Fat, Self-Image, Sweet Machine

No more “fat talk”

We’ve been deep into Advanced Feminism and Fat Acceptance the last few weeks, but sometimes it’s good to get a reminder of the basics and why we have to start there. The most important step of FA — and the one that often hardest to do — is to stop talking shit about yourself. This is Tri Delta’s Fat Talk Free Week:

(The video soundtrack is just music, for those of you watching without sound.)

What I really appreciate about this campaign is the focus on how fat talk isn’t just about you — every time you put yourself down, even if you really, truly are thinking only about yourself, you are also adding to the toxic environment that your loved ones live in, too. Self-shaming behavior implicitly shames others.

The Fat Talk Free Week campaign says “Friends don’t let friends fat talk” — what are your tried and true ways of resisting fat-shaming conversations?

333 thoughts on “No more “fat talk””

  1. If I’ve developed ways of resisting the shame, I haven’t done so consciously. I have recently been able to look at myself in the mirror and not automatically think shaming thoughts about myself. If anyone tries to correct me when I say I’m fat with “No you’re not!” I say, Yeah, actually, I am, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Also, side note, thank you so much to Kate, SM, FJ, and A Sarah here. You guys have inspired me to revamp my own blog as a place to talk about things that are truly important to me. I figured if I needed to talk through important social issues so that my head didn’t randomly explode several times a week, I’d better start my own blog!

  2. This is awesome. My college had a “No Fat Talk” pledge last year, which I also thought was an excellent idea… sadly, everyone I knew who signed the pledge fell off the wagon about a week later.

  3. I’ve become so much better in the last couple years about at least not voicing fat talk when I think it. The much harder thing for me–what I still don’t know how to deal with–is when my partner starts talking about hir stomach being “too fat” and not what ze pictures hir body to be. I usually just grunt along and might throw in a “just please, don’t diet!”

  4. I am not crazy about the repeated use of the term “girl” to talk about adult women, or about the emphasis of the shame that 40% of moms tell their daughters to diet while 45% are of average weight.

    I assume we all think it’s not any better to shame an actually fat girl or woman.

    I do think this is great and important. I try to be mindful about not talking shit about myself, but it’s hard, and my friends do it constantly, even though I’ve told them it bothers me and I tend to excuse myself from those conversations.

  5. Well, I have a long way to go when it comes to Fat Talk against myself (and therefore indirectly against all women), but that aside for now, I have a related problem:

    I have no idea how to react when people I know lose weight, then brag about it. A good friend of mine recently started doing the Biggest Loser through her work (apparently lots of workplaces are encouraging weight loss competitions among their staff now? Everyone puts in money, just like a football pool, and whoever loses the greatest percentage of weight wins the whole pot). She’s lost about 40 pounds already, dropped a dress/pants-size and is in second place. She is really excited about all of this.
    I have also had other people that I’m less close to declare how many pounds they’ve lost in the past [whatever unit of time], and I never know what to say. I can’t seem to think of a happy medium between “Congratulations, you look great!” (thereby feeding the weight loss hype and reaffirming their fears that they didn’t look great before) and “So? It’s just a number” (thereby establishing myself as an “unsupportive” friend who can’t be happy for their “achievement”).

  6. @Jessikanesis: I think you can congratulate them without feeding the weight loss hype. This is what they want to do with their bodies, regardless of how we in the FA community feel, so you could say “Congratulations on reaching this goal. I know how much you want it.”

    I think that’s ambiguous enough.

  7. I have also had other people that I’m less close to declare how many pounds they’ve lost in the past [whatever unit of time], and I never know what to say.

    This is me feeling impish, but an actually appropriate but still possibly mind-boggling response would be to ask after their health. “Oh, you lost 40 pounds in six months? Are you okay?”

  8. I had one of my first FA lightbulb moments over this issue. I’ve definitely been guilty about talking shit about myself in the past, and I’ve tried really hard to stop. The realization that I was contributing to a toxic environment for other people was what prompted me to quit, but doing so has definitely made it easier for me to accept myself, as well.

    I actually have a fat-talk question for fellow shapelings. I am a thin person for the purposes of thin privilege (“normal” BMI, standard size closes,etc.) but not necessarily “thin” for the purposes of common parlance. I am what many people might call “normal” or “average.” Those terms are obviously really problematic from an FA perspective–who says what is “normal” or “average”? Any ideas on a non-normative, non-fat shaming term I could use instead?

  9. @SM,
    I did that once – at a restaurant, the waitress was bragging that her father had lost twenty pounds in one month on the Herbalife diet, and I blurted out, “That is COMPLETELY unhealthy!”

    She was remarkably stingy with the breadsticks after that remark…

  10. One of the problems I have is that I can talk about being fat without engaging in fat-shame, but my friends are so used to the idea that calling yourself fat is fat-shame, that they always say, “Oh, you’re not fat” , which makes it hard to continue the conversation, because the fact is that I AM fat, (no, really, I am!) but my definition of ‘fat’ has evolved to simply being a physical description, while my friends still see ‘fat’ as the classic smelly, lazy, inherently shameful old-school definition – and that’s a hard mindset to change.

  11. I’m with SM. I think that when I used to go ‘squee I lost X pounds in Y time aren’t I clever’, being asked about my health being ok in relation to it *might* have just set me thinking a little, which would have definitely been good for me. And I don’t think it’s rude either, so long as it’s said the right way. I find it the hardest when someone I care about is saying ‘I gained X pounds, I am so bad…’. In fact I still do this to myself sometimes, but am getting better. I feel like I have an inner SP voice developing, possibly even complete with all the little monsters inside telling me to give myself a break and to step back and think properly about why I’m saying that to myself!

  12. We have a lot of people-over-for-dinners at our house, and when it’s my dinner table, I maintain “my house, my rules” about fat talk.

    This mostly came about because a friend of my housemate would say some horrifyingly hateful things about his own body, and other mens’ bodies. Were a person to comment on this negative talk, he’d reply with “it’s just how gay culture is, you have to pay attention to your weight*.”

    After one especially intense encounter with that, I have just taken to saying “this is a no-fat-shame table” or “that is not okay to say in my house” or “I do not want weight loss talk at my dinner table.” The blatant language went away, and so, I have noticed, has the more subtle fat shame from all guests.

    Having someone say things you know people *think* but rarely *say* when fat people are around actually really helped, because IMO, it would have been very hard to be seen as overreacting to that toxic talk. It just sort of bled over to other kinds of talk as well.

    * I dunno about “gay culture” but I do know that I had never, ever heard my gay brother or anyone he ever dated talk that way EVER. Ever. Ever, ever, ever about anyone.

  13. I have also had other people that I’m less close to declare how many pounds they’ve lost in the past [whatever unit of time], and I never know what to say.

    I have 2 responses (almost exactly the same):
    “Are you happy about it?” (Yes.) “Well, then I’m happy for you!”
    “Wow, you seem really happy about that! I’m so glad you’re happy!”
    That sometimes brings on a comment along the lines of, “Well why wouldn’t I be happy?” to which I can respond (genuinely) sweetly, “Well, you know, I think you’re beautiful no matter what.” And that usually ends the discussion.

    As for fat-shaming language, I’m trying really hard not to use it, even internally. I’ve come a long way, but the first time I really made a commitment to stop using it, I realized that about half of what I said on any given day was a slam against myself (and by extension, others). I couldn’t believe how many times I opened my mouth only to immediately snap it shut again when I realized what I was about to say.

    It was simultaneously depressing and eye-opening.

  14. I don’t often know how to respond to fat-shaming, but food-shaming I can answer. “Ooooh, this is so wicked, I am such a bad person” gets the stock response, “It’s pizza, not genocide. Enjoy it.”

  15. I have trouble with this. In general, my real-life friends are pretty down with FA, but not consciously? If that makes sense? Like, they don’t know about the FA movement, I don’t think, but most of them are fat to varying degrees and they pretty much have come to it within themselves. I hang out with a lot of strong women who resist a lot of the dominant culture’s bullshit, so it makes sense that they would resist this particular strain of it.

    The problem is my sister. She does a lot of fat talk and I never know what to say to her or how to handle it; I don’t talk to her a lot, for a lot of reasons that boil down to she’s basically an asshole to me most of the time, but for instance when I was planning my wedding and trying to figure out bridesmaid dresses she called several of my friends “the whales” and when I weighed 144 pounds (I’m at 165 now and still sloooowly gaining; birth control hormones are making it a pain to try to keep myself in clothes that fit) she said that if she ever weighed that much she would throw herself off a cliff.

    I never know how to respond to that kind of thing. Most of the time I just change the subject.

  16. I like the video, but I sure think it would be more effective if they used more images and less text. I’m with Gnatalby, I would prefer they used Women/Woman to Girl. Each “this woman” should’ve come with an image. It also would’ve been nice if the images at the end had been of different sized women, not just the standard of beauty.

    What a great thing for sororities to be involved with. I’m so impressed that college women are taking this on.

  17. aproustian, would it help to tell your partner: “I think you look amazing” or “I think your stomach looks great at the size it is”?

  18. Starling, HURRAH for “it’s pizza, not genocide”. I will use that as soon as I can.

    Likewise, if someone says “I’m being good today!” about a salad, I look all admiring and say “Did you give blood?”

  19. I should mention, this being my sister, she has basically trained me for 27 years to just let her say whatever she wants because if I ever tell her something she said was rude or mean or if I let her find out she has made me angry she will go off on me and then whine to both our parents and get them on my ass about how unhappy it makes them when she and I don’t get along.

    I mentioned I try not to talk to her unless I absolutely have to, right?

  20. Perhaps we need a list of guidelines or comebacks for the most common fat talk? Some kind of Shapelings Guide to Fat Talk Response? Remember the language lab in high school where you heard something and repeated it? Practice what to say so you’re ready to say it when it comes up.

  21. @ jessicakanesis:

    Good luck talking to your friend. A couple of months ago one of my very good friends, who had previously been my only FA comrade IRL, started Weight Watchers. All she talked about was her weight. Her facebook status updates would be how many pounds she lost so far… one time as she was talking to my partner while I looked on she actually randomly interrupted herself to look down at her body, giggle, and say “I’m sorry, I’m just so pleased with myself!”

    In short, she became UTTERLY INSUFFERABLE. I became concerned because she had a history of ED, so I wrote her an email expressing my concern, which she interpreted as an attack on her. She told me she was angry that I had been so unsupportive, that “every time” she mentioned weight loss all she got from me was “negative feedback.”

    I have no idea why she felt that way because I went to great pains to compliment her on her for all kinds of things (NOT her weight), and to remain neutral on the subject of weight loss.

    I was completely blindsided by her reaction, because EVERYTHING I said in the email was standard FA stuff that she was familiar with. But suddenly these principles that we used to agree on constituted an attack on her. I was really hurt. I was irritated that we couldn’t talk like we used to, that all she wanted to talk about was weight loss… it was like she became a different person. She was no longer the friend I thought I had. And we haven’t spoken in over two months.

    I hope your situation doesn’t turn out that way. It still pains me that we fell out over this. :(

  22. This is me feeling impish, but an actually appropriate but still possibly mind-boggling response would be to ask after their health. “Oh, you lost 40 pounds in six months? Are you okay?”

    This. Not only might it get people thinking, but it’s also respectful to those who may be dealing with physical or mental illness or disability. Over the summer I got complimented by several friends for losing weight, and I hope I got them thinking (in a snarky, lighthearted way, and only to people I was close with and comfortable disclosing to) when I replied “yeah, this depression and anxiety diet works wonders!” I think even a fairly neutral response to “I just lost X pounds in Y months!!” like “oh, so how are you feeling?” is a great way to be polite while taking the focus off of the diet talk.

  23. My husband has the best response ever to “Does this make my butt look big” (always said in jest). He says “Yeahhhh” appreciatively and squeezes me. Someday we’re going to get thrown out of a department store.

  24. OneBonBonIsPoison, I’ve had similar experiences with people “congratulating” me on having a serious medical condition. I actually was really grateful to the few people who *did* say, “You look really thin! Is everything okay?” I quite like the idea of turning that on its head.

  25. I’ve also been at a loss for what to say when someone mentions their weight loss, although it doesn’t come up often amongst my friends; like others, I sometimes struggle to find a balance between cheerleading and being totally unresponsive. Marste’s suggestion makes a lot of sense.

    Regarding what I say myself, I try not to engage in fat talk/other bashing of my appearance where it could affect others, and if weight comes up in casual chat I’d prefer to just go quiet than chime in with my own insecurities. If I’m talking about my body issues (for context, I have an eating disorder and am underweight), which generally only happens with trusted friends who know I struggle with this stuff, I’m more likely to say that I’m struggling with feeling fat than just “I’m so fat!” with all the judgments of others’ bodies that implies, and the negativity it attaches to fatness. I’m still trying to figure out an appropriate way of talking about these feelings which doesn’t lead to the unintentional body-shaming of everybody my size or higher.

    (I’m still relatively new to commenting, and if anything I’ve said is potentially derailing or problematic, please accept my apologies in advance.)

  26. I like marste’s response to the “I’ve lost x weight” if they’re telling you about it happily, “are you ok?” isn’t something you can play off. Yes, if it’s a close friend who’s lost a lot of weight suddenly, I’d ask “are you ok?” but not in the situations where they’re bragging about it. Really, if they’re telling you, you look like you’re faking concern to prove a point(or at least that’s what I’d think if I heard that).
    I’m also interested in hearing responses to Lucy toos question.
    I really don’t know what to say to a friend who calls herself fat because she can’t buy size 0 and she used to. I know “you’re not fat” is discouraged here, but she’s not fat, not even if you use it as a descriptor instead of anything moral.
    and Kimberly O-would you appreciate it if someone said that about a decision you made? the one I’d throw out is food, though it’s kinda weighted-if you ordered a dessert, would you want a stranger to say “that’s not healthy”? I guess while I’d feel okay saying “great for him, I’m not interested” , I don’t like the idea of health being a public matter when we’re talking weight loss either. No, it’s not healthy. It’s also not my business.

  27. @Starling, that is fantastic and I’m going to use it. It hurts me when my sister and BFF talk trash about their bodies. Actually, it annoys me. They have more in their lives to be proud of than how few calories they ate today.

  28. Y’all, I had my first little vocal resisting-the-diet-talk moment recently! I was at a party with a bunch of my dearest friends all sitting around on the floor. I got up to get some cake, and brought back several pieces so nobody else had to get up. Sat back down, passed around the cake, enjoyed, had a piece left over.

    One friend, who has in the last year or so lost weight (more than statistical variation, less than my portly beagle) claimed it, with some self-shaming comment. I said, “I don’t think anyone should ever apologize for what they eat.”

    She responded, “Especially not when they’ve lost X pounds!”

    And without missing a beat, I go, “Not ever.” Felt pretty good.

  29. I don’t often associate with people who obsess about their weight, but when I do, I try valiantly to change the subject. It’s not just psychologically damaging, it’s so boring. Politics, religion, sex, gossip – ANYTHING is more interesting than talking about weight and dieting.

    My biggest problem is with my mother, who is 92 and still trying to lose weight. Almost everything she says is related somehow to her weight, her dress size, her diet, and her exercise (to lose weight). For Maude’s sake, she’s a size 14 and healthy, and she looks much younger than she is. She still runs a house and cooks. It is beyond me why she wastes time and effort agonizing that she is no longer a size 8.

    Every food item in her house is labeled low-fat or no-fat. It’s all heavily processed and full of additives, salt and corn syrup to make up for the flavor and nutrients that are missing. She hates to cook. Last year I sent her a large box of home-cooked frozen food for Xmas, and she made me swear it was low-fat. It tasted so good she didn’t believe me.

    But worst of all is her obsession with MY weight. Everything I say is, to her, an opportunity to talk about my dress size, my clothes, my food choices (I have a large garden, never buy processed food, and use real cream and butter (gasp!)), and my exercise (NOT to lose weight, I just like to be active).

    She especially likes to comment negatively on my weight when we’re around other women. She buys me gift subscriptions to weight-loss magazines, which go straight into the recycling bin unopened. I guess she thinks she’ll shame me into being more like her, or else she misses living vicariously through my youthful slenderness. She likes to remind me that I lost 40 pounds after my divorce, and I like to remind her that I was also miserable. It took me years to realize that fighting and hating my older, more ample body were self-defeating, unhealthy, and yes, boring.

    I finally had to tell her the topic of my weight is off-limits. She finds this a terrible, unjust and insulting restriction on what she is allowed to talk about with me. When she talks about her own weight, I won’t take the bait. I give her “Uh huh. Mmm-hmm. How’s Aunt Louise?”

  30. I’ve started saying something when I’m bothered, it mostly comes up with my father and with a friend of mine who lost a lot of weight a year ago and is regaining. The problem is… sometimes I feel like I’m coming off like a bully, and part of that is because I do feel genuinely irritated by how much time she spends talking about this, so my rebukes may not be as gentle as they could be.

    I feel bad for her because I know she’s the person she hurts most by saying things like “I was so bad, I ate pasta at four am!” or “That girl shouldn’t wear that with her figure. I mean.. I shouldn’t either, obviously!” But I definitely feel like I’m getting hit with friendly fire. If I’m up until four am, damn right I’m going to have snack!

  31. I turn off “fat talk” by self-short-shaming. I mention that my target height is 5’6″ I’m 5’3″), and that despite eating a healthy diet and stretching for half an hour every day, I just cannot seem to reach my target height.

  32. I turn off “fat talk” by self-short-shaming. I mention that my target height is 5′6″ I’m 5′3″), and that despite eating a healthy diet and stretching for half an hour every day, I just cannot seem to reach my target height.

    So brilliant, Kaethe! I can’t wait for a chance to use this in conversation. :)

  33. This is a slightly different type of fat talk, but I’ve been trying to figure out how to get people to stop telling me I’ve lost weight, which I haven’t. My usual no-sell attempt (e.g. “nah, maybe you just like this shirt?”) has been backfiring hardcore. The offenders right now are all exercise-related people, notably my Zumba teacher, i.e. not friends, so I really think the next step has to be “I wish you’d stop saying that, I know it’s meant well but I’m not trying to lose weight and I find the weight loss mindset toxic, so it makes me uncomfortable” (or just “I wish you’d stop saying that, it makes me uncomfortable”) and I’m so not looking forward to it. Also, I have NO IDEA what they’re reacting to. I got a tan, I guess?

    Love the “target height,” excellent approach.

  34. I lost some weight this past Spring (hospitalized with a virus. dehydrated. nasty).

    I wrote a blog post about the response I gave to “Did you lose weight! You look great!” which says, in total:
    “Yes, I probably DID lose some weight. Six days of non-stop diahhrea will do that. It’s not a weight-loss method I recommend.”

    I have to say that that response stops quite a few people in their tracks.

  35. Thanks for this post, I will be sending it around. I myself remembering thinking I was fat in Gr. 2, which I was seven years old. When I look at pictures I realize how wrong I was. I have three daughters. I have tried my hardest to keep my body insecurities to myself. I don’t go on “diets” in front of them, we don’t even have a scale in our home. I try and concentrate on healthy foods and being active. But they are not denied McDonalds or Junk Food. But through all of this, my youngest at five, hugged her older sister and said, you’re skinny. She then looked at me and said, Mommy your skinny too. Then she looked at herself and said. I’m……. not. It broke my heart; she’s healthy, active, and full of life. She is strong, with amazing motor skills, she is perfect. At five, a child should not even consider things like that.

    So thank you for this, and all the other posts on acceptance. To accept ourselves for who we are, I just wish it wasn’t a struggle for so many, including myself.

  36. slythwolf: I might have let “sis… if I ever help you over that cliff, trust me, it won’t because you got fat” slip before I remembered how it would upset my parents.

    With a deep breath and a politeness reminder to myself, I might have just stuck to “suicide jokes are not okay.”

  37. When people remark happily to me that they’ve lost X pounds, I’ve started asking, “and how are you feeling otherwise?”

    Adding the “otherwise” acknowledges that they’ve told you they’re happy with that aspect of their lives and switches the topic of conversation to something else.

  38. My Dad has a habit of saying a decadent dessert is “dead sinful”, but he says it with such relish that I always take it as a good thing. Of course he’s also fairly regularly completely dickish about my eating habits, or about my or my mother’s size…so there’s a mixture of win and fail going on in my family.

    A friend I’m very fond of went on a long weightloss crusade, and it was really hard to hang out with ehr, becasue she’d be obsessing about how she HAD to be a size 8 (at 5’11”) and how disgusted she was at herself for gaining over christmas and hitting 170. Putting her still 50lb lighter than me, and it was so hard not to take it as a slur on my size also. I did once say “so if 170 is DISGUSTING, what does that make me?” and I don’t know if she got the message, but she talks a lot less about the dieting now. Interestingly, becoming vegan seemed to be a more mentally healthy way for her to channel her food neuroticism, it has become about maintaining adequate nutrition rather than about shrinking herself.

  39. Becky, I have done so, but didn’t seem to get much of a response. Then again, maybe I just need to keep it up?

  40. Slim, thanks for the link. I hadn’t seen that article, although I have seen research showing that the overweight are usually underheight, probably at Junkfood Science.

    I suppose I feel comfortable with my target height joking, since I know both my daughters are likely to be significantly taller than I. Otherwise, I try not to talk about bodies or looks with them at all.

  41. Hugs to everyone who has to deal with this stuff all the time. I wish people would get it through their heads that it’s not polite to casually comment on someone’s body whether you think your comment is a compliment or an insult.

    Luckily my friends and co-workers don’t really get into this “Fat Talk” mindset. What I’m working on is my inner monologue of “self fat talk” and the thoughts I have about other women’s looks. I have found it really beneficial to my own self image to monitor the thoughts I have about others.

    I wrote about this here: http://jennyknopinski.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/end-fat-talk-and-thoughts

  42. I posted the Tri-Delt link on facebook, in an attempt to maybe, possibly, hopefully deal with the main source of fat talk in my life: Friends’ facebook status updates.

    One particular, very thin friend, who just had a baby, posts near constant comments about how flabby her ass is, how she needs to get on the treadmill, blah blah blahbbity blah. I don’t want to respond via facebook or email, because what should be a discussion can so easily become an argument that way. But it saddens me that this very lovely woman is wasting so much psychic energy hating a body that just PRODUCED A LIVE HUMAN BEING. Not to mention that if she thinks HER ass is so flabby, then mine must be about to take on a life of its own and eat Cincinnati.

    There are no other real problems with our friendship, but the fat talk/fat hate may just do it in.

  43. Also, and while ago, I was giving two women a lift somewhere. They were in the back seat, and were playing “no, I’m fat” tennis. “No, I am” “No *I* am.” One finally said “I almost didn’t come, because I was feeling too fat to leave the house today.”

    I spat out “y’know what… I am fat every day. So if didn’t leave the house by your standards, I would never go anywhere. And it’s *amazing* what you can do when you’re fat, if you decide to do it.”

    And… there was resounding silence from my back seat.

    Later I mentioned this to one of the tennis player’s ex-boyfriend. He gave me a real tounge-lashing because his ex was suffering from ED (complicated by the ED of the other person in the scenario). He insisted I was taking her to task for something she couldn’t help and that was an illness.

    On the one of the hands, eating disorders are brutal enough without help from your peers. On the other of the hands, that was the moment when I decided to start resisting the self-shaming behavior that shames others and established a zero-fat-talk-tolerance policy in my car.

    I still don’t know what I would have said if I’d known about the ED situation at the time. Caring about other people’s mental health is important, but it’s not okay to talk that way in my car. Ever. It’s damaging and I can’t have it.

  44. AnthroK8, I think you were not out of line at all, you were laying down the rules in your car – and I honestly believe it is not going to harm someone recovering from an eating disorder to get the message that fat is not the worst thing in the world to be, whatever your definition of “fat” is.

  45. slythwolf: Maybe you could agree with your sister. “Yeah, you could never handle being a “normal” weight. You’re definitely do not have a strong enough character to handle it.” Then laugh. “OMG, could you imagine? Your shallow ass would crumple up and die!”

    If your parents got mad you could always say, “But I was AGREEING with her!”

  46. Very powerful! I work in healthcare so I should know better. I have to be very careful with our “bariatric” patients, it is still so easy to be mean spirited. Our hospital does an awareness program since we have a bariatric surgery program to help breakdown the prejudices. But still the nasty comments prevail.

    Instead of spending millions on “orphan drugs”, futile care, etc, etc, we have yet to really study and come up with a lasting solution for obesity. I think the HASE movement is great but for those who need to lose weight, the best we have come up with is surgery. Lots of talk and no action from the healthcare industry.

  47. Ok, I have a question for you all, particularly any other thin allies out there… Is there any way for me as an “average-sized” person to point out diet-talk as negative without coming off as patronizing or intrusive? I don’t want to end up doing just another form of criticizing other people about their bodies and/or health.

    There was one particular situation where I was at my synagogue’s women’s discussion group (which is normally almost entirely free of body-shaming, so this really startled me), and a lovely discussion of maintaining physical and mental health suddenly turned into a diet support group. I was pretty clearly the thinnest person in the room, and while I know these people fairly well and get along with them, we’re not exactly best friends, so I felt really odd about speaking up and just ended up not saying anything. If you were my discussion group, what would you have wanted me to do?

  48. @Sarah: That’s really tough. I think when I was in the dieting mind-set I would have resented someone who was “average-sized” speaking up about it, but then if a fat person had said it, I probably would have thought something awful like they were just excusing their behavior. God, dieting made me mean!

    If I had been in your position I probably would have kept quiet as well. Or maybe you could have found a way to gently turn the conversation back to the original topic? Or said something like “It really upsets me to hear all of you beautiful women talking like this” or something like that.

  49. and Kimberly O-would you appreciate it if someone said that about a decision you made? the one I’d throw out is food, though it’s kinda weighted-if you ordered a dessert, would you want a stranger to say “that’s not healthy”? I guess while I’d feel okay saying “great for him, I’m not interested” , I don’t like the idea of health being a public matter when we’re talking weight loss either. No, it’s not healthy. It’s also not my business.

    I think you missed the intent of what I said – first of all, it wasn’t a calculated comment, but more of a blurting thing – a twenty pound weight loss in a month is … frighteningly rapid.

    The waitress was offended by my comment, but, then again, why was she telling a table of five women, two of whom were by-any-standards-fat, about her father’s magical weight loss through Herbalife? Diet evangelism is the flip-side of fat-shaming!

  50. Totally stealing the “not genocide” line.

    I’m in culinary school, studying to be a pastry chef. A huge part of each class is tasting and evaluating everything we’ve made. Every once in a while, someone will break out the “I really shouldn’t! I’m supposed to be good!” song and dance. Drives me nuts. Why are you learning to make something you don’t think people should eat?!

    More on the subject of taunting than fat talk: When I was picking up my daughter from daycare last week, one of the little boys in her group looked at me and announced, “You’re fat! Fatty, fatty, fatty!” I was completely taken aback – this group is 2- and 3-year-olds! I’m confident in the school’s discipline policy but now I’m concerned about what this kid is saying when the teacher’s not paying attention.

  51. When my sisters (one a gastric bypasser, the other having lost weight via Dr. Gupta – the name may ring a bell with Chicago locals) get rolling about what hideous cows they are, the best I can muster up is “shut up” much of the time, quite honestly. I’ve tried to FA them here and there, and my sister that had the bypass is occasionally receptive – it was a gorgeous day when she admitted that she realized that the GB and weight loss wasn’t the magic bullet to fixing her life – of course, then she went on a tear about how fat and disgusting she was because naturally, she’s gained weight back. Next time either of them get on a tear, I’ll have to whip out the “wow, you must think I’m the most awful human ever created” since I’m the biggest of the three of us.

    I think what burns my biscuit harder sometimes is the self-deprecating shit – you know, the “I make fun of myself before anyone else does” thing. I wrote about it on my blog and had a couple commenters claim they’d try to not pull that on themselves for 24 hours. That pleased me.

  52. These are fantastic!

    In response to “Have you lost weight?” I recall someone here saying they’d had good luck with, “Oh, I sure hope not! I’d hate to have to buy new clothes!”

    I also very much like the “And how are you feeling otherwise?” response. [steals it shamelessly]

  53. @kimberley O
    I think we’re really in agreement, since the point I was basically trying to make is the last line of what you said. It is the flip side, and I’m not pro either of them. that said, yeah, people blurt, it happens.

  54. From some of my family members I now automatically translate “have you lost weight?” to mean “you look good” because they don’t seem to be able to equate looking good to anything besides being thinner than the last time they saw me. I did rather enjoy responding “no, actually I’ve gained weight since last year, but these jeans fit me well, it’s probably just that”.

  55. Most of the people I’ve known who’ve lost significant amounts of weight did so because they were chronically sick or dying.

    I’ve known these folks to be stymied by what’s meant to be congratulatory fat talk. What do you say when you’re sick with or dying because of some illness and it’s led you to lose weight precipitously and then someone says “Wow! You look fabulous!”?

    Most of these folks have turned to saying things like “Thanks! It’s the AIDS diet!” or “Thanks! It’s called diabetes/cancer/flesh eating bacteria/parasites!” and then there’s the stunned silence.

    I used to feel sorry for the well-wishers being put in an awkward position but now I’m not so sure I feel sorry for them. It’s an awkward place to go and the risks are high, even if you do fat talk because you’re programmed by society and just aren’t thinking about it.

    It’s really time to start thinking about where your words are taking you.

  56. I wish this were “have you lost weight.” Easy answer to that — “nope!” This is “you’ve lost weight!” I say “nope,” they say “no really, you have.” I say “nope!” they say “well then you’ve lost inches!” Then I have to say “okay, don’t care!” which is rude, or “no I think you just like this shirt” which leads to more arguing (“no, it’s not that!”).

  57. “Yes, I probably DID lose some weight. Six days of non-stop diahhrea will do that. It’s not a weight-loss method I recommend.”

    I said something very close to this once to someone who responded perkily, “Well. Every little bit helps.”

    I really don’t see myself embracing that philosophy when it comes to feeling like most of my insides are coming OUTside. Guess I just don’t know how to look on the BRIGHT side.

  58. @krenwren, those who”need” to lose weight? What? Do you know what website you’re on? Exactly whose prejudices are you trying to break down? Those of the practitioners, I would hope, since fat people get far worse treatment at the hands of medical professionals than thin or “normal-sized” people do.

    Reacting to fat talk, hm. Most of the time, I say “I don’t find it appropriate to discuss other peoples’ bodies”. When someone wants to tell me how much weight they lost (and so can I!!!) I just give them a blank stare and walk away, usually. I’m very zero-tolerance. Don’t care if it makes me a bitch.

  59. If I had been in your position I probably would have kept quiet as well. Or maybe you could have found a way to gently turn the conversation back to the original topic? Or said something like “It really upsets me to hear all of you beautiful women talking like this” or something like that.

    Thanks…I think keeping quiet probably was the best thing to do, on balance. This situation was particularly tricky since the conversation involved plenty of perfectly sensible things like remembering to take time for yourself and take long walks to let off excess frustration. I didn’t want to be lecturing from on high about which things were “good” and which were “bad”.

  60. Thank you for posting this. It’s really made me think about self-talk – I’m VERY good when other people start disparaging themselves. I will absolutely defend any one of my friends from zir inner demons, if I can and it’s welcome.

    …But for some weird messed up reason, I keep thinking “It’s different when it’s me.” When it totally shouldn’t be.

  61. I’ve taken to chasing people out of my office when they mention diets. The rules: talk exercise, fashion, food, any other nonsense but no fat or diet talk allowed.

  62. Something I find interesting: If all the people who mention a person’s weight are doing so out of concern for their health, then what sense does it make for them to congratulate someone on weight loss which occurred through illness? Where’s all the concern for our health then? That shows just how much bullshit there is in the “concern” guise which gets used so often.

    Last year I lost weight due to becoming ill and being unable to keep most food down. I was throwing up almost everything I ate and lost a lot of weight in a short space of time. Most people in my college group knew why I had suddenly lost weight, but I can’t remember one comment about it having anything to do with my health. I do however recall several “jokes” about how maybe they should it for themselves.

  63. Ooh! I just thought of one I’ve actually used.

    Someone had heard me talk about FA and was protesting because of a personal/family tie she had to a weight loss program, and she explained that she REALLY BELIEVED that the vast majority of those obese people in the program were obese because they’d been raised in bad environments and didn’t know how to make healthy choices. So I said, with a big smile, “Well, the great thing about having data is that we’re able to go out and check whether our beliefs are true!”

  64. I do two things to short-circuit fat-shaming:

    1) I remember how frustrating and insulting it was to listen, at my workplace, to women talking about how faaaaat they were, how horrible they’d been last night, and how much exercise it was going to take to work it off. It was frustrating to sit there helplessly and listen to women do this to themselves to an extent that made no sense to me (because trying to stop the talk in any kind of subtle way didn’t work and I wasn’t in a place yet mentally to stop it explicitly). I don’t ever want to inflict even a shadow of that feeling on anyone (including myself!) It helps.

    2) When I catch myself fat-shaming anyway, I stop and make myself reframe it. I do this with anything where I talk poorly about my body because I am trying to have a better relationship with it — I actually started doing this in terms of physical disability, not fat acceptance, but it extends naturally to it because it is fundamentally about accepting and appreciating my body as it is, and not making my life and physical issues harder still to deal with by setting up a wall and resentment towards my body.

    (I don’t always do so well at it, but I do make the effort, and just managing some of the time has made a huge difference in how I feel day-to-day.)

  65. Ooh, I did think of something! I like to turn the conversation back to what the body is actually good for–ie, “So how’s tennis?” “Are you still enjoying your rowing class?” “I’m still amazed by that baby of yours–how cool is it that you can breastfeed!” The opposite of body-shaming is body-loving, and I am most in charity with my physical self when I remember the ways I enjoy it. Even when I was constantly sick and fatigued, I took joy in gardening, and when I’m well, it’s my super-aggressive martial arts. Compared to my pleasure that my body does those things, what Ralph Lauren thinks of my waist size just doesn’t matter.

  66. When someone is crowing about their weight loss, I generally respond with a pleasant, noncommittal “Wow, that must have been a lot of work.”

    As for people asking if I’ve lost weight: Recently, a friend inadvertently gave me a response I love. She was trying to give me a nice compliment, but what came out was, “You know, you’ve finally really grown into your face!”

    Person: “Have you lost weight?”
    JM: “Nope — I think what you’re noticing is that I’ve grown into my face!”

  67. I turn off “fat talk” by self-short-shaming. I mention that my target height is 5′6″ I’m 5′3″), and that despite eating a healthy diet and stretching for half an hour every day, I just cannot seem to reach my target height.

    I love this.

    Most of the people I spend time with now are very anti-diet talk (either they’re generally healthy, secure people or they’re in recovery from EDs and are working hard to stop the diet mentality) and it’s really good for me. My previous roommate and the people we used to hang out with were all size 2-4 girls who regularly called themselves “fat” or “cows” and I remember sitting there repeating “must not personalize” over and over. Because really, if a 2 or a 4 is unacceptable, what am I at a 12?

  68. FJ, if someone is TELLING you you’ve lost weight, and INSISTING on it, then being rude in response seems, to me, appropriate. After all, they’re being rude. There are people who don’t hear things unless they’re said rudely.

    In response to ‘fat talk’ amongst others, my usual response is a blank look, and then moving on to another subject immediately. Most people ‘get’ that message. If someone is hurt by my ‘refusal to be supportive,’ then they don’t know me well enough to expect it.

    I have lost friends over my refusal to tolerate fat talk. It turns out, people who indulge in fat talk have mindsets that aren’t conducive to being friends with me. The fat talk was just an outward symptom of a larger internal prejudice. Yes, with friends it’s sometimes necessary to tolerate thoughts/talk/behaviour that’s bothersome, but fat talk is where I draw the line. Maybe it’s harsh, but that’s the way I roll.

    Finally, just wanted to let y’all know I finished the first draft of my fat-protagonist murder mystery last week. I’m editing it now. My dream goal is to get it published within the next couple of years, although, realistically, if I do publish, it’s probably four to five years off. Thanks to all the Shapelings who’ve visited my blog and offered support!

  69. I say “nope,” they say “no really, you have.” I say “nope!” they say “well then you’ve lost inches!”

    Okay, at that point, A) I think some rudeness is justified and B) I would probably go with something like, “Why do you think you know more about my body than I do?”

    If I were feeling especially confrontational, I’d follow that up with, “Shall we start weekly weigh-ins to see who’s right? Or would you rather just accept that I KNOW WHAT SIZE I AM?”

    Another option: “Why is it so important to you to believe I’ve lost weight?”

  70. Fillyjonk, when people say “but you look thinner!” or whatever after I say I haven’t lost weight, I say “It must be my new bra.” Sometimes I jiggle my boobs at them, for emphasis.

    It shuts most people up, unless they’re built like me, then they want to know what kind.

  71. When we moved 10 months ago, I tossed out the bathroom scale. It took until about 3 weeks ago for my husband to notice we didn’t have a scale in the house.
    “Where is it?”
    “I threw it away?”
    “Well, you never use it and it was making me crazy. So it’s gone.”
    “But I need to weigh myself!”
    “Well, I guess I don’t”

  72. @FJ, I assume people are usually using “You’ve lost weight” as an equivalent compliment to “you look good/great”. So you saying “nope” seems to just be encouraging that Bugs Bunny oh-no-I-don’t-oh-yes-you-do thing. Since that’s a real peeve of mine, I’ve tried two tacks. If it’s a stranger, I’ll just say something like “Thank you, this outfit is one of my favs” which allows the compliment but redirects the weight loss part of it. With people I know better I often go for getting a concerned/bemused look on my face and say “Meaning..?” Mostly people just switch to the “you look nice”. If they persist in the lost weight theme, I’ll say ‘Huh, I’ll have to make sure at my next check-up that nothing’s wrong”, and try to change the subject.

    @AnthroK8; authentic eating disorders (to distinguish from disordered eating) are biologically based, so the ex is kinda right that the person may not be able to help it. That said, you have a perfect right to setting your boundries, and shouldn’t feel bad. And FWIW, since we have an ED person in the family, we are FIRM in the no diet/body shaming/fat talk by anyone. Our ED sufferer may hate it on the outside that we will not talk with hir about size/shape/weight, but I know zie is actually relieved to have a safe space from all of that.

  73. (I usually comment under sparklepants but I’m too lazy to logout. IT MUST BE BECAUSE I’M FAT. HAR HAR HAR)

    Erm. Anyway! I have a hard time confronting people, even if it’s just to tell them to cool the fat shaming talk. I have, however, gotten up and walked away from a table of coworkers/friends who were enjoying a lively discussion of “good” food and “bad” food and fat free this and fat free that. We were all eating ice cream, which I think was the underlying spark for the conversation, so we could all feel better about what we were doing. Whatever the case, their discussion was really grating on me, so I got up and walked away and enjoyed my delicious ice cream in peace.

    I find it fascinating (and a little scary) when I am expected to participate in body shaming. Like, I’m with a group of women that I know somewhat well and talk invariably turns to calories, diets, good food vs. bad food/good “behavior” vs. bad “behavior”. It’s odd. My BFF and I try to maintain a hate-free home/lifestyle and it’s not 100% but it makes life so much more enjoyable.

  74. I’m definitely going to be using target height and “it’s not genocide”.

    I’m glad that y’all liked my contribution!

  75. I am terrible with this, but I have been trying. I have no solid tricks yet.

    It’s such a horrible thing when people comment on my weight – a week after I had gotten my tubes tied, I had a lot of bloating but had actually lost a pound or two from fasting for surgery and being sick afterwards, but feeling good otherwise, and someone I know came up to me and said “Oh my gosh, are you pregnant?” and gosh… It was a bundle of things for me. Weight was one, but I had gone through hell to get my tubes tied and it was during that period where I was panicking, wondering if it was the wrong decision and feeling self-conscious about it, and I cried for hours after that. I couldn’t figure it out.
    For me, pregnancy is terrifying, but not knowing what I actually look like – that I looked pregnant – was almost worse. I told the commenter honestly that no, I was bloated from surgery and explained what the surgery was. They were taken aback, but didn’t really comment further.

    I hope eventually I will know how to stem my own negative thoughts and comments about myself, but the most I can do now is try to get people not to comment on other people’s size too much.

  76. I generally respond to the self-guilt trip on eating something with some version of “Well, we have a strong Puritan streak in our family – we know all about the pleasures of guilt” or “Are you guilty because you’re guilty or because it’s more fun that way?”

    Most of my family and friends know how I feel about guilt for its own sake. With strangers I will usually play the straight woman – “Wait – you just *ate* the cheesecake? That’s not evil at all!” and occasionally “Oh, with all the shame, I thought you were going to tell me you drowned kittens in it.” I think I will switch immediately to the “not genocide.”

    I can’t quite bring myself to congratulate people who brag about losing weight. Even if they’re clearly ecstatic about it. I usually smile uncomfortably, look away, and change the subject, which is an entirely appropriate way to let people know that they’ve transgressed socially without forcing them to acknowledge it verbally. If they continue, then a gentle correction is in order – usually I go with “I’m not comfortable talking about this,” repeated until the subject is dropped. It’s not elegant, but it means I don’t have to be rude, which is nice, because it makes me really anxious – palm sweat and everything.

  77. After almost a year of… how would you put it? Trying to declare a truce with my body? Being into fat acceptance? Trying to accept my fat? Trying to make fat acceptance work for me? … etc, I find out I’m still nowhere near any place of knowing how to deal with fat talk. I’ve upgraded my wardrobe with awesome clothes in my size and gave everything that didn’t fit to charity, but every day fat talk is around me and I can’t seem to shut it out. I can walk away, go to another page, stop reading the news, but it still gets to me. People just blurt crap out the entire day without thinking, “Oh, should you eat that?”, “I lost 2 kilos this week!” blah blah blah.

    Last week I was sort-of accidentally at the birthday event of my best friend’s grandma, and she manages to call me fat about 10 times in 4 minutes, telling me to lose weight about just as often, asking me about my diet and exercise programs, and I recall telling her *at least* three times that it doesn’t matter to me how fat I am, as long as I’m healthy. It was like talking to a brick wall and I had to practically bite my hand not to break down and cry in front of all those people I barely know. Worst part? My friend is laughing, as he later explained, “because my grandma is like that and she pisses everyone off”.

    I think I’m the most upset by how much this crap still gets to me, every time, every day. Is there some trick I’m missing out on? A secret fat-talk-ignore-button in your head? Because I don’t know anymore.

  78. Marste – I like the “Are you happy about it?” question too. If pressed as to why wouldn’t they be happy I allude to how sudden weight loss can be due to illness or cancer treatments and Totally Not Fun.

    Starling – I like “it’s pizza, not genocide” too :)

    YellowValkyrie, Jessicakanesis – Sorry your friend is unhappy. I have found that many people can’t deal with a neutral response to weight loss. It’s the “Anyone who isn’t for me (with pom-poms and high kicks) is against me” stance.

    Whitecat – *hugs offered* I had to not only tell my mother I wouldn’t discuss my weight but enforce it by leaving the room when she brought it up (with “I know you don’t want to talk about it but I care and …” intro GRRR). Oh, and she’d pull the “When I’m gone you’ll WISH I was there to discuss this with you.” *headdesk*

    Re: being told I’ve lost weight, a few years ago I began wearing more fitted clothing instead of mostly-oversized stuff. EVERYONE was asking if I’d lost weight, so I got used to saying “My clothes fit better”. Lately I say “No, but I’ve been working out more, I think it affects my posture”. Which is true but also good.

    Kate, love “Why is it so important to you to believe I’ve lost weight?”

    FJ, if it’s your exercise instructor or class, they may be wanting “evidence” that the exercise is making people thinner. :(

  79. Oh, and someone give me a golden line to counter the ever-annoying statement of “If you get so upset/worked up about it, you haven’t really accepted your fat yet!”. WTF.

  80. FJ, if it’s your exercise instructor or class, they may be wanting “evidence” that the exercise is making people thinner. :(

    What I think is hilarious is that two of three examples recently have been exercise instructors/gym managers who have not seen me in a while. (In the latter case, because he kept claiming I’d lost weight.) So really, they have evidence that avoiding exercise makes me [appear to them to be] thinner.

    I assume people are usually using “You’ve lost weight” as an equivalent compliment to “you look good/great”. So you saying “nope” seems to just be encouraging that Bugs Bunny oh-no-I-don’t-oh-yes-you-do thing.

    That’s why I wish they were phrasing it as a question! I have definitely tried the “you must just think I look good for other reasons” reframe but I guess exercise people are determined to make it a weight thing. (Said gym manager wouldn’t even accept my suggestion that my posture had improved.) I do like “I’d better make sure nothing’s wrong,” though. And I keep meaning to use “I hope not, I just bought new fall clothes!” but it never springs to mind at the right moment.

  81. Ooh, yeah, I missed that one, y’all. Krenwen, please know I’m saying this in the nicest and gentlest way possible: I strongly recommend you read the FAQs and especially “But Don’t You Realize Fat Is Unhealthy?” We have a weight-neutral approach to health around here, and we believe “fat acceptance” really means *FAT* acceptance, not just “some fats but not the REALLY REALLY fat people” acceptance.

  82. Last week, I told a coworker who was spouting the obesity-crisis-booga-booga crap that I am obese. And I did my best to say it without embarassment or shame. Her jaw dropped. We proceeded to talk about her perceptions of people and the terms that she uses around me and around our students. I was shocked by how empowering the conversations was for me. I would have never even ventured to have it had I not started reading Shapely Prose. So what I have done to resist fat-shaming myself is to practice in front of the mirror talking about “fat” in a neutral manner so that I will have the courage to do the same when others start that shit. THANK YOU!

  83. I like this. A lot.

    I had my hair done a couple weeks ago and I sent a shot I took with my phone to my mom and she texts back: “have you lost weight?”

    I called her and said, “no mom I haven’t lost weight” and she replied, “but you have cheekbones!”

    “Mom, I have always had cheekbones.”

    ” Well even your sister said you look thi…” then I got pissy and cut her off. “No, mom I am STILL FAT.”

    I didn’t mean to get so mad, but I couldn’t help it. Talk about the new color, ask me how many inches I had cut off or how much the stylist charged, but don’t talk about my weight please. This is the first time I have ever reacted like that to her-I wish I had handled it better.

  84. Oh, and she’d pull the “When I’m gone you’ll WISH I was there to discuss this with you.

    You know, my mom’s been gone for 9 years, and I can honestly say I have never once wished I had her around again to harass me about my weight or what’s going in my mouth. I miss her terribly, but make no mistake: There are some things that make me glad she’s not around, at least within certain limited contexts. (Planning a wedding reception was another one. All the decisions were mine and Al’s! Nothing was rejected as inappropriate or insufficiently traditional! Guest list was not swollen with friends of hers I’ve met twice in my life! ALL TO THE GOOD.) Now, if you said I could have her back, but I’d have to deal once again with the fat/food shaming and the meddling, of course I would take that deal. But thinking it’s better to have an annoying mom than no mom at all is very different from actually missing the annoying bits once she’s gone.

    So, you know, depending on your relationship with your mom, you could always respond to that shit with a cheery, “Actually, I’m pretty sure I’d miss you a lot more if I had only good memories of you! I imagine recalling all the times when you insulted me and disrespected my boundaries will actually take some of the sting out of losing you.”

  85. I really struggle with the self-talk because giving myself the message “I’m so fat” taps into so many of my other insecurities- “I’m stupid, I’m ugly, no one likes me, I smell, I’m useless…” all of which stem from the anti-fatness of my upbringing IMO. I often have the “have you lost weight?”-as-shorthand-for-looking-nice with my mother (the gastric bypass devotee- losing her hair and teeth but says she would do it all again in heartbeat not to have to be fat) and I have tried to stop her doing it by replying “No I haven’t lost weight, you just remember me as being fatter”… but as I’ve written that, I’ve just noticed that it could easily feed into my negative self-talk depending on how psychically robust I’m feeling at that time…

    Love the ‘pizza not genocide’ line!

  86. The more recent impetus for me to stop the self-fat-shaming talk is my three-year-old daughter. I REFUSE to have her growing up believing the bullshit about her body being beautiful only if it fits some arbitrary BMI standard of “normal.” I realized that she WILL absorb my talk about myself, so I stopped. Cold turkey. Because her self-image and psyche are more valuable to me than… well, than anything.

  87. Oh, another “bad food talk” response is to treat it as a food safety or food intolerance issue. “What, were the cans rusted and bulging?” or “It smells off to you?” or “Does [ingredient] not agree with you?” can help reframe or redirect the conversation.

  88. Kate — My mom died over 3 years ago, and yes, I don’t miss the guilt/shaming she’d throw at me, fat or otherwise.

    Missing her is not the same as missing the guilt/shaming.

  89. I had someone insist I’d lost weight this weekend. People tend to move on when they figure out that I don’t know/I don’t care/I don’t really remember what my exact weight was when I last saw you five months ago. I might have lost weight, I might have gained weight, whatever. Then we talk about something else. Maybe my friends are less persistent than yours, though.

  90. I just make it about me. I won’t allow diet talk near me. I don’t care if they think I’m odd or rude or (if they’re thinking) ED’d or whatever; I just say “Please stop the diet talk, I don’t like it”. And “No seriously, can we talk about something else?”, and “We’re [x number] of intelligent, interesting human beings and all we can talk about is [how many calories are in this/how that lady looks in her clothes/how “good” or “bad” we’re being]?” and I don’t stop until they do. Because seriously, if you’re a friend/relation and you like me enough to be spending time with me, you like me enough to not say things that upset me. And if we’re just acquaintances/work colleagues, then frankly, I don’t care how you feel about it; stop it. I have to put up with the good food/bad food dance all day at work because I’m paid to do it; I will not listen to you in my free time.

    Starling, I use “There are no good and bad foods. God does not smile when you eat an apple; he will not cry when you eat this cake,” which usually gets a giggle, or “You’re a grown woman and it’s your body, you can afford this cake and you want to eat it, why shouldn’t you?”

    “Well, the great thing about having data is that we’re able to go out and check whether our beliefs are true!”

    Ooh, I’m using that. Also the “otherwise” question.

  91. It’s the facebook updates that make me crazy. “Laura is only 15 pounds away from her goal weight!” or “Jenny has now lost a total of 25 pounds and is very proud of herself.” And then a number of Laura or Jenny’s facebook friends comment about how wonderful that is. I really want to post some rebuttal. Now I have some ideas, like “I think you’re beautiful at any size.” Also to the occasional, “Kelly was bad and had both the cake and the ice cream at the birthday party.” I think, “It’s dessert, not genocide,” is going to be a great response there too, if whoever came up with it doesn’t mind well, all of us stealing it.

  92. @Robyn – that’s why I don’t talk about weight, size or diet in front of my younger sister.

  93. @ Damanique
    “Oh, and someone give me a golden line to counter the ever-annoying statement of “If you get so upset/worked up about it, you haven’t really accepted your fat yet!”. WTF.”

    How about “Thanks for reminding me! I’m giving up Asshole Enabling as well as fat bashing!”? And make your exit.

  94. @FJ

    I see most of my extended family once a year, around Christmas, and inevitably someone (always a woman) will say to me “You’ve lost weight!” though I know I haven’t. I was very proud of myself last year when I answered, “No, you just remember me as fatter than I am.”

    My mom was pretty pissed at me afterward and said I was being rude. But since I don’t think fat’s a bad word, I technically don’t believe I was. :)

  95. I’m sorry, Gina. Parental conversations like that are hard for me, too.

    Anyone else the only fat person in a thin family? How do you deal with that, if you are?

  96. I resisted the fat talk with my BFF just the other day. She made a comment about how she is fat, and needs to lose weight. Now, she’s kind of what in the FA movement would be an inbetweenie, but in comparison to what we are trained to believe is normal, she is fat.

    She is also the fittest amateur athlete I know – she plays a-grade soccer, touch rugby, cricket, does martial arts, rides her bike to and from work over some EPIC hills and is dragging me through training for my first 10k run.

    I could have said “you’re not fat!” And completely not convinced her, especially as I am thin.
    Instead I said “You shouldn’t try and lose weight! If you do you might not have enough energy to score goals, or drag my butt up hill and down dale every morning!”
    She absolutely beamed. And hasn’t mentioned diet or losing weight since.

  97. I was very proud of myself last year when I answered, “No, you just remember me as fatter than I am.”

    I love this! Especially since I am 99% sure this is really what is happening. (The other 1% is serious that maybe they’re confused because I got a tan.)

  98. Most of my friends have learned by now (two years into FA) that if they talk badly about themselves around me I will at a minimum roll my eyes and tell them to knock it off, possibly up to going into a long yelling rant. So there’s plenty of motivation for them to avoid the topic with me.

    When people only tangentially in my circle make comments I usually ignor them unless there’s a really “teachable” moment. For example:

    Person X: I keep trying but I just can’t lose weight and keep it off!
    Lexy: Maybe that’s because diets don’t work and your body is maintaining its set point?

    Or something equally neutral, but effective at shutting down that line of the conversation.

    FJ: I don’t really know what to say in your situation. If it weren’t in a gym scenario (i.e. with scales all around) I would say something like “I don’t know, I don’t own a scale” but it seems like that might lead to a “well here’s a scale right here, hop on!”

    But there must be some way you can blow their mind… I just know it.

  99. Re: Family fat-shaming

    This is still a really difficult subject for me, as I’m sure it is for many people on here. My dad started fat-shaming when I hit puberty and only stopped discussing my weight when I flat out told him that if he wanted to talk to me AT ALL we would NOT be talking about my weight ever again. I believe that he misguidedly felt his concern was based in love. He wanted me to be happy and to him being happy is getting married and having babies, and one can only do that when one is thin in his world. I’m going to visit for a few days in December so hopefully we’ll be able to maintain this civil way of going on. If he tries it I will shut him down. Fast.

  100. I think what burns my biscuit harder sometimes is the self-deprecating shit – you know, the “I make fun of myself before anyone else does” thing.

    Jane – I’m so with you on that. I have the WORST TIME keeping myself from doing it. I backslide constantly. Not saying nasty things about body parts is one thing but this is an old defense mechanism and I swear it’s hardwired into my brain along with the “Oh, no, really, mister, you’re not actually interested in me because see I’m fat and I know better so why don’t you just go find some thinner person to talk to?” impulse. *headdesk*


  101. A couple of days ago, I was hanging out with a friend of mine who has recently begun a “lifestyle change” program. On this evening, she decided to eat some candies, so we had to talk about how candies were completely okay on her lifestyle change program as long as she counted the candy points. But her girlfriend started looking at all of the ingredients of the candies, and preemptively refusing to eat candies. And friend #1 started getting defensive about her right to eat candies if she pleases. The whole situation was mighty uncomfortable.

    I’m sure that at some point my friend had enlisted her gf to help her police her eating, and that her gf was just trying to help her make the decisions she said that she wanted help making. I guess my point, no one in that room was as comfortable or as happy as we should have been, and it wasn’t the candy’s fault.

  102. I’ve managed to come up with a reply that I like for one specific example: the “undoing.” To wit, friend says “I worked out and was really good this morning, but then I undid it by eating cake for dessert!” I get a quizzical look on my face and ask, “Did the cake have a time machine?” Confusion from friend, who says no. “Oh, because the only way that cake could undo your exercise is if it built a time machine, went back in the past, and made your workout not happen.” So far, I’ve only gotten laughter as a response, but it does change the subject. And I have to admit that the inspiration was Kate’s big pile of spinach post from waaaaay back. Even if it has bacon and cheese on it, it’s still a big pile of spinach, and just because you ate cake, that doesn’t mean your exercise somehow didn’t happen.

  103. I love this video. I’ve found that eliminating fat talk not only removes a ton of triggers for me, but it’s also economical in that you realize comparing thighs and pushing your stomachs at each other really takes up a lot of time that could otherwise be spent on interesting conversation. I think I ought to take a vow of silence as penance for the eight and a half years I spent absolutely obsessing about my body and food and eating too much and not being thin enough and not exercising enough. It really did wreck a lot of things for me.

    I just wish I could get certain people in my life *cough*MOM*cough* to cut out the fat talk too. She’s still going on about my weight, even after I said to her verbatim, “Mom, I appreciate your concern about my health, but it is no one’s business except mine, and I don’t want to talk about my weight with you anymore,” and not only that, she’s now started criticizing my hair color as well. (“I mean, the red’s okay, but I really liked you so much better as a blond. Your skin looks ruddy now.”) And I’m so disappointed because she seemed to be the person who was most upset by my constant fat talk, and you’d think she’d be proud of me for deciding not to go there anymore, but it’s almost like she wants to totally undermine it.

    Even yesterday- she’s a social worker, and she asked me for some “supervision” as to how to talk to a teenage girl with serious body image disorder. First of all, I sent her a link to The Fantasy of Being Thin. But as we’re talking about it, she breaks in and says to me, “You look really thin, by the way.” So… let’s talk about how to avoid negative body image, while reinforcing that “don’t worry, you look thin, so if you weren’t thinking about it before, YOU ARE NOW.” FOR THE WIN MOM.

    Seriously, I’m so sick of having a body. I wish I was a free-floating gas.

  104. The family thing will be coming up soon, with Thanksgiving and all. This is the first time I will be seeing my mother after her hip replacement surgery, so I’ve told her we’ll be doing daily ’round the block walks, but it’s because she needs to MOVE to continue to heal & strengthen her new joint, not as pennance for pumpkin pie. Fortunately my fam is not obsessed enough to make a feast day into a diet speak bonanza, but one of the family groups is pretty obsessive outside of the one sanctioned gluttony event – lots of talk about what they can have and what they avoid & why with ‘health’ as a thinly veiled euphamism for ‘skinny enough for Los Angeles’. Same relatives that automatically go to a comment about weightloss when what they mean is that I look good.

  105. Man, sometimes being a woman in this society (not that men, especially gay men entrenched in the “body culture” are immune, of course) just makes my head want to explode.

    To deflect that the catty part of me wants to be astounded that it’s the TriDelts that are sponsoring this. The only more supreme irony would be if it were the PiPhis. Ten bucks says the sponsoring chapter won’t make it 24 hours. (Sorority girl speaking here, can you tell?)

    “I wish this were “have you lost weight.” Easy answer to that — “nope!” This is “you’ve lost weight!” I say “nope,” they say “no really, you have.” I say “nope!” they say “well then you’ve lost inches!” Then I have to say “okay, don’t care!” which is rude, or “no I think you just like this shirt” which leads to more arguing (”no, it’s not that!”).”

    FJ, I’m sure this won’t help at all, but I’ve been known to say, in an overbearing rush, “Oh, I’m taller – from all the Pilates, you know? – and this is a better quality shirt than the last time you saw me – it’s that new bamboo fabric, so eco, and economical, too, keeps warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so it’s all seasonal – and I’m using that new stuff I told you about, on my skin, and I just had my hair done, thank you! Because I was going to that panel with Junot Diaz at the New Yorker Festival and what do you think of him anyway? Do you really think he deserved that Pulitzer?”

    Not only do they usually back off (sometimes way off :-) ) but one of the other things that strikes me about this thread, and this part of the culture in general — trying hard to restrain the rant here — is not so much the degree to which we don’t all talk of other things, because that’s blaming, but how consistently and viciously our culture discourages us from talking of other things, and how relentlessly that reinforces our culture’s sick valuation of women for what we look like and how closely – or not – that hews to the culture’s “ideal”.

    /rant restraint fail

  106. Re: the facebook stuff. I have a two strike policy. The second time I see a post about how great someone is for losing weight, or how they really have to make up for that pie they ate, or WHATEVER, I hide their updates. Done and done.

  107. @fillyjonk: Whenever people tell me they think I’ve lost weight, I make it clear that this news concerns me and that I might be seeing a doctor about it in case I’m ill! If I know there is an obvious reason for the observation, I let them know; e.g. “Oh, I was just really sick with the flu and couldn’t keep anything down for a week.”

    What I want to know is, how do you make them stop when they don’t get that they’re fat talking? I have this friend who just opened up a rift between herself and my best friend because she wouldn’t stop talking about her “lifestyle change” blog she started with her roommate (they’re calling it “Fat Assassins”, and no, not as in assassins who are fat) and kept talking about how she was 25lbs lighter last year and she felt so good then and she wants to get back there and she just could not grasp that that right there is fat talk.

  108. I have a few questions for the Shapelings. Full disclosure: I’m not fat and never have been, but I try to be a good ally!

    My appetite, body fat, and weight have roller-coastered within my body’s typical weight range with little to no input from me since puberty. I’ll slowly gain up to the top of my range, hang out there for several months/a year or two, then – for no apparent reason that anyone can discern – lose my normally prodigious appetite almost entirely and, along with it, lots of weight. This persists for a few weeks, then slowly I get my appetite back and my body does …. whatever it does. It’s probably due to lifestyle changes that I don’t notice (by which I mean new jobs and new schedules, not diets!), but for whatever reason, I’ve always been that way. Along the same lines, when I start working out, I lose lots of weight really fast. This crazy body roller coaster, btw, is what convinced me of the existence of individual normal weight ranges and the fallacy of calories-in-calories-out. (See: me in 11th grade, half convinced I have a tapeworm because I’m losing weight so fast, and eating lots of Milky Ways in a desperate bid to GET SOME FAT BACK PLS I DON’T WANNA DIE – which didn’t work at all, my body just decided it had rearranged things quite enough and oh by the way, you have lots of hips yet also protruding hip bones now.)

    I’ve been comfortable with this wackiness forever, but it, the FA mindset I have acquired and try to propagate, and the fact that my body is pretty socially acceptable do make dealing with compliments about my body somewhat awkward for me. Yes, I think I look great now that I’m working out again and, because of my body’s habits, immediately lost weight. I also thought I looked great before I started working out. If I thought I looked greater now, it wouldn’t be because of lost fat, it would be because omg muscle definition how I love you. Which definition doesn’t usually occur in places where I lose or gain anyway, so, whatever.

    I guess my question is …. how can a thin ally deal with stuff like this without sounding completely hypocritical/lecturey (like Sarah mentioned in her comment about her synagogue’s discussion group)? I don’t want to be the thin person preaching FA to people who can reasonably say “but you’ve never had to worry about this,” but I also don’t want to permit that kind of discussion around me. I also feel like my body’s wacky roller coaster is relevant to all this … as evidenced by my long discussion above.

    Shapelings, your wisdom is always great.

  109. Y’all, as I was dissertatin’ this afternoon, one of the poems I was reading really struck me as relevant to our conversation here about doing harm to ourselves and others. I’m not going to quote the whole thing here, because copyright blah blah, but it’s called “Waking This Morning,” by the great American feminist poet Muriel Rukeyser, and it ends like this (forgive me for half-assing the proper spacing):

    I want strong peace, and delight,
    the wild good.
    I want to make my touch poems:
    to find my morning, to find you entire
    alive moving among the anti-touch people.

    I say across the waves of the air to you:
    today once more
    I will try to be non-violent
    one more day
    this morning, waking the world away
    in the violent day.

    For me, that’s part of what banishing fat talk (and paying attention to language as part of social justice) is about: I will try to be non-violent / one more day.

  110. I don’t get out a whole lot (being a self-employed/artist/wicked introvert) but I did tape a sign over the full-length mirror in my bedroom saying “NO JUDGMENTS.” That helps quite a lot, and calms me right down if I’m starting to get all judgy about my appearance.

    I was out last week at a car show (see I guess I do get out occasionally), and as I was standing in line at the food vendor waiting to buy a couple sodas, I overheard a guy in back of me talking to his friends. He was all like, “195!! I weigh 195!!! And the doctor said I’m OBESE!!! Can you BELIEVE IT?? 195!!” He was flabbergasted and horrified. He then went on to say that his doctor had asked him what he’d weighed in “school,” (175) and that said doctor then told him that that was what he was “supposed to weigh.” And the guy just went off on how that was CRAZY, that was 15 years ago, and why would he weigh now what he weighed then? And he just kept saying, “195!!!” in this incredulous, outraged tone.

    When I got my sodas and turned to leave, I looked him in the eye and said, “Your doctor is full of shit.”

  111. sara l., I tend to lose and gain weight (or chub, I should say, since I don’t keep a scale so I don’t track the numbers) pretty quickly in a similar way to what you describe, whereas I’ve known lots of people, fat or thin or in between, who couldn’t lose or gain more than five pounds to save their life (so to speak). You might just say, “Yeah, I’ve got one of those bodies that changes even if I’m not trying; it usually evens out though” or something along those lines — make it clear that you know your body looks different but you’re not even thinking about the weight. Then if they insist on complimenting your weight loss (like for FJ and others on this thread), you could go a little more FA by saying you really think of weight as neutral and you’re happy with the range you’re in, or something like that. You might get some “Oh, you’re lucky” comments, but I think staying deliberately weight-neutral is one way you can be an ally without feeling lecture-y.

  112. As a naturallythin person, most of my contact with fat-shaming has been along the lines of “I wish I had your body” or “you could have some of my weight”. And knowing how much value our society puts on being thin, I certainly don’t blame them for saying that, even f I wish they could be happier with themselves. As a thin person, I just don’t think it is my place to tell others how they have to accept themselves. I just try not to engage n fat-shaming myself and try to encourage body-positive statements.

    That said, I once lost 8 kilos over the course of four weeks because of a failed treatment for a ruptured disk that caused liquor-loss-syndrom and left me with meningitis-like symptoms (Mainly the horrible headache and the mpossibility of keeping anything down. No fever or stiff neck, and not as immediately life-threatening). I had never felt that weak and horrible before.And still, some people,when asking me what had happened ( was severely undrweight right after getting out of the hospital), they said things along the lines of “well, for you it was bad, but maybe I should give it a try”.

    I’m sorry, what? You want to spent four weeks puking your guts out because your headache is so bad that you can barely see straight? You want to pass out on the way to the bathroom because you have gotten so weak? You want to have yet another needle stuckpainfully close to your spine so they can inject half a liter of your blood into your body to hopfully close the hole that is letting out the liquid your brain is supposed to swim in? Really? Did you not just look at me and notice how crappy I am looking?

    I am not sure if I should be enraged that these people seem so unwilling to realise how badly I was doing, or scared that they might actually understand just how bad it was and be willing to accept the same anyway if the lose weight in the process.

  113. When someone crows or gloats or happily proclaims weight loss – or even if they’re complaining about weight loss – I simply sincerely ask, “How are you feeling?” It’s worked for me so far.

  114. Lauren, I think there may even be more to it than that.

    What follows is very much IMO, but our culture seems to glorify not only thinness, but what it symbolizes — the narrative that women should not only be smaller than men, but also weaker (unless we’re using our strength to serve them, a subset of discussion I’ll try not to digress to here). So in such conversations, not only are you “succeeding” with both narratives, but you’re also giving people an opportunity to disapprove of themselves out loud — another plus in our Puritan, Calvinist culture, since we’re never supposed to be to pleased with ourselves, especially if female.

    So it’s not about common sense, and I don’t think — with of course the exception of the extremely self-involved — people are deliberately attempting to downplay your illness (although it sounds pretty severe, and as a culture obsessed with immortality we’re not too adept at dealing with illness generally either).

    It’s just that you’re presenting them with that trifecta, and especially if they’ve never tried (or been willing) to examine the source of those unconscious narratives, the just pretty much respond to them and obey, if you will.

  115. Not sure if Imade this clear enough: The four weeks of hell were the results of a botched treatment and ended when the hospital-doctors managed to patch up the hole with my blood, so that the liquor could built up tp normal levels again. Since then, I have been fine and managed to gain the weight I lost because of it back.

    It’s benn a while, but the up-thread discussion on how weight-loss can signify a health problem brought back memories.

    And I don’t really blame people for what they said back then, I just don’t like any of the possible reasonings behind it, since each one says some rather depressing things about our society and the values it teaches us to uphold.

  116. Sara l. and Sweet Machine — your comments reminded me about how PCOS (which I have) can cause seemingly random shifts in weight (among other things). It is hard to dress for (and have a good relationship with) a body that is so unpredictable!

  117. OMFG, SM, that poem just knocked me out of my chair. Is it strange that I have a document of directives for my funeral? Well, in any case, I’m adding to it RIGHT NOW that I’d like that to be read at my funeral or… I don’t know, inscribed on my tombstone or something. That’s amazing.

  118. It is hard to dress for (and have a good relationship with) a body that is so unpredictable!

    It’s true! Because I know my body does this, I quite literally have boxes of “low end of range” and “high end of range” clothes, and lately I’ve been wearing more skirts and dresses because I find them more flexible in terms of being able to keep wearing them if I lose/gain weight. It’s weird, though; I know Lesley at Fatshionista did a post recently about how she’s been the same weight, within a couple pounds, for ten years. It’s almost as though bodies are diverse or something!

  119. OMFG, SM, that poem just knocked me out of my chair.

    AS, that’s it, I’m sending you a copy of her Selected Poems in the mail.

    Uh, and maybe also my dissertation prospectus.

  120. Yaaaaay!!! And you have boots and a sweater vest being put in the mail tomorrow.

    Oh, I’m sorry, is this a public blog? My bad.

  121. Once a pretty good friend at work commented when I selected fruit instead of sweets at an afternoon meeting “Oh, you’re being so good.” (This is one of the phrases that makes my skin crawl in the context of food.)

    And I said, “Know when else I was good? Last night, when I HOUSED two hot fudge sundaes.”

    I hadn’t, but she got the point and said, “That’s right. You’re ALWAYS great!” and laughed.

  122. I haven’t caught up with all the comments yet, but I’m glad so many people responded to my question with such great advice!

    Yes, I too have been on the other end of this, just this past week, with people complimenting me on my recent weight loss. Unfortunately, when I answered, “Yeah, I’ve been sick,” my various family members were unphased and replied, “Well, it’s working for you!”

    Yeah… having an intestinal virus and then the following week getting my jaw messed up when I got my wisdom teeth out, so that I could only open my mouth half an inch for several weeks and eating was no longer enjoyable, but a chore to be engaged a few times a day to keep up my strength. It was all obviously a ploy to get into that bridesmaid dress for my friend’s wedding.

    And a few years back, when I was in Honduras and lost 11 lbs in 1 week and another couple of pounds every week after until I finally got back to the States? People actually told me they were jealous.

    Now whenever I lose weight and people compliment me, I just smile and say, “Don’t worry. I plan on gaining it back.” And oooh the looks I get. ;-)

  123. Oh God, this reminds me of those Sex & the City-esque cartoons that advertise for Smart Food. (http://www.awomansworld.com)
    There’s a web-ep where two girls are visiting their sick friend.

    Sick friend: I haven’t been able to eat in days.
    Friend 1: You poor thing.
    Sicko: I lost like 4 lbs.
    Friend 2: Aw, you’re so lucky!
    Sicko: I know.
    Friend 1: You guys are whack-jobs. You know that, right?
    Sicko: Maybe, but I can almost fit into my skinny-jeans.
    Friend 2: …breathe on me.

    See, this would be funny, because they are trying to make Sick Friend and Friend 2 look silly, while Friend 1 is the “sane one” or something. Except that their message isn’t really “stop worrying so damn much about your weight, ladies!” It’s: “You don’t have to get sick to lose weight, ladies! You just need to buy our products!”

    Smart Food: better way than disease to get you into your skinny jeans.

  124. The emphasis on “girl” in this video bothered me. First, not only women struggle with fat talk issues, although yes, the media is most commonly focused on women’s weight loss /weight gain, but many overweight males suffer from fat-hate and self-image problems. Second, the word “girl” bothered me. I am a professor and a mother in my early thirties. I do not self-identify as a “girl”, nor do most of my female friends and mentors (many of them distinguished scholars) self-identify as “girls”. It is one thing to label an adolescent so, it is another thing entirely to call, say, a professional in her 50s a girl. I find it denigrating. I feel that the language needs to be more inclusive.

    I am also not sure what to think about the core issue. When my mother first insisted that I diet (at age 12), I was just slightly overweight. I did not need to diet then, nor did I agree to diet, but her constant reminders and admonishments did create a body image problem for me. However, I got over this, through my twenties I was perfectly happy with my weight and a stable sz 12. At this point, however, I weigh 226lbs at 5″4, and I feel that it is too much, health-wise, for me personally. I also rapidly gained this weight as a result of stress and trauma. How do you balance the need to lose weight for health reasons, and deeply ingrained emotional problems connected to food? How do you separate these two issues? It’s a tough call.

  125. Quote: My biggest problem is with my mother, who is 92 and still trying to lose weight. Almost everything she says is related somehow to her weight, her dress size, her diet, and her exercise (to lose weight).

    My mother is the same, the difference is that she actually has high blood pressure and Type II diabetes – when she weighed less she didn’t have those things. (She recently had a foot injury which dramatically reduced her ability to exercise.) So although I don’t want to buy into the “fat shaming” thing, my mother definitely wants to lose a few kilos and improve her health – is it wrong of me to want to support her goals?

    OTOH, my mother has always been obsessed with weight loss and is a lifetime member of Weight Watchers – she even gives me “hints” about weight loss now (while I’m pregnant) and reminds me that I share her body type (short and round) with its predisposition to diabetes and hypertension in later life.

    But it gives me the irrits when you sit down to a meal with someone and all they can talk about is their diet! Or how “good or bad” each food is or they are for eating it! LOVE “It’s pizza not genocide!”

  126. How do you balance the need to lose weight for health reasons, and deeply ingrained emotional problems connected to food? How do you separate these two issues? It’s a tough call.

    Renee, we’ve had a lot of conversations about this before — I suggest you read some of the archives. Since this thread is explicitly about not putting down our bodies, I’m going to respectfully ask that we not engage in a debate over whether you (or anyone) “needs” to lose weight and how to do it.

  127. This is the single hardest aspect of FA for me. Be accepting and non judgemental towards other people’s bodies? Sure, no problem. Be non judgemental towards myself? What, are you joking?

    It does help to be aware of the effect your negative self-talk has on other people, though. I’ve been trying to work through this with one of my best friends, because we both have a history of ED and it’s really easy to trigger each other via saying nasty things about ourselves. Neither of us would EVER say cruel things about the other person’s body, but if you’re trashing your own body to someone of a similar size or shape…well, the message is loud and clear.

    Question for the commentariat – How do you respond to diet talk from a male relative? My dad has over the past couple of years become obsessed with his weight and won’t shut up about what diet he’s on and how much weight he’s lost/gained (and yet he always ends up in the same range, hmm, funny that), and he’s charmingly decided to include me in this by making the first question of every conversation “so how’s your weight doing?”. Now I know this is largely projecting his own issue outwards, but still. How do you communicate that gee Dad, maybe you have a bigger tummy than when I was born because you are now 63 years old? Just a thought! He seriously seems to think that he should still fit into clothes he bought when he was 25. How do you communicate the idea that some weight gain, or at least change in body shape, is a normal part of ageing and really, no, it doesn’t mean you “need” to diet?

  128. Maybe you could agree with your sister. “Yeah, you could never handle being a “normal” weight. You’re definitely do not have a strong enough character to handle it.” Then laugh. “OMG, could you imagine? Your shallow ass would crumple up and die!”

    If your parents got mad you could always say, “But I was AGREEING with her!”

    Okay, I love this. Because it’s true! My god, when she weighed 112 in college we never heard the end of it. She was soooooo fat. (!!!) I think my sister may have an eating disorder, actually, I mean obviously in this culture most women have disordered eating to some degree but I think she may have an actual diagnosable one. But of course I am not any kind of doctor and also I don’t see her any more often than I absolutely have to.

    And the thing with our parents–I have been thinking about this all day, and it is just getting clearer and clearer to me that it is completely ridiculous that a 30-year-old runs to mommy and daddy to say her 27-year-old sister is being mean to her by, what, not being her clone or something, I don’t know. We are adults! Can’t we be done with this shit yet?

  129. FJ: This may be a little mean-spirited, but I might be inclined to respond, “You know, I’ve decided that THIS is my color! It makes me stunningly beautiful [brings out my eyes, makes my ears pointier, whatev].” (Gesture towards whatever colorful clothing you might be wearing.) Then, they can either agree, weakly or strongly, depending on the color you’re pointing at, or they can say, “Yes, but you know, I really think you’ve lost weight!” You then begin to fake panic: “OMG, are you trying to say that you don’t LIKE this color?” I suspect this would work better with acquaintances or gym people or other people who can’t tell if you’re having trouble keeping a straight face. Ignore the weight talk. Hijack the entire discussion into the color. Stand up for the incredible beautifying properties of the color. Quiz them on their real opinion about the color. Discuss the complexion-affecting qualities of the color. If you’re going to have a boring and unstoppable conversation about your appearance, might as well put it on your terms, right?

    When they ask about your newfound olive-green obsession when next you see them, look blank.

    If someone actually does this, please report back. I’d love to know how it works.

  130. ROFL, Starling, that is fantastic.

    I am sooooooo trying that next time severe illness visible starves flesh off me and people try to act like it’s a good thing.

  131. @CassandraSays:

    I had a very similar problem. In fact, my father was so involved in my body that he was paying for WW and supplementing my grocery money. I discovered Shapely Prose while I was in therapy and the message was loud and clear. My body is mine. Not his. So first things first, I said I’m quitting WW and you can keep your money. He says, okay, quit, but I’m going to send the money because it makes me feel better. I told him I was going to try to lose weight on my own. I totally wasn’t.

    Later, after much discussion with therapist I said “I don’t want to discuss my weight with you anymore.” I explained that my body was none of his concern and if he couldn’t stop being concerned about my weight I didn’t want to talk to him. That worked like a charm. Of course, my dad is a couple hundred miles away, so it’s easy for me to ignore the phone.

  132. Added bonus: by the third or fourth time you do it (especially if the color varies), some of these people might get the hint.

  133. Question for the commentariat – How do you respond to diet talk from a male relative?

    I also would like to know the answer to this. My uncle had recently started harping on my almost 2yo daughter’s body shape. He doesn’t have any children, and her shape is normal toddler round-bellied cute! But I don’t want her growing up with this talk from ANY age, let alone age 2! I’m afraid I was rude to him when I asked him not to say that, but even worse, I don’t think it worked! He just said “Oh, she’s too little to understand…” But of course, soon she won’t be…

  134. My 71-year-old mother, who is otherwise very smart and involved, has huge issues around weight, hers and ours. She is healthy, looks beautiful, is physically very active, and still diets and joins and rejoins Weight Watchers, and talks constantly about what she can and can’t, should and shouldn’t eat. Two of us sisters have discovered HAES and practice not being fat-shaming to ourselves or others, and Mom has sneakily begun trying to convince us her concern is actually about her health, not her weight.

    So why is she still fat-shaming my 15-year-old niece? Today she reached over and patted my niece’s belly and said, “ooh, you’ve got a pooch!” My upset niece called her mother, who called me, and we’ve worked out some of our rage and frustration with her, but we also, sadly, know Mom will just deflect anything we say to her and merrily do it again next chance she gets.

    ACK! I’m actually still furious. It took YEARS to undo the damage she did to ME with her obsession with weight, and now she’s doing it to the next generation.

    Thanks for listening.

  135. @Sarahb – My question was actually meant more as, how do I gently try to steer him towards FA for himself? In terms of setting my own boundaries that’s a bit easier – I can just tell him not to talk to me about it, not that he’ll necessarily listen, but I sort of know what to do (and also sort of accept that he may simply never be willing to listen and I may just have to live with that as the price of having a Dad raised in a toxic culture). It’s his fat talk about himself that’s freaking me out, the constant “let me tell you all about South Beach and how few carbs I’m eating” thing.

    I used to think the idea that EDs are genetic was questionable but I’m starting to change my mind, because he sounds like my own internal voice, which is part of what makes it so hard to hear. Also I’m pretty sure I have some form of BDD and I’m starting to think he does too, because his internal sense of his own body shape seems kind of out of whack with how he looks to anyone else.

  136. I’m working really hard not to use value words about food. Especially in superficial conversations, eg, the tea room at work ‘ooh, that lunch looks healthy, you’re better than me, I only have x’. You know the kind of thing. It’s harder than you’d think, too.

    A couple of my friends have this trope, where if someone won’t do something we want them to, we will say ‘it’s cos I’m fat, isn’t it? It’s my hips!!!’. As in ‘can you go the the shops for some more milk’ ‘no, I have class then’ ‘ITS COS I’M FAT, ISN’T IT?!?’ We find it hilarious (the other day I said it to the boy in the actual context and spent about ten minutes in fits of giggles while he looked on in bemusement) but I have to be SUPER careful who I let hear me say it, because I’ve had some shocked reactions.

    Well, here’s news for you, shocked onlookers. I AM fat. And that does not make me a worthless, hideous human being. The reason it’s funny is because it’s as ludicrous as saying ‘it’s because I’m 26, ISNT IT?!?!’. I am 26, white, female, and FAT. Facts.

  137. Oh, also, what I originally intended to say (concentration of a gnat, today). I would have liked some larger people in that slideshow at the end – even just snuck in in the group shots.

  138. Since becoming a Shapeling (over a year ago) that when I hear body/fat shaming talk, I find it very jarring. I am somewhat shocked, and I have to remember that the whole world doesn’t think this way (alas).

    RE: the Facebook updates…I have some friends (it’s a married couple) who post these great updates all the time about what food they’re eating or planning to eat or whatever. Very entertaining (more so than I have made it sound here, anyway). Recently, they took their two kids to the state fair, and were posting about the various friend things they were having (fried BUTTER? fried Dr. Pepper?). I thought it was funny, and obviously they don’t eat fried butter everyday, but other commenters just lit into them. I wish (often) that I could “hide” other commenters on FB. The crazy just jumps out of nowhere sometimes.

  139. What is the proper response when Hypothetical Girlfriend says “I’m fat” or a derivative? Does the wording depend at all on whether HGF is in fact fat (“So what, you’re still wicked hot”) or not (“No, and if you were you’d still be wicked hot”)? Please don’t tell me to say something unrelated to physical appearance, I’m too young to die.

  140. (Long-time lurker, 1st time comment!) I am way grateful to be involved with a community where fat talk is absolutely, 100% not tolerated. I had made several big strides in FA even before I blundered into this website some months ago and learned what FA was.

    At my volunteer work, we have an internship where every few months, we get a new group of 18-30 year old young adults. 95%+ of the women coming in have jacked-up views of their bodies because — well — they’ve grown up in America. Now they, of all shapes/sizes, live in pretty close quarters, with plenty of opportunity to compare themselves to their dorm-mates and talk about themselves. Add into that the fact that we’re a community that believes in fasting (religious reasons only, totally voluntary, and choosing to do so does not make you “more spiritual”), and it’s a recipe for body-image disaster.

    So the female leaders of the internship (mega cool peeps) pull all the women into a room in the very first week of orientation. They teach the new interns about how thoroughly broken our society’s idea of beauty is. They teach them about how hating your own body actually throws a huge wrench into your spiritual life. They endorse healthy living, but emphasize that if you are “living healthy” with your eye on the smaller jeans, you’re totally deceiving yourself and your health really has nothing to do with it. They affirm that healthy people come in many different shapes and weights. They acknowledge that healthy bodies fluctuate in weight from time to time, and advise the women to have knock-out cute clothes in each of the 2-3 sizes they normally live between.

    And they absolutely forbid “fat talk” among the interns (who by this point, are all nodding, note-taking, and/or crying). The dorms are all told to hold each other accountable… kindly, but with no beating around the bush. There is no bemoaning weight gained, rejoicing over weight lost, evaluating someone else’s beauty (usually size, but any physical characteristic) in comparison to yours, no gossip about others or put-downs about yourself.

    Diets are resoundingly viewed as a bad idea. Fasting is not allowed for people with recent EDs, and anyone with a history of ED is encouraged to temporarily give up some other comfort item besides food in lieu of a traditional fast. Any of the women who do fast are asked to be open and honest with a couple of close friends and their leader about how they’re handling it emotionally — if they are beginning to exhibit signs of an unhealthy relationship to food, or get excited about the prospect of losing weight, they are done. Period.

    It’s amazing to see how much this impacts the confidence and happiness of the women coming into the program. The point of the internship is not body acceptance, but it’s a wonderful by-product.

    (Note: The men also get a talk similar to this, but it generally tends more towards not killing themselves with excessive workouts and protein shakes — “buff” does not equal “good person”. They are also instructed not to talk to the women about their weight, even if they think they’re being really encouraging. There are plenty of other things to encourage them about.)

    Even among the staff, we still hold the line on this. Our senior leaders have announced to all 2,000-ish staff and students NOT to compliment anyone about weight loss. EVER. It still happens from time to time by people who have a hard time getting a clue, but the overall environment is very unfriendly to such things. Close friends may ensure that a *sudden* weight change is not tied to health/emotional problems, but if our friends are wobbling up and down within their normal 30-lb range, then whatevs.

    My roommates are great at this, too. One recently accidentally lost noticeable weight, and she had the good sense to be concerned about it have her health looked at. Turns out she’s fine, just skinnier than she used to be. She doesn’t really care about being smaller, minus the new clothes problem. All three of us have been at each extreme of our natural range, and not once have we cheered each other for being any given size. We only cheer when the other looks in the mirror and can sassily and honestly say, “I look awesome.”

    I understand I’m pretty spoiled in being around a lot of amazing people who really get this issue. But I’m hoping that one or two of the points can be helpful to someone. If you can even get one or two friends who grasp the concept of FA and are willing to (lovingly!) call you on the carpet for slamming yourself, it helps so much. Seldom will both /all three / more of you lose vision at the same time, so when one is “in the pit”, the other can pull them out. It will slowly get less and less natural to berate yourself for, like, having a body and stuff.

    I hope this wasn’t too rambly. I’ve learned a lot from reading both the articles and comments on this blog and am interested in pursuing some of these studies further.

  141. @CassandraSays:

    Hmm, you know I had the same problem with my dad. He watched Biggest Loser, decided to go on a diet in the new year after that and then was “teaching” me about all of the good things I should be doing. It comes in cycles, though. He usually forgets or quits after awhile and then he’ll try again. If he’s on a diet when I go to visit in December, I might try explaining to him the health benefits of fat around the heart and the dangers of yo-yo dieting if he’ll listen to me. I have the major problem of a dad who thinks he knows best in every matter and who actually gets angry when you (usually just me) try to contradict him.

    I wish I had better advice for you. I’m going to be right there with you, probably.

  142. You know, I think fat people would make good assassins, because people tend to avoid looking us in the eye (OK people tend to avoid looking *me* in the eye in public venues. Watch me generalize my own experience onto y’all!). People may cast judgmental glares onto the fattie mcfatersons, but not on our faces.

    I mean sleek, well-groomed people who look like Angelina Jolie attract attention. People remember their faces. Successful assassins need to blend, I’ve always thought. If you’re going to have to get into a lot of varied places and be nondescript, who can do so better than a fat woman in a maid’s outfit? Who is more forgettable? Plus we’re presumed to be so stupid and talentless and so on, the fat person is not going to leap to mind as the ninja assassin for the police detectives on the scene.

    (the above was tongue-deeply-embedded-in-cheek humor, just to be clear.)

    On the “girl” thing – given the source of this video is the Tri-Delts, a sorority, I’m not really bothered by the girl references myself. I think the emphasis on younger girls at the start of the pictures is first because most sorority members are close to girlhood (and some still think of themselves that way – college students may legally be adults but in behavior and attitude they’re still caught between adolescence and adulthood), and second because the greater point is that all those women in the video used to be girls, and this kind of talk causes harm from early girlhood on through life and needs to be stopped for that reason. YMMV, of course.


  143. I see and hear a lot of fat talk every day at my job. I work as a cashier at a large chain grocery store (it rhymes with “ogre”), and so I see a lot of low fat/no fat/diet/special diet foods, and sometimes my customers try to engage me in their special hell of “oh I was so bad I ate cake” or “oh you should try this diet it’s great” and it’s very frustrating. Not only do I not enjoy it, I can’t say anything really rude in response because I could get reprimanded by my managers. I try to be patient and educate when it seems like they’re open to it (just yesterday I actually had a great dialogue with a girl who seemed really open to the idea of fat acceptance, and even pointed her to this site by writing the URL on her receipt), but that’s pretty rare. And I tend to get looks like “well you work as a cashier, you don’t know what you’re talking about” (because apparently working a retail job between undergrad and graduate school to make ends meet immediately makes you stupid), so it can be extremely frustrating some times.

    As others have mentioned, it’s easier for me to be kind to myself by shutting down my shaming thoughts about other women. Today I was having a bad day at work (they gave me my first break an hour late) and I kept wanting to say nasty things to skinny girls because I was feeling kind of ugly (in spirit as well as looks), but I gave myself a stern talking to about how I had no right to comment on their bodies, any more than people had a right to comment on mine, and that there was nothing wrong with their size or mine, and it did help me feel a little better (also singing in between customers). I’ve found that not only am I kinder to myself since I became part of the FA movement, I’m also kinder to other women. I don’t judge women based on their clothing anymore (although I do go out of my way to compliment those with really cute clothes), and I say a lot less shaming things about myself than I used to. The thoughts are still there, certainly, but even those aren’t as prevalent as they used to be. These days I’m just as likely to look at myself in the mirror and think that I look good, as that I look ugly. I think I was subconsciously FA a long time before I heard about the movement, though (if I’m making it sound like I became FA and magically began accepting myself immediately, I assure you that’s not true). I’ve always resented the strong diet culture in my family (most especially my father’s family, they’re toxic for many other reasons as well) and I’ve always been angry that I get judged for how I look by everyone I meet, regardless of whether it’s a favorable judgement or not.

    But re: the whole “losing weight because of illness” thing, I got really angry at my father last time I saw him because I spent most of this summer very ill from an inflamed gall bladder (some of you may remember this story) that I had to wait more than a month to have removed because of not having insurance. I spent most of that month in bed, unable to eat more than a little soup and saltines, basically starving because whenever I ate I got so nauseous I wanted to die. And yeah, when you starve, you tend to lose weight. And my father congratulated me, and I sniped at him about how I wasn’t happy with it because it wasn’t healthy weight loss (if there is such a thing as healthy weight loss, starving because you’re too sick to eat is NOT it). I’d much rather lose 20 lbs by exercising more regularly (which I do want to do, but not to lose weight), not because I couldn’t fucking eat for a month. Several of my coworkers commented on it too, when I went back to work after the surgery, and I shut them down as well. I told them I wasn’t happy I’d lost weight because I was starving, and I wouldn’t care if I gained it all back now that I could eat again. I haven’t gained it all back, actually, because I moved to a new apartment that’s on the 3rd floor, so I get that exercise every day now (and I can already tell it’s improving my overall fitness level), but I have gained some weight back, and I’m fine with it.

    Sorry. I know this comment is kinda disordered, but today was a long day at work and my brain is always kinda fuddled by this time on a work night. XD I just wanted to respond to as many points as possible, but it turned into Rambly Rant Theatre.

  144. Anyone that is close to me (family excluded) has read my blog at some point or another, and therefore has read my rants regarding fat. I guess I have great friends because I don’t get comments about my size. I have had some awesome conversations about friends about FA topics and they have been blown away with the idea that I am happy with the size that I am, and hopefully that has opened their minds that, you know, they can be happy with the size they are too!

    The one comment that I do use is, “Food does not have a moral value.” This is in response to any comment along the lines of food being good/bad, or a person being good/bad in regards to eating/not eating something. Usually people respond by saying, “I meant unhealthy.” To which I respond, “Then why didn’t you say that?”

    Oh! I just thought of a time when I fully shut down a conversation about dieting. I am a manager of a coffee shop (included only because it shows that I have a position of authority and my staff tend to be young twenty-somethings) and I was in the back room with two 21ish women who work for me. They were talking about the diet that one of them was on, and I simply said, “Diet talk makes me uncomfortable.” They apologized and stopped. That’s the only time I have ever heard anything remotely fat-talkish or fat-shaming at work. I hope that is because I have worked hard to make it an inclusive space.

  145. It just depends on the context and how well I know the person making the comment. The last time someone told me that I looked great and asked me what I’ve done (the tone implied “have you lost weight?”) I responded with “yea, the whole not hating my body thing has done wonders for my complexion!” which got a giggle and hopefully she got my point because I’ve walked away from friendships before that were toxic and it’s something I can and will do again.

    @Robyn – that was a big part of my first steps into acceptance as well. I grew up with a mother that barely ate and who started commenting on my body when I hit puberty at 9 which really messed me up in the head and that was not something I was willing to inflict on my daughters.

  146. Aleks–Depending, of course, on your level of intimacy and your location, you remove the offending item of clothing [in the case of “These jeans make me look fat,” for example] and demonstrate, with illustrations, how wicked hot you find your girlfriend. If the time/place/general setting makes that grossly inappropriate, you can simply say, “I am too distracted lusting after your wicked hot body to have an opinion one way or the other.” Further detail helps emphasize your sincerity.

    I hope I’m not corrupting the youth of Athens here or anything.

  147. I really can’t stand fat talk; I think it was a major factor in triggering my ED, though there was a lot going on at the time and I have the stereotypical personality for it anyways. But yes, genetics loads the gun, the environment pulls the trigger.

    My parents used to fat shame me all the time from the time I was about 13 and about 120 lbs. (I’m only 5’1″ and anything above 95 lbs is “fat” for an Asian.) It was weird since they hadn’t worried about my weight much before then – they always thought I’d “grow into it” – but my period came early and I never grew (vertically, at least). My dad’s nickname for me was “piggy” and they wouldn’t let me eat school meals, so I had to take really nasty ham-and-mustard sandwiches to school (what I remember about them most was the fact they always only had ONE very thinly-cut slice – I never realized most people tended to take several slices of deli meat, and I actually thought Americans were fat, like headless-fatty-in-the-news-obesity-epidemic-fat, since they always took more than one slice THE HORROR *eyeroll*).

    When I started dieting and exercising more in high school though, they were really pleased and quit with the fat shaming (somewhat – I had to listen to the “aren’t you going to exercise today” crap for months). My mum was thrilled when I hit size 0 and bought me a new wardrobe. I quit breakfast, lunch (not that hard), most of dinner and managed to “achieve” 100 lbs, then 90 lbs (at which point classmates started asking me for diet tips). When I inched towards 80, my parents started getting worried about possible diabetes. The doctor said my weight wasn’t terribly unusual since I was young, growing, and Asian (lmfao) which somehow grants us magical metabolism (1. can it be bottled??? 2. ???? 3. PROFIT).

    I was eventually hospitalized at about 62 lbs. During my recovery, I had to listen to my parents talk about how I needed to gain “some”, but not “too much” because that would be unhealthy and fuck up my hormones. (Erm, hello? I have no hormones. They kind of gave up and went into hibernation.) I’m probably one of the few who discovered much less fat shaming and diet talk at college than back at home. Though my friends talk about how “fat” they are all the time, I can’t even be bothered to listen; I’ve heard it all before, in hundreds of variants, all equally boring. It’s just background noise :)

    Fat talk matters. I can’t stand relatives and people who shame kids and adolescents about these things, even indirectly by complaining about their own weight around them all the time. Do they not even realize what they’re doing? Children and teenagers really do remember the silly things you say, even the really boring and uncool stuff, and they’re not old enough to have built a strong enough sense of “self” to counter it.

  148. Lauren, that illness sounds horrific — I’m glad you’re better now! I wasn’t as acutely ill, but a couple of years ago I got food poisoning which caused fever and diarrhoea-even-after-just-drinking-water for a week, followed by still-horrific diarrhoea for like, 7 weeks. I couldn’t understand why my body was so ill — even when I started to get a bit better (comparative to at the start but still BAD) I was still iller than I remember ever being. The doctor got called out because I was in so much pain they thought it was appendicitis, and I was trapped at a friend’s house for over a week before my parents had to drive 300 miles to rescue me and my car (I’d been away when I got sick and I don’t live near them)… then, well, and then it just kept carrying on with the docs where they’d say ‘hmmm it should clear up in a week, come back if it doesn’t’, and I would be all ‘HELLO I HAVE LOST 10 POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS AND I AM STILL LOSING WEIGHT AND I FEEL SHIT, LITERALLY!!!’ and they’d just *shrug*.

    I got SO thin, as thin as I was at one point (though not the worst point) in my ED and it was just horribly triggering. There I was, sick as a dog, unable to go out, getting stick from my housemates who thought I was just being fussy by not wanting to eat with them (I think they thought I was hypochondriac-ing) because all I could keep down/in for more than 20 minutes was white rice with overboiled veggies (still, er, problematic), and if I did want to go out I had to eat at least 4 hours beforehand, then have nothing, and still be sure there was a loo nearby — I did this for a friend’s birthday. I’d finally ventured out, looked like (according to my mum) that I was ‘made of grey wax’, and got millions of compliments about my ‘amazing weightloss’ and ‘perfect body’ all fucking evening. I was really embarrassed about the illness and hadn’t yet discovered FA, and was terrified of the thoughts in *my* head going ‘scared scared don’t want to never be able to eat properly again and always have the runs’ and ‘but maybe when I get better I can maintain this weight loss I mean I can wear little shorts and they look cuter because I’m think and that girl said I have a perfect body and and and…’. It was such a turning point for me when I caught myself doing that, made myself think actively about how fucking miserable my ED had made me before, and how fucking terrifying it was to have my body essentially enforce bulimia’s effects on me without even my say so. I couldn’t walk the ten minutes from town to my house without sitting down for rests along the way. It really frightened me about my health’s fragility, and I reckon that’s about when my leaning towards a more FA perspective started, without really knowing it at the time. But it could *so easily* have stayed tipped the other way — the wanting to stay thin way. Even my landlady, after me telling her HOW ill I had been and still was, and how awful it was, said ‘oh I wish I could catch that, I could lose a few pounds, you’re so lucky’.

    When diarrhoea 15 times a day = “lucky”, we have a problem!

  149. @blu:

    Yeah, for real! I’m right there with you on this. I’m half Filipino, half European and guess which side I got my body from? That’s right, I have the same heavy pear shape that my Auntie’s in the Philippines have/had. My brother got the European body and is much more athletic looking than me. I suppose it’s a little different than you, I could technically be called a Pacific Islander, which brings up images of Samoans and not tiny Japanese girls.

  150. a decrease in a man’s height to the 25th percentile from the 75th — roughly to 5 feet 8 inches from 6 feet—

    Are you fucking kidding me? Other men can’t all be that tall, I’d never get a date. Oh, right.

  151. *Also hugs Blu*

    One of the least lovely aspects of my current working life is occasionally having to listen to 5ft10, sub 130 pound Japanese dudes freak out about how “fat” they are and how much they “need” to lose weight. As bad as fat phobia is for white Americans, it’s much, much worse in most of Asia.

    Also SarahB’s comment brought up another what to do question for me – what do you say to in-laws who’re fat shaming other in-laws when aformentioned in-laws are all from a different cultural/ethnic background than you are and have a more stringent idea of what constitutes “fat”? In my case it’s Asian mother in law constantly hounding sister in law’s little sister about how “fat” her hips and thighs are, and attempting to enlist me (I’m thinner) as an example of what to do. Ie. “see, look at Cassandra, she has smaller hips and she’s much older than you so if she can do it at her age you have no excuse”. I tend to try to step in and go “I think she looks fine” and then try to redirect the conversation, but I’m concerned that going off on a FA rant would be…weird, given the dynamic of me usually being the only white person in the room when this happens. But I feel like I can’t just stand there and let it happen because little sister of SIL looks so miserable, and really, MIL actually asks why she can’t look like she did when we first met her. Um…when we first met her she was 12, and now she’s in her twenties and a mother.

  152. I’m Chinese, so yeah, we do tend to be very thin – BACK IN CHINA. *facepalm* And it’s not like China’s the homeland of naturally skinny people (most of my family’s actually on the heavy Mongolian-ish side, since we’re Northerners). There was a shocking amount of diet talk when I went to Beijing last summer, esp from the sales clerks, but apparently nobody considers skipping lunch and eating only a peach for dinner “dieting”.

    My mom actually thinks she should still be the same weight she was back in China, which was barely 100 lbs for someone about five inches taller than me. Dude, you survived on pickles and a bowl of white rice a day (her family used to be really, really poor, even below the norm). Now you’re eating like, two-three meals a day, and they contain more than two food groups. Isn’t nutrition amazing? (Though I can see why she gets agitated about it; her own family makes fun of how “fat” she is whenever we visit. Except it used to be a compliment, and now it’s just concern trolling because FAT = BAD. Thanks Western media!)

  153. Wow. I just can’t believe that this was a genuine DDD video.

    I’m not joking, I don’t believe this could be genuine — as in, based in any kind of real feeling — at all. Besides the fact that sorority culture is so body-conscious to begin with, some of the hazing practices that the Tri Delts have owned up to using in the past are just repulsive. Making pledges undress and circle each other’s physical flaws? (“Not enough boobs,” “Chicken-legs,” and, of course, “FAT.”) Telling pledges that they qualifying relies on them getting attention from a certain number of guys in one night? General culture surrounding the use of the words “whore,” “skank,” and “slut?”

    Wow. A week of being fat talk free. I give it half an hour, Tri Delts.

  154. @SarahB- You have no idea how happy I am that my Dad lives on another continent. I miss him and all, but if I didn’t have the option of hanging up the phone I might have strangled him by now. It’s a frustrating thing to waver between “I’m worried about you because this new obsession with being the same size you were in your twenties isn’t healthy” and “god dammit you are pissing me off any making me feel shitty about my body too, stfu”.

  155. *Is defiantly short at people!*

    A friend of mine and I (two shortarses) actually started a Short Persons’ Alliance as a joke a couple of years ago when we lived together with a few other housemates. The main purpose of the Alliance was to round on anyone who mocked us or tried to lean us/lean things on our heads (‘just the right height to rest my drink on’ etc). It was only mildly violent, but reasonably effective, and we even admitted ‘Associate Members’ (aka allies). Wow, I’ve been into height acceptance for a while!

    @CassandraSays, that sounds like a very difficult situation… I’d be tempted to try pretending I hadn’t noticed all the subtext and start gushing about how beautiful she is exactly how she is, and then change the subject if possible, but I don’t know if that is a) a good idea generally, or b) would work in your situation.

  156. While the conversation is about fat talk, I noticed only one comment in the 160 before me about the sole focus on female victims of fat shame/hate. I feel sometimes, the young male victims of this are not acknowledged. I get that this is a feminist blog, however, there are a lot of smart voices here and I hope that some thought about this is possible.

    onto the maim topic at hand..

    The only way for a relationship with my parents to be possible is for me the enforce a non negotiable boundary prohibiting any talk about my weight or exercise or health. When I get together with my entire family, while they respect my boundary of not talking about my food or my weight, the talk about diet, good food, bad food, how tight someones pants are , etc happens every time. I leave the room and I do not participate in these discussions. In my house, no one talk about it. I don’t permit it.


  157. Emma: …Besides the fact that sorority culture is so body-conscious to begin with, some of the hazing practices that the Tri Delts have owned up to using in the past are just repulsive. Making pledges undress and circle each other’s physical flaws? (”Not enough boobs,” “Chicken-legs,” and, of course, “FAT.”) Telling pledges that they qualifying relies on them getting attention from a certain number of guys in one night? General culture surrounding the use of the words “whore,” “skank,” and “slut?”

    Um, what the actual fuck, really? As in, all those teen dramas/films aren’t making it up and apparently aren’t exaggerating for effect? In fact it seems they are under-exaggerating? What the actual fuck??? Did I mention what the fuck??!! What is the benefit supposed to be of joining one of these sorority thingies if they do that to people when they arrive? I know a lot of girls and women do the ‘once over’ and criticise other women’s bodies, but drawing rings around flaws on people’s undressed bodies??? I actually have tears in my eyes. Fuck, that is bad. Beyond bad. Fucking hell. Fuck! Young women doing this to each other :-(:-(:-(

  158. @CassandraSays:

    Oh, the minute I graduated from college I booked it. From Maryland to Florida. I have a *much* better relationship with my dad on the phone. I think 48 hrs is the limit before we’re fighting about something.

    As for the different cultural expectations, people actually have trouble believing I’m Filipino because of my size. They tend to lean towards Hispanic/Latina or Indian (Native American) because of my European traits (I got the height and I’m not as dark as my dad).

    I find it very interesting that your MIL has no trouble fat-shaming a woman she’s not even related to. I have no idea how to handle that kind of situation. My guess is that this woman will always be the 12 y.o. because that’s when they met. As we grow older we have a lot of trouble seeing that those younger than us are growing too. I was a bridesmaid at my baby cousin’s wedding last year and spent the whole time in disbelief that my baby cousin was even old enough to contemplate marriage!

  159. @ Zenoodle – Short people represent! (5ft 2 1/2)

    And yeah, I do tend to try to support little sister in a roundabout way by telling her how amazing she looks every time I see her (because she does, she’s gorgeous), but I have no idea how to get through to MIL that what she’s doing is really hurtful without sounding like the stupid white person version of Mansplaining. Because I do think part of the issue is that MIL grew up in Asia and little sister in America – different nutrition, etc. Also MIL is kind of a tiny person, and little sister is much taller and just a less petite person overall, so there’s a “why did you have to get so tall?” subtext too.

  160. While the conversation is about fat talk, I noticed only one comment in the 160 before me about the sole focus on female victims of fat shame/hate

    Well, and this particular campaign is spearheaded by a sorority. As people have mentioned above, the campaign itself has some things that are not ideal about it, but I think the idea of setting aside a specific time period for deliberate change of your own talk is really valuable — for women and men.

  161. Re: “You must have lost weight!” I often go with, “Gee, maybe. I don’t know. I don’t weigh myself.” It usually throws people that I genuinely have no idea what I weight except for about five minutes once a year or something. I mean, I know the general neighborhood. But I could lose or gain a good deal of weight before I actually noticed — I’ve just decided that I’m not going to let that number be important to me (even though I don’t feel that way all the time), and then live as if it’s not. And if it’s not, why would I take up time and brainspace measuring it and remembering it?

    Maybe I did lose some weight. Or gained some weight. Or grew sort of sideways and flattened out a bit. Who knows? More importantly, who cares?!

  162. @Arte Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this about your mother. The “teasing” or “friendly / loving” concern trolling (“oooh, you’ve got a pooch!”) makes me see red. I swear I would just rather have someone out and out call me a “fatass” without a smile on their face. Or at least I think so?

    I am hearing some real brilliance in these comments! Like:

    @April, “yea, the whole not hating my body thing has done wonders for my complexion”!

    @erin: “Diet talk makes me uncomfortable”

    @Starling’s advice to aleks!

  163. Yeah, I’ve definitely heard about the body drawing thing too, though I think it was just one rather notorious case. At my uni there’s just a de facto weight limit, which is also pretty shitty but not nearly as traumatic.

  164. Ivan, I think maybe it’s just most of the 160 previous comments were from women, about their own experiences. I don’t think anyone would ever want you to feel men’s experiences were unacknowledged, or not worth discussing. It’s something I was thinking about recently, because a friend was given a free men’s mag at his barber’s, and I read through — horrified to find the same kind of ‘lose 10lbs in 5 seconds’ type features that are often found in women’s mags. I have a couple of close male friends whom I know definitely struggle with body image issues and size-shaming (fat shaming and skinny shaming in the friends I’m thinking of) and it must be more widespread among my friends than that; I know it’s not the easiest for them to talk about, and I wouldn’t presume to know exactly what their experiences are like. I imagine there are similarities and differences in the ways these things manifest themselves, and would personally be really interested to hear more about how body shaming affects men, not least because I care very much about the men in my life!

  165. CassandraSays: 5’1 3/4″ here! And yet my ‘little’ brother is 6’3″ — I have joked I left some tall genes behind for him because I was feeling generous! :-) Once upon a time, when my ambitions included such things as being a nurse and a singer and a shoe shop lady and a stunt pilot (I planned to have a full timetable) I also told my mum I was going to be tall so that I could reach yoghurts on the top fridge shelf in the supermarket. Yoghurt reaching remains a problem but I think I have stopped being upset about my height now — except when people try to bloody well pick me up and throw me about! Grrrr…. *pushes SPA alert button*

  166. @aleks:

    If I were in a situation like this and did not know how to respond, I would say something like the following very sincerely:

    I love you (or insert proper level of concern) and want to give you whatever it is you need. I’m not sure what that is and need some help figuring it out.

    You could even offer some suggestions: Do you want me to show you how attractive you are? Do you want me to list some of the ways society has colluded to fuck you up so you cannot trust these feelings?

    The lady in question might not know what she needs herself, I know I don’t when I come across things that I haven’t unpacked yet. But after some time with fat acceptance I’ve become more able to ask for exactly what I need from my friends and lovers and instead of saying: I’m fat!! I’m more likely to say: I’m feeling really bad about my body today, could you remind me that you know what I look like AND find me attractive? Specific questions get specific answers.

  167. Glad to hear from other ‘allies’ that they share my concerns. It’s all very well for me to say ‘you should just be happy as you are’ but I’m not the one who gets fat-shamed when I walk down the road, you know? But I do definitely say things like ‘It’s just food, it doesn’t have a moral value’ or ‘there’s no need to feel guilty about eating’ at office morning teas and the like.

    As for my MIL, who likes to bemoan the fact that her third daughter “made her fat” because she never again lost the 5lbs she put on after her birth when she was 35, OMFGSTFU ARRRRGGGGGGGGH and also never ever come near my daughter, woman.

  168. Hey, I just wanted to say that I went to Re/Dress in Brooklyn this afternoon to find a jacket. There was this lovely tweed coat that was juuust a little too small for me. And I looked at it, and I thought to myself, “If only I weren’t . . .” [pause, reshuffle] “I mean, if only that damned coat weren’t too small, I’d totes get it.”

    It’s a little win, but it’s a win. And I left with a funky red leather jacket instead.

  169. BrieCS — I got my tubes tied when I was 34, and recognize the feelings behind what you described. If you ever need somebody to commiserate with, please feel free to shoot me an email (you can get it off my blog, at link above).

    Damanique — “OMG, I didn’t realize you’d gotten your psychology degree already.”

    CuteBruiser — the name of my next novel is totally going to be ‘Fat Assassins.’

    Arte — Just an anecdote: my mother is like yours; seventy-something and still starving herself, just changing the rationale to the more-PC ‘for my health.’ The other day we were talking about cholesterol, and I mentioned mine was a little high. She asked how high and I told her about 215. She laughed and said, “Oh my god, that’s nothing. Mine’s like 275.” She tried to backpedal, but it was too late. She’s always had high cholesterol, and up to then had insisted that her starvation dieting had cured all of her health ‘problems.’

    On the self-talk front: I honestly don’t know how/when it happened, but I don’t talk to/about myself like I used to, since I’ve started reading things like SP and refusing to tolerate fat talk around me. I think that stuff really is toxic, in subtle ways that we don’t even completely understand. Even when I told myself ‘oh, that’s just his opinion, and he’s an asshole,’ it still got in. Once I took myself out of those environments, the self-hate went away. It took a while, though — maybe a couple of years? And I’m uniquely situated in that I work for myself and don’t socialize a lot (also a card-carrying introvert, yo), so I don’t have to face it down every day. My spouse also somehow managed to not absorb the cultural fat hatred and tells me constantly that he loves the way I look.

    Actually, I just realized how lucky I am.

  170. In one of Margaret Cho’s stand up routines she talks about how she was going to spend the time she used to devote to bashing her body and doing the diet drama and that has always resonated with me. Whenever I start to have a body shaming thought I do stop and ask myself, “what else could I be doing with this time?” and it’s amazing how many other more interesting things like cannibalizing pens into super pens, lusting over Hal Linden while watching Barney Miller and painting my nails Zulu are infinitely more fun than snarking on my boobs for getting in the way of my button down shirt dreams.

  171. Snarkysmachine: Can the two of us first have a moment of silence? I finally gave all my attempts at button-down shirts to Goodwill in May, but I never did properly mourn the passing of the dream.

  172. our culture seems to glorify not only thinness, but what it symbolizes — the narrative that women should not only be smaller than men, but also weaker

    Which is one reason that I find it amusing, as a fat woman, to announce to people who tell me I’ve lost weight how much muscle mass I’m gaining. It screws with two narratives — that women should be weak, and that they should be obsessed with losing weight. People really don’t know how to respond to that. It’s fun!

    Slythwolf, it sounds like you have an issue with your sister (and your parents) wrt boundaries, setting, respecting and enforcing them. Carolyn Hax (who, BTW, went OFF on a Judgy McJudgypants who fat-shames on elevators (scroll down for the “elevator eyes” Q&As; she revisits it three or four times during the chat) recommends “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin deBecker for this purpose.

  173. Snarkysmachine: Can the two of us first have a moment of silence? I finally gave all my attempts at button-down shirts to Goodwill in May, but I never did properly mourn the passing of the dream.

    Oh my god, totally. I have given up. Oddly enough, it only took the 485069th poke from an exhausted safety pin to move on to other kinds of shirts.

  174. There’s someone out there who has a blog with lots of advice for sewing for fat women; she recommends sewing hooks & eyes into your shirts for a more permanent and less poke-y solution than safety pins.

  175. Snarkysmachine, Zuzu–I tried duct tape once. That’s really all I want to say about that little experiment, though.

  176. I often get told with certainty by people I work with that I have lost weight. These are usually the people who are very public with their own weight loss struggle. And my weight does fluctuate a fair bit, within about a five-ten kilo range. The thing is that they always tell my I must have lost weight when I’ve put it ON. I know, because my clothes are tighter, not because I weigh myself (I’ve not ever owned scales, praise be). I look better with more weight on. Most people think looking better means being skinnier. So their brains do a weird double think.

    My mother has always, always pointed out obese people, in hushed tones. As in ‘look… look’ (subtle head nod). Yes. It’s a fellow human being, going about their business. And? I recently had the FA talk with her, although we’ve been having it less explicitly for a while, with frustrating results. She agreed with me wholeheartedly and then there was a pause and she said ‘but REALLY fat people are ugly.’


  177. All the busty inbetweenies here know about Bravissimo’s dress shirts that come in various levels of curviness, right? If you’re within their size range they’re a thing of beauty for busty women who like button-downs.

  178. What is the proper response when Hypothetical Girlfriend says “I’m fat” or a derivative?

    “Is that really what’s bothering you?”

    Hint: It’s probably not. Thus you get sensitive points.

    I might not put it exactly like that — in situ it might sound kind of shrink-y — but the general idea I’d go with is a) I think you look hot and b) you know I think that so c) is there actually something else you’re feeling bad about, that you’re just interpreting as having a “fat day”?

  179. Also, Starling, can I go to Re/Dress with you next time I’m up? I only ever get to go with my family which is boring because they’re thin, and they just sit on the couches and wait for me to be ready to go to Clover Club.

  180. Aleks: I’d deal with it the same way I would if anyone close to me said that – treat it as a statement of truth and go from there. If she isn’t (and doesn’t have an ED): “That’s demonstrably false, and therefore silly. But even if it were true, it wouldn’t matter because there’s nothing wrong with it or unattractive about it. By the way, have you read Shapely Prose lately?” If she is: “And I wouldn’t have you any other way. Now let’s go out and have fun.”

    Buuuut I tend to use my politics as a blunt instrumnt, so, YMMV.

  181. Thanks! And what about when it’s a female friend-friend whom I can’t assume wants me to demonstrate the degree to which I find her attractive?

  182. Aw man. If I’m not going to get sex out of it, can’t I just sigh heavily and roll my eyes so she knows she’s being silly?

  183. @fillyjonk, my best guess is that in their mind’s eye, you’re bigger than you actually are. I think a lot of people have very distorted self-image and views of other people. :(

    @Sarah, I think a lot of women are harsher on ourselves than we are on other people, and I know a lot of gorgeous, curvy ladies. This subject comes up a lot on the horse discussion boards I post to, as well as in person, and often gets *really* ugly. I’ve had a lot of people, mostly other women, tell me I’m too fat, too skinny, or both on the same day. At various points, I’ve had the opposite problem, losing a lot of weight very quickly if I get sick, the weather is hot, or I’m stressed. So, I’ve shared that, and said that since I’ve lost 15 pounds in a month without any significant changes to diet or exercise, I can completely understand that some people may gain weight due to changes in their metabolism or absorption. It’s not as simple as diet and exercise being balanced for a set number of calories. Since both sites are about horses, I’ve also made the hard keeper Thoroughbred vs. easy keeper Halflinger (pony) comparison. If you gave them both the same amount of exercise and the same amount of food, one would lose weight, and the other would gain, due to differences in their bodies, even if they start out at the same weight. I also point out that nobody accuses the ponies of lacking willpower. I’ve also asked why they *care* what other women weigh when they aren’t dating them, out of exasperation. Sometimes it seems to get them to take a step back and think about it, other times, it’s been ignored. I’d also appreciate feedback on tactics that might be more effective, and reading your post made me reconsider that I might be coming across as condescending.

  184. There is a saying I have heard among the ladies who like ladies: The only difference between friends and girlfriends is sex.

    Which could mean Why would you treat a friend differently just because you aren’t boning them? or it could mean Any friend is a possible lover, why burn bridges you might decide you’d like to cross later? Either way the eye roll is always a great way to find your calls being returned less and less frequently.

  185. “There is a saying I have heard among the ladies who like ladies: The only difference between friends and girlfriends is sex. ”

    As a woman who likes both ladies and gentleman I would point out that this is true for het relationships too, at least the good ones.

  186. I should probably clarify, it was more along the lines of, “If you’re straight, you’re not going to be attracted to her no matter *what* she weighs, so why on earth do you care?”

    @snarkysmachine, most button-down tops and dresses don’t work for me either, for pretty much the same reason, even though I’m petite. They just don’t look right on most women, much like low rise jeans are unflattering on almost everyone.

    @blu, I’m so sorry! My Mom was pretty good about food issues and never hassled me about my weight, but my Dad told me I would “turn into Mount Maureen” (a woman we knew who was a bit overweight, but mostly just tall and muscular) if I ate seconds. I was always within the healthy weight range growing up, and he never complained about my brother having 2nds or 3rds.

  187. When you hear someone you care about putting themselves down, isn’t the classic response, “Hey, hey, stop talking about my friend that way?”

    I have a bestie who would tell me, “I always think you’re beautiful.” That always stopped me from bad mouthing myself.

  188. hsofia

    When you hear someone you care about putting themselves down, isn’t the classic response, “Hey, hey, stop talking about my friend that way?”


  189. Thanks for the link to the Hax column, Zuzu. I love her phrase: “The I’m-great shield of ‘the obesity epidemic.'”

    Lots of quotables in this thread, thanks Shapelings!

  190. In terms of the “have you lost weight?” question, I usually deal with it with an “I’ve got no idea” in a subject-ending voice, and an “I have been working myself into the ground lately, thanks for letting me know it shows” in the face of persistence.

    Maybe overly hostile, but you know, on this thread it’s come up again and again that major and lasting weight loss is often tied to undue physical or emotional stress. I’m not saying that’s ALWAYS the case, but it was for me and seemingly for other people on this thread, or people of their acquaintance.

    Stability, not weight loss, is the most reliable indicator of a well-balanced life. I think that’s a pretty clear, STFU sort of idea to get into when talking with people who insist you’ve been losing weight.

  191. I had a major fail at deflecting my mom’s fat talk just the other day. We were looking at some old photos, and she said: “oh, I was so much thinner then, I really should do something about myself. I can’t fit into those pants anymore.”

    Being the FA newbie I am (and maybe not quite remembering that she hasn’t read all the wonderful things I have lately), I said: “but you’re also older.”

    To which my dad said something like: “way to add insult to injury!” and then I just sat there in this stunned silence as they went on about how much better about food and exercise they had been back then. Argh, yeah, how insulting, you really are older than you were six years ago! I of course meant it in that she has also gotten older since then, and there’s nothing wrong with your body changing as you age. Didn’t really get that out there :(

  192. I had a man, bless his heart, tell me I lost weight and then ask if I was sick right after. I had lost weight though about 20 pounds and it was mostly due to a divorce and not having money or ambition to actually eat, I was depressed as all hell. It wasn’t healthy and I was really glad for once someone saw that it was not just a “YAY you got smaller, you must be so happy!”.

    I am going to try not to fat talk. I am still working on it, crap self esteem from other things adds to the struggle of self acceptance in any size.

    I LURVE "It's pizza, not genocide" You all rock.

  193. Man, I always want to say something along the lines of, “It’s pizza, not genocide,” when I’m giving out free samples at work. At least twenty times a day someone will read the nutritional info on the package, then look at the samples longingly and go, “Well, I can’t have that anymore…”
    The only thing stopping me from yelling, “Oh just EAT it!” at them is that I can’t be positive they’re talking about banning food because they’re on a diet. For all I know, they’ve just been diagnosed with celiacs or some food allergy, and literally cannot have that anymore, and their body image has nothing to do with it.

    That’s what I tell myself so I don’t go crazy: “Oh they can’t have that? They must be allergic. That’s a shame.”

  194. I’m so glad for this video – now I know exactly how to respond to the deluge of facebook statuses people post about their weight, and what they’re eating, and how bad they are, etc. (link!)
    I hate to say it, but it seems even better that it comes from Tri Delta, so I can say “Look! A sorority put this up! It’s not just the fat people being all fat and not apologizing for their fat!” I hate that that’s even an issue, but there it is for some people. I recall that at my college, the Tri Deltas seemed the most commonsense and grounded of the sororities we had, so it’s nice to see that they also are doing public service announcements like this.
    I am also now stealing “It’s pizza, not genocide”. I’m so glad for people who are more witty than I. :)

  195. *caveat – not saying that they were paragons of virtue. I only know of sorority life what I saw on the absolute surface from friends of mine who were in it, but the friends of mine who joined were the ones I had thought of as the least pop-culture-focused.

  196. I never really thought about how my negative self talk could make others feel bad about themselves.

    I feel a little angry now, because I already feel bad for existing, and this knowledge is just adding to my belief that I am not good enough and ruin everything around me.

    However, even though I am feeling anger, doesn’t mean I didn’t need to learn this information.

    I might not like myself, how I look, nor feel that I deserve to be alive, but that doesn’t mean I should vocalize my opinions about myself. Because it might make someone else feel bad about themself.

  197. *gasp* If I owned Zulu snarkysmachine, I can almost promise I’d never think about body parts beyond my wrist ever again.

    And more on topic, I’m so glad that this is “official,” if that makes sense. Because of my history of eating problems, I tend to have to be a bitch about diet talk. Often people don’t really get it the first time when I say “I can’t discuss fat and calories and clothing sizes at meals or I can’t eat,” so it’s a relief to have something public, like this, to refer to to back up the idea that I’m not a total killjoy for thinking this way/requesting less body talk/etc.

  198. @spuffyduds: Yes! to Health at Every Height! And on the off chance that anyone comments on my weight, in either direction, you know I’m going to say that I must have gained/lost height.

  199. I don’t know, Grafton, that sounds like a better answer than most to me.

    When I was in my early 20s, I realized that having autoimmune thyroiditis means how my clothes fit me is not going to be a tightly-controlled constant. So I started looking at ways to make my clothes adapt.

    I wear a lot of skirts, because most often that means they just sit higher or lower, depending. For skirts that have a band of elastic run through the waistband (and not sewn into the top seam of the skirt), a friend of mine takes the elastic out and runs an elastic drawstring through. That way you can tie it exactly where you want to have it sit where you want. I tried that, but for me a piece of flat ribbon works better. This trick also works well on certain types of pants.

    She also remarked she’s no longer buying anything to which darts cannot easily be added.

    Zuzu’s tip about hooks and eyes is one I’ve used a lot, especially since I shop at thrift stores — I’ve gotten a lot of new, higher-end items for almost nothing because they were never going to fit anyone right without adjusting the closures somehow. So I take them home and do just that.

    I’ve also been guilty of duct tape fixes. And stapler-mends, binder clips, electrical tape, zip-ties in the hair, more kinds of electrical wire in the hair than I can count, and one injudicious nail-gun incident.

  200. RE: Facebook status fat talk

    I posted a link to the Tri-Delt video on my facebook page as soon as this entry went up yesterday. My friends? The ones who will comment on ANYTHING? Haven’t said a word about it. The silence is overwhelming, and laden. Sigh.

  201. @HiddenTohru: I’ve found that not only am I kinder to myself since I became part of the FA movement, I’m also kinder to other women. I don’t judge women based on their clothing anymore (although I do go out of my way to compliment those with really cute clothes), and I say a lot less shaming things about myself than I used to.
    This is true for me as well. When I found FA, it didn’t take long for me to grasp the logic of it, and it was a fairly quick (though not instantaneous) transition in thinking for me to stop judging people based on their weight. (And like a lot of people, it was easier for me to stop judging others than to stop judging myself. Before discovering FA I was of the mindset that plenty of fat people were healthy and it was great if they loved their bodies, but that could NEVER work for ME.) The reason your comment jumped out at me is because over time, I found myself judging people less and less on non-weight-related things too, especially clothing. It’s insidious how women are taught to make so many judgments about each other based on looks even beyond weight. I had to retrain myself not to think things like, “Ugh, that skirt is so short I can almost see her undies. What a skank.” It might seem bizarre to the people who think SP is full of humorless, brow-beating feminazis, but I’ve actually learned to be kinder because of hanging out here. Even to myself.

    @Ivan, since most of us commenting are women, our experiences as women are what we bring to the table. I don’t think anyone intends to ignore the impact of fat-shaming on men (I’m pretty sure there’s been more than one mention of male family members who are fat-shaming themselves or others). But I’m not qualified to talk about how men experience fat talk because I’m not a man and don’t know any men who have discussed the issue with me. Thank you for sharing your experience here. ETA: or, what Zenoodle said.

    And re: mothers who are getting older and still entrenched in diet culture/fat shame, add my mom to the list. She is well-read, sharp as a tack, active and involved, but she is still obsessed with her weight and why she has never been able to lose the weight she put on from her pregnancy with me 25 years ago. I’ve tried a few times to have the FA talk with her, but she’s so resistant I’ve given up, besides deflecting any fat shame she tries to direct at me. I got a health screening done last spring through my work, and when the results came back I had barely started to describe them to her when she interrupted to quiz me: “And what’s your cholesterol? …Oh. Well what about your blood sugar? …Oh. [silence]” Everything was in the normal range despite me having gained 20 pounds or so since the previous year. What shocked me was how disappointed she seemed to be that I was, um, HEALTHY. Like she couldn’t wait to hear me say that I was creeping into prediabetes territory or some other excuse she could use for encouraging me to lose weight “for my health.” Siiiigh. I love her, she’s awesome in so many ways, but she is not my ally in FA, unfortunately. :(

  202. @Mary

    I feel a little angry now, because I already feel bad for existing, and this knowledge is just adding to my belief that I am not good enough and ruin everything around me.

    Oh, Mary, this is heartbreaking — I hope that you are someplace where you can talk to somebody in real life about yourself and your feelings about yourself and be heard and understood.

    And, you can still give other people compliments! Just stay away from certain kinds of compliments (and comments).

  203. Urk, Mary, you said negative self talk — yes, that can affect other people badly but please, it sounds like your negative self-talk comes from thinking that is very dangerous to you — so please, please get help for that.

  204. I might not like myself, how I look, nor feel that I deserve to be alive, but that doesn’t mean I should vocalize my opinions about myself. Because it might make someone else feel bad about themself.

    Mary, I second what Katia said and would also like to point out that there’s a big difference between “I’m so ugly” talk and expressing the feeling that you don’t deserve to be alive. The latter is a feeling you should express to anyone who will listen, until you get the help you need.

  205. hsofia

    When you hear someone you care about putting themselves down, isn’t the classic response, “Hey, hey, stop talking about my friend that way?”

    I’ve used a variation of that on my friends and my mother. “Y’know, if someone else were talking that way about you I would totally beat their ass. If you keep talking about my friend/mother that way I’m afraid I will have no choice.”

  206. Two things: I haven’t read the comments on this but the article doesn’t mention the possibility of dieting as being something that may affect height (I am glad to see that they are talking about health care, however).

    And @DRST, Mrs. Polifax is a middle-aged assassin and CIA operative for just the reason that you posed above, she’s invisible.

  207. (total bold closing fail in comment above)

    MARY! You are alive, you do exist. That alone proves that you are supposed to be here and that you deserve it. Who is deserving of life anyway? Those who have it, that’s who. Each human being’s potential is something that cannot be measured because it is too immense.

    I hate that you are in the dark place, I’ve traveled through there a couple of times myself. Hang on.

  208. I sew press-studs in between the buttons on shirts. If the shirt otherwise fits OK, it stops that gaping thing where your bra’s visible between buttons from one side.

    Mary – Pointless internet hugs to you, if you want them. Hope things look better soon, and I agree with the others about getting some help with those feelings. Been there. It sucks.

  209. Fillyjonk, in response to “OMG, You’ve lost weight, squee!” have you ever tried:
    “I know you mean well, but my body isn’t really any of your business, and I would much prefer it if you didn’t comment on it.”

    Is that too rude? I mean, as Kate mentioned though, if you’re going back and forth insisting on your own weight stability with someone, they kind of deserve a little rudeness, no?

    In other news, two members of my family were engaging in some hideous after dinner fat hate the other night, about a mutual acquaintance. I wanted to say some variation of the above, i.e. “I don’t see how her weight is any of your business, and this kind of talk is very toxic to me.” but I held back for two (ridiculous) reasons: 1) I’m thin 2) I’m related to these people through marriage and don’t want to start a fight.
    Any suggestions, lovelies?

  210. Mary, you are worth your own love. I’m sending mine to you too.

    On the subject of button-down shirts, I have a set of G’s and find that you need to buy a shirt that fits the bodacious tatas and then get it tailored to the rest of your body. Land’s End’s shirts fit me well without tailoring. Princess seaming is your friend.

  211. Edan – oof. Is there any way to seize on some non-fat-shaming bit of the evil conversation and turn the topic?

    person 1: I cannot see how someone like HER wears any dress by [designer].
    you: Speaking of [designer], did you hear about the article …. [etc]

  212. Liz – you wouldn’t happen to know of any way to figure out if a tailor/seamstress is a good one, would you? Or, um, have any recs for the DC/MD/VA area? (she said, hopefully.)

    I’m a 42DD and coming to the same conclusion re: buttondown shirts, but I am sadly without assistance in the sewing department.

  213. Aw, you guys, my cousin’s husband just posted on Facebook that it’s time to start dieting again because he’s “huge”! I replied that he was awesome just the way he is, but wasn’t sure what else to say to that. Any men on here have any idea of what I could write?

  214. I’m pregnant now (almost 8 months along), which – quite obviously – changed my body. I feel great with it, not only with aesthetic aspects, but also physically: I feel fit, energetic, happy. That’s what matters most for me.

    But still, what’s the most common compliment people believe that preggy girl wants to hear? Yep, you guessed correctly, it’s a denial of pregnancy: “Wow, it’s 8th month already? You don’t look it!” “You’re so thin, awesome!” “Impossible, you don’t have a belly at all!”

    I appreciate their good will – they want to sound nice and they strive to find the best (in their misguided opinon) compliment for me. But actually it’s stupid at best, and sick at worst: there’s a quiet assumption that pregnant woman can be attractive only when she does not look pregnant. It’s even more – they believe that everyone, me included, share their assumption, too.

    I like my body as it is – with its changing weight and with its changing shape. I liked it 20 pounds ago with a waist and I like it not with my equator, and certainly I don’t need well-meaning morons denying and demeaning those changes in the totally misguided attempt of flattery. ;-)

    /Sorry for any mistakes; English isn’t my first language./

  215. Thanks! And what about when it’s a female friend-friend whom I can’t assume wants me to demonstrate the degree to which I find her attractive?

    Then I think you can flat-out say “is there something else that’s bothering you that you’re interpreting as ‘I’m feeling fat’?” instead of having to worry that you need to start with a lot of talking about how hot she is. :) Though maybe with something like “I think you look cute today” at the front (that’s safe, since it’s usually used sartorially).

  216. Celeloriel – That’s a good idea, really. This was such a crappy situation though. The conversation was like this: “Have you seen blank, lately?” “No.” “Oh, she looks good. She used to be chunky before, but she’s lost weight and she looks good.” “That’s great!” “Yeah, poor girl, she gains all her weight in her hips.” “Oh, I know, she’d be a PERFECT candidate for hip liposuction, wouldn’t she?” *Edan’s Head Explodes*
    I was actually so nauseous I couldn’t think up anything witty to say that didn’t end in “FUUUUUUCKKKK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!”

  217. Sarah B permalink

    Aw, you guys, my cousin’s husband just posted on Facebook that it’s time to start dieting again because he’s “huge”! I replied that he was awesome just the way he is, but wasn’t sure what else to say to that. Any men on here have any idea of what I could write?

    For a guy I think that’s much more likely to be a throwaway comment without deep underlying personal pain. Does it hugely bother you when he says stuff like that? If so, tell him it makes you uncomfortable. If not, I’d say just ignore it.

  218. I love this site and these comment threads, but it’s a bit confusing to follow the different threads of conversation that start during a thread. Have you considered adding a forum to the site, where we could start spinoff threads as well as discussing recent posts?

  219. Edan, oh, man, I don’t know what I could have pulled out of that except “I’m sorry, I don’t know X, so I can’t really talk about her. Have you done/seen/XYZ lately?”

    (where XYZ could be hobbies, mutual acquaintances (eeek danger though) or an event)

    However, though I’m no advice columnist (nor do I play one on TV) I have to say that your mental response was probably the healthiest.

  220. LLL – you may wish to check out the ning site, where the SP bloggers have done just that: shapelyprose.ning.com :)

  221. Thanks aleks! It’s a little harder to tell with him, because I know he did some dieting pre-wedding so it’s not new to him to be ashamed of his fat. I think I’ll leave it be for now, but if I see another comment like that I’ll let him know he’s making me uncomfortable and that I don’t want to have to “hide” his posts.

  222. FJ: Definitely! Can I tag along to Clover Club?

    Edan: “What the hell is this, Nip/Tuck? She’s fine, peeps. And so’s that person, and that person and that person and that person [pointing at passersby.] Ooh, and you. And me. And can we, for the love of all that’s holy, stop saying this crap!” Or, y’know, your version. Sometimes righteous indignation is . . . well, righteous.

  223. This is all amazing, amazing stuff.

    Thanks for the link to Bravissimo – I had never heard of it before!

    I would love to see a linkable list to plus-size clothing companies. Especially ones with mail-order catalogs!

    And – being in the “normal – to – chubby” range, not overly fat, just enough to make me curvy, busty, and soft, (and thin by a lot of people’s standards, if what they tell me is truly what they think) I’m curious to hear more about the labels of fat, and how one can be an ally to Fat Acceptance while avoiding coming across as condescending or patronizing. Because, as I’ve said in conversations with friends since I jumped on the Fat Acceptance bandwagon, while not everyone IS fat, most everyone FEELS like they’re fat. So this is why this book and this website and all the others like it matter so much. It’s about our culture, not just our physical bodies.

  224. Again, I tend to go with agreeing…

    “Oh I know! It must have been awful for him/her to gain weight because if you’re not tall, thin, white, blond, straight, Christian and rich you might as well fuck off and die! Amirite? I mean seriously, everyone should look like everyone else and anyone who doesn’t look like everyone else is obviously a failure. Why do they even make clothes past a size 4??? I say fat people should have to walk around naked dammit! That’s what they get for being different.”

    (Of course if you are tallthinwhiteblondestraightChristianandrich people might start to seriously wonder about you.) ;-)

    I used most of that first part in a post on a page where they put up pics of fat goths for people to laugh at and make fun of. I added these lines:

    And if you’re going to wear a uniform that clearly defines you as someone who refuses to wear a uniform then BY GOD you’d better get it exactly right! I’m so glad I found a page where it’s okay to be a hater and a bigot! Oh, but darn. I don’t hate myself enough to be a part of your douchey little club. I guess I’ll have to go hang out with people who may look like cows but at least don’t have a bovine herd mentality. I’ll have to hang out with people who don’t tear others down because they themselves don’t fit the imaginary ideal. Crap. I guess I’ll actually have to like myself and have some fun instead.

    LOL They didn’t let my comment through. (shocked surprise)

  225. Sorry – just realized I said “overly” fat… I didn’t mean it in an “overweight” way, but I do realize that words carry meaning, so … yeah. I’m sorry. I’m still learning how to use these descriptors and also how to be sensitive. Any thoughts?

    Also: this morning, my Mum was in the kitchen and as I walked in I saw her and she looked a lot thinner than she normally does. (I think it was what she was wearing.) And I said, “You look really skinny!” kind of blurted it out there, but afterwards I wished I hadn’t, because she interpreted it as a compliment when I meant it more like “You look different than usual and that surprised me!” Which is neutral. Or should be? Or, something.

  226. Edan: My favourite multi-purpose defense against people I’m with/near who are shaming others is to give them a flat stare and a “Dude. That is not cool.” I like it because it’s relatively frictionless re: other people’s prejudices, but it draws a clear boundary on acceptable behaviour (‘Dude’ optional, of course!) .

    After I found SP I read through a lot of the archives and that made me aware of just how uncomfortable self-shaming, weight loss, and moral-judgements-on-food talk makes me, especially when I do it to myself. Getting on the path to stopping the fat talk has given me a lot of peace of mind, and like HiddenToru, I’ve found I’m also judging others less and becoming kinder. I like this.

    Of course, like others in the thread I’ve found my tolerance for fat talk from other people has gone pretty much to nothing. Most of the time I’ve been gritting my teeth and scrolling on past (right now I’ve only encountered it online, also being a hardcore introvert), because I didn’t know what to say that would come off as preachy or combatative, and at the moment the offenders aren’t people I want to lose contact with.

    So I am LOVING this thread. There are so many suggestions here to bring empathy and humour onto the scene when someone starts in with the shaming! It helps me a lot–I’m very blunt and direct and literal, so I really struggle with finding ways to say things that opens up discussion and understanding, instead of beating the listener over the head with my logic. That’s fine when I’m fending off some twit who is will and determined to be an asshole, but it doesn’t work so well with friends!

    Sadly, my link to this post and discussion on Facebook met mostly with echoing silence–except for with my little sister, who reposted it on her page. She’s 17, and I’m terribly proud of her.

  227. It was interesting they referred to women as girls here, as there’s a general impression that eating disorders are a young woman or girl’s issue. Perhaps what they meant to say–it was a short, very low-budget clip–is that women who suffered from terrible body image and/or eating disorders as children or adolescents tend to carry these issues well into adulthood. I know women in their 60’s-70’s with eating disorders or issues they’ve nursed since girlhood.

    Also, @Ivan, I do hear men shaming themselves about fat and body issues all the time. Our diet society is toxic for everyone. It must be lonely for men dealing with this.

    Also, in deciding whether to comment when someone congratulates you for weight loss (or criticizes you for weight gain), remember you might be doing that person a favor by calmly and firmly setting boundaries for yourself. I did this recently with my mom. Initially, she was angry, but I’ve noticed a shift in how she treats me AND herself.

    Thanks for the link. I’m glad to see them raising awareness on this issue.

  228. Oh man, I can relate to all the comments about the weight loss. Due to a pretty severe ED, I’ve lost a pretty significant amount of weight over the last year, and I’m hovering pretty near the normal weight/underweight line. Whenever I see people who I haven’t seen for a while — I get comments that I’m looking thin, which I HATE so much because I’ve lost the weight in such an unhealthy way. I’m trying to recover, btw. And, I don’t always want to tell the truth, because it’s none of their damn business.

    My response of choice at the moment is, “I’ve been really stressed out lately & not eating well. I’m trying to take better care of myself.” I like it because it acknowledges that I’ve lost the weight in an unhealthy way (not by dieting on purpose!) and I need to take better care of myself. The problem is, of course, that although half the people get it & tell me to take care, the other half tell me that I look “great!” which makes me want to hit them.

  229. @celeloriel: the dry-cleaners in the Ryan Park Shopping Center at Exit 6 off the Dulles Greenway in Ashburn has a great tailor!

  230. love “it’s pizza, not genocide”!

    is it narrow-minded that i’m impressed that this video came from a sorority? if so, sorry. now i’ll associate tri-delta with something other than the SNL skit “delta delta delta can i help ya help ya help ya?”

  231. @celeloriel My pleasure. And when you come out to get your stuff tailored, you let me know (liz at millerh0useh0ld dot c0m – all letters no digits). I work right around the corner from there.

    And if you live in VA, don’t forget to vote in GAH!!! 14 days. Deeds/Wagner/Shannon and whatever Dem is running for delegate.

    AND if you live in the 86th district (Herndon/Sterling), vote for this guy. He’s got NARAL’s endorsement, among others, and I’m mentioned on his website (because we got married 13 years ago).

  232. @snarkysmachine, most button-down tops and dresses don’t work for me either, for pretty much the same reason, even though I’m petite. They just don’t look right on most women, much like low rise jeans are unflattering on almost everyone

    I am petite as well. 5’0.25. I actually like low rise jeans because they are the first ones that actually didn’t graze my nipples.

    sorry for OTness.

  233. The flip side of “OMG You lost weight!!” is that you weren’t OK before. I actually feel bad when people I care about loose weight because it will soon be back and then some. Then they will be back to being a not good enough failure. I may try to comfort them with the stats later on but this stage is not the time. I think people are more open to FA after the weight rebound.

    I recently met a co-worker who lost weight and I just told her she looked great. Someone else came by raving about her weight loss; I just wanted to let her know she looks great and is a special person no matter what the scale says.

  234. This is a great thread, with many moments of very witty, er, wit.

    I have in the past made great use of “I don’t do diet talk.” But that is probably reliant on thin privilege.

  235. This really was right on the mark for me. The no BS way of saying it “don’t talk shit about yourself…”

    That is really what I needed to hear. Thanks kindly. :)

  236. Okay, now that I’m more functional this morning (After Work Braindead Syndrome resolved by a good night’s sleep), I have a little more to say.

    Re: men with fat issues, since becoming immersed in FA, I’ve begun to fear that my father has an ED. You see, he’s spent most of his adult life (all the time I’ve known him, basically) yo-yoing from obese to practically skeletal. He goes through phases where he’ll start exercising several times a day and restrict his eating (food scales and sometimes fad diets play into this part), then eventually he’ll “fall off the wagon” and start gaining again. He’ll still exercise regularly, but not enough that he stays so thin. I’m not even sure where his healthy weight is supposed to be, because he’s spent his whole life doing this. I remember a particularly scary time when I was in middle school (around 12 or 13), he lost so much weight that he was practically all muscle and bone, and it hurt to hug him.

    He’s a doctor, so I feel like I don’t have the authority to say anything to him about it. I tried to introduce him to FA concerning myself (because he’s always harped on my weight), but he shut me down really fast, so I highly doubt he’d be open to it concerning himself. The really stupid part is that his whole family is like this. His mother drilled into their heads from a young age that if they weren’t thin, she wouldn’t love them (her own ideals largely came from being white, upper class and very wealthy), and his two sisters struggle with their eating all the time (one aunt restricts her eating to a frightening degree, as I witnessed when I visited her last year, the other one yo-yos like him). So this is something that was ingrained in him from an extremely young age, and it didn’t help that he was skinny up until his early twenties (like my oldest brother, who was a 6’7” beanpole until around 20), then put on a lot of weight (6’5” and something like 450, if my mother reports correctly).

    I just worry because he shows all the signs of an ED (as I understand them), but I don’t think he’ll ever be willing to get help for it. And he’s only 52. If he continues like this, how long will it be until something bad happens? I don’t want my hypothetical future nieces and nephews to be without a grandpa, but I don’t think there’s anything I can do about it.

    So there’s a story about EDs and men, for people who were asking about them.

  237. Oh, and forgot to mention, next time I talk to him and he brings up my weight, I fully intend to tell him (kindly and lovingly) that my weight is no longer something he gets to discuss with me. Same as we don’t discuss my mother since their divorce. Because it makes being around him/talking with him toxic, and I’m going to tell him that. I love him, but if he can’t stop poisoning my atmosphere, then we just won’t talk anymore.

  238. About men and fat shame, since Ivan asked:

    I can’t really separate out my experiences with fat shame from my experiences as a trans man and my experiences as a queer man. They all intersect for me. Like, my body already deviates from the cissexual (non-trans) male norm in the ways influenced by my body’s lack of exposure to the same testosterone levels that cis men usually get. Lack of facial hair, wider hips, etc.

    On top of that, as a queer man, I’ve seen and internalized the varieties of body shame that are often prevalent in queer men communities. Two of the big ideals are of the buff, butch guy and (this is the one I spent years yearning to be–and, to be honest, often still do yearn to be) the tall, thin, fabulous-and-fierce guy. But I’m short and stocky, so yeah. I am never going to embody that particular ideal.

    For me, overcoming all this (as much as I have, and I certainly haven’t completely) has been helped along by seeking out a diversity of queer folks. Knowing fat cis gay men has helped, because I can clearly see the fabulousness in THEM. Knowing fat trans men has helped, because I have no problem seeing THEIR masculinity. Etc, etc. Which isn’t so different than the several women here who’ve said that, when first coming to FA, they were able to apply FA principles to others more easily than they were to themselves.

  239. she said that if she ever weighed that much she would throw herself off a cliff.

    slythwolf – yuck. I have a work colleague who’s about a (British) size 12-14, and who has a sister back in the States who according to her weighs somewhere around 400lb, and reading between the lines of various things she’s said, she is terrified of ending up the same way. I overheard her make exactly that comment, concerning her sister, outside my office one day to a male colleague. I’m ashamed to say that at the time I couldn’t think of a suitable response that wouldn’t tell her more than I cared to reveal about my own mental health issues. (To be fair, she may be beginning to see a different side…she was getting miffed the other day about that loophole in the prospective US healthcare plan. Possibly because she’s a smoker, but I don’t know…)

    To be fair, I don’t generally put myself in the kinds of situations where I know there’s likely to be a lot of fat talk, or voluntarily associate with people whom I know are going to talk that way. The worst fat talk I experienced was from my late mother – never about herself (she weighed under 100lb and thought that was the perfect weight for anyone), but about anyone more than a couple of dress sizes bigger than her. Since she was one of those people who in her own mind was Always Right, no matter what logical arguments anyone came up with, I found that when she started drawing me into a conversation about how fat anyone was looking, the best solution was to walk away without a word.

    I had an interesting situation elsewhere in the family, though. My niece and her husband both work in medical research, and the husband is in type II diabetes, and I still recall the conversation when he was going on about it all being down to the huge rise in Teh Obeeses and I countered ‘But isn’t it also true that there are big genetic factors, and that type II sufferers can manage their blood sugar effectively by lifestyle changes even without weight loss?’…he went uneasily muttery, changed the subject and hasn’t mentioned it in the several years since.

    @IrishUp – I usually get ‘You look great, have you lost weight?’ just after I’ve been and had my hair colored, which is every few months. Which tends to bear out that it’s some people’s way of saying something has changed about your appearance but they can’t put their finger on what it is.

  240. SM, thank you so much for the Muriel Rukeyser quote – I am so psyched to have been introduced to her! (I immediately went out and got the collected poems, and they are stunning; why have I not heard of her before? Oh, because she and Sybil Ludington and all the other ladies got e-flippin-lided by the patriarchy. Thanks, expensive graduate education, for leaving them out.)

    Also, in deference to this thread, I committed genocide – no, wait, my mistake, ATE PIZZA last night. Fantastic.

  241. I am learning to be more polite (not sure why) when people give me a weight based compliment. My weight fluctuates and I am not interested in having any kind of relationship with scales or whatever. Regardless of my weight, I take care of my body and dress in clothes I think make me look foxy and buy things that fit. (no more fantasy sized clothing).

    That said, most people are conditioned to believe that if someone loses weight they are doing so intentional, because there are many folks who are. Therefore they tend to assume it’s something you want them to notice, which in my case, I don’t. I would rather them notice something other than my appearance, but if they cannot keep themselves on making appearance based compliments, I try to tamp down the weight talk and redirect their attention to something else.

    I also do not enjoy when people say, “You put yourself together so well.” I have never been able to hear that as anything but, “You aren’t smelly, sloppy and swaddled in polyester like your kind often is.” In fact, it’s comment like this that make me go kind of cra cra and my tongue wraps around their waist and body slams them all over the place.

    Still, I don’t have good “polite” language for helping people understand while it’s okay appreciate my appearance I’m not particularly interested in helping them pick apart why my appearance appeals to them. I’m pretty sure an expletive filled rant about how I don’t give a shit what they think about my ____, is probably not building bridges of understanding.

  242. I really needed to read this right now. I’m smack in the middle of a thyroid medication “adjustment”, which is to say that I’m completely off it for the moment. Unsurprisingly, this has caused me to gain a lot of weight in just a couple weeks, and it’s been… let’s just say hard, especially for someone with a history of ED, and leave it at that.

    I haven’t been able to stop myself from going on a diet, just so I’ll at least stop gaining like mad, and maybe eventually get back to where I started from once the med situation gets fixed. I don’t think it’s possible to diet without engaging in some degree of self-loathing, but I’m at least trying to keep the internal ED voice to the level of “you should get back down to X” instead of “YOU REPULSIVE COW”. What I’m actually the most scared of, though, is the approbation I know I’m going to get. I can get to X through (physically) healthy and reasonable means, but my lowest weight of Z is not achievable without some degree of ED behavior. If I get to X, or even to Y intermediate-but-still-healthy weight, the problem becomes one of resisting the temptation to get to Z.

    Right now I’m not in a place where I can help wanting to lose the weight I’ve gained and get back down to X. I know perfectly well that I’m tinkering with something dangerous, and I’ve made the decision to do it anyway,. But for the love of little green apples, I don’t need any positive reinforcement for it. That is NOT GOOD FOR ME.

    (And now I need to go blow my nose and maybe engage in some nice soothing knitting for a bit. Hope I haven’t upset anyone else or violated SP policies about diet talk.)

  243. I immediately went out and got the collected poems, and they are stunning; why have I not heard of her before?

    A significant factor in my returning to grad school was my desire to proselytize her poetry. :-) She also was a victim of the anti-Communist McCarthyite culture, in addition to sexism. She actually won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first book, in the 1930s (when she was only 21!) but was considered too radical by the critical establishment of the 40s and 50s to be taken seriously, since she was both a leftist and a feminist (gasp!).

    And now I think I should save the rest of my proselytizing energy for my dissertation chapter on her. ;-) I’m so glad you got her book.

  244. Still, I don’t have good “polite” language for helping people understand while it’s okay appreciate my appearance I’m not particularly interested in helping them pick apart why my appearance appeals to them.

    You know, I’ve had the same problem before and never quite articulated it that way — thanks. In particular I remember telling a friend a few years ago that I hadn’t lost weight (in response to the inevitable “You look good, you must be skinny” type comments) — and then a few months later, when I had a particularly great new dress on, she said, “I know you don’t like this kind of comment, but you look really hot!” It totally boggled me that she translated “I’m not into weight loss” as “I hate compliments.”

  245. A coworker was talking about her smooth legs, when another said to me, “Don’t you wish your calves were that small?” (Second coworker is “fat” as well.) I looked at her in all seriousness and said “No, actually, I’m fine with my legs as they are.” Pretty much shut her up. But no, I’m not going to stand there and engage in self-deprecating fat-talk. Because I *am* fine with my body fat. = )

  246. HiddenTohru, I wonder if your dad would be more receptive to research that shows that yoyo dieting causes harm to bodily systems? If you go to pubmed.gov you can search an index of pretty much all the major medical journals. I’ve found several articles there on the evidence of harm from yoyo dieting, particularly to the immune system.

    As a doctor, maybe he’d be able to “get” that much, even if it’s not enough to overcome what you think could be his ED.

  247. O.C. – The problem is that since he is a doctor, I have no way of knowing what he might already have read. He’s not a general practitioner, but rather a pediatric intensivist (works with really sick kids in hospitals), so I’m fairly sure he stays up to date on most medical journals that focus on pediatrics or even have articles on pediatrics (because he’s a really good doctor who wants to provide the best possible care to his patients). I tried in my one FA talk with him to go at it from the “but there have been studies that show being fat isn’t necessarily automatically unhealthy” angle, and he flat out said “those studies are WRONG.” x.x I just don’t know if even approaching it from the hyper-logical “but this is what science says” angle will work, in part because this is such a personal issue for him, and in other part because as a doctor, he has a lot more scientific basis to come at those things from, and probably could pick them apart/attempt to disprove them better than any layperson with an ED could.

    Part of me thinks this is an issue that will never be resolved, and that makes me really sad. But the damage was done long before I existed, so it’s not like I can go back in time and make his childhood less horrible. x.x

  248. HiddenTohru, I know you’re concerned about your father’s mental and physical health, but please be careful about armchair psychology. There’s a specific set of criteria for eating disorder diagnoses (except for EDNOS, which is kind of a catchall term for several different things), and it’s not always easy for a layperson to gauge from the outside whether someone is meeting the psychological component of those diagnoses. Yo-yo dieting isn’t enough, even if sometimes he gets down to what you consider “practically skeletal” (which may not be at all the same thing as clinically underweight).

    It’s fine to express your concern for him in general terms, and if he’s exhibiting obvious dangerous behaviors or symptoms (purging, overuse injuries, passing out, clinical signs of starvation), of course you would want to speak frankly about the medical concerns. Barring that, though, it can be hard to distinguish between the normal (if misguided) zeal of the fat-hater, and the true pathology of an eating disorder.

  249. It’s tough, but ultimately we can only take care of ourselves. It’s just hard to see people you care about making themselves miserable, unnecessarily.

  250. Has there been a “How to be an ally and not a douchebag about it?” post on this blog, and if so, does anyone happen to have a link? Many apologies if I’ve missed anything obvious, please tell me to learn to read, if so.

    Here’s my problem: I’ve been obsessed with FA and this site for about six months. It’s making huge changes to the way I think. I am thin* but my former college roommate and best cross-country friend is not, and she’s getting married next summer (I’ll be in the wedding), and she wants to lose like 50 pounds. Now, we don’t talk as often as I’d like because we’re busy and what have you, but normally, when I get obsessed with something, I want to share it with everyone around me, and doubly so for social justice causes. In fact, this roommate was the kickass sociology major who informed the vast majority of my college-acquired feminism.

    So the last thing I want to do is be like, “Hey, H, you should try not caring about your weight, I think it might be making you unhappy!” Because, hello, douchebag. She freaking knows it makes her unhappy. But the last time I visited, she mixed us drinks and didn’t put alcohol in hers, and explained she’s on weight watchers again.

    So yes. I hate seeing her hurt herself but if she were to say that I have no idea what she’s facing, with the whole not wanting to be fat at her wedding/be judged by family etc (she has a superthin, insanely shallow older sister I could just strangle sometimes) thing, she’d be completely right.

    So what do I do? Wait it out and spring my FA allegiance on her after the wedding and try to be as supportive as I can without actually encouraging weight loss until then?

    *I mention my thin-ness because to my friend I will always be her skinny college roommate, no matter how much my head has been screwed with by joining the entertainment industry post-college. Which is a lot. It’s oddly only because of this site that I can just factually say ‘I’m thin’ (at least in cyberspace) and not feel like I shouldn’t be ‘claiming’ that when clearly, I could be a lot thinner.

  251. OH MY GOD SO MANY PEOPLE POSTED WHILE I WAS TYPING THAT (sorry, just preemptive apology while I read through and figure out if I’ve made an ass of myself)

  252. Liz – awesome! :)

    I posted this link to my FB page yesterday and got a “what about the menz?” comment in reply. (I took a deep breath and explained politely – I suspect it was an honest “hey this sucks for me too” reaction not an intentional derailing.)

    I got no other comments. I suspect my friends are immune to my blathering by now.


  253. So what do I do? Wait it out and spring my FA allegiance on her after the wedding and try to be as supportive as I can without actually encouraging weight loss until then?

    If she’s still at all of the kick-ass sociologist persuasion, maybe you could find one of the FA books that’s come out recently that has more of a scholarly sociological bent and suggest it as something she might like? I’m a bit leery of suggesting it at all, since she still might take it as personal commentary, but it’s a feminist issue you could legitimately think she might have something interesting to say about.

  254. Here’s my problem: I’ve been obsessed with FA and this site for about six months. It’s making huge changes to the way I think. I am thin* but my former college roommate and best cross-country friend is not, and she’s getting married next summer (I’ll be in the wedding), and she wants to lose like 50 pounds. Now, we don’t talk as often as I’d like because we’re busy and what have you, but normally, when I get obsessed with something, I want to share it with everyone around me, and doubly so for social justice causes. In fact, this roommate was the kickass sociology major who informed the vast majority of my college-acquired feminism.

    A very good friend of mine said this to me when I was in the throes of similar mindset:

    “Tell me ten things UNRELATED TO OTHER PEOPLE you’ll have if you lose weight you don’t have NOW.”


  255. Also, working through it from a sociological/social justice got me fired up and pissed off. It was kind of hard for me to focus on my weight when I was so pissed there were so many people who had the cheek to believe I wasn’t new hotness as is. How dare they!!!

  256. Fat talk makes me tongue-tied and uncomfortable. I had an episode of it with a friend on Sunday, and it soured what up till then was a lovely and very foodie day. So these posts have been a real (full sugar, please, no aspartame) tonic, thank you. I grew up with constant diet talk from my mother. It bored me, it frustrated me. It made me flail and feel futile. I don’t know if I would have felt differently if she or I had been fat — we’re both 5’2″ with set-points apparently somewhere between 105 and 125lb* — I think at least I might have understood that there were a lot of external pressures and anxieties driving the fatphobia. And now I have some good responses which don’t involve me either saying for the millionth time, “Mother, you are not fat, and if you were it wouldn’t matter” which is no more than the truth, but clearly does not get to the root of the problem, or raging inarticulately about the patriarchal conspiracy which keeps us fretting about the size of our bottoms so we don’t, you know, take over the world and impose Amazonian martial law. So, thanks all.

    In the past, I’ve used an online food diary tool (not for weight loss purposes; I am one of those people who has never dieted, for the slightly less than size-acceptance-correct reason that I don’t want to put on weight) and sometimes, when I had a lot of Sanity Points left for the day, I would venture onto the forum there to try and spread a bit of size acceptance among the mostly dieting users. This eventually got me banned for thoughtcrime (I pointed people to the study which found that “normal” BMIs correlate with higher death-rates than any group except the positively underweight) It was a weirdy sort of looking-glass world for the Shapely Prose reader. There were often posts about fat friends and colleagues trying, of jealousy and spite purely, to undermine and sabotage the posters’ diets. I often wondered what the fat friends were doing or saying that was so catastrophic. Now I know. They were saying “it’s pizza, not genocide”.

    *So yeah, even when you’re “normal”, you can’t be, you know, normal.

  257. I think there should be a marked difference between responding to fat shaming comments and responding to self-congratulatory dieting comments. Fat shame should never be tolerated, but I know what it feels like to lose ten pounds, and I know that sense of accomplishment (even though, like most people, I gained it back and then some later). It just kind of breaks my heart to contemplate stealing someone’s thunder when they’re all proud of themselves, even if I don’t approve of dieting. When someone wants to brag to me about dropping weight, I generally let them, unless they’re pulling the whole “you should do it too” bullshit. But like, my mom, for instance, was super stoked about being able to get into a size six a couple of years ago (and it’s a loooong story with her, but it had little to nothing to do with dieting, and everything to do with the fact that she joined a running club). In those types of instances, she was stoked about dropping a size because yes, it was evidence that she was slimming down, but also evidence that she was (is) in shape. I’m not going to rain on my mom’s parade, so I just said that I was glad that she felt so good.

  258. Sarah, snarkysmachine, Thank you! (side note: I’m so used to being a lurker that I had a moment of confusion where I was like “hey, they’re responding to my thoughts! Oh, wait, I said them out loud”).

    If I end up coming down on the side of saying something, those are awesome suggestions. The book thing could theoretically be naturally worked in–I wonder if just saying “Hey, I read this awesome book and I know the subject is really fraught, especially with the shit you’re dealing with right now, but I couldn’t help thinking of you because you are the one who made me read Frye’s ‘Oppression’ ” would be okay? I’m leery, too, obviously. That’s a good word.

    And snarkysmachine, I love that! That’s an awesome way to put it, and I will definitely have it in my pocket if I decide to show my FA colors, but I don’t want to say anything unless I’m going to go all out, because if I do end up discussing this stuff with her, I want to make sure she knows that it’s not because I’m blithely ignoring all the bullshit that pressures her to lose weight–it’s the opposite, because I’ve never been more aware of it and how much it hurts incredibly awesome people like her (and me. And everyone else).

    I just don’t want to privilege my new awesome!knowledge over her comfort and add to her level of stress. Thinsplaining!

  259. I also do not enjoy when people say, “You put yourself together so well.” I have never been able to hear that as anything but, “You aren’t smelly, sloppy and swaddled in polyester like your kind often is.”

    Snarkysmachine, I can completely see your interpretation of this, yet, I’m afraid I’ve been guilty of offering just such compliments. I am (so far) personally utterly incapable of doing much right in terms of putting myself “together” and invariably find out after a 3pm meeting that I’ve been running around all day in an horribly uncoordinated outfit with hair sticking straight up ala Pebbles Flinstone (usually with a pen strategically placed in it) and mismatched shoes (sometimes the heel heights don’t even match). It’s not for lack of trying, but between my ADD and total lack of taste and style, something always seems to get in the way. I’ll try to be more sensitive on the subject, because I certainly don’t want to inadvertently insult anyone, but I stand in awe of people who can “put themselves together”.

    As for fat talk. recently because I’ve lost some weight (due to illness) I’ve been bombarded with it. Also, because I’m very interested in athletic pursuits I find it hard to walk the line between talking exercise and diet for purposes of enhancing performance without letting the discussion seep into exercise and diet for purposes of losing weight. My current line is, “I’m more interested in what my body can do than what it looks like” but it doesn’t always work. Recently when someone was beaming about my weight loss I cut them off by saying that was stupid because my race times had gone up. Who cares if my body is smaller if it won’t do what I need it to do?

  260. Adding to the chorus: aleks, if it’s a girlfriend, “I think you look gorgeous and please make out with me” is probably an easy response if it isn’t a great moment for analyzing why she’s asking. Also, the coveting of others’ monsters is suggesting to me that maybe you don’t see the appeal of your own monster and somehow think it is less-than. All monsters are unique and beautiful.

    Has there been a “How to be an ally and not a douchebag about it?” post on this blog, and if so, does anyone happen to have a link? Many apologies if I’ve missed anything obvious, please tell me to learn to read, if so.

    This is a good question. Maybe there was an Aunt Fatty post along these lines?

  261. Volcanista, I’m not intrinsically unhappy with my monster, it’s just that Cute Bruiser’s is ZOMG beautiful. It’s like how you can’t take it personal if your girlfriend leaves you for Denzil Washington.

  262. Well SM, my Girl of the North Country has gone to become someone’s Lady of Spain, and she says it’s 75 and sunny there. Only my pond and my heart are here to freeze over.

  263. A significant factor in my returning to grad school was my desire to proselytize her poetry. :-) She also was a victim of the anti-Communist McCarthyite culture, in addition to sexism. She actually won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for her first book, in the 1930s (when she was only 21!) but was considered too radical by the critical establishment of the 40s and 50s to be taken seriously, since she was both a leftist and a feminist (gasp!).

    SM, have you seen the libretto (pdf, sorry) for the opera Doctor Atomic? During the scene between Robert and Kitty Oppenheimer before the bomb test, her lines are from Muriel Rukeyser’s poetry (his, if I’m not mistaken, are from Beaudelaire).

  264. tat2princess: I don’t think that legislation has even happened in the UK yet, and I don’t see it happening in the US. I see it being suggested in the US, but not actually happening. Personally, I’m against hate legislation in general, so I wouldn’t be for it.

    Also, I thought that UK article really perpetuated some non-FA ideas, namely, that fat people deserve our pity not our scorn because they might not be able to “help” being fat; and that being fat is a sign of being underprivileged.

  265. I have two ways I combat fat shaming and one question!

    #1: I have a friend that constantly fat shames herself and everyone else around her. I feel this is honestly a sickness, an illness. Like an illness everyone else around is taken over by it. Almost like when people have a bad day it becomes a contest to see whose day was worse…like that is some kind of prize.

    Well I finally got sick of it and decided it needed to change so……3 years ago
    I put my friend through what I call “boot camp”. She is not allowed to talk negatively about herself or others at anytime. Anytime she says, “I’m fat” (meaning the old definition of, lazy, etc.) I say, “I’m sorry, I did not hear you correctly…what did you say?” Then she has to rephrase what she has said into something positive. Or I might say, “Hell yeah you’re fat! p-h-a-t!”

    #2: I get sick of people saying other people shouldn’t wear X. I’ve been trying a more realistic approach with people by pointing out that fat people are (gasp) human beings! (Not just headless bodies on the news)

    For example..my sister saw a photo of someone in a bathing suit and said, “ugh, she shouldn’t be wearing that!” I said, “Why, don’t fat people get hot too?” She gave me a weird look and said, “I guess I never thought about it that way.” I said, “Well just because she doesn’t conform to what your ideal is of a person in a bathing suit doesn’t mean she doesn’t get hot and needs to swim, she’s a human being!”

    What do you do when every week someone comes up to you and asks you if you are pregnant because of your weight? Usually I just rebut with, “No, just fat”. But this has spawned an array of responses that just gets uncomfortable. People then start “covering their tracks” by saying, “oh me too (or asking me about my personal life) and then they start fat shaming themselves.” How can I rebut this comment without causing people to fat shame? Honestly this happens every week to me either by people I know or strangers on the street.

  266. Coincidentally I just endured a meeting with a very intense, fat-talking coworker yesterday afternoon and it kind of drove me nuts. I just recently met her and have been assigned to work on a project with her. Our first meeting involved other people, so the topic of her weight did not come up, but yesterday we had a long meeting that was just us and she announced that she had completed a weight loss program in July, had lost 42 pounds and “all” she has to do is “eat what they tell me to eat” and she is able to maintain. She was telling me all this as she choked down a container of Greek yogurt (which, ironically, I love), complaining all the while about how much she hated it, but had to eat it because it was on her program. Then she kept trying to push her soy-nuts on me, even though I said repeatedly that I didn’t like them that much. I’m fat (although I’m still struggling with my own FA), so she must have assumed that I want what she has.

    I believe that the owner of the body should get to decide how to treat the body, so I’m not interested in persuading this woman to give up her weight-loss quest – not because I think it’s a great idea, but because it’s her business, not mine. But, at the same time, I really don’t want to hear about it ad naseum, and I especially don’t want to deal with the not-so-subtle hints that I should try the program too, because obviously, I must want to lose weight, because that’s what everyone wants, right?

    And the whole privilege/social acceptance thing is weird too. I am really active, as a cyclist, and I often have people tell me, in effect “well, it’s (more) OK for your body to look the way it does, because at least you exercise.” For a while I ate that up, until I realized that these people are still assuming that it’s any of their damned business what my body looks like, or what the body of a fat non-exerciser looks like. Shut up people – NONE of it is your business.

    AND … I have a friend who is very generous and well-meaning, but the body-hatred … OMG. She is tiny, barely eats, is ALWAYS actively trying to lose weight, is probably malnourished and attributes any rejection to her hideous body. I try to avoid getting in her business about this, because see above about the owner of the body getting to decide how to treat it (and also, I’m afraid she has an ED and I don’t want to trigger her) but once I got tired of the implication that I’m extra-special hideous and pointed out to her that if she were being rejected because of her perceived hideous body, where did that leave me? She hastened to assure me that MY fat body is perfectly acceptable – it’s just that her not-fat, but possibly slightly-heavier-than-before body is hideous. I guess that was nice of her, but it made me sad for her. She has the body everyone is supposed to want, but all she gets from her body is misery. I have the body everyone is supposed to hate, but most of the time I’m pretty happy in it.

    I’m not thin-bashing, because I know thin people who are comfortable and happy with themselves, but for this particular friend, thinness seems to be the locus of all of her issues with herself.

  267. @Whitecat, your comments really hit home for me, because my mother was very much like that as well, and like you, I had to eventually tell her that the topic of my weight was off-limits between us. She wasn’t happy about it, and would occasionally try to sneak in a comment, prefacing it with “I know I’m not allowed to talk about this, but …”

    The really, really sad thing? She died at 81 of cancer that utterly ravaged her. In the months before her death she finally achieved her dream of thinness, but she looked awful because she was dying.

    Realizing that she spent years deferring happiness and serenity, worrying about that last 20 pounds is one of the reasons that I am really working on my own body acceptance.

  268. Oh, and the whole “good” and “bad” mindset just pisses me off. What are we, children? Why do women (and honestly, it is mostly women who do this – I RARELY hear a man say that he’s being “good” or “bad” in reference to his food choices) infantalize themselves this way?

    I get this a lot because I love fruit and like vegetables and often eat them at my desk at work … and get the “Oh, I wish I could be good like you!” comments. Usually I respond neutrally, with a simple “I like oranges/brussels’ sprouts/apples” but if I know the person better I will point out that I don’t subscribe to the whole good/bad food morality system and that I’m just as likely to be eating something from the supposed bad category as what I am eating at that moment.

  269. I was incredibly uncomfortable, rather than merely bored, listening to mamabear and a friend of hers discuss weight loss tonight. This is squarely your fault, Shapely Prose.

  270. What do you do when every week someone comes up to you and asks you if you are pregnant because of your weight

    I use the old standby my nana taught me:

    “Not yet, but the night is still young!”

  271. snarkysmachine!
    That is sheer genius!! I almost can’t wait for someone to come poke me in my stomach and ask me if I’m pregnant just to use that quip!
    When people ask me when I am due, I say, “For an oil change? Not for another 1000 miles, but thanks for asking!” For, ” Are you expecting?” I usually say, “To have a great day, yes I am..you are so sweet to ask!” I’ve just been lost on, “Are you pregnant?” hahaha! I love it!
    ahhh, I love me some shapely prose friends! I am so glad to have stumbled upon this blog last year..it makes my life happy!

  272. Hey Kate/other Shapelings–
    Has anyone read the Glamour magazine article about how they’re going to start using “plus” sized models in their magazine? It was a fascinating read and I’d love to get the Shapely Prose take on it!

  273. I generally don’t reply at all to people’s comments about their weight loss. If they’re excited about buying new clothes, I might say, “I bet that’s fun.” But generally, I just listen, and say, “Oh, uh huh” or something equally nondescript, and keep listening and waiting for them to change the subject (when they don’t get uptake, they get the message) or I shift it a little when a good moment arises, after they’ve had their say.

    If I do say something, it might be, “You’re beautiful now, and you were beautiful before the weight loss.”

    LOL, just occurred to me that one thing I could say to someone who I didn’t know before she lost weight, “I bet you were hot then” (before the weight loss), but of course, that would be b***chy.

    lolol I wonder what someone would say to that.

  274. Regarding people who talk about their weight-loss diets to me, if they don’t drop it after they see my eyes glaze over pretty quickly (and my smile dropping when they talk about dieting, and my mildly quizzical or sad look as if to say, “Why are you dieting?”), I say to them directly, “I’d rather talk about something else than dieting and weight loss, if that’s ok with you.”

    If necessary, I add, “I think you look great the way you are, size is not an accurate barometer of health, and I hope you can come to accept yourself.”

    Regarding people who fat talk about themselves, I have, on one or two occasions, said, “If you think you’re fat and think you’re unattractive, what must you think about me?”

    When a person has said she thought I looked fine, or that it was great if I liked myself the way I am(!), and the person continues to fat talk around me, I have said, “You know, as long as you keep talking negatively about your own body in my presence, I’m not buying it that you can accept mine. I really don’t want to hear about how you think fat is ugly. It’s hurtful. I don’t need those messages around me.”

    These clods deserve a direct response like that.

    Manners is NOT about being “agreeable.” That is a ridiculous 1950s notion that flies in the face of what good manners actually is.

    I think a lot of people have no idea any more what constitutes “good manners.” It’s women of yesteryear who really understood what etiquette was. Take Ann Landers, Miss Manners, Leticia Baldridge, etc.

    ALL of these etiquette experts advocate(d) calmly and directly putting people in their place when they are rude. It is GOOD etiquette to not allow people to insult you or others in your presence, and to let them know that such attitudes are not ok. You have that right and responsibility to yourself.

    It is BAD manners to sit by and take it: in silence.

    Read the classic etiquette literature, and older women who are etiquette experts. It’s eye-opening and refreshing, compared to today where people think “etiquette” is about “not ruffling anyone’s feathers,” while sitting silent and opinionless about important matters, including one’s own self-worth.

  275. Thank you for this wise reminder of how women need to support each other in our highly toxic media saturated environment.

  276. This is… a hard question for me to answer. I weight 165.6 lbs (last I checked) and am 5’6″. My boyfriend is a fat admirer who says he would love and desire me at any size (and I believe him, or want really hard to when I’m feeling down). My mom is definitely what fat admirers would call a BBW, perhaps even SSBBW.

    My parents, especially my mom, are most definitely NOT into size acceptance and FA. My mom will comment on me if I’ve gained weight or look like I’ve gained weight. Once she said to me “your butt is spreading” when I was sitting on the porch. My parents asked me “why do you want to be fat?” when I came home from a long day at school and I was eating a lollipop I’d bought. Once when I nudged an (empty and cool) frying pan’s handle accidentally on the kitchen counter, my mom looked at my belly and said it was “getting too big”, in an angry tone of voice.

    The most angering, most shaming, and most hurtful moment came when my parents told me about this large woman they’d seen at school while waiting to pick me up. Myself, my father, and my mother were riding in the car together to go home. My mom commented on this stranger’s tight clothing and my dad called this woman “Jelly Roll”. (Both my parents are large people.) I asked them not to make such comments about another person in front of me; they not only did not comply with my wishes, but my mom started telling me that size acceptance and fat admiration was a lie, that the blogs on SA and FA I was reading online were created to comfort fat women into a state of thinking that their fat was “okay” when in fact it was not. She has said twice to me that “Fat is not beautiful”. Always she will say that my body is beautiful, but when she comments on my belly, my small double chin, and my large breasts (if my breasts look larger due to a weight gain), it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

    I cannot say how much the above incident has made me fear and distrust my parents, or how much anger I feel towards them about it. I have trusted them all my life and been very honest with them when I have problems; indeed I feel as though I CAN’T hide things from them. I feel so bad that my mom hates her weight, her size, and her body so much. I feel so guilty thinking that at some point I might have contributed to her self-hatred, depression, and anger at herself because of her size (I remember vaguely two times in my early childhood when I teased my mom about her size). I am literally crying right now as I write this post; my eyes are hot with tears and my heart is hot with anger and pain at the fact that my parents so refuse to even countenance the ideas of size acceptance, fat acceptance/admiration, or anything of the like. They refuse to even listen to me, so I now have a growing cynicism and coldness towards a lot of the things they say.

  277. Plant, I really liked your comment about what real manners are. Today passivity is taken for politeness. Not so.

    There’s some formulation of “it’s not always nice to ‘be nice'” to be had here, but I can’t quite put it together.

  278. Making people ashamed to be fat and desperate for help getting skinny? Sounds like a smart maneuver for someone who wants to sell get skinny books to me.

  279. Aleks- hadn’t thought of it like that. The fat-shaming just made me hate her and made me angry that I’d contributed to her coffers by having already bought the book before she came out as a fat hater!

  280. Yes CF, but you’re someone who participates on a Fat Acceptance blog. Try to see it from the point of view of someone who does think being fat is awful, sinful, etc.

  281. The Times readers were more than up to the challenge of expressing the views of those who find fat hateful, filthy, revolting etc! And I don’t have to try and see it from their point of view, I don’t have to do that at all. I’ve spent years being told that as a fat person I’m worth less than a ‘normal’ person, worth less than a dog, a worm, an amoeba, and I DON’T have to try and see it from their point of view because for so many many years their view of me was my view of me.

    It just saddens me that I’m 31 now and still being bullied (in a manner of speaking- I’m aware the article wasn’t directed at me personally! :D ) for being fat in the same way I was when I was 6. Ugh *sighs*

  282. Ok, don’t, I don’t care what they think either. You asked “For someone who makes her living writing diet books is that really a good idea?”

  283. I did ask, that’s true. I guess what I guess what I meant to say was for someone who makes her living from writing diet books is it such a great idea to be cruel and unpleasant about your target audience? It’s probably not wise to alienate the very people you’re hoping will part with £15.99 a go for your latest book, join your internet forum and buy your diet-related knick knacks. I should have been clearer about what I meant!

    I can see your point that creating fat-shame in prospective readers might well be a viable business plan for a writer of diet books- it just seemed counter -intuitive to me.

  284. hmmm. Reckon that’s a bet she’d win. Think I feel especially let down as I used go on her forum a lot and enjoyed the (initial) spirit of cameraderie and felt very supported. However India herself was often quite scathing in her responses to perfectly innocuous comments and posts, and on the day I read a post from her berating some hapless newbie for asking if it was okay to eat carrots on her diet (it wasn’t) I decided I couldn’t be a part of it any more…

  285. Carrots? Maybe she just didn’t want any rabbits in her program, as they’re notoriously deadbeat about paying bills. A no-carrot diet?!>?

  286. “What do you do when every week someone comes up to you and asks you if you are pregnant because of your weight?”

    What about: ‘Ah, you must be confusing my healthy glow of someone happy about their body with the glow of pregnancy. The main thing, though, is that you noticed my healthy glow, so thanks!’ [Followed by such a huge happy grin that they’d be forced to either go along with it or show some (decidedly ugly) true colours. If they do decide to explain why they were really asking, they’d have to be openly rude which means if you respond in kind you won’t be made to look unreasonable to anyone else listening in.]

  287. “You look great! Have you lost weight?” No, I’ve gained! It must look good on me, I’m glad you like it!

    “Ugh! I can’t wear this! I’m too fat!” If you can’t wear it, that means it is too small. And if the manufacturer didn’t make one that fits you, too bad for them, I guess they’re losing your business.

    I have a dear friend who is wonderful, caring, and loving to everyone else (seriously — I’m convinced she begins the day with small woodland animals hopping into her room to help her get dressed, to the merry sound of flutes) but will just. not. STOP. with the fat-shaming (and other kinds of shaming) about herself. She would never say a mean word about anyone, but she’s fair game for every kind of awfulness. And she says it in such a frighteningly disconcerting matter-of-fact tone.

    Finally her other friends and I lost our patience with it and we established a new rule. Each time she says something awful about herself, we pester her until she says three nice things about herself, and they have to be sincere, and original.

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