Fat, Feminism, Politics, Sweet Machine

Fat acceptance and the acceptance of fat

In light of a truly hilarious misreading of my recent post about weight loss, I thought I’d write a bit about what fat activism means to me. Because the truth is, what with the recent weight loss and everything, I’m not fat. Not really, not right now. For the last few years I’ve been more of what the fine folks at fatshionista call an “inbetweenie” — someone who is not thin but not fat, who sometimes shops at plus size stores and sometimes at straight size stores, who sometimes gets disparaged for her size but sometimes gets a free pass for it. I found fat activism through a few friends and through fatshionista, and I can truly say that it has changed my life for the better. Sometimes, though, the participation of those of us on the smaller end of the non-skinny spectrum is viewed with understandable suspicion by other people in the movement. So in case any of our lovely readers at Shapely Prose are curious about what someone like me is doing blogging with the inimitable Kate Harding, here are some of my reflections. (Fatshionista members, you might find some of this dimly familiar!)

My experience as an inbetweenie puts me in a complicated relationship to fatness. I usually wear a size 12 or 14, and an L or XL on that scale; I’m well-endowed (if you know what I mean and I think you do) and that often affects what size I wear. Sometimes I can shop in straight sized stores; sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I’m the smallest person in a room; sometimes, I’m the biggest. I’ve been thinner than I am now, and I’ve been fatter. The fatosphere has, for me, been a godsend, because it has finally convinced me, for real, that I do not have to try to get thinner. I seem to have settled into a size my body likes with exercise and good food (give or take those illness-related 20 pounds!), and at age 28, I’ve finally learned to love my body, whether or not I can fit my hips into pants at some store or not.

So what would someone on the low end of the inbetweenie scale get out of fat activism? Are people like me double agents from the thinner world, getting our jollies out of pretending to be fat?

I can’t answer that for other inbetweenies. But here are some ways that reading fatshionista, participating in the fatosphere, and changing my thinking about fat have improved my life:

There’s the fashion. I love seeing how women of many different sizes and shapes dress. The mass media rarely shows more than two kinds of women: skinny women with big racks and skinny women with small racks. There are so many different shapes and sizes of people in the world, and anyone that looks remotely like me is excluded from mainstream representation. (Remember, even ScarJo is “fat” now!) I’d rather have Crystal Renn or Kate Dillon as a fashion icon than Nicole Richie, because they’re more exciting to me.

There’s the politics. Fat activists are trying to create a world in which thinness is not assumed to be the default goal for every woman and man. That’s a world I want to live in. I believe size negativity hurts everyone, fat and thin, in the way that patriarchy hurts both women and men. Even people who benefit from privilege are forced to live in a system that demands that they justify their privilege by conforming to the oppressive system. Fighting the regulation and circumscription of women’s bodies is crucial to my identity as a feminist. That said, I am fully aware and guiltily thankful that I don’t experience some of the discrimination or the everyday logistical difficulties that many people bigger than me do (though as I said, I haven’t always been the size I am now).

And finally, there’s the everyday angle, the way fat acceptance intersects my life experiences. Even at the size I am, I’m not thin. I can’t shop at all “normal” stores. I can’t buy bras at anywhere but specialty stores. I searched high and low for a pair of knee-high boots that would zip up over my calves, and I never found any. My thighs would catch on fire from rubbing together if I didn’t take drastic chub-rub-prevention measures. Women normally only talk about these kinds of things in a disparaging light; in a fat acceptance community, these are normal experiences. (I’m willing to bet they’re normal experiences for lots of women smaller than I am, too — but I’ve never heard any of them talk about it.) I’ve been fatter than I am now, and my experiences at different weights/sizes forms a huge part of my understanding of feminism. Finally, I can talk about my body without trying to avoid the word “fat.”

In the end, I hope that one of the goals of fat acceptance is not only for fat people to gain respect, dignity, and self-esteem, but also to make people of all sizes feel good about fat — in whatever degrees it is present or absent. The more we all get to be visible without apologizing for our bodies, the more just our culture is.

50 thoughts on “Fat acceptance and the acceptance of fat”

  1. ***(I’m willing to be they’re normal experiences for lots of women smaller than I am, too — but I’ve never heard any of them talk about it.) ***

    I was kind of shocked when a quite slender woman I worked with last summer mentioned she was often cooler wearing pants in hot weather than skirts because her thighs got sweaty and rubbed together. It had never occurred to me that women who weren’t fat had to deal with that – on some level, I think I assume that physical things of all sorts are easy and effortless for thin women which is, of course, demonstrably untrue.

  2. I believe size negativity hurts everyone, fat and thin, in the way that patriarchy hurts both women and men. Even people who benefit from privilege are forced to live in a system that demands that they justify their privilege by conforming to the oppressive system. Fighting the regulation and circumscription of women’s bodies is crucial to my identity as a feminist.

    u r smrt.

    Thanks for this, Laura. Awesome work.

  3. I’m an inbetweenie too. I’m fortunate enough not to have any external fat hatred directed toward me (at least not directly toward me) but I sure have a lot of the internal stuff. The fat acceptance community has really helped me cut that kind of thinking out. It’s also helped neutralise my fear of getting fatter. I’ve met so many people who are fatter than I am and live happy, healthy, productive lives that it’s made me realise, so can I, even if I get fatter. And supporting fat acceptance as an inbetweenie or a thin person is like supporting feminism as a man, or gay rights as a straight person, or civil rights as a white person. Just because fat discrimination mostly doesn’t affect me doesn’t mean I dont’ think it’s an injustice that should be rectified.

    And Katie, I had a similar moment. A fairly slim friend was putting on a pair of bike shorts and mentioned it was to prevent her thighs from chafing, and it just blew my mind. I always thought the chafing of my thighs was a sign that I was just too fat and gross and needed to lose weight (this was before I discovered fat acceptance). When I couldn’t find a pair of boots that could zip over my calves, she informed me that it’s possible to get them stretched, a service she had availed herself of in the past. (They really should make knee high boots for plus sized girls though! It would be a pretty big market, seeing as I couldn’t find a pair to zip over my calves even when I was a size 8).

  4. Katie and Becky, I once dieted myself down to a size 4 and still had thighs that rubbed together. I have extra-special thighs, granted, but I think women whose inner thighs don’t touch are actually a fairly rare breed.

  5. Yup. I’m an inbetweenie too, and I’m also really well endowed. I think people still see me as fat anyway, but they cut me a lot of slack because my boobs give me an hourglass figure. But all my life, I’ve been made to feel that my fat was unacceptable, and I only recently started to fight that, when I finally discovered the fatosphere. Thank god for you guys!

    Sometimes I feel guilty when I read posts about discrimination directed at people who are bigger than me, discrimination that I can’t relate to and that I wouldn’t face, because I don’t look “unacceptably” obese. According to the doctor I am (BMI at least 32, probably higher now). But my fat is still unacceptable, and there’s enough of it that I know people judge me for it. And I have internalized fat hate. And I can relate to most fat people’s experiences: my mom sent me to a nutritionist when I was 8, I was made to feel that my body was an abomination, and that I was a lazy worthless piece of crap, and until pretty recently, I felt like everyone watched every bite of food that I put in my mouth (my mom definitely used to), and I used to buy extra veggies at the grocery store to convince other shoppers that I was trying to eat healthy. So, I think inbetweenies face most of the issues that fat people face. I totally admire everyone in this movement, and I don’t think that your opinions and feelings are any less valid just because you’re not “fat.” I think that the more people who become involved in this community, the stronger we’ll be. Why exclude anyone who feels like these issues have some relevance to them?
    Thanks for posting this.

  6. I haven’t tried Body Glide, but this stuff works wonders, as I discovered on my trip to New Mexico. (Also helpful if you put some on your feet where shoes are likely to rub.)

    I will note that explaining to your boyfriend why you need a product made by Monistat to keep your inner thighs from developing painful red welts when you walk is definitely not more fun than a barrel of monkeys. But having a good boyfriend will mostly take care of that problem.

  7. The Monistat stuff works well for a while, but I find I eventually sweat it off. So if I’m going to be walking long distances, I wear Spanx. I’ll definately try the Monistat stuff on my feet though!

  8. I swear I do not work for Body Glide but it’s pretty long lasting and works on the feet, too. My (male) BFF is a server and suffers from chafing issues. Before we discovered Body Glide, he tried to buy the Monistat stuff but, not knowing how feminine hygiene product placement works, didn’t know where to find it and had to ask, but the person he asked didn’t know and had to involve other store personnel… good times.

  9. And the inbetweenies come out of the woodworks! I’m delighted.

    Katie, for a long time, I thought people who weren’t *me* didn’t have to deal with chub rub! I was amazed when I found out that there were cures and preventative measures for it. Also, I think your point that life is not effortless for thin women is an important one; it’s easy to forget when thinness is constantly sold to us as the magical ideal that will fix all our social, medical, and personal problems.

    It’s also helped neutralise my fear of getting fatter.

    Becky, me too — in fact, my coming out to a fat friend about how mad I was at myself for having that fear in the first place was what led her to point me toward fatshionista in the first place. I was so ashamed that I didn’t love my body, but I didn’t realize there was a whole movement out there trying to create another kind of society until my friend told me. And thank god she did!

    Simone, thanks for sharing your story and reminding us that some aspects of the fat experience are shared by people on many different points in the fat spectrum.

  10. Also, y’all, I love both Bodyglide and the Monistat stuff, but I sweat them both off in these Chicago summers! I can’t wait for cooler weather so I can wear tights and leggings.

  11. Although I am a full-on fatty, my two best girlfriends are both in-betweenies; when we talk about fat acceptance, they seem really supportive of me, but almost summarily dismiss it for themselves and engage in all kinds of food morality and self deprecation and pretty much buy the notion that because they’re only 30 or 40 pounds from where they “should” be, they should be able to lose that “little” amount of weight easily. I keep trying to subtly bring them to sanity.

    Personally, I love reclaiming the word “at,” but I feel like “size acceptance” is a better term for my beliefs, just because it seems more open to whatever size people are, fat or not.

    Great post, btw.

  12. Just as a weird sidenote on the thigh chub-rub issue – I’m very obese (290 lbs ish, I’m not sure exactly) and almost never have any issues whatsoever. As in I think maybe two problems of that nature in five years.

    So I think the whole ‘this is related to fat, and only to fat’ thing is wrong. I have very slender friends who get it all the time, and meanwhile I, who at least in theory should have real problems, just don’t.

  13. Tari, that’s definitely a whole other big thing for in-betweenies: but you’re so close! You’re not one of those REAL fat people! With just a little bit of effort, you could be NORMAL!

    Except, of course, dieting doesn’t work for in-betweenies any more than it does for full-on fatties. Sigh.

  14. I wonder if the rub thing is more related to the way in which someone walks. I don’t have issues with it, but I am told I “walk like a guy”– my toes are either pointed forward or slightly outward, and my hips don’t sway. I have, however, seen some women walk almost as if they are on a balance beam, which creates a beautiful feminine effect but probably causes some serious rubbing action (at least, it does when I try it, and I’m on the thin side).

    Within-movement suspicion is a problem in a lot of rights movements (I’ve seen it up close in womens’ professional organizations in a male-dominated scientific field), and such thinking is harmful to the movement. If one is trying to create a culture where size basically doesn’t matter, one has to start by allowing all sizes to participate in the movement.

    The women’s movement, of course, does not suffer from “in betweenness” problems on such a large scale, so I can understand the particularly awkward position people might try to place you in.

  15. Ah, I remember being an in-betweenie, in the days before vitamin Z inflated me into the “officially fat” zone. I wish I’d known about size acceptance in those days; feeling like I was on my way to Officially Fat, that I could just gain and gain and gain until I literally wouldn’t be able to get on a bus, felt way worse than the reality of Official Fatness in the SA world does — wherein truth be known, women twice my size get on buses no prob and do much, much more, more than I could ever have imagined.

    I remember as a size 12 being really, actively annoyed by clothes shopping, especially for pants; it seemed like they cut the “high misses” sizes from the same mold as the size 4s and just stretched them out, and they never seemed to fit right. And yeah, I had rubby-thighs even as small as a size 8. Some of us are just gifted that way. :-P I wear bike shorts or a split slip under a skirt, and my favorite pants are moleskin ones from Dress Barn Woman; as much of a pants-killer as I am, I’ve made one pair last more than three years with several-times-weekly wear and lots of walking.

  16. Ah, I remember being an in-betweenie, in the days before vitamin Z inflated me into the “officially fat” zone.

    Vitamin L has been inflating me thusly over the last year! I’m considering switching, mostly ’cause if my boobs get any bigger, I’ll suffocate myself when I do inversions in yoga, but I don’t know that other drugs would work as well (or not cause the same gain anyway). And as for pants shopping as a size 12, TOTALLY. I just said to a friend the other day that one more reason I’m afraid to go off Lexapro is that if I returned to my pre-Lexapro weight, I wouldn’t be able to wear LB Right Fits anymore. :)

  17. http://www.duoboots.com/ have a choice of 21 different calf sizes up to 50cm. I think they’re the people a friend of mine raves about. Expensive nice boots that actually fit. 50cm is probably still a bit small for a lot of us (I just checked and mine come in around 47) but it’s a good start and it’s nice to see wide size ranges in *both* directions.

    These guys are nowhere near such good boots but go up to 22inches (about 56cm): http://www.womens-wide-calf-boots.com/extra-wide-calf.htm

  18. Wow, well said sw, I think it’s the mindset not the size. Plenty of fatties hate fat acceptance and plenty of thinnies never accepted that their weight made them paragons of self control, so never bought into fat hatred.

    I think we should be able to talk about whatever we want as long as it is from an enquiring and ‘conscious’ point of reference. I don’t angle my life from the point of view of what fat haters might or might not say, they don’t own me anymore, I am not their slave. I’ve done my time, I have given myself an unconditional release, they can, as you say, bite me.

  19. I’m an in-betweenie to with really large calves. Imagine how happy I was when I moved to the UK to find a company that actually made boots for me. I now have 9 pairs of knee high boots – which may be excessive but I’m making up for 3 decades of never being able to find any to fit.

    Also word on the chub rub.

  20. I don’t get the chub-rub, but i sweat and rub in all sorts of different and interesting (not to mention embarrassing) places. I think it’s less to do with fat than it is just anatomy and the way some legs are.
    Kate, if you do decide to switch, can i caution you AGAINST Effexor?
    The withdrawl is unbelievably horrible – truly. physically and psychologically painful. So don’t even start. I’d sooner caution you to buy street heroin, and i’m not even kidding. that’s how bad this drug is.

    And lastly, i think that sometimes inbetweenies do have it perhaps a bit rougher than true fatties because of the “you’re so close” mentality. “If you just lost those extra ____ pounds, you’d be so pretty.” If i had a dime for every time i heard THAT line……

  21. …but you’re so close! You’re not one of those REAL fat people! With just a little bit of effort, you could be NORMAL!

    Been. Bought. Tee. When I was an inbetweenie a particularly bitchy, insecure woman asked me, “but don’t you sometimes wonder what it would be like to be normal?” I weighed a little over 130lbs at the time.

  22. When I was an inbetweenie a particularly bitchy, insecure woman asked me, “but don’t you sometimes wonder what it would be like to be normal?”

    Charming. Jesus.

    Thanks for the boots recommendations, everyone! If I were not broke at the moment I’d be all over it. The thing that killed me about shopping for boots was that my calves are decidedly NOT the fat part of me — I have big old thighs and upper arms but I have tiny ankles and wrists — my lower extremities are pretty thin! But never thin enough. And that, basically, encapsulates the inbetweenie experience for me: even when you think you are kinda thin, or thin for you, someone’s out there to tell you that you’re not thin enough.

  23. Oh my god, all the Duoboots plugs are hilarious, especially since I was just plugging them in a thread at Shakesville!

    I’ve never bought any, ’cause they’d be about 300 USD, but I have heard the raves before.

  24. The thing that killed me about shopping for boots was that my calves are decidedly NOT the fat part of me — I have big old thighs and upper arms but I have tiny ankles and wrists — my lower extremities are pretty thin! But never thin enough.

    Oh, TOTALLY. I bought my first pair of knee-high boots when I was a size 8, and I had to look all over the fucking place for some that would fit my calves — which WEREN’T EVEN FAT. (My calves have always been muscular, with very little fat, unlike…. everywhere else on my body.) I was still wearing those boots last winter at a size 14/16, though I’m not sure if they’d fit now.

    If you can handle fake leather, I bought some stretchy Aerosoles boots last winter that worked just fine. They’re also a hell of a lot cheaper than leather.

  25. seeing as I couldn’t find a pair to zip over my calves even when I was a size 8

    Yep, that’s me. I thought it was because I have smallish feet (size 7), but no. Knee-high boots are built for chicks who don’t run, or dance, or do anything that would ever build up muscle in their calves. (Or chicks who just don’t build muscle in their calves.)

    Also, on the chub-rub: I started getting that when I was about 10 and was still wearing girls’ sizes. By the time I was 14 and wore a size 6, it was here to stay.

    And while my doctor has never told me I need to lose weight (at 5’3 and a moderately muscular, although possessed of adequate fat deposits 130), I still cannot find a pair of jeans that fit my, let’s say J-Lo-esque rear end. Secondly, everyone assumes that if I just exercised a bit more and ate a bit less, I’d magically become a size zero. I think my bones are larger than a size zero.

    So while I’m not even an in-betweenie, I understand a little bit of the problems. I did the whole eat-lettuce-and-work-out-two-hours-a-day thing for most of a summer, and I lost a whopping 8 lbs and didn’t even drop a pant size. (I gained it back in about 10 minutes.) I think I’m supposed to weigh 130, eh?

    That’s why I’m into fat/size acceptance. I’m really interested in the ‘natural weight’ idea and the concept of demand/intuitive feeding. I’m also a health-food freak who loves french fries. Oh well. :)

  26. Thank you for posting this. I’m a 14/16 myself on the bottom and a 8/10 up top, so not only am I completely disproportionate, it’s also impossible for me to wear any dress that’s fitted or anything that’s designed for someone who’s exactly the same on the top and the bottom. The whole movement online has really helped me come to terms with and recognize the anti-fats out there and also helped me learn to love myself a little bit better.

    I’d also like to offer a new term up: “secret obese.” At 5’8″, I am a little under 200lbs, which puts my BMI right on the border between overweight and obese. Am I wrong in thinking that there’s something wrong with that delineation? Maybe I’m just a little too positive on myself (which, what’s wrong with that, anyway?), but there’s just something not quite right I think when 14 becomes a plus size and 30 lbs overweight puts you at obesity levels.

    Anyway, thanks again. I really liked this post and can definitely relate.

  27. at 5’8″, Leigh, and size 14/16, the only thing making you “overweight/obese” is those fucking BMI charts, which we all know are notoriously subjective and unreliable. Is 14 really considered a plus size now? that is SO not right.

  28. Oh man, do i ever know where you’re coming from about the in-betweenie. Ive always felt like that (aside from the odd ‘oh GOD IM HUGE’ moments, which have diminished recently, yay!) as ive always been not quite thin since i was 14, when i started growing up and out in all kinds of places.

    Clothes have been a bit of a warzone, Im a UK 14-16(US 10-12, right?), mostly 16 and sometimes even 18, and im too fat for fashionable high street shops such as topshop (their 16 is a joke), and i have no luck in some higher end shops where i would think quality would mean the sizing was decent. In Karen millen (lovely british designermmmmm) i tried on this beautiful structured cocktail dress which would have made me look the BOMB, but the 16 was baggy around my waist and unbearably tight on my chest. gah! I too, am well endowed. I also have big arms, which is probably the worst thing to deal with – cheap clothing never, ever, ever gives enough room in the arms. EVER. Its the one place they think they can get away with skimping the fabric. The upscaling from the smallest size is also a huge issue for me, as the default sizing is about a B cup.

    The plus size clothing, now, they have the opposite problem. they downscale. Good for people my size who are remarkably fleshy, BAD for me who’s quite muscular and doesnt need all that extra fabric at the front of my trousers, nor the room for a belly. My mother also suffers as she’s small chested for a large woman, and so all the nice clothes she finds are made for people with huuuuuuge boobs, when she’s a humble B cup!
    We should all go back to having our clothes tailored, dammit.

    Most of the knee-high boots I try on are too small on my calves, but when i went searching a few years ago, Evans, a british plus-sized clothes shop, did some beautiful knee-high leather boots which i oogled, thought ‘ now these might fit! theyre made for fat calves!’ Alas, I was swimming in them. I finally found the perfect boots for about £93, the very upper end of my budget, miles away from my £20 starting point (those fit the worst). still got my babies today, 4 years later. sometimes, spending more money is the only way you’re going to get items that actually fit. sad, really.

    hah, look at this essay. sorry…

  29. All very well put, sweet machine.
    I think I was an in-betweenie for a large chunk of my adolescence, but when I started treating my body well (eating when I was hungry, eating things I enjoyed, yoga, pilates, etc.) and, y’know, grew up a little (it hurts to see teens and younger freak out about weight when they haven’t finished developing yet!), I settled into my shape and started wearing single-digit sizes for the first time ever. I feel thin most of the time.
    I didn’t find out about fat acceptance until much later. I’d been doing it on my own for some time, but I couldn’t help reading and loving fat acceptance blogs because I *still* need to be reassured that it was okay to stop treating my body badly. I still had occasional irrational throwback behaviors – sneaking Dextratrim before a meal, starving for a day, etc. So, even people who can “pass,” as it were, need access to healthy-minded communities like this. Like the lady said, size negativity hurts everyone.

  30. Just now when I signed onto wordpress to go to my blog (to write a little blog that this one inspired) on the main page, under ‘In Politics’, this entry came up!
    Yay you guys!

  31. but I couldn’t help reading and loving fat acceptance blogs because I *still* need to be reassured that it was okay to stop treating my body badly.

    This is well said, Tanglethis, and was a big part of my joy when I found FA, too.

    I want to make it clear that I am in no way trying to compare the social pressures on inbetweenies with the discrimination and ostracism that fatter people face on a daily basis. Inbetweenies, especially women who have hourglass figures, are definitely more socially “acceptable” in our culture than people with other kinds of shapes. However, I think that being so close, as Kate says, puts a different kind of pressure on us that is directly related to Tanglethis’s point: we’re so close that the temptation to punish ourselves into thinness is presented as more realistic even though it’s not.

  32. I came to the fat acceptance movement through feminism. Even though I’m skinny, I hated my body since I was 14, and only recently (in the past 6 months) rid myself of that hatred, mostly. The pressure to look a very specific way is so strong in our society that even the obviously skinny girls struggle with body acceptance. It is impossible to make every body part look “perfect” like the ones on magazine covers. Your arms may be too big, or your toes too long, or your abs not toned, on and on and on.

    But, whatever troubles I’ve had, I know that my fat sister (at 300lbs) has been treated 1000x worse. And that boils my blood. I think a big reason she dropped out of school was because of the fat shaming she received from her classmates.

    My mother and I both have degenerative disc disease, which leaves us in chronic pain. My mother was thin most of her life, and I’ve always been thin. Our condition was not caused by weight. My sister also has lower back pain, and considering there’s a family history of DDD, she should see an orthopedic surgeon. But thinks she’ll be fine if she loses weight. I worry she’ll irreversibly hurt her back.

    I consider myself an ally of the fat/body acceptance movement. I read blogs like this to learn more and to arm myself with ways to combat fat shaming. I hope one day to tell my sister about all of this and to encourage her to love herself as she is, but I’m not sure the message should come from me, with all of my thin privilege. Even though she values my opinion and loves me, I can just imagine the look on her face that means, “Easy for you to say.”

  33. Crystal, that was really lovely.
    I think an important portal that I walked in all this was, many years ago, really shedding the Easy for you to say thing. We all suffer, until we don’t. If it’s a matter of you having ten pounds that you feel you need to lose and you just can’t lose it, your problem is just as ‘real’ as being well, fat. And I’m often the one offering that comfort… because non-fat (hee hee) girls sometimes apologize to me (or did when I was less inbetweenie) for complaining about their problems (when of course, compared to mine, and I assure them that they have nothing to apologize for.
    The other beautiful aspect of that portal is that I know I am more comfortable in my soft, full skin than so many thin girls! I have my moments of self-conciousness, but they don’t stop me from getting all kinds of naked or from leaving the lights on. It wasn’t always that way, but I found my way there in my 20’s, and thank creation I did.

  34. “but don’t you sometimes wonder what it would be like to be normal?”

    To which my response would have been, “Yeah, but I wondered about that at 125 pounds, too.”

  35. Crystal, I understand your worry about your thin privilege getting in the way of the message you want to send. I don’t know if this would work for your sister, but part of what initially sold me on fat acceptance is the idea that it’s about cultural change: imagine a culture in which you never ever ever ever had to hear another woman talk about how gross her thighs are. Imagine a world in which America Ferrera is not photoshopped into a gremlin on magazine covers. Imagine a world in which your sister and you could get equally adequate medical information and equally compassionate medical care.

    That might be too abstract for some people, but it might really appeal to others. I don’t know.

    Could you start by pointing her here and to The Rotund and fatshionista and maybe giving her a copy of Rethinking Thin?

  36. Just coming in to out myself as a tweenie reader too. In fact, it’s only my weight that even takes me into the ‘tweenie’ range, because my size is pretty ‘normal’, excepting the heavily muscled legs and butt. And yet I still have to shut my ears every time the doctor reads my weight and tells me I could stand to lose 10lbs. It’s a pity she wasn’t around when I was a size 6 5’3″er, looking gaunt through face and neck and chest, and still only just squeaking in below the ‘overweight’ BMI category. Now I’m well into that category (148lbs at 5’3″) I can’t seem to come up with an explanation she’ll accept, despite generally fitting a size 10.

    But I want to back up the point of the post; even as a not-quite-tweenie, I still benefit from reading fat acceptance blogs, whatever the size of the writer. After a year of sheer panic that I was putting on weight, and fear that it might never stop, and subsequent dieting, I’ve finally got myself back to healthy moderate guilt-free eating and exercise. I will never again be size 6, because it’s just not worth it to me to invest the necessary time, effort and money in getting to that size and staying at it. Besides, when I was that size, I lived in terror of being size 10-12. Now I am 10-12 and healthily so, I finally ‘get’ that if I’m healthy and happy, and living a balanced and fulfilling life, then there is no reason good enough to make me diet and get back to living in fear of fat again.

    I could lose ‘just’ 10% of my weight to get me back to ‘normal’ weight. I’d also probably lose 10% of my time, in order to maintain it, and an indefinable percentage of wellbeing – it’s six months since I’ve looked in the mirror and cried now. 10% loss of weight is NEVER going back to that sort of self-revulsion.

  37. Sorry, that last sentence was meant to read “10% loss of weight is NEVER going to justify going back to that sort of self-revulsion”.

  38. I spent most of my life inbetween, although now I’m fat. It’s easier to shop now, I just walk into Lane Bryant. Whereas in 1986, when I was a size 14, well, most “regular” stores stopped at 12 (or had very few selections above 12) and Lane started at 16. Maddening.

    Torrid carries cheap pleather knee-high boots with gloriously roomy calfs. And yea, pleather, but you’re spending forty bucks, so…

    And what Roberta said about comfy in your skin. I’ve got a co-worker who’s enviably thin. I mean, almost too little ass, delicate bone structure, kind of an ethereal look. Maybe she’s a size 8. And she’s always watching her food and obsessing over it. How much can I eat what am I allowed to eat I’m going to cheat blah blah blah. She runs her life around these little permissions and indulgences and punishments. And I look at her in the cafeteria doing her “allowed to” dance, and I think, I’m much more relaxed. I have less on my mind. Because I’m not thinking about THAT shit all the time.

  39. Having been an inbetweenie most of my adult life I can totally relate to your post. The thing that irks me the most is that while I’m too wide on the bottom to wear pants at most straight size stores, I get really evil looks when I shop in Lane Bryant because I look small when you only see my top. I experience hostility from both ends of the body weight spectrum. I have no “rack” to balance out my larger bottom. I can find no well fitting knee boots either. :( :( If you find knee boots for large calves please let me know!

  40. Yup. Another inbetweenie here, too. A British size 18, which I think is a 14 in the US? (I’m never quite totally sure what the equivalents are). I went straight from being a (fat) child to being a full-grown UK 14 at puberty, and boy, did that make me feel like an elephant then, because 14 was as high as any store went – if you were lucky. (Odd, because there were a few of us around. It was the average UK size, actually, but you’d never have guessed.)

    Even now, I hate that there’s so much stuff that I can’t get in the straight OR larger-size stores – the former stops many styles at 16 (or less), the latter doesn’t even stock them. I especially hate that while I have a very defined waist, so much big-girl stuff is made for the apple shapes.

    Especially, this time of year…hey, when corsets are in for the party season, where’s mine? ‘Can’t make them in my size….’ oh, c’mon, I could get one made bespoke for a small fortune if I had it, and about a hundred years ago they made them in EVERY woman’s size, so don’t give me that.

    And then there’s the bras that stop dead at a 38 back, even when they go into the big cup sizes (Bravissimo, you know who you are!). Or the fact that when the bras DO go up to big sizes, the matching panties don’t. And the fact that most coat makers also assume a size 18 is going to have tiny little skinny arms. Ptooey.

    Sorry, rant over. You can see why I largely ignore fashion these days.

    I’ve had ‘What are you worried about…you’re not fat!’ from bigger women, and some smaller ones – I have two very thin, totally fat-supportive chums, both of whom have spent most of their lives trying to put ON weight. And it makes me feel kinda guilty that I ever worried about it. And yet, it’s clear that to many people – some of them uncomfortably close to me – I’m still ‘huge’. But…I know that for the very brief time I got down to a 12 (accidentally, from stress mostly) I was actually ill, and I’m not going there again even if a doctor (or my mother, which is marginally more likely!) holds me at gunpoint.

    (Kell, I think I may be part Elf and part Hobbit. That would explain the singing voice if nothing else.)

  41. As an InBetweenie at the larger end of the range, I know well what the deal is. Say, I can go into H&M and pick up a skirt, maybe a dress. But my (very strong) shoulders and boobs won’t fit a top or a jacket. Having recently put on a pair of pants that hadn’t seen the light of day in 4 years, I got so many accolades. You know the kind: “omg! Your clothes are falling off you! You look great! Keep up the good work!” etc, ad infinitum, ad nauseam. So if I look “great” when work-stress and life-stress is making my gear fall off, I must be hideous when I’m fat and happy. And yeah. I’d be lying if I said that the “compliments” didn’t give me a little glow. Still. Fairly insulting. Also being petite (5′ 1.5″), why, oh WHY can’t I find ONE DRESS that doesn’t fall to my ankles when it’s supposed to be above the knee?! But that’s another rant for another time.

    Now back to the reason I decided to comment in the first place: hot clothes for fat chicks.

    Dorothy Perkins. http://www.dorothyperkins.com
    Their stuff goes up to a 22(UK) which is roughly an 18/20 (US). Depending on how it’s cut, I vary between a 22/20. I got a really cute ruffled skirt the summer those Jersey girl ruffled skirts were in. Paired with a little red and white football tee, you couldn’t tell me I wasn’t the hottest thing going. Plus, I’ve bought two wonderful wool coats from there for winter. I’ve worn them both into the ground because the ARMS ARE GRADED UP ALONG WITH THE OTHER MEASUREMENTS! Therefore, I can wear them, fat arms and all with SWEATERS underneath! HALLELUJAH!
    Another plus, they have figured out that you don’t necessarily need to grade up length when you’re grading for width. So stuff that’s short stays short. I’ve also gotten sweet-ass dresses and tops that look great.

    I’ve gotten cute boots from Evans. My fav. pair are brown with stacked wooden wedge heels. I’ve also shopped Nordstrom, DSW, etc. My feet are little, wide, hobbit feet, so I have issues finding shoes that are wide enough. Fortunately, I like to shop so I have the patience to try on stuff a lot.

    One word of advice about shoes/boots: If you have the money or the fearless use of a credit card, go with an Italian brand. Italian brands tend to use a larger last when cobbling. It’s because Italian women, as study Mediterranean women tend to have curvier calves/wider feet, ie. Monica Bellucci, Nigella Lawson, my friend Sylvia. I’ve gotten two cute pairs of Dolce & Gabbana stilettoes that don’t pinch because of the wider last the shoes were built from.

    B&Lu. http://www.bandlu.com : cute stuff, not a lot of money. Got a lot of stuff from them.

    If you have the opportunity to visit or if you live in London, check out the market scene. I’ve gotten TONS of really cute stuff from the stalls at the Petticoat Lane market on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Examples: cute lavender tweed coat, two wool handkerchief bottom skirts, another ruffled mini (HOT PINK!), shoes, boots, white button down shirt, wool pants, cute tees.

    For those of you in NYC or LA (or just a place that has a big fashion industry), SAMPLE SALES. Manufacturers (I am in the fashion industry) who do true “missy” sizes, usually run up to a size 18 (trust me). Very often they will ask for a size run in a particular style to see if the garments have been graded correctly and if the sizes run smoothly from one end of the spectrum to the other. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. More often than not, samples will run big, so that 18 may fit more like a 20 or even a 22. If you can brave the communal dressing room, they’re worth a shot. I tried on a lovely trench by Dolce & Gabbana that was a size 48 (somewhere around a 16).

    If you are like me and have a penchant for high-end labels, don’t be afraid to ask for a size 48 or 50. The designers make them – there’s a lot of rich fat women in the world and they have the money to spend. One fat friendly high-end label is Missoni. I’ve gotten two skirts and a sweater from them. The knit is lovely and stretchy and looks great on my size 16/18 butt. Chanel also makes things up to size 50, as does Armani. Lauren Ralph Lauren has a dedicated women’s line. Marina Rinaldi does great (if slightly conservative) things and they’re the plus sized arm of Max Mara. Lafayette 148 does women’s plus, too – cute, Connecticut-y things that your mom would die to see you in.

    Paige Premium Denim is now doing plus sizes. But then comes the whole “I have to shorten them” problem if you’re short.

    I think that’s my whole fashion round-up. I feel better. Toodles!

  42. @SweetMachine-just discovered this post (linked from the post “Why I don’t use the word “retarded” which, incidentally, also touched me as I have a twin with very profound and complex MDVI and medical conditions!)! I am also very much an ‘inbetweenie’-I’m a UK size 14 on top and 16 on the bottom with a fairly siezable rack, a small waist and lovely Rubenesque hips. More often than not, I can’t buy jeans in ‘normal’ stores like Primark or H&M (but weirdly I can in New Look). RE those zip-up boots-do you have New Look, or can you order from it online? They do brilliant wide-fit shoes (I also have chunky calves, as a result of Cerebral Palsy, ironically!). I hear ya about being the biggest girl in the room sometimes (I’m almost never the smallest)-in St Andrews, the vast majority of the girls come from backgrounds where thin is the only acceptable way to be, and a ot of people are very into sport and healthy eating…almost makes me feel like a bit of a wuss when the only sports clubs I’m thinking of joining are Tai Chi and Pilates! :D

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