62 thoughts on “Fatosphere in the NYT!”

  1. I love how you actually preemptively refuted the last paragraph of my post WHILE I WAS WRITING IT. But honestly, I couldn’t be happier to be proven wrong.

    And, of course, my point still stands in the sense that they could not possibly write this article without the input of Papa Willett. But damned if you guys, and Roni, didn’t make him look ridiculous.

  2. Wow. I imagine there will be an influx… and I imagine moderation is going to be a bit of a job for the next little while.

  3. You know, I will actually bet money that it won’t. Everyone’s an asshole on the internet, but lots of people aren’t assholes when they’re reading The New York Times. I’m betting that people get weary at the prospect of taking off their Times Hat and putting on their Asshole Hat.

    I’m placing my bets: one douchehound, three skeptical posts asking well-trodden but valuable questions in a non-trolly way that we approve and answer, 50 new short-term readers, and 15 new regular readers. If I get closest without going over, I win a baby donut!

  4. Okay. I see your douchehound and raise you… 4 more. But I think and hope you garner more than 15 more regular readers. As Meowser says, y’all are ahead of your time. And there’s a lot of people’s health depending on it: it’s way easier to exercise and eat properly if you’re doing it for health.

  5. I have to say, it’ll definitely depend on where this is placed in the actual paper and how it’s situated on the website. You may very well snatch that golden baby donut from my fingers yet.

    (It is true, though, that we often batten down the hatches for things like Metafilter links, and then get maybe one measly troll straggling in. But those are often incidental links, where people may just click to see what it is — this is a whole article about fat blogs. Could definitely make a difference.)


    I guess me and Fu are gonna have to stock up on some trollspray now. And I totally credit Fu for the mention, not me, since she’s the one who set up the whole Fatosphere feed, put together all those links, wrote the post cited in the story, etc. I just get to smile and wield the spray can, but I’ll take it.

  7. It’s a nice article. But it still leaves out those of us who happen to be large because of a chosen lifestyle. And those of us in that category will continue to be vilified and hated because of the choice we make.

    I was a size 16 in high school. I now wear close to a 40. That is not a result of my genetics, even though my dad and sister are overweight too. I probably weigh close to 315, probably 320 at this point. Five years ago, I weighed about 270.

    I’ve spent years upon years on different diet programs, with little to no success. I’ve even been on a program where my mom meticulously cooked and wrote down everything I ate, in order to “reign me in.” It failed.

    I’ve been to WW several times. I had to quit Jenny Craig because the food was so horrible. I did the whole NutriSystem program for a month, and I lost control when I went off the thing because the whole program deprived me of actual food I liked.

    I like to eat fatty foods – end of story. Every time I have tried to restrict my food intake, I’ve suffered from depression. I’d rather be massively (or morbidly) overweight than not eat what I want.

    I’m sure there is some emotional connection to food, but even when I sought out help for anxiety, the doctor just told me I would find happiness and social acceptance through weight loss.

    Seriously, I’m at a loss here. There is no “community” for people like me.

  8. OMG that was, good? It was good. This Biologist says Doctor Harvard can bite me, of course being overweight is a lifestyle choice. It’s called eating a balanced diet, working out, and letting the chips fall where they may.

    I can’t wait for the day when science and medicine finally puts members of the anti-obesity medical community entirely in the same historical “oops” category as blood-letters and eugenics enthusiasts. I will throw a party, and y’all are invited.

    The article was so awesome though.

  9. Sarah, there is a difference between being unable or unwilling to stick to a restrictive diet (which most of us are) and “being fat because of a chosen lifestyle.” Most of us here have more or less the same “chosen lifestyle.” It’s called not being on a goddamn diet all the time. And I think you have a perfect right not to eat vegetables and exercise, if you really and truly hate that stuff. There are no “bad fatties” and “good fatties,” in my book.

    But…when it comes to traditional media exposure of size acceptance, “I eat right and exercise and I’m not thin” is always going to get a more favorable slant than, “Yeah, I’m a junk-food junkie and I like my sofa and TV, and that’s my right, so butt out.” Only thin people are “allowed” to say such things in traditional media; if Cameron Diaz says she eats a cheeseburger every day people think that’s cute, but if I say I eat one a week, I’m a pig at a trough. The media has not quite caught up to its own hypocrisy about “health” just yet, and being so consumed with “beauty,” they may never.

    But just for them to acknowledge that being fat has relatively little to do with diet and exercise for most people is pretty miraculous, in my book.

  10. Sarah, there is a community for all fat folks. I don’t think there is one community for those of us who are total health nuts and still fat, and one for those of us who have totally unhealthy lifestyles, if there even is such a thing. I think it is more like a scale, and in our lifetimes we all go up and down it, and we all belong to it.

    Since getting onto the fatosphere and finding FA and the voice of reason, I have been trying very hard to include all fat people in my ‘community thoughts’.

    I try never to discuss fat rights with others in terms of how much people eat, or whether or not they have an illness that adds to their weight problems. I don’t even make excuses for my own weight being partly due to health problems because that gives them an out to excuse me but not others. I just try to tell them that all fat people deserve to be treated as human beings, with empathy and respect, and that diets don’t work.

    Am I not including you in my community?



  11. Hello,

    Just wanted to drop a line of support from a NYT reader. I certainly hope that you will not get a line of idiots and morons ruining your comments, and I don’t think you will. This article seemed very sympathetic and fair without trying for an agenda (a rare thing nowadays, I know!). Anyway, great blog you have here – much respect and good luck with all the upcoming interest and traffic!


  12. so this was actually printed? oooo….

    I wonder how many letters the paper will get on the subject. If any. It’d be interesting to see what they would publish in response, in the past (in other papers) anything positive about the obesity epidemic has generally had a curt ‘im all for self acceptance, but fat people are still fat and should lose weight.’

    betcha they have some of those. can i win a baby doughnut too?

  13. Sarah, the only difference between you and I is that you’ve been to actual diet clubs, apart from that, you are describing me to a tee, I call myself the worlds worst dieter(unofficial).

    Every time I have tried to restrict my food intake, I’ve suffered from depression.

    Last year my stomach seemed to be like a trampoline, I decided to eat light, which turned out to be mainly yoghurt with maple syrup, I enjoyed it, I felt satisfied enough not to be overly concerned with appetite.
    Whilst out I met someone I knew, in the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I was ready to go i.e. the idea of dying didn’t bother me either way, my companion said no, no it’s too early but I insisted.

    Later on, it came to my mind and I thought, had the will to live just slipped away? That’s odd, why? Of course it was what I wasn’t eating.
    No duress no attempt to lose weight, and that’s what it led to after a few days! I am a size 18/20.

    Stop worrying about what you can’t do and think about what you can, you simply are not the dieting kind period-incidently I’d be surprised if there wasn’t plenty of slim people that would respond similarly. You simply CANNOT and should not diet, so GIVE IT UP, give up dieting, give up the idea of dieting, and DEPROGRAMME yourself of any sense of blame, shame or fault. It is simply the way you are made, you will never win with diets-very few do, but for you, absolutely not.

    Your nervous system could be cowering like a frightened child, waiting for you to terrorise it with another diet at any moment, try to gently convince it otherwise. By attacking your self-esteem, you are merely attacking yourself and your body to absolutely no end, except to making things worse. You’ve got to understand that the people telling you to keep losing weight have no comeback, if you do become slim, it is always your fault regardless of how it makes you feel, you are the one that will have to call a halt to it, and resist opposition. They don’t understand.

    Be as kind and as gentle with yourself as you have been harsh and unkind before. I wish you the best.

  14. This bugs me, though:

    a large study that found that underweight Americans are more likely to die than those who are moderately overweight.

    “Underweight”? No. “Normal”! That’s the whole point!!

    They’ve read all these blogs, spoke to all these awesome people from the Fatosphere. I don’t believe in a misunderstanding. They must have purposefully changed the facts because the truth was just too subversive. Or because they thought, “ok, it was all fine up to here but NOW the fatty’s surely lying”.
    And here’s me still fuming that people are made to believe it’s just this one study with this result, when there’ve been dozens of a similar scale and quality out there, for fifty years.

  15. I saw this article down on the “Inside New York Times” bar. The title is illustrated by a little girl chowing down on a piece of chocolate cake. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Overall I like the article and I hope you do find some more readers. I’m sure you’ll get a few “I have nothing against fat people I just don’t want them to be fat. For their own good.”

    I think the health message is an important one–that you can’t judge health by looking at someone (Dr. Frist!) but I also think the message that it’s really none of your business is also important. People are not obligated to meet specific health and wellness standards. And I’ve rarely heard the same kind of moralizing about people who, say, tan. And so often what are really aesthetic concerns are smuggled in as “I’m just worried about your health” so it’s important to cut that argument off as soon as it comes out. But I do agree with Sarah that fat bodies are not public property.

  16. I just saw it and came over to say AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaa!!!!!!!
    You’re in the New York Times!!!!!!!!

  17. Congrats on making it to the NYTimes! But, why didn’t they put a picture of you? I mean, looking all hot and stuff, unlike the tiny girl with the piece of cake?

    I say this as a bigger person (with a big family) that came back from two years in Africa having lost 50 pounds (down to 150 and 5′ 8″) because I’d had both malaria and typhus. My African friends wanted to send letters to my parents apologizing for my “poor health,” but my American friends were all “Can I go to Africa and get sick? Is that like some cool diet?”

    Now I’m back to my ‘set point’ of about 200 pounds and man, it’s good not to be malarial.

  18. Kate & Co (and all the rest of the bloggers): How incredible! I am so excited for the exposure, though maybe not the trolling, that the article will bring. And, Kate, over 3000 people a day reading your writing probably indicates that you are indeed a “real writer”.

    Sarah- People who overeat and don’t exercise make up a large part of society. Some of them are thin, some fat. Regardless of your “lifestyle choices”, they likely aren’t the sole (or even major) reasons for being fat. I echo everyone up the thread, though, when I say that it doesn’t fucking matter. I don’t care if you are eating two dozen baby flavored dounts a day, you still belong here.

  19. What a pleasure to read something that even slightly takes a step towards telling folks fat bodies are no more public concern then are thin bodies (and yes at some points I think the article was just a bit TOO light on support of what these fat bloggers are saying; putting too much emphasis on phrases like “They SAY that BMI is BS…” kinda of talk).

    I hope this does have the affect of driving more people to these blogs to even get just ONE person, one more troll THINKING before reacting will be a success. :)

  20. Congratulations, ladies. Rock.

    As for the cake, I guarantee you that the person who chose the cake is totally different from, and may not have even consulted with the author of the article. This shit is notoriously bad in the NYT, and, well, all newspapers. Annoying as fuck, but not unusual.

  21. I am so glad to hear that there is a good article out there today. I woke up and opened up my local newspaper (San Diego Union Tribune) and was faced with an article that would have easily won me Fat Hate Bingo. The title was “There’s nothing funny about being fat” by Paul Grondahl of the New York Times News Service and for a few seconds you are led to believe the article might be about how it isn’t funny to laugh at fat people in jokes anymore. Unfortunately the article is…oh, my gawd, there is an epidemic of obesity! It is ruining our country! People are dropping like flies! Think of the children! Our health care system and how much the fatties are costing us!

    After last night’s Onion satire on politics and the “Fat Vote” and now this, I’m happy to hear some positive media is coming your way.


  22. This bugs me, though:

    a large study that found that underweight Americans are more likely to die than those who are moderately overweight.

    “Underweight”? No. “Normal”! That’s the whole point!!

    Ooh, good catch, Em. Want to be the first person to write an angry letter to the Times about the article? :)

    Judging from what Kate told me about the writer, though, it could have been a genuine mistake. It seems this was all very new for her, though clearly she was interested in learning about it. It may just have been cognitive dissonance (“wait, no, this can’t be right”), rather than a deliberate misrepresentation.

  23. It’s definitely nice to see some major media outlets paying attention to this. Fat acceptance/Body acceptance is an extremely important message.

    It still irks me that they need to put the whole “DON’T ACCEPT YOURSELF CAUSE FAT IS UNHEALTHY” message in there. But, small steps and all.

  24. “Want to be the first person to write an angry letter to the Times about the article?”

    Definitely! You can’t go and downplay the health risks of being normal like that! MILLIONS of people are normal in this country! Being normal is KILLING people! Will someone please think of the children?

  25. Right! I’m not saying we should discriminate against the normal, but you can’t deny that there’s a normality epidemic in this country, and no matter what you say, it’s just not healthy to be normal. I’m just concerned for their well-being!

  26. I will temporarlily ammend my “the NYT is full of complete morons” stance to, “The NYT is full of complete morons except that chick who wrote that pretty decent article about the fatosphere.” Temporary, in case she backslides into moronity.

    (In college we learned about research methods in pretty much every class, and pretty much every prof I had would hand out articles from the NYT and say “Tell me what is wrong with this.” They have not gotten any better. Their science/research reporting is DISMAL, though I don’t know if it is arguably any worse than the rest of journalism, except… they are the NYT they are supposed to know stuff. Hence, my now amended stance.)

  27. Who wants to go to Harvard University with big signs and be fat at Dr. Willet?


  28. The other day I saw this normal woman with her daughter… not just moderately normal, mind you, really massively and they were eating a salad! Irresponsible, that’s all I’m saying.

  29. “you can’t deny that there’s a normality epidemic in this country”

    Actually, I think its a mediocrity epidemic. And it frightens me.

  30. Em, I know! I always see normal-weight families in the grocery store, and their carts are full of instant meals and ice cream, or else they’re full of vegetables and rice and chicken, or else they’re full of both! Sometimes they buy soda or chips, and other times they do not!

    It’s disgusting, I tell you. I mean, they eat just like fat people!

  31. Oh my god, Fillyjonk, Em, my work is SO full of normal people it is disgusting. And the worst part is everytime someone orders pizza or brings in free food, all these normal people rush in and eat everything before anyone else can even get a slice. We have bagels every friday and because of all the normal people in this stupid office they are always gone within the first half an hour. I just can’t stand it anymore! Fat people need bagels too!

  32. As a woman struggling to overcome disordered eating – and I don’t mean anorexia or bulimia, I mean an obsession with food, exercise, weight control, calorie counting, etc., motivated in part by emotional issues as well as by my ridiculously skewed body image issues – I was so relieved to read the article in today’s NYTimes and to find this wonderful community of people who have the right idea about life. Life is not about how much we weigh or what we eat; life is about living, about loving ourselves and knowing we deserve to be loved and respected no matter what we weigh. I am so looking forward to exploring your fatosphere, hopefully getting to know some of you, and I hope you’ll take the time to get to know me, too. I’m blogging about my recovery on my Blogspot site, and any feedback and support would be welcomed. But in any event, thank you for putting out the word that fat is far less “dangerous” than the mainstream culture wants us to think!

  33. Wow, that was really good! It’ll be interesting to see what kind of traffic you get from it.

    Sarah, I think there are two things at issue here – one is that just because FA advocates focus on the “most fat people don’t make themselves fat” message to the public, doesn’t mean they believe people who do make themselves fat don’t deserve the same respect as every other human being. It’s just that the general public is more likely to listen to the FA message if they realise being fat is not generally a choice. Once they’re listening, we can go on to convince them that all fat people are human beings and deserving of respect, no matter how big they are or why. The other is that most FA advocates would probably disagree that you’re fat because of your lifestyle. There are lots of people who eat fatty foods and aren’t fat, or are only a little fat. Eating fatty foods won’t make a person weigh 320 pounds, unless that person is genetically predisposed to weighing 320 pounds (or has some sort of illness or disorder that causes weight gain).

  34. And, Kate, over 3000 people a day reading your writing probably indicates that you are indeed a “real writer”.


    Does being in the NYTimes beat being on Slashdot?



  35. Big fat congrats, ladies. Well done.

    And, speaking of normal people being *everywhere* these days, I was so pissed off this morning. This totally normal dude sat next to me on the train. I mean, like, right next to me. I think I might’ve caught normal!!!!!

  36. Congratulations!

    What I loved about the article was that she quoted Prof. Fat-hater in such a way that he sounded ridiculous rather than credible. With some people, the best way to discredit them is to just let them talk.

  37. Plus, somehow she got Papa Willett — Mr. 18-BMI himself — to say that we shouldn’t always blame the individual. You what now? Because I’m pretty sure yesterday you were all “people are totes killing themselves by gaining weight after the age of 21!!!”

  38. I have closed down the window with the article already so I may be wrong, but did she calll HAES, Healthy at Any Size again? Wouldn’t that make it HAAS, which is, I believe an avocado?

    I know there isn’t much diff between Every and Any, but it does make a difference–both in trying to find out more (google the wrong term and you won’t find the right info) and in that “Any” sort of carries the connotation of “we think you are healthy, even you OMG big fatties!” rather than “we think people can be healthy at every size and it isn’t the size that matters”-or at least that is how it reads to me. The second phrase is clearly more positive and carries the actual philosophy of HAES, while the first sounds more like the Fat Haters when they try to pretend they care. Might be just me, though. YMMV.


  39. Oh. My. God. She really, truly does get it.

    A real newspaper article, in national newspaper, fairly representing fat acceptance.

    I think my reality has just torn a bit.

  40. Kim, I have seen them used interchangeably.

    Yeah, but Kim’s absolutely right about the google factor, which is why I edited the “Welcome, NYT readers” post to reflect that.

  41. Hello all!

    Well I hope to be one of the “15 new regular readers” but admit that my true nature of elastic consistency might result in me being a semi-regular reader, but I assure you, I will not be a douchehound! ;)

    Ironically enough, I landed upon the NYT Fatosphere article through a short labyrinth of websites which began with the “Heath Ledger found dead in NYC” article! So Kate, maybe the “stars” are aligned for you after all! As you can imagine, it wasn’t a far stretch from Heath’s death… to “The Worst Day of the Year” article… to Lexapro.com (and a few other depression websites)… to body-image issues… to the FATOSPHERE!! And here I am.

    Anyway, I was thrilled to read the article (and ignore the “Check your BMI index here” ad box) “. I truly had no idea Fat Advocates even existed! I had heard of body image coaches, etc. but never really took any of them seriously. After reading through your site for quite a while now, I am very excited to discover you! It’s just wonderful to know that there are REAL people out there speaking out on behalf of size-challenged people everywhere.

    Yes, I’m calling it size-challenged because I truly must admit that I have never accepted being overweight. I have nearly always been overweight, but in my teens and 20’s I was more active and muscular, so my curves were flattering and not too inhibiting. I was even thin once… for like 8 minutes… or months… it seemed like minutes anyway… but I still have the pictures and beat myself up everyday for not STILL looking like that. I’m now 31 going on 32 and I’m as fat as ever – a size 18/20 and nearly 240 lbs. I know I’m not healthy – even though I’m a vegetarian and don’t eat horrible foods (I even eat very well on some days) – yet I am the epitome of lazy. I can do absolutely nothing for days on end if given the opportunity… which I often have. And then I feel worse about my fat and lazy self, eat some more and feel guilty about that too… a never-ending cycle that I’m sure you’ve heard of before. Oh and I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was 13. More fun.

    But my body issues are no surprise to me, or anyone else once they know a little about my background. My whole family is either petite and skinny naturally or are exercise fanatics. My dad is an obsessive triathlete, my step-father is a marathon runner (and both of these men have played significant roles in my life – my step-father since I was 6.) My older sister is a yoga instructor in Denver, CO, my brother is a novelist and is so picture-perfect that he is regularly hired to dance in night clubs in Miami, where he lives. My youngest sister is teeny-tiny and is a professional ballet dancer. And my mom, well, she has just always been petite and thin with no exercise whatsoever. I’m not entirely sure where I fit in… but I did – for those 8 minutes of skinny. The main thing I have going for me is that I am pretty – yes, I can say that out loud (or type it out loud, anyway). And being pretty seems to just make things worse for me… it’s like people are just more disappointed than if I were enitrely unattractive. Yes, I’m the girl with the “pretty face” – as if nothing else about me could be described as such. And I know everyone says “she’d be so pretty if she just lost some weight”… because they remember those 8 minutes just like I do – when I was pretty and really, really happy.

    So I honestly didn’t intend to make my comment here into my life story – I just wanted to say hello and thank you for giving a voice to those of us who are often overlooked. And I promise I’ll be back. ;)

  42. @Rubberband – I bet, if you think about it, you’ll be able to bring to mind a number of non-exercising thin people. Confirmation bias exists in each of us – it’s easy to start putting our characters down for the shape of our thighs. Maybe you’re “lazy”, and maybe you’re “fat”, and maybe the two have nothing to do with one another. You see what I mean? Neither makes you a baby-eater, and you’re allowed to make those choices for your body and self.

    If you’re into moving around for health, a really wonderful way to make exercise less impossible and guilt inducing is to take the idea of slenderness out of it. Because then you’re listening to YOUR BODY, not the scale – and really enjoying moving your body moving through space means not hating on it the whole time. I love exercise, and do it all the time, but it’s never done a single thing to my weight. I do find it makes a difference to my shape.

  43. And KH, FJ, SM: Thanks, y’all, for coping with any influx of haters in the mod queue. Not fun. I really love coming here in part because you’re holding the ravening hordes at bay with a delete key.

  44. Arwen,

    Thanks for your reply. I guess I’ve never thought about it like that – laziness and fatness might not always go hand-in-hand. I’ll give it some more thought. But I really do like your idea of trying exercise without correlating it to a certain set of expectations. Then again, why would I want to move around that much and get all sweaty just for the sake of it?… unless it involved a man… ;)

    Thanks again,


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