Announcements, Commentariat, Fat, Health at Every Size, Trolls, Writing

Welcome, Salon readers!

Regular readers: my essay from Feed Me! Writers Dish About Food, Eating, Weight and Body Image, edited by Harriet Brown, is on the front page (eeee!) of Salon today. Check it out!

Visitors from Salon: Welcome! Well, most of you, anyway. Please note that the comments policy here is a whoooole lot stricter than Salon’s, and all first-time comments are held for moderation. So if you just dropped by to tell me that fat is unhealthy and disgusting, I’m deluded, I should look into diet and exercise, or anything along those lines, be aware that your comment will never show up on the site — unless it’s so exquisitely shitheaded, we decide to make you a Douchehound of the Day.

Everyone: If you want to get a copy of Feed Me! —  and you totally do — you have two options. 1) Go buy it. 2) E-mail Harriet with your name and address before 1 p.m. EST on January 26 to be eligible for a free copy.

Thanks for stopping by.

179 thoughts on “Welcome, Salon readers!”

  1. hi Kate! I’ve never read your stuff before, but I really loved the Salon essay! Although I’ve never had any serious struggles with weight, my husband is very heavy, and so I’m very familiar with the type of shit fat people have to deal with. I love your honesty in discussing it and I just love your vibrant prose style.

  2. you should know that they’re talking mostly about people who look like me – -and like your mom, your neighbor, your coworker, your kid’s teacher, not like the headless, poorly dressed, extremely fat people inevitably used to illustrate those articles (who are no less deserving of human rights and dignity than any of the rest of us, I hasten to add)

    Oh, Kate, I heart you so.

    Here, I spent Sanity Watchers points on the comments over there so others don’t have to! (And actually, many of the comments there at this point are pretty good.)

    Some gems:

    my advice is stop beating yourself up — oh, hon!

    There’s no excuse not to exercise. — this in a pro-fat comment, sort of HAES OR ELSE.

    It is, again, anecdotably undeniable that most fat people will take the elevator or escalator rather than the stairs, rarely if ever excercise and will drive their car everywhere, even to the corner store. — TRUFAX.

    I say this because I looked for a photo of you on your blog. I was expecting someone quite heavy, or, since you say you’re “not that fat,” at least verging on heavyset. Instead, I saw a pretty blonde thing with, as my mother would put it, an ample bustline. — missed the point, much?

  3. @deborah: how on earth could that person think Kate was beating herself up?? But that doesn’t beat the guy who tried to urge her over towards some porn sites….

    Kate, terrific article. I’m glad it’s at Salon where so many people will see it, even people who won’t pick up the book.

  4. Great article, Kate! I’ve only discovered your blog and the wonderful world of fat acceptance in the last couple of weeks and I’m loving having my mind blown open. Within seconds I went from horrified by the very prospect of “fat acceptance” to thrilled there are women like you pioneering such a healthy concept!

  5. I cannot wait for Douchehound of the Day. Some of those salon comments are some of the most exquisitely crafted flame-cooked self-righteous turd sandwiches I have ever read. Although I feel for your moderation queue.

  6. Actually I was pleased – as of page 4, there’s one totally insane-o Douchehound comment, but there are a lot more “hey, she has a point” type comments than Salon articles usually get. (For a progressive site, there are a lot of people reading who seem to live for attacking anything written by women or about feminist issues in the most vile fashion, so for that to be the minority dynamic speaks to the quality of Kate’s piece I think.)

  7. Congratulations!!!! I linked it on my facebook page too; hopefully some of my friends will read it and think for awhile.

  8. I really enjoyed your perspective in your article on Salon. Thank you so much.

    My maternal grandmother was a lovely woman in many ways, but she spent so much time and energy obsessively watching the weight of my mom, aunt, and little sister (and me, but I was fortunately born with an “I don’t care” gene, apparently). All three of those women are absolutely beautiful, and have probably hovered between a BMI of 25-35 most of their lives, but because of my grandmother’s browbeating and the negative connotations associated with “fat,” they now have a really hard time with their self-image. I don’t know how to exactly introduce them to your essay in a smooth way, but I think that I will buy a copy of the book, and just conveniently leave it laying out in the living room next time any of them visits….

  9. The essay came up on my Google reader, and I was like, wait, I know that name!

    Fantastic, Kate. Can’t wait for the book!

  10. Great article, Kate! How wonderful to see Salon’s readers struggle with the concept of fat acceptance, and actually STILL trying to convince you you really are ‘too fat’ and that you should eat healthier and exercise more – completely oblivious to the fact that you repeatedly pointed out that you don’t see fat as a negative.

    And omg, that one long comment of the guy pointing out that fat people *are* ugly, angry, smelly and sexually undesireable? Totally missing the point of the article and instead making of himself the prime example of blatant fat-hate, with some extra misogyny thrown in.

    Last week I had a date, and I mentioned to the guy that I’m not eating fatty food such as fried food, eggs, chips and sunflower-oil-baked things, to which he replied “but you’re not that fat!” I found myself rather amused, and explained that I can’t eat much fatty foods because of reduced liver function (thanks to 3 years of epilepsy medication – not because of fat food or alcohol). That I wasn’t on a diet or losing weight because I thought fat was bad. I also explained that yes, I am fat, and no, this is not some horrible thing.

    It really is a difficult concept for people to grasp, apparently…

  11. Kate, you are so taking off! That is great.

    I address the whole “I don’t think of you as fat” thing in my book, too, explaining why “I don’t think of you as [some category that you clearly are]” is a total insult.

    And, yeah, folks, DO NOT READ COMMENTS AT SALON. Except for the ones after Cary Tennis’s column, as long as said column does not involve gender issues.

  12. Glad for the warnings away from the comments over there and man I love that article Kate! “Le fat, c’est moi” is gold ^^ Perhaps with enough people screaming out “Hey, this IS fat, what you so fear and revile” maybe even just a few mokre heads, one after another, will turn and think that there is something vitally wrong with the entire fat-bashing standards!

  13. Add me to the list of people who think the article is amazing and who are thrilled to see it up at Salon.

    Also, in the ‘you learn something new every day’ category, I didn’t know the term “fluffy” used for a fat person. I’ve seen the term, but I always assumed it was a subgenre of furries. Like there are plushies, there are fluffies.

    Ha. I’m sad to know that. It’ll make reading Craig’s List so much less exciting.

  14. I did read the comments over there, but managed to detach myself enough to wonder about those people. How much hate do they have that they feel it necessary to take a few minutes out of their lives to chastise Kate and make sure everyone knows FAT PEOPLE ARE AWFUL? Why are they so scared of teh fat? Why is is sooooooo threatening that there are people in the world who don’t hate the same way they do? It’s a mystery.

  15. “Fluff” is a polite euphemism for “fart” in Australia (and maybe BritEng in general). Do people seriously use “fluffy” for “fat”, with a straight face?

  16. Very well-said, and very accessible. Can I quibble with one thing, though?

    I was a little bothered by this sentence: “She makes a real effort not to say it anymore, bless her heart, but it’s going to take either a couple more decades of practice or a course of electroshock therapy to get her to also stop making the “I want to say it” face.”

    I think most people think of electroshock as something belonging to the remote past ala One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — a treatment so outre and removed from anyone’s daily experience that it’s okay to talk about lightly. But it’s actually still done pretty often. People don’t really talk about it much (with the exception on Carrie Fisher, maybe) because it’s pretty fucking stigmatizing to admit that you were That Crazy. But yeah, it’s still done, it was done to me, and was unequivocally the worst experience of my life.

    Sorry if that’s being oversensitive. I wouldn’t bring it up if I didn’t think highly of you and know that you try to be a caring and thoughtful person to your readers.

  17. Kate: The essay is terrific! Not that I expect anything less of you. I just checked the queue and the only trollish comment was of the “let me explain to you why you’re wrong even though I am making up all my science based on hearsay and also haven’t read the site” variety (I deleted it). Coming soon: a post about how your book is chock-full of footnotes, but people on the other side are satisfied to say “well the VAST MAJORITY of fat people eat too much” or “for MOST people fat will lead to diseases.”

    Everyone else: Don’t forget that Salon comments have been that way for a long time, meaning that this happens. And please don’t forget that bringing the greatest hits over here is the Sanity Watchers equivalent of leaving cookies on the breakroom table… be mindful of people who really aren’t ready to hear this stuff. (In SP parlance, that means “only quote ’em if you’re going to viciously make fun of them instantly.”)

    Ok, I’m going to to the pool and I don’t know what Kate and SM are up to so nice Salon readers, you may sit in moderation for a while.

  18. Nice intro article. I hope a goodly number of people read it and think, “hey, yeah!” It’s a neverending struggle, and I’ve been down in the dumps about my fatness this week, so it’s nice to hear some sanity. Real sanity!

    Also, I joined the YMCA recently and everyone has been unfailingly nice to me. Yay!

  19. Hey car. I don’t think skinny folks’ death fear of fat acceptance is really so mysterious. In my opinion, it’s a matter of not wanting to lose their thin privilege, whether or not they consciously acknowledge that they have it and greatly benefit from it. The concept of fat acceptance, if it were widely subscribed to, would really even the playing field, so to speak. I think that subconscious fear of losing privilege, “backed up” by the gospel that fat=unhealthy and fat=unattractive that makes people cling to the status quo like grim death.

  20. you. are. delightful.

    So grateful that Salon delivered your exceptional article to my inbox this morning.

  21. Dear Ms. Harding, I really enjoyed your salon article. I must be living under a rock, because I didn’t even know such concepts as “fat acceptance” and blogs like “shapely prose” even existed!! I am 5’3″ and weigh 168 pounds, and I love my body
    and my husband does too! We’re thinking about kids, and I have already starting worrying about how my kids will handle their “big-boned” genes. I really really don’t want any daughter of anyone to do the stupid stupid starvation diet I did in college. Thanks again!

  22. Kate, you totally rock. That’s a great essay and I’m sure it’s blowing some Salon reader’s minds.

    I just want to reiterate what FJ said: please do not bring the Salon hate over here unless you’re gonna rip them a new one, douchehound-style. We do not need y’all to spend your Sanity Watchers points going over there and then coming back here to give us a book report.

  23. I looked at a number of those Salon comments and was dismayed. I had hoped that at least some intelligent Salon readers would take the lead, but no…..And that’s why your blog and many others like it must continue!

    What most of those commenters do not get is that a fat person who exercises and eats a healthy diet is just as healthy as a thin person who does the same, and is actually healthier than a thin person who does not exercise or eat a healthy diet. It’s a simple truth, borne out by real studies, yet most of the western world is swayed by that obesity epidemic bullshit. Fat does not equal unhealthy except when fat reaches a point where it makes movement nearly impossible.

    I too am fat, no doubt fatter than you but big deal. And I too prefer the term “fat” and will refuse the term “overweight”.

  24. I read your Salon article at about 8:00 pm last night and stayed up to 2:00 am reading this blog. I am totally bowled over. While currently a size 8-10, I have rocked a 14 in my teenage years. I understand that this may not qualify me for the label “fat.” My entire family, however, has body hating issues, and I was sent to my first Weight Watchers at the age of 12, went on Atkins at 15 (until I actually could not get out of bed due to hypoglycemia), and have pretty much hated my body ever since noticing that I had a slight bulge on my lower abdomen whereas the other pre-menstrual girls in ballet class did not. In response to another poster, I would like to say that people on the thinner side of the fat spectrum (my BMI still classifies me as overweight and when i told the guy at the gym that I was working out to “maintain,” he gave me a weird look) don’t talk about their feelings very much because we feel we’re not supposed to. I still wake up every day with the nearly paralyzing fear that if my pants are too tight, I literally do not deserve to leave the house, that if I am not doing everything in my power to lose the 5 pounds gained over the holidays, then I FAIL AT LIFE. I do not talk about these feelings with anyone other than my husband both because I know no one wants to hear it and because admitting that one has these thoughts is shameful in and of itself.

    I am also just under 5 feet tall and was just recently called a “pocket person” by a colleague. It’s a strange form of dysmorphia that has me feeling the need to compensate for simultaneously being too small and too large.

    My mother is fat. My sister is fat. My aunts and uncles are fat. My grandparents are fat. Body acceptance for me is also about them, loving them without seeing them as the spectres of the fat future that undoubtedly awaits me once I hit 30 and beyond, once I do decide to procreate. I once heard a woman on the radio talking about the absolute neccessity of “surrounding yourself with thin, healthy people” if you want to lose weight. So that means I should abandon my family for the sake of vanity? What kind of values system is this?

    So thank you for all of this. I have been consciously trying to accept my body as it is for years now, ever since my sister was diagnosed with anorexia. I have not dieted since 2001, though the temptation is always there, and I find that I slip into the pattern of using extreme exercise as a substitute far too often (then injuring myself and gaining every pound plus some back). It’s so hard to do that alone when there are so many media messages out there convincing you that you’re wrong, bad, lazy, evil, and stupid.

  25. Hi Kate! I came over from Salon after reading your wonderful article. Food for thought, indeed!

    Has anyone suggested that fat-hatred can be a holdover from times long ago when food resources were scarce, and only the most powerful/wealthy could eat enough and have the leisure to become fat?

    When my friend (who was never happy with her weight) went with her mother to Rwanda, the local villagers were constantly greeting her with the compliment: “You’re so fat! Your mother is a good mother! You must be rich!” She was shocked and not sure how to feel about it, but then she relaxed and enjoyed it. You know it also drew some resentment. Because getting enough food to be plump in Rwanda was not easy.

    So is it possible that the unthinking impulse to lash out against strangers who are fat, might come from a subconscious jealousy or anger at what appear to be the physical signs of wealth or abundance? The anger and violence could have evolved as a corrective measure against members of a social group eating more than their fair share of the scarce resources.

    There’s no reason for that kind of thinking today. We are not fighting each other over the strawberries and sandwiches and brownie bars. Maybe if some fat-hating people realized this could be an ancient destructive impulse that has no use at all in our society, they would be more mindful– and stop acting like cavemen.

    Although people with hatred in their hearts will find any excuse to wound and discriminate.

    But maybe this idea doesn’t hold up. If we’re conditioned to act with automatic resentment towards those who have more resources than others, then why do people in our culture seem to admire lavishly dressed and bejeweled people–signs of conspicuous consumption? (And they don’t get things thrown at them regularly, either.)

    Unless the painful thinness of many of the wealthy is a way for them to balance out the jewels and the designer duds at a visceral, unconscious level. We don’t resent them for having more than we do because they’re starving in private, so they can’t really be enjoying it.

    Just some ideas–you got me thinking! Thanks. And I love the blog!

  26. Just found you via Salon. Loved the article, love this site, added it to my reader. It would make me so happy to see more photos of fat women in magazines and other media. Sigh.

  27. Within seconds I went from horrified by the very prospect of “fat acceptance” to thrilled there are women like you pioneering such a healthy concept!

    Sazz, FYI, I’m hardly a pioneer — fat acceptance has been around for decades! It’s even been on the internet for many years, though in the last couple, the number of fat blogs has exploded.

    Thank you, though, and welcome!

  28. Great article, Kate – I would imagine you’re blowing some minds! After a good 18 months of hanging out here at SP, I find myself using the word “fat” to describe myself entirely without thinking about it – and the shocked reactions I’ve had shows just how much of a loaded word it is (which you deconstructed brilliantly!). Using the euphemisms for fat feels worse to me now – it’s like choosing to collude in shaming yourself.

    “anecdotably undeniable” – I love this! I hope Shinobi and the other scientists and statisticians who hang out here will be using this in future instead of spending time on all that pointless research and scientific evidence.

  29. FJ & SM & Kate: Oops, mea culpa. I apologize for answering a comment here about the Salon comments.

    That policy makes damn well excellent sense now that I think about it. I had somehow missed it. Sorry!

  30. hehehe. Hey Kate, why don’t you “Eat less, eat healthier, and exercise more…your self-confidence will improve”!

    I seriously LOLed at that. Because, you know, you haven’t been so self-confident that you began a FA blog, pitched a book idea (and got to write it) and became a FA star….Oh, wait.

  31. I loved “anecdotably undeniable,” too. Not only is it an absolutely absurd thing to say (“Don’t even try to argue with me! I have anecdotes!”), it’s got a truly delightful grammatical error. Anec-do-tally. Thus do we make adverbs out of nouns.

  32. I just discovered your blog after reading Kate’s piece on fat acceptance. I love you. All of you. Wow. This has made my day. Sharp, witty writing–good sense and good manners. What more could we ever ask for in discourse?

  33. Great Salon article. I’m also fat. A year ago at my physical I was so incredibly healthy (perfect blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol) that my doc said “I don’t even have a reason here to tell you to lose weight.” That said, I was recently denied an individual health insurance policy because of my weight alone. Go figure.

  34. Anecdotally Undeniable would also make a great tag line. :)

    (runs around hugging all the new shapelings and mooning all the trolls in the moderation queue)

    Welcome, welcome!

  35. Great article, Kate! Smart, funny & wicked well-written as usual.

    You know what’s really neat? I’ve been a Salon subscriber for years now. It’s one of the first sites I check out every day, got a browser tab of its own and everything. But I found out that your piece was the headline there because when I get up to do a little Saturday AM web browsing in my jammies I check your feed first.

    And being high in my website rotation is No Mean Feat, my friends!

  36. Excellent article, Kate. I find it interesting that for such an ostensibly liberal site, Salon seems to attract such troll-y commenters/letter “writers.”

  37. An addendum: We are humans with lives and are not checking the mod queue at all times. So when you write a comment, and then a minute later write another comment all “fuck you you fucking fuck for censoring me”? Neither one is getting through. Good day!

  38. Thanks for the article, Kate. I have been reading your blog daily since January 1 of this year. Whenever the urge to try Weight Watchers (for the uhhhh…9th or 10th time within 20 years) strikes, I go on your site.

    I’ve had a horrible time battling the FoBT the past few days. I’m getting smart enough not to sucuumb to it. It helps so much to know that others struggle with the same issues. I’m not the only one who feels incredibly misunderstood as a human being just because I have more fat on my body than is socially and culturally acceptable.

    Not to incite a classism discussion, but the issues of fat and social class definitely intersect, and I have found that to be especially true in NY and LA.
    I do not encounter many women in my demographic who are fat. It makes me feel that something must be wrong with me, because I don’t fit in. This is one of the main reasons I left the fashion business after my daughter was born. The extreme fear and loathing of fat women, coupled with the shallow materialism that permeates that arena was for me, absolutely toxic.

    Your article gave me permission to celebrate who I am. I’m 41, happily married to a guy that thinks I’m sexy as hell, and we have a wonderful 5 year old daughter. We have a great time together and enjoy all the niceties of life. I’m attractive,smart, clean, funny, and loyal. I have great hair and damn good style. I’m back in school and expect to transfer to UCLA in the fall. In short, my life is pretty good. How much I weigh is the only thing I still use to beat myself up over. I really don’t want to waste one more day of my life obsessing about this shit. Multitude of thanks.

  39. I mentioned to the guy that I’m not eating fatty food such as fried food, eggs, chips and sunflower-oil-baked things, to which he replied “but you’re not that fat!” I found myself rather amused, and explained that I can’t eat much fatty foods because of reduced liver function (thanks to 3 years of epilepsy medication – not because of fat food or alcohol). […] It really is a difficult concept for people to grasp, apparently…

    Danielle, I’ve noticed this too. It’s often assumed that food restrictions are due to diets. I once had a fat-free brownie mix in my hand at the grocery store and a total stranger stopped to tell me I shouldn’t eat fat-free, I should low-carb instead. I was so pissed I asked the busybody, “I am making a dessert for my friend who controls IBS with a fat-free diet because it’s his birthday and it WON’T send him to the ER. Why do you have a PROBLEM with feeding guests food that they can eat?

    Worse, some people assume that dieters “always want an excuse to cheat” and so don’t take food restrictions seriously….

    How wonderful to see Salon’s readers struggle with the concept of fat acceptance, and actually STILL trying to convince you you really are ‘too fat’ and that you should eat healthier and exercise more – completely oblivious to the fact that you repeatedly pointed out that you don’t see fat as a negative.

    Or to the fact that many fat people do exercise and eat healthy. It just doesn’t make them thin. ;)

  40. Ashley, I feel you.

    As false as I know it has to ring to a bunch of ears, I don’t know if body acceptance is any less of a painful process for a size 2, or size 10, or size 28.

  41. Holy cow, there are some real mouthbreathers over there. Great piece, Kate! I’ve pre-ordered Harriet’s book but didn’t know you were one of the contributors.

  42. I stayed away from the comments, other than having to look at the first page of them briefly…because I wanted them to get the message that WE WANT MOAR KATE HARDING FROM THEM PLEEZ. Great shit, woman.

  43. That was a terrific article. I am five foot one, with a bmi in the 32 or something like that, so I can really relate to you Kate. I really agree with Corey too, it really seems that maybe some people may be afraid of losing what seems very similar to white privilege.

  44. Kate, can I just tell you how much glee I have
    – that your writing is one of the categories one can click on at the top of Salon?
    – that you seem to be the most profane of the lady Broadsheet writers?
    – that there was actually a percentage of sane comments, amongst the usual Broadsheet vitriol, teetering precariously on the edge of half?
    – that your article is on the front page, Miss (excuse me, Mrs.) Thing?

    You go. You just go.

    (Although the next time you come sneaking into NYC and vanish just as fast, like a Marvel comic superheroine, well …)

  45. THat was an awesome fucking piece, Kate.
    I didnt bother with the comments–my experience at Broadsheet and other Salon places is that the comments can be really mean–but I hope it was well received.
    And seriously? Wow. Great essay.

  46. “In my opinion, it’s a matter of not wanting to lose their thin privilege, whether or not they consciously acknowledge that they have it and greatly benefit from it.”

    Corey, that is so … simple, and profound, that I’m a touch tweaked I didn’t figure it out before this.

    (Not that all thin people are like this. :D Just, like, the reeeeeeeeal vitriolic ones.)

  47. Wow. Great article in Salon and I’m delighted to have found your blog. As a fat chick, who at 48, is FINALLY learning to accept her body, I am planning on visiting here often!

  48. Although the next time you come sneaking into NYC and vanish just as fast, like a Marvel comic superheroine, well

    Heh. Keep in mind, this essay was written almost a year ago — in fact, I think you already bitched me out for not telling you I’d be there on that particular trip. :)

    FWIW, I actually pick and choose which good friends I’m going to tell every time I go to NY, because I know so many people there, if I’m only going for a weekend, there is literally no time to see them all; I have to rotate. One of these days, though, I’ll go for a couple of weeks, see everybody I know, and make you meet me for a drink.

  49. I’ve been saving up my sanity watchers points all week and can I just say that I found the comments hilarious? My favorite part was the multiple people who decided you were a Manhattanite because you mentioned a Manhattan restaurant in the beginning of the article. And also that being from new york makes you out of touch… Hi-larious

  50. I fully intend to read the rest of the book. I liked the excerpt.
    I am working on body acceptance.I hope to get there someday. I think it would be easier if my body didn’t seem bent on proving the stereotypes right medically wise…..

    But I read the comments, well the first page over at Salon and I continue to be amused how anecdotes that go against what one wants to prove is merely exceptions and anecdotes that fit your point are evidence.

    I also fail to understand how obesity can be causing health care to cost more. If you take the OMG crisis!!!! guru as correct then what is it? (I don’t believe it is) Is increased demand making the insurance people charge more? Simple supply demand? What is the theory behind the claim itself.
    Parts might make sense – supply and demand, uninsured poor with chronic illnesses make the whole system cost more, but that has more to do with income than life style I would believe. Even if obesity is a disease as they claim is is possible for obesity alone to raise all heath care costs…it just seems like as much as a phantom as proof of causation.
    Has anyone here has ever seen anything on how and why more of xy or z disease of the year would raise all health care costs?

  51. My favorite part was the multiple people who decided you were a Manhattanite because you mentioned a Manhattan restaurant in the beginning of the article. And also that being from new york makes you out of touch…

    I know, I get that all the time, even when I don’t mention Manhattan. There are certain commenters who are absolutely obsessed with the elitist New Yorkiness of Salon, even though the main offices are in SF, and the freelancers like me are all over.

  52. Mindy: uninsured poor with chronic diseases do not receive ANY health care in this country. They will stitch you up in the emergency room if you are in a crash, but if you have a chronic disease and no way to pay for treatment, you are not treated.


  53. When trolls complain that obesity causes health care costs to go up, they don’t realize that a: most health insurance companies deny coverage strictly based on BMI regardless of medical conditions, b: many doctors blame fat for every ailment under the sun even if the patient knows their weight isn’t causing any ill effects, and c, that yo-yo dieting might just contribute to rising costs more than staying fat and physically healthy.

  54. And please don’t forget that bringing the greatest hits over here is the Sanity Watchers equivalent of leaving cookies on the breakroom table

    Doh! Sorry, all. I thought they were funny, but in retrospect I still shoulda left them untouched.

  55. deborah, for the record, I thought the ones you quoted were pretty funny. FJ and SM only issued the warning because we’ve had a bunch of people come over here after reading Broadsheet comments, only to say things like, “OMG, they all think Kate is a total fucking idiot!” (I paraphrase.) And it’s kinda like, you know, there’s a reason why I don’t read those comments, eh?

  56. I think it’s so exciting to read all the comments saying, “Wow, I never thought of it like that!” I mean, those of us who already know you’re rad have plenty to contribute to the conversation, but there’s nothing like that Road to Damascus moment.

  57. Awesome essay, Kate! It’s so, so spot on.

    Here’s a question, though- how do you deal with it when other fat people in your life may be waiting for you to tell them “you’re not fat”? By which I mean, fat people who haven’t embraced the FA movement and still see fat as a bad word. I do refuse to play the “you’re not fat!” card, but it can be hard not to feel that withholding that comment might be coming across as hurtful to someone who is looking for reassurance.

    Please advise!

  58. Reicheru, I usually just say something like: “You look great” or “you’re gorgeous”.

    Great essay Kate, I hope it makes some Salon readers think.

  59. Ah, I love the smell of Shapley Prose in the morning. Just as much as baby doughnuts. I’m so happy I discovered FA and HAES.

  60. Thanks Becky, that makes good sense.

    I guess I do occasionally respond that way- and it does feel infinitely better than the awkward silence option!

  61. Loved it! I wonder if I can get away with sharing it with family?

    I have also been told I’m “not fat” which is . . . . odd. But yeah, what they meant was “I like you and you’re not disgusting so you’re not fat!”. Um . . . . But yeah, the article hit a chord with me.

    “It’s often assumed that food restrictions are due to diets.”

    Oh yeah. I can’t eat gluten and it’s often assumed I’m on Atkins or something. I think I confuse waiters when I grill them about the gluten content of a meal and then order a regular coke, LOL!

  62. FJ and SM only issued the warning because we’ve had a bunch of people come over here after reading Broadsheet comments, only to say things like, “OMG, they all think Kate is a total fucking idiot!”

    Well, and because part of the reason we moderate here is because some people are at a fragile point in acceptance (even if most of the reason we moderate is to get rid of an annoyance and keep the level of discourse high). I worry about people coming back and saying “wow, everyone commenting on that article thinks fat people are disgusting and awful” — even I have to remind myself that this doesn’t mean everyone in the world thinks that, just everyone commenting on Salon. Significant difference. Anyway, no problem with making fun of funny comments, though, and I certainly wasn’t calling out deborah or anyone in particular.

    There are certain commenters who are absolutely obsessed with the elitist New Yorkiness of Salon

    Slate’s elitist and New Yorky, maybe they only read as far as the first letter? Given the levels of reading comprehension demonstrated, I wouldn’t be surprised.

  63. I also fail to understand how obesity can be causing health care to cost more.

    You get a gold star, dude. Our health care system is a FOR-PROFIT system. Anyone who buys the idea that if everyone was thin, health care costs would decrease and insurance companies would pass the savings on to them is refusing to think. They are in this business to make money, not deliver care. And drug companies being the evil money-grubbing wretches they are, does anyone really think they wouldn’t just keep jacking up the price of medication if fewer people had to use it? Or that doctors wouldn’t charge more per visit if they had fewer patients?

    Besides, having been up to my elbows in medical records for years now, I can tell you right now that end of life care, or near end of life care, is frigging expensive, whether you die at age 50 or age 100. Even if you’re a total goody-goody, you have to die of something, and quite a few things will very likely make you Really Fucking Sick along the way. Very few people are lucky enough to just painlessly quit breathing one day in their sleep without ever needing bunches of medical attention for this and that.

    Also: By far the greatest number of hospital records I do are for people older than 70, and often a lot older than 70. Sorry to disappoint the haters, but hospitals are not filled to the brim with middle-aged fatties who just had their first heart attacks or are getting their feet lopped off from diabeeetus at age 52. Or even 62. (Diabetes-related amputations are pretty rare now anyway, and it’s mostly very old people, many of whom were diagnosed very late in their disease process due to the higher diagnostic threshold when they first became hyperglycemic, who have them. Also, the amputation is a lot more likely to be a toe, or a couple of toes, than a full foot or leg.)

    And anytime you start getting into hospitalizations and surgeries and chemotherapy and intubation and parenteral feeding and stuff like that, that’s when things start getting hella expensive. Not just people going for outpatient doctor visits and taking routine medications; that’s relatively piddling, money-wise.

  64. Hey, really wonderful Salon article — and brave! You must have known what you’d be in for with their well-known collection of perfectly preserved sexists sizest non-thinking gramatically challenged lurkers over there on Salon. (and I should talk. I can’t spell. Hey, it’s a sign of intelligence.)

    For most of my life I’ve been what my friends always felt entitled to call “dangerously skinny.” Recovering anorectic from the day when that condition was neither fashionable nor even yet named. I never dieted — sadly, it was a deeper, much more painful condition resulting from childhood abuse, and all about safety and the need for control.

    My emotions about my own body have always been a mine field, all interwoven with self hatred, fear, and the contradiction between wanting to be “special” and wanting not to exist. And I’ve always totally accepted the right of fat friends to angrily shout, “Don’t tell me YOU have a problem!”

    Well, girls, for crying out loud. If you’re born female in this culture, and happen to have come into the world in the form of a physical body, you have a problem. I just find it incredibly heartening, joyful, and highly honorable that all kinds of women, in all kinds of shapes, are engaging in various and wonderful ways with the courageous process of simply being okay about their size and shape in the world.

    I’ve always been passionately attracted sexually to fat people — large, substantial, curvy, sensual, a few of the words that I’ve used over the years — they light me up and make me swoon. My few great loves (all of whom I still adore) have all been large. So I confess here, and will take it on the chin if I’m naive: I do have some resistance to the word “fat.” To me, it calls up all those years when I was called (with amazing vitriol and hatred) not “thin” but “skinny.” I mean, there’s the factual description, and then the moralistic interpretation, right? Who says at what point on the scale a certain number of pounds becomes not large but “fat”??

    Am I just wandering around lost in the woods of the word-obsessed? What would be the problem with describing people as small, medium, and large? Round? Square? Triangle-shaped?

    I’m now 55, and in the midst, for the first time in my life of body-hating struggled (and many years of therapy),of gaining weight and not really fighting it. I’m curious, interested, and sort of reading my reactions like a cultural investigation. I’m bigger than I’m used to being, for sure. My clothes don’t fit.

    But I’m not going to freak out completely. It’s showing me, again, the huge gap between how we see others and how we see ourselves. I truly love the fantastic variety of human shapes in this world. I love collar bones, and big bellies, and long wrists, and rounded thighs. But when I look at myself, the sad truth is — revealing and diagnosable — is something “wrong.”

    People like Kate do amazing work in the world. Thanks for making me laugh at myself, and sigh once again for the neanderthals who live to comment on Salon. May we all wise up, and relax, and have a much much better time.

  65. Lily — “large” I think is insufficiently descriptive, since it doesn’t distinguish between tall broad-shouldered people and well-padded people. But yeah, “fat” is sort of a weird term. I *have* fat, but am not, culturally speaking, “fat”. My preferred term in my head for friends is “extra-squashy”, but that’s not really a suggestion for general use ;-)

  66. Well done, Kate. Congratulations on the book. I’m still unsure on language. I’m a tweeny, too, BMI around low 30s. I tend to say things like “chunky” and “Rubenesque”. Though I do proudly proclaim ownership of a fat arse.

    I also think of the really fat people – the headless fatty filmclip kind – as “the elephant people”, but I think this would not fly anywhere outside my head, as the social connotations are wrong wrong wrong. But in my head, I *heart* elephants and think they are amazing, intelligent, stately, graceful and gorgeous. And you can hear the magnificent “I am not an animal, I am a human being!” protest cry from the movie. My head is a weird place sometimes. (I’m really hoping this made you laugh and not angry.)

  67. Like MissPinkSugar’s friend I also got a kick out of fat awareness in Africa. I lived in Tanzania a few times and I was always the “short, fat white girl” to distinguish me from my friends who were the “tall fat white girl” and “short thin white girl”. My redheaded friend was just “the red one”. Fat there is a description. When everyone has black hair and brown eyes you need another way of categorizing people. Plus, when they learn English they learn that “Mnene” means “fat”. They don’t learn heavy-set or big-boned or whatever. They just use one word for it so there is no baggage attached. Sometimes they will say someone is too fat, but their limits seem to be much higher than here.
    There is teasing about weight gain that, as far as I can tell, is accepted. My Tanzanian husband was teasing his cousin there about how much weight she had gained since he saw her last (something he knows not to do in the states). She just said “You wait, honey, in 10 years your wife will look just like me”. Good thing I am fine about my weight!
    Worse is to lose weight after marriage or be very skinny to begin with. They figure your husband is too poor to feed you or you have some terrible disease. One popular song there, where one woman is trash talking another has a verse “Your ‘butt’ is so flat, you can’t tell where your back ends and your legs begin.” It gave me an idea of what is attractive and what isn’t.

  68. It’s a strange form of dysmorphia that has me feeling the need to compensate for simultaneously being too small and too large.

    Wow, Ashley. I’ve been reading fat acceptance blogs for a couple of years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that point made, at least not that clearly enough to smack me upside the head. I’m 5’1′, and that encapsulates it perfectly. I’m not sure what to do with it yet, but that’s definitely it.

  69. I think I’m an “elephant people” in that I sort of galumph when I’m tired and I’m big around the middle. That comment reminded me of some book I read as a pre-teen, maybe Judy Blume? Where the main character says something about someone having wrinkly elephant knees.. And I just saw Horton Hears a Who, so being likened to an elephant doesn’t bother me too much (PS have you seen the self-portrait painting elephants!?)

    Ok that was an elephant rant. Anyway, I still struggle with the negative thoughts I have with people as large and larger than myself. I do constantly have to remind myself of how unfair and untrue the things I think are and keep it in check. I also sort of have an auto FUCK YOU button that is pushed whenever anyone smaller than me complains about being so fat, but I also keep that in check because I know that their experience in being tortured as a fattie is no less significant than mine.

  70. Echoing Car’s comment about Ashley’s comment. :) It’s hard for me to form a consistent sense of self-image when I have no idea what people see when they look at me–a 4’10” tiny-boned “pocket person”? A curvy, rack-of-doom-bearing, overweight-according-to-bmi person? An average, size 8/10 wearing person?

    Great post on Salon, Kate–the good it’s doing introducing people to FA far outweighs any of the bile characteristic of Salon comments. (I stopped reading them after the ’04 election when the “fuck the South” attitude I frequently found there got to be a bit much for me.)

  71. I found car’s comment made me thinky too. I’m just barely above 5 feet and find that the label “large” or “big” or even “heavy” don’t fit me. I don’t feel the same way about my fatness that I do about my height — I am short, but I don’t think of it as something I have — I have fat, but I don’t think of fat as something I am in the same way that I am short. I think I am short, but I have fat. I haven’t been able to feel comfortable calling myself fat in real words most of the time.

    I loved that this essay was on Salon.
    I haven’t ever figured out how to frame this thought before, but it’s always bugged me that being fat automatically meant “uncool” — and I can’t thank Kate (and many others) for starting to turn this around — that it’s possible to be fat and cool (not cool in spite of being fat) and not apologizing for weight or groaning forever about the struggle with weight. (although a certain amount of groaning is totally fair and understandable). Bravely naming fat hate for what it is.

    Now, if only This American Life would get hip to the whole weight thing, I might start listening regularly again.

  72. Where the main character says something about someone having wrinkly elephant knees

    It was the Ramona books!

  73. My husband is over 330 pounds, and I like to call him majestic; which tickles him as he’s a guy who’s happiest in sweats playing with his kids. As an inbetweenie type too, I’d like to ask the high end of the bell curve what they prefer as descriptives?

  74. Jasmine and Becky–I think it was Ramona and Her Father. Ramona’s dad lost his job, and she thinks maybe she can be in commercials to help earn money for the family, so she starts being as cute and adorable as she can be. But it turns out that “cute” and “adorable” children on commercials are actually obnoxious, as she discovers when, trying to be clever, she tells her teacher that her wrinkled pantyhose make her knees look like an elephant’s and it falls completely flat.

  75. “In my opinion, it’s a matter of not wanting to lose their thin privilege, whether or not they consciously acknowledge that they have it and greatly benefit from it.”

    I actually find my thin friends are far more open to the idea of fat acceptance when I’ve brought it up with them, whereas when I discuss it with fat friends they often want nothing to do with it. I think it’s because of the way thin people get told “eat a damn sandwich” at the same time as being told thin is good and they’re so lucky: they know from experience that no matter how much they eat and how little exercise they do, they’re still going to be thin, and because they’re not constantly getting told that makes them unattractive and ugly and horrible and that if they only had the willpower they could change all that, it’s easy to accept it. And from that standing-point it’s much easier to accept that maybe it’s the same for other people – that in fact a /lot/ of people can’t healthily change their weight whatever their behaviour, and that that extends to fat people too.

    That and the fact that most of them can look at me and look at themselves and see that our exercise and eating habits are similar enough that there must be a hefty crock of bullshit in the idea that overeating causes fat.

    On top of which, of course, it’s much easier to accept the idea that most fat people are never healthily going to be thin when you’re already thin and the idea poses no threat to your personal quest to be acceptable and attractive.

    On the other hand, I am quite sure there are many thin people who love to think that they just must be doing something right that poor stupid lazy fat folks aren’t. I am very lucky in my friends. I just felt the need to point the above out because I’ve had an irritating week about this sort of thing – a fair few of my fat friends seem to think that if I’m talking about fat acceptance it’s okay to vehemently bash thin people u_u

  76. Phew! Thanks,Jasmine, I was very worried that my weird thought thing might get taken badly. But on re-reading I think that my main mistake was saying “really fat”. I mean, am I (and Kate) un-really fat or what? D’oh!

  77. Yeah, I don’t really consider the headless fatties to be “really fat” because I’m about the same size (but shorter.. bite size).

  78. Squeak, that’s an interesting observation, and I think it’s been discussed here a bit. There are lots of thin allies (like me!), but also thin folks who are very judgmental, unfortunately. I think people like me DO find FA easy, because we had to learn young that absolutely nothing we could do would change the shape and size of our bodies. (Though you’re wrong about the lack of stigma. It’s not as tough as growing up as a fat kid, but being an extremely thin kid also brings a lot of nasty ridicule about your body from other kids and a lot of uninvited input from “concerned” adults.)

    wellrounded, I would be so happy if TAL did a show on FA – though of course, they would also interview some fat-hating scientists or policy makers, so some of the episode would probably be frustrating. Still, I’d love to see that happen!

  79. If I came off as implying a lack of stigma I didn’t mean to! I think in some ways being thin can get you more stick just because of the assumption that if you’re thin you mustn’t be suffering from the same self-esteem and body image problems that many fat people do because thin is what people are aspiring for? Like, you know – you’re not allowed to remark on a friend’s fat because fat is bad and that’s rude, but feel free to berate someone for being ‘skeletal’ or assume that they’re anorexic just because they’re thin!

    I just meant that /alongside/ the hateful your-body-is-my-business crap people get for being thinner than average there’s the idea that thin is good. For everyone saying “you look anorexic, why don’t you eat a sandwich or something” there’s someone saying “you’re so lucky you can eat whatever you want and not get fat”. I’m not saying that they cancel one another out and make people stable, because lol like hell they do, and I’m certainly not saying it’s fun to have friends being jealous of one’s inability to put on weight.

  80. That was awesome. Kate, I cannot wait to read the whole book!

    Those of you fighting the good fight in the Salon comments: *raises teaspoon in salute* from those of us who just don’t have the patience for it today.


  81. As usual, this made my day. I don’t comment much, but your site is a real lifeline for me. Sometimes, I feel like I can’t think straight from all the people, mostly well-meaning, who feel the need to tell me they have my problems all figured out for me. Everyone’s a damned scientist / dietician / doctor/ statistician / historian. I come here, and I remember MY truth and that I am not alone.

    As Michelle Shocked sings, keep on rocking, girl.

  82. Yeah, Squeak, both of those comments are pretty nasty, IMO. The second one is kind of underhanded, and when you’ve been hearing that crap your whole life you know it’s not really a compliment. My favorite was the people who would mock me as a thin kid, and then when I told them I didn’t like it, they would say, “Oh, I’m only teasing because I’m jealous!” as though that was somehow better, or excusable. God, I hated those people.

    BUT. I know it wasn’t nearly as vitriolic or even as persistent (which is hard to imagine, but I know it’s true) as the crap fat kids and adults have to face. Which sucks like hell.

  83. Like, you know – you’re not allowed to remark on a friend’s fat because fat is bad and that’s rude, but feel free to berate someone for being ’skeletal’ or assume that they’re anorexic just because they’re thin!

    I wish people would be more cautious about tossing around this sort of comparison. Lots and lots of people feel perfectly free to tell their friends that they’re too fat, they should try this or that diet, they’re ruining their health, et cetera. It’s hardly “not allowed”.

    While I wouldn’t equate fat with race, sexual orientation, or gender across the board, this particular pattern turns up with all three:

    “You can’t say bad things about black people, but you can say them about white people”
    “If you insult women you’ll get sued, but if you insult men that’s okay”
    “If they can have Gay Pride why can’t we have Straight Pride?”

    And across the board it’s this fantasy that the oppressed group has it so easy, that there’s some societal force that is stepping in and giving them unfair privileges, and the real victims are the people who don’t appear to be.

    Surely there’s some way of making the point that thinner people don’t have the perfect life some would imagine without announcing that fat people are protected from fat bigotry?

  84. Like, you know – you’re not allowed to remark on a friend’s fat because fat is bad and that’s rude, but feel free to berate someone for being ’skeletal’ or assume that they’re anorexic just because they’re thin!

    First of all, this does not resonate with my experience at all. I see a lot more “Har har har, look at the fatty!” or “Hey gals, let’s get together and bond socially by talking about how much we hate our fat gross bodies!” than I have ever seen anyone be berated for being fat. That’s just my perspective, but then your perspective is also just your perspective.

    That said: it is always unfair and wrong to be told your body is unacceptable or even to have your body commented upon and evaluated by someone whom you’ve not invited to do so. But perhaps you might consider the possibility that some friends feel okay saying “You’re so thin, are you eating enough?!” to their very thin friends EXACTLY BECAUSE, insulting and inappropriate as that remark is, it’s still not understood to be as insulting as “You’re so fat, are you eating too much?” If that’s true, it’s because a lot of people think thin is better than fat. That explanation, to me, seems to fit widely-available data far better than the idea that fatties have it so easy because nobody’s rude enough to tell them the truth about how unacceptable everyone knows they are.

  85. Also… Kate, add me to the chorus of people who loved the Salon piece! (Have been out of town on more campus visits or I would have said so sooner.)

  86. Oh, ha, in my comment two ago I meant “than I have ever seen anyone berated for being thin.” Oopsiedoodles.

    Also… So I’m thinking more about this, and I want to retract as well what I said about how people mostly or even primarily ever say “You’re so thin, are you sure you’re eating enough?” because they’re on board enough with the idea that “thin” = “good” that they’re willing to voice the concern aloud. Because I realized, “Okay, well, that’s when *I* have heard those kinds of things said. But they weren’t said to ME, and people act differently when gossiping about someone than they do with the person. No one will ever think I’m too thin, so I can’t possibly know what sort of crap very thin people get thrown their way. From MY perspective it seems like you’d get all sorts of perks for being very thin… I mean, celebrities are mostly very thin, and for this they get to have their bodies be representative of the kinds of people whom our shared popular culture believes are worthy to be loved, pretty, and sexually-fulfilled. But I don’t know what it’s like to be addressed as a very thin person, or what forms that might take. I mean, how would I ever? So if someone says they’re berated for being thin, it’s probably a lot smarter to just believe them than to say, “Nah, I’ve never personally witnessed anyone get berated for being thin.” Well, sure, I never have, but given the kind of body I have, would I even have been in a position to observe this? Maybe not.

    Anyway… thanks for getting me thinking. I realize I’m having a nice little conversation with myself now, but I’ll take it off the internets. (Heh, that’s funny, because the reading at church this morning was about how “they left their nets.” Oh, also, I’ve just had two glasses of wine. Happy Burns Night!)

  87. Totally agree, and I hope you guys didn’t hear that in what I was saying. I definitely didn’t mean that fat people have it in any way easier, or that the stigma is the same. It’s not at all the same. And yes, absolutely, there are huge perks that come with being thin. Short and thin, a little less so, but big perks nonetheless.

    A Sarah, some people are just voicing concern, though of course commenting on my body because you’re concerned it’s not healthy isn’t great, either. But maybe they are willing to do that without even thinking twice because the stigma is somewhat less, so it feels a little less mean or intrusive. It still ends up feeling like the world is policing my body, though.

    Anyway, very thin kids aren’t usually receiving the concerned treatment, but instead the hurtful teasing, mocking, and bullying. Most kid get that from other kids, and kids that stand out get it worse; but the social pressure to be thin means that the teasing and bullying of fatter kids is overall a lot nastier.

  88. Excellent article, Kate.

    The end of your article states, “I am a kindhearted, intelligent, attractive, person, and I am fat. There is no paradox there.”


  89. I’m late, but I’ll be the 200th person to say I thought the essay was wonderful, thank you.

    Umm, I do need to recommit to Sanity Watchers after reading the comments, though. Anyone have any tips on that? It must be the cough drops or something.

  90. “large” I think is insufficiently descriptive, since it doesn’t distinguish between tall broad-shouldered people and well-padded people

    Good point. I just realized that I’ll freely describe myself as “fat” but I don’t think I’ve ever said I was “large” (you count saying that’s the size shirt I need or something). I’m not particularly tall nor do I really have a big frame. Sorta average height (5’6″) with sorta average shoulders and hips (skeleton-wise, I mean). Just with more blub hanging out around it.

    I’m embarrassed to say that for a moment reading the article I thought negative things about myself because I infer we wear roughly the same clothing size, but my BMI is higher (you quoted 30-35, I think mine is in the high 30s somewhere). Yes, I know it’s probably because I’m like 4 inches taller and I know that BMI is a load of crap anyway, but I had a momentary relapse into feeling icky. I’m better now, and reminding myself to be proud that a couple of weeks ago I told my doctor that I don’t subscribe to BMI when he mentioned mine was “still a little high.”

    Excellent article. I’ll be buying the book and reviewing it for my school paper. And probably linking to the excerpt on the FA blog that I started but have yet to write anything in.

  91. Awesome article! Love, love, love. Duly posted to Facebook.

    Kate, if I may nitpick (pick a nit?), I want to say one thing that bothered me in the article–when you called the fat-hating doctor “bitch.” I am aware, I promise, how feminists and progressives can argue about whether women or anyone can use that word. I just thought it was counterproductive, to use that oppressive label even as you were being oppressed by a different sort of oppression. (And gold star for me for conjugating “oppress” I guess? Lol your fat and all that.) I don’t want to hijack the comments, only wanted to mention this.

  92. ^ ^

    That’s one reason why I’ve taken to calling women who are nasty “dicks.” Even though it’s a typically gendered insult word, it doesn’t carry the same connotations as “bitch.”

    Though the more fun reason is that it confuses people who can’t think outside gendered terms. :)

  93. I would even suggest instead “…MAKE WITH THE PAINKILLERS FOR FUCK’S SAKE!” or “…YOU FUCKING FUCK!” Yaaaay f-bomb…

  94. I am comfortable in referring to myself as fat, and it seems that it makes those around me comfortable with it, too. As far as thin people, often people will ask me if I think so and so is anorexic (because I’m chubby I must know these things), and are really surprised that I think they’re just that thin, naturally. I don’t know why it’s so hard to believe that everyone doesn’t come in size “average”.

  95. On the fat/wealth thing:

    Fat is still seen as a sign of wealth in some of the parts of the world where people have a hard time getting enough food to fuel their daily activities.

    In the western/industrialized/first world, there are ample calories for the majority of people (though obviously far too many people still go hungry, and this is a tragedy).

    But the foods which many, though not all, people’s bodies find it easy to store as fat (sugars, fats) tend to be cheaper in the western world. And people with high incomes tend to have more leisure time for exercise, and more disposable income for cosmetic surgeries like liposuction. So in the western world, fat is generally seen as a sign of poverty, not of wealth.

    Back in the 19th century, fat was still seen as a sign of wealth in much of the US and Canada: in Anne of Green Gables, for instance, Anne is constantly envious of her friend’s plump curves. One of the noted beauties of the 19th century stage was Lillian Russell, who was 5’4″ and weighed between 180 and 200 pounds during the peak of her career–she was a famous gourmet, and popular newspapers would routinely publish the details of the enormous meals she and her beau “Diamond” Jim Brady (a great big man with a wonderful round belly) would eat at New York’s fancy restaurants.

    Imagine that in People magazine today: “Paris Hilton eats 12-course meal!” as a headline.

  96. Hey Kate, don’t know if you know, but Feed Me was reviewed in the latest issue of BUST — and your essay in particular was featured prominently in the review, in a positive way!

  97. Awesome article Kate. I loved it.

    As for the troll who contributed “fuck you you fucking fuck for censoring me”? It took me a minute to figure out what he/she meant. Then I got mad. How dare this troll use up all the fucks. Where’s my share?

    * grumble grumble *

  98. JP, I’ve heard that argument before, and it sounds reasonable, except that poor people don’t eat less well-balanced diets than wealthier people – they just eat cheaper versions of the same food groups, and less food overall. Maybe the wealthier classes have been self-selecting thin people long enough now that it’s made a difference, since body size is genetic? I don’t know, I’ve been puzzling over this class difference myself a lot, ever since reading about the lack of actual dietary differences. I actually don’t know the data well here – how much fatter are poorer people than wealthier ones? How much could ethnic background play a role in that correlation? I don’t have answers to those questions.

  99. A Sarah, some people are just voicing concern, though of course commenting on my body because you’re concerned it’s not healthy isn’t great, either. But maybe they are willing to do that without even thinking twice because the stigma is somewhat less, so it feels a little less mean or intrusive. It still ends up feeling like the world is policing my body, though.

    That’s a very helpful description, Volcanista… thanks for putting it so clearly and succinctly. To be introspective and probably rambly: this whole notion of thin-people-getting-berated has been really eye-opening for me to wrestle with. I think I didn’t realize how much I was talking out of my ass earlier because, being from a family of big-all-over people, “thin” was talked about as though it was SO FANTASTICALLY UNAMBIGUOUSLY GREAT. The sum total of its value of “thin,” as a symbol, was “Very, very good. No, GREAT! Better than you’ll EVER be!” And it was talked about that way A LOT. To the degree that it felt like an extremely well-known quantity, albeit one that kept eluding me.

    In other words, if you’d asked me at most points in my life, “Do you know what ‘thin’ means?” I would have sighed, felt shame well up in my throat, and been able to give you a very complete answer: It means health, it means beauty, it means popularity, it means my mom not looking at my body with that worried expression, it means that cool fashions are wearable, etc.

    But of course that’s assuming that “thin” is a stable, fixed, and coherent symbol that’s equally accessible to all. Which of course it’s not… though part of why it works is that it passes itself off as such. From where I sit, it’s nearly unimaginable that any kind of consistent berating of thin people actually happens. (I say *nearly* because I recall two hateful remarks. In summer camp I heard a boy say, of a very thin girl, that if she ever tried to beat someone up, the person would walk away with a bunch of puncture wounds. Also, my thin cousin – the one child in her family who took after her mother – was always teased by her siblings about being adopted.)

    Anyway…. when I look back on the sum of experiences I’ve collected, it seems at first clear to me that thin can ONLY be good, that that’s the primary meaning it has. But hel-LO, that’s because I’ve spent most of my life among the people who are told over and over and over and over again that thinner is better and anything is worth sacrificing to get thin. Why would it surprise me to hear that the same hateful sexist voices that whisper to me, “You fat jiggly gross unlovable slob with your unhealthy lifestyle!” would then turn around and whisper to naturally-very-thin women, “You disordered sick broken passive victim of media manipulation!”?

    I mean, it surprises me on a basic level because it doesn’t make very good logical sense. But I know history, and I know how often various groups of women (among others) have been asked to fulfill mutually-contradictory criteria at the same time, as a prerequisite for being thought “good.” Obviously, the voices that enjoin us to do so are not voices that convey anything even remotely close to good will.

    I guess what I’m realizing is that occasionally I still lapse into thinking, “Well, the idealization of thinness may be malevolent and impossible, but it’s conceptually simple and internally consistent. Thin is good. What could be easier to get your head around than that?” But of course it’s not simple at all: “thin is good” indeed goes a long way with some people, especially with my white economically-privileged people for whom a so-called “healthy lifestyle” is what’s supposed to distinguish us from those white people who don’t have our educational level, nutritional savvy, earning power, or superior aesthetic tastes.

    But meanwhile there are still thin people who must be carefully taught to hate their bodies. If “thin is good” doesn’t instill enough hatred for them, then I’m sure the enforcers of women’s shame will be happy to tell them that their bodies reveal some other kind of fault. But it will probably happen when I ain’t around… Otherwise I might get wise to this all being a fucked-up mind game.

    In light of all that, of course I wouldn’t access the symbol of thinness in the same way that a very thin person would. Sorry, Squeak, for not being aware of this when I replied to you.

    Anyway, I realize a lot of this is very 101… And long. So I’ll stop.

    (But not before saying this: Also, Volcanista, I totally owe you an e-mail bubbling over with gratitude for your seismic risk assessment help. :) I’ve been waiting for a moment when I actually feel bubbly so that I can do it justice, but that might not happen until Saturday…. I’ve been traveling for the past few weeks off and on for campus interviews, and I don’t usually travel, and it’s taken it out of me. I have high hopes that the bubbliness will return in a week or so, so stay tuned!)

  100. As I wrote on FB today when I posted your awesome story, “Kate Harding was, is, and ever will be my hero.”

    I needed a lift and a reminder (again) that FAT is just an adjective. I have gotten so comfortable with the term that I was completely floored when my five-year-old (upon hearing me call myself fat) said in this strained little voice, “But you’re not fat, Mommy!” How in the world is it possible that he has already figured out that fat is supposed to equal bad? What a climb we’ve all got…

    Thankfully, we have heroes like you to help us out, Kate.

  101. volcanista:

    Maybe the wealthier classes have been self-selecting thin people long enough now that it’s made a difference, since body size is genetic?

    No, because humans can’t change that much in 80-90 years–that’s only 4 human generations, and an organism as genetically complex as humanity takes many more generations to see the effects of selection. Even fruit flies take 10-12 generations to show metapopulation effects.

    However, I should be really clear that what I meant above was that foods like refined carbs and fats are generally considered both “fattening” and “lower class” in the industrialized world these days–the actual mechanisms of how people metabolize them, and the actual demographics of who eats them, are obviously far more complex.

    It’s the same thing with the “pale v. tan” paradigm shift: for white people in the 19th century, having pale skin was a sign of high income/social position, because lower-paying jobs were outdoors. After World War I and growing industrialization, having tanned skin became, for white people, a sign of high income and leisure, because more and more lower-paying jobs were indoors in factories or offices.

    Now obviously a lot of this is artificial, with the perception/meme swinging more wildly than the absolute demographics. But the perception is powerful: fashion magazines of the 19th century targeted at white readers have recipes for skin bleaching, while fashion magazines of the 20th century targeted at white readers have recipes for getting the darkest tan.

  102. I should say that I say “for white people” and “for white readers” there, not because there aren’t tremendous historical issues around skin color for people of color in the western world, but because I think that’s a more complex case, with many other issues called into play.

  103. Oh, but it’s possible that CLASS makeup can change that fast. I didn’t mean that we’ve evolved in less than 100 years to have different body types. I was just throwing out ideas for why there might be this relationship between class and body size/shape. That the upper classes have excluded fatter people might make sense, especially since once you exclude some fat families you’re presumably excluding their future offspring. But if just 4 or 5 generations ago, fatter people were at least equally favored, and if 10 generations ago they might have been more favored than thin people, then i’m not sure that works (no idea if this is true, though).

    Gotcha on the fat and carbs, but I don’t think the what-they’re-eating argument holds much water anymore if poorer people are fatter but they don’t actually eat a higher proportion of fat and carbs.

    A Sarah, no worries! I know the job hunt is exhausting. All I have to say about the rest of what you wrote, is that it sounds like the FoBT to me! :) All problems do not in fact go away if you are thinner, unfortunately. If they did, I would be queen of the universe by now, or at least the state.

  104. (OH GOD that sounds like I’m bragging about being thin, i’m so sorry! Crap, I did not mean for it to come out that way. Uh, okay, open mouth, extract foot, back to planning my classes. sheesh, sorry guys.)

  105. I’ve been hanging out here a while, and I just wanted to thank you for helping me call myself fat. I would still like to be thin, for all the millions of advantages it incurs, but it’s thanks in large part to you guys that I can call myself fat, and not feel particularly bad about it. When a well-meaning friend says to me ‘You’re not fat, you’re just big-boned’ I now tell them: ‘No, actually, my bones are pretty average-sized. I really am fat.’

    So, thanks. I’m still dieting, because there are things I will be able to do at a smaller size that I can’t do now, but I don’t feel as bad, most of the time, about being fat. And instead of completely starving myself, I’m exercising, and have discovered that I love it. I’ve even taken up Muay Thai (Thai boxing). So I want to be thinner as much to be better at those things as for the way I will look. I’m not as far along the fat acceptance/HAES journey as you guys, but I’m getting there. I suspect it will take longer to accept fat in myself, though I’ve come miles in accepting fat in others.

  106. Congrats Kate! I’ve already passed the link around to several friends who I hope have also hopped on the 1 HEART KATE HARDING bandwagon. Can’t wait to read the whole book!

  107. Oh god I love you guys. And since I graduated from high school weighing only 94 pounds I know what Volcanista is talking about. At least when I was that thin people didn’t have the anorexia worry. I’ve actually been called by the school nurse and had to have my child’s doctor prove that she was healthy. I can understand the nurse’s worry but it just underlines the whole fallacy involved in diagnosing by body stereotypes. And A Sarah, while I hated my stick-like unfeminine body, I still had thin privilege up the wazoo.

  108. I’ve been away from blogland for a bit and am coming back. It’s good to see that some things don’t change: SP is still great, and fat phobic trolls still abound.

  109. I just noticed that someone over there commented that “A body fat ratio of more than 16% is very common among men and women in the US (and now in western Europe)” This is, apparently, absolutely shocking and a terribly, terribly high number!

    Except, actually, that 16% body fat is incredibly low for a woman who isn’t an athlete. Anything under 20%, for a woman, is considered ‘under-fat’.

    And I’m still giggling at the idea of ‘under-fat’, and depressed that this guy thinks that it’s a good thing.

  110. Yet another great article, Kate! I hope your book takes off and you get lots more publicity. The world needs to hear your voice.

    I credit all the contributors and commenters here with helping me to make peace with my body. I have no problem referring to myself as fat, nor any hesitation to ask people to stop saying I’m not fat. It’s sort of obvious, okay? And I don’t think it makes me a bad person. I work out, eat well, treat my body kindly, and not only refuse to diet, I refuse to allow the body-hatred discussions to happen in my workspace. Two years ago, I could not have said any of that. I am a much, much happier and more confident person now. Thank you all.

    That’s not to say I’m done dealing with my self-image issues. This is a journey that doesn’t end, and I’m okay with that, too.

  111. Kate, you, your Salon article and this blog are rocking my world! I think I read the article on Saturday and I spent much of the weekend checking in with myself, “It’s okay to be fat . . . isn’t it? . . . Yeah, it is!” I realized that I do apply all those negative connotations of “fat” to myself but never to the people I love. And, hey, I love me, too! And I LOVE the BMI project. And I love you and your sister writers. Thank you.

  112. I haven’t read through all the comments here yet, but I read the so-called “Editors’ Choice” comments at Salon, and I have to say, 9 out 10 of the “creme de la creme” comments there are still BULLSHIT. Bleargh.

    I loved your essay, Kate, by the way.

  113. P.S. I had dinner with an older friend last night, and what was a good part of our conversation about? Her weight. She “should” lose 10 pounds, she says. She was the “chubby” one as a child and to this day attributes her lack of ability to control her sweets portions to having been restricted as a child (though all the kids in her family were restricted, not just her). I was trying to get at the idea that she shouldn’t be down on herself for whatever weight she was by pointing out that if she was chubbier than her siblings as a child, she probably came by it naturally (and restricting her dessert portions obviously didn’t make her lose that unwanted weight), but she was having none of it. She told me that as a teenager 60 years ago, she decided she didn’t want to be fat anymore, and instead she became anorexic before anyone knew what that was. Her father put up pictures of concentration-camp survivors to try to get through to her and show her how she was starving herself to death. I don’t know how she finally got over it, but man, I’m a little sick to my stomach to see how the commandment not to be fat has been screwing up lives for so many decades.

    Sorry about the long comment. It just bubbled up as I thought about your essay.

  114. And, to emulate A Sarah’s having had a conversation with herself earlier…. I want to add to all the people who just found this blog, I’m so excited to see you all here! :D Welcome!

  115. …right now, anyone calling you fat to insult you is also making an accurate observation. And that has to hurt.

    The troll who made this comment wrote an entire essay addressing Kate’s essay and proved Kate’s point about fat hate in every possible way. Apparently, all the words that Kate said that most people associate with fat, this person associates with fat…..point made. The ending point was so riveting that I couldn’t believe I had never thought of it before…eat less and exercise. Why didn’t I think of that? Apparently someone calling me fat HAS to hurt….I guess my brain must be defective, because fat is a great description of me, and doesn’t hurt at all anymore.

  116. And that has to hurt.

    Except for how the entire essay was about how it doesn’t hurt, precisely because it is an accurate observation. READING COMPREHENSION FAIL.

  117. Kate, your article was fantastic (love your site). I wanted to make a comment on the part about the doctor telling you to lose weight when you hurt your knee. I had a similar incident. After twisting my knee doing an exercise video, the orthopedic surgeon x-rayed the knee and said “it’s not broken”. The reason it hurts is that you are fat. He then proceeded to yell at me that I was too fat to being exercising and that I needed to have weight loss surgery. And he continued his little speech for about 5 minutes and then turned to my mother (she had to help me walk into the office) and told her she could stand to lose a little weight too. The entire time, I sat and cried. HOw are doctors so cruel? Fortunately I went to another surgeon and when I told him what had happened with the other doctor – he said “typical”. I was happy to find a doctor out there that didn’t look at me and say “you’re fat”.

  118. Also, it has become painfully apparent in my last couple of comments that I am completely unable to do an html link correctly. Not so much the linking as the spelling and spacing and whatnot.

  119. I’m really enjoying spending my Sanity points at Salon. There are some worthwhile comments over there, though some of them have significantly contributed to my BINGO card…

  120. I work for the mainstream media, and I’ve had my fill of weight-loss story pitches.

    I had a gentleman who is part of a coalition that hopes to impose some arbitrary set of “health” standards on local school children via the school district. This was a conveniently thin man who talked a good game about the obsesity eipdemic. His modus operandi? Eliminating trans fat from the local schools.

    Underlying all of it was a noticible loathing of overweight and obesity.

    I grilled the guy on his credentials. Massage therapist, not a nutritionist or a researcher. His pitch didn’t go anywhere. We’re still in the business of fact checking and asking sources to verify their assumptions — at least if said assumptions are going to be imposed on children.

  121. That should have read more like this:

    I have a source who is part of a coalition that hopes to impose some arbitrary set of “health” standards on local school children via the school district.

  122. Wow, that Jezebel post is very thoughtful.

    Damn, and so are the comments! Woo hoo! I just left a comment over there, though it doesn’t seem to have appeared yet, and I’m not sure if it’s being held for moderation or I just fucked up. (This is only the second time I’ve ever commented there, and I didn’t even realize I had an existing account, because I thought I flunked the audition the first time.)

  123. I’m a recent Jezebel fan/commenter, and they seem to be quite nice, really. Also, in the comments to their post about the Krispy Kreme debacle, baby donuts were invoked, not even by me!

  124. I have had issues with Jezebel in the past, namely by the number of commentors who were convinced a disabled woman in the UK who collapsed in a store bathroom deserved to be banned from the store.
    That said, I’m sure I mostly notice the vicious commentors and maybe the balance is tipping.

  125. Oh — mmm hmm. Yep. Clearly technical malfunctions, because it’s always good to read the comments just before your own.

    *runs away*

  126. That said – “I would so not recommend going up to any random friend all, “Hey, fatty! Wait, what? Kate Harding said it was OK!” “


  127. Wow, I wasn’t sure if “Wow, that Jezebel post is very thoughtful” was sarcastic or not, so I braved it.

    Not sarcastic! It actually is a good article! With mostly decent comments! (“That penguin has a huge ass and flabby underwings. Cut back on the fish, for God’s sake” notwithstanding.)

    I’m not used to that! *is confused*

  128. Hey, wriggles – I’m interested. I read the Orbach excerpt b/c I’ve always been somewhat ambivalent about her.

    She of course pretty much coined the phrase “Fat is a Feminist” issue, but I’ve frequently thought that her POV tended to exclude a multiplicity of issues; many of which, ironically, she appears to be attempting to tackle in this new book.

    Publishing economics aside, if I may inquire (if you’re still reading), she says a lot there — what are your specific issues with the piece?

  129. ”That penguin has a huge ass and flabby underwings. Cut back on the fish, for God’s sake” notwithstanding.)

    Oh, dude, that cracked me up. And I’m pretty sure that’s the spirit it was intended in.

  130. Yay! I love that you were featured on Jezebel–hopefully some more (nice) people will come and check out Shapely Prose. I noticed that a lot of the Jezebel comments mentioned that the word fat is much more value-neutral in some other countries than it is in the US. Intriguing!

  131. On the Jezebel front, the editors have really stepped up on the commenting policy recently, calling out body-snarking comments. It’s still not perfect, but there’s been a pretty noticeable improvement.

  132. I bought Feed Me today. :)

    My Barnes and Noble didn’t actually have it OUT, though, the guy had to go into the back to get it. The excuse was “uh, it just came in.”

    Sorry, but doesn’t a release date indicate that’s when it should be on the shelf? I thought they shipped these things out a few days early and it was supposed to be on the sales floor at store opening on the release date.

    I’m probably making something out of nothing, but I can’t help but think that some hot new diet book would have been front and center on the new release table right away.

  133. Yay! I love when new people get exposed to FA eeeeee!

    Though I know when it goes mainstream I’ll be one of the bitter ones sitting in a corner all “I knew about Kate Harding before she became President,” *hmph*ing and pointedly eating baby doughtnuts at the young ones. Good times.

  134. Hi Kate,
    I really enjoyed your article and am deeply heartened to see these issues dealt with. It’s so amazing how many ways people have of sidestepping the issues you’re talking about. I’ve tried so many times to talk to people about this, and have so often gotten silencing responses. You get the size-4-but-not-model-thin people who take it in the direction of bellyaching about how “fat” they are and about how the media is making everyone anorexic (um, except me, I guess, since I’m pretty damn far from anorexic). You get the politically correct shamemongers who shake their fingers at me for giving a second thought to the phenomenon of fat-hatred, spewing cliches along the lines of “stop caring what people think” and “all bodies are beautiful” (as if I’ve said they aren’t) and “Fat is a meaningless term, end of discussion, la la la la la.”

    One question persists after reading your article: You’re pretty vehement that you are, indeed, fat. By what criteria are you making that assessment? I’m not disagreeing with the assertion that you’re fat — I’m just asking, what in your opinion puts a person in the “fat box,” as you’ve so aptly put it? What, exactly, IS “fat?” You’ve done a wonderful job of saying what it ISN’T (ugly, rejected, unhealthy, “excess” or “over” weight, having more than 0% body fat, having this or that BMI, etc). Yet, you also seem willing to use “fat” as a meaningful adjective that can be applied to some people and not others, and you haven’t asserted that true body acceptance requires a person to totally dispense with the word “fat.” So how are you applying it?

  135. I know you directed that at Kate, Jenny, but I’m going to butt in and say that “fat” is subjective, especially when addressed at oneself.

    To me, I’ll always be fat no matter what size I am. I’ll always have a belly, thighs that touch (er, rub) at the top, arm flab, etc. I mean, I’m the smallest I’ve been in a long time (since high school) but I’m still fat and get annoyed when people call me otherwise.

    I’m less fat than I was a year ago but I’m still fat.

  136. Hi Kate,
    I posted your Salon article on my Livejournal, and there’s been a lot of discussion around it. Thank you for the jumping off point.

  137. Liza, I see what you’re saying…maybe a better way to deal with the question of “what is fat” would be to ask, what makes SOMEONE ELSE “fat” in our eyes, since whether we’re fat in our own eyes is so subjective? I mean, given that we are NOT using “fat” as an insult or anything, just a statement of fact that a person possesses certain qualities. What are the qualities? Well, we know what the qualities are, but in what quantity must a person have them in order to be fat, and how are we making that assessment? There are plenty of people who have, for example, somewhat rounded stomachs, who are definitely not what I’d call fat.

    The BMI project slideshow is a perfect example of this. I agree with Kate that a lot of the “overweight” and “obese” people pictured are NOT what I’d call fat. But yes, some people ARE fat. On what am I basing that judgment? That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

    This relates to something someone said above–the commenter suggested that we say we “HAVE fat,” not that we “ARE fat.” Because to say we ARE fat is to suggest that it’s binary. You’re either fat, or you’re not. Which is problematic because fat exists along a continuum, and yet there still seems to be a mysterious “line” on one side of which you’re fat, and on the other side you’re not.

  138. I’m fat. I’m also sugar-addicted and wheat-sensitive (not to the point of having celiac disease, but allergic nonetheless.) I don’t believe (and a lot of competent scientific evidence backs me up) that exercise or calorie deficits will cause me to lose weight, nor that my metabolism has caused me to gain it. My blood sugar, blood pressure and triglycerides are perfectly normal, and my cholesterol numbers are consistent with many who eat very few carbohydrates (which is slightly higher than normal, but within parameters that suggest the lack of any health problems.)

    Thus I’m no longer trying to “diet,” which is choosing my food for the purpose of losing weight. I am trying to view sugar and refined carbs the way vegetarians view meat, that is, they don’t consider themselves to be a diet, but they are defining themselves by the foods which they do not eat.

    Weight is falling off of me like crazy, and now that I’ve determine the cause of my obesity, I have no idea where I will end up if I succeed in fully transforming my way of eating and accepting that like an alcoholic who can’t drink at all, I can’t have sugar — ever — if I don’t want to trigger the binges that led me to this place.

    But I will always be a fat person, in that I will always understand the problems that fat people face in our society. I don’t know how long it will take to undo the self-esteem issues that are harder to shed than pounds, but that’s the real damage that fat inflicts.

  139. Paula, it’s interesting that you say that low self-esteeem is “the real damage that fat inflicts,” even while recognizing that it’s society, not fat, that inflicts that damage.

  140. Yes, it’s society, but we also do it to ourselves. Perhaps if society were different, we wouldn’t, but we often beat ourselves up for things that no one else in our life does. And in my case, even if FA were the law of the land, and I were the equivalent of a runway model or a Hollywood actress, I’d still be experiencing the horrible physical reactions and not knowing why, and down on myself for being out of control, depressed, binging, out of shape, etc.

    In other words, what we blame on the fat, or society’s reaction to it, may be a physiological response to what’s happening in our bodies when our eating places its chemistry out of whack, or may be a human tendency to never believe we’re good enough, no matter what state we’re in. I’m looking forward to sorting some of this out on my journey.

  141. Thank you for your comments about flying while fat. I am now a fat woman. I didn’t use to be, but health problems have caused me to get larger than I ever thought I could. But even when I was thin, I had what you might call a “womanly” shape — large boobs, large hips and butt, small waist. At a “normal” weight, my wide hips made it uncomfortable for me to ride in a coach airline seat. I used to hate traveling on business because the seats were so cramped and narrow, except when the company booked the old Midwest Express airlines, which had wider seats.

    Now that I am larger, I dread the day we have to plan a flight due to a family emergency — one will happen sooner or later, as we have family all over the country and some of them are getting elderly.

    Why should larger people (who comprise good numbers of the population) be penalized for their bodies? If diet and exercise were all it takes to be thin, most of us would be. But sometimes diet and exercise are not enough to change a fat body into a thin one. I am a type 2 diabetic with polycystic ovarian sydrome and don’t eat sugar, refined flour, white rice, or trans fats, and restrict all fats and white potatoes. I follow a fairly strict eating program and my typical snack is a lowfat yogurt or carrot sticks with a teaspoon of dressing. I walk every day, but do not have time for an additional 30 or more minutes of exercise because I hold down a full-time job, do some freelance work, keep a house and yard presentable, do most of the shopping and laundry for the family, and take care of my 86-year-old mother, who has dementia. I keep myself neat, clean, and well groomed. And yet I constantly get “advice” from people who sigh that I have let myself go and should really do more to take care of my health. Give me a break!

    Dogs come in all sizes and shapes — so do people. So why can’t we just be as accepting of a body that has a different shape or size as we are of one that has skin of a different color? Or that houses someone who follows a different faith?

    I’ll get off my soapbox now. But at least it’s wide enough to sit on comfortably!

  142. Susan, welcome and I’m glad Kate’s writing spoke to you. I just want to let you know that with regard to the comment So why can’t we just be as accepting of a body that has a different shape or size as we are of one that has skin of a different color? , many many people are not accepting of people with different skin colors — racism is still alive and kicking and we shouldn’t paper over that fact. (See Rule 12 of the comments policy.

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