Fat, Fillyjonk, Other Stuff We Read, Self-Image

What’s your problem?

My internets friend Stitchtowhere recently wrote an excellent screed about the way we pathologize weight in our language. Outside of the FA movement, of course, fat is overwhelmingly referred to as a “weight problem,” a “weight issue, “struggles with one’s weight,” and the implications pissed her off:

Dear Speakers of the (MOSTLY FATPHOBIC) English Language,

I don’t & have never talked about my fat & weight as an “issue”* or “problem.” It’s you that does that, and it is tired, and dated, and SO FUCKING ANNOYING. FYI, when you talk about “my weight issue” or “my weight problem” you are, both through your pitious tone & unexamined terminology, implying several shitty things: a) fat & weight are a problem b) you have a problem with fat (and therefore with me) c) that if i don’t consider my size a problem, I OUGHT TO. THIS IS BULLSHIT. I DON’T. CEASE & DESIST. IMMEDIATELY. AND NO, APPENDING “BUT WE ALL HAVE WEIGHT PROBLEMS” does not make it any more universal or okay.

Also, while you’re at it feel, free to stop using “slimming” and “minimizing” as your ultimate compliment when giving me props on an outfit. I, unlike a spy, stage show puppeteer, cat burgler, or Odo on special ops, DO NOT dress to disappear. My body exists. I occupy physical space, as much as I want/need, and I WILL NOT apologize for it. I WILL NOT, make myself look/feel smaller to better fit your tiny narrow-minded view.


no big fat bunches of corpulent love,


(I loved it so hard that I had to quote it in its entirety.)

To the litany of pathologizing language I’d add “obese,” which is a medical term repurposed as a judgment. I’m sure a lot of people think that “obese,” like “weight problem,” is a gentle term for “fat,” but that’s simply false. “Obesity” is fat as disease, and I wouldn’t describe a fat person as “obese” for the same reason I wouldn’t describe a woman as “hysterical” — I don’t believe that fatness is an ailment and I don’t believe that emotion is a mental illness. (At the same time, if you’re going to use it, use it right — “obese” may only mean something according to slapdash medical adaptations of insurance tables, but it definitely does NOT mean “fatter than I personally consider attractive or acceptable.”)

Anyway, Stitch’s awesome takedown of the “problem” terminology put me in mind of this scene from the fabulous Pippi Longstocking (ETA: I didn’t specify which Pippi book, but I’ve checked and it’s Pippi Goes On Board), which has stuck with me vividly since childhood:

In the window was a large jar of freckle salve, and beside the jar was a sign which read: DO YOU SUFFER FROM FRECKLES?

“What does the sign say?” asked Pippi. She couldn’t read very well because she didn’t want to go to school as other children did.

“It says, ‘Do you suffer from freckles?’” Annika said.

“Does it indeed?” said Pippi thoughtfully. “Well, a civil question deserves a civil answer. Let’s go in.”

She opened the door and entered the shop, closely followed by Tommy and Annika. An elderly lady stood back of the counter. Pippi went right up to her.

“No!” she said decidedly.

“What is it you want?” asked the lady.

“No,” said Pippi once more.

“I don’t understand what you mean,” said the lady.

“No, I don’t suffer from freckles,” said Pippi.

Then the lady understood but she took one look at Pippi and burst out, “But, my dear child, your whole face is covered with freckles!”

“I know it,” said Pippi, “but I don’t suffer from them. I love them. Good morning.”

Damn, but Pippi is a great role model (aside from not being much of a reader). Face to face with marketing telling her that she should be ashamed, that she has a Freckle Problem that needs fixing, she nevertheless refuses to allow her body to be pathologized. She doesn’t give in to messages telling her that she should be suffering; she doesn’t even acknowledge them as applying to her. She loves her freckles because they’re part of her face, and she loves her face because it’s part of her, and she doesn’t see any reason not to love herself. So why would she give any credence to people who assume she’s suffering from something?

We could all use to be a little more like Pippi. Freckles and fat aren’t conditions that you suffer from or problems that you struggle with, and anyone who says differently is probably selling something. Don’t buy the freckle salve. In fact, don’t buy the sign. It wants you to think you should be suffering from freckles — that they’re wrong, that they make you wrong. Don’t buy it; it doesn’t apply to you. There will always be messages telling you that your body’s beautiful individual idiosyncrasies are “issues” and “problem areas” that need to be cured. I want to be able to march right up to them and say “I don’t suffer from it; I love it.” I want that for all of you, too.

Stitchtowhere expands on her point:

awhile back i was telling my friend smith that our kitten had a “peeing problem” and he was like “no she doesn’t. she pees where she wants. YOU have the problem.” he was being witty, but it’s true.

Right on. Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.

94 thoughts on “What’s your problem?”

  1. Oh Pippi, how i love thee. Here’s hoping i can carry her ideals through this weekend when my father’s very judgmental side of the family visits.

  2. This kind of thing is so important to keep in mind. I constantly (though less these days) have to remind myself that I do not exist for others. It is too easy for me to get sucked into the idea that I am whatever others say I am or that I should be or do whatever they ask of me because I don’t have enough faith in my own judgement.

  3. Hey, Shapely Prose people, I was wondering if you could help me some.

    I’m kind of new to all this, and I am wondering if there is a good explanation anywhere of why it is incongruent to be a fat activist while wanting to lose weight yourself?

    I would champion hard for other people to feel good at whatever weight is natural for them, and to stop the criticism by the medical community and by culture of those weights, and for people to be exercising and feel comfortable exercising no matter their weight, but I really do want to lose that fifteen pounds (which would, just by chance, put me into a different “BMI category”)

    I liked the way I looked fifteen years ago, when I look at photos a couple years old. It really seemed to suit me better, and I absolutely love the clothes I have from that period (and I don’t want to have to buy all new nice clothes).

    So I can’t be a fat activist? It didn’t make sense to me, but that is what a lot of the fatosphere seems to imply. And that makes me kinda sad.

  4. Awesome post. Pippi was and remains one of my earliest heroes.

    Hate the word “obesity” with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. My partner had an awesome idea just the other day. Replace “obesity” with “Piracy.” Thus, we have the Piracy Epidemic and the spectre of Childhood Piracy.

    Much more fun, IMO..


  5. I am wondering if there is a good explanation anywhere of why it is incongruent to be a fat activist while wanting to lose weight yourself?

    Oh my god, gobs of it. Check practically any long thread, since people seem to bring it up randomly. Sorry to seem like I just don’t want to have this conversation again, but I just don’t want to have this conversation again.

    I could search for it, but I’d be doing the same searches you could do yourself. Suffice to say, yes, it’s been discussed to death, and I recommend reading around in the archives and elsewhere in the fatosphere. Maybe someone else has a specific link.

    Also, “piracy epidemic” ++++. We may have to adopt that.

  6. I was once asked at work (I work with the public) if I had “thought about doing anything for my problem…you know, like a diet or something” I was confused for a second and replied with the only thing that came to my head that wouldn’t get me fired. “I don’t have a problem”

    It always brings a smile to my face.

  7. I was once asked at work (I work with the public) if I had “thought about doing anything for my problem…you know, like a diet or something”

    “But diets don’t cure contagious fungal infections.

    Oh wait, what problem were YOU talking about?”

  8. I have a piracy problem! YAAArrrrr!

    I’m responding to you because I JUST thought of an analogy. But FJ is right, this topic has been discussed to death.

    Being a fat activist on a diet is like being a blonde activist who dies their hair brown. You are telling other people it is okay to be a certain way while simultaneously altering yourself so that you aren’t like them.

    If you think Fat Acceptance sounds like a great idea, but still feel like “you personally” want to go on a diet (that wont really work anyway) then you aren’t ready for fat acceptance. I don’t want you to accept my fat if you can’t accept your own.

    …. I just thought of a bunch more to say about this, so I’m goign to do it on my blog instead of perpetuating this conversation here in the comments.

  9. OH HELL YES. Also, I am so tired of hearing “overweight” tossed about, too. Over *what* weight?

    What’s that obnoxious bumper sticker saying? “I don’t suffer from insanity – I enjoy every minute!”

  10. Yanno? In all of my struggle to accept my body, I have never, ever been conflicted about my freckles. I adore my freckles. I wish I had more and I always try to go at least one day in the sun a year without sunscreen so that they become more visible.

    My face without freckles would be like a sky without stars.

  11. My only argument with this (and it is a nitpicky one) is that it is possible for your emotions to be a medical problem. A rather serious problem even.

    It is not unusual for asthmatics to have “stress” as a trigger. IOW, feeling angry or scared or panicky makes your lungs tighten up, produce mucus and then it gets hard to breathe. Since not being able to breathe is pretty damn scary, you can end up in a very exciting feedback loop. If you don’t get your emotions a bit under control, you’ll keep having asthma symptoms, right through any medications you use.

    It’s a really unfun experience all told. It’s even less fun for asthmatics who have “laughter” as a trigger. Thankfully, that one is pretty rare.

  12. I love Pippi.

    She’s the reason I wanted to be red-haired and freckled when all of the other little girls wanted to look like Farrah.

  13. The diet thing isn’t always a simple issue. I know at least two people whose mobility was becoming severely impaired as they continued to gain weight. Wheelchair-bound. One went straight for WLS, but I know the other exercised regularly and worked with a PT professional to do as much as she could before deciding intentionally trying to lose weight was worth a shot.

    I don’t know what I’d do if I was facing that choice.

  14. Kudos to Pippi Longstocking – that is such a great response. (I just about recall her books from when I was young, but I don’t think she’s quite as well known over here.)

    Can I add to what Stitchtowhere said, that I hate it when people use the word ‘flattering’ in an obvious shorthand way? Annoying, because it could be a perfectly good word to describe something that you just, you know, look good in, yet it’s been stolen by people who think it means ‘makes you look slimmer’. Certain people I know only ever use it in that sense, and I can be 99% certain they’ll drag it out if I try on anything that happens to be black. Grr.

  15. Torrilin, fair point, but that’s not what FJ is getting at. “Hysteria” was a cultural phenomenon of medicalizing women’s sexuality and emotions. It was, like obesity, a way of “officially” calling people pathological when you really meant “does stuff/looks a way I’m not comfortable with.”

    Kat and Janet, this is a no-diet-talk zone. Seriously, it’s okay to think it’s not a simple issue, but we’ve had this conversation before, multiple times, at great length, which you can easily find by searching our archives. This thread is not the place to rehash that debate. (While you’re searching the archives, you should also search for the phrase “diets don’t work,” which is the crux of the matter anyway.)

  16. Thanks for helping me remember how much I love Pippi.

    Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.

    I don’t think anyone’s going to top that for awhile.

    A LOOOOOOOOOOng while.

  17. Kat and Janet, this is a no-diet-talk zone. Seriously, it’s okay to think it’s not a simple issue, but we’ve had this conversation before, multiple times, at great length, which you can easily find by searching our archives.

    Thanks, SM.

    Everybody, please see the comments policy, too.

  18. Torrilin said: “It’s a really unfun experience all told. It’s even less fun for asthmatics who have “laughter” as a trigger. Thankfully, that one is pretty rare.”

    That would be me. And the best part is, my asthma manifests as “convulsive coughing”. i.e. cough until it triggers a gag reflex.

    Almost as fun as Disney World.

  19. Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.

    Is there any particular font I should use when I have this _tattooed to my forehead_?


  20. I don’t have asthma (at least according to my doc I don’t), but if I laugh too much/too hard, I end up coughing until my gag reflex is triggered. Too much laughter will also make my hernia spasm, and that’s painful. So I no longer believe there’s no such thing as too much laughter. For me, there is.
    All in all, though, this is an awesome post :)

  21. This post is awesome. Thank you.

    I feel like this is applicable to so many things. Having a particular trait (physical characteristic, learning style, way of thinking, whatever) that some people deem problematic, doesn’t mean you have a problem. You have that trait, if it doesn’t bother you, where’s the problem? (A: in other people’s heads)
    note: This is not to say that non-inherently-problematic traits can’t lead to access problems, but that’s because there’s a problem with access, not with the person. (um, sorry if that didn’t make any sense, having trouble expressing what I’m trying to say . . .)

  22. I love this too:

    Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem. Right on!

    When I was young, my strawberry-blonde hair would turn red from the sun during the summer and I’d break out in freckles. I loved it, and kind of miss the freckles – I thought they were cute. Needless to say, Pippi was one of my role models, too (minus that whole not-reading thing).

  23. Veering a bit off topic, I say the same thing about my autistic brother.

    He is perfectly happy and healthy and just because his brain works differently than other people’s brains doesn’t mean he has a “problem” his life will not be on the same trajectory of school-career-family that other people have but he has always been exceptionally happy in a way that many “normal” people probably wish they were. He is lucky that he has a family that loves understand and supports him (emotionally and financially he’ll never want), but really what more could anyone ask for?

  24. Torrilin, that’s not emotions being a medical problem — the medical problem in that case is asthma.

    Kat, that would be one of those places that “we’ve had this conversation before, multiple times, at great length, which you can easily find by searching our archives.” Interesting that you are aware of that post and the discussion surrounding it and yet still don’t seem to understand why we might not want to have the identical boring conversation again. There are hundreds and hundreds of comments on this blog dealing with WHY this is a no-diet-talk zone, and even with how Heidi’s post fits into that. I heartily enjoin you to seek those out.

  25. Kat,
    Frankly I think using Heidi’s struggles as justification for someone who wants to lose weight because they “like the way looked 15 years ago” incredibly ignorant, as well as deeply offensive to Heidi.

    I’m trying to shut up I really am Kate.

  26. It had nothing to do with the look-wanter, Shini. Thanks for trying to put words in my mouth. It had to do with the statements about who can and can’t be a fat activist. Devaluing the efforts of someone else doesn’t make sense to me.

  27. It had to do with the statements about who can and can’t be a fat activist. Devaluing the efforts of someone else doesn’t make sense to me.


  28. Re: “No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.”

    That’s an excellent, elegant-in-its-simplicity comeback. It reminds me of another one I’ve always enjoyed:

    No, I’m bisexual. YOU’re confused.

  29. Janet and those who responded to her – I certainly won’t get into all that here. If I feel like it I might go discuss it on Shinobi’s blog…

    The one thing I had to say that is not necessarily a tired rehash (though it might be):

    You motivation is the beautiful clothes you used to wear? really? from 15 years ago? REALLY?
    umm…. regardless of weight, i simply cannot imagine that anyone would rather wear clothes from 1993 than go out and buy some new ones. Short of the sort of financial crisis that would prevent purchases from even the cheapest sources, I can’t imagine it being a good idea to stay that stuck in a fashion rut. (And given the monetary cost of most dieting, I sincerely doubt that it’s something people do due to financial restrictions on buying some new, bigger clothes.)

    I mean… REALLY?



  31. I need to reread those books!

    ME TOO. I actually think I should buy at least the first one and keep it around for down days. I might have to go buy it TODAY. I’m kind of fiending for fictional protofeminist Scandinavian children today.

    P.S. Thanks for the links… I knew TR had written good stuff on this issue, but then I didn’t wanna waste my mouth looking it up.

  32. THANK YOU. Other people have the “weight problem,” not me. Wipe out job discrimination, wipe out too-small seats, wipe out the lack of clothing my size in “normal” stores, wipe out people going into auto-squick at the sight of me and believing I am less believable and trustworthy…get rid of all that and there’s really no fucking problem at all on my end, capisce? Whatever health problems I have, I had at a BMI of 23 also. And if you don’t know me personally at all, my “health” is not that important to you anyway, so quit pretending that it’s about that and not about the auto-squick.

    Look, I can understand why someone would want to lose weight. I think most of us would at least understand that. I think more of us experience that desire from time to time than non-FA people would imagine. But the difference is that when I do have those feelings, I don’t run around broadcasting and legitimizing them. It can take a while to give up dieting completely and even longer for diet culture to have no sway on you, because it’s that pervasive. Being “in transition” about it is fine. Saying you find it hard to let go of is fine. But intending to reject your own fat for the rest of your life because it’s icky, and continuing to say so, gives me the message that you don’t think I’m okay either.

  33. i love how you expanded on the screed (&, for that matter, how you referred to it as a screed) FJ! & how you condensed my ramble into the very pointed & effective

    “Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.”

    i’ve been lurking on SP for quite awhile now & well, you know, name checks are one way to pull a person into the light. you & kate & sweet machine & the shapelings keep a fine blog, i’m very humbled & pleased to have graced it’s e-pages!

    (on a totally stupid note, could you fix my homonym error at the end? as in “she pees WHERE she wants” smith, would never make such a mistake & i feel silly that i did! thanks!)

  34. I go out of my way to NOT use the word “obese” or the phrase “weight problem” or any other pathologizing language for a simple physical trait. I personally like the word “adiposity,” as in, “So, how exactly are you suggesting that adiposity causes diabetes?” or “Why does adiposity increase anaesthesia risks?” Because from a medical perspective, I do want to know the effects of having more fat cells than the–get this–“average 70-kg male subject” on whom all the experiments are performed.

  35. I don’t have asthma (at least according to my doc I don’t), but if I laugh too much/too hard, I end up coughing until my gag reflex is triggered

    Aside from the general applause for this post I wanted to pip in with a huge “Oh me too on the laughing until gagging! ”

    Oh and I think if tattooed on one’s forehead the phrase “Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.” should be in the font “IMPACT”…cause hopefully that’s what such a tattoo would make in the world :D

  36. I think Pippi + Janet are mixing together in my head.

    Would anyone go into a room of recovering anorexics and talk about dieting to look nicer? Of course not. The new to self-acceptance fat person and the anorexic share I think often share one attribute, but it’s not disorder over food. It’s disorder over body perception.

    Being fat means you’re being told to struggle against your body by everyone else,and I imagine the vast majority of us internalize that. As a general rule we haven’t been as able to shrug it off like fabulous Pippi. I mean, I’m still not just shrugging about other people’s opinion – if it weren’t for FA, I’d still be flailing, because I’m being given permission to stop hating myself. Should I have to ask for permission? Hells no. I know that in my brain; my heart tells a different story.

    (The fact that everyone’s intelligent and articulate and funny here helps so much – because you’re people I would care to listen to outside of FA. )

    Anyway. To me the biggest work of FA is learning by picking another social group, another metric of acceptance. It’s tribe that helps me throw off the body perception stuff. After that’s gone we can be advocates for ourselves – and others who don’t have the resources or language or love of self – in the realm of medicine or research or law: but until that point, we do “suffer from unwanted freckles”.

    J’s “suffering from unwanted 15 pounds”. Maybe she does feel that way about herself yet thinks one of us looks fabulous with 100 pounds more than that – we do tend to pick on ourselves more than on others – but she cannot contribute to throwing off the body perception stuff with that sort of language. And to me, that’s the biggest and most crucial part of this community.

  37. could you fix my homonym error at the end?

    Done! I almost did it as I was writing the post but wasn’t sure if it was kosher to fix people’s typos willy-nilly. But I know you know how to spell!

  38. thanks FJ! & of course in the comment where I ask you to fix one homonym error, I COMMIT ANOTHER one!

    “ITS e-pages”

    if you happent to run into the spelling part of my brain can you tell her that i’m sorry, it’s all my fault, i miss her & would she please come home?

  39. Stitch! This absolutely rocks.

    Also, I just want to communicate my deep and abiding love for the ironic, self-aware usage of the caps lock for emphasis. Sometimes my friends and I have IM conversations all in caps just because yelling can be so damn much fun.

  40. My problem: idiots like the Skinny Songs woman (shown today on Martha Stewart’s show) with her song “Skinny Jeans” and a t-shirt that says “Do not Feed” like we are some sort of animal in the zoo or a passive baby whom others will be responsible for the food going into our mouths. I turned on the tv just as they were introducing her and I totally wasted my Sanity Points by sitting there and watching that train wreck. So, so sad.

    I like the Pippi Longstocking’s attitude much more!

  41. I was once asked at work (I work with the public) if I had “thought about doing anything for my problem…you know, like a diet or something”

    I have a second job at a bookstore, and I was worried when I applied that they’d take one look at my size-32 body and nix me immediately, even though I had 8 years of bookstore experience.

    Instead, they hired me immediately, and I’ve proven to be the best hire they made that summer (I’m really good at selling membership cards, so they give me regular hours and I produce extra revenue). So, I’ve gotten over fear of the whole “If you’re fat, you cannot be exposed to our customers!” attitude.

  42. t-shirt that says “Do not Feed”

    Are you frickin’ KIDDING ME?!

    Grrr…now I’m getting worked up just thinking about it.

  43. The “hysterical” thing reminded me of an article I read on WebMD. My company has a “preventative care rebate” that we can get by answering a medical questionnaire and reading articles on WebMD. One of these “articles” had the title “Women More Sensitive to Stress Than Men?” Get this, the evidence for this was totally based on a study of RATS!

  44. @ The Rotund:

    Thanks! & yeah, (ironic self-aware) use of capslock emphasis yelling is TOTALLY WHERE IT IS AT, YEAH?

    (am i the only one who will forever read the word “emphasis” em PHA sis–like the joke– for her own entertainment? i kind of love how one clever joke can make a pretty innocuous word funny 4evah.)

  45. @ Kathy A

    On that t-shirt that says “Do Not Feed,” Martha said “this is my favorite” and held it up on her and said “I’m wearing this one.” I felt like crying. You know how powerful that woman is and how many people want to emulate her. I know she has body issues and talks a lot about losing weight, but that shirt and the stupid, stupid songs just made me want to choke.

  46. Really, Kate, *freckles*? Now fat is one thing, but I really think you’re going too far! Harumph. (/sarcasm)

    I loved Pippi too, though I unfortunately only got to see her in the movies – somehow I never got the books! The heroines of my girlbooks ran more toward Jo, and Laura and Heidi and Sara Crewe, etc.

    Will definitely have to take up and read the books now at some point :)

    And sigh – 15 pounds loss or gain wouldn’t be visible on me. I’m a super big fat fatty mcfatty. (I got very depressed when I realized that I could feasibly lose 50 pounds and possibly no one would notice. Then again I don’t trust my own body perception all that much anymore, so I could be wrong.)

  47. Kim, skinny songs woman is fresh on the cusp of fresh weight loss, and still “high.” She can come talk to me in 3 – 5 years, hmm? (Honestly, the songs would make me mad except they’re too pathetic. ONLY someone who has just lost weight – and I mean just – could possibly write them.)

  48. This made me think. Most of it is on-the-way-to-fat-acceptance-properly thinking, but I first thought, I don’t have a problem with my weight. I don’t own a scale, I don’t base anything on that.

    At the moment, I have a problem with the fact that I have no stamina and my stomach sticks out. I think both will resolve once we get rid of winter and I can start walking where I want to go, though, so I”m not obsessing about them. Which is a huge thing. They’ve kind of retreated to the place where “the roof leaks” is sitting. Yes, it does, can’t fix it til spring, deal.

    The one thing I so value about reading the things here is that they constantly make me check and examine my internal assumptions about things. So thanks, y’all.

  49. And sigh – 15 pounds loss or gain wouldn’t be visible on me. I’m a super big fat fatty mcfatty.

    Even “moderate” McFatties wouldn’t show much bodily difference with a 15-pound loss. Take it from me. Once you cross maybe the 160-pound mark (if female), 15 pounds is nothing anyone ever notices. That’s what so many of these “I did it so can you” types do not get. No, you did NOT “do it,” if you mean lose as much weight as you expect me to lose and keep it off for good. You weren’t even close.

  50. I was trying to think of a self-deprecating way to say “Girl, if you’re worried about 15 lousy pounds, maybe your body image is totally distorted because if 15 pounds is going to make so much difference I doubt you’re fat.” Yeah, that’s closer to what I meant, while still leaving off some of the not-as-friendly things I was thinking. And as to the rest – ITA.

  51. Meowser, word. I’ve told people that if they wanted to lose the same amount of weight they’re asking/telling/expecting/pleading/begging me to lose, they would be in the negative. I think it’s pretty safe to say that all weight loss regimens have a sort of black hole element to them, or is it anti-matter? Huh, my girl brain breaks at physics.

  52. RE: Sara’s “Replace “obesity” with “Piracy.” Thus, we have the Piracy Epidemic and the spectre of Childhood Piracy.”
    Great idea to find another word to replace “obesity” — I am thinking that as there are some people who think there is a “real” piracy problem (as in Pirates on the Seas doing things we might all agree are immoral, or all other sorts of pirates of intellectual property which you may or may not think are real problems) maybe we could recommend some other words.
    Adipositivty Epidemic
    Epidemic of Healthy Proportions
    Epidemic of Ponderousness

  53. I can’t wait to go out and use the word “pilates” so it rhymes with “pirates.” When people correct me I will act surprised. It will be my Fun Filled Friday Prank.

  54. I can’t wait to go out and use the word “pilates” so it rhymes with “pirates.” When people correct me I will act surprised. It will be my Fun Filled Friday Prank.

    Hah! It always rhymes with pirate in my house. And when I get back from my classes my husband always asks if I got good and pilated.

  55. Well there really is an epidemic of pilates.

    And when I get back from my classes my husband always asks if I got good and pilated.


    I temporarily forgot about Pippi Longstocking until I read this post. I will have to seek out those books. I can enjoy them now and for sure if I ever have a daughter I will want to have them on the bookshelf. Thanks, Stitchtowhere, for the great point and fillyjonk for the Pippi remembrance.

    I think the only person here who can be diagnosed as having “weight issues” sight unseen is that weight loss Martha Stewart guest lady you all are talking about. Clearly she has a LOT of issues of all kinds. I’m glad I didn’t see that because it sounds absolutely gross.

  56. Kate, great post. Stitch, great post inspiration, and your running typo-infused commentary has made me LOL all over myself. So much fun to be around great, smart, and incredibly funny people. :-)


  57. Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.

    You know, that might look good on a bumper sticker, or a t-shirt, or other items provided by a certain cafe-press store – hint, hint ;D.

    Just thought I might put that out there.

  58. Pippi! I wonder what the hell happened to my Pippi books. Will have to dig around for them when I go home for Passover.

    Do I have a weight problem? No, this is what I weigh. YOU have the problem.

    I need to figure out how to make animated images so I can put this on a LiveJournal icon.

  59. Not to mention Pippi looked super adorable with those freckles. I think she might’ve made some non-freckled kids jelous.

  60. Good for Stitchtowhere, it so is their problem, it’s all about them, their crisis, their ‘opinion’ of who and what we are, what we eat what we don’t eat, how attractive we are etc etc etc, it’s all theirs and when you try and walk away and leave them to it, they don’t want to let you be.


    Also, I have never understood the “but we all have weight problems” add-on. First, no we all don’t, and second, assuming arguendo we all DO have a problem, then if it’s universal, is it really a “problem”? I mean, we all have that nasty “needing oxygen” thing going on, but no one makes it their sacred duty to give other people shit about it.

    I wholly support Childhood Piracy.

  62. The ever-wonderful Ms. Monique stated a few years back, I think it was during one of her FAT Chance contests, “No honey, we don’t have a weight problem, YOU have a problem with our weight!” Loved it then, still love it now. :)

    Hearing Monique say that, on national tv no less, was the beginning of me accepting my body at whatever weight it is comfortable. Now, I watch what I eat because I have high cholesterol and have a history of heart problems on both sides of my family, not because I want to be a certain size. I exercise for the same reasons. I don’t care anymore what someone else thinks about my weight. I just want to keep my heart as healthy as possible so that I can be here for a very long time.

    It took me a while to come to the realization that I could be *whatever* size my body is comfortable at, whether the medical establishment thinks so or not, and still have a healthy heart. In fact, *stressing* over my weight was worse for my heart than *being* “overweight!”


  63. So true. People often don’t see just how much power the medical industry has. Pathologizing weight, transsexuality, race, gender…I mean seriously, “hysteria”? Way to turn female-ness into a disease. And wtf is gender identity disorder anyways? I don’t have that, I’m just a boy who was made different than most boys.

    I loved Pippi and the freckles. Loved.

  64. As a scrappy little red-headed child with braids, a gap in my front teeth, and copius freckles, Pippi Longstocking was my hero, hands down. I loved her and I read all of those books obsessively. I mean, how can you not love the free-spirited daughter of pirate?

  65. @ kellycoxsemple: it’s funnier to me now that it’s a new day. yesterday, the more i tried to reign those little buggers in, the more they assert their rights to appear… it was like a rally of the Typo Liberation Front.

    my best typo of all time is accidentally appending an i to the word “yet” in a work email, so it read:

    “I haven’t heard from your anarchist librarian… YETI”

    second best is in a short story (which i handed in for marks in university) where instead of “shoulder” i wrote “soldier” transforming a fairly normal sentence into a showcase midnight movie moment:

    “Annie gives me a soft tap on the SOLDIER, and i turn to face her.”

  66. @ Dani:

    Also, I have never understood the “but we all have weight problems” add-on. First, no we all don’t, and second, assuming arguendo we all DO have a problem, then if it’s universal, is it really a problem

    i’ve been thinking more about this Add-on of Much Justification since i wrote the screed & i’m pretty sure that beyond supposedly affording the offending person the “i KNOW your experience & what you are truly hiding/feeling & can therefore speak to your problem” authority/entitlement to it’s also a Foucauldian discipline & punish type tactic that operates on several fears, assumptions & cultural imperatives.

    It relies on vilification & Fear & moralizing of Fat (inside every thin person lurks an EVEEL FATTEE) which reinforces the idea that thin people are thin because they are industrious & responsible little workers & do not suffer from moral decrepitude. the idea (&, as we all know, fatally flawed) reasoning being that thinness is “earned” like a gold medal & somehow reflective of the fact TACKLE their “problems” whereas those of us who aren’t thin , don’t. we’ve let Fat, AKA THE ENEMY take hold, and it’s their OMG duty to try & save us as they’ve been saved. these people are canvassing & trying to convert us to thin.

    so, basically “we all have weight problems” is meant to (surprise) remind the fatty that they, by virtue of being fat, are failing out on the obesity battlefront & are thus a disappointment to their thin counterparts who have wrestled & conquered their CHUNKY DEMONS! (who i’m thinking would probably be drawn as the stay puff marshmallow man!). there’s already been conversation about how angry people get when they see someone who lives & eats without agonizing over it, so i probably don’t have to point out how that “how dare you not agonize over yourself the way i must?” mentality is thrown in there as well.

  67. I’m part of a survey panel, and I have to answer all kinds of questions about the kinds of products I buy and use as well as personal questions about my habits and lifestyle. Sometimes I look at ads and say whether I think the ad does a good job of selling the product. Anyway…

    Today, I got a survey with a bunch of questions about my WEIGHT PROBLEM, er… “weight management goals”. I had to decide if I Agree Strongly, Agree Somewhat, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Disagree Somewhat, or Disagree Strongly with the a bunch of statements, such as:

    -At my current weight, I feel limited in the activities I can do.
    I said Disagree Strongly. Except for a very small handful of things that I’m physically too large for, I refuse to let my weight/size define what I can and can’t do.

    -I finally feel like I have found a weight management approach that works for me.
    -My current weight management program is something I can live with.
    I said Agree Strongly to both of these, since my idea of “weight management” is to eat what I want when I want it, don’t eat when I don’t want to, and exercise whenever I feel like it until I

    -Trying to lose weight best describes my current weight management goal.
    Um, no. Just… no.

    There was nowhere to explain your answers, unfortunately. Whoever analyzes my responses will probably conclude that I’m model gorgeous and/or effortlessly thin.. because there’s no way a fatty fat fat like me could have a reasonably healthy body image and no major weight issues. I mean, I’m not ALLOWED to feel good about myself, right?

    Oh, and the rest of the survey was (I swear) very detailed questions about foot cream, energy drinks and chewing gum. The fuck?

  68. err, that should be “…and exercise whenever I feel like it until I don’t feel like exercising any more.”

  69. Oh my goodness…I’m have an extreme nostalgia moment over here! Pippi Longstocking was one of my favorite books as a child; I read my copy until it fell apart (maybe it’s time I got a new copy). I never got to around to reading any of the other books, though. :(

    I need a t-shirt that says “My weight is not a problem!”. It can have SP’s address on the back. :)

  70. stitchtowhere: Having just finished the section in Campos’s The Obesity Myth that deals with the fear of obesity in the context of the Puritan work ethic, that makes a lot of sense.

    Also, I would totally love to LJ-friend you. (I’m peskipiksi.)

  71. Just had to share:

    I went to a pre-natal appt (first one) last week, and on the health questionnaire it had three options, one of which I had to choose:

    – Undernourished
    – Well nourished
    – Obese

    Dear fellow Shapelings,

    Guess which one I chose? (I’ll give you a hint — it’s two words.)

    I was tempted to be ugly in my judgment like the rest of the world (as I am 60 lbs. or so over my so-called ‘ideal’ weight), but I opted for well nourished because, well, I am.

    My weight is not causing me problems, and I am not ill because of weight-related issues, therefore, I am not obese. The End.

    Going back to reading the comments now. ^_^

  72. Jo, there is doctor shorthand–WNWD (well nourished, well developed)–that I will probably be using for the majority of my patients when I grow up to be a real doctor. I’m rather surprised that they are asking patients to identify their body composition like that, because quite frankly (and unfortunately) most doctors don’t care what you think you are. :roll:

  73. Maybe we could start pronouncing it with a “p” instead of a “b” and therby change the meaning…

    Used in a sentence, “yeah, I am at opeaceity* these days… I figured accepting myself was the way to go.”

    What’s going on in the fatosphere would be then termed an “opeaceity epidemic.”

    *I guess you could spell it “opeacity” but by including the e it emphasizes the word “peace.” And as anyone who has read my comments knows, I regard rules about spelling just about as well as I regard rules about eating.

  74. LOVE “opeaceity”!

    Also loved Pippi Longstocking.

    Have any of you ever read “The Adventures of Beetlekin the Brave”? I read it when I was small (I mean a kid) and was just looking for it online. It’s completely out of print and copies are going for about $100 now. Anyway, it’s a story about a fat little man who decides to have an adventure. So he travels and encounters some fantastic characters including a witch named “Carrie of the Spider Fingers”, illustrated as a horrendously skinny cranky woman that he defeats by tangling her in thread.

    I loved the book as a kid and as an adult simply because the man was so fat he was literally round, but it didn’t stop him from having these great adventures.

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