101, Dieting/WLS, Fat

If your pants are above a size 14, you’d better hope they’re flame retardant

I just read this comment by Arwen on my last post, and it got me thinking:

The last time I went to a WW meeting I’d started gaining after two months on the plateau (or perhaps was simply heavier – I go up and down about 5 pounds every day.) As I was weighed the woman clucked at me and shook her head. She said I was sabatoging myself with cough drops.

I don’t eat cough drops; it was so odd and frustrating and I had no way of saying: “but I’m doing it RIGHT” without sounding defensive.

Of all the ways weight loss programs, doctors, and society make us crazy about our weight, one of the worst has to be the presumption that fat people are lying all the goddamned time.

It happens frequently, as Arwen says, at the weigh-ins for commercial diet programs. You show up, take off your shoes and belt, step on the scale… and this week, you’ve gained a pound. Or you haven’t lost. Or you’ve lost less than last week. You tell the counselor you can’t imagine why this is, and the interrogation begins:

  • Did you stay “on program”?
  • Did you go out to eat at all?
  • Did you snack without remembering to count it?
  • Did you get in all your exercise?
  • Did you drink all your water?
  • Did you drink alcohol and not count it?
  • Is it that time of the month?
  • Did you forget and have a latte or anything?

And evidently, if the answer to all of the above is no, then you might just have forgotten to count the cough drops you didn’t actually consume.

If you do not lose weight in any given week, then the starting point — and middle point and ending point — is that you must have fucked up, and we’re gonna figure out how! If you swear you didn’t “cheat,” didn’t make any “mistakes,” the presumption remains that there’s something you’re either just not thinking of, or deliberately lying about.

In the airport on the way home from Vegas, I picked up John Grisham’s The Innocent Man, which — like practically every non-fiction book I read — sparked a mini-obsession with the topic for a few days. The topic in this case is wrongful convictions. So in the last week, I’ve read a bazillion websites about people being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit — everything from The Innocence Project to the “Satanic Ritual Abuse” hysteria of the ’80s to stuff on the Salem witch trials. Over and over, I read stories of innocent people having their lives taken away because investigators had decided they were guilty and simply would not hear any arguments or evidence to the contrary.

Being accused of snarfing cough drops is obviously not quite like ending up on death row for a murder you didn’t commit. But what I’m thinking about here is the crazy-making aspect of being told again and again that you did what we say you did, even if you know damn well you didn’t. People can be badgered into confessing that they fucking killed people or molested children when they know they didn’t, just because interrogators will not let up on the “You’re guilty, and everyone knows it” theme. Is it any wonder fatties can easily be convinced we must have done something “wrong,” must have slipped up, cheated, forgotten something, not tried hard enough, when the whole freakin’ world is telling us that if we truly ate “right” and exercised, the fat would melt away? That’s a scientific FACT! You cannot violate the laws of thermodynamics! Liar, liar!

So, there’s supposed to be an article on the Fatosphere coming out in the NYT some day soon. Last I heard, it was slated for publication today, so when I woke up, the first thing I did was look for it. Not only is it not there, but this is:

And really, it doesn’t matter whether you choose a diet based on your genotype or the phases of the moon, or whether you cut down on sugars and starches or fats. If you consume fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight, you will lose.


I mean, at least she didn’t say — as I originally read it — “If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you will lose.” (I don’t remember who first responded to the old thermodynamics argument with “Human bodies are not bunsen burners!” but I think of that every time.) No, she’s just warped the thermodynamics argument into something that’s impossible to dispute, because it’s a fucking tautology: If you eat few enough calories to lose weight, you will lose weight.

It’s actually, come to think of it, more of a variation on the “There are no fatties in concentration camps” argument. Because of course the problem is, “fewer calories than you need to maintain your current weight” varies widely from person to person, and in many cases, it ends up being fewer calories than your body needs, period. But this goes right back to what Arwen was saying: if you plateau while dieting, if your body stubbornly refuses to lose any more weight after you’ve dropped to 1,200, then 1,000, then 800, and in some cases as low as 500 calories a day, you are not absolved of the obligation to lose more weight. You’re simply found guilty of lying about what you eat and/or how much you exercise. Because if you were really eating that little and exercising that much, you would still be losing! Because human bodies do work exactly like bunsen burners, and there aren’t 85 squillion variables affecting how different people process the same number of calories, duh! You’re just not doing what we told you to do, you BIG FAT LIAR!

When it’s just one poorly trained, batshit crazy weight loss counselor, or just one article telling you you’re full of shit, the consequences aren’t such a big deal. But they become a very big deal when it’s a doctor, or a series of doctors, insisting that you can’t be telling the truth about your eating and exercise habits, and they won’t do anything for you until you knock off the denial and start burning more calories than you eat. The only way to clear your good name — and get some attention to your actual symptoms — at that point is to lose weight. And if the only way to lose weight is to literally starve yourself, so be it. Those are your choices: starve, or don’t come back. Exercising moderately and having a healthy relationship with food is not an option if you remain fat while doing those things, because that can mean being denied surgery, misdiagnosed time and again, told that your debilitating pain can only be cured by strenuous exercise, told you don’t deserve to have children, et fucking cetera.

And on top of that, it’s never just one poorly trained, batshit crazy weight loss counselor or just one article. It’s your friends, family, co-workers, trainers, nutritionists, therapists, teachers, perfect strangers, and a million fucking articles, telling you every time you turn around that the secret to substantial, long-term weight loss is simply eating less and moving more. Despite, you know, no evidence whatsoever that that’s true, or that there is any known secret to substantial, long-term weight loss. If you’re fat and claim you don’t sit on the couch eating baby-flavored donuts all day, you are a liar. Period.

Is it any wonder, then, that we blame ourselves, hate ourselves, feel constantly guilty and ashamed about our weight, even if we know somewhere down deep that our eating and exercise habits aren’t any different from our thin friends’? Is it any wonder that we routinely criticize ourselves and catalogue our “failures” in front of people who we know are likely to judge, just so they don’t think we’re too ignorant to know what’s causing our fat? Everyone knows! Calories in, calories out! It’s so much easier, in a world where someone can accuse you with a straight face of sabotaging yourself with imaginary cough drops, to confess that yes, you ate a candy bar yesterday, and on Tuesday, you cut your workout short by twenty minutes, and today, you haven’t yet had all the water you’re supposed to drink — so obviously, you’re not doing what all the thin people do, and that’s why you’re still fat.

If you confess, you might get some sympathy and encouragement along with the judgment. But if you dare to say there’s nothing fucking wrong or unusual or peculiar to fat folks about the way you eat and exercise, you just happen to be fat, for loads of possible reasons scientists are still sorting out? Well, then you’re nothing but a dirty liar.

It is absolutely enough to make you crazy, to make you doubt reality, to make you convict yourself for a crime you have not committed. So if you were wondering why I keep beating the same friggin’ drum here, day in, day out, why I can’t shut up about the same few topics, over and over and over? That’s why. Because this blog is a drop in the fucking ocean compared to the constantly repeated messages that all fat people are guilty of eating too much and not exercising enough, and if we’d just admit it and repent, society would go much easier on us. All I can do is repeat myself as much as the rest of the fucking world does.

Being fat is not a crime. Eating enough food to satisfy yourself is not a crime. Overeating is not a crime, whether you do it or not. Plateauing on a diet is not a crime. Gaining it back is not a crime. Exercising for fun instead of pain is not a crime. Deciding not to exercise is not a crime. Getting sick is not a crime.

You are not a liar. You are not guilty.

161 thoughts on “If your pants are above a size 14, you’d better hope they’re flame retardant”

  1. If you’re fat and claim you don’t sit on the couch eating baby-flavored donuts all day, you are a liar.


    This is what I love so much about your writing, Kate. You write something really serious and powerful and effective, and you slip in little bits of incredibly clever sarcasm poking fun at the idiots of the world. You make me laugh and want to change the world. :D

  2. Cough drops? Really? Cough drops? Some people honestly think that’s enough to make you gain 5 pounds? I just can’t even say anything to that. What, is the sugar put in the cough drops in order to make it vaguely edible enough to magically add five pounds to your body because of its sugary magic? I am not a nutritionist, or anything of the sort, but I can’t imagine how that would make even a lick of sense.

    A great article all around, as well.

  3. Hey, remember, KH, we’re not just liars, we’re junkies!

    But I have to admit, the “cough drops” thing was a new one on me. Cheating on your diet with cough drops. Never would have occurred to me, looking at a fat chick and going, “Wow, she must really be gorging on cough drops.” Holy moly, what’s next, accusing us of going apeshit with the mouthwash?

    It’s so much easier, in a world where someone can accuse you with a straight face of sabotaging yourself with imaginary cough drops, to confess that yes, you ate a candy bar yesterday, and on Tuesday, you cut your workout short by twenty minutes, and today, you haven’t yet had all the water you’re supposed to drink — so obviously, you’re not doing what all the thin people do, and that’s why you’re still fat.

    Har har. My boyfriend loves to bake cookies, and eats more of them than I do, and in the winter months I get far more exercise than he does. So if we don’t actually exist, can we get a tax break for that?

  4. Another thing to add to your wrongful convictions/fatties comparison is the methods that police use to get people to confess to the crime they’re sure he’s committed. One popular tactic is to use some external measure of “truth”, to present to the person and say “this shows you did it.” Like giving them a lie-detector test and saying it shows he’s lying (even if he isn’t), or saying that they’ve matched his DNA to the scene of the crime, or that some other witness says they say him do it.

    This external evidence, especially when used on vulnerable suspects, can really cause people to question their own reality. They think, maybe I did really do it. As humans, we have such an enduring fear that we are inherently bad people, that we’re often more willing that we might expect to think we might have done something Really Really Bad.

    It is the same with this self-deception that comes about in dieting. We have this external measure of success, the scale, which is just another lie-detector machine. It tells us that no, we’re wrong, we haven’t eaten reasonable portions and gotten a decent amount of exercise. We’ve been bad, bad, bad.

    So it’s not just that we confess to dieting sins because it’s easier to do so, but in face of this external evidence, this lie-detector test, we start to question whether we even know ourselves.

    That’s one reason I think that diet-advice sites/articles are always telling you to Keep a Food Journal!!!, because apparently we don’t know what we actually eat, we’re zombies just shoving food into our mouths and lying about it later.


  5. Hmmm… *ponder* Actually, cough drops cause me to lose weight, because they generally give me the worst friggin diarrhea EVER (both sugar AND non-sugar/artificial sweetner). *shrugs* So much for THAT theory!

    @KarenElhyam: It’s not a matter of SENSE, it’s about fighting TEH FAT!

  6. How do they know how many calories are in a cough drop, anyway? I happen to have a cold right now, and I just checked my bag of cough drops, and there is no nutrition information on there at all. Just a square with Drug Facts, containing Active Ingredients, Uses, Warnings, Ask a doctor before use if:, Stop use and ask a doctor if:, If pregnant or breastfeeding:, Directions, and Inactive Ingredients (of which, glucose syrup and sucrose are the last two listed). So yeah, pigging out on cough drops is totally going to keep you from losing weight, or it’s really going to make you gain a ton, just suffer with that cough, after all, it’s exercise and everyone knows fatties don’t get enough exercise.
    I’m amazed that they haven’t started putting calorie counts on vitamins and supplements yet. Not that I know if any of those actually have calories, but it wouldn’t surprise me to have someone who is fat and uses those things be accused of over-doing it on vitamins and supplements, as well as not eating the correct foods/amounts or exercising enough. JMAJ.

  7. This is so true. I thought for years – probably all of my life – that I must be a binge eater. What else could account for me being so fat? I must be deluding myself about what a normal amount of food is. This didn’t start to change until I was 30ish and a friend who is a personal trainer told me that in order to lose weight, I ought to eat more. Then I started reading about how much people who truly binge eat and realized that that’s absolutely not me. It came home to me exactly how much I don’t eat when my acupuncturist asked me to keep track of what I was eating for a week (not for weight purposes at all). Even eating as a pregnant woman, I eat far less than most people I know (because I eat when I feel hungry, not according to what someone says I should eat). And the ONLY time I’ve lost any amount of weight is when I did starve myself (not by choice, by virtue of no money for food). That unintentional starving has thrown my body off in a serious way. In fact, I was scared to death to start eating again after that because I knew I’d gain it back (how sick is that?).

    A couple of years ago, I gained about 20# in a month. This happened to be a month where my normal physical activity rose, while my diet stayed the same. My doctor said it was stress. Hmmm… if I had been a 130# woman who gained TWENTY POUNDS IN ONE MONTH would she have dismissed me? I highly doubt it.

    But I constantly hear that I must be lying or unaware of how much I eat. Yes, most of us vegetarians are unaware of what we eat (sarcasm).

  8. Kate, You are amazing.

    The cough drop thing reminds me of my dad’s fixation on all forms of sugar. He seriously nags me when I drink orange juice, because there is sugar in it and this is apparently worse for me than drinking water filled with chemicals that have no calorie and a disgusting flavor (Crystal light). Obviously it’s that glass of orange juice that’s making me fat, not the flourless chocolate cake he and I shared the night before.

  9. LilahCello, I relate so much to your story because I thought I was a binge eater until I learned how much people eat. Even my 4’11”, tiny as a bug, friend eats more than I do. She’s always talking about how little she eats because she’s so tiny that she just can’t eat a lot.

    I thought a handful of Oreos was a major binge until one of my athletic friends told me that she occasionally eats an entire bag of Oreos AND a pint of ice cream when she gets stressed. I can’t even eat a whole row of Oreos, let alone the whole bag and ice cream as well.

    I thought I was bingeing any time I ate more than the serving size listed in the nutrition information on a package of food. Usually, I eat half the suggested serving size so I don’t have to feel guilty for eating. That goes for everything I eat.

    That’s really screwed up. I wasn’t going to make any resolutions this year, but I think not eating like that anymore would be good one.

  10. twilightriver: Exactly! I thought that if I ate omg four slices of pizza I was going off the deep end. I have much more respect now for people who do actually binge. I had no idea. And by respect, I mean acknowledgment. I never understood that my eating isn’t really disordered and that some people’s really is. Talking to a friend the other day, I realized just how painful it can be for people. She literally can’t stop eating, even though she’s not hungry. And then the part of me that still can’t get comfortable with my own body (try try try as I might) thinks, ‘Damn, she’s still way thinner than I am.’ OMG – I get so mad at myself for that thinking! Instead of being supportive, I immediately fall into a “god I suck” mentality – comparing myself to another human being. I have faith that someday this thinking will END! Especially since I know better and am the voice of FA to everyone I know. Basically I think that if I say it enough, I’ll eventually believe it.

    But until then, I guess I’d better lay off the cough drops and orange juice. :-)

  11. God’s teeth! Random or what? Forget the fact you’d have to eat a shedload of Strepsils to bring about any appreciable weigh gain – just how neurotic would a WW facilitator have to be in themselves to even suggest someone was sabotaging themselves with such a thing? One can only assume that unless Arwen had a hacking cough that was in evidence at the time of said weighing, that the facilitator had at some stage grown so disenchanted with her own abstemious regime that she’d felt the need to resort to such a measure herself. Personally I’d rather hit the fondant fancies and be done with it. I wonder how many similarly barking nutters are in charge of motivating slimmers in our respective countries? It can’t possibly be healthy.

  12. I just got into it with my size-18(now down to a size 16 and headed toward a 14) mother about this.

    She will only talk about how great I looked but this is what I remember:

    A few years ago, both of us decided to join Weight Watchers
    to try to lose weight. I think I was a size 18 or 20(now I’m
    a size 22/24). Anyway, we stayed on the diet about six
    months, during which time she lost a ton of weight but
    eventually, she put the weight back on and I LOST TEN

    The worst part of it was that I was accused OF NOT FOLLOWING THE DIET AND CHEATING BUT I WASN’T.
    I quit because I was either hungry, tired of eating the
    same foods and just reluctant to go in there and stand
    on the scale. I WAS TIRED OF WORKING MY BUTT

    The saddest thing is that all of my friends are thin (or
    thinner) and they’ve all made comments about weight.
    It’s so sad that people are so obsessed with it. It
    makes me wonder sometimes what people are
    saying about me behind my back.

    And is anyone else NOT IMPRESSED with the new
    Bally’s commercial or the pitiful Subway commerical.
    I for one as a Detroiter prefer Tubby’s to the tasteless
    now $10 for a footlong sub crap at Subways.

    And I’m done!

  13. One last thing, I think the diet industry is starting to
    get DESPERATE with these commericals as
    Americans are getting tired of spending their money
    on diet products that don’t work!

  14. 2 anecdotes in support of this.

    1- a friend of mine has already named her autobiography “It’s the water in the lettuce”, since that’s what she was told by a doctor when she wasn’t losing weight despite eating around 4-500 calories per day.

    2- the same friend’s grandmother was praised by a barbie-nurse for having lost 5 pounds; during her first post-mastectomy doctor’s appointment.

    I spent the better part of a year meticulously counting every calorie, exercising 5 or more days a week including multi-hour road bike rides (read 50-60 miles) on weekends and could never get past 200. I don’t need that kind of neurosis when I can kick the barbie-nurses’ of the world’s butt in any endurance event they care to name….

  15. The concentration camp argument is *exactly* like arguing you can hold your breath indefinitely by saying “why not? if somebody strangled you you could.”

    A small child thinks that way about holding their breath. They see no reason why they shouldn’t be able to hold their breath until they’re dead or pass out. But otherwise perfectly competent adults keep making the same claim about dieting and weight loss even though it’s been shown *over and over* endlessly, for decades, that it isn’t so. Your body fights you on the breath-holding thing, and it’s going to fight you on the dieting/weight loss thing. Tooth and nail.

  16. My FIL seems to agree with the WW lady’s way of thinking, only his comment was directed at me and my extra-large mug of hot chocolate. Apparently, it was “no wonder” that I’m “as big as a house” because I “drink gallons of the stuff.”

    Let’s not mention that I’m a size smaller than the last time he saw me, nor the fact that my youngest is only a year old and I’m only just now starting to shed the pregnancy weight. Oh no, it’s the gallons of hot chocolate that I drink in secret, scalding its way down to my belly and onto my butt. My butt the size of a house.

    I’m a coward, though. I just seethed in silence and ignored him for the rest of his (blessedly) short visit. I wish I could have said something to him, because, let’s face it, my heart broke a little bit at that comment.

  17. My mom actually gave up on sucking candies on WW. Not cough drops per se, but those tiny butterscotch or whatever candies. She was all “do you know how many points are in those??”

  18. I did Weight Watchers with the intent to lose weight because my doctor told me that the weight I carry around my middle causes me to be higher for certain diseases. It wasn’t out of a need to be a certain body type or a certain size – I really was in it for “health”. (After finding this blog, I certainly know better now – THANK YOU!)

    Going every week and standing on that scale, though, and having some stranger evaluate my “health” because of the number that popped up – that started to sap my self-confidence. And being told that I wasn’t following the program properly when I absolutely was – that was discouraging. But the worst was when I had lost a few pounds after a really long plateau and the woman told me not to expect any loss next week because it was “obviously a fluke.” WTF? I finally succeed on your program and instead of breaking out the pom-poms, I still get the guilt trip because losing the weight was a fluke and obviously I am still a fat piggy who isn’t following program?!?!

    I’m so glad I’m out of that mindset now. I’m at the end of the tunnel (I think) of wanting to eat everything in sight because now I am allowing myself to do so, and I’m starting to really crave the healthy food again. I feel good again, both physically and mentally. :)

  19. If you’re fat and claim you don’t sit on the couch eating baby-flavored donuts all day, you are a liar.

    It terrifies me as a parent, to think that this same sort of logic is being applied to people’s children, too. If your child is of a larger build, or has more body fat then their peers, you *must* be doing something wrong. If you claim you’re not, you’re in denial or a liar. And the assumption that you’re secretly feeding your child the said baby-flavored donuts, after having chained them to the couch in front of Nick Jr for 11 hours at a stretch, seems to take on added hostility if the parent is overweight.

    The stories about Australian pediatrician’s antics, and the NHS in England considering bariatric surgery for minors made my blood run cold. In my paranoid moments, I picture a future where parents could be forced to submit to drastic measures to deal with their children’s ‘problems’ or else suffer some dire financial or social consequences.

    (To anyone who will point out that the financial consequences are already there in the USA, you’re preaching to the choir: try finding health insurance if you’re overweight and self employed. So far my son’s weight is in the ‘acceptable’ range, so I can easily get him coverage, but I dread the day that changes).

  20. Even my nutritionist used to think I was lying, I think. Because clearly one cannot exercise 6+ hours a week, walk 2-3 miles a day, eat less than 1500 calories, and still be fat.

    EVERY single doctor I have ever been to just says, “Try harder.” Every family member. Friend. Boyfriend. Anyone. “If you do this diet, you’ll lose weight. If you burn more calories, you’ll lose weight. If you exercise more, you’ll lose weight. If you only eat raw foods, you’ll lose weight.”

    I am so glad I am no longer listening to that crap. Thank you for this post…it touched so eloquently and thoroughly on something that really, truly means a lot to me, and an experience I think we all have so often.

  21. Being fat is not a crime. Eating enough food to satisfy yourself is not a crime. Overeating is not a crime, whether you do it or not. Plateauing on a diet is not a crime. Gaining it back is not a crime. Exercising for fun instead of pain is not a crime. Deciding not to exercise is not a crime. Getting sick is not a crime.

    You are not a liar. You are not guilty.

    this made me cry. For that, I thank you.

  22. Oh, wouldn’t all of us Shapelings love to see a point counterpoint with Jane E. Brody vs. Gina Kolata on the whole calories in, calories out thing?
    Do you think they talk to each other?
    I am imagining a SNL-type sketch with them in the NYT Cafeteria.
    After years of reading her books and articles, Jane Brody is responsible at least in part for about 40% of my missing self-esteem.

  23. Wow. I’ve been carrying that woman’s cough drop comments with me since she made the comment when I was 15. I didn’t realize how exhausting they were to carry ’til you wrote about them, KH. It’s absolutely true that I walked away feeling guilty: I knew it wasn’t cough drops, but it had to be something I wasn’t letting myself admit.

    Cara, I am so very much with you on the children thing. Now I’ve got 2 boys, both who look like they’ll end up with their dad’s and my hardy farming-stock physique. The interference I have to run on their behalf is enough to prove that exercise doesn’t cause weight loss. *g* It’s hard to be taken seriously, so I usually go with rapid fire nutrition information and a look of boredom. It has seemed to work, but it is also hard to carry at times.

  24. Hmph. There apparently isn’t enough food in the entire world to make my husband fat, or even average but nobody acccuses him or purging or over-exercising. Hmph, I say again!

    Right now he’s eating my home-made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies and raving about how good they are. I can’t have any because I’m sick and can’t handle anything except toast, tea and…. cough drops. Shame on me!!!

  25. Kate, beautiful post. You captured with brevity, clarity, wit and oodles of humor thoughts that have been darting around my little noodle for months. Bravo!

    It absolutely breaks my heart to hear how some of you beautiful people are treated by people who probably really do love you. That “humiliate people into doing what I think is right” approach has never and will never work and people really need to let it go. It’s abusive.

    Raisin’Cookies: don’t beat yourself about not taking your FIL to task. Sometimes it’s wise to pick one’s battles. Hopefully, he won’t find the thermos of hot choc you have stashed in the toilet tank!

    On the flip side, my daughter (genetically loaded for diabetes on both sides), is petite and skinny (almost 5 years old and maybe 40 lbs). Eats like a friggin’ horse and metabolizes it before dinner’s done. I recently got wind that my grandmother’s been bitching to my mom that she’s too skinny and that I don’t feed her enough! She’s seen the kid put away 3 scrambled eggs, a cup of cottage cheese with canned pears and some oatmeal for breakfast (at her house – she stuffs the kid when I’m not around to monitor). I think she thinks that’s the only time the kid eats. Mom sticks up for us, but I’m tired of her having to do it.

    Seriously, cough drops? Fucking cough drops? There are not words for how fucked up that is. . .

  26. Stumbled on this post. THANK YOU.
    Seriously, as many times as I’ve tried to lose weight, I’ve heard all this crap and then some.

    Amazingly enough, I finally found a doctor who said “restricting to 800-1200 calories a day in order to be able to simply maintain your weight is NOT normal. There is something else going on.” And she tested me thoroughly and found my testosterone levels were high, vitamin D severely low, and a few other issues that would cause some of this.

    I need to lose some, not because of society and not because of some bogus health stuff, but because I have an autoimmune disease that is damaging my spine. I know from experience it’s less painful when I don’t have as much extra weight on me. So I’m working on it.

    Thanks for the post. Mind if I link to you?

  27. I swear Kate, it seems like most of your recent posts are aimed right at me. I blame myself completely for every pound I don’t lose. I once spent hundreds of dollars on WW, and in the course of a year, the only time I lost any weight was when I had all my wisdom teeth pulled at once and could only eat liquids. Naturally, I was praised quite thoroughly. I did the program correctly, I knew that I wasn’t cheating or anything of the sort, but when the weight wasn’t coming off, I just ended up curled up in a ball, sobbing to myself and asking why I just wouldn’t let myself be thin, why did I make myself into this fat beast. My mother, grandmother and 2 great-aunts have all done WW, lost between 50-80 pounds, and all have gained it back. I actually do have one aunt who lost over 100 pounds doing WW, and has kept it off for almost…seven years now, I think. But, she is completely food-obsessed; she has a very restricted diet (no pasta, almost no breads, no condiments on anything), she exercises excessively, and actually has been put in the hospital for heart issues and stress multiple times since she started making this “lifestyle change.”

  28. It terrifies me as a parent, to think that this same sort of logic is being applied to people’s children, too.

    I’ve said before that dealing with all the fat issues is one of my biggest fears about having kids. I can advocate for myself as necessary, and tell anyone who makes nasty comments to suck it. But the thought of trying to A) convince a pediatrician I’m not overfeeding my kid, and B) help a fat kid develop a shred of self-esteem in this culture, makes my fucking blood run cold.

    Worse still is the thought of having one thin child and one fat child. I was talking to a woman recently who’s just started learning about fat acceptance. She’s thin, her husband’s somewhat less thin, and she’s got two thin daughters and one slightly chubby one. All of her daughters play sports and get tons of exercise. They all eat basically the same thing. The family diet is impeccable. But one kid’s bigger than the others — and the doc is on the mom about that. As if she’s just overfeeding the one kid, or letting the one kid slack? COME ON. (Not to mention, from what I understand, this kid is just barely “overweight.”) My heart breaks for that poor girl, who just happened to draw the short genetic straw — and for her mom, who has to help this kid try to keep her head above water emotionally, while everyone demands to know why she’s not as thin as her sisters.

    It kills me when people can’t even apply a modicum of common sense to these questions, let alone actually educate themselves.

  29. I hope this is ok to post here. Please delete it and tell me if it’s not.

    I have lost 40 pounds since August. What started out as not being able to eat because I was depressed, and then anti-depressants making me not hungry (and the psychiatrist saying “well, you don’t look like you’re going to waste away”), has turned into an eating disorder. I have gone from about a size 18 to a size 10 in five months. My therapist says I have to see a nutritionist because I eat next to nothing and it’s not about fat acceptance. I was an FA advocate for years. I read Geneen Roth and Paul Campos’ books years ago and thought I had dealt with my issues. I told the girlfriend (years ago) who wanted to diet together that she could do whatever she wanted, but there was nothing wrong with me (and that I thought she was just fine the way she was too). I know I was sexy at size 18. I’m honestly not sure that I’m so sexy now. But once I stopped eating because of the medical reasons this time, I couldn’t make myself start again. The idea of eating anything except a very few specific foods, unless I’m in a social situation and distracted by company, just disgusts me.

    I agreed to see the nutritionist and coming up with a plan to get me eating a reasonable amount again as a condition of staying out of the hospital. Although my weight itself is considered within the healthy range (yes, I know BMI is bullshit but we’re talking about doctors here) I have been threatened with a couple of different unpleasant things if I don’t start eating (hospitalization, taking away my migraine meds which can have anorexia as a side effect even though I’ve been on them long-term and have never had this problem before). My insurance company makes me get a referral from my PCP to see a nutritionist. And I am terrified of going to see her tomorrow, in a very similar way to how you feel when you go to Weight Watchers and you think you may have gained weight. (I did WW years ago too.) When I last saw my PCP and I had only lost 30 pounds, her response was that I had not done it in a healthy way (it was just the depression and meds then), but that I was at a healthier weight and I should try to maintain it and not go back to my heavier weight. I am so afraid that when I go in there tomorrow she is going to tell me that this is an even better weight for me to be, even if starvation isn’t good for me. I’m not afraid that she won’t give me the referral, but that she won’t think that not being able to eat is a serious problem because six months ago I had a (bullshit) BMI of 35 and now it’s about 27. I’m afraid she’ll tell me it would be even better if I could lose ten more pounds, but just do it through Weight Watchers or get the nutritionist to come up with a plan to get me down to the magic (bullshit) BMI 25. I know this isn’t healthy, and I’m worried about things like my gallbladder and heart (and staying out of the hospital and not getting the migraines I get when I’m not on a daily preventative), and I fear I’m going to hear from my doctor that I haven’t lost enough weight. Or that I’ll be one or two pounds heavier than I was when I weighed myself two weeks ago because with the holidays I have been with family and friends and have been able to eat a little more, and if I’m only down 8 pounds since November and not 10 like I was on December 22, it won’t be enough for me to get the help that I know I need, because I’m not thin enough yet.

  30. Oh, my god, OJD, that is just awful. I don’t know what to say except that I hope you get the help you need and get on the road to recovery.

  31. When I last saw my PCP and I had only lost 30 pounds, her response was that I had not done it in a healthy way (it was just the depression and meds then), but that I was at a healthier weight and I should try to maintain it and not go back to my heavier weight.

    Zuh? You lost, what, about 50 pounds in five months? And developed an ED in the process? And all your doctor is worried about is you getting fat again? Is fat such a blinding substance that in its presence, people literally cannot see anything else, even when you’re paying them incredibly good money to see it?

    That’s just madness. I hope you find yourself a provider with way more of a clue.

  32. You want to know what makes me fucking CRAZY?!

    As a thin anorexic, I was told over and over again that 500, 800, 1000, sometimes even 1200, calories a day wasn’t enough to even keep someone alive. I was told I should be eating 1800-2500 calories a day.

    As a normal-sized anorexic, I was told (by a doctor) that I could “eat 800 calories a day and exercise and still lose some weight.”

    And fat women are apparently told they can eat nex-to-nothing (after all, the people at Auschwitz did it!) and it’s “for [their] health.”

    Anorexics are constantly told that concentration camps fed only 900 calories a day, and those people died of starvation, so you better eat more than the 300 a day you think is too much!

    Fat women are told if they aren’t losing weight at 500 calories a day, they should lower the amount.


    The still eating-disordered part of me just wants to “get fat” so I can return to my ED-ed behavior without anyone questioning it and actually, it looks like, I would be PRAISED for it.

    What kind of world is this!?

    (I apologize for the profanity……please edit my comment if it isn’t appropriate…. :-/ I’m struggling hard.)

  33. Oh, and — if you’re interested in more on false memories, I just read a fabulous book by one of the experts on the subject.

    “The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse” by Dr. Elizabeth Loftus.

  34. OJD, I’m in the Uk and can’t offer you any advice either, but big hugs and I fervently hope you get the help you need. Remember, you’re paying for these so called professionals. If your worst case scenario pans out, shop around until you find someone who can help you. They can’t all be shortsighted and stupid.

  35. OJD – Heartbreaking story, and I hope you get support and help.

    You’re self-reporting an ED, and I don’t want to suggest you distrust yourself – because you know yourself best.

    That said, and there are medical issues that can cause anorexia that may in be triggered by weight loss by other means. We get so many “distrust yourself” messages about our weight, eating, and bodies, that for me it has been hard to say: actually, this is medical, not emotional.

    Here is a “for example” that probably doesn’t apply to you specifically, but just to show what I mean/where I’m coming from. Pancreatitis can cause your stomach to stop processing food, shut your appetite down, and cause nausea and vomiting if you eat the wrong things. I watched a family member go through this, and her attack was caused by gallstones caused by weight loss. It was awful, how they treated her. They diagnosed her pancreatitis caused anorexia as depression related disordered eating. By her fourth month without food, she *was* feeling a little nuts; but it was the condition that caused the extreme food issues, not her initial weight loss nor depression.

  36. KH: we seriously considered not having kids in order to suppress the fatty gene, and we also thanked the… sperm… that our kids aren’t girls – because our sort of heavy is the sort that looks like football playing on men and fatty-fatty-2X4 on women. You know? I think men get a slightly wider range before the doctors start jumping on them. At least, my husband does.

    Obviously, having kids is not for everyone. It’s not necessary for fulfillment, nor is it anyone’s duty or fate or raison d’etre. So there is no “breed” pressure in what I’m about to say. But it was definitely hearing my own brain tell me that we should start our own homegrown eugenics program – that my husband and I somehow were too deeply flawed to be allowed to breed – that snapped something in my brain and started me looking for Shapelings. Although I didn’t know that’s what I was looking for, at the time. It just seemed so ridiculous and so deeply self loathing when I was thinking it.

    Kids who are non-normative of all sorts have a hard time, but in my experience they often grow up to be the awesome-ist adults. We’re saving for therapy, and trying to parent with love and critical thought for the tools of self-acceptance.

  37. Thank you for this! In fact, it inspired me to write a letter to the NPR ombudsman after they ran a series of radio articles on obesity this afternoon.

    I think my new year’s resolution this year will to be to fight more for fat acceptance. Listening to the slew of ads and news about the “obesity epidemic” just really piss me off.

    And *hugs* to those having to deal with stupid Dr.’s. I’ve been jaded about them for a long time since I have a lot of issues that they seem to boil down to weight. Whatever. THey’re full of crap, and this year, in my Dr. hunt, I’m not going to take it from them anymore. People deserve better treatment from their fellow human beings!

    (Now I’m going to go do something happy to calm down…)

  38. In fact, it inspired me to write a letter to the NPR ombudsman after they ran a series of radio articles on obesity this afternoon.

    Oh, man. I don’t even want to know.

  39. Kate, your comment about the one thin kid and one fat kid is very interesting–I’ve noticed that every time I go to visit my sister, I come back feeling very bad about myself. Not that she’s thin, really, but she weighs a lot less than me and wears several sizes smaller. She’s also seven years older, so that means when she was a gaining-20-pounds college student I was still a relatively skinny teenager. So I still think that somehow I should be “thinner” than her, or at least as thin, and that since we come from the same genes, and I’m much fatter, I must be Really Really Bad. Nevermind the fact that we have different shapes (she’s apple-with-rack-of-doom, I’m pear-with-rack-of-doom) and that she’s vegan and I’m not, I still think I should be smaller.

    I hardly ever compare myself to other women, except in this one instance, because I somehow feel we should look the same.

    I’m trying to re-frame my view of her to one that reminds me that I come from short, large-boned, rack-of-doomed stock, and that even if I weighed 80 pounds less I still wouldn’t look “thin”, because she doesn’t either.

  40. Thanks for the support, everyone.

    m.leblanc – I have something similar with my sister. I am the elder, by 7.5 years. I was always heavier. Once she was an adult, it ranged from about 40-60 pounds, and we’re less than an inch apart in height. I always felt that because she was that small, I should be too, for exactly your reason: if we came from the same gene pool and I’m not as thin as her, it’s obviously my fault. My mom and her sister are the same, and my aunt’s two daughters, and my uncle’s two daughters. It took years for it to occur to me that there could simply be different body types among siblings, despite three other example pairs in my family. I just figured one of us in each pair was doing it “right” and the other was doing it “wrong,” since all eight women are within an inch and a half in height, and in weight range from size zero to size 20. Never mind that my sister is short waisted with a long inseam, and I have a long torso with a shorter inseam.

    Due to the 40-pound weight loss mentioned about 10 posts back, my sister and I now weigh almost exactly the same, and we carry our weight differently. My bust is bigger but my hips are smaller. She is very curvy, with a 16-inch difference between her waist and hips. The difference between mine is nine inches. So clearly we are not built the same though we look the same and can mostly wear the same clothes. We’re both used to me being the fat one, and it’s strange that I’m not. (Plus she’s also worried about my eating disorder stuff too.) She doesn’t resent that she’s not thinner anymore or anything like that. It’s just strange because it’s a new experience. She never cared one bit that I was fat, and she was even amazingly kind and did not make me wear the dress at her wedding like the rest of the women in the wedding party, but let me find a suit in the same color and sit in the first row with my grandparents after I walked down the aisle with my grandfather, because I would have hated standing up front holding flowers, not because I was fat.)

  41. Kate:

    “The World” had an entire show’s worth of articles on the obesity epidemic. While not completely horrid (they did have an article about a plus size model in France who’s doing FA work there), it was still slanted towards the fat = really bad and no real references to anything truly scientific saying that weight was the sole factor of ill health.

    Here’s what I wrote:

    Dear NPR Ombudsman,

    I applaud today’s “The World” (January 1, 2008), which is highlighting obesity, for attempting to give a well rounded view on the subject. However, it seems that NPR is still buying into the “obesity epidemic” panic that the general media and diet industry perpetuates. I find it insulting, as, I’m sure, many of my fellow listeners.

    The underlying psychological message that comes to me is that even NPR, who’s news and insights I normally trust as being as impartial as possible, considers fat people bad, lazy, and lacking the will power to lose weight. It may be simplistic, but it’s the message that I hear, even in your attempt to be inclusive in today’s programming.

    I would like to challenge NPR (and KQED, where I am a paid member) to really question the diet industry and the scientific information that you find on obesity. I challenge you to find –solid- scientific evidence that BMI and weight are real indicators of overall health. I challenge you to talk to those in your offices that would be considered obese and ask them about going to the doctor, or how they grew up.

    I find it really disappointing that NPR would cave into this panic without considering how their message comes across. I’m sure that insulting and condemning a great deal of your listening audience isn’t something you set out to do intentionally, but, unfortunately, it is what you have already done. It is enough that fat people have to put up with negative and abusive advertising from the general media.

    For me, personally, it is making me reconsider renewing my KQED membership.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. I listened to you on KQED’s Forum, and was impressed with the fact that you are willing to be open minded about listener’s criticisms. I hope that you apply that open minded-ness to change how you treat your listeners over the air.


    (This ombudsman was very good on Forum when she was on, so I have a little hope with this letter.)

  42. I like that deciding not to exercise is not a crime. Cause I’m always beating myself up over not exercising as much as I should.

  43. “I always felt that because she was that small, I should be too, for exactly your reason: if we came from the same gene pool and I’m not as thin as her, it’s obviously my fault.”

    I love the wording of this because it let me do a little mind-bend: switch the word “thin” with “fat,” and “small” with “big.” Watch what happens:

    “I always felt that because she was that big, I should be too, for exactly your reason: if we came from the same gene pool and I’m not as fat as her, it’s obviously my fault.”

    Isn’t it phenomenal how weird that sounds, and yet why should it? Why should that “logic” be any different than the one with which we saddle ourselves? Of my five siblings, only one is thin–yet she was considered to be the normal one! Huh? She stuck out like a sore thumb, and she admits to me (we’re very, very close) that she actually felt like she had to stay fit and eat right as a young adult so she wouldn’t succumb to the genetics of our family. WTF?

  44. Since we’re talking about sisters, I’ll mention mine. There are four of us and our bodies are so alike its almost scary. All of us are about the same weight, within about ten pounds, except for the one sister that’s shorter than us by about six inches, she weighs about fifty pounds less. We all wear about an 18/20, except for the short sister, who wears an 18/20 petite. Now, if that’s not genetics talking, I don’t know what is.

    As for weight watchers. I participate sometimes in an online simplicity and frugality forum, though sometimes I have to keep away because of my sanity watchers. They can be very anti-fat there at times, you know, the whole fat lazy Americans in their SUVs are ruining the world with their over comsuming fatty lifestyle thing. Well, they were talking about the most frugal way to do weight watchers- I guess if you make some kind of goal weight and keep it off, you get to do it for a cheaper rate? I don’t know, I’ve never done weight watchers and was always a lousy dieter anyways. But I don’t know why I didn’t have the courage to post that the most frugal and best way to do weight watchers or any diet is to just stop and not do it. They think I’m a bit of a kook there already already. I guess it was sort of the if you’re fat, you lack credibility thing.

  45. I believe that this has been blogged about on this website in the past, but sometimes I wonder if my green-leaning ways are not so much due to my Neopaganism as they are by my “look, I only overconsume in ONE way–food–and not A LOT of ways–SUVs, two plasma TVs, a McMansion (TM)!” guilt over being fat and thus a part of the American problem: taking more than we need. I need to detach that concept in my noggin.

  46. LOL Thanks Becky…now how do I make the little embarrassed face? An entry about it (from a weight loss blog that I didn’t feel like linking to) came up on my tag surfer so I was silly enough to not actually check the date. :-X

    I will shrink into the corner now and keep my mouth shut. ;)

  47. Great post, Kate! I really needed to hear that about now too, with the overwhelming family and friends New Year’s resolutions. They are all about dieting. Bleh.

    Back when I was weight lifting and fat, and working on body composition and fat… Did I mention I was/am fat? Anyway, I was working very hard on championship level lifting. So working hard to lift more and more weights. And my trainer had me on a diet that was mostly vegetables and protein , extremely low fat (about 5% fat in diet) and so on. It was very hard to do, but I did it. After several months I went in for the testing and hadn’t lost any weight. In fact, my weight went up, but my body composition stayed the same. I still had plenty of fat and the trainer was mystified. Until she looked at my eating records and saw that I had eaten a handful of baby carrots a day. I love baby carrots.

    ‘Oh no, not carrots’ She gave me a serious look. ‘They make you fat.’

    That was it. I walked out that day and never went back, although I kept lifiting and got to the point where I could compete in it. I was still quite fat (think russian weight lifter here, not cut ‘body builder’).

    I still eat carrots too, every day. I just couldn’t get over how carrots, a vegetable, innocuous, good for me, good for my eyes, could make me fat! Was she serious? Jebus on a bicycle!

    That crazy diet nearly put me in the hospital with gall bladder problems too. I gave up diets after that, and just decided to exercise as I wanted. I still love lifting, and bike riding and walking. And I’m still fat!

  48. On the topic of wrongful convictions and WHY police decide they have the right person and can’t be dissuaded, please allow me to pimp my latest favorite book.

    Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
    by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

    It is awesome, and if I could assign it to everyone in the world to read, I totally would. It will change the way you understand people, and yourself, forever.

    If you don’t want to commit to a whole book, check out this podcast:

    Just click the Download MP3 link to hear it.

  49. I happen to be suffering from a cold. I googled the info since my bags of cough drops don’t have “nutrition information” listed.

    Cough Drops (Ricola) = 12-15 calories depending on the flavor
    sugar-free Ricola = 5 calories

    I hate it when I accidentally eat 250+ cough drops and gain a pound.

  50. But the thought of trying to A) convince a pediatrician I’m not overfeeding my kid, and B) help a fat kid develop a shred of self-esteem in this culture, makes my fucking blood run cold.

    A) Which is why I don’t give the pediatrician my business in the first place. There are of course exceptions to the rule, but for the most part pediatric practice is shockingly non-evidence based. Family practice doctor or naturopaths tend to be more rational, reasonable, and well-balanced in their knowledge base.
    B) There are ways to mitigate this, mostly consisting of not bombarding them with mainstream values in the most impressionable years. (Makes me think of the Dove commercial “Onslaught”.) And let me tell you, that is a hell of a lot easier to do when their childhood is not dominated time-wise by school culture.

  51. I love you too, Kate. How do you seem to manage to always talk about the very thing that is weighing on my mind?

    I have a loving, naturally-thin, supportive (I thought) sister. Just the last few days I have begun to suspect, from things she has let slip, that she too thinks fat people (and therefore me) are lying (or deceiving themselves) about what they eat.

    Man, what a blow, when I really, really thought she’d got it after watching the torturous path of me losing weight and the even more painful regain. It is so much worse when it’s family that should know better.

  52. Hey just stumbled across your blog, it’s great! I’ll definitely come back again sometime.

  53. Thanks, Monkeygirl.

    A lot of you have brought up a secret worry I have for my own children; my older daughter is big for her age, but perfectly proportioned. She’s just a big four year old! My younger daughter, at one year old, is much more petite than her sister. I don’t want them comparing themselves to each other as they grow up — they are both wonderful girls with amazing personalities and beautiful bodies, and I would hate to see my older daughter feeling like she doesn’t measure up to the smaller, younger one.

    This is one of the major reasons why we don’t have TV in the home. I will do everything in my power to keep my kids away from the negative influences of the world, and teach them my own values. I grew up watching my mom hate her own body, and I WILL NOT pass that on to my kids. Oh no, not ever.

  54. Little bit off topic, but I’m 22 and my sis is 19 and I’m probably about 20 pounds heavier than her at the same height… I also have hips and she doesn’t and I have wider shoulders so we are obviously built differently, but I definitely have more fat. I’ve gained about 10 pounds since I gave up dieting forever and rebounded from my last one and I’m on birth control so those are factors too, but I exercise a reasonable amount (way more than her) and have healthy eating habits, etc. and I’m just built heavier/have dieted my way heavier… it’s a rich tapestry. I’m an inbetweeny as in I’m at my highest weight ever right now and I’m considered “overweight” but if it were 1997 I would be “normal…” get it?

    The other day my mom’s best friend, who is a doctor, was staying with us and commented that my sister was looking very trim and healthy and asked if she was working at it much. My sister replied “not really, all I do is hang out and watch TV” and mom’s friend replied “well, you must be doing something right.” After my initial bout of sisterly jealousy my brain went “wait a minute, why did a doctor just tell my sister she must be doing something right by sitting around and watching TV just because she is thinner than my mom and I?” That is kind of messed up and I think fits in with the whole skewed perception of “oh, you’re skinny so you must be healthy and doing healthy things and oh, you gained weight so you must be doing something crazy like eating cough drops.” What a crazy world we live in.

    The next morning my mom’s friend told me that I had very nice strong shoulders, so that’s cool, I guess…. but kind of the weirdest body compliment I’ve ever received.

  55. A few years ago I went to WW and had hit a plateau. The woman at the scale asked to look at my journal and on one of the days she saw the number “35.” She gasped, “you ate 35 points in one day?! No wonder you haven’t lost.”

    Me: “Um, no, actually, those were my activity points for that day, I climbed Mount Washington.”

    Her: “Oh, you’re only supposed to track up to 10 activity points a day.”

    Yeah, I guess WW isn’t prepared for when you climb the highest mountain in the eastern US, or for those infernal cough drops.

  56. It’s interesting to note that at Slimming World one of the questions added to those you list above is:

    Are you eating *enough*?

    Where it was low-calorie-density foods you were supposed to be eating lots of, but still.

    Of course it’s yet another stick to beat yourself with if you’re struggling, but I was the lucky dieter who didn’t hit any sort of plateau until only 7 lbs above goal. I didn’t realise until this Christmas when my mum was remembering it just how frustrated I really was about those last 7lbs though: 7lbs I really didn’t need to lose.

    Thank god I’m not going to put myself through *that* again. Even if I won’t object if a healthier lifestyle just happens to lose me a few pounds now – when I’m 20 lbs heavier than I “started” at. (I’m getting there with the fat acceptance I guess, but slowly).

  57. You need to get the sugar-free kind JUST TO BE SURE!

    Oh yeah, at Slimming World they have points for cough sweets *and* for sugar free cough sweets about a quarter point each for the sugar free ones.

  58. “Is fat such a blinding substance that in its presence, people literally cannot see anything else…”


    This question sums up it up for me. A blinding revulsion. Cultural revulsion. Heartbreaking.

  59. Since my only kids are cats and dogs, I really have no personal experience on the pediatricians/fat kids/right to breed stuff. However. From reading this blog and comments for the past 6 months or so (my, how time flies!), it seems to me that if the world were populated with Shapeling offspring, there wouldn’t be many problems that couldn’t be solved :)

    It makes me really, really sad that this world is so fucked up that people who want kids are made to feel guilty simply because their children might have some sort of “undesirable” characteristic.

  60. “Baby flavored Donuts”

    Holy Crap, I almost spit coffee! :-)

    I wonder how many diets could actually be sold as “The Concentration Camp Diet”? Would calling it for what it is sell more from the kitchy-trendy angle, or less because the diet industry only survives by hiding? I mean, a cough drop? Seriously? I’m sure it was a euphamism for “all those little extra bites you don’t bother to count”, but the more time I spend in FA “diet de-programming” the more I’m disgusted that they can actually make people believe that it’s a good thing to live such a restricted life that cough drops become a sin.

    Out of curiosity, I checked and found that my multi-vitamin has a whole 5 calories per pill! Guess now I know why I’m fat, right? ;-)

  61. Ladies and gentlemen, I have found THE answer (on BFD):

    Quench your thirst for a beauty buzz with FUZE Slenderize Guilt Free Gloss. Infused with the healthy, delicious fruit flavors and appetite curbing energy boasting ingredients found in FUZE Slenderize beverages. One Delicious dab on the lips will give you a taste of what all the Hollywood starlets are losing it over! Always on the lips, never on the hips!

    (I seriously, in my most drunken of states, could not make this up.)

  62. Guilt free gloss? Are you fucking kidding? The next time I’m hungry, I guess I’ll go chomp on some eyeshadow…

  63. My sister lost a bunch of weight a few years ago on diet pills and a restrictive diet. (I tease her all the time because we went on a cruise and pretty much the only thing she said was “I don’t eat xxxxxxx” ) And then she got Mono and literally looked anorexic. It totally changed my mind about how thin I wanted to be.

    I think we are both starting to see how messed up our parent’s attitude towards food is. I used to fight with my dad over it a lot, and I think she’s finally starting to see that I wasn’t just being a lazy fat ass.

    Over Christmas we had a coffee cake for Christmas breakfast. My mom was like “oh, I just want a little piece.” Okay… fine… Well she ended up eating like 6 little peices which was in actual quantity about twice what I ate. And honestly, I wouldn’t care if she ate the whole thing, but I really think that by restricting herself she only caused herself to eat more of it than she would have otherwise. I pointed it out to my sister and she actually agreed with me. Slow progress.

  64. Arwen, Kate – the whole kids thing. Yikes – I never considered, when trying to get pregnant, the challenges we’d possibly face with a larger child. I certainly didn’t consider *not* having kids because of our size. It hadn’t dawned on me yet how hard things could be for a fat child – or the parent of a fat child – possibly because when I was working to get pregnant (ha! it’s hardly work!) I was still living with the fantasy of being thin, (we’d get skinny and pass on ‘good eating habits’ before my child was old enough to notice that s/he had fat parents). And possibly because I was still thinking that the flak a fat child (as I had been myself) gets, is ‘for their own good’… and perhaps still hoping that my child would ‘rise to the challenge’ of being thin in a way I never had.

    With those ridiculous notions dissappearing, the fear is setting in. I really hope I can raise my son to feel good about himself just as he is, and I have to say, him being a male is going to give him a huge advantage in that – as you point out, “stocky” is an ‘acceptable’ build for a boy, but apparently not for a girl.

    One little girl in my son’s playgroup is being brought to a nutritionist this week by her well-intentioned mother. The girl is 2 and a half, and she’s big – taller than my very tall 3 and a half year old, and powerfully built, too. When the mother mentioned the nutritionist visit to me I toed that difficult line of what and how much to say to a relative stranger.. I told her I thought her daughter looked proportional, happy, active and healthy, and the mom looked ashamed and said something along the lines of, “Well, she’s obese and I have to take the responsibility for that and do whatever it takes to fix it”. (!) I know this sounds melodramatic but I felt like I was watching the very first moment of her daughter’s journey into self-loathing. I wish there was something I could do.

    I’m touched by the bravery of non-normative people who want to be parents, going ahead and bringing kids into the world – it’s either that or, as you point out Arwen, a kind of self-imposed eugenics. In our case that decision didn’t come from bravery – just garden-variety ignorance – but the less homogeny the better.

  65. Cough drops? WTF? I am so happy I’ve always been too cheap to pay for the humiliation that is the public weigh-in.

  66. Only weight loss program I have ever been in where I lost weight was a liquid diet trial I did when fresh out of high school. I ended up losing all told 30 pounds. This was not through the fact the program worked but due to the fact the formula base for the ” liquid diet” had lactose as an ingredient. I am lactose intolerant.
    Everyone was so happy I had lost weight, but when we finally realized that I was actually getting sick ( yes throwing up was prevalent, they just took forever to figure out it was my allergy, mind you as a child on lactose formula I did almost die ) they changed me to a non lactose based liquid diet..
    The weight loss stopped.
    So then there was a meeting to see if I could keep taking something that was making me horribly sick, but at least I was losing the weight. My mom was actually agreeing that puking wasn’t SO bad. I could handle throwing up multiple times a day, it shouldn’t bother me. She told me at one point ” OH but think of the weight you will lose it will all be so worth it. ”
    That was the beginning of the end in my relationship with my mom. I realized I am nothing more to her then numbers on a scale.

  67. kateharding said: But the thought of trying to A) convince a pediatrician I’m not overfeeding my kid, and B) help a fat kid develop a shred of self-esteem in this culture, makes my fucking blood run cold.

    My daughter, 10 1/2, is a big, beautiful girl. 5’2″ at last check, and wears the same size shoes I do (8 – 8.5). Out of 57 kids in the 5th grade at her school, there are only 2 who are noticeably taller than she is, and maybe 2 more with whom she’s in a dead heat. So definitely top 10% in height. Our old doctor (she moved away) used to hammer on about height/weight charts, and how my daughter was “over the 100th percentile” in weight. My answer was (and still is), “But she’s over the 100th percentile in height, too, so doesn’t it all even out?” So far, that’s been the only medical negativity we’ve received about her weight. Nothing at school yet, but Middle School is next year. Armed with the knowledge I’ve gotten here at Shapely Prose, Junk Food Science, and all the other wonderful blogs in the Fatosphere, I’m ready to be her advocate against whatever meddling bullshit might come her way. Teasing from other kids is going to be another story, but hopefully I’ve gotten a jumpstart on that, too. We’ve discussed the word “fat” and how it’s just a descriptive word, no different from tall or blonde or freckled. I’ve told her that people (especially kids) will try to use that word to hurt her feelings, but if she takes ownership of that word she can let all the hurtfulness out of it. We talk about how people come in all shapes and sizes, and there shouldn’t be any judgement involved – not coming from her, and not putting up with it coming from other people, either. Oh, and I tell her she’s beautiful (and kind, and funny, and smart) every single day of her life.

    I guess what I’m trying to say in this long, rambling post is that (I think) if you hear that enough from the people you love, what you hear from outsiders won’t make as much of an impact on you. And if those people you love are fighting the established ignorance and bigotry alongside you, on your behalf, then the war doesn’t seem quite so unwinnable.

  68. “Worse still is the thought of having one thin child and one fat child.”

    wow, did that hit home with me. i’m the oldest of five children, and was always ‘the fat one’ with thin siblings. the sister 2 years younger than me kept herself thin by always watching what she ate (although i thought she was just naturally thin), my brother was naturally thin, and my next sister down was chubbier, but at 7 years younger than me, she wasn’t really a comparison to me the way my other sister was, and she never got as heavy as me anyway. my youngest brother also has a weight ‘problem’ but he is 15 years younger than me so wasn’t ever a comparison to me when we were growing up. but the siblings closer in age – we were always compared, and i was always found wanting. once a few years ago, now we’re adults, and friends (we used to not get on at all, hmm, wonder why…) my thin sister told me that she’d had a nightmare in which i’d lost weight and she’d gained and my dad started pressuring her… her nightmare was my reality.

    i won’t start going on about my parents’ warped attitude to weight and how much it affected me; how i never felt ‘safe’ and ‘accepted’ anywhere, but what i will say now is that having just got married myself and for the first time am actually able to think of having kids, i am very nervous about having one thin and one fat, because my husband is actually underweight – he’s nearly 6’2″ and around 155lbs, and i’m just under 5’4″ and the same weight (having lost a lot of weight, i used to be 250). if we could only combine our metabolisms, i think we’d have the ‘perfect’ kid – his metabolism is so flipping fast it’s crazy, mine is so slow it’s almost non-existent, i look at food and put on weight, he eats as much as he can and stays the same… but i’m so scared that we’ll have some kids thin and some fat and they’ll feel the same way i did growing up; the freak in the family, the unacceptable one – not to mention how they’ll feel in the outside world.

    when i was single and 34 and beginning to fear that i’d never meet anyone and never have kids, part of me was accepting of that because i felt that at least i wouldn’t have to curse any child with my genetic inheritance, with my childhood/teenage/adult years of angst and misery and low self-esteem.

    now i am determined to always eat as healthily as possible and to teach whatever child i am lucky enough to have that he or she is loved as they are, that what they eat will help them stay healthy, but that weight is not an issue and that they are wonderful, beautiful, worthy human beings whatever they look like. i know i will have to control my own demons in order to do that, but i pray that i will be able to. so that even if they end up fat like i was, they will have better self esteem and self worth than i did because they will feel loved and accepted by their family.

  69. This blog entry encouraged me today, thank you! This morning I was recalling hurtful comments my in-laws had made about my weight. I know they don’t realize how hurtful it is. But it is really so frustrating at how much prejudice there is about overweight people. It is hard not to get caught up in the trap of obligatory guilt. If you are fat you should feel guilty. If you are not losing weight, you should feel guilty.

    I have spent the last 6 months working on recovering from chronic dieting and depriving myself. I feel a sense of freedom that is overwhelming. But honestly people don’t care about my inner sense of peace and freedom. People would rather see me live in diet hell than heal from a 20 year eating disorder. Dieting is so not about health!

    But I hope that the tide is turning. If we stand up and define health for ourselves I hope we can make true lasting change. I hope we can create a world where a personal sense of peace and freedom are of greater value than a number on a scale.

  70. But honestly people don’t care about my inner sense of peace and freedom. People would rather see me live in diet hell than heal from a 20 year eating disorder. Dieting is so not about health!

    You nailed it, Summer. As many people have said many times on this blog, if anyone actually cared about fat people’s “health,” they’d probably give a thought to our mental health, and what constant shame and eating disorders and dieting failures do to that, instead of just insisting that if we looked better to them in bikinis, we’d never die.

  71. I couldn’t possibly read all the comments…but this reminded me of the Diagnosis Unknown show on Discovery Health…this one chick was overweight after a lifetime of being painfully thin. She went to dr to dr to dr and exercised like no tomorrow and only ate a small piece of chicken and a piece of broccoli…and she said one of the drs told her that if they locked her in a closet they were sure she would lose weight.

    She ended up having cushings disease (a tumor on her thyroid I think it is…made her make too much cortisol and made her gain tons of weight…had nothing to do with what she ate).

    Being over weight has also been linked to emotional disorders…do these people not thing that making someone feel guilty for not losing weight may actually be contributing to it?

    Even and over weight person can be healthy if they eat healthy foods and exercise their muscles and heart!!

  72. She ended up having cushings disease (a tumor on her thyroid I think it is…made her make too much cortisol and made her gain tons of weight…had nothing to do with what she ate).

    There’s another awful story about a diet being prescribed for Cushing’s here.

  73. Christine – incredible post. My son’s so young, and I’m trying to instill those values in him. I’m re-reading this a few times to let it really sink in.

    I’m ready to be her advocate against whatever meddling bullshit might come her way. Teasing from other kids is going to be another story, but hopefully I’ve gotten a jumpstart on that, too. We’ve discussed the word “fat” and how it’s just a descriptive word, no different from tall or blonde or freckled. I’ve told her that people (especially kids) will try to use that word to hurt her feelings, but if she takes ownership of that word she can let all the hurtfulness out of it. We talk about how people come in all shapes and sizes, and there shouldn’t be any judgement involved – not coming from her, and not putting up with it coming from other people, either. Oh, and I tell her she’s beautiful (and kind, and funny, and smart) every single day of her life.

    PS: there’s a line on junkfoodscience today that I’m memorising for future use with dogmatic medical professionals, should the need arise – “correlations do not equal causation”.

  74. Great piece of writing, I love your style, so witty and yet so poignant. I am a size 16/18 and have a much healthier relationship with food than alot of skinny friends, and when I did lose weight, my main change was to eat more and eat breakfast. Not alot of people realise kickstarting the metabolism really can help. There are so many overweight people starving themselves and not realising this is doing the opposite of what they intend. Really, you make some great points, keep up the good work.

  75. Wow. Do you know what made me leave Weight Watchers the last time, about 4 years ago, and never go back? I kept my food diary, did everything right, and didn’t lose an ounce for weeks. I even had the meeting leader read my food diary to check it over; her theory was that I was eating too many of the same foods, and that made my body somehow keep itself at stasis because it was used to what I was putting into it. Really! Here I am, practically in tears because as a vegan it’s not so easy to do WW (they believe in the magical weight-loss properties of milk and yogurt as “confirmed” by studies brought to you by the Dairy Council), and after exercising and weighing my portions of complex carbs and tofu and salad (which I love anyway), they tell me it’s my fault because I’m not switching it up enough. My body will burn the excess weight if only I start giving it kumquats instead of apples or something. I then figured, “these people don’t know what they’re talking about, and they certainly don’t care about me, even though they pretend to. Screw this.” I wouldn’t give WW a penny.

    And BTW, so much for effing “calories in” theory, too.

  76. My own husband has that “It’s simple… just don’t eat and exercise” mentality. I hate it. Yes, I know I could be doing more, but still… it really isn’t that simple for me. Never has been. Even when I was ‘normal’ (per BMI) I tried losing 10# by only eating 500 calories a day and still never lost a pound. I really think there are more factors involved than “calories in, calories out”.

    Thanks Kate for this post.

  77. Some women in my Weight Watchers meetings, when reporting that they have gained weight, have said that they think the reason is because they are eating too many vegetables or “zero-point” foods. One of them actually said she was eating too many GREEN PEPPERS and that was why she couldn’t lose (never mind that she is already very thin… and in all seriousness, unfortunately I would not be surprised if this particular person has an eating disorder).

    I mean, even if calories-in/calories-out were true, do these women honestly think they are eating enough “zero-point” foods to gain any measurable amount of weight? On the one hand it’s “a pound is 3500 calories, it’s simple math, if you ate fewer calories you wouldn’t be fat” and on the other (assuming you are fat, at least) the same doctor or WW lady is telling you that 5-calorie cough drops–I mean, even assuming you were actually eating very many of them–can somehow add up to enough to make you gain. The inconsistency is enough to make you cry.

    It’s like being told that you can’t control how long you live by being “good” enough. I think people don’t like the idea that they can “be perfect” and still not lose. They have to come up with some reason (that occurred within the previous 7-day calendar week, naturally) for every loss or gain, and that reason can never be “I guess I’m just at or below my setpoint.” If you admit you can’t dictate the exact number of your weight by being virtuous, then you have to admit that not everyone can or should look like Reese Witherspoon and additionally that someday you too will die.

    Gina, I think The World is a PRI program… maybe you could forward to them too since you already wrote up your response? It is a great, well-thought-out letter. I heard some of that series too and had similar reactions.

  78. but because I have an autoimmune disease that is damaging my spine.

    Anyone ever suggest going gluten free? Gluten can have a deleterious effect on the immune system even without gastric symptoms.

  79. Many moons ago I wrote a post about a WW meeting being the saddest place in the world. My mother put me on WW at 9 years old. I have struggled with bulimia for 19 years now and am only now at a place I might consider calling recovery. Weight Watchers is a bunch of women telling a bunch of other women how to lose weight without any professional nutritional training. Even if it was not a flawed theory to begin with, why do we allow these untrained people to give medical advice?

    I once had a WW leader tell me to chew and spit out my food for the taste but not the calories…good advice for a bulimic!

    That was my last meeting. I am working hard toward recovery, despite the bag of sugar free cough drops in my bag right now for a cold I’ve been hanging onto for two weeks… but I’m trying, damnit.

    Thanks for another wonderful article.

  80. After my initial bout of sisterly jealousy my brain went “wait a minute, why did a doctor just tell my sister she must be doing something right by sitting around and watching TV just because she is thinner than my mom and I?”

    This reminded me of a comment a classmate made, about another woman: “She can’t exercise because of asthma, and she’s usually out of breath by the time she walks from the bus stop to my place. But, I mean, she’s not fat, she’s healthy and everything.”

    I’ve been trying to parse that one for a while.

  81. I’ve been part of a TOPS group for about three years now. I threw in the towel about 6 months ago, but still go to meetings. I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost six years ago. I’m still exercising, still eating fresh food. I’m not keeping a stupid food journal, not pissing all day long from drinking stupid amounts of water my body doesn’t need (or I wouldn’t be pissing every 15 minutes!) But I’m just chubby, dammit.

    I’m so tired of it all. Sick of wondering what my life would be like if I just never touched another potato, pasta spiral, M&M or ANYTHING with flavor.

    I’m ready to just eat when I’m hungry, eat what I want, stopping when I’m not hungry.

    I’m ready to live like a person who doesn’t NEED to starve or obsess about food.

  82. I was the director of a small horseback riding program at a day camp in the dc area. I managed about 5 staff members under me. We were ridiculously busy all day from 6:30 am to 4:30 pm, outside in brutally hot humid weather – the kind of hot where we were concerned that the horses might pass out if we didn’t give them adequate breaks. When lunch – our only break during the day – rolled around, a couple of the girls would pile thier plates with iceberg lettuce salad and pickles. “You can eat as many pickles as you want because they don’t have any points!” I tried to convince them to eat something more substantial because I was worried that they might pass out too… and endanger a child or themselves. But no, these beautiful 18-20 year old girls were much more concerned about “points.” Asinine.

  83. Dang if cough drops supposedly will do that :::laughsnort::: (sorry that wasn’t very lady like was it, lol) should I have taken that dose of Nyquil? I mean I just wanted to get better and possibly get a couple hours hack/sneeze/ache free sleep. OMGS!

    Sheesh, no wonder my uncle hasn’t lost any weight in WW and gets depressed when he goes.

  84. What is it about sitting on the couch that makes you a worthless human being?!?! And frankly, who has time for couch sitting? Between work and family I never get to sit on my own dang couch, let alone lounge on it stuffing my face with donuts as seems to be what supposedly got my body into these flaming size 24 pants!

  85. I have to say, I sometimes want to play… well, not devil’s advocate, but something akin to it. I’m fat, yes. And my diet is not great, because I am a poor grad student with roomies who don’t understand the concept of a shared fridge. I’ve been eating even worse since I had some dental issues (a broken tooth for over a month = no crunchy fruits or vegetables for me). And yeah, I eat junk food. I can eat a pint of ice cream by myself. I get cookies. I drink soda instead of juice.

    And yet even with eating habits that apparently should send me into a spiral of obesity-crisisitude, I haven’t gained weight since my last really bad attack of binge eating. I could probably lose weight if I started exercising again and changed my diet; I do plan to get back to the gym and eat more healthy foods (now that my tooth is fixed), but because I know they make me feel better. But I will probably still eat ice cream and Doritos, because they are delicious. Bring on the baby-flavored donuts.

    Awesome post, Kate. In all seriousness, this really does mean a lot to me, and I appreciate it. <3

  86. –Gina, I think The World is a PRI program… maybe you could forward to them too since you already wrote up your response? It is a great, well-thought-out letter. I heard some of that series too and had similar reactions.–

    Oh yeah! I forgot that. I’ll send it to them, too. I don’t have high hopes though, since the answer I got from the NPR Ombudsman was basically, “Sorry you were offended, but we really try to make sure we have all our facts!”


    But thanks, glad you liked the letter! :)

  87. I know this is probably not on topic and maybe already discussed, but did anybody read the disgusting opinion by Dick Cavett in the NYT about how “gross” obese people are?

    The views he expresses are everything we in the fat acceptance movement have been fighting for years – and yet, he gets applauded by those in comment section for saying such awful things.

    Here is the link:

    Article Link

  88. I really enjoyed your post today.

    I’ve never understood why people would pay for the privilege of having someone bark at you about your weight. And harping about the caloric content of cough drops isn’t teaching a healthy lifestyle, it’s teaching an eating disorder. That’s crazy!

    I did gain 15 pounds while taking a cough syrup for two months and I suspect that the syrup slowed down my metabolism. However getting well is more important than a few vanity pounds.

    Anyhow I’ve lost more weight eating more calories, not less. Right now I eat probably around 2500 calories a day. Any less and I am constantly hungry. No dress size is worth that.

    And to be honest, I’ve gained more benefit from exercise than weight loss. Weight loss has improved my clothing selection somewhat, but it has also made me a hormonal mess. You won’t see that in an ad!

    Like you said, everyone is different. I will always be a plus-sized woman even though I’m not overweight. And naturally my healthy weight will be more than the average person because I’m wider than the average person. Of course I have my trouble areas, but I got those once I hit puberty and they will never go away. Fortunately there are things like Spanx on the market if I need them.

    I’m not always happy about the way I look, but I can never deny that my body is physically strong. And to be honest, the thrill of meeting a fitness goal that once seemed impossible is more exciting than being a passive clothes hanger.

  89. I am so, so tired of not being believed about my eating habits. There have been many upsetting incidents and I decided I’d had enough. I’m often told I need to eat plenty of fresh fruit and veg (cos, you know, us fatties don’t know about those mysterious items), and I say well, I eat a lot of veg since I’m vegetarian and can’t eat meat substitutes, and I don’t really eat fruit because of the sugar content. They (doctor, nurse, mother-in-law…) say oh yes, you need to make sure not to eat sweets or sugary things – as if I didn’t JUST TELL THEM that I don’t even eat fruit because of the sugar (I’m severely IR, but mostly my sugar avoidance is for the reason I’m about to mention). After a couple of repetitions it becomes clear that they really don’t believe that my size 26 arse isn’t the result of endless lardy sugar, so I make it clear for them like this: “Well, I don’t eat sugar because if I eat sugar I get THRUSH, and if I get THRUSH I can’t have SEX, and you know, I LIKE to have SEX.” The last bit is said with particular relish. Oh, their faces. The Power of TMI.

  90. This post definitely strikes a chord with me. When I was a teenager, my mother would accuse me of eating lots of sugar, even though we hardly ever had sugary food in the house. She also said I must be going over to friends’ houses and eating nonstop (because since she didn’t see me doing it at our house, the logical explanation was that I was doing it somewhere else).

    I also used to (and sometimes still do) get told I really need to start exercising, when I’ve been exercising an hour a day for years and am in better shape tham most of the people who kept giving me that advice.

    And I was trying to lose weight a couple of years ago, and didn’t lose a single pound. One person kept telling me that I needed to be less strict about it (I was obsessively strict with myself). The advice was good, but the reasoning behind it was not – her reasoning was that being overly strict led to binging, and I must be binging since I wasn’t losing any weight.

  91. and if we’d just admit it and repent, society would go much easier on us.

    maybe the fat-haters and the crazy religious right should join forces. fuckers.

  92. Ooh, this really burns my cookies too. I asked a trainer for some strength exercises to get toned before a reunion. I did NOT mention weight loss. Immediately, he says “I can take 15 pounds off you in a month,” and lays out this plan of 2hrs cardio and 1hr strength training per day. Before he got to the diet recommendations – and you know they were coming! – I told him I worked 60hr weeks and didn’t have time for a program that extensive, thanks anyway. A couple weeks later he accosted me and said, “You haven’t lost any weight at all, have you? What have you been doing?” I told him I was eating healthfully and coming to the gym five days a week, but since I wasn’t aiming for weight loss I hadn’t weighed myself. He said, “Come on! Here’s what you have to do: every time you’re sitting home cleaning out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, put it down and pick up a bottle of water.” I walked straight into the manager’s office and reported him.

    BTW, I weighed 120 at the time (I’m 5’4″). So apparently, you don’t even have to be fat to be lying about what you eat, you just have to be female and not actively seeking to lose weight!

  93. “Come on! Here’s what you have to do: every time you’re sitting home cleaning out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, put it down and pick up a bottle of water.”

    Unbelievable. What hell is wrong with people?

  94. Oh and I forgot to mention that he also said, “You’re single, right?” Not sure if he just saw no ring or assumed that since I didn’t look like *his* ideal (105 lbs, apparently), *no one* would have me. And of course you know that all single women stay home EVERY NIGHT and eat pints of ice cream, probably crying and watching Meg Ryan movies at the same time…and then lie about it.

    MAN I hope that guy got fired…I can’t be the only person he started shit with. I moved and changed gyms so I never knew.

  95. AnotherKate, your weight was on the low side of what’s considered “healthy” by the BMI charts. He apparently thinks a BMI of 18, which is underweight, would be perfect for you! That’s part of what is so scary about the current environment is that thin is the new fat and anorexic is the new “healthy weight.”

  96. Rose: Word. While I’ll admit to a vanity-based reason for wanting to change up my workout (upcoming HS reunion), I didn’t want to lose weight! But no, this so-called trainer looked at me (I guess) and thought: she’s female, over 20, not a barbie, and not wearing a wedding ring. She’d better take off 15! Bleh.

    I’m sure this will shock no one here, but that’s the thing about the fantasy of being thin, or beautiful, or whatever…the minute you think you see the finish line, be sure it’s gonna be moved back a couple miles.

    (Sorry, I went a tiny bit OT…)

  97. Just for the record, we do NOT have “problem areas.” We have unique, wonderful bodies which are beautiful & perfect as they are & our many lovely variations make the world a much more beautiful place. And, some of us are indeed fat, but it is not a four-letter word, & we are NOT ‘overweight’ or ‘obese’, two completely meaningless & judgmental terms, &, in the case of the latter, a completely fabricated one, a word which did not exist until someone coined it. We need to keep that in mind & own our beautiful bodies & declare our autonomy, including our body autonomy. It is no one else’s business what size we are, OR how much we eat or exercise, etc.

    And there IS no ‘finish line’ in the beauty sweepstakes in this culture, because NO ONE can ever been thin enough, beautiful enough, or perfect enough…because deciding that anyone is enough does not bring in billions of dollars to those who sell us cures for our ‘imperfections.’

    May there be a revolution & a return to sanity, even if I do not live long enough to see it. And may those who sell body hatred & make profits on the bodies (& too often the dead bodies) of the fat burn in a special hell.

  98. My jaw dropped, AnotherKate…

    And the more I thin kabout it, the less I think I eat all that badly. But — any time I eat something remotely not-nothing, somoene comments on it. “Do you know how much fat is in that?” “Is that your breakfast/lunch/dinner?” “OHMYGOD I wish I could have that” “Just wait until you’re older, it’ll catch up with you” and on and on and on… It must be because (even though I’m thin/average), I’m not actively trying to lose weight anymore. I’m a freak!!!


  99. zombie, my story is nothin’ on the stuff people are saying in the “fat kids” thread about the crap that got thrown at them during childhood, usually by the people who you’d hope would love them unconditionally (parents, grandparents, etc).

    Patsy, I couldn’t agree with you more. I guess it’s my thin privilege that I was in my late 20s before I realized that the goalposts are just gonna keep moving back…

  100. Cough Drops? Of Course. At least she didn’t come back with something unreasonable like- I don’t know- Air? How many points does air cost anyway?

    We can also thank Grud that Arwen wasn’t actually on a ‘Diet’ because, as WW will gleefully tell us, Diets are mean and don’t work..

    BTW Kate, I’ll be adding this to the clip of other excellent posts I keep loaded in my bookmarks to throw at the inevitable hater with The ANSWER (It’s the thermodynamics, Fatty!). And, as an aside I must say that, truly, your Word-Fu style cannot be beaten. If you would consider starting a writing dojo I would, gladly, scrub the wooden floors until you consent to teach me your, unstoppable, 7 Deadly Phrase Technique. Sensei!!

  101. I do think it’s important to point out that, since fat people are constantly criticized for daring to put anything into our mouths, many of us do hide how much we truly eat. So, unfortunately, there is a grain of truth to that assumption. However, that kind of behavior almost inevitably leads to disordered eating: when you’re trying to hide the fact that you like tasty food (the horror!), you’ll wind up eating more than you would eat when in a social situation.

    If anything, the haters probably influence us to eat more.

  102. Just something about the: the “There are no fatties in concentration camps” argument: I am Dutch, and the mother of a Jewish friend of mine was in a concentration camp in WW2. While she might not be very fat according to today’s standard, she still was 20 lbs heavier than other women in the camp… And it was not just “heavy bones”. So even in the concentration camps some people were a lot heavier than others.

  103. You know the truth in your heart, and you’ve said it already.

    Those variables are mysterious, but they do exist. We understand thermodynamics, but not neurodynamics.

    Pain requires effort and causes exertion, whether the pain is externally visible or not. When you are angry, your body reacts. When you are rejected, your heart literally aches. Though public knowlege is insufficient to explain it, stress can somehow stop a person’s heart. Any effort, physical or emotional, requires energy and results in work.

    Work requires calories…Even the invisible work that fat-hurters don’t acknowlege.

  104. Fat hate… I’m the fattest of five sisters; my adult pre-pregnancy weight was 7 stone (98lb), at 5 feet high, give or take water retention, breakfast, etc. I knew this because I felt ill, and sure enough, weight was the issue. When I gained over a stone (14 lb) I was able to conceive my daughter. Big fat me. I never dieted, because it was self-evidently insane to do so, but I felt quite bad from time to time.

    Now I have two daughters and I weigh a nice healthy 9 stone (126 lb) my sisters think I’m enormous. My eldest is 3, and somewhere above the 95th centile line on her chart, as she has been from birth, and my youngest is 18 months, and on or below the 25th centile line.

    I’m fucking terrified. I come from a naturally small family, and I married into a naturally skinny family, and I have a naturally large, strong, energetic, muscular, cuddly daughter, who is actually *not* fat. But fat-hatred will lead people to believe that weight==fat, that size==fat, and later on, when such things apply, that dress size == fat. I thought I might have a whole troupe of enormous Amazons towering over me by the time they turned 10, but it looks like I’ll get the genetic mixed bag, and what will we do now?

  105. I come from a naturally small family, and I married into a naturally skinny family, and I have a naturally large, strong, energetic, muscular, cuddly daughter, who is actually *not* fat. But fat-hatred will lead people to believe that weight==fat, that size==fat, and later on, when such things apply, that dress size == fat.

    That’s why it is so important that we as a culture stop tying people’s self-worth to their body size. No one should be made to hate themselves because they don’t fit some false ideal…because the truth is, no one is ever going to fit it. Look at your story…most people would consider 126lbs to be thin, but because you were bigger than others in your family you were told you should be ashamed of yourself.

    I think the best thing you can do for your children is just to teach them to love themselves as they are, because they are acceptable as they are…and some education about why media images aren’t truly representative of real people will probably help to. But that’s just my two cents.

  106. Being more than 20% heavier than the next largest person in the family is large when you’re surrounded by them. It truly is.

    My mother did her best – I was never fat, and she never said I was fat, and always corrected it to “sturdy.” And taught me all about comfort eating, which I have always done without guilt or fear.

  107. AHHHH! My mom just started Weight Watchers and she has a cold right now so her friend brought her her favorite cough drops from England and at breakfast yesterday she said she was wondering how many calories they have. AHHHHHHHH!

  108. I think ww is a crock. I had a friend who lost some weight with it, but only from the resultant depression from the incriminating messages they drill into people’s heads! And the crap the media and med community feeds us! I am slim, (now) and I have never been seriously overweight, but I was heavier than I felt I should be(5’4” 158LBS, small frame) This was after having one child. I did lose the weight fairly quickly, but found that it was still more difficult than b4 baby. And it was not age that made it more difficult as some said…I was 23. Having a baby causes PERMANENT changes in a woman’s body even if she is a young mother ( I was 19 at the birth). When I was 18, I ate poorly…big macs, chips, mountain dew, in large amounts. I weighed 115 LBS in wet clothes. If it’s all about calories, where was the junk in my trunk? It was the pregnancy! It happened to me, a skinny little runt, it can and usually does happen to mothers in general! This is not the only “unrecognized” cause, just one I can speak of from experience. I am now down to a comfy 125. Comfy because I know I could be 115 again, but then I would spend my life avoiding food and the pleasure that comes with it. Excuse me, but fuck that! But even the 125 can be hard to maintain! I know that some of you may now say “quit bitching about maintaining 125!” and I can understand that. But understand that what I am really saying is that you are right, it can’t just be cals in cals out, and it doesn’t matter what weight you are, as in many cases, it is not up to you, but rather your body gets to decide.
    I do acknowledge that there are some overweight individuals who could (in some cases, by their own admission) control their weight, but I think the majority are fighting an uphill battle. Truth: Nobody wants to be treated as 2nd class. No one WANTS to be looked down on, criticized, judged…whatever….no one really WANTS to be fat.
    Good luck. Don’t fight to be thin…fight to be happy, in whatever package that comes in. Peace!

  109. I, too, had a terrible WW experience, In the beginning, the weight came off and I was happy (at least, I THOUGHT I was happy), but once I got to within 1/2 a stone of my self-set target weight (which I had been “tutted” at over as being “too easy a target – you could go at least a stone lower than that!”), I hit a plateau. I gradually cut the calories, week by week, till I was on half what I should have been eating according to the programme. Throughout my entire time at WW I was swimming after work a minimum of three times a week immediately after work for an hour, and was going one weekend day to swim and use the gym for a minimum of three hours. On top of this, I walked briskly or cycled to work (1.5 miles uphill on the way to work, downhill on the way home) 5 days a week, rain or shine.

    I actually ended up GAINING weight after that plateau – no matter what I did. I was made to feel guilty – a lying failure who couldn’t control myself, apparently.

    The only time in my adult life I have ever been thin (I was a UK size 10 at that point) was at the end of my first term at college after suffering malnutrition. I was on a very physically demanding college course and was barely eating a thing while I stayed in the halls of residence. When I went back to college the second term (after taking a MONTH off over the Xmas holydays instead of 2 weeks because I was so ill and could barely swallow), I continued starving myself because I was terrified that I’d gain the weight back.

    At the beginning of this year, I found myself at my heaviest ever – I was 14stones. 6 weeks later I discovered I was pregnant and you know what? I’ve stopped worrying about my weight all of a sudden! I eat when I’m hungry and eat what I want to eat – exactly as I did before – and get praised by the midwife because apparently my eating habits and choices are extremely healthy. I have never had any problems with blood pressure or cholesterol and I am physically very active (although I quite with the gym and swimming after the WW disaster!). I am currently 34 weeks pregnant and everyone at work is amazed that I still walk there and back every day – I also walk 2 miles into town and back nearly every weekend when I need to pick something up or just go window shopping.

    I am SO much happier now than I have ever been – I have a wonderful husband who has always found me incredibly sexy and attractive, whether thin or fat, and I have what I am assured is a very healthy baby on the way. Not worrying about my weight has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and I am glad I got to this point in my life before I ruined the rest of it by continuing to torture myself.

  110. I just found your blog today – found it through the Dear Oprah post and now I’ve spent well over an hour just reading, reading, reading.

    This has come at the precise moment for me as I was just lamenting yesterday how after two kids I am back at my heaviest weight ever – seven years ago I lost 40 pounds through utter devotion to my “weight loss job” and ever since then it’s crept back, namely because I couldn’t devote 2-3 hours a day, six days a week to strenuous exercise and ingesting all the soy protein I could choke down. I was a science experiment – calories in, calories out.

    Nowadays I’m a mom, I work full time, and everything else in life that goes along with that, so I don’t have the time or the energy to exercise and be strict with my (then-disgusting) diet like I did as a single not-a-mother. I’d rather spend my time playing with my kids and planning fun things to do with my family on weekends instead of hitting the gym.

    But, deep down, as anyone else in my position knows all too well, I look at my body and feel so profoundly sad. I don’t see it as the vessel that produced two beautiful, amazing children, as the container for overflowing love and passion and creativity. I see stretch marks and droopy tits and heavy thighs that don’t even come close to fitting into my trusty old size 16 “thin” jeans. Most of all I feel guilty for not being “devoted” enough or “disciplined” enough to lose weight again.

    I love this site because I don’t feel like it’s the sort of message I’ve seen in other places of “I’m fat and the world WILL accept it!” because it has NOTHING to do with what the world thinks. It has EVERYTHING to do with what I think and feel about myself. Therein lies the crucial message.

    So, yeah, thanks. I am so happy to have found these words as it makes me feel better about myself. I think I’ll go eat an entire handful of cough drops, and I don’t even have a sore throat :)

  111. Kate.. =]
    ..my love..

    Funny. I stumbled upon this thread while
    “Google-ing” diet tips.
    I’m 18 years old. I’m 5’5.. and I am about a size 12/14.

    I have always been “big”… Hell, my entire family is “BIG”

    I’ve have always gotten the “pretty face” comments..
    but even those have destroyed my self esteem..
    I never feel pretty. I never let myself think that I am good enough.. because my jeans are fatter than whoevers..

    Like now.. Spring Break.. right around the corner..
    and I am dreading it awfully.
    My best friend.. who is beautiful btw.
    (5’8.. about 160lbs..)
    and I officially started dieting today.

    It’s an awful cycle. I’ve dieted since I was 14.
    I went to the Doctor.. and Low and Behold..
    It’s my thyroid. So now I’m a fatty with a small excuse..
    and a stupid pill that I have to take EVERY morning!

  112. I completely agree with this! When I was a kid, I would eat properly, run around and play outside any chance I got, and I was still “fat.” To get myself to a “normal” weight to stop being teased, I tried following the “normal” diet&exercise routine. Didn’t work. I don’t know how I did it but I’m thinner now. Still sick of people saying diet and exercise always works, though. >:/

  113. I know this thread is old but I just couldn’t resist adding this new sample of lunacy that I found in one of the comments on this post:

    Where I am, the popular method is “Dr. Brenstein”, which is just expensive starvation with vitamin shots. There’s a complicated program, they won’t even let you use hand cream because the fats will be absorbed through your skin and sabotage the program.

    You can get fat from HAND CREAM. The fact that anyone can actually seriously think that, let alone teach it to others, without having their head explode just blows my mind.

  114. You are not a liar. You are not guilty.

    I love you so much, Kate. You are just a drop of absolution in an ocean of shame, but oh, how much good it does me to come back here time and again and remember that I’m not guilty. I’m glad that you keep vehemently saying the same things in different ways, and in response to different kettles of bullshit, because it needs to be said. Bless you.

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