary the way it’s described on this site. I like what I’ve been able to achieve with my body, and I’m proud of the time and work I’ve spent caring for it and making it stronger and leaner. Why does that make me a freak?

  445. Pingback: How Fat Women Helped Me Love Myself « Angry Gray Rainbows

  446. It’s interesting that a lot of the health problems said to be caused by obesity are also said to be caused by stress. Perhaps the link is that it is so very stressful to be overweight in a society that makes you feel like a disgusting misfit because of your weight. I read an interesting study once and I wonder if anyone else has, or if it was valid – it was about a society on an island where fat people were revered rather than reviled. In this society, the overweight showed few of the health problems commonly associated with obesity in our Western society.Unfortunately I can’t remember the details – ring any bells, anyone?

  447. All I can say is Thank YOU! My bmi classifies me right at the beginning of obese.. and honestly. no one that knows me would say that! I almost cried when I got home from the dr today! He wants me to loose 40 lbs!!!!! I can totally see 25.. BUT 40?!?! I just had two babes back to back for crying out loud!

  448. I am very outspoken about weight issues, especially when I bump into those tall lanky “beauty babes” who detest girls who are, for example, only 5’4″ and weigh about 220 lbs. They always assume I’m a twinkie eater… which is funny because they’ll be eating a doughnut or drinking a milk shake shortly after they say that… LOL… The fact is, I love to eat whole natural foods… I won’t even go near white bread with a ten foot pole… whole wheat twelve grain bread for me, thanks! I love spinach (can’t get enough of it) and I love me my fruit. I think you get the point, lol… anyways, what a lot of people who dislike “fat” people fail to realize are these crucial points…

    1. Bone density. Just because someone is 220 lbs and only 5’4″ doesn’t mean they can get down to the “average” weight on that god forsaken chart hanging on the wall that some scientists wrote a long time ago saying “You are this tall, therefore you should weigh this much” because a lot of people have different bone mass. Genetics play a role in that…..

    2. Metabolism! Ooh, I hate it. I’ve got a slow metabolism and I detest it.. is that my fault? no, cursed genetics… lol… Can I be shamed into speeding it up? no, but I can help it along.

    3. Genetics… YAY! My mom was blessed by the genetics fairy to get my grandpa’s thin lankyness.. however, I got both my grandma’s short chubbyness (thank goodness I’m well proportioned is all I have to say!) So, I have to work hard and nearly kill myself to lose just 20 lbs… My grandma took speed to get it off and keep it off… and I’m not going to resort to those measures… It took me 3 months of well rounded eating habits and working out for 3 1/2 hours straight (suicides, quick sprints, weight lifting, jogging, etc.) 5 days a week to lose only 20 pounds… hmmm…

    4. Not eating enough. Really? You can be fat because you don’t eat enough?!?!?! YEP! It has been proven. If your body believes that a famine has come (that would be when you decide to crash diet) It will hold onto its reserves come hell and high water… Look out, here comes the Atkins diet… store it up! and every amount of food put into your mouth will be sucked of everything it has from your body because it needs it, and, that includes fat…

    5. Stress. Cortisol, if anyone knows about it, is a nasty little hormone and it has a way of making you gain weight… especially if you’re under stress or wound really tight with anger… and that can be caused by being teased a lot or being pressured to lose weight…

    and ladies, you’re beautiful no matter what size you are, so, relax, love your body! Stop abusing it!

  449. @ katy! YES! I heard about that study too. It’s also been done in Africa, some parts of asia and in some parts of europe… I wish I knew the details too… however, I do know that our society’s pressure on being thin causes a lot of women to stress out… And, it can be blamed on the media too. Especially when you see those tabloid magazine covers poking fun at a celebrity because her stomach paunches out just a teeny bit when she sits down…

  450. Um, I hope no one minds that I just sent this link to the (public, natch) email addie of Rachel Maddow. She’s so brill, but she needs a clue by four decorated with some fatpol glitter. (She snarked at fatties re. this Joy of cooking study on her show tonight.)

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  452. I really enjoyed this post, I am neither fat nor thin, just a regular old curvy woman.

    There’s just one thing though – at the beginning you mention “what about the children” but none of your points really address that argument. As a parent, I was hoping to get your take on childhood obesity and the facts/myths (not sure which is which) that surround it. For example, I have heard repeatedly that this generation of children is considerably more fat than any before, and might be the first generation to die before their parents. Now, I am not saying this is true, but it is the popular rhetoric, and I would enjoy hearing your take on it.

    Great, inspiring post, made me feel nice and healthy for being a size 10 – 12 woman who works out and eats well instead of someone who should be depressed she looks different after the baby.

  453. This is probably overkill with over 500 comments on this thread, but here’s a disappointing thread for you: Even feminists who I would have thought considered it a feminist issue seem to approve of starving yourself to get the love of a man and/or because “fat is unhealthy”.

    Sigh. Just reinforces to me that people who otherwise think me a capable person really do believe that my poor health really is all my fault, because how could I be so large and unhealthy unless it’s because I eat too much? Heaven forbid they consider that I’m large because I’m often too sick to exercise, and that means my hypothyroidism gets the best of me no matter how healthily I eat.

  454. I agree with you…BUT… I think the reason diets work for some people is because they realize “oh, I can’t eat crap and be healthy”. And eating well will keep you healthy, no matter what your weight. Some people lose weight when they start eating healthy, some don’t. Either way, the point is that as long as you exercise and eat well, you are doing all you should need to for your health, no matter what your size.

  455. Hey, someone should write a blog about that!

    Seriously though, I do want to say that eating “well” won’t keep everyone healthy — there’s no one thing that “eating well” means for every body, and it’s a myth that simply eating an apple a day keeps the doctor away. You can eat plenty of fruit and still get pneumonia, you know?

    I would say (and have said) that as long as you move as regularly as you can in a way that is comfortable for your body and eat what you need, you’re doing all you should need to for your health as far as movement and eating are concerned. (Some people need to, for instance, take pills — eating and exercise are not the only components of health.) Not as pithy but far more accurate.

  456. Robin, the thing is, yes, sometimes when people switch from a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits to more activity and more healthful choices they will lose weight, but that isn’t what I would call a diet. It happened to me, but it’s only been one year, not five, so I’m not allowed to be considered the exception to the rule yet. Also, even though changing my habits did make me lose weight, I’m still fat. I still fall into the “obese” category on all the archaic charts.

    But yeah, eating healthfully and exercising won’t do everything for everyone, health-wise. It certainly won’t hurt (especially if you make allowances in the definition of “health” that let you enjoy yourself and work with any other conditions you may have) but a lot of people require a lot more. My eating habits didn’t cure my depression, I still have to take my Wellbutrin every day. There are bazillions (that’s an exact number) of other health issues that I don’t have that can’t be cured with food.

    So yeah, it helps, but it’s not “all you should need.” If only.

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  459. Hi – I think the worst thing I ever did was go to Weight Watchers when I was 16. I was a normal girl who started to fill out into womanly curves. I was only 66kg (about 140pounds)!! From then on I have been on a dieting yo yo – 32 years. And all I ever did was lose and gain lose and gain – familiar story?? I think I have been to WW about 7 or 8 times now.

    All i can hope is that one day we will all wake up to the fact that DIETING makes you fatter not skinnier. it is sad and such a tragic waste of life that we have to experience this.

  460. All this talk about equality. The only thing people really have in common is that they are all going to die. Bob Dylan

    I just equality – like privacy – is over-rated. And we need to accept that not everybody is going to like us. And the fact is, we have our OWN prejudices that are just as irrational as someone disliking us because we are fat.

    to be honest, I doubt I will ever come to terms with being overweight. I have been on every diet known to man (woman) in 30 years but all I have got is bigger.

    sigh …. if you can tell me HOW to accept myself .. I am all ears….

  461. So you’re saying that because people are innately prejudiced, we should just accept that bigotry is okay? Because it’s “natural” or something?

    It’s not about whether or not people like you. It’s about whether you get a fair shot at getting and keeping a job, or whether or not you can get the medical care you need and fairly deserve, or whether you have the same legal recourse as a citizen of your country as everyone else, in practice. Those are injustices worth working to rectify, and rights worth working to protect legally and socially. So it’s not about making everyone the same or equally popular – it’s about basic rights, access, and justice.

    As to how to accept yourself… I think that takes everyone a really long time, but I recommend not reading a single women’s magazine ever again, and just reading this blog for a while. :)

  462. Hi – thanks for your post.

    I am not really saying bigotry and prejudices are “okay” – just that they are normal behaviour for 99% of people. Even you and I have ours – although we hate to admit them even to ourselves. Can we fight against them? Possibly, although I am always shocked when I realise my own prejudices – I fight them internally but they plague me.

    But if you feel you are being discriminated against because of the way you look, then yes, you should fight that. I personally don’t think I ever have been – or maybe I don’t see it or notice it. It might be different in Australia – health care is afforded to everyone whatever your race, skin colour, weight or background.

    I think your comment about not reading women’s magazines is a good one!

    thank you.

  463. But why does it matter if prejudices are “normal?” We HAVE to fight against them to avoid becoming monsters. Just to live in society we have to do that, all the time. Suggesting that it’s normal so we shouldn’t work to change it doesn’t hold a lot of water, honestly – especially on a blog explicitly about social justice!

    From what I have heard, many, many people face severe discrimination based on body size in Australia, but I don’t live there. I bet that even if everyone has health care, they aren’t all treated the same by doctors or offered the same level of treatment in practice.

    Also, internalizing self-hatred due to severe external pressures to evaluate your own self-worth based on standards you could never possibly meet is one way in which systematic social discrimination manifests itself in individuals. And most of the people here (many of whom are from Australia) have dealt with that to some degree.

  464. volcanista, while I always appreciate you flexing your brilliance on our behalf, you are bringing a gun to a toothpick fight. :)

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  472. I just wanted to point out that in #7 you say: Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

    But then just above in #4 you call those of us who have lost weight and have been keeping it off for 5 years freaks of nature. Do we no longer get respect as human beings because we are no longer fat? Where’s the respect?

  473. Oh, I thought I deleted Sarah’s comment on the “this is not a fractal blog, read some of the other goddamn posts before complaining about the stuff we leave out” theory. You’re nicer than me.

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  475. I stumbled across this blog while researching for my paper about fat prejudice and weight discrimination. This post made me smile :) Thank you for pointing to so many fat-hating douchebags that just because they may not be as big as the person they’re targeting, doesn’t mean that someone larger than they deserves to be treated like utter fucking garbage. I’ve had people who haven’t bathed and are missing teeth bark well thought out, original comments to me, such as “Hurr hurr, fat ass, hurr hurr!” Ah yes, I was struck so mightily by his verbal finesse. I just reminded myself that failed miscarriages like him are a fucking joke, and if those are the types of people my fat ass is keeping at bay, then God bless it and on to the tiramisu!

  476. ‘BMI is complete horseshit’- link is broken.

    I’m curious- what do you propose primary care physicians do to enhance the health of our obese patients?

  477. I’m curious- what do you propose primary care physicians do to enhance the health of our obese patients?

    Guess all the other links on the blog were broken too, huh?

  478. If you truly want to “enhance the health” of your “obese patients” go back and read item #7 (and the rest too).

  479. I just discovered this blog due to a story in Yahoo! regarding fat people demanding their civil rights. I thinkg people should make their own way in the world and be accountable for their behavior in it. I am not a fan of the “why me” attitude and I don’t think people should be accomodated. However the fat person who is prevented from functioning in society by being denied the basic rights that everyone enjoys becuase of their weight, they have every right to fight back. Generalities are for idiots and those who discriminate based on assumptions and stereotypes really need to be educated. If it takes a lawsuit or a confrontation to do that I am all for it. No person should be denied the basic rights that all citizens enjoy, regardless of size.

  480. I had always had the notion that just being fat isn’t the cause of health problems. If that were true, then not a single skinny person on this planet would ever get heart disease or diabetes or cancer. The cure for cancer would be : lose weight! I know PLENTY of people who are skinny and are in terrible health! I have been fat most of my life and just got my cholesterol checked…its 129! My skinny friends can’t believe it.
    My grandmother was fat her entire life and died of natural causes,,,,,at 90!
    I am a firm believer in eating healthy and getting moderate excersize and if you are still fat, then that’s the way you are!
    Eat healthy!

  481. Ok, so today Kate harding is on Indonesian newspaper. Make me curious, so here I am ended up reading.
    being fat of course is not a curse, in addition we are going to be a “very” stupid person when we made comment or laughing to fat people…What’s wrong with being fat ? As long as we are confident with our self, live happily?
    To Fat people..gain the confident !

  482. I’m going to throw something in here that might be a complete non sequitar, but may make sense to some people. I am a gamer, and I play World of Warcraft, probably to excess. My husband also plays. In the game, there are people that insist (as in INSIST!) that there are proper ways to play the game, and anything outside of those proper ways should somehow be stopped or banned. My husband and I do not play the game as most people do, and thus do not fit in well. This becomes evident whenever someone else in the family (sisters, cousins, children, etc.) wants us to join them in doing something in the game. We are told that if we would just start playing the “right” way, we would be able to fit in with what they do better.

    In our lives, as in Warcraft, we should try and achieve our highest potentials, and those goals should not be set for us by others, but by ourselves. Our choices should be what give us the highest amount of satisfaction. Life is too short to live by someone else’s rules.

  483. elizabeth kozak, md, wrote:

    “I’m curious- what do you propose primary care physicians do to enhance the health of our obese patients?”

    Most of the large people I know have excellent blood work, and the only complaint their primary care physician has is with their weight. My husband, who is diabetic, has even had his kidney function results start to get better (which the doctor said was impossible). Perhaps the question to ask you would be, what makes you think you should treat skinny and obese people differently? Perhaps, and this is somewhat editorial, doctors should work more on treating real problems rather than made-up ones.

    I had gall bladder problems for years, and kept being told that my symptoms would get better if I would just lose weight. Finally got assigned a doctor that actually looked through my chart, saw that I had had certain symptoms for years, and had my gall bladder tested (for the first time). By golly, the symptoms went away after the non-functioning gall bladder was removed.

  484. So, when I was a teenager, I had acne. I also had several very suspicious moles that I was worried about, but all my doctor (and later my dermatologist) wanted to talk about was my damn acne. Finally, after my insisting, one of my moles was removed, and it turned out hey, it was melanoma.
    After a cancerous mole was removed from my shoulder (and a few other moles and bits of skin that turned out to be non-cancerous in the biopsy), I developed small keloid scars on my arms and back. To this day, whenever I go in to any dermatologist for a cancer screening, all they want to talk about are treatments for my freaking scars and acne. Keeping me melanoma-free (7 years now, yay!) is pretty much a minor footnote during my visits, and I’m always the one who has to bring it up. It’s annoying as hell.

    Anyway, I just thought I’d share that story for the… odd medical parallels. When did doctors turn into beauticians? “Well I don’t know about your insides, honey, but your outsides could sure use an overhaul!” *snap*

  485. elizabeth kozak, md
    My primary care physician doesn’t bring up my weight. Sometimes we talk about it if I bring it up.
    What does he do?
    He orders lab work. We talk about physical activity, and what I can do to get more. We talk about my life, what’s going well and what’s not going well. He’s there if I’m having a problem, and I get it checked out sooner rather than later because I know he isn’t going to say it’s strictly because of my weight. He acknowledges that I’m in the driver’s seat in terms of eating, exercise, and managing stress and mental health, and he’s there to help me and do what I can’t do, because I’m not a doctor — look at the whole picture and keep an eye on things. I trust him, and I think he trusts me. We acknowledge each others’ humanity.
    You could ask your obese patients what they think would improve their quality of life, and health. You could talk with them about being as active as their bodies currently allow and getting the nutrition they need at the size they are now. You could take losing weight as a goal out of the equation and focus on what will help them in the here and now.
    Just a few ideas.
    WellRoundedType2, MPH

  486. Oh my god — I love so many things about this blog (thank you, Jezebel, for the link). But my #1 favorite part of Shapely Prose? Your comments policy. This moderator thanks you for such an inspiring set of guidelines!!

  487. Thank you for this blog. I am not skinny, and I like my curves. I exercise moderately, and eat pretty healthy. Two of my close friends have the goal to “look hot in a bikini” this year, and while I love them, I just really, truly, do not care how I look in a bikini. I have so much other stuff to be thankful for, and I do not need to waste my time worrying about that. So thanks for making us all feel beautiful in our shapely skin!

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  489. I’ve always wondered this about the “obesity crisis”:

    If everyone in America is so fat, why am I usually the only fat person in the room?

  490. Pingback: international NO DIET day « The inner fire is the most important thing mankind possesses.

  491. I wish you could come to where I live and give a long, thorough lecture to the doctors.

    I was in a car accident, got whiplash. I was dizzy and having neck and nerve problems, so I went to the doctor. Instead of treating the injuries from the accident, she tested me for diabetes, even though I had (and continue to have) no symptoms. I’m fat, so I must be diabetic, right? Negative results. Still no treatment for the injuries, because she just doesn’t believe the pain, etc., was a result of injuries and not being fat. Being fat is generally super-painful, right? I’d smack her, but my neck hurts too much.

    I finally got health insurance after being uninsured for years, went to a doctor and told him I have poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and needed to start up treatment again. I told him I can tell it’s doing damage as I’ve cut my caloric intake severely but have still gained a ridiculous amount of weight, my mood swings have been bizzare and brutal, and have been holding onto so much water weight, it actually hurts. Oh, and then there’re the periods so painful, I actually have to take time off from work because I can’t stand up or sit. First, he dismisses the PCOS-related-to-weight-issues matter, as I must obviously be lazy and gluttonous and lying because I’m fat. How nice. He then puts me through a series of ridiculously long, complicated, and occasionally humiliating tests, including yet another diabetes test (five months after the first negative diabetes test), to prove what I’d told him when I first came in: I have PCOS. He then does NOTHING about the PCOS and insists that I be given yet another diabetes test, which would have been the third in less than six months. I’m fat, so it’s diabetes, right? Except it’s not. It’s PCOS, which, if untreated, yes, can lead to diabetes. But, no, let’s not treat the PCOS. Let’s just test me over and over and over again for diabetes, because that’s a fat person disease and I must have it because I’m fat.

    I’m not lazy. I print out to the printer furthest away from my desk and take the stairs to the other departments. I’m trying, though it’s difficult with the car injuries and injuries I sustained when I used to dance and when I got hit by a car. I’m not losing the weight; it must be that I’m evil, right, that I’m a bad person so I’m fat. That’s how doctors treat me here. DOCTORS. I’m not talking about the coworkers who talk about fat content and caloric content and “carbs” (WHICH ISN’T EVEN A WORD, DAMN IT) and BMI (your link at the end is broken, by the way), who treat me like a second-class citizen.

    I can’t afford to sign up with a gym (and they’re disgusting petri dishes, anyway). I can’t afford the foods my doctors tell me I should buy (and usually can’t get in this small market, anyway). I get constant harrassment from family every time I see them, “advice” on how to lose the weight which is actually just criticism. AND I CAN’T EVEN GET DECENT MEDICAL TREATMENT.

    I post this ranty thing here because I think this is the only place in the world where I wouldn’t be considered a bad human being for being the size I am. So, thank you.

  492. Mochi, I am so sorry to hear about your appalling treatment by doctors. Have you looked at First, Do No Harm? Sadly, you are not alone in suffering this kind of abuse from doctors. I recommend you check out the resources at FDNH about finding a better doctor. Good luck to you.

  493. Mochi, doctors suck when they can’t see past fat-phobia! it’s such mal-treatment. i was treated for compulsive over-eating from my psychiatrist when the actual eating problem i have is that i STOP eating. yeah thats right, a fat person who starves herself.

    she told me to go on a diet.

  494. Mochi, I’m so sorry you have had to take that crap, especially from doctors. I’ve taken enough crap from doctors in my life to know how much it sucks.

    In addition to First, Do No Harm, you might want to check out the forums at But You Don’t Look Sick. They’re full of good advice for how to get doctors to Pay Attention to And Treat The Symptoms Dangit, and the folks there tend to understand (being chronic illness patients) novel concepts like Illness Is Not Caused By Fat and I Exercise to be Functional, Not Conform to Some Nonsense Beauty Standard.

  495. I just found this blog…after reading all the responses, I don’t even remember what I was originally looking for. Anyway, the points are definitely good ones. Healthy at Any Size is obviously preferable to skinny for the sake of being skinny. My problem is: that’s so easy to say. It’s easy to tell everyone to love themselves and blah blah blah. But what if you keep trying and you still can’t? I spent the last year eating unhealthily and not working out and I gained weight. I’m still not “fat,” although that seems like a generic word that doesn’t necessarily have a definition. I’m slightly “overweight” according to my body fat percentage. The problem is: I CAN’T STAND IT!!! I’ve been dieting and exercising because I want to be thin again. I don’t like looking in the mirror. So…practically…I don’t understand how to appreciate myself. I don’t get how to love my body because it can now take me for a two mile run and do yoga, etc. the way it couldn’t do a couple of months ago. I don’t understand how to appreciate that I am in good shape, but I still look the same as I did when I started all of this. I want to be thin, and I know that it’s wrong, but I can’t help it! It was a huge issue growing up. My dad bugged me about my weight constantly, although I was never fat. Now, after moving away from home, I still feel his comments when he’s not around. I still judge my body through his eyes. And I still wish that both he and I could be satisfied with the body I have…satisfied enough to wear clothes that don’t hide my body and make me feel ashamed. So I guess there’s no simple answer to this. Years of therapy, I guess? I just feel like, as I said, it’s so much easier to tell someone to accept their overweight body than it is for someone to actually feel like that.

  496. I just feel like, as I said, it’s so much easier to tell someone to accept their overweight body than it is for someone to actually feel like that.

    Well, of course, Emily! You have years of experience hating your body and almost no experience loving it. That’s why we have a whole blog and why Kate and Marianne wrote a book. I hope you stick around and keep reading.

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  498. Thank you for throwing some more light on this subject for me. I needed to read this, particularly today, seeing as I apparently no longer fit into size 14 trousers. But sizes and relative :)
    Thank you.

  499. Emily, I agree with you, although I am fat. I am sooo tired of dieting and writing down and measuring every stinking thing I put in my mouth, only to lose a pound and gain it back (and plus) the next week, even though I do Jazzercise 3 days a week and Curves 2-3 days a week. And I’m starting to have hi bp and cholesterol, and I blew up the last time the stupid nurse called with my numbers and said, “Dr. suggests you start exercising”! So after finding this blog, I’m backing off the dieting, just shooting for healthy, but I feel my body expanding, and I don’t want to get bigger, and I feel like a quitter and a loser.

  500. Emily, and others, you need some therapy to find out why you have such self-hatred. I’ve been large-to-fat all my life, and why I don’t hate myself is a total mystery, as my mother would tell me daily things like “You’d be so pretty if you were thin!”, and the ever popular “I have NO idea how you keep getting such good looking boyfriends, they must have something wrong with them because they are with a fat girl.” And this from an Italian/German woman who was thin twice in her life, the second time from the cancer that killed her. And interestingly enough, the fat kept her alive years longer than expected after the cancer ate her stomach from the inside out. I’m fat and beautiful, and so are all of you!

  501. Mochi, that doc needs his privates nailed to a tree stump and the stump set on fire! Something to remember, THEY WORK FOR YOU! You hired them to do a service, and if they do not, fire their worthless ass and find someone else. Now, that being said, I grew up in a small town, and realize that it might not be possible. If they are ignoring your condition, turn them in to the AMA.

  502. Jennifer, I loved the article. Thanks for proving that not all dietitians are fat-hating control-freaks, which has been my experience and the experience of my diabetic husband. When he met with the dietitian he came home livid and depressed because she told him everything he could not eat, rather then emphasizing healthier choices.

  503. Pingback: Why Battle the Bulge? Find Balance and Love Instead « The Tasty Life

  504. I know this is an old article and youve already got a million people who’ve commented telling you how wonderful you are, but I dont mind being a million and one. Thank you so much for this. Ive really been hunting down pictures of larger women for a while now hoping to inspire myself to love my own body, and was really having some trouble doing so knowing ‘being fat is unhealthy- you shouldnt celebrate unhealthy.’
    This article cant make me suddenly fall in love with how I look, but it has made me feel like its OKAY for me to love how I look- even if I am fat.
    Thank you.

  505. I’ve just been recently introduced to your this blog and have really enjoyed reading it. So many good points, and you do so much to combat fat prejudice. And being healthy at any weight is SO important….

    Anyway, I wanted you to know how much I like what you’re doing so you will understand my criticism isn’t coming from an OMG FAT IS UNHEALTHY perspective…

    But I am disturbed by the part about fat protecting against type 2 diabetes. Because it doesn’t, and when I followed the link to the article you were quoting, it still showed no evidence for this.

    I’m totally aware (and against) of the way the causes of diabetes are being completely twisted and misconstrued generally. It is ridiculous (and dangerous I think) for people to say oh, my god, fat! You’re going to get diabetes! when that is NOT what causes it, and to say that makes lots of people feel complacent about their health when they shouldn’t be.

    All that said, if you are predisposed to diabetes, which appears to mostly be due to genetic factors, then being fat certainly is not going to help you or protect you. (I found a study, btw, which notes that the pre-diabetes blood sugar issues are probably what cause some wieght gain, rather than the other way around). This is a big issue for me because so many people in my family have Type 2 and my aunt died of it. I was just diagnosed pre-diabetic, and believe me, it is a wake up call. It’s not that I need to change my diet and exercise to lose weight, it is that I need it to keep me healthy.

    I know a lot of this goes along very well with what you’ve been saying all along, so I don’t think we really disagree, I just wish you had phrased that differently about fat “protecting” from diabetes, because weight will neither protect you from nor give you this disease. I hate that diabetes is used as a scare tactic to try to guilt people into dieting, but I also know it is a serious issue for those predisposed to it, and saying fat might protect from it is just wrong, though again, maybe it is just a phrasing issue.

    Here is the link to the article I was mentioning….might also be useful because it very much states the other point you’re making….that fat does not equal diabetes: http://www.phlaunt.com/diabetes/14046739.php

  506. Just plain amazing, you are. I followed a link to your blog from Unapologetically Fat who was mentioned on Mim’s Muddle. Although I have, of late, been on a true health and fitness crusade, I am also formerly obese and will forever have an awareness, compassion, and kinship with those who continue to suffer with obesity. Maybe suffer is the wrong word, but I know that when I was fat I felt awful, tired, and unhealthy. To me, it definitely was suffering to be obese. But the point is that obesity is not a moral failure. It is a cultural acceptance failure. Everyone is entitled to be who they are regardless of size or shape, color or creed, religion or political affiliation. I was so moved by a post at Unapologetically Fat that I posted myself.

    I will be watching this blog. Thanks for doing what you do. Keep up the good and important work.

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  512. I don’t understand how to appreciate myself. I don’t get how to love my body because it can now take me for a two mile run and do yoga, etc. the way it couldn’t do a couple of months ago.

    Emily, as cruel as this sounds in context, I’m going to say it anyway: I wish I could give you the last six months of my life.

    Starting in November, I began having Mystery Neurological Symptoms that left me just this side of bedridden for MONTHS. I could *barely* go to work. I slept anywhere from fourteen to twenty hours a day. I was absolutely CONVINCED that my career was over, my hobbies were over, my relationship was over, my life was over.

    Medical Mystery: all this stuff started resolving itself around mid-April. And I was able to start exercising again, though at first I could only do five minutes a day – a JOKE when you consider that five years ago, I was a competitive figure skater!

    I still weigh more than I did when I started, and I still cannot do what Competitive Skater Brain thinks I should be able to do. But I can walk to and from work again. I CAN work again. I can do an hour of Pilates and still be able to walk to the mailbox afterwards. And I love my body in ways I have never been able to love it before. Because I honestly thought it’d all be gone for good.

    Short version: Yes, it takes practice. But loving your body for what it can *do* really is an amazing way to live.

  513. First of all, I want to say thank you very much to all of you. I know that most fat people can’t get thinner, because I’m a thin person who can’t get fatter. I do not exercise and I don’t diet; I eat a lot of “healthy” stuff because I like fruit and vegetables, and also because my liver is not too good so if I eat really fat food I usually feel sick the next day.

    I would second the request that (when you have time) you post articles and/or links on how to address fatphobia and fat issues with children. My daughter has been told she’s fat since age 7. She’s not fat, but she might become so since there are fat people in the family. And she has heard fellow student criticize the (non thin but obviously healthy) teacher as ugly and/because fat.

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  516. Gotta start by saying that this blog, and this blog is extraordinarly inspirational. I wish there were more men posting their opinions.

    I’m a healthy dude, early 20s. I run and exercise 5 times a week, eat well, but never lose weight (mostly gaining). But, I feel good.

    I have a friend who eats miserably tiny portions and is always hungry, never exercises, and can’t gain a pound. He suffers from persistent headaches, and a general aversion to food. I’ve got another friend who can eat 2 boxes of corn dogs in 30 minutes. He loses wait and doesn’t know how.

    People with quicker metabolisms in youth are actually much, much worse off than those with slower metabolisms, for so many reasons. It’s great having a slower one – you live through your formative age learning how to eat correctly, and your body thanks you later!

    I feel bad for all my extra thin, monster appetite having friends.

  517. What a wonderful and informative commentary! I am overweight, but eat normally. I also have hyporthyroidism, which makes one’s metabolism slow.

    But….I’ve always been comfortable with my body. I feel you have to be true to yourself and like yourself for who you are. My son-in-law told me he loves heavy women – skinny women are a turnoff for him. Now that’s cool!

    Several years ago, my best friend came up with a reply to people who made comments about her weight gain. She said: I’m not fat, I’m rubenesque. If you look at renaissance art you see more rounded people than not.

    Being a Renn Faire junkie, the women who look the best are those with some weight on them. And it’s damn good for the cleavage, and if you have it, flaunt it!

    I came across your site through another one – I’ll be bookmarking your site. Thanks for helping people of all sizes feel validated.

  518. People with quicker metabolisms in youth are actually much, much worse off than those with slower metabolisms, for so many reasons. It’s great having a slower one – you live through your formative age learning how to eat correctly, and your body thanks you later!… I feel bad for all my extra thin, monster appetite having friends.

    I’m afraid this really isn’t accurate. A person with a fast metabolism might need that monster appetite to have enough energy during the day. Bodies are just different, there’s no better or worse about it. And there’s definitely no “correct” way to eat! Some people eat less, some eat more, and if they’re all eating what they need to feel good, it’s all correct.

    Being a Renn Faire junkie, the women who look the best are those with some weight on them.

    In the same vein, while it’s totally great that you love your body, thin-bashing isn’t accepted here. All bodies look great and none are better or worse than others.

  519. my apologies – I agree that all bodies are beautiful. I sincerely apologise to those whom I have offended – that wasn’t my intention.

    Thanks for reminding me to think before I speak. :-)

  520. Vocanista:

    I think you missed my point.

    I was trying to say that as a younger person with a voracious appetite ages and their metabolism slows down – as is what happens when one ages – they have a harder time adapting to the change. A person with a naturally, congenitally slower metabolism does not need to go through the transition, and learns to eat enough to satisfy daily need WHILE they are developing. Don’t try to tell me you don’t know anyone who was skinny as a kid and then grew up to be surprisingly heavier considering their earlier size. If you get accustomed to eating a lot and not gaining the necessary energy, or weight, then when your processing slows down it is inevitable, or at least hard to stop, that your habit of eating a lot will continue and your body will be left behind.

  521. And by “correctly” I meant not eating primarily highly processed foods, like Big Macs and Cheetos.

    I’m pretty sure that’s a universal philosophy.

  522. Jake, my point is that eating however much you need and want of whatever you need or want is fine. It doesn’t matter what your size is. If your metabolism slows down as you age, as it’s likely to, then you might or might not get fatter, and your appetite might or might not be reduced, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to learn how to eat.

  523. That is, we thin people know exactly how much to eat for ourselves, whether it’s more or less than anyone else, and more or less than we’ll want/need later. Same is true for fat people and everything in between. It’s not like if I get fatter later because my metabolism slows down, I’ll have just NO RESTRAINT because my metabolism is fast now. That’s crap.

  524. Well, what I’ve been trying to say is that I’m a big fan of being HEALTHY, which doesn’t mean thin, fat, or skinny. It means taking care of your life.

    I never implied people just lose control when their metabolisms slow down. I’m saying most people gain weight and stop caring about their health (in America) because they don’t have time to be healthy, and that’s problematic. Europeans and other members of developed nations know how to do this. They’re a lot less productive than we are, in economic terms, per capita, but they are healthier. And I’m not just talking about skinny Parisians, but good bodied Italians, strong Spaniards, etc. I know this blog is about accepting people for whoever they are and however they live their lives. I’m all for that, trust me.

    I still disagree with the “everything is fine” idea. There are countless problems with the way middle America eats, all of which are not their faults. This is just me observing.

    I hope you’re not grouping me with “thin” people. I’m the most amorphous being you’ll ever see! All the same I’m proud to constantly be fooling people.

    Also, how do you know exactly how much to eat? That sounds like some biological miracle! It’s not very realistic to say that you’ll have no restraint, either. If you’re human, you lose “restraint.” In fact, losing restraint is fun, and part of why being fat is so much more enjoyable than forcing yourself to be thin – or should I say, being open to the whims of your appetite as long as health is at the back of your mind and those whims do not put you in harms way.

  525. I’m saying most people gain weight and stop caring about their health (in America) because they don’t have time to be healthy, and that’s problematic.

    Based on what data? What “countless problems” that you observe are actually statistically supported? Americans are living longer and longer. Our health is quite good. Most people simultaneously gain weight and develop health problems because they get older, not because they stop caring, lose restraint, or eat the “wrong” foods. Seriously, read the blog.

    I know how exactly much to eat because i get hungry when I need food and stop feeling hungry when I am full. My body tells me exactly how much to eat, because it’s a wonderful instrument. I have “restraint” insofar as I need it, because when I don’t want something, I don’t eat it. Intuitive eating is a big part of HAES, and it’s addressed both in many posts at this blog and elsewhere online. Being open to the whims of appetite, as you describe, is IE, and it’s great no matter what size you are or what metabolism you have. Listening to your appetite means you don’t need to learn how to eat.

  526. Well, what I’ve been trying to say is that I’m a big fan of being HEALTHY, which doesn’t mean thin, fat, or skinny. It means taking care of your life.

    I’mm a bit fan of being healthy too. It hasn’t stopped me from having chronic health problems, though. Go figure.

  527. I still disagree with the “everything is fine” idea. There are countless problems with the way middle America eats, all of which are not their faults. This is just me observing.

    I’m tired of people picking on “middle America.” There are plenty of fat people in NYC and California who eat the same way people in Nebraska do. Which is none of your damn business anyway.

  528. I hope you’re not grouping me with “thin” people.

    Seriously? At least one of the people you’ve been talking to here is a thin person. Thin people vs. fat people is not how we do things around here.

    It’s great that you’re a fan of being healthy. Most people are, at least in theory. But read point 8 in this post again. And then think really hard before you post here again, because you’re giving me a stabbing pain behind my right eye.

  529. Could any one here actually give me link to papers (scientific, published in journals, et al) that prove that being obese is healthy? I tried looking for them in Pubmed, but I couldn’t find any articles. Sorry, but I’m getting a degree in biophysics, with an emphasis in medical imaging and I want to actually see scientific papers before I’d accept anything.

    Also, I would like to contradict your point in no. 1. There are a number of research publications that have found that calorie restriction (~1200 cal/day or there about. I forget how much exactly) prolongs life and enhances the immune system. These are in Pubmed (at least the abstracts are, search calorie nutrition and longevity. Most will come out to be on animal, but there are a few that focused on humans.), and I doubt they’re funded by weightloss companies as there is no need for weight loss pills or diets for calorie restriction.

    Lastly, one thing about carrying too much fat is that imaging modalities (PET, ultrasound, etc) won’t work as well. This is due to the physics behind how these modalities operate, and I can actually work out the calculations if anyone’s interested. For example, ultrasound acts by sending sound waves through the body. Portions of the waves echo back when they hit layers of different densities (eg. the boundary between fat and muscle) while the rest travel on until they reach a layer they can’t get through (ie. bone). These are detected and the times of travel measured to determine the composition of that part of the body. The problem with exceptionally fat people though, is that as the sound waves travel through the media (muscle, fat, etc) they loose a portion of their intensity with respect to distance. A lot of the sound waves is thus lost ( sometimes enough that it can’t be detected anymore) in person with a thick layer of fat (admittedly, the same goes for muscle but that’s not as important – I don’t think has an 116 cm (~46 inch) waist due to excess muscle).

    I guess my comment boils down to is can some one give me papers that show being active and fat is healthier than being active and thin? I am obese and trying to loose weight, so if the paper is convincing enough I’d be very happy! Also, before anyone points me to the junkfood science article, I have read it already, and was told (by a doctor I asked about it) that yes, people with higher fat levels do have a higher chance of survival, but then, the likelihood off getting a heart attack is much higher for them.

    I’m sorry this got so long. I tend to get over excited talking about imaging-related stuff

  530. Pingback: Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy? « Bank Alt

  531. >> You don’t have to learn how to eat.

    Perhaps what we need is not to learn how to eat but rather to ‘unlearn’ how we’ve been conditioned to eat. Check out “Mindless Eating” for an interesting take on how different, subtle cues affect one’s eating.

    It’s very hard to separate what we think about eating from the physical sensation of hunger. Hunger is an interpretation, not just from physical cues.

    I suspect that most people don’t really know what it means to eat when you are hungry because they’ve never truly experienced hunger aside from the conceptualization of hunger.

  532. Check out “Mindless Eating” for an interesting take on how different, subtle cues affect one’s eating.

    And please check out the rest of this blog for discussions of cultural and psychological influences on eating.

  533. Gail, seriously? it is no one’s job here to educate you, that’s actually pretty snotty. Maybe first try reading the rest of JFS, not just one article. Sandy reports on studies very regularly. The whole “obesity paradox” series is pretty good if you want a place to start. There are plenty of studies that disprove the idea that fatness is inherently unhealthy. (Nobody can prove fat is “healthy” — or prove anything else for that matter. Science doesn’t work that way.)

    I don’t think the calorie restriction studies contradict any of the points made here. If you meant point 10, what does weight loss research have to do with calorie restriction longevity studies, since calorie restriction only causes short term weight loss anyway? (And I think that even if eating 1200 calories a day gave immortality, the quality of life would not be worth it.)

    I never realized that if my body is not well-analyzed by a piece of medical equipment, it’s because my body is wrong and I should change it. yeah, fuck that. Instrumentation being unable to work properly with the full range of human bodies means the instrumentation is inadequate. period. It bothers me that they aren’t teaching that to students studying medical imaging — that’s just basic medical ethics.

    Brian, hunger is very close to just a physical sensation and unrelated to interpretation if you haven’t fucked up your relationship with your body by ignoring its signals. And I suspect you haven’t lived in other people’s bodies.

  534. (Though I completely agree that once those signals have been fucked with, it is necessary to unlearn how you eat in order to learn to recognize your body’s physical signals again and to identify hunger and satiation. As SM said, that’s been addressed a few times before.)

    I’m going to go Mindlessly Eat some ice cream now! nooooooo

  535. Wait, someone let Gail through? We need better communication around here. Kate and I both let that comment sit in the moderation queue because a) it was so hilariously jackassy and b) we thought someone might want to douchehound it.

  536. Gosh Gail, sorry to make you wait, we’re all hurrying to compile that information you asked for. *rolls eyes*

  537. As an engineer and former high school wrestler I am so happy to see this website. BMI is a tool for study of populations and is worthless for individual people, dieting is shit, and fat is the wrong target anyway.

    Wrestlers all knew BMI was worthless for individials (guys with 5.5% body fat who could do 30 pullups were “overweight” or even “obese”), and we all knew we got fat after the season ended and the extreme dieting to make weigh-ins stopped.

    In my experience dieting longer than a wrestling season would have been extremely difficult–extremely distracting for me and hell on anyone around me (I was generally an asshole while cutting weight).

    This country does have a “crappy food and no exercise epidemic”, let’s call it that so we can fight it effectively.

  538. Dear Ms. Harding,

    I get it! I finally get it! Fat acceptance is about going to bed and waking up an hour earlier, pushing your body outside of its comfort zone the next time you exercise, getting your hair cut and *styled*, spending time looking up a recipe and cooking it with friends, drinking eight glasses of water a day, taking your medication on time, buying clothes that fit, making sure you see the dentist every six months, giving yourself time to stretch and to relax, and surrounding yourself with people who make you happy. It’s about refusing to punish yourself any more. It’s about getting out and doing now what you’ve always wanted to do, because you’ll only live once, your body is a temple, and there’s no time like the present.

    Thanks to you and everyone else who advocate fat acceptance tirelessly. Together we can push away boundaries and make the world a better, safer place.

  539. Nobody ever discusses what BMI ACTUALLY IS!! And it’s a laugh.

    So back in 1820 some proto social scientists were looking at some questions relating to wealth and geography… blah blah I can’t remember every detail, but a mathematician came up with Body Mass Index to differentiate the thin (and poor,starving, un chic) from the wealthy fatter people ( could afford food). BMI was designed to be applied to large groups of people in an area, never individuals! Averages were made by gender, economic status, ect.

    So why did it suddenly pop up a few years ago? We know percent body fat to muscle is an accurate fitness indicator that doesn’t put Olympic athletes in training into the obese category like BMI does… Why are we falling for a statistical trick from the very early 19th century? Modified into disease mongering… The doctor word for inventing ilnesses to sell drugs or treatments.

    Does somebody want to sell us something? Or exaggerate America’s generally crappy eating habits into illness? Where would the money go? When ever disease mongering appears, there’s a marketing firm and somebody planning to make a lot of $$$ paying them.

    Personally, I’m 5’5″, 185 and forced there by bad pharmaceuticals known for that. (had been 135 from 14 to 30; then a problem and bad drugs that cost enough to fund a new Gulfstream jet). But I push 750 lbs on the free weight leg press in 20 rep sets x 10 or more. I ride a mountain bike like a bat out of hell. I look hot in spandex shorts. Do I have a problem? Not by the Bailey % of body fat scale, or any medical test, or wearing skin tight stretchy fibers in public and the reaction it gets. I wear a 12 and wish I were a 10, but it’s OK. 185 in size 12 will do fine! And I have fun.

    By the standards of 1820, today’s “normal” person by BMI was actually on the threshhold of starvation. Overweight was good, fat was desirable in a world that depended on harvest to harvest. Is that our world? No- but we live in the same bodies. Dorothea Lange took so many photos in the Dustbowl of so many Hollywood beautiful people who were in fact farm families starving to death; It’s ironic but so twisted!

    Eat your vegetables, get some exercise, have fun. And remember to laugh at the BMI con trick- it’s bullshit! Somebody is selling something if World Champion Track and Feild athletes are obese.

  540. Hey Gail- how about the New York Times? heehee. Seriously, go search the archives in the Well Section. They source and annotate but really, the lowly tech in X-ray will tell you a good image with any body type is about the skill of the chump at the bottom of the food chain, not a credential.

    And Pub Med is limited to how you search. If you want to sit and feed it key words all night like this lowly chump at the bottom of the neuropsychiatric research food chain does you’ll find it. (We aren’t impressed)

  541. I’m looking forward to your panel. I grew up very overweight, and because of this my self-esteeme suffered. I lost a lot of weight, and realized this was not going to be the magic solve all to loving myself. I am finally at a normal healthy weight, and at age 34 realize it is not the shape of my skin that gives me value. I’m amazed at how many women, strong, smart, women, put their own bodies down online. I can’t wait to hear what your panel and the participants have to say about this.

  542. I’m a happy fat celiac who is healthy for the first time in years (before I was diagnosed I weighed under 90 lbs and most of my teeth fell out). The celiac community is driving me INSANE. Skinny women who get diagnosed, go on the celiac diet, start to have healthy weight gain, and then get eating disorders. Yesterday Starbucks discontinued their wonderful gluten free pastry because (according to them) they had heard from the celiac community that it was “too much of a treat”. I want treats, durn it. They replaced the pastry with a “healthy” Kind Bar. I want cake, not cardboard.

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  544. Two years late, I wanted to reply to CharlesPratt above who quoted from the 1995 Manson study in the New England Journal. It’s true that that study was based on “thousands” of women. However, to get the results that he quoted, the researchers had to delete almost 90% of the deaths in their study. They started out with almost 5000 deaths and ended up with 531 deaths in a tiny part of their original sample and just reported those. Go look at what they actually found in their whole sample and it’s quite different. This is just an example of the games people are playing even in the scientific literature.

  545. Pingback: Dear Oprah « we are the REAL deal

  546. My very skinny (used to be called “ectomorphic”) husband went to the doctor for his chronic, painful constipation. Well duh, he eats crap, sometimes drinks two milkshakes a day, never exercises, never eats fruit or vegetables. (I love him dearly, in case that doesn’t come through, and I eat a little better than he does but not much.) The doctor told him to completely modify his diet, give up rich foods for low fat, high fiber vegetable dishes– OH NO WAIT, no he didn’t! He gave him a prescription for high fiber chocolate chip granola bars! Because it’s easier to add something to an adult’s established diet than subtract something or change it completely, said the sensible medic. I told my husband, if you looked fat, especially if you were a fat woman, you would have gotten a lecture and a prescription to go to Weight Watchers, because your naughty diet got you in trouble. As it is, he’s thin, so he gets to eat one more cookie a day. This is a person who cheerfully tells the waitstaff to leave everything healthy (lettuce, tomatoes, etc. ) off his burger, and told the doctor so. But he’s THIN. So he doesn’t need to change his eating and exercise habits. Right y’all?

  547. Pingback: Government Women’s Health Site Acknowledges That Women of Different Sizes Can Be Healthy « Women’s Health News

  548. Pingback: Miss Conduct’s Mind Over Manners | Happy birthday, Fat Acceptance!

  549. Volcanista if you truly believe there isn’t a health problem in the country you’re totally naive. Clearly there isn’t much to sway you in your thoughts, but I just wanted to point out how maybe you’re not the center of the world and just because you’re comfortable the way you are doesn’t mean everyone else is. Ever been outside your yoga circle?

    I’m not sure who you hang out with, but everyone I know who is making a living working either multiple jobs or jobs that require enormous amounts of time are having a hard time figuring out when to care about themselves.

    Anyway, this is my last post because I’m displeased with how ironically myopic some people are on the blog. Maybe you’re open minded to differences in people, but you’re clearly not open minded to change, which is just plain sad.

  550. Ok last one and I’m gone: Kate, read my entire post before you become defensive and threaten me, I meant that I’m not thin, not that I hate thin people and would never associate with them.

  551. Attention world: Could everyone who doesn’t like this blog please leave a comment in which you instruct us on how to blog better, before announcing that you’re leaving for good? Because otherwise, how would we know? I assume that everyone in the world agrees with all the views presented by SP unless they specifically leave a comment saying otherwise.

  552. Don’t know where to put this, but — THANK YOU for this wonderful blog.

    I just discovered Shapely Prose a few weeks ago, and wish I could’ve read these things when I was 10, 15, 25, even 30 years old. (I’m 33 now.)

    I was an unambiguously fat kid (and bullied for it). As a late-teen and 20-something, I realize now that I was quite medium-sized, even I still *thought* of myself as fat, partly due the mass-media message that “unless you look [conventionally] great in a bikini, you are fat!”

    Now, I’m an “inbetweenie” (just picked up the term) — but I share my family’s “sturdy peasant” body type and may well become fatter with age.

    Over the years, I’d privately, secretly fought my way to some of the FA and HAES ideas, but I was too embarrassed to talk about it. I hate diet talk, and I was afraid of coming off as diet-talking, too. I was also afraid of people thinking, ‘Sure, whatever, Fattie.’

    I dealt with these size-related anxieties and the social stigmas simply by repressing my reactions: “No time to worry about that!” I tried to opt out of the beauty myth, but, periodically, when it would smack me in the face that women weren’t allowed to opt out, I’d feel all the more frustrated and sad.

    But now, seeing Kate, FJ, SM and all of you write so eloquently and with such thorough and nuanced thoughtfulness on these issues, I feel like my understanding and confidence has grown by leaps and bounds.

    I feel so relieved and happy about this that I can hardly tear myself away from the internets! I think I’ve read half the blog archives in the past two weeks. To the point that the novel insights of three days ago now feel like old hat.

    So thank you for pouring so much time into this incredible public service. I’m looking forward to even more.

  553. LOL yeah it’s ridiculous that I’m aware that we’re living longer than ever these days, that child mortality is the lowest it’s ever been, and that our quality of life is overall higher than it’s ever been. I’m just willfully ignorant on that one. Me and my yoga circle!

    Do you really think that people being poor and not having time for self-care is new? That’s awful, and not uncommon, but [except for recessions] it’s a situation that’s gotten a little better with more readily available cheap food, not worse. But you go ahead and tell those poor people that those are the wrong foods and that starvation was better, if it keeps you feeling smugly superior in your moral panic about our collapsing society. Also: what does that have to do with being able to/having to regulate appetites, which is what I thought we were talking about?

    Hahaha not open to change, seriously? Because yeah, fighting nonstop messages that you have to hate yourself and damage yourself to be marginally socially acceptable is totally not a change from the norm or anything.

    I agree about the door. Well, maybe a little tap on the bum wouldn’t hurt to speed things along.

  554. yeah it’s ridiculous that I’m aware that we’re living longer than ever these days, that child mortality is the lowest it’s ever been, and that our quality of life is overall higher than it’s ever been.

    Shhh. If you keep telling people that, they might stop spending billions of dollars every year trying to lose 10 pounds so they’ll be able to see their kids grow up.

  555. Welcome, Lynn! I’m glad you found us.

    But you go ahead and tell those poor people that those are the wrong foods and that starvation was better,

    Dude. I have literally just realised on reading this that in previous centuries the poor in western society were dying of starvation en masse, not eating HFCS en masse or whatever the fuck the food police are on about today. Wow. That puts the hand-wringing over our “health crisis” in perspective.

    Shhh. If you keep telling people that, they might stop spending billions of dollars every year trying to lose 10 pounds so they’ll be able to see their kids grow up.

    Aye. That.

  556. “Just don’t THREATEN him, okay? It’s really scary for him to comment outside his yoga circle.”
    *snort*
    Who is this? Are we talking about Ogden, the Totally Inappropriate Yoga Guy?

  557. There is an Ogden in every “yoga circle”, as SM so neatly put it. (I needed that. Tricky weekend, still going on, and now will have something to remember when I need to laugh today.)

    And do not think that you will escape his attentions because your name is not Tiffany or Monica.

    In fact, KH, you’re even more exposed now that you’ve been on TV. :-D

    (Speaking of which, after reading Link Collection – yes, this is how my mind works when it’ s on – u no can haz Prof Campos. U haz reel huzbnd. I haz none. Plus, his talk of motions and statutes has the potential to bore you stiff. I’m better suited; I sat through a few years of it and have trained myself not to snore.)

  558. That video made me laugh! I lived in Boulder, Colorado for 15 years and guys just like Ogden make up at least one third of that town’s population.

  559. @JeanF: Well, one more reason for me to avoid Starbucks! Doc just put me on a GF diet and two weeks in I feel WONDERFUL. Probably not Celiac, “just” gluten intolerance, but HOLY COW.

    Ironically, I also lost a few pounds, and my coworkers were all O OF COURSE IT IS THE LACK OF CARBS. …Never mind that, in substituting my former wheat-based foods for GF ones, I’ve replaced nearly all the whole grains in my diet with white ones (rice, potatoes, tapioca….you know the drill, of course). WEVS WORKPLACE CHIX. I EATS WHAT I WANTS.

    Only not at Starbucks, I guess.

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  561. The best part about reading FA (Fat Acceptance) articles are the comments left by people. I have to read absolutely every single one.

    I find myself reading the comments because I’m looking for those trolls. I’m waiting for those usual hateful banters that make me retreat further into my shell and close the doors again. I’m waiting for more assurance from the outside world that it isn’t time for FAT acceptance yet, and I begin to realize that I will never realize myself.

    I do that to myself. I find the bad shit and I live on it. I eat with a large side of shameless self disgust.

    But, that being said, the more and more I read I begin to open the door a little bit more. I begin to try on outfits (inside my house) that I would never wear outside of my house. I look in the mirror and find curves that I didn’t know I had – because I always wear baggy clothing. Baggy clothing is your friend – how many times has that gone through my head when I go to buy clothes?

    One person said that it is never enough – no matter how much weight you lose. God, that is the truth. Even when I lost all the weight from the weight loss surgery (WLS), I still wanted to be thinner. I wasn’t happy, I was miserable because I wasn’t a size smaller. When I went down another size, I was miserable because I wasn’t the size smaller than that. I still didn’t take pictures. I still didn’t go out dancing. I still didn’t believe people when they said I was beautiful.

    Now I look back and I think, “What the fuck was wrong with you?”

    Some of the times in my life that should’ve been the happiest times of my life were lost to hating myself. They were spent shunning my body and reminding myself that I am worthless and disgusting; no matter what anyone told me.

    So when do you start hating yourself and loving yourself? When you stop existing and you start living? There’s no answer. I don’t even have that answer. There’s no place in a textbook that says, “You must be [this age] before you finally learn to accept yourself and love who you are no matter what.”

    I wish there was; I think we all do. But here is the big kicker that I always come back to at the end of my day of shame.

    I stand and look at myself in the mirror. I run my hand over my body and say hello to places that I haven’t loved in a long time. I realize that my neckline is straight and beautiful, like a piece of art. I realize that my eyes are so crystal blue that I can see heaven if I look long enough. I realize that my hips are gorgeous and curvy, and my ass is all that and that bag of potato chips (Funions my friends… Funions).

    While I’m doing this, I get angry. Why did I spend the day not loving this? Why did I spend the day inside my house instead of outside in the beautiful sun? Why didn’t I let my hair down and take off my glasses and just raise my face to the sky and smile?

    Because FA will never make a difference until you accept yourself.

    Every day is a constant struggle against the world. I know I would love and enjoy myself if people around me said, “You know, you look good” instead of saying, “Did you know that recent statistics show that dieting has….[finish]?” I would love to hear something like, “You are gorgeous and I really like your body” – and believe me, that isn’t in a sexual way either.

    Why do thin women get that comfort? I know not all of them do, but dammit – I want that comfort. Why do I always tell my friends how good they look but never get the same response? I give so freely and never get it in return.

    You can compliment someone without them taking it the wrong way or being sexual in some way. It’s important to tell people that you like and care about that they are special, wonderful, talented, and most of all – beautiful.

    So the next time you see a large woman in a store in baggy clothes, looking down and not looking at the world around her, say something. Say “hello” or just smile. Because people won’t start loving themselves if their world is surrounded by hatred from others. We nourish our children and our loved ones with understanding, but what about strangers?

    Spread the love so that people like me feel that we are worth that image in the mirror.

  562. Love the video,

    A sure sign someone doesn’t know what they are talking about it when they just start spouting off stuff in a foreign language just for the heck of it to sound cool and not realizing what they are saying. What he really said is he loves the mountains and the trees in talum, not that he loves the children of talum. Its obvious what he is really there for. lol.

  563. Pingback: Shame on shame: fat acceptance, fatphobia, and fitness « Raising My Boychick

  564. I’m a fan of fashion. I love fashion. That said, the fashion industry is the least fat-accepting institution out there. It’s so difficult to find good dresses if you’re a size 14. They just don’t exist unless you’re talking made-to-measure.

    But there is a growing fat-acceptance community and it has really made a difference. Posts like these are so helpful because without them we wouldn’t have things like full figured fashion week.

    Thank you so much and keep up the good work.

  565. I’m so glad i read this. It’s so true. When I was in 10th grade I looked like a 8 yr old. Was about 4 foot some tall and tiny. the summer before my 11th grade yr my body changed. grew to 5 foot 5 inches, a double D bra and 155 lbs. it wasn’t anything I did, just a major growth spirt. I’ve never been smaller than that since. Right now i’m 225 lbs and I gained that shortly after my Mom passed away. I’m 25 and it hit me hard. I eat losts of veggies and fruits, heathy food and always walking or doing something active. Yet i’m still over weight. its hard because everyone in my family is in great shape an i’m the only one that is overweight.

  566. Hi, I just came across this blog and I like it, but I am torn. Before I go on, let me tell you a little about my background.
    I’m a size 10 (american), always been TEETERING on overweight, but not quite there. I have always had issues with my body (like many women, I’m convinced I’m “fat” even when the scale says “You’re a TOTALLY NORMAL AVERAGE WOMAN”). Recently, I’ve gotten into more body-positive blogs and communities. I like this fat-acceptance movement. I like the idea that no matter what we look like, we’re PEOPLE. I absolutely think it’s absurd that people are judged on their weight, that it can even cost you a job you’re otherwise qualified for. I agree that BMI is bullshit. I totally agree with what you say about the WEIGHT not being the unhealthy thing, it’s the diabetes, heart problems, etc. that ANYONE can get from being lazy and not eating right.
    However, it is obvious that there ARE more “fat people” than there used to be. Open a yearbook from 1935. There is maybe ONE overweight kid. MAYBE. Open a yearbook from 2009. You see the difference.
    So what I want to know is, do you see this as there just being more “naturally fat” people? That’s my ONLY issue with the fat acceptance movement– even this post virtually ignored the fact that there are more fat people now than there used to be, with no explanation. Or are you saying it’s just not a bad thing, so it doesn’t matter? I’m not attacking you, AT ALL, please understand– I really do just want to know, since I haven’t gotten a straight answer out of anyone yet.

  567. Are you talking about yearbooks for American schools? Because in 1935, the United States was mired in the Great Depression, and many people couldn’t afford to feed themselves and their families adequately.

    There’s nothing healthy about being malnourished.

  568. Yes, I am. And yes, that’s true. That’s what I was asking, basically– if most fat-acceptance folks attribute our gaining weight and there being more “naturally fat people” to us just having ACCESS to FOOD, and thus, this is more like our natural state of being. If that’s so, does that mean that other countries that don’t have an “obesity epidemic” (i put it in quotes because I remain skeptical until I see something more specific on it than just “everyone knows”, which is all I’ve gotten so far) are not as healthy as the U.S or the U.K., countries that DO have more “overweight” people?

  569. B., at the same time as people in the Western world have been getting a bit fatter (over the past 50 years or so) they have also been getting taller. Someone else will cite you a source on that, or you can google (census data?), as I don’t have it to hand. But both those things aren’t due to a change in genetics (impossible in a few generations) but changes in access to nutrition.

    In museums you can see the clothes worn by previous generations and they are very often (even the men) SO SHORT compared to what we’re used to. I saw nightgowns for 6 year olds in a stately home near our house and the guide said they barely fit 3 year olds today, heightwise. Better food makes people taller and, yes, fatter because it doesn’t matter how your metabolism would like to respond to an abundance of food if there is no abundance of food to be had! When people have access to enough food (caloriewise) over a long enough period (we don’t have famines anymore), their bodies have a chance to reach their natural setpoint.

    Almost every developed Western country (off the top of my head I’m thinking of France, Germany, the UK, Ireland, America and Canada) has longer-living, healthier populations than EVER PREVIOUSLY IN HISTORY. They also have fatter populations (overall) than ever previously in history. How you draw conclusions from that is up to you.

  570. Caitlin, first of all thank you for giving me a real, reasonable answer. I had never heard (or thought) about people also being TALLER. That would seem to be a sign that people are just growing overall, and this may just be our natural setpoint. Thanks for the info. I’m very interested in this topic now.

  571. B., I was about to rip you a new one, because that’s the kind of mood I’m in, but if you’re serious about research, you might also look into the modern use of medications that cause weight gain and the ways diets actually make people fat. Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem – they’re all self-perpetuating businesses.

  572. Sniper, thanks. I am honestly interested in this topic. Not really sure what you found offensive, but I’m sorry if it’s because you thought I was being insensitive.

    I totally agree, I think those businesses are only that– BUSINESSES. And they wouldn’t stay in BUSINESS if they actually WORKED, so of course they have to make sure they don’t. It’s awful.

  573. Watched, and appreciated, Kate’s appearance on Chicago tonight that you have linked here on the site. Felt that Kate “represented” my views well .

    I’ve tried losing weight lots of times and have always gained the weight, plus more, back. I’m an excellent employee, good wife and mother and profound friend. Being fat doesn’t make me less of a human being or less valuable.

    But twice in the last month I’ve been in social settings where women have tried to be “nice” to me about my weight. Both were socially inappropriate, condescending and basically rude. I found myself being surprised both times because I actually like myself. My weight is not nearly the big issue for me that it apparently is for others. I think we’ve become more fat critical as a society in a lot of ways.

  574. B., I would hazard a guess that Sniper’s annoyance comes at least in part because you’re making quite a few assumptions without doing your own research first. Assertions without a source to back them up, even if they’re assertions about something left unanswered in the post, are always going to come across poorly when you’ve already been given a springboard of information.

    Also, words in all caps are generally considered shouting, so that doesn’t help.

    I’m feeling generous, so I’ll assist you a bit–Human Height article on Wikipedia, which includes current averages as well as mid-ninteenth century averages. I know, Wikipedia, but in this case I’m using it because the article cites sources.

  575. In that case, I do apologize for that as well, if I’m making assumptions. I’m just recently getting into this topic, so it’s still a little hard for me to keep in mind what is something I learned from a reliable source, and what is something “everyone knows” (which may very well be false). Thanks for that link, it is a very good jumping off point.

  576. B., you’re welcome. People around here tend to be sensitive because a lot of the time questions that look like yours are really the start of people trying to get us to admit that ACTUALLY WE ARE ALL WRONG AND FAT ACCEPTANCE IS A HOUSE OF CARDS, or something. I’m sure as you read more round here you’ll see plenty of other comments that show you exactly what I mean!

    Sniper’s suggestion to look at “the modern use of medications that cause weight gain and the ways diets actually make people fat” is really important too, because they’re two of the main things that seem to have pushed the increase in population weight (slightly) ahead of the increase in population height, making us a little fatter overall (even taking into account that we’ve gotten taller).

  577. B., I think it’s also important to take into account the prevalence of weight loss dieting, how many more people are dieting today than 50 years ago, and the massive failure of the whole idea–that is, that most people initially lose a bit weight on a diet, then gain it back plus a little bit more, which then restarts the cycle, over and over and over again. It makes sense to me that this trend has probably increased Americans’ overall average weight.

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  579. Do you have a big S on your clothes because I think after reading this you became my hero.

    I really wish there was more FA during my oh so splendid childhood. At the age of 8 my aunt was dragging me into weight watchers meetings. Not fun for a little kid.

    I am 5’11 and 256 pounds, I wear a size 22/24. I exercise and can do more than some of my thinner friends physically. I like to think I am a healthy if not perfectly “fit” person.

    Really, thank you for what you are doing. I am working hard to accept myself as I am and not change it, sites like this help so very much. I am sick of wanting to change myself to fit the ideals that other people hold.

    I just want to like myself and not feel badly for it.

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  581. B. welcome to SP! Another very important factor in this discussion is that what we define as “fat” has changed.

    In 1997 a person with a BMI between 25-29 was considered average. In 1998 they moved the cut off line for “overweight” down from 28 to 25, so millions of people suddenly became overweight without gaining a pound. The label changed, not the person. This is true for “obese” as well – I went to bed one night overweight and woke up obese.

    At the same time, visual representations of bodies have squeezed out to the edges of the spectrum. The only bodies you see in the media are extremely thin people or extremely fat people. That constant barrage has an effect on how you perceive the world, though spending some time people watching in a public place can be a good way of cleansing the mind of those misrepresentations.

    We have gained weight since the end of WWII, but it’s unbelievably hard to find verified data on that. You hear all this talk about percentages and rates but nobody ever says “We’ve gained X number of pounds since 19xx!” The statistic that I’ve found most recently is it’s somewhere between 9-15 pounds since 1980. Which means, in roughly 30 years, we’ve gained 15 pounds, so half a pound per year. Not out there for a population that’s also aged significantly thanks to the Baby Boomers getting older.

    All that statistical mumbo jumbo is worthy of a good debunking IMNSHO.

    DRST

  582. There’s weight, and then there’s toxic weight. Stress, autoimmune diseases (particularly celiac), and a variety of other conditions can cause people to gain weight that is not normal to them–that is, not a function of their body doing what it’s happiest doing. People who are naturally fat don’t really have a health problem, but there are plenty of people who gain weight because they do have something wrong. I like the concept of “healthy weight” that’s espoused here: http://www.womentowomen.com/healthyweight/default.aspx because they take the position that if my healthy weight is 40 or so pounds higher than the so-called “average”, as long as I feel good and am enjoying life, who cares? But if I’m feeling crappy, well, perhaps I need to look at that, because the weight gain might be telling me something’s wrong.

  583. Fenbeast, right, but I’d take it a step further and say that if you have gained a lot of weight because of an underlying health problem, the fat isn’t hurting you. The health problem is. Trying to lose weight isn’t going to treat the underlying problem.

    Also, what the hell is “toxic weight”?? Your fat cells are not poisonous to you.

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  585. You should have mentioned the advantages and accuracies of body fat percentage over body mass index.

    I also would have liked to see you more greatly discuss the nature of actually being unhealthy and having health risks.

    Being fat isn’t inherently unhealthy and being other overweight, thin, or underweight are all serious physiological preferences people should keep their eye on. Everyone lives with risk. We need to start realizing the difference between actual health problems and risks. They are two very vastly different things.

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  587. like the height/weight/zones ones, as opposed to the callipers and tape measure method. I kickbox every day, and have a very, one might say ‘early man’ shape, 5 ft 6 inches tall, very wide and heavy, which puts my BMI into the obese/danger range. I have actually very little fat, muscle is more dense so the usual chart is useless. There are about 35% women where I train, of all sizes, including a few that have a lot of curves and weight. They’re also some of the fittest people I have ever met… Three of the women are just under 6 feet tall and weigh about 18 stones, which I think puts them high on the BMI. They can fight 10 x 3 min rounds and lots of other bodily punishing activities, and they look amazing. If some people passed them in the street they might look and see a ‘fat chic’. Weight has nothing to do with health except at the extreme ends of the scale.

  588. Oh, put my first bit in the wrong box!

    Should have started above, BMI is pretty inaccurate if using a chart …

  589. Thank you. Not only do I feel better, but I laughed part of my ass off. Amazing insight and lovely words. Thank you, Thank you!

  590. Pingback: Fat is NOT a Dirty Word but Maybe it’s the Wrong One? « we are the REAL deal

  591. If only I found this FA movement when I was 16 maybe I wouldn’t be dealing with so many issues.

    I just hope with this site and reading these wonderful comments the healing can begin.

  592. I love this. I just have to share line of the week from one of the obstetricians at my hospital: “Your blood pressure, cholesterol count, insulin levels are kidney readings are all fine but you are carrying too much weight to have a healthy pregnancy…”

    As evidenced by what???

    I did actually laugh.

  593. How delightful to find that this thread is still live, two years after the OP went up!

    It occurs to me as I run through the comments, and see the inevitable references to how there seem to be more fat people now than there were in some designated past, to wonder whether this isn’t a perceptual artifact, one we can attribute to the changes in the way we (in the developed world, at least) treat aging. It seems to me — and I apologize for the lack of a cite, this is a vague impression from things like old Marx Brothers movies — that not too long ago, our culture assumed that young adults would be relatively slim, and that older ones (particularly wealthy men and post-childbearing women) would often be quite stout. Not always, but often enough so that there’s not a big difference between the bodies we see around us now and those our great-grandparents would have seen.

    Only now, we (or many of us, and certainly our culture) expect to keep what amount to young-adult bodies right up through old age, so that what was perceived as natural and right for an adult in the past suddenly looks wrong to us for purely cultural reasons now. If this is right, the cultural reasons themselves would be sufficient to explain our mainstream culture’s fat panic: it would mean that seeing biologically normal non-thin bodies was a visceral reminder of the reality of aging and death. On this hypothesis, the toned and thin grown-ups are getting a lot of unearned social approval because they’re sending us a subliminal message we want to hear: Sure, you can be young forever, and you never have to die.

    Oh, and for what it’s worth? I am a freak of nature. Took off a solid third of my then body weight in my early 20s and have kept it off, albeit in a five-pound fluctuation range, for a solid two decades. (It was really, really difficult for the first five years or so; and then my body began changing under me and asking for less/less rich food.) Which may go to show that fat acceptance is a process: I do think my fat friends and family members are beautiful as they are, and I damned well make brioche for them if they want it. And I gave up on the three pounds of residual fat on my hips fifteen years ago — it’s going to be there forever, and there’s no point in hating myself for it.

    But culture and self-image are hard to completely master, and despite being a freak of nature I’m still a poster child for It’s Never Enough. I may not hate myself, and I may not diet to get rid of that fat or contemplate surgery for it, but I still wish it would go away. Damaged girl is damaged, as we say on teh internets.

  594. I watched the Meme Roth, Kelly Bliss and Joy Nash interview. I was so angry I wanted to reach out and ring Meme’s scronny little neck! I do not exercise at all, I smoke, eat only half way healthy and I am overweight. But, when she went on and on about the ‘B’illions spent on overweight medical issues…I thought…”Ok lady, where were you when I weighed a whopping 85 lbs, was in and out of the HOSPITAL with Anorexia/Bulemia related issues, was in counseling and on multiple medications for my eating disorders which stemmed from wanting to weigh NOTHING?
    God people like her are the reason for the ‘problems’ to begin with!
    Arghhhh!
    Who out there is complaining about the young women and men who are suicidal, killing themselves slowly by not eating? Who is helping them? For those who are ruining their bodies by binge eating and vomiting…ruining their esophogus, stomach lining, teeth and all internal organs? Is Meme also gonna complain about how much money is spent on their medical dilemnas????????
    I would rather be fat and happy than to EVER go back to the days when I was close to death trying to be THIN!
    I hate that woman!

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  596. This morning, as a result of my (belated) participation in the FUCK YOU PETA movement, as I’m taken with calling it, I received an email back from PETA in r