86 thoughts on “Impossibly Beautiful: Kate Harding Edition”

  1. You GO, girl! You look gorgeous. I love your blog and I have followed you faithfully since I first found your site. Thank you for everything you do. :)

  2. I have to express my admiration for that Igigi dress again – it’s so gorgeous and such a great colour!

    As it’s an open thread… Just been standing in the queue for coffee at work and overheard a conversation about dieting and exercise for weightloss purposes, and had to restrain myself from going into an FA rant. Particularly when the guy who was dieting said, “The interesting thing about the diet is…” and I (who had been listening to this already for 10 minutes as the queue was slow) had to stop myself forcibly from turning round and saying, “You know what? Nothing about your diet and weightloss program is interesting.” It was a good reminder for me as to how caught up people get in their attempts at weightloss – I can remember boring hapless friends and colleagues with thrilling details of how much low-fat cottage cheese I ate and how my gym session went. It was only after I stopped being so obsessional about it that I realised how boring I had become. One of the many benefits of FA for me is that I’m a much more interesting conversationalist now that my life doesn’t revolve around calorie-counting and gym sessions.

  3. Va va voom, girl! I’m really excited that you are getting so much good press.

    Even though I read the entire piece about how much work it took to get this one awesome photo, I still looked at you and thought, why can’t I be fat like that? It’s funny and sad how deep this conditioning runs.

  4. I think I might fall over under the weight of all the makeup… but you totally rock it, Kate.

    I still looked at you and thought, why can’t I be fat like that? It’s funny and sad how deep this conditioning runs.

    It’s heartbreaking, actually. Every time I see plus-sized models, and since I’m on the smaller side of sort-of-fat they are often almost my size, I don’t think “oh! a body like mine!” I think, “yeah, but they’re pretty and fat… I’m not one, so I don’t get to be the other.”

    It makes me want to hug myself and hit myself, simultaneously.

  5. You look great – and I love the description of everything that went into it! (I keep kind of wanting to go through the professional makeup and primping type of photoshoot ONCE just to see what I would look like all faked up and fabulous… The theory being, get one nice Dorian Gray portrait of myself looking all Hollywood and then be better able to ignore the beauty standards forever after!)

  6. That’s a wonderful shot. All those colors … it’s just about edible.

    Taking advantage of the open thread, I found this appalling and possibly triggering product on my morning eBay search for vintage stuff: curtains made from ‘Calorie Chart’ printed barkcloth, copyright 1952. With a bobble fringe.

    I’m having a hard time imagining a better illustration of the ubiquity of diet culture in the U.S.

  7. You have to admire their ability to make two tons of make up look perfectly natural, I can hardly pull off a lipstick. You look great, Kate, congrats!

  8. @I’zhiu I do the same thing! “Well, they’re PRETTY and fat instead of UGLY and fat.” and then I spiral down a hole because a) LIES LIES LIES WHY AM I BELIEVING THEM and b) TRUTH TRUTH TRUTH I HATE MYSELF. Ugh.

  9. Love the photo, Kate.

    Re: open thread

    I subscribe to Junonia’s Twitter feed and often receive discount codes. I love the free shipping ones because their shipping fees are outrageous.

    I also subscribe to their blog (in hopes of more discounted clothes) and yesterday they published an encouraging article. Sample:

    Swear off dieting. Food addiction, or compulsive overeating, is often a reaction to dieting, which can be an addiction in itself. Many people find that when they stop restricting food, they also stop abusing or overusing it.

    Link here: http://junonialtd.blogspot.com/2009/09/junonia-embraces-activity-for-every.html

  10. Kate! RE: The IGIGI stuff. It looks like you have an ample chest and smaller waist. Is this so? Does this indicate that if I shopped at IGIGI the clothing that “fit” me would actually cover my breasts?!?

  11. Rachel, size 12/14 IGIGI stuff generally fits over my 34/36HH boobs. It’s pretty shocking after a decade of stretching and gapping in that area.

  12. lmao I loved this part: I look pretty, don’t I? (And if you think otherwise, drop dead). That made me LOL and then I read it all to my hubby, who said “Well, photography is another kind of art, so it makes sense that it would take 4.5 hours to get one perfect photo. It has to do with what you’re working with, how you want it to come out, etc.”

  13. You do look very pretty, in a naughty “I’m up to something” kind of way in the photo, and the finger photo is unfortunate–I guess you made your “point”–but here’s the thing. Your other photo, the regular one is just as pretty. I think some of the extra primping was superfluous, as you surmised, and some is to counteract the effects of the type of photography. I have noticed that at a weekly event I attend where photos are taken by a professional roving photographer and posted online, even the skeletors look puffy and the really young people look old and tired, and so on. In other words, they don’t look like they do in real life.

  14. Rachel – you’ll notice Kate is wearing both a cami and a belt, and that’s generally what I find necessary with Igigi clothes too. They tend to be a little big in the waist (and I’m not particularly small waisted) and a little… well, I don’t know if I’d say small in the boobs, but I often have to wear a cami under them if I don’t feel like showing off my boobs. I still buy them though, because they are gorgeous and flattering.

    Great picture Kate =)

  15. A sick part of me really wants those curtains.

    Me too. I’ve been sitting here thinking, ‘They’re so cheerful, and I could *subvert* them!’ But the sad truth is, every time I have the numbers about, they begin to have power again.

  16. Oh, yeah, Becky – I should have mentioned that I always have to wear a cami too, at least if I want the clothes to be even vaguely work appropriate. It’s just straight size clothing often doesn’t work for me even WITH the cami, so I barely think of that as an imposition anymore. :-)

  17. I think that Chatelaine actually has a no-Photoshop policy, don’t they? I remember reading it in there a while ago.

    I’m living in the US right now, but if I were in still Canada I would totally subscribe. I normally loathe women’s magazines, but Chatelaine is relatively sane. And they have the BEST recipes…

  18. That’s so awesome. Congrats, Kate!

    Open thread comment – I started tap dancing lessons last week. I know that we used to have an exercise feature here every once in a while, so I thought I would let shapelings know about tap, if they haven’t yet tried it.

    I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do it – I am not very coordinated (as in I have fallen down in step aerobics before). But it was awesome! The beginner class goes pretty slow, so it’s easy to get the hang of. It was a little hard on the knees once we started adding hops in, but otherwise was pretty moderate impact. By the end of the 45 minute class, I was definitely sweating, but wasn’t too out of breath. endless.com has tons of reasonably priced shoes in wide widths, so that was a plus. It was a teen/adult beginner class, and while I was the only fatty, there were two women in their 70s, so that was happy-making. All in all, I really recommend tap for fatties who want to try a dance class!

  19. Kate, you look beautiful. I’ve had that experience once, of being made up all fancy for a professional photo. I remember thinking that the amount of makeup they put on me was ridiculous, and I was going to look like a deranged clown in the pictures, but I looked natural and pretty. Photography is some wacky shit.

    And I’ve got to check out Igigi. I’d love to be able to wear a shirt that doesn’t gap because of my 34E/F rack.

  20. Rachel – you’ll notice Kate is wearing both a cami and a belt, and that’s generally what I find necessary with Igigi clothes too.

    Exactly. I have tried to make this one and similarly cut Igigi dresses work with a plunge bra, no cami, but as soon as I move, it’s all out the window. Or more precisely, out the front of the dress. And yeah, the waist is a bit big on me, too, though I can still pull it off without a belt, and could easily have the waist taken in if I cared.

    OK. Now. To those who have said something along the lines of, “But you look nice in the other photo, too,” thank you, but it’s not really the point. I’m not saying I’m naturally ugly and they made me pretty, I’m just saying I look NOTHING like that photo when I haven’t been professionally done up.

    That second photo, as you might recall, is my gayest look — taken hastily with a webcam in bad lighting, after working out and having a couple glasses of wine. No make-up, no hair product, etc. Now, that photo was posted both here and at Shakesville, and as far as I can recall (I didn’t look up the Shakes thread), NOT ONE person looked at that photo and was moved to comment on how pretty I am. In fact, that was the very photo that inspired the now-famous comment, “Goddamn Kate. You are an unbelievably unattractive woman!!” I disagree with that tool, don’t worry, but it goes to the point: This is not the kind of picture that makes people swoon over my beauty.

    And yet, that picture, though a particularly bad one, is a HELL of a lot closer to what I look like most of the time than the Chatelaine one is. So I can’t help but notice that when I post a pic of myself looking fairly normal, no one says a word about my appearance (except for a drive-by douchebag), yet when I post a photo that took several professionals, 4.5 hours, and make-up that came out of a MACHINE, I get many, many comments telling me how gorgeous I am — not just what a good job they did, or how gorgeous I look, but how gorgeous I AM — including, inevitably some from people saying they wished they looked like that. And the point of the post is, I wish I looked like that, too. I look fine. I am happy with my appearance. I clean up well. But a photo like that exists in a whole other galaxy from “me, cleaned up” — and it is way too easy to forget that.

    It’s way too easy to forget it about models, too. Yeah, Crystal Renn is a hell of a lot more conventionally beautiful than me under any circumstances, but the pictures of her in magazines are just as artificial, even before Photoshopping. (See also: the Dove “Evolution” ad, prior to the Photoshopping part.) That model is pretty to begin with in many people’s opinions. So is Crystal Renn. So am I. But none of us really look anything like the photos in magazines, at ALL — and yet, women still compare themselves to those, and wonder why they can’t be that pretty, all the damned time.

  21. I generally like Chatelaine. Yes, it does have some typical women’s magazine headdesk issues, but to a lesser degree than other titles. At least there are also interesting articles that go beyond fashions of the day and how to please your man.

    Kate, you look gorgeous on that pic, and it’s true that the ultra makeup actually look natural in the final pic. I’d rather have spray-on makeup than being photoshopped anytime… At least, you are still you, with just more makeup.

    A good friend of mine is a photographer who does amazing portraits, and he owes me one photoshoot session. I’m really looking forward to it, and will probably wear that top I bought recently for another friend’s wedding (the cleavage is vavavoom to say the least). :)

  22. I like to think of it as pretend, or dress-up. I wasn’t the girliest girl child, but I did like to put my mom’s lipstick on, and I remember thinking that it was 1.) pretty; but also 2.) totally fake. It was fun *because* it wasn’t real. I have realized that for me, looking at magazines and photos of models, etc. etc., is so much less damaging if I keep in mind that it’s all pretend. The photographers and models and clothes designers are all playing a big game of dress-up. Helps me keep my sanity.

  23. I clicked on the link to the magazine and the front page had some flat tummy diet. Le sigh.

    Your site and the spread look great though. :)

  24. Peregrin8, I think you’re definitely on to something. My co-worker, when she was visiting home (she’s Chinese), had a professional photo book made of her. When she brought it to work, most of the guys would not believe it was her. The pictures could easily have been from any women’s magazines. She’s beautiful as herself, too, but she still looks like human, not an ethereal fairytale creature. I think everyone who can, regardless of how they look and weigh, should at least once have a professional photoshoot, with makeup, hair and the whole shebang. I think it would help people to put magazine photos into perspective, to show that it is possible to look like that, but at what cost?

  25. I’m totally going to go check out the IGIGI site when I get home;-)
    I was in a photoshoot for work once. They wanted pictures of people working in the lab for the company website. It was amazing how much time it took to get the pictures just right, even though there was no hair or makeup involved, just pictures of scientists pretending to work.

  26. Happy Friday, all! Can I ask a favor? I need help articulating why I HAAAAAAATE this Maureen Dowd op-ed (sadly, my general distaste for Mo’D doesn’t count). A friend sent the article to me and she’s totally agreeing with the assessment that women in general are unhappier. I always expect Dowd to regurgitate the latest anti-feminist drivel, but the “study” she quotes is…well, read for yourselves http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/20/opinion/20dowd.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1253906267-6m2mZFrHxLtLaKpMlP9MyQ

    Call me crazy, but I’m not seeing the second-shift parity the “expert” is talking about. And I’m also wondering if women’s unhappiness might be tied to getting shit $$ for doing the same work as men.

  27. if it’s an open thread, could I get some advice?

    So I’m getting a master’s degree in interaction design, this is my second and final year, and I’m doing a capstone project, which is an individual design project that I work on all year, and have to finish and present in order to graduate. I kind of really want to design some kind of technology that relates to fat acceptance/feminism, but the atmosphere at my program is decidedly anti-FA. I haven’t noticed anyone being openly mean to the fat students (of course it’s certainly possible they have experienced things I haven’t seen), but several professors regularly discuss their own body shame and weight loss attempts, and at least one has talked in class about the “childhood obesity epidemic.” In addition, last year one of our projects was to design a Weight Watchers application, and of course some of the presentations/designs involved the typical stereotypes.

    So, basically, I’m afraid if I busted out with the full-on FA my work would end up being really controversial, and I’d spend an entire year not just working on this project but fighting for the basic principles my work is based on, and even though this is an individual project, the whole process is intended to be highly collaborative, and well, I’m not a fighter. Grad school has been stressful enough for me at the best of times, and I’m afraid of getting myself into a fight I can’t handle. I don’t want half the work of my project just to be arguing with people about obesity and weight loss and all that other stuff. The weight watchers project was really, really difficult for me, and while I managed to work something out with my group at the time, I was extremely tentative in explaining my discomfort with the project, and couched it in terms of having been close to people with eating disorders (which is true), rather than fundamentally disagreeing with the idea that long-term weight loss is either possible or desirable.

    But still, FA is something I really care about, and I want my project to be about something important to me, so I have been trying to come up with angles that I can argue for in a FA-compatible way without having to turn into a one-woman activist trying to convince my classmates and professors that everything they think they know about weight and health are wrong. My two ideas so far are 1) encouraging people to think about exercise as something to do because they physically enjoy it and it makes them feel good, rather than out of a sense of guilt or shame, or 2) design something to help people with intuitive eating, which I would probably end up pitching as an eating disorder recovery aid, with a side of “for people who don’t want to diet anymore and find they have trouble listening to their bodies and eating on demand rather than according to a pre-structured plan,” without actively trying to dissuade people from dieting.

    But y’all are smart and creative and have a lot of collective experience with these things, do you have ideas/suggestions for me?

  28. Kate, is that dress the Angie Faux Wrap Dress? Because I’ve been coveting it in kiwi for a while now, and if that’s the same dress, I might have to take the plunge and order it.

  29. Great article. Very interesting to see an inside scoop of the process.

    As for the open thread part of this post I thought I’d share something that happened today. I think it’s very FA related.

    I have an anniversary party that I need to go to in November and I have been dreading the thought of shopping for a dress. The last time I went to a formal party I was a couple sizes smaller, depressed and on a very expensive diet plan, and accompanied by my mom aka “You should have been a size X by now”. In the end I ended up having to pay an obscene amount of money for a dress I didn’t even like. Needless to say, fancy clothes shopping is a VERY touchy area for me. But this story has a happy ending! Today I had to give my mom a ride to Ponce and while there I found a very pretty party dress on sale for $15, and it was my size! It really made my day!

    Happy Friday Shapelings!

  30. Kate, the picture is beautiful – more importantly, I’m impressed you put up with the whole process!

    @l’zhu & sticky, I’m also about the same size as most plus size models and my thought is usually “yeah, but they’re tall, so they aren’t really fat, but I’m only 5’4″…” It’s fucking ridiculous that I even have these thoughts still.

    On the open thread note: Does anyone have a suggestion of some brands of tights that don’t pinch at the waist or roll down too much? This drives me crazy all winter because I like wearing skirts (maybe not the best decision in Boston winters, but I like them) and do not like the extra rolls tights often create. For reference, like I mentioned above, I’m 5’4″ (in that unfortunate middle space between “petite” and “regular”) and wear around a size 12 (also solidly in the nowhere/inbetweenie space). Any suggestions? I’d especially love to find a brand that makes low rise tights. Thanks!

  31. Since it’s Open Thread Friday, I thought I’d share a funny story that happened today.

    I am a woman in my 30s, and I work in a 9-5 type office and every day at lunch, I take a walk with some of my co-workers. Usually about 1.5 miles. They are all men, most a solid 10 years older than I, and some of them are from other countries (not US, where we all currently live). So as we’re getting started, one of the guys says “I’ve been doing this for a few months now, and I’m not really losing any weight.” So I responded with some (unsolicited) FA stuff. Basically, “I don’t really think of it like that, I think of it in terms of health, like I’m doing this as something positive for my health, and that may or may not result in weight loss, but who cares? Just because you’re healthy doesn’t mean you’re thin, and just because you’re thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy” etc. like I’m giving the freakin’ sermon on the mount or something and I’m going to make myself a bunch of FA disciples.

    In response, one of the other guys says, “So what you’re saying is you’d rather be fat & healthy than thin & unhealthy?”

    I respond, “yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.” And cringe, expecting him to argue with me.

    And he says, “well, duh. Isn’t that obvious? A bit like saying you’d rather be rich than poor, isn’t it?”

    And we all had a good laugh. Maybe FA isn’t so hard for most people to contemplate after all. Good Job, shapelings & authors! Keep spreading the word and eventually it’ll be duh & obvious to everyone!

  32. Oh, one more thing. I’m sure that my coworker did not mean to imply that just because one is thin, one must be unhealthy. I’m sure he meant them as separate concepts. But I wanted to keep the telling as faithful as I could.

  33. The Igigi dress thing is making me laugh, honestly. Because some of their clothes (like their classic surplice empire waist sleeveless dres – like the Juliane (though I don’t have that one) fit me DREAMILY, and I actually have three dresses in that pattern :P But almost all of their other stuff is like a giant sack on my boobs, most heartbreakingly that teal bubble dress that I lusted for SO BADLY and am trying SO hard to figure out if I can get it tailored to work. I wear a 38D bra, so while I’ve not exactly got a rack o’ doom, they’re not small either, just rather average-sized (relative to my body, anyway; I understand that my boobs on a size 4 woman would look doomy, but against my size 16 ass and gut they are not!). Igigi, why must I love you when you drive me so CRAZY!

  34. @interfacings

    Well, I’ve been bouncing around a couple ideas about how to help people (well, actually my mom) “quantify” HAES. A kind of bridge between measure every calorie and intuitive eating.

    1 – An application that helps me figure out what I’m actually hungry for. “I want something salty with fat in it.” Input “salty” and “fatty” get out “peanut butter” “sunflower seeds” “potato chips” “bacon” with a couple side options saying “Oh, you want bacon? How about a BLT? Or a salad with bacon on? Or a piece of quiche? Or three slices of bacon?” Because it is OKAY to want and then eat bacon.

    2 – Remind me to slow down and check with myself during my meal. Am I satisfied? Am I still hungry? Will I feel ill if I eat more? Will I be hungry again soon if I stop eating now?

    3 – Health monitoring checks that don’t include weight: Pulse-rate monitoring (how fast is my pulse before and during exercise? How long does it take to return to normal?) Blood pressure. Fatigue diary (how much sleep did I get last night? How tired am I on a scale from 1 to asleep?).

    4 – Remind me to move. Alarms to go off when I should go dance like a moron in that empty room. Or walk for 10 minutes. Or whatever. Maybe tie it to a digital creature of some kind that thrives on my movement. Live, little critter! I will dance for you!

    I hope that helped a little.
    And don’t worry about being “The Activist.” If everyone else is focusing on weightloss, you have an awesomely excellent niche in which you are competing with no one. In a field of candidates where everyone else is orange, who’s going to stick out more than the purple candidate? But if you’re shy, I guess the way to get around without tweaking any ears is not to tell them they are WRONG but that they’re right about a small part of the picture, and that they could be right about MORE of the picture.

    “Weight loss, yeah, yeah. We did that LAST week. What about all the other stuff that can be the matter with your health?”

    And with that, my two cents is officially a dime.

  35. @Sid, there’s an on-line recipe site that’s a bit like your No. 1: Cookthink. I use them sometimes. Especially when all I’ve got left is what seems like an intractably miscellaneous bunch of ingredients, but it’s got a ‘mood’ category that accepts search terms like ‘fatty,’ ‘rich,’ or even ‘grumpy.’ The recipes are usually good, too – I’ve run into a few that were too fiddly, but none that looked bad.

  36. Interfacings, that’s tough! I don’t think you should have to go along with the standard mindset (diets=good, exercise=only for weight loss) but it’s hard to say anything but the standard line without seeming like a radical. I mean, I’ve been shouted down just for saying something like, “hey, I don’t really like hearing about your diet because I’m recovering from an eating disorder and that kind of talk makes me feel bad about my body.” So if I were in your shoes, I would publicly embrace the “radical” idea of HAES and FA. Chances are, most of the others already see you that way if you’ve ever expressed even the slightest discomfort with the weight loss-related projects.

  37. @meems
    I used to think I wanted low rise tights. Now I’ve seen the light: what I actually want are tights that come all the way up to my bra line, and stay there. For one thing, there’s already a snug line there (my bra band), so I don’t notice the tights band as much, I find the tights waistband stays up much better all the way up there, sometimes I even tuck them right into my bra band. Obviously, this depends greatly on whether one wears a bra and the general shape of one’s body (frex: I’m much narrower around my underbust than a few inches below, so that helps them stay up), but I think this works fairly well for many people, silly as it may seem at first.

    You would need to find a kind that is just the right proportions for your body, though, and it depends a lot on height and torso length, but I think it’s worth giving it a shot, if you haven’t tried wearing them this way before. For me, I find the Avenue tights work really well for this (come all the way up and stay there) but I have a (shorter) friend who swears by Target’s 1x/2x.

  38. I’m going to go ahead and second the request from Meems regarding tights. I have the most difficult time finding them. I’m 5’3, somewhere around 250 pounds, wear a size 20 or 22 depending on clothing line and fit. When I shop for tights, I try to go by the chart on the back but they always end up fitting badly. I end up with a lot of extra material on the legs and the crotch doesn’t even come all the way up to where it’s supposed to. I pull and tug at the legs all day long trying to get all that extra material up there so they’ll stay in place but it’s wasted effort. As much as I love wearing skirts, it’s only a few hours after putting it on that I remember why I never do.

  39. @Mishmish – Thanks for the suggestion! I actually have bought Target tights, though I don’t remember which brand at this point. I’m short waisted (I need petites on top, though not on the bottom – which as a whole other frustrating issue!) and can usually get tights up to my bra line, but they never stay there, since I walk everywhere and things always slide south throughout the day. Unfortunately, my underbra measurement is only one inch smaller than my waist – often the same size, depending on where my weight is. Maybe I should be looking for tights that are a higher than regular rise, though…and use body glue to keep them up :P

  40. SM – I’ve heard about them, but haven’t bought any. It looks like the 1x there would fit me. Have you had luck with them? I think you and I are built kinda alike…

  41. An application that helps me figure out what I’m actually hungry for. “I want something salty with fat in it.” Input “salty” and “fatty” get out “peanut butter” “sunflower seeds” “potato chips” “bacon” with a couple side options saying “Oh, you want bacon? How about a BLT? Or a salad with bacon on? Or a piece of quiche? Or three slices of bacon?” Because it is OKAY to want and then eat bacon.

    I did something like this in my head the other day and it worked really well, deconstructing what I wanted. I had a craving for sushi. For breakfast (don’t judge :) !). But I couldn’t really spend the $6 stopping by the grocery store on the way to work to pick up a to-go sushi plate. So for about 20 minutes, my brain kept going: “SUSHI! No sushi for you! SUSHI! You can’t afford sushi right now! SUSHI!!!” I finally stopped and thought “Ok, sushi. It’s protein, some carbs, little saltiness and bitter bite from the wasabi. Maybe…. turkey sandwich with hot mustard? Oh, and then I could add some spinach and tomato, and I’ve been craving tomatoes lately too!” Had a turkey sandwich, and it tasted great. I wish I could figure it out like that every time!

    Interfacings, I’d suggest going to your advisor/instructor with your concerns. Nothing worse than to work on a project that the grader will hate at the end, and if you explain it all at first, they might have some ideas on how to make it work within your framework too. I don’t know if it would spark any ideas, but the “love yourself” video that went around awhile ago* was fabulous – it was a general positive message for everyone, but sneakily had footage of fat people being fat and happy in it. Something along those lines, not drawing attention specifically to the fat but being unapologetic for including fat people in a positive way, might be a good way to go.

    *I think I had seen it linked here – it had text that said “feed me”, then people eating, “love me”, and people hugging, etc… what one was that?

  42. @meems: If other suggestions don’t work, and if the perfect tights are just a little too snug, I’ve found it very helpful to cut the waistband of the tights, to widen the waist while having the legs fit as usual. It looks a bit budget (if you’re planning to get nekkid) but I’m sure there are crafty ways to dress it up/keep it from unraveling/tearing more. Cutting the waistband also diminishes staying-up power, but I find slippage minimal and the clothes you wear over them often mitigates what slippage there is.

  43. Kate – thank you for your honesty about what it took to get that photo. It’s a great photo, but I also love the one of you that you linked to from your wedding. I’m a bit curious — how you would have felt five years ago if someone from the future told you that you — your name and face and body — would become a symbol for fat acceptance? I am so honored to have witnessed your bravery and grace in taking this on.

    interfacings — from the “politics of grad school” angle, something to do with physical activity may be less controversial than an intuitive eating tool, and no less valuable. Or maybe something that is about “intuitive movement and eating.”

    As in… I feel like doing something that makes me feel strong… or free… or sleep soundly… or relaxed… or fun. You could have activities rated on several different scales, and users themselves could drive the ratings. You could include a “size-friendliness” dimension. A “beginner-friendly” dimension. You could allow users to become “resident experts” in an about.com sort of way so that curious new activity seekers could find their ways through.

    Also, with regard to eating, something that allowed people to track their experiences with foods, so they could try new foods, record or track how the foods they ate made them feel, this could be valuable for not only intuitive eating but also people experimenting with eliminating problematic foods from their diets, or adapting to new “eating circumstances” such as a medical need to cut back on sodium or eat differently with a new diagnosis of diabetes. (something I could see people with type 1 diabetes using).

    It would be fascinating to have something like this that wasn’t weight-loss oriented, but it could easily be “hijacked” by people in your program who wouldn’t get why you would do something like that and NOT include calories as part of the equation.

    I’m in favor of more tools to help people explore new activities. I think it’s easier to explain why you wouldn’t include “calories burned per hour” in something like this.

  44. … this could be valuable for not only intuitive eating but also people experimenting with eliminating problematic foods from their diets, ….

    Yes, on the advice of one of my doctors, I kept notes on food like this, in a diary which tracked my health and wellbeing, for some years after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. It *was* very useful … but yes, when I gained a lot of weight as a result of my meds, my doctors did try to subvert it. So what had been a useful tool became too unpleasant to maintain, and I stopped.

  45. thanks for the responses, everyone! I’m meeting with my adviser next week to talk about my project, and I will definitely think about your suggestions. I feel bad for not being braver about being outspoken, but, well, I’m a wimp.

  46. Can I just say that I find it funny that as soon as y’all say, “Okay, we’re just going to stop apologizing for not posting,” your post count skyrockets?

  47. Can I just say that I find it funny that as soon as y’all say, “Okay, we’re just going to stop apologizing for not posting,” your post count skyrockets?

    Haha, yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been thinking! It’s good to see that even if the posts are short or just open threads, it gets people talking nonetheless – I love the sense of community here.

    Anyway, Kate – thanks for this post. I often mope that I don’t look good in photos and why can’t I just look a little more … whatever, but this helps in realizing that I’m really not hideous or spectacularly unphotogenic, just a human being without a stylist, a make-up artist et cetera.

  48. I actually got up early enough to get to shul in time for the Torah service this week (a new thing I’m trying this year), and this week’s portion was about how the people of Israel had gotten cocky and strayed from G-d, and G-d was fed up and going to smite them. (This is in preparation for Yom Kippur, which starts tomorrow night, where we atone for being cocky and straying from G-d and thus put off the smiting for another year.) One of the verses made reference to people having grown “fat and coarse” on the bounty of G-d. Guess which verse got picked up on for a drash. By someone who likes to be edgy and talk about current events like the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA.


  49. @ sid and interfacings

    i LOVE the ideas you have sid! especially the first one. i have those moments where i just know i want… something… but i can’t figure it out. i’d find something like #1 very useful. and i also love the idea of some kinda reminder program to get up and move. and the little critter that thrives on movement. cute! but i probably like that one so much b/c i love to dance. so that would be right up my alley. :D also, b/c i tend to forget exactly how happy dancing makes me until i get up and do it.

  50. @Pandora *sigh* did you talk to anyone about that? I’d be pissed if I heard anything like that at services. I’m going to Hillel this year (have not had good past experiences, but am giving them a second chance) and if anything like that happens, I’m out.

  51. Meems – Hue make low rise tights that I’ve found work well on me, and I’m just a little shorter than you (non low rise tights I can often pull all the way up to right under my bra strap). They also have a regular waistband rather than a control top, so shouldn’t create extra rolls. I usually buy them at Macy’s, so you might want to check there.

  52. Trashy Diva has some really cute retro designs that would suit curvy women. It’s not a plus-size store – I think the largest is US-size 14 (UK 18). But for those of you who are identifying yourself as “sort of fat” or “on the small side of fat”, I think it’s worth checking out as the clothing seems to allow for busts and hips.

  53. @pfctdayelise It’s odd that they’ve lumped the F-Word in as a fat blog. It’s a feminist blog but I wouldn’t have classed it as a fat blog. I guess both ‘fat’ and ‘feminist’ start with F. Hrm.

  54. One of the verses made reference to people having grown “fat and coarse” on the bounty of G-d. Guess which verse got picked up on for a drash. By someone who likes to be edgy and talk about current events like the OBESITY EPIDEMIC BOOGA BOOGA.

    Sigh…ok, I’d be hypocritical if I got mad at them for reinterpreting the word “fat”, but normally when you do that, it’s to minimize the smiting and black-and-white morality of the passage. Not to make prejudice exist where there was no prejudice before. Given that “fat” is in most Biblical contexts a good thing, the original connotation of that phrase was probably something more like “people had more than enough to eat and didn’t have to work hard for it, and so got lazy and forgot where the food was coming from”. But having more than enough to eat is never seen as bad on its own.

    Can I guess that they ignored the associated Haftarah (passage from Prophets linked to each Torah portion, which our synagogue’s discussion happened to focus on this week), which can be more or less summarized as “If you return to God, you will be like a wide variety of useful food-bearing plants?”

  55. @the other caitlin, in the article itself they refer to the F-Word as a “fat friendly” blog, which I think is valid. In reading, it sounded like the author was simply listing blogs that Bri King links to. Quite possibly without ever having visited any of them.

  56. Oh, and the article about Bri was good (except for the part where the author felt it necessary to say that she can “expect” health problems by age 50). The mention of it not mattering if we’re fat or not if we get hit my a bus reminded me of something. Many years ago, my Nana, one of the few fat people in my family, was in a car accident. As far as I know, she was not wearing a seatbelt, nor did the car have airbags. Why did she survive with relatively few/minor injuries? Because she carried most of her weight in her belly, and that provided cushioning during impact.

  57. Love the dress, Kate! Can anyone recommend dresses for someone less endowed? I’m around a size 20/22 and a 42C (or C.5, sometimes) and whenever I try on dresses, the top part is way too large for my chest and looks a little silly. I really want to wear a dress but I haven’t had much luck (of course, there are so few dresses and plus-size clothes to try on in person, I can’t say I’ve done an exhaustive dress search). I’m hesitant to order online with the worry that it’s going to be the same old story again…

  58. You look beautiful Kate, in both pictures of course.

    On an unrelated note, I was wondering if anyone had seen this yet:


    Really great post by Harriet Jacobs about instances where boys have stepped up to fight sexism or protect women in bad situations, she’s taking submissions to be included in it. It’s super awesome, made me a little teary eyed more than once.

  59. Smileonmyface–I don’t know if this will be useful to you, but I’ve found wrap dresses the best bet in plus sizes if the tops are too big for your bust. I am waist-less, as well, so that’s a good thing for me. The other thing that seemed to help, at least this summer, was ordering sizes down. Depends on the style, obvs, but can work with less fitted dresses, if not suit- or work-style clothing.

  60. Truly sorry, Sweet Machine–I’d edit my comment if I could. I would rephrase it to say “those with almost no fat on their faces so that their underlying bone structure is quite evident.” You are right that to refer to thin people as “skeletors” is no better than to refer to fat people as some other non-human being. My bad.

  61. Can I just say that exchanges like that one between Kathryn and SM are why I love this site? I’m always very quick to raise my defenses and try to argue my way out of being wrong, but I am trying hard to follow the examples of the posters here who, when it’s pointed out to them, admit they slipped (as we all invariably will, coming from a culture utterly steeped in this junk) and try to do better.

  62. It’s odd that they’ve lumped the F-Word in as a fat blog. It’s a feminist blog but I wouldn’t have classed it as a fat blog. I guess both ‘fat’ and ‘feminist’ start with F. Hrm.

    Are you maybe thinking of thefword.org.uk, as opposed to the-f-word.org? The former is a general feminist blog, but the latter is a blog on the fatosphere feed, where “fat” is explicitly one of the F words in question (though Rachel describes it as an eating disorder awareness blog, as opposed to a fat acceptance blog). Both blogs are great, but if you were thinking of the UK one instead of Rachel’s blog, that would explain the confusion.

    @smileonmyface Lesley does not have a rack of doom yet owns a bazillion plus size dresses that look amazing on her, so checking out her outfit posts would probably help.

  63. I bought this issue of Chatelaine mainly because you were featured. It’s the first mainstream women’s magazine I’ve bought or read in ages. (Part of the whole blocking out unrealistic images of women and all.) But I was surprised by how much I really loved this issue and the entire “Women We Love”section. It’s so awesome to see so women honoured for doing something other than obsessing about their appearances in these women’s magazines. The whole section just made me feel very happy and optimistic about our world and the women who inhabit it.

    I might even be inclined to buy another issue of Chatelaine in the future.

  64. I just thought I’d use this open thread to mention some mainstream media exposure of Fat Acceptance ideas, over here in the UK.

    The 2009 season of Strictly Come Dancing (our Dancing With The Stars) has just begun, and one of the contestants is soap actress Natalie Cassidy. Right from the start when she was introduced, she made it clear that she was NOT DOING THIS TO LOSE WEIGHT, and she was HAPPY AS SHE WAS. “Hooray!” I thought. I looked for a link or quote or something that I could share, and found out that she had done lots of dieting in the past, and had even released a popular workout DVD. But she says now that (no surprise) being thin wasn’t making her happy, and it wasn’t natural for her, and led to obsessive, disordered behaviour. So she decided to give up dieting and be happy with the body she naturally has – and to make this point very clear in newspaper interviews and on the show itself. It’s a massively popular show on prime time weekend TV, so I think it’s really great that someone is waving the fat acceptance flag right there for everyone to see.

    Here are a couple of quotes from an interview printed in a feature in the Daily Mail (I hate linking to the Fail, but this article is pretty OK with only a few moments of fail. Oh and scroll past all the romantic scandal gossip stuff to get the fat acceptance part): “I became obsessed with keeping the weight off, took laxatives, starved myself and genuinely lost all of my sparkle and personality.” and “Eventually, I just accepted that I wasn’t meant to be a size eight.”

  65. After switching up my haircut and mentioning I might grow my hair longer again, my aunt, who is unfortunately deeply entrenched in current western beauty standards, told me, in all seriousness, that I should aim for the look I had on my wedding day as my everyday look. She completely failed to see the irony that she was telling me that the best “everyday, natural beauty” look for me was professionally applied makeup and an hour of hair-doing.

  66. my aunt, who is unfortunately deeply entrenched in current western beauty standards, told me, in all seriousness, that I should aim for the look I had on my wedding day as my everyday look. She completely failed to see the irony that she was telling me that the best “everyday, natural beauty” look for me was professionally applied makeup and an hour of hair-doing.

    Rosemary….yeah. That’s just so perfect.

  67. Meems and other inbetweenies, a tights update: I just got some tights from Old Navy in L/XL, and they fit my 5’7″, 12/14 self very well. They’re also cheap and come in pretty good colors; however, they’re also from ON, so if you’re boycotting or just not a fan, I understand.

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