Spring Break

Hey, folks, Shapely Prose is going on hiatus until on or about March 22. Everybody’s batteries are running low, and some shit’s changing behind the scenes, so it’s blogcation time. This will be an open thread unless I get pissed off and close it at some point, so… be good.

358 thoughts on “Spring Break”

  1. Nothing very important, but I wish I could be there for the Arkansas Literary Festival. Used to live in AR, but am now 1000 miles away. Shame. It’d be nice to come say hi.

    Hope you have a good vacation. Will be fighting the fat-hatred during my parents’ visit next week, so I’d better take this week to bone up.

  2. On my way to a mini-vacation this weekend, myself. I do love the internet, but it’ll be sweet to get away, party my face off, and see some friends I only meet up with twice a year. Enjoy your blogcation and the warming of the weather!

  3. @Miss Conduct – is this an encore run? I swear I’ve come across that question (in the context of an advice column) somewhere else in the fatosphere in the last few months. This is going to nittle at me until I figure it out ….

  4. @Miss Conduct:

    I JUST blogged about your column, after receiving a link to it from Marilyn Wann via the Fat Studies yahoo listserv. Anyway–FANTASTIC response! Especially considering how many advice columnists out there are clueless about fat stuff and just reiterate all the omgobesity crap that’s out there… thank you!

  5. I’m leaving Barcelona and returning to the U.S. on March 22nd! I had McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in honor of my impending return.

    Anyone seen loltapirs.com? If you ask me, tapirs were just MEANT for this.

  6. Enjoy your break, all my most magnificent ones! I shall miss thee so.

    Re: Miss Conduct – Yeah, I’m sick of the “Sexy, passionate women are allowed to hit people” trope. All sorts of problems there. I’m also sick of the “Men are allowed to talk about women’s bodies whenever they want” trope. It’s actually too bad that those two didn’t get it together – they certainly deserved one another.

    @ Raka – Tapirs are amazing, and they are made of licorice (CO told me so).

  7. Enjoy your break! I’ll send battery recharging vibes your way(s)!

    It finally feels like spring here in Minnesota and I’m hoping to get some time to play outside soon, instead of staring at my computer screen all day. Unfortunately, I won’t be getting a spring break this year for the first time ever. :(

  8. Have a nice well-earned break, all!

    I went suit shopping yesterday. It was enraging. Nothing in straight sizes that was quite big enough; nothing in plus sizes that wasn’t cut to be baggy, out-of-style and unprofessional looking. I’m an inbetweenie so I was able to order a suit from Ann Taylor (which has sizes 16 and 18s on their website only), which I now will pray will fit, but I don’t know what I’d do if I was a bit bigger. Buy something awful and hope I can get it tailored to be slightly okay? I don’t know. It made me so mad – I mean, here’s an item of clothing that women in some professions have to have to be taken seriously. How marginalizing that its made so difficult for fat women.

  9. Have a nice break, Shapelies!

    Here is a gift (apologies if this is old news round these parts): http://armorgames.com/play/5379/sushi-cat

    SUSHI CAT! Pros – the goal of the game is to get fat so that you can achieve a number of important life goals. Adorableness. Fat cats. SUSHI. Cons – a little sexist in its implication that a stuffed animal will suffice as a substitute for a living female cat. Workarounds – I pretend that Sushi Cat is female, like me, which makes sense as blue is my favorite color, I am round and adorable, and I love sushi.

  10. Raka

    I’m leaving Barcelona and returning to the U.S. on March 22nd! I had McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts in honor of my impending return.
    When I lived in the Midwest, where in those days, anyway (you wouldn’t remember, you are too young) one couldn’t get a decent donut, I always made a ritual of stopping at the first Dunkin’ Donuts off of I-80, on my way back to Maine for visits. I got a chocolate-cream-filled donut, every time.
    Now that I live in Maine again, Dunkin’ hold a lot less charm; but at the time it was like the first taste of home.

  11. @Aurora Erratic — I currently live in Chicago, but I grew up in Seattle. There’s a burger chain in Seattle called Dick’s, which is IMO the best cheap’n’easy burger place around. Whenever I go home, my dad will pick me up from the airport and we’ll stop by Dick’s on the way home.

  12. Oooh, I love Dunkin Donuts… there’s absolutely nowhere to get them around here, but I’m going to spend a couple of months in Maryland over the summer and there will be one right across the street.

  13. @ missconduct: I lived in Boston til July and always loved your column. Thank you for giving witty smart non body shaming advice. And for not just telling women to be polite or lose wt like so many other advice columnists. (who often seem more like ‘splainers)
    @ Alexandra Erin: I love and miss dunkins too. I live in la now and the closest one is Vegas :(

  14. @ Krishji & TRiG: I know, aren’t they?! And made of licorice? Yum!

    I took a picture of a tapir and although it’s not very impressive, I’m thinking that if I can add a hilarious caption then maybe it’ll get accepted. Fingers crossed! (I have some time on my hands, ok)

    @ Aurora Erratic: Well granted, here it’s “Dunkin’ Coffee” but it seems to be the same thing. My dad is from the east coast and he loves the coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. We’re all in California and so Starbucks is the popular chain and I don’t think there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts anywhere.

    I really wish there were more places in CA that sold crepes. That would be nice.

  15. Have a good blogcation.

    That pic up there? That was totally me this afternoon. Feels great to recharge the batteries.

  16. @OTM Ohhhhhhh my god! Sushi Cat just made my night awesome.

    Also, I will miss SP while it’s on a break… but not too much because it’s spring break and I’ll likely be too drunk to notice. :)

  17. So, since this is an open thread, I have a question for people: What are your experiences as far as age at first diet and height relative to biological family? I was pondering this the other night as I was drying my hair (I weighed my hair once: shaving it would actually change my BMI category, so I get a lot of pondering time while I’m blow-drying it). I’m the shortest person in my nuclear family, by at least three inches. This was something of a surprise when I was younger, since I was the tallest girl in the whole sixth grade. But I just flat stopped growing at age thirteen. Not so much as half an inch after that point. Age thirteen was also the age at which I went on my very first diet. I’m wondering if there’s a connection there, and whether any other Shapelings have similar experiences. (I tried checking the scientific literature and didn’t come up with much in the way of long-range studies, although my initial search for “diet” and “height” did return a fascinating article on the effects of adding “dried milky sludge” to the diets of Japanese quail.)

  18. Belly rubs for that puppy! And for the lovely Shapely Prose bloggers, if they want them.

    Other Becky, I’m pretty short compared to my nuclear family, but right on par with both grandmothers, and I think my first diet was at ten? It’s so hard to say because I never ate super-functionally. I was effectively anorexic for most of eighth grade–I think not really eating when I was supposed to be having my growth spurt factored into my shortness quite a bit. Are you expecting that earlier first diet is correlated with people being short relative to their families?

    LilahMorgan, I’ve had similar experiences recently shopping for tops/skirts to refresh my wardrobe for spring. I hate being an in-betweenie! By which I mean I hate being just baaarely sized out of most straight sized stores and kind of too small/not the right shape for plus-sized stores, especially since plus-sized stores never have anything cute anyway! This is most problematic for tops. We are a totally untapped niche market–someone could open a store focusing on sizes 12-18 and make sooo much money. Especially for juniors! Someone creatively and/or business-ly minded in the fatosphere should get on that.

  19. @Other Becky – that’s a pretty tough question … especially as I’m not sure what you mean by diet (e.g. what is the diet, what was one’s diet before the diet, and how long is one on it). My height is what one would expect given my parents and grandparents, and I don’t recall going on a diet until I was in my 20s. But I have friends who are much shorter (or much taller) than the rest of their immediate family members and they did not diet, either. My thought (unsupported by any specific research that I’m aware of) is that for restricted food intake to affect ones height significantly, it would need to be happening for an extended period of time and be drastic (essentially malnutrition).

  20. Wow, OTM, Sushi Cat is fantastic!

    Re: Dunkin’ Donuts, I used to like them well enough, but not anymore. I think partly my tastes have changed, by my mother thinks their doghnuts have gone downhill, too. That’s especially unfortunate for us since they are EVERYWHERE around here.

  21. @ Other Becky – I am also the shortest member of my nuclear family; I have only one grandparent shorter than myself, as well. I, too, was the tallest girl in my 6th grade class, and my first attempt to starve myself was that same year. However, I also hit puberty YEARS before any of the other women in my family, so I have always blamed that, mostly. I hit menarche at 10, my mom was the next earliest at 12, and my aunt at 13, both grandmothers at 14. I have not grown since I was 12 years old – not a millimeter. I also have the highest nearsighted eyeglass prescription. If I were not a lighter-complexioned clone of my father, on paper my stats suggest that I was adopted. Thank goodness for my big eyes and big nose.

  22. @Krishji — not this weekend (I went to Emerald City Comic Con ;) I got to meet the creators of some web comics I love and gawk at lots of cool stuff.

  23. @OtherBecky

    My first “diet” was when I was eight (I was eight and so, you know, inconsistent–not very diet-y compared to my later forays into disordered eating), but I’m also on the upper end of the height range for women in my family at 5’5″. Of course, it sounds like both my parents’ families were very poor, so there may be a few confounds (I don’t know how readily available food was).

    An ex-friend wrote a letter to himself-at-age-10 and said, about me, “Don’t talk to the fat one.” At first I was hurt; then I thought about sitting on him and crushing him beneath my weight and felt a lot better. I’ve been waiting all week for an opportunity to tell someone! :)

  24. I read the Catcher In The Rye yesterday. I finished it, went “huh? What?” and then a few hours later while looking at some daffodils in the supermarket suddenly got it and exclaimed “Oh!” which made my girlfriend ask me what was up so I explained I’d just understood the book.

  25. Sushi Cat! OMG! I wasted all kinds of time with that a few nights ago. :3 Sushi Cat is such a happy kitteh.

    Joyous vacation-break-no-bloggy-time to you folk! Myself, I’m in the packing-and-panicking stages of a trip I’ll be taking Wednesday. It’s gonna be my first out-of-town gaming convention. I bought a pretty dress to wear! And I’m gonna meet lotsa neat people! And did I mention the pretty dress? I’m gonna WEAR A PRETTY DRESS. AND BE PRETTY. (This is totes important to me. I’ve spent most of my life being the anti-pretty. But now I have a valid excuse to Get All Pretty. It’s for a LARP! It’s playing dress-up! I must be as over-the-top dressy as I can get away with!)

  26. I love corgis! They’re one of my top three dog breeds, running neck and neck with English Sheepdogs and Golden Retrievers.

  27. Today’s XKCD makes me mad, and I love XKCD usually.


    What women want to see in porn, let me mansplain it to you.

    Yes, regardless of the fact that its a girl in the comic and ‘presumably’ a female voice and regardless of the fact that it IS funny and indeed what I think people of any gender would want to see in porn. But because Munroe is male. And it’s not as if women haven’t been complaining about not seeing the things we want to see in porn, for years and years or anything.. but put it in XKCD and everyone suddenly chimes in going “hell yeah!” .

    Growl. Or maybe I’m just being cranky because I’m ill. Why hello there, respiratory infection resulting in bronchitis! *slap*

  28. Hey, everyone. I just wanted to introduce myself, because I hope I can be some sort of orbital part of this community. I’ve only just found this blog, but a combination of insomnia and intense personal interest have compelled me to read every post. While I’m generally quite shy about making any comments online, I just wanted to say you’ve cultivated a wonderful atmosphere here, and a wonderful philosophy of engagement with the world. I mean, seriously, I don’t know if you guys are of an existentialist bent or what, but I have the strangest feeling a lot of Continental philosophers would feel at home here. Anyway, I’m going to miss reading posts and comments alike during the hiatus.

    Reading Shapely Prose has also made me realize how lucky I am. I mean, yes, I’ve done some stupid things in the name of body image–I was anorexic for years in my teens and, following that, seesawed up and down through weight ranges both comfortable and uncomfortable on my body–but my friends have never made ridiculous judgments based on my weight, my family has never tried to control my eating, and my current nutritionist (the campus nutritionist at my college) basically taught me about HAES; she’s actually glad I don’t weigh myself. I am currently on what I call the ‘obsess about food as little as possible and enjoy it as much as possible’ diet (technically intuitive eating, but I don’t think I’m totally there yet). At the same time, I realize a lot of the compassionate treatment I’ve received is because I have the badge of being ex-anorexic, and a lot of people who’ve gone through equally hellish struggles with food never attained the arbitrary diagnostic criteria for an ED or its obscure ‘status’, which strikes me as completely unfair and also really fucked up.

    I wanted to comment here in part because I think this sort of discussion really isn’t a spectator sport. It’s personal, not ‘diet motivation’–I realized I risked depersonalizing all of you by simply reading without commenting. It’s all too easy for me, shallow and prone to abstracting and abstraction as I can be, to view things online as ‘diet motivation’ or as ‘success stories’ rather than–more realistically–simply stories, ongoing ones. I hope it makes sense to say I’m de-lurking in order to engage more bravely and take ownership of reading what you have to say. I don’t need attention, I just wanted to put this out there.

    I also wanted to bring something up, which you can all feel free to ignore, but I think it’s interesting and I’ve wanted somewhere to just talk about this stuff for a long, long time. So I’ll probably say too much. But onward.

    It seems like there’s this cultural obsession with ‘willpower’ going on right now, and I’m wondering what the deal is, in part because I think people have no idea what ‘willpower’ actually IS. For example, a friend of mine recently (and, to her credit, somewhat apologetically) told me that she admired me for having been anorexic, and I incredulously confronted her on it–triumph of the will is really admirable, but of course obsessing over something (like, oh, I don’t know… weight?) is the OPPOSITE of triumph of the will. It’s compression of the will beneath a system that you follow mindlessly. So I just find that really sick, her unrealistic body image standards aside–I find it sick that a lot of people prioritize asceticism and self-punishment, no matter how wrongheaded or damaging, over adult choice-making. I mean, what the hell is up with that?

    Dieting, for example–following any arbitrary system–doesn’t really take independent thought. I guess that’s another reason (of the many, many reasons you have listed already) not to follow a diet. I don’t think it’s entirely food diets leave you craving, though certainly they do. I think it’s independence, autonomy, and WILLPOWER–all of those things that you empty yourself of when you restrain your own capacity to make choices, or disown it, in favor of a system of restriction. I think it’s willpower people crave, really. I mean, I know that’s what I really crave. REAL willpower, not the false kind I was looking for by being anorexic, when I was actually rejecting will. And what’s scary about real willpower is it has nothing to do with what you look like or even anything you’ve done in the past.

    I feel like some people who diet a lot–like me, shamefully–think that they can stockpile willpower and autonomy in the form of lost pounds, so that someday they can be lazy forevermore and abdicate choice-making once and for all.

    So I don’t think it’s just that regimented diets don’t work. I think they’re fucked up even if they do work, at least for me. Even if they cause me to lose weight and even if they cause me to ‘keep it off’ (I hate that phrase), the goal is really a sick kind of infantilization. The goal is the loss not of pounds but of free will and autonomy, because, you know, if you get skinny enough you are automatically someone with willpower–because, of course, willpower is a trait you can see, like abs or hipbones, rather than something everyone, at every weight, exercises in infinitely many spheres every day. I guess this is a circuitous way of describing objectifying the body, but whatever it is, it sucks. The sad thing is, I don’t think this is true of everyone–I mean, I’m sure some people out there can diet without it taking over their lives–but it’s definitely true for a lot of people. Is that fucked up? To think (and I hope this won’t upset people here) that some people can restrict food without being obsessive, while I know–I mean, I know from long experience–that I can’t?

  29. Ah. I haven’t read the comments but I liked the cartoon (and of course they also did “How It Works” — http://xkcd.com/385/ — which I quote/link all the time just because it’s so SUCCINCT). I didn’t know it has only a male author.

  30. And it’s not as if women haven’t been complaining about not seeing the things we want to see in porn, for years and years or anything.. but put it in XKCD and everyone suddenly chimes in going “hell yeah!” .

    I haven’t spent any time on the XKCD feed on LJ, so don’t know about the demographics there, but given the demographics on LJ generally it wouldn’t surprise me if the people commenting “YES!” have, in fact, been making the same points and affirming them elsewhere as well.

  31. Randall Munroe is fairy funny, most of the time, and probably sees himself as a feminist, but I suspect he has a bit of a tendency to white-knightism. Certainly his characters sometimes do.

    I have seen at least one feminist loving the latest xkcd; meanwhile, the people at the xkcd-sucks blog hate it.


  32. Other Becky, I was also one of the tallest girls in my middle school, and I didn’t stop growing until 5’9 1/2”, which was sometime in high school. I’m about halfway between my mother’s height and my father’s. And I’ve never dieted. (I did try a few times, but never had the self-control to keep it up longer than a day.) TooManyJessicas makes a good point about the variable availability of food depending on living situation, and I would add that cheap food is often nutritionally lacking- there’s an awful lot of variables to juggle, but I think you may be on to something.

    Forgive me if this question has come up before, but I’ve wondered if some of us (including my partner) grow much faster and larger than our parents, and hit puberty earlier, partly as an effect of growth hormones in meat and milk. If so that’s another variable to confuse your research…

  33. I liked today’s xkcd quite a bit, but there was an off note in it for me in the set-up. The ultimate message of “Porn For Women” series isn’t as simple as “women’s lives revolve around housework”, it’s more like “men who happily and efficiently do housework is a fantasy, something women can’t get within the bounds of a relationship and so must experience vicariously”… really that sentence could keep going for quite a long time, and the further down the “men performing domestic acts is pornographic for straight women the way women performing sexual acts is pornographic for straight men” rabbit hole the uglier it gets.

    But that quibble aside, I approve of the punchline and I wouldn’t assume that anybody punching the air and shouting their approval in the feed comments has never (th/f)ought about this issue before.

  34. I wonder whether Greta Christina has seen it. Hers is my favourite blog. It’s about atheism, feminism, sex, and cats. What more could you ask for? And she reviews porn, sometimes.

    I get most of my porn from Nifty.


  35. I threw my hands in the air and shouted “YES!” when seeing today’s XKCD, and found it quite funny. Didn’t get any mansplainy vibes. Just because a man states something feminist, doesn’t automatically make it mansplaining. He used a female character to depict it, and well… wether he came to the strip’s conclusion himself, or came to it with female assistance, it still rings very true.

    My porn also involves no housework whatsoever.

  36. Please please come back from your break. We need you. Have you seen this

    I am sick, and wish I could write some clever, hard and destructive prose back. But I can’t,

    but YOU can.

    Anyone, everyone, here, if Kate and Co can’t respond, please do. This journalist should be hung, drawn and quartered.

    Sorry, but I am more upset than I can say.

    “the fat girl at school”

    “the obese guy on the flight”

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh – speechless with disgust

  37. @ Carrie – I’m ready and armed, but when I hit your link, I got a 404 message. How should I search for it?

  38. Hi Krish, sorry, hope this works, it was an article in The Times (the London Times newspaper – I am copying some of it here – hope that doesn’t break any laws

    Just to warn you – this makes sickening reading and I wish I’d never read it, so if you feel at all sensitive quit reading now. I wish this didn’t exist. But it does.

    “The government bangs on about our national “obesity” crisis, but I’m not sure where all these morbidly overweight people can be hiding out. You don’t see them on the London Underground. They’re not on the buses. Or in any of the Tesco stores I go into.

    I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop with windows overlooking most of Paddington station. There must be thousands of people milling around out there. No doubt several of them are camouflaging an extra tyre or two under their coats — and who can blame them, considering the filthy climate we live in? But I’m looking hard — I’m scouring the crowd — and I swear there’s not an “obese” person among them.

    So where are they? Are they — this mass of people we are asked simultaneously to despise and to worry over — are they all at home on Incapably Fat benefit, sprawled over their reinforced couches, shopping over the internet for greasy food and trousers with elasticated waistbands? And do they simply remain there on their couches until the moment their brought-it-on-themselves Fattypuff heart attacks send them, serenaded by Thinifer tuttings, via helicopter and crane, to a reinforced hospital bed?

    Actually, I think our civil servants, ever keen to come up with something extra to worry about, use the word “obese” to describe the public they serve, when what they really mean to say is “chubby”. And I think the public, ever hungry for a new group of fellow humans to lord it over, have been more than happy to trot along with the obesity myth. ”

    End of quote. (The article goes on . . ) Bleaugh. Off to be sick.

  39. OK, I live in the U.S., so maybe I’m confused about this article. Who IS this writer? Is she a comedian? Is this supposed to be humor? Why did she write this piece? I simply don’t understand. And the commenters are horrifying (SW points all gone now).

    Let me work this out: so, she’s upset about scare articles about obese people. Then she swears she never sees any obese people, but then she says she sees chubby people. Then she says she did see obese people at IKEA, in the U.S., and she sat next to one on a plane, and she knew a fat girl at school. And she says her point is that teachers are biased against students that they consider to be poor, even when they hand in better work? WHAT?! Who ARE you, writer? WHAT do you want? WILL you please go away and stop horrifying me?

  40. I’m on moderation so not sure this will get thru . . .

    But Krishji – I am not sure if it is a he or a she who wrote this article. What does ze want? – To trash fat people.

    Will ze go away and stop horrifying us – nope. No chance, no luck. Ze need to be whacked hard.

    Sorry, I realise there is much humor and fun here, and maybe I am over reacting, but I feel helpless and attacked, and this is the only place where I thought “OMG, at least these people will understand why my toes are curling”

    Sorry to post four times in one night (and esp soz to the moderator who has to check that I am not a troll) . Off back to reading but not posting.

    Cx – PS, is there a direct email I could email to talk to a mod?

  41. Please have a lovely spring break with or without corgis & lemurs!

    Found this quote in an article about Amelia Earhart through a Facebook link:

    “Tall, slender, blonde and brave, Earhart disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937 in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator”

    wtf? What does her stature, weight and hair color have to do with ANYTHING? (pardon the caps but my head’s exploding)


  42. Hideous article. Really upsetting. And the name on the byline was Daisy, so I’m safely assuming the author is a woman.

    Yeah, she couldn’t see any obese people, but I’m sure they were there…they were blending in with everyone else, because the majority of the people that comprise the OMFG obesity epidemic booga booga are between 30-35 BMI, and they really don’t stand out from “normal” people at that much.

  43. @ Carrie – The writer’s name is Daisy, so I’m guessing that she is a woman, but, of course, I could be wrong. I have a man’s name, myself, although I am a woman, so I am not one to judge.

    I think I’ll send the writer a link to Kate’s BMI Project. I think it will be enlightening to her. The impression I get is that of an untalented, unoriginal humorist who is trying to play both sides of the fence unsuccessfully. On one hand, she is saying incredibly offensive things about people of different sizes, and buying into most of the common stereotypes, but then she throws about some little crumbs about good grades and how babies are worse than fat people (offensive to parents and babies instead). I suspect that if this writer has any working brain cells, she may be receptive to some intelligent, compassionate thoughts like those we trade in here at SP.

  44. I read that UK article, and to me it came across as “Obesity Crisis aka Scary Fat People Epidemic … whateverrrrs.”

  45. Krishji, I was thinking the exact same thing-sending her a link to the BMI project-so she could see for herself why she doesn’t recognize obesity in everyday life.

  46. to: daisy.waugh@sunday-times.co.uk

    Dear Ms. Waugh,

    Your humor piece entitled “The Fat are Thin on the Ground” which was published in March 14th’s Sunday Times was brought to my attention by a member of a particular online community lead by Kate Harding, Shapely Prose.

    I understand that this was supposed to be a humorous essay, and I can see that you try to make some concessions regarding offensive stereotypes related to people of different sizes. However, if you want to truly break down negative stereotypes about fat people, which I hope you do, I’d like to provide you with some tools. If you say that you don’t “see” obese people, what exactly are you saying? Are you saying that fat people are invisible to you (which is the impression some readers have made), or are you saying that you see human beings first, before you see the media’s bogeyman “obese people”? I surely hope that it is the latter, and shall, from the generosity of my heart, give you the benefit of the doubt.

    I’ve supplied you with a really interesting link, called the BMI Project. These are photographs of people with different BMI numbers, belonging to different BMI categories (underweight, normal, overweight, obese, morbidly obese). It is a wonderful way to learn about natural variations in human appearance, and helps put the negative stereotypes about body size in perspective. https://kateharding.net/bmi-illustrated/

    Thank you, and blessings to you.

    Krishna (I am American, by the way, but I do not shop at IKEA)

  47. My comment is awaiting moderation, but I just sent Daisy Waugh the link to the BMI Project and I condescended to her quite a bit, but in a loving, Disappointed Indian Dad kind of way.

  48. Hey, thanks for the positive feedback, you all!

    @hsofia–It’s very possible that this question has been asked elsewhere. Not in my column (I’d remember that one!) but plenty of folks send in questions to multiple columnists, and that was such a good story I can imagine any advice columnist wanting to use it. Certainly I’ve seen Dear Prudence and Cary Tennis do the same question, and this summer I blogged a question that had appeared in “Ask Amy” a couple of days previously.

  49. @Miss Conduct – Ahh, Thanks for getting back to me. I’d chalked it up to a terrible brain fart, but then you mentioned Dear Prudence, and that rings a serious bell. I thought your answer was great.

  50. @hsofia, re: advice column deja vu – Are you perhaps thinking about this? Even though the situations are different, I was reminded of it when I read Miss Conduct’s column because of the implications of fat hate and the reality check about (differing types of) abuse.

  51. Oh – Maya – I meant that I stopped reading porn because it sucks (as a comment on how sucky porn is bad) not that commenting on it being bad is bad.

  52. Happy Spring Break, mods! :)

    I’m currently head desking out of my mind on an eating disorder forum I frequent. The topic came up about a story where a dieting company is seeing an increase in sales after offering their services to Gabby Sidibe:


    The story is maddening enough, but I was extremely crestfallen to see every. single. commenter but me at the forum say that at Gabby’s size, there was NO POSSIBLE WAY she could be healthy. That she must be a compulsive overeater or otherwise just lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I thought that others with ED’s would be more sensitive about judging others on body size, but sadly in this case the answer was no. :/

  53. That article confuses me. It’s a welter of offensiveness and ugly stereotypes, but it’s also saying a couple things I think we can all get behind: the face of Teh Obesity Epidemic (!!1!) is just regular people, you guys, and hey, proximity to fat people isn’t unliveable horror after all. That these things I consider blindingly obvious are apparently a revelation to the author is troubling to be sure, and oh God is the comment thread sickening…. parts of it make the article itself look like a marvelous model of fat acceptance. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I tend to see Daisy as a reasonably well-meaning person who’s flunked 101. The BMI project, and the rest of what Kate et al do here, might turn her into an ally. Or maybe I’m trying to encourage myself with fantasy allies…

  54. @Lindsay

    In recent days I’ve been completely floored – chalk it up to my own naivete, thin privilege, something – at how many people seem *so invested* in insisting that there is absolutely no way Sidibe can be healthy. You suggest that there’s no way they can know for sure what the story is on any given person’s health and you get, like, a 404 Error screen: BUT SHE’S OBESE. Several people I’ve exchanged comments with cannot let it rest – even after I’ve said, realizing that I’m not going to get anywhere, that we’ll just have to agree to disagree, they keep hammering it, and even implying that I’m spreading malicious untruths about fat not being Always Chaotic Evil.

    As someone who’s struggled with an ED myself, I think I’m much, much more sensitive to body judgment because of my experiences, and it surprises me too that other ED sufferers would be so blinkered. And it makes me sad.

  55. @Whir – I know you weren’t talking to me, but I was nodding my head to your comment. Thing is, I don’t even bother with the “she could be healthy” argument – because as far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t matter if she were three seconds from a heart attack. What does her health have to do with her acting ability? The concern trolling about Sidibe just boggles my mind. No one talks this way about an actor with asthma, diabetes, a congenital defect, a mental illness, cancer, hepatitis, HIV, etc. Assuming they even KNOW. Actors who smoke don’t get this kind of crap thrown at them, either. It is invasive and totally not-the-point. Becoming an actor doesn’t mean you give up your right to privacy when it comes to your medical status. A celebrity might choose to share their medical information with the public, but if they don’t, tough shit. I’ve had to ask a few people, “And when are you going to publish your medical records for the rest of us to pour over?”

  56. @TRiG – Really, you have found porn on the Internet? That must be so convenient. /sarcasm

    Re:Team Gabby — I know the mods are away but I love Kate’s Salon piece on this sooo much. The concern trolling by the snake oil industry is especially ghastly. I wonder if I would have bought into all this myself if it weren’t for SP, actually. Reading this blog (and spending a lot of time in the archives) has helped me unlearn so much shit!

  57. @hsofia You’re totally right. I know I shouldn’t get caught up in the “she-can’t-be-healthy” arguments because it’s really none of anyone’s freaking business. It’s kind of a hydra-like problem, you open up multiple issues when you address it, and it’s easy to get confused about which head to attack. On the one hand no one has any reason to be speculating about anyone else’s health; on the other hand, part of me feels like people read “none of your business” as defensive, and I want them to know it’s not just none of their business, they also might be wrong. Aaanyway.

  58. @Piffle: it sounds like it’s a downtown clinic. They may have “invisible” security measures (cameras, guards, bulletproof glass, etc.) in place. If so, they might not want to broadcast exactly what those are.

  59. I just wanted to chime in on XKCD, I think Munroe does have some white knight tendencies, but I don’t see any mansplain’ there. For one, he’s not explaining anything to women. I think it might be a case of manrepeatin’ where women say something and then when no one listens a man says it louder and it suddenly makes sense. While shitty and sexist, I don’t think it’s actually shitty and sexist on his part.

    Also, I squealed with delight when I read that comic, when I saw that “Porn for Women” shit I actually yelled “WHAT THE HELL!?!” in borders. That series is incredibly offensive to me, and I’m glad someone lampooned it. I simply didn’t have the words to.

    @Trig, I shall be investigating this Nifty you speak of. It intrigues me.

  60. Ok, so I’m currently taking a Special Education course and one of our assignments is to find websites that would be good resources for educators either in special education or in inclusive classrooms. We have to write reviews of each website and then they will end up in a database at my university. I’ve got the ableist word profile, and I’ve been on yahoo, but most everything that I’ve looked at is bland and uninteresting. Or government sponsored which I’d like to avoid. I was hoping maybe someone here could recommend some good sites?

    I’m going to try looking through the archives, which I imagine will yield some good results, but if there’s anything you guys think is especially good and would like future teachers to look at I’d be delighted to have the links.

    @Trig, then I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and look through a lot of it, it will be difficult but I will endure.

  61. @the others who brought this up:

    I just read Kate’s Salon article that satirizes people who (a) are SO CONCERNED about Gabby Sidibe’s health, and who (b) claim she will never work again. Hilariously, it was right above another post by a guy named Broccoli, who opined that Gabby would never work again, AND most of the comments on Kate’s article were… conern trolling about Gabby’s health. The point: they missed it.


  62. I just read that Times article (not the comments, there aren’t enough SWs in the world) and I had a very different reaction. It struck me as having been intended as sarcasm… not good sarcasm, I’ll grant; it missed the mark by a thousand miles, but sarcasm nonetheless.

    I thought that the stuff about not seeing any “obese” people was intended to point out exactly what the BMI project points out: that what the government means when they say “obese” and what the average person thinks they mean are two very different things. That when corporations and governments set up policies that discriminate against the obese, they don’t just intend them to effect people over there, who aren’t like you and whom you don’t like. Nope, they mean YOU, Mr Two-Thirds of the Population. Obviously, writing that line HERE is weird, because a lot of the readership here is well aware of the political ramifications of our BMI, but I have a lot of acquaintances that seriously think that the government and insurance companies aren’t coming after them because they’re not “that fat”. I was at a dinner party recently where an entire table of people told me they were fine with insurance companies charging obese people more in premiums… I actually had to sit and calculate the BMI of everyone at the table (all were over 28, most were over 32) to convince them that this isn’t a war against some mythic fat guy over there, but against THEM. Some of them still don’t get it. They’re sure there will be exceptions for people who have a BMI over 30 but are pretty and, you know… not gross.

    Now I’m doing just as bad a botch job at explaining my thoughts on this as Daisy did, though hopefully being slightly less insensitive while I’m at it. And honestly the worst part of that article (other than that it hurt people, which makes it utterly suck right off the bat) is that it seems like it probably only got past the editorial staff because they either got the sarcasm, but missed the fact that the joke wasn’t clear or missed the sarcasm and didn’t care that it was an offensive piece of crap (because if it’s NOT sarcasm, it is a massively offensive piece of crap). Either way, major editorial FAIL.

  63. OK, I will try again since my last comment seems to have been eaten up by the spam filter. Harriet Brown’s article in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/health/16essa.html?ref=health seems to be particularly on target for main stream media: fat people may not even bother going to the doctor because they know without a doubt the distain they will encounter. This may not be a revelation to Shapelings but it obviously is to many people, including their doctors.

  64. @Other Becky, my own experience is pretty close with yours on the height/first weight-loss diet/typical family height thing. I was the tallest girl in my class until I quit growing at 14, and 14 is when I had my first bout with anorexia. Now, I’m not short (I’m five six), but 1) all of my nuclear family members continued to gain height throughout high school and into college, but I didn’t gain an inch after 14 and 2) they are tall people:

    Sister = five eleven
    Mom = six foot
    Dad = six two
    Brother 1 = six four
    Brother 2 = six eight

    Those two factors, coupled with the timing of my anorexia, make me believe that I was malnourished at an important body development stage in my life and it stunted my growth. I mean, it makes sense…my body barely had enough fuel to stay alive, say nothing about fuel for growing. Clearly I’ll never know for sure because there are a lot of factors that contribute to height, but my very nonscientific anecdotal data supports your hypothesis.

    /begin slightly related but rather self-indulgent bit

    A related bit on the topic of being so much shorter than my immediately family, throughout the years various people have innocently wondered out loud how I can be so much shorter than my immediate family. It seems like it would be easy enough to acknowledge that maybe it was caused by my eating disorder (I certainly acknowledge that, it’s no thing to me). But wait, no, not one family member has ever acknowledged my eating disorder, ever, so the standard party line my family has come up with (always delivered with a bit of a laugh and a lighthearted eyeroll at me) is that I drank a growth-stunting amount of coffee throughout high school, and it’s my coffee addiction that did it. Now, did I drink an obscene amount of coffee starting at age 14? Hell yes I did, but it was an eating disorder behavior! GAH! The denial, oh the layers of aggressively maintained denial, the blinders, the mental gymnastics…thank maude for excellent therapists. That is all :-)

    /end slightly related but rather self-indulgent bit

  65. Cassi: I think a lot of people don’t know what “obese” actually means, at least as defined by People Who Set Standards. They hear it and think “OMG HEADLESS DEATHFATTY!” That’s why I loooooove exploiting my relative amounts of thin privilege as an inbetweenie to inform anyone who uses the word “obese” in my presence that technically, clinically, according to the BMI, they mean me. Not some imaginary disgusting specter: me. Me, who can (due to living in the South) still shop in “straight” sizes. Who drinks only diet soda (because any other kind gives me yeast infections). Who shops at the farmers’ market, eats lots of veggies, and gets plenty of exercise. Me. Obese. So, what was that you were saying about obesity/obese people/the obesity epidemic, again?

  66. Also loved that XKCD, and didn’t see it as mansplaining at all. Munroe’s got a loud pulpit, louder than most women’s (yes yes sexism obvy) and if he wants to use it to remind folks that women like porn, and like to see people fucking, I am delighted for him to do so. To my eye, he’s a generally solid ally.

  67. I am fearing a coming showdown between Michelle Obama and Kate Harding in which my heart and my loyalties will be tested, twisted, and torn.

    Also, I just finished Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s The Gathering Storm, book twelve of a series I started reading when this years graduating class of high school seniors were being born. My patience has been tested, twisted, and torn.

  68. sara l, I agree, I saw that comic and thought “Wow, the author’s of Porn for Women must be really oblivious to things that are obvious to all” not “Wow, xkcd really knows What Women Think.”

  69. @ Gwen Ophelia – Blessings to you. How awful that your family refuses to acknowledge your eating disorder and your suffering, and how even more awful that they make a joke out of one of your symptoms! I am sorry; I apologize on their behalf, as resident Sin Eater, because you deserve it. And memsaab, you in your honesty standing taller than your family.

  70. @OtherBecky and GwenOphelia–I went through essentially the same thing, became anorexic at 13 and stopped growing, though I began again when I was eighteen, oddly (they found my growth plates hadn’t closed, and, when I was properly nourished, I added another inch of height during Freshman year of college–it was like the Freshman 1.5”). It seems unlikely that the late growth is totally unrelated to my years of poor nutrition and consequent hormonal imbalance.

    GwenOphelia, as for your family’s denial, that’s really sad. :( I know how hard it was for my parents to cope with my ED (they still get upset remembering it) so maybe it’s partly your family’s attempt to avoid something that was painful for them, too?

  71. @GwenOphelia, ouch. You post at SP, therefore you’re beautiful.
    @Other Becky, my story…Mom: 5’5, weight mostly on high end of average. Dad: 6’2, also on high end of average. Sis: 5’6, around an 8-10. Bro: 5’8, 180? My thyroid and adrenals conked out on me when I was quite small and didn’t diagnosed until my 40’s. I was on my first diet when I was 4. By the time I was 7, I was on diet pills. I was the tallest and heaviest in my class until 9th grade when I stopped growing at 5’7 when I was in 9th grade and have been mostly in the size 14-16 range save a few years when my hormones went berserk (went off Pill and the progesterone crashed) and put me up in the 20-22 range. And 14-16 I shall likely be unless I want to exercise 3 hours a day.
    This past weekend, I went shopping with a friend, P. She has a friend with end stage mestatic breast cancer. P burst into tears as she gave me the update–her friend has decided to discontinue chemo. Godde’s foot in my butt to get me over myself. I’ll take a dodgy thyroind and wonky adrenals any day. If anyone doesn’t like it, they can kiss my Renaissance goddess sized @$$!

  72. @whatayam, I just wanted to say that I was really intrigued by a lot of what you wrote. The ideas you bring up are pretty interesting and you’ve given me things to think about, thanks.

  73. @ Fran:
    I kind of suspect that I burned out my thyroid and adrenals too with long term use of diet pills-phentermine to be exact. The quacks at the diet clinic just kept giving them to me without question for over 6 years, even though I was very thin.
    When I stopped dieting last January and legalized food, my weight quickly shot up to a size way beyond what has been my historical range, save pregnancy and breastfeeding. I’ve stabilized at a 12-14 and I’m learning to deal with it, and hopefully eventually embrace it.
    If you don’t mind me asking,How were you finally diagnosed? what were your symptoms?

  74. @OtherBecky… exactly. The media like to run a headless picture of someone who is death fat right next to an article that states that 2/3 of the US population is “overweight and obese” (never mind the twisted nature of that statement). The best part is that by doing that repeatedly they then get to run articles about how “Fatties don’t know they’re fat!!” Well, duh. If you talk about the obesity epidemic (booga, booga!!) and run a picture of someone who is part of the small portion of the population whose BMI is, say, over 40, then why would someone with a BMI of 25.5 understand that you mean them too?? It’s the perfect setup. You get two scary statistics in one!

    Daisy doesn’t see the fat people the media tells her are lurking around ever corner, because the media neglected, in their scary scary booga booga article to mention that most of “The Obese” aren’t some scary”other”. They mean me and possibly you and, I strongly suspect, Daisy too… and I think (hope?) that was what she was trying to say.

  75. @WhataYam – Something similar happened to me, as well, when I was 17 or 18. I had stopped growing at 12, then, when I was sure I was done, I grew some more.

  76. Aww, I’ll miss you guys! Can’t wait to see you back again, you’re always so engaging and interesting to read. *sends you love, hugs, and puppies and kitties*

  77. OtherBecky:
    my sister was encouraged to worry about being plump from the age of about 9 (I don’t think obsessive dieting was enforced – then again, I was generally oblivious about everything – though I do remember cottage cheese). She began to binge/purge at about 16 for three years.

    Of the five of us, she is notably the shortest (I’m tallest at 5’5″, the other three are a bit less, she’s 5’0″).

    However, it’s worth remembering that she was the smallest at birth (7lb, running up to me at 9).

  78. (sorry for double post, forgot this bit)

    Daisy Waugh is the woman who impinged on my notice when she wrote an article in a parenting magazine about her decision to name her daughter Panda.

    Now, I’m all for being fine with that. What I wasn’t fine with was her response to the people who said she’d get bullied; which was, basically, so she’ll learn that some people are more horrible than we are, why should I care?

    I suspect that in the intervening decade her stance has shifted somewhat…

  79. Daisy replied to my letter; here is what she says –

    Thank you for your letter. I shall check out the link. The article was meant to be having a go at the general public’s self righteous disapproval of “the obese” . I find self righteous disapproval of anything very irritating. Live and Let Live!

    Sorry if that wasn’t clear to you.

    And you’re missing anything at IKEA!

    Best Wishes


  80. @Fran – loved this: “Godde’s foot in my butt to get me over myself. I’ll take a dodgy thyroid and wonky adrenals any day. If anyone doesn’t like it, they can kiss my Renaissance goddess sized @$$!”

    It reminds me of an Anne Lamott anecdote I’ve often used to set myself straight when the self-policing tries to kick in. She was in a dressing room with her best friend, who was in a wheelchair & the late stages of cancer. Lamott asked something like “Does this make my butt look too big?” and her friend said “Annie, you really don’t have that kind of time.”

  81. This may be the wrong place for this, but


    I saw this article today about the women and children in the camps in Haiti being at huge risk and many already being victims of rape: http://kdka.com/topstories/haiti.women.rape.2.1567402.html
    I am not well informed about Haiti at all, and while I normally reserve a lot of my charitable donations for U.S. based charities (local ones mostly) I am really wondering if there are any charities working on helping to protect these women (and children!), helping with recovery or medical assistance for them. The article distressed me so much, and I want to help.

    Does anyone know anything about this, where I could find information or where I could donate? Would Red Cross be a good place to start?

  82. @ Krishji, WhataYam, Fran: Thank you so much for the kind words. Happily, many years of outstanding therapy have given me both a good perspective on my family (especially in relation to their reaction/nonreaction to my ED) and a whole host of coping skills to help keep me mentally healthy whether they are being mentally healthy adults or not. Denial and avoidance are the go-to actions for anything painful or emotionally messy in my family, and once I really understood that they are just doing the best they can with the coping skills they have (rather than purposefully hurting me), it made a world of difference. I can’t change them, but that doesn’t mean that I let their denial and avoidance derail me from doing whatever I need to do to be healthy.

    I know that this coffee anecdote makes my family seem pretty awful, but I’d say overall I wouldn’t trade them in :-) I could tell you lots of great stories about them, I could tell you worse stories. Eh. Family dynamics are complex, you know?

  83. @BrieCS,

    The Red Cross and MSF are both active in Haiti (as are many other charities, such as the Christians distributing solar-powered audio Bibles (no, really)). I’d say one of these two reputable charities would be a good one to go for. (I picked MSF myself, because I’ve heard they’re very efficient.)

    I don’t know who’s running the camps, and I don’t know where to give money specifically to that cause. And I don’t really want to. I prefer to put cash into the charity’s general fund. They’re the experts on the ground. They can decide where it’s most needed.


  84. Completely off-topic and utterly irrelevant, but: I am moving into my old house again, after a few months of trying (with less and less success) to convince myself that I really do want to go back to the east coast, and was just hanging out here for the winter. But I don’t. I am a gardening addict, and the sunlight here (New Mexico) is sooo nice I can barely stand going inside before dark. And then the sky is so clear that I hate to miss the stars. How many places can you see the Milky Way curving across the sky?

    This is good news, all things considered, but it means I am moving, and that is hell on wheels. I would be grateful if everyone could just pick up a couple virtual boxes and stack them in the room upstairs, to the left? There’s virtual pizza and virtual beer when we’re done!

  85. MADRE is another group that’s working specifically with women in Haiti (and elsewhere around the world) — http://www.madre.org.

    Another group that’s been doing relief work in Haiti and has been active there for many years (not just starting from scratch after the quake) is Partners In Health.

  86. @Stacia–not at all. I’d had problems since childhood with brain fog, constipation (and not from too many white flour baby donuts with kitten frosting;) ), depression, shedding, perpetually cold hands and feet, and just having no energy even after sleeping 10-12 hours a night. I’d had bloodwork done and had landed smack in the middle. The range for normal is just ridiculously huge. After being told that it was in my head, I ended up self diagnosing and putting myself on an herbal/homeopathic. Half an hour after the first dose, the fog had lifted for the first time in my life.
    The doctor I have now, a naturopath, does a blood serum test that’s a lot more sensitive than the ones usually done. She has me on a homeopathic remedy that works great–I can get through most days without passing out after lunch. Or worse, in my lunch. ;)
    I also found out that many of the foods touted as beneficial to women (soy, raw cruciferous veggies) have naturally occurring substances that suppress thyroid hormones. XD
    @Flightless–I love Anne Lamotte. I’m acquainted with the story about shopping with her friend. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  87. Since this is a pretty open thread, I’ve got a question for the SP community – anybody going to the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association conference in St. Louis this year (specifically, the Fat Studies panels)?

    I’m going to be presenting a paper there, but my other big reason for going is to try and make some face-to-face connections with people in the Fat Studies/Fat Acceptance/etc. community…not just do research in a bubble and lurk on Shapely Prose. So, anyone going? Want to grab a beer/cupcake?

  88. O/T

    There is a complete wanker in one of my classes this semester. He genuinely believes himself to be a prophet. His favorite way of starting sentences is, “Well, I’m a Christian, so I pray everyday…*something totally unrelated*.” My favorite was, “I’m a Christian and I pray every day for wealth and power.” Cue Lucizoe’s eyebrow hitting her hairline. Methinks he may have misunderstood the whole point of the whole Christian thing.

    He’s also the sort of dude who believes he owns whatever woman he’s dating, as I gleaned today from overhearing his conversation about his recent ex-girlfriend and how he found her – TALKING – to another man…said in such a way that he clearly expected the dude he was relating the story to be just as angry as he was about it. How DARE she speak to another man! Just – ugh. He’s gross. Some muttering about feminists and cheating women, plus his knee kept invading my personal space. I don’t like him.

  89. Lucizoe – maybe you’ll get a chance to try out some of Snarkysmachines assclown techniques! Exciting!

  90. This is what snarky’s doing during spring break.

    Snarky’s Machine – my main blog where I just let ‘er rip about whatever I want, though it’s mostly about pop culture and sociology as I’m not a “POC blogger” but a blogger who happens to be POC. it’s confusing for folks who assume all POCs do nothing but educate white on the interweb about racism. And I don’t let very many comments go through, you have to be super special and interesting. This week is all reader’s choice with blog ideas/posts coming all from my email.


    I Fry Mine in Butter – is a group of my besties/kick ass collection of queer, trans, pwd, fat, so forth OMG doing something totally amazing and NOT talking about our -ism. We analyze pop culture differently than I do on my home blog and well there’s seven of us so there’s a lot more content. And oh yeah, did I mention they are all amazing writers.

    And I’m having a blast doing both.

  91. Re Daisy and that article, yeah, now that I’ve calmed down I can see that it was meant to be sarcastic/ironic/funny.

    BUT the stuff about the smart fat girl at school who let Daisy copy her homework was pretty too darn close to the truth for me to feel comfortable with it.

    Has Daisy every been the fat girl at school (or anywhere else)? Till she has, she should shut the *** up about it, cos it might be 30 yrs ago, but the memory of being the smart fat girl, who knew her only hope was to share her homework and beg for social acceptance, sticks with me. Sticks in my throat I mean, 30 yrs on.

    30 yrs on I still feel the shame and disgrace of being not accepted at school, unless I could persuade someone that the “smart fat kid” was worth knowing so that ze could copy my work

    Fat people get used to being abused. And it’s not funny to talk about that abuse, even if you mean to be clever, ironic, sarcastic or whatever. Abuse of fat children is no joke. But I don’t suppose Daisy will ever understand that, cos I bet you $100 she has never had a BMI over 25; and more, has no friends who have, and if they did, wouldn’t have them as friends.

    Those of you who can read her article and find it acceptable -good on you. It hits me where it hurts (in my childish, helpless, fat, past) too much for me to consider it objectively


  92. (An open thread means I can post links, right? Because… Here )
    This article on Erin Andrews really made me mad. Why does what happened to her have to be framed in terms of her father for people to GET IT??? I mean, the article itself is very supportive of her, but in a very what-if-this-were-your-daughter sort of way. How hard is it for people to understand that stalking and videoing is NEVER OK???

  93. yeah, here’s the funny and true thing, since I know not of html:

    Aleks said: ”I am fearing a coming showdown between Michelle Obama and Kate Harding in which my heart and my loyalties will be tested, twisted, and torn.”

  94. Umh, my teevee is trying to convince me that 2% milk is more unhealthy (unhealthier?) than fast-food french fries, and so I should drink SmartBalance.

    Does this mean milk is the new eggs, where every couple of years people will panic and it will be a “bad” food, and then it will be a “good” food before someone says “Gotcha!” and it’s a bad food again?

  95. mh, my teevee is trying to convince me that 2% milk is more unhealthy (unhealthier?) than fast-food french fries, and so I should drink SmartBalance.

    Eww. SmartBalance, the butter substitute? I wouldn’t drink that if I were you.

  96. @hsofia Oh no, I would never drink the butter substitute–I use that to fry my baby-flavoured doughnuts! (I guess next the teevee will tell me those are “bad”, too.)

  97. Mmmm. Since its an open thread—

    I finally Lost It at my parents for the Implied Fatness chats we seem to have All the Time:

    Dad: So, Mom’s been getting fat. She got all the way up to 145 again. Went back on that great 1200 cal a day diet. She’s been feeling sick and this should help

    (she’s been having asthma. wtf. anyway.)

    Me: [loses it on the phone for about 15 minutes about how family has never thought I was thin enough since I was too thin to give blood, and how family constantly comments on eating of things like bread, milk, and cheese when I run five miles a day and could kick their collective behinds]

    Dad: But honey, it isn’t about you. It’s about Mom. She’s fat, not you.

    Me: Mom and I are the same height and the same build, and I weigh MORE than she does.

    Dad: I don’t have a problem with your weight, just hers.

    Me: Okay, whatever. It’s her body, and she can do what she wants with it. Can you please not talk about diets and her weight or fatness or lack therof around me anymore?

    Dad: Why not? It isn’t all about you you know….

    Me: I know. Just do it for me.

    Dad: Ok.

    So. Yay me. Woo.

    Sorry for the monster post guys. I don’t want to put this on my blog cause they read it, but I wanted dot tell SOMEONE who would get that this was a Big Step for me.

  98. Well played, chava. Family can definitely be the hardest to deal with. A hundred years of backstory, and all that.

  99. Eww. SmartBalance, the butter substitute? I wouldn’t drink that if I were you.

    Double eww. I wouldn’t eat that stuff either. I have a good friend who keeps pushing me to eat that stuff, right now her thing is some omega-3 spread. I try reminding her that 5 years ago she was encouraging me to eat trans-fats rather than saturated. I have no more faith in this new stuff than I did in that stuff. I’m sticking with olive oil, which my Cubano in-laws assure me is the healthiest thing on earth (well that and really strong coffee with enough sugar in it to make the spoon stand up straight all by itself). I drink a gallon a day and it’s great on my cheerios.

  100. SmartBalance — it was invented by a Brandeis alum (or professor? or something?) and this is advertised prominently as a reason to attend the university. (“The Smart Choice!”) I really don’t want to know how much they paid whoever thought that was a sensible marketing idea.

  101. I ate Smart Balance for years, but I didn’t drink it! I think it tastes good and it’s cheaper than butter, and spreads more easily on bread. I do prefer the taste of butter, however, and I resumed buying it years ago. We keep Earth Balance in the house for my vegan hubby. We all have issues with milk so I try not to overdo the butter.

  102. spreads more easily on bread

    Ah, that makes sense. We’re a family of dippers, not spreaders, so we do olive oil (with salt and sometimes garlic or balsamic) in a bowl and just dip the bread in. Plus you can just dump the leftover oil (as if!) on your salad or cooked veggies when you’re done (which in our house means there isn’t a single crumb of bread left anywhere… we’ll dip English muffins if that’s all that’s left, though the raisin ones do NOT work not even if you try to pick the raisins out, don’t ask me how I know this). If I were looking for something to spread I can see that the tub things would work well. Butter is tasty, but I usually only use it for baking these days, because yeah, it’s an arm and a leg. It is, however, essential for pie crust. I tried to make one without it and I simply could not make the thing roll properly.

  103. Berkolate –

    I will be there, also presenting. I am only there on Wednesday, however, because I could not afford the hotel for the whole event. Feel free to drop me a line at brinata at gmail dot com.

  104. Cassi–
    Is it the Cuban coffee or the olive oil that’s so good in Cheerios? Because I need a new vehicle for my caffeine . . .

  105. @starling… I admire your brave and potentially creative way with Cheerios. A bold new world beckons, and not one I could explore alone I fear. I’ve embraced chocolate muffins soaked in strong coffee as the base for a Tiramisu Style Trifle, but I had to sit quietly for a while with a damp cloth on my forehead afterwards from the adventure. It worked a treat though.

  106. Starling, the original joke was meant to be about olive oil, but then I went off on my coffee tangent and everything became a tangled web of gastronomic horror. In truth the Cuban husband likes peach or guava nectar on his cereal. To even witness this sends me into a diabetic coma, but I’m told that it’s delicious beyond words. Of course it’s possible that’s just a side effect of being hyperactive and incoherent from all the sugar… a line cribbed from Bill Watterson’s Calvin on the joys of eating Chocolate Coated Sugar Bombs with chocolate milk for breakfast.

    Perhaps if you poured espresso over a cocopuff like substance you could create a super mocha caffeine bomb? Count Chocula is part of a healthy breakfast… I know it’s true, I saw it on my teevee!

  107. Ooooh . . . I wonder how Reese’s Puffs would go with coffee? Yeah, I see you all staring, horrified, but who knows? Maybe mocha peanut butter is the undiscovered Hot New Taste of 2010! And my dear Paintmonkey, I will have to do the muffin/coffee thing. Possibly with brandy, too, to get the true tiramisu experience. Or perhaps just a medicinal brandy, afterwards, like Agatha Christie heroes used to administer to delicate young females after a Shocking Experience.

  108. @Cassi, my grandmother used to make pie crust with lard, and it came out well. I’m pants at shortcrust so I’ve no personal experience of any worth to offer.

  109. “Or perhaps just a medicinal brandy, afterwards, like Agatha Christie heroes used to administer to delicate young females after a Shocking Experience.”

    @Starling, this proved to be well timed advice. Once I read @Whir’s comment with it’s undoubtedly below-stairs references to (I daresay) possible gentleman’s undercarriages and ungodly practices, I had to retire with a small snifter of brandy and a lavender nosegay to sniff gently.

  110. This whole thread makes me so happy. :)

    Chava, good on you for saying that to your dad.

    I’m having the much lesser, but still awkward, problem where Mom’n’Dad keep telling me about Dad’s diet and how much he’s lost, etc. I have just recently read’n’reviewed “Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere” and I’m trying to remember that (a) since his weight-loss will probably be temporary, it’s best not to feed their current excitement level, because I don’t want him to be upset when/if everything comes back, and (b) to likewise avoid “morally-loaded” words. So where I would have once said, “Oh, I’m so proud of you,” as conversational feedback, I’m now struggling to say something like “Oh, well if you say you’re feeling healthy, that makes me happy,” or something neutral like that. It’s…tricky.

    In fact, as a baby to HAES, it’s really surprising to me to see how often in casual conversation, I have to choke back and either keep silent or re-word some old chestnut. Coworker eating salad? I can’t/won’t say, “Oh, being good today?” as a breezy mindless conversation filler, no matter how much the conversation might require some filler at the moment. Similarly, no “bad/naughty/cheating?” comments for chocolate cake. As someone who is a chronic small-talker, this has been shocking to me, how much we talk about food as a moral choice all the time.

    Sorry, this turned into another “OMG, I’ve seen the light” comments, where I say 101 stuff that everyone got forever ago. *sheepish*

  111. I don’t think I ever have used that sort of conversational filler. (This may be just because I don’t really do conversational filler.)

    I recently commented to a friend that I want to get more exercise. His immediate reaction was, Why would you want to exercise? You’re not fat! (This is true: I’m not quite invisible from the side, but I am thin and always have been.) He’s made comments before about my needing to get a good meal, ignoring the fact that I have a hearty appetite (and always have had).

    I want more exercise because I might then sleep better, and might then find it easier to get up in the mornings, and might then not have to skip breakfast. Summer is icumen in, so I’ll get some walks in the evenings after work.


  112. @Snuffycup Seeing your name and pix made me smile! Thanx! : )

    And Ugh! Thinking back on some of the fat-hatred… a family memeber told me I was on a diet when I was two, but I only remember Weight Wathers when I was six or eight years old. My favorite WW moment was when I was nine or eleven and the motivational speaker—a very thin blond petite woman, told a story to inspire all the fatties. A woman she knew used to be fat, did WW and was now thin. She walked passed a group of construction workers who started whistling and shouting things at her. The woman was sooo suprised (in a “I’m soo flattered” kind of way) that she fell off the curb! She was not used to men finding her attractive and getitng that kind of attention and she was soo happy! That was the last time I went to that meeting as having the goal of being sexually harassed wasn’t really something I thought was a good thing, unlike the WW representative. I didn’t find it very happy making. So I left.

    I wish I could say that was the last time I went to WW but I tried again when I was 16 or 17. I didn’t last long as I started an argument with the group leader about her telling everyone they couldn’t have tea or coffee even with no sugar or anything! Now I just could’t deal with such a fascist! So I let her have it. LoL!

  113. @Cassi — I like orange juice on my cereal if we’re out of milk. And egg nog on Rice Krispies. The latter is one of those things that I really enjoy once a year and then have no desire to eat again until next winter…it’s almost exactly like eating liquid Rice Krispie treats :-)

  114. Today I had a rather uncomfortable lunch with my boss and a co-worker (both female) where they spent the entire time talking about diets and weight loss. I was keeping mostly quiet and I could feel that they (both are thin) were expecting me (the fattie) to participate more in the conversation (you know the usual, “oh my god, I’m sooo fat, please give me diet tips” conversation that is so common among women). My boss even asked me if I wasn’t trying to lose weight. I mumbled something about wanting to exercise more (which is true) and changed the subject.
    This conversation got me thinking about how, just a few months ago (before I discovered Fat Acceptance and Shapely Prose) I would have been all over the diet talk, and probably feeling really bad about myself during that lunch. So thanks to the entire Shapely Prose community (especially our bloggers) for this amazing space. I’m not going to say that I’ve completely let go of the FOBT, but I’m much more aware of all the diet “chow chow” (TM snarkysmachine) that goes on around me.

  115. Happy to report another obesity paradox. Researchers admitted they hoped to disprove obesity paradox. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/182614.php

    Also, I have a blog now. Mostly medical mumbo jumbo, but I will be making some posts on obesity and fat acceptance and physician bias in the future. I think there might be some good info for Shaplings there now. All comments appreciated.

  116. There are golden lion tamarins in the DC zoo and they are not in a cage or enclosure at all. They live in the woods and just never wander very far.

    And now I really want to try eggnog on rice krispies!

  117. @flightless Have you ever seen them? I lived in or near DC until July and visited the zoo often, but never saw them. :(

  118. Bob: That’s great. I love though, the dumbfoundedness. “Huh? But it CAN”T BE!!!” Even though when any other “study” comes out, it MUST BE TRUE ‘CAUSE IT’S SCIENCE.

    On another note, I did a presentation for my Theory of Knowledge class this week about BMI and it’s incredible wrongness, and the fact that medicine relies on such ridiculousness. I actually showed my class pics from the BMI project (cited Kateharding.net of course), and asked them to judge the pictures I showed them from underweight-morbidly obese. Most of them got most of the them wrong.

    My teacher later (next day) told me that she thought/talked about my project later (I think at home), and that she had experienced the whole, “Your blood pressure, cholesterol, everything is great. I just wish you’d lose weight” thing. Argh. Just reminds me every time I start to think that this is a useless fight–this affects people I know, and I can use my voice to make a difference. If that one person stops dieting because of doctor-pressure, I’ve made a difference. *Smiles*. Other students also said that they thought about it; I really hope I’ve made a dent in the thinking of a few students at my school–maybe next time someone brings up BMI, they’ll stop and think for a moment.

    I’m new to FA, so this presentation, being personal in a way, was kind of hard for me to stand up and do, but I am SO glad that I did. One of the best decisions of my life.

  119. PS: Holy moley, this thread is so light-hearted, significant, cute, and full of furry little animals…Just reminds me why I love this place.

    You’ve all changed my life! (You guys and the other FA bloggers/commenters out there!).

  120. @ Alibelle,

    I tried to post this earlier and got it eaten somehow.

    Special Education is a very broad subject, and I’m not clear on what you want; but I can direct you to a page that’s a jumping off point for the difficulties faced by children, like mine, who are both gifted (mine only slightly, everyone’s under 140) and learning disabled. (The cute name is for this is Twice Exceptional.) My eldest has Asperger’s and mild ADHD, the younger two got an Oh My Don’t They Bounce Off The Walls from the psychologist who diagnosed them. He was all, how do you manage? after he diagnosed the second one. The score in the upper percentile on the scales. Both are very hyperactive, and one is a girl, so it’s not really acceptable for her you know–girls are supposed to be so sweet and quiet and social. Thank all the scientists for medication! At any rate this page has a section dealing with all sorts of learning disabilities at several levels of giftedness, and how the two interact.


    Hope it’s interesting, I know it only deals with a fraction of a fraction of kids, so it’s kind of specialized.

  121. Oh, above the 130 mark the Wechsler becomes wildly inaccurate. Give people who’ve scored between 130 and 160 (the top of the scale) a different IQ test, one designed for “high-range,” and they end up all over the place on that one, with the ‘mildly gifted’ 130’s people as likely as not to score higher than the ‘profoundly gifted’ 150’s people.

    IQ tests are dumb for a lot of other reasons, too.

  122. TooManyJessicas — I’ve seen them! It helps if you go super-early, right when the zoo opens. Especially in the summer, even the diurnal critters tend to be all sleepy and hide in the shade if you go in the late morning or afternoon. My family had a tradition for a while of going to the zoo at daybreak and eating breakfast there.

  123. @TooManyJessicas – yes, they are really cute! There were 4 of them and they just sort of hung out all together in the same tree. The National Zoo has volunteers who keep an eye on them, so they can point them out for you.

    In other Dangerous Zoo Animal On The Loose! news, one of the medium-sized wild cats (something more like a lynx than a tiger?) got out through a hole in its enclosure once. They found it about 10 feet away, all kitty-lazy and kitty-fascinated by the shrubbery on the OTHER side of the fence.

  124. Ooh! We should go to the zoo this week while my parents are here. The tamarins are caged at the Philadelphia Zoo, sadly. It’s still a pretty nice one, though, with a lot of natural habitats. (Some places are just sad, so many animals in concrete bunkers.)

    Oh, and here’s to *gorgeous* weather. It’s supposed to be 72° F today!

  125. chava: Good for you. (about your parents, I mean)

    WhataYam: I only just saw your first comment. Those are some interesting thoughts. I think you’re right about our culture fetishizing self-control without any real understanding of it.

    Thanks to all who have responded to my question about dieting and height. I did actually find a marginally relevant journal article — a follow-up on people who had been put on ketogenic diets as children as a treatment for intractable epilepsy; they were, on average, shorter than expected based on parental height. My childhood diet was calorie restriction, not controlled ketosis, so I don’t know how applicable those findings are, but I thought it was interesting.

  126. @Piffle, thank you, that page will be very helpful. It is a really broad subject and this one class is supposed to cover everything, in fact we have already been talking about students who are in both gifted programs and special education, briefly. For Special Education majors it’s more in depth, but for everyone else it one 3 hour class a week for one semester. It’s gotten me very interested in the area though, this weekend I was in Weston, MO. in a little shop with trilobite fossils and things when one woman in there mention her son was autistic and carried “fidgets” with him and that’s what they were looking for. It took a lot of effort to not start grilling her for more information. I was already excited about teaching, but now I’m even more excited about teaching in inclusive classrooms.

  127. Good news on the obesity “paradox”, but major fail from the researchers. From the article Bob linked:

    “‘Obese patients are hard on their bodies; many don’t eat right, don’t exercise, and many smoke,’ explained Eric Hansen, co-lead author and also a second year medical student at the University of Rochester. ‘If their bodies are surviving this bad treatment then perhaps they are better equipped, from a genetic standpoint, to live with heart failure.'”

    And they’re 100% serious about that too. Fatties clearly have terrible personal habits, which is obviously why they’re fat, so somehow that must somehow explain the paradox, right?

  128. @WhataYam: Provocative first post. I am often dumbfounded by the diverse ways in which “will power” as a social construct is used to enforce culturally based moral imperatives. As in: one *should* be thin, straight, wealthy, happy, confident, self controlled, courageous, energetic, thoughtful and humble…

    If only I had some will power left over after using all of mine each morning while resisting the urge to put my head through the nearest wall.


  129. ““‘Obese patients are hard on their bodies; many don’t eat right, don’t exercise, and many smoke,’ ”

    Ahh… how MANY exactly? This isn’t data, just the assertion of a second-year med student. And if he did his research, he would find that smoking is actually more prevalent among thin people.

  130. Fat people should stop smoking! Then when they gain the quitting-smoking weight, we can all shame them for that too!


    Here, I’ll fix it for him: “Human beings are in charge of their own bodies; many don’t eat what I want them to, don’t move as much as or how I think they should, and many choose to use substances that I personally think they shouldn’t.”

  131. @Fantine et al.

    Yeah, that bit about “MANY” fatties smoke wevs cheesed me off too. I can counter your anecdata with anecdata, researchers: both of my tiny-skinny aunts? Chain-smokers. One of the reasons neither one wants to quit? They’ll “get fat”.

    I want numbers, O Med Student — numbers comparing rates of smoking in people with obese, overweight, normal and underweight BMI. I think one might find very few differences there — otherwise they’d be studying the correlation between smoking and chance of sudden cardiac death.

    But “many”? Without citation? Learn to RESEARCH (and logic). *headdesk*

  132. @ chava – Good on you. That must have been difficult, but it will totally tip the balance of power in your favor during future situations.

    @ slythwolf – About that smoking… does HAES/FA have a position on smoking? I mean, yeah, it’s unhealthy, but it’s legal, and not mind-altering in the rob-a-bank-crash-a-car sort of way. I’m sort of a smoking libertarian. I’m not a “heavy” smoker, but many of the people I love most are, or were, and it’s incredibly difficult to quit smoking when you’ve started before you’ve learned how to read (age 4 or 5). I like to think that HAES/FA is about being non-judgmental in most ways regarding personal lifestyles.

  133. Personally, I dislike the smell of tobacco smoke, it makes me feel ill; however, I’ve moderated my views on others smoking since I discovered that nicotine is one of the ways adults with ADHD can cope on their own. Nicotine and caffiene can both be ways to self-medicate undiagnosed ADHD. I don’t want to be around cigarette smoke, but before we go recommending quitting to all and sundry, we should be sure they don’t have a real need for it.

  134. @Krishna, I agree with your neutral stance on smoking, just because you want to do something (that’s legal) that I don’t, why should I judge or harass you about it?

    To me smoking, like the fight against obesity, is another time wasting distraction for the public to focus on instead of things like education or other public matters that would really improve our society as a whole. I believe legislation and the encouragement of public outcry over things like this are easy ways to distract people from critically examining what they really want from their society and what really makes them happy. In other words, it’s an easy way to control the masses. I don’t want to sound all “conspiracy theory” on you guys, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I just mean that it’s really easy to find a scapegoat or use a strawman argument when you’re in power.

    Something I’m aware of in my own social circle with regards to smoking is that most of the friends I’ve had who have been drug addicts and have successfully quit, have become life-long smokers. When asked by people about when they’re going to give up this new “vice”, they’ve said, “Would you rather I start doing drugs again? I have a problem with addiction and smoking provides an outlet for that for me. I think I’ll stick with smoking.” I’m in no way saying everyone who has ever smoked is a drug addict, I’m not trying to compare drugs with cigarettes at all. What I mean is that from my friends’ perspectives, their lives are a hell of a lot happier smoking than doing drugs. And I have to agree with them.

  135. I do think part of the outcry against smoking was the marketing techniques they were using, ones which (a) deliberately obscured health information, and (b) were specifically directed at young people. I think it’s possible to come out against that while still respecting people’s individual autonomy.

    Semi-related: has anyone read Bellewether by Connie Willis? Delightful novel about a sociologist researching how fads get started and one of the fads involved in the book is an extreme aversion fad against smokers, which pretty closely parallels today’s extreme aversion fad against fat people.

  136. I found an “article” that might be of interest:

    Which links to

    It’s suggesting *cough rationalizing inappropriately* that plus-sized models don’t sell.

    If you read this, here’s my comment:

    I’m not sure how you can measure self-esteem at all…and particularly masure changes within the same hour-or-so. Self-esteem is so much more complicated than a pre-and-post image survey.

    But more interestingly, I read the comments on the Yahoo page, and I was shocked by the fact that I lost not one SW point on the first page (haven’t read past the first page of comments yet though). I was completely ready for fat-hating, but none!
    The “study” confuses me and upsets me…But the comments make me really happy. They’re all pretty balanced and non-infuriating.

    RE: Smoking: That’s one thing that I’ve inadvertently picked up from FA, to stop bothering my parents about their smoking. Just like fat people know we’re fat…smokers know they smoke, and whatever health risks have been said to accompany smoking. It’s not my business, nor is it anyone else’s but theirs. I’ve quit expressing my “concern”.

  137. I don’t like equating cigarettes to being fat. I will strongly discourage my child and every child in my life from smoking cigarettes. Yes, plenty of people have had 2-pack-a-day relatives who died happily in their sleep at age 95, but I just find the morbidity and mortality statistics to be atrocious overall.

  138. I should add, that I have friends who smoke and have never lectured anyone on it. But most people take it up as kids so I think it’s important to be really clear with children about it.

  139. Smoking isn’t the same as fat–smoking is a behavior, unlike being fat, which is a state of being. But the lecturing and the “tell all the smokers you know to quit!” thing must be getting old to smokers. If a smoker hasn’t chosen to quit, or been able to quit, by now and doesn’t want to feel guilty about it, he/she shouldn’t have to, in my opinon.

    I had a teacher in middle school who found out that my parent smoke, and told me to keep telling them over and over that it’s unhealthy until they quit.
    Crossing the line? Most likely.

    By the way, the link I posted didn’t show up for some reason…Not sure what I did. I’m not sure if anyone cares, but just in case…It’s called “Do plus-size models make women feel bad about themselves?” on Yahoo…I know, it’s Yahoo…but it linked to a study, a study which I think has a billion inherent problems.

  140. I’m of the “it’s your body, you don’t have an obligation to conform to other people’s ideas of healthiness, have a nice day” school.

  141. I agree, concern-trolling smokers is a pretty asshole move. I took umbrage with the whole “look, fat people are IMMORAL because they SMOKE” crap, as it was presented completely out of context and without hard numbers.

    O Medical Student, I’d also like a definition of “harder” in “fat people are harder on their bodies”. If you’re talking “they have more vices obvs b/c they’re FAT”, you’re full of shite. Now, if you’re talking “there appears to be more wear-and-tear than usual” I might agree, if you also find that these obese people have, say, spent more time dieting. That’s hard on your body, I can tell you from personal experience.

    As for personal feelings re: smoking — just don’t do it in my house or my car, and we’re good. But that’s just basic courtesy, as my smoking friends tell it.

  142. @ slythwolf – About that smoking… does HAES/FA have a position on smoking?

    I’m certainly not the spokesperson for HAES/FA, lol. But it’s my personal position that each human being has the inalienable right to do whatever the fuck zie wants to hir own body.

    I’m in favor of smoking being kept out of public spaces, though, because some people are very, very allergic to different kinds of smoke and will be in the hospital if someone smokes near them.

  143. iii: “I’m of the “it’s your body, you don’t have an obligation to conform to other people’s ideas of healthiness, have a nice day” school.”

    That’s what I meant too, but you said it in a way that made sense. :)

  144. Alibelle: in a little shop with trilobite fossils and things when one woman in there mention her son was autistic and carried “fidgets” with him and that’s what they were looking for. It took a lot of effort to not start grilling her for more information.

    What do you want to know?

    A trilobite is a nice thing to carry in your pocket and run your fingers over, to calm and focus oneself.

    Early school-age, I had this little plastic crocodile with a spring-loaded jaw and would open and close his mouth repeatedly. The teachers kept taking him away and eventually one of them confiscated him for a month, and ‘lost’ him during the course of it so I never got him back.

    What you need to know as a teacher is that these behaviors, which may seem like the kid isn’t paying attention, are ways to focus. After they stole my crocodile I’d take a paperclip, bend it repeatedly ’til it broke, bend the remaining bit into a straightened Z-shape and stick one end of that into my pencil-eraser so I had a little miniature crank-handle. Sit there and turn the crank while answering slowly. Teachers didn’t like this (but if they took my crank, I could make another, unlike my crocodile) as I was fidgeting and not making eye-contact and they did not understand that the crank was helping me focus, not distracting me.

    The same effect can be achieved with something like a trilobite hidden in one’s pocket. A little alligator clamp from the hardware store is better for me, the moving parts are nice. Or maybe I’m just remembering my crocodile. Alas, poor Croc.

  145. I do the fidgety thing – usually, at work these days, with a binder clip that I can bend back and forth. I don’t think it helps me focus per se; it’s just kind of an inherent aspect of who I am. Not autistic or aspergers, as far as I know, but perhaps a similar mechanism in that particular instance – I definitely appreciated teachers and authority figures who didn’t get on my case about it.

  146. @Grafton, I figured it was a soothing technique, and that’s almost what I said, “Hey! Random Stranger who’s privacy I’m infringing on, does he carry them to calm himself? Did you get that as a tip from someone? What’s a good support system that you use? How was he diagnosed?!?! Give me more information about your family life!” Luckily I restrained myself.

    I think I’ll be good with students on that sort of thing, my weird social issues require that any time I have a one on one conversation I must pull my hair back, twist it around and then smooth it over one shoulder. Once I’ve done that enough to look weird, then I have to have my keys in my hands or a clicky pen or something, so I can understand what that’s like.

    I actually wish our special education training was more in depth, because there are things that I’m worried I’ll react to wrong, like your teachers did. Thank god for the internet, otherwise I would be grilling strangers about their home lives in random small town trinket shops.

  147. In response to the question about whether FA/HAES has an “official” stance on smoking, here are my thoughts…

    There are some moral stances on smoking and food that I think are pretty OK to have – thinking that tobacco companies are bad for putting profits ahead of truth telling (about some of the dangers of smoking), for example, or worrying about the labor practices and/or environmental impacts of Big Agriculture. I’m comfortable passing moral judgment (or at least asking some morally-motivated questions) on issues like that.

    One of the big problems I have with Michael Pollan and a lot of his disciples is that he (or at least people citing him) sometimes has this slippage between moralizing about the food industry (OK by me) and moralizing about how people eat, what their bodies look like, what rights they have in regard to their own health (not OK by me). So, in theory, I would take the same approach to smoking – depending on which battles you want to pick, supporting big tobacco companies is not good, but I wouldn’t say that smoking as a behavior is morally wrong (assuming you’re conscientious about secondhand smoke and the like). That’s the theoretical stance. In practice, I’d wonder whether there are more *moral* ways to get tobacco that avoid supporting Philip Morris and its ilk (and I honestly don’t know – are there any/many independent, fair labor practices-type tobacco producers?).

    I know there are plenty of companies I support on a regular basis that probably have some problematic practices, and I really don’t know whether/how much tobacco companies are “worse” – I guess what I’m saying is that if there are moral judgments to be made about smoking, I’d much rather see them focus on the big picture-type issues, not on regulating what an individual does with her/his body.

  148. That’s interesting, my eldest also needs something to fiddle with; I’ve never been sure if it’s part of the ADHD or the Asperger’s. Schools are getting better, in elementary school they gave him a bit of velcro stuck to his desk that he could run his fingers over. He also had a squooshy ball for a while; but that didn’t appeal to him as much. I’m going to tell one of my favorite stories about him now, so be warned!

    When we were going to send him off to preschool, he melted down and wailed that he couldn’t go because he didn’t know “fishsticks!” We were baffled and tried to calm him down by letting him know that school was for learning, you didn’t have to know everything before you went. Didn’t work. He kept weeping and insisting that he wasn’t ready to go. We asked several ways what he felt he needed to know about “fishsticks”; and upon trying to give him all the information we knew (breaded fish, usually a white meat, good with ketchup) discovered that what he meant was physics! It took a few more days and some stories about what kids actually did in preschool before he believed that you could attend without knowing physics first. Once he did he liked it. The perils of having a kid who taught himself to read at four, then devoured the Magic School Bus books.

    Um. Back on track. Up until he was in forth grade or so, he loved non-fiction books; but didn’t care for fiction at all. It wouldn’t surprise me if that was true for lots of Asperger’s kids. Facts were fine, people and how they interacted were baffling. When I tried to read fiction to him he just couldn’t predict the people or explain why they acted except with the most obvious surface explaination that the book presented. We read some silly book where someone invented a hot cocoa pill that involved crushed dried caterpillars, the characters who watched the process and were given some of the cocoa, quietly poured it on the lawn, ostensibly to see if it made the grass greener. He didn’t get that it was because of the caterpillars, he thought they were really testing grass greening. He still likes fiction that has fairly simple plots with good guys vs. the bad guys and lots of fighting; the more introspective stuff doesn’t interest him. He’s in sixth grade now.

  149. Kate: I would’ve posted this on Salon.com, and will if you want me to, but I do try to avoid those comments there, usually. I just saw your note there about taking a break from ladyblogging (which I hope so much means just Broadsheet), and wanted to let you know how very much I’ve enjoyed your posts there. I’m so very grateful for the work you do, wherever you do it. Happy spring break, and please know what good you are doing, here and elsewhere, for so many.

  150. Alibelle — I think you’ll do fine. You’re clearly more interested in teaching than in making children respect your authority.

    Piffle — yeah, it’s a stereotype about autistics that we don’t like fiction. Lots of autistics do, but probably in lower proportions than the general population.

  151. I didn’t realize that was a stereotype about autistics! I think I read that somewhere once, but it didn’t much match up with the kids I know. (Er…I guess that’s why it qualifies as a stereotype.) I had a student with autism who was a big reader and mostly read non-fiction–it seemed like figuring out some of the figurative language slowed him down, and he was so eager for the story that he didn’t want to deal with sorting that out. But last year I had a girl who is autistic who pretty much only reads gigantic fantasy novels, so I guess I wouldn’t have been able to make any generalizations, which is maybe a good thing.

    I had a special ed teacher come in to talk to my class of 9th graders last week about autism and Asperger’s, and at the beginning of the presentation she handed out little bits of beeswax to my class (of mostly neurotypical kids)…and afterwards she talked to them about their behavior with the beeswax, and how some of them set it aside and forgot about it, and some squished it and played with it and it distracted them,and some played with it and it actually made them more focused on what she was saying. I thought it was a really cool way to simply demonstrate that different learners/brains need different things,without judging the behaviors.

  152. Hehe! Yet another stereotype is that aspie boys don’t like fiction at all, but aspie girls love fantasy.

    I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. But I read everything, I am hyperlexic and cannot stop.

    I love the beeswax thing. It’s too messy to carry as a pocket stim-toy, though. A kneaded rubber eraser won’t melt into the lining of your pocket, but practically everyone is fascinated by those and so it is hard to keep other people off it. LeahMorgan’s binder-clip is a popular one. I’ve a number of those, the tiny-sized ones, for just that purpose. They are easier to come by than alligator clamps, and aren’t so associated with pot.

  153. Since it is going to be quiet here for a while I thought I’d pass on that Ta-Nehisi Coates has had a few interesting threads going on obesity/shame/attitudes about obesity in the past few days. The first thread really didn’t sit well with me, and there was some conversation about it in the open thread the next day. The follow-up post started some really interesting conversations:


  154. Re fidgeting to focus: My best toy has always been my hair. I have more split ends than anyone I know from holdinga piece between my thumb and forefinger and rubbing the ends against my middle finger (or sometimes my whole other hand). I’ve been doing it semi-compulsively since I was at least two and my mother has been trying to get me to stop since then, but if I don’t do it I just zooooone ooooooout and miss everything. It infuriates her that I am a working professional and continue to do it (in front of my bosses, even–horror!) I’m pretty neurotypical, so I don’t really know what it’s about.

    And I second the hope that Kate Harding will still write at Shapely Prose! Or at least somewhere where we can all read her works.

  155. @ Everybody who answered my query about smoking – Very heartening stuff, all of this. I haven’t heard enough of it lately, in fact, I’ve been hearing quite the opposite. I haven’t been quite my sunshine-bright cheerful self since my father’s death, in fact I’ve been a total wreck, and when people find out how old he was (young) and that he died of heart disease, they always seem to say, “Well, he did smoke, didn’t he?” And yes, he did, but I don’t see why that would make me miss and love him any less, or how it was my responsibility to have forced a grown man who had raised me with such love and compassion, who had smoked since he was four years old, to quit smoking while on his deathbed… what good would that have done either of us? And I’m not a big-time smoker, but there are times when I’ll smoke, just to think of all the hours I spent with him on the front stoop, having uncommonly frank chats about graphic sexual topics, listening to him give advice with the Camel bobbling on his bottom lip. And that’s who he was, and it certainly wasn’t my job to change him.

    @ Zee – I had a teacher do that to me as well. She was a lousy teacher, played favorites, and thought she hadn’t a flaw in the world.

  156. @krishji – thanks for adding that post about your father. He sounds wonderful. It makes me cross too when people have to ask the “did he/she smoke?” question when there is a health problem or someone dies. It’s rude, loaded with a kind of blame and also designed (I think) to soften people’s own feelings about dying as though somehow if they don’t smoke, death won’t touch them, which is of course, not so.
    Also, (and this is just my belief system) I feel that the time we are given is ours to spend as we wish, and what we do with that time and what we say in that time, is far more important than any little habit we pick up along the journey like smoking or eating the “wrong” foods. For me, our lives are about growth and how we treat and affect others, and if we have done that positively and compassionately as your father did, then we’ve lived the best we could do and can leave the world knowing we have lived well. That you say your father raised you “with such love and compassion” says everything, and I don’t think a finer thing could be said about a person.

  157. Interestingly, my husband is a self-diagnosed Aspie, and will not read fiction; he thinks it is completely pointless, why would you want to read about imaginary people who don’t exist? And then I have a couple of female friends with Asperger’s, both of whom I met through the scifi/fantasy fandom community.

    I like to have something to do with my hands all the time, to give the restless part of my brain something else to focus on I guess, and I have ADHD. It’s best if it’s something slightly complicated, like knitting, as opposed to just holding something in my hands and fidgeting with it, but even that is okay because if I don’t have anything I start picking at my cuticles and wind up splitting them. Meanwhile DH will pick up things to fidget with while we’re hanging out and talking, and I had always thought of that as an indication that he might have ADHD too, but maybe it isn’t.

    @Krishji, I’m so sorry for your loss. My mom smokes, and has since she was a teenager (including when she was pregnant with both my sister and me), and has tried to quit several times but it has never worked out. When I was younger I used to pressure her to quit. I am glad I got to a place with my understanding of the world that I could let that go, because it’s really none of my business. But then I am now struggling with her insistence that she’s perfectly safe on my stepdad’s motorcycle without a helmet, because he’s a good driver. (Which I have no doubt of; it’s the other assholes on the road that worry me.)

    I remind myself: when my sister’s ex-boyfriend was in the accident that put him in a coma for three months that nobody thought he’d wake up from, he was wearing a helmet.

    Plenty of people get lung cancer and heart disease never having smoked a day in their lives. And plenty of people smoke their whole lives and die of old age or of some unrelated cause.

    There is nothing in this world that we can do that guarantees perfect health, and nothing that will make us live forever. And as much as we love our friends and family*, they don’t have an obligation to live forever for us. If we care about them enough to want them to be happy, we’re doing it right.

    *Where “family” = “chosen family” in cases where the biological family and/or the people that raised someone turn out to be abusive and Bad News.

  158. Piffle — yeah, it’s a stereotype about autistics that we don’t like fiction. Lots of autistics do, but probably in lower proportions than the general population.

    In a totally unscientific survey of a coupla people I know, this is also common among ADHD’ers as well. Recently I’ve come to realize that my near total eschewing of fiction is simply because it’s really hard to get into the flow of a narrative if you only read one or two lines, then do something else for 3 minutes, then come back and read two more lines, then… yeah, it makes the stories feel too disjointed to be enjoyable. However, it works just dandy for non-fiction. For me, information, even complicated information, is assimilated perfectly well in micro-bursts.

  159. Since it’s an open thread, I’ll just write down two things I’ve thought about lately.

    1. I often read the archives of older posts, and comments, and I’m a bit surprised at how hard it is for some people to understand that people who are running a blog get to decide if they want to publish comments and if they want to have a policy for comments.
    I remember when there weren’t any blogs or Internet-forums (15-20 years ago), and to make your opinion heard in public you had to write letters to the editorial page of newspapers. A lot of those letters were never published. I can’t remember people complaining about that. Of course, that could be because there was then no forum left to complain in…
    My point is, it’s much easier to start your own blog and write whatever you like, than it was to start your own newspaper! And still, it’s now and not 15-20 years ago that I see people whining about how they don’t get published as much as they would like on a blog run by OTHER PEOPLE.
    I don’t get it.

    2. When I first read “Egalia’s Daughters” by Gerd Brantenberg (for those who don’t know, it’s a very funny novel from the 70s that satirizes patriarchy by describing a matriarchy where the ideology that oppresses men is visible everywhere) I thought the ideal for men in the book was exaggeratedly inconsistent, because they were supposed to be fat and not muscular, and at the same time working-class men were supposed to do hard work that would give them muscles. But later I’ve realized that we have an equally inconsistent ideal for women in real life, since a woman is supposed to give birth to children to be a “real woman”, and at the same time her body should look like a teenager’s and not show any signs of pregnancy/birth, in order to be a “beautiful woman”! It’s really not less absurd.
    (It’s funny I haven’t thought of that before, because now I remember that a woman in the book tells her husband that their son’s appearance (thin) is more of a problem than their daughter’s (chubby), because women are sometimes pregnant, so it would be absurd to have a beauty ideal that tells women if they should be fat or thin…)

  160. “For me, our lives are about growth and how we treat and affect others, and if we have done that positively and compassionately as your father did, then we’ve lived the best we could do and can leave the world knowing we have lived well. That you say your father raised you “with such love and compassion” says everything, and I don’t think a finer thing could be said about a person.”

    “And as much as we love our friends and family*, they don’t have an obligation to live forever for us. If we care about them enough to want them to be happy, we’re doing it right.”

    @paintmonkey and @slythwolf, powerful, beautiful words, truly. Thank you.

  161. @ paintmonkey – Your words resonate with me and really comfort me. If only more people put as much thought into their words as you have done here. My father was a truly generous man, and I think it’s right to remember him that way, rather than that he smoked, which was so accessory to his actions toward others.

    @ slythwolf – Thank you so much. Your mom sounds very young at heart! I love that! And surely she knows that you love her, and that is the most you can do for her. Happiness is truly the point, and you’ve got it.

    @ snuffycup – I am fortunate to have received such words as those, no question, and I’m glad you appreciated them too :)

  162. @krishji, I just realized I totally wrote your name as @krishna up thread, I’m so sorry!!!! And I’m sorry I only now caught it, I didn’t do it on purpose I promise.

  163. 1) There is no way to be conscientious about second-hand smoke. Unless you are smoking in a closed box or your own home with the windows closed, no, you shouldn’t be smoking because you are infringing on other people’s right to take care of their health. That doesn’t mean I lecture smokers or think they’re bad people, nor does it mean that I think the kind of questions Krishji’s referring to are appropriate. But it does mean that I have huge problems with cigarettes that I do not have with other drugs or behaviors.

    2) The TNC threads made me SUPER uncomfortable, but they gave me lots of food for thought. For me, the takeaway is that the way I talk about The Booga-Booga in the future will boil down to three things: “It’s not your body, so fuck off; people deserve respect no matter what; bodies are different and operate differently and different bodies are healthy at different sizes and that body ain’t yours, so fuck off.”

  164. @ Snuffycup – Don’t worry! I’m actually Krishna, but Krishji is a sort of term of endearment form of Krishna. Basically, I respond to either-or.

    @ sara l. – And your point is taken, of course, and you do what you think is right, and that’s all any of us can do. Pursuit of happiness, Saraji memsaab! That is what we all deserve, and I think you’ve reduced it to it’s essence:

    “It’s not your body, so fuck off; people deserve respect no matter what; bodies are different and operate differently and different bodies are healthy at different sizes and that body ain’t yours, so fuck off.”

    Well done.

  165. Re: smoking, I’ve wondered if part of why the average American weighs 9-10lbs more than in the 70s is that fewer people smoke now.

    (No, I never have smoked – it was partly a rebellion against my dad’s smoking, and partly because I not only have asthma but I tested allergic to tobacco and tobacco smoke on scratch tests as a child.)

  166. Ugh, the subtext of those Coates columns (and much of the discussions) are like a headline from the Onion‘s color supplement:

    Shaming fat people: how much is enough?

  167. Hey all… as usual, thanks for the great comments/discussion. I know I don’t comment here regularly so feel free to disregard the following. I tend to lurk because I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing, but I read so often that I feel like I’ve come to ‘know’ a lot of you.. This community here has meant so much to me in the past few months. I’ve grown so much from reading… thank you. if anyone has any thoughts or words of wisdom I’d appreciate it so much.

    Every year my school has an annual party. It’s supposed to be a celebration of (queer) sexuality, genderbending and exploration. What it usually is is a lingerie party where dudes wear dresses as a joke, and though the party planners have made huge strides in the past two years in terms of making the party safer for women and people who identify as queer, I’m sure you can all imagine what that sort of party is like. I’m a senior now and I went my freshman and junior years and had a great time. Sophomore year I worked at the party and had fun doing that too. This year I’m not going. I’m in a horrible place in terms of self confidence and I know that going to the party – even if I didn’t wear something skimpy – would just make me feel worse about myself. Just seeing a few friends in their outfits made me feel sick to my stomach. I am also working through a lot of thoughts about how womens’ bodies are objectified in general, and just because of where I am in that process, I don’t think that putting myself “on display” so to speak is the right choice for me right now. Others can use this party as an excuse to reclaim their sexuality and assert their identities as non-objectified, sexual beings, and I totally respect that – I’m just not really there right now, you know? I feel sad that I am going to miss out on the memories with my friends, but there will be other parties and other nights… I feel like I am really doing the right thing for myself. Plus, I have a lot of work that just needs to get done. :P

    But I just can’t help but doubt myself – am I being “self actualized” and doing what’s right for me by staying in? Am I being strong in making that decision for myself – to remove myself from an environment that I know will make me unhappy? Or am I being weak? Am I being weak for “giving in” to the negative tapes that play in my head, and removing myself from a perfectly fun social event that I’d have a great time at if I could just get over myself? :-/ What would you do?

  168. January, respectfully – you’re asking the wrong question. It’s a party, not a quest to save the world. There’s no strength or weakness to going or not going.

    Just try to imagine something happening in that block of time that would make you really happy, and do that.

  169. Personally, I tend to avoid parties where straight/cisgendered folks cross-dress. It tends to move way to easily into a mockery, especially of trans folks and women, and is a display of privilege I feel REALLY uncomfortable with. And that would be a bigger issue for me than wearing skimpy clothes, which would, frankly, also be prohibitive. I just wouldn’t be able to trust that for a large group of people like a whole *school* that it was about reclaiming sexuality—I would have my doubts about how progressive the event would play out to be, especially if there’s drinking or anything involved.

    But, I think in a way, what other people would do is not relevant–I mean, it’s cool to know how other people would imagine it for themselves, but what REALLY matters is how you take care of yourSELF. It sounds like you really know what would be best for you right now—which is not to attend–and that doing that is the best way to take care of yourself. (In your question there’s really not any waffling at all—no indication that it would be better for you to go, except for MAYBE missing out on some fun with friends…which probably isn’t that likely anyway if you’re feeling yucky and self-conscious).

    Is there something you can do instead that night that makes you feel really good about yourself? Getting your hair done, or making yourself a beautiful meal? Going to a belly dancing class?Something that’s clearly pleasurable and obviously self-care? Even a glass of wine or a fruit smoothie or some dancing to your favorite song after your work is done?

  170. rosa – You’re right; thanks for putting it into perspective.

    aliciamaud – thanks for the kind words. As for the first paragraph… yeah. *sigh* I didn’t even get into how I feel about that aspect of this party because it’s just a big mess of fail in so many ways.

  171. @Grafton: the childhood experience you described (the “lost” croc) made me feel so very sad. I know it was just an object, but still, to a child a small object can mean a lot. And to have an adult take it away… Grrr.

    @Snuffycup: Excellent analysis about “controlling the masses.” I recently graduated from nursing school and felt like such a fucking pawn in the system; supposedly it’s my moral duty as a nurse to provide patient “education” (aka “health promotion”) to all smokers, “overweight” people, addicts and so forth. YEECCCHH! I saw the nursing school agenda as a kind of perfected fascism that supports and enforces government and socially sanctioned control of people’s lives. (I didn’t express that very eloquently, just now, but I hope you get my meaning anyway.)

  172. If you want to go to the party, then you could rebel against the idea that you have to dress in a skimpy fashion to express your sexuality. A Tux is always elegant, or perhaps you prefer a nice long swishy skirt. Sexuality is about more than just the amount of skin visible.

    But if you don’t want to go, then just do something else fun. You are not obligated to go to a party, unless you are the hostess or hostage (aka guest of honor).

  173. RNigade: Holy jeebus, I just “got” your name. Boy, do I feel slow.

    I tend to have an enormous amount of respect for nurses, and for nursing as a profession. (This may have something to do with my aunt who got her RN from Johns Hopkins.) One reason for this is that the nurses I’ve dealt with have always treated me like a person first and foremost. Doctors have hassled me about my weight, but I can’t think of a nurse who has. I’m very sad to hear that nursing schools have decided to change that.

  174. @RNigade, I’m glad you liked my analysis, thanks. The things you describe in your experiences in nursing school are some of the biggest reasons I haven’t followed in my mother and grandmother’s footsteps and become an RN too, the entire system of nursing is so different now that it’s nearly unrecognizable. My husband often tells me I should still go into it because somehow I could “change the system” since I don’t buy into the agendas being pushed and wouldn’t push those agendas on others. It’s a nice idea but not a very realistic one.

  175. @January — from what you wrote, it sounds like you just don’t really want to go, that that’s your gut reaction, intuition, whatever you want to call it. There will absolutely be other parties, missing just one — for any reason — doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things.

    If your gut says you aren’t up for it, just skip it. No need to rationalize, justify, nothing. Just honor your intuition.

    When I was your age, I didn’t quite have enough faith in my own preferences to skip “supposedly fun things” — whether they just weren’t my cup of tea in general, or that I had some specific reason for disliking it, or simply that I might’ve liked *most* of the time, but didn’t want to do *that night.* I had a huuuuuuge fear of “missing out” on something possibly good, that if I wasn’t there every damn time that somehow I’d lose my whole social life, or that I’d never have a good social life, etc etc. I also thought that if I couldn’t conclusively “prove” why something “deserved” to be disliked, that I was obliged to *like* it. NOPE. There’s no obligation to “like.” Now that I’m older, I let myself like what I like and dislike what I dislike, for any reason or no reason whatsoever.

    And my fear of being left out was all in my head. Nobody remembered when I *wasn’t* there, they remembered when I *was* there and liked me just fine for those times.

    In my opinion, one is happiest socially when you go out when you want to go out, and keep your own company when you don’t. Going to a party should never be a “should” unless you’re hosting or have made specific plans with a specific person (and then you can still break them, if you really want to, if you’re appropriately apologetic for the inconvenience).

    My last bit of advice is on what you might do instead. If I were addressing my own college-age self, I’d say (a) don’t kid yourself that you’re going to get schoolwork done, it’s damn hard to concentrate on a weekend night; (b) probably go out, and go out _away from campus_. A change of scenery is necessary to not feel left out of campus hijinks. Think of what would really make for a fun night for you, and compromise as little as possible. Maybe spend a little money that you might not ordinarily. If don’t want to go out in public by yourself, go to a play or a movie where you can enjoy some escapism and be an anonymous audience member, enjoying the experience, your own company, and the fact that you honored your preferences enough to spend your night doing *exactly what you wanted to do.* (And that’s easiest to do away from peer-pressure campus zones.)

  176. @January…. Oh my god, do I ever have empathy for you. Yesterday (Friday, so technically two days ago) my school’s Gay-Straight Alliance had a dance much like the one you described, except maybe a little less sexual (but just a little). We call it a “diversity dance,” but it basically played out like a “reduce yourself to a convenient stereotype” dance. Lots of guys came in drag and it was HI-LARIOUS because bahahaha, straight guys in drag (it’s like, they’re women! or queer! teehee).

    Anyway, the point of my long, self indulgent anecdote is that your concerns are totally valid and that you’re not being weak at all for having them and acting accordingly. You don’t need to risk feeling uncomfortable/offended/objectified. It doesn’t matter whether or not your feelings are ideal. You just don’t have to go.

    (As an aside: I would go if I were in your position. I’d ignore anything problematic and I would definitely wear something skimpy because a.)I’m not conventionally attractive, so I consider it a big “fuck you, patriarchy” to dress in a way that is usually reserved for pretty girls and b.) how could I be on display? I’m not even for sale.)

    But you’re really not obligated to feel like I do. Actually, you’re probably a lot more mature and realistic than I am. And if the dance won’t be empowering for you, you don’t owe it to anyone- not even yourself- to go. So yeah, I agree with Aliciamaud74/Rosa: make yourself happy :D

    (Sorry for the tl;dr-ness of this post, I’m kind of scattered.)

  177. @ Berkolater:

    [imagine HTML here!]
    “One of the big problems I have with Michael Pollan and a lot of his disciples is that he (or at least people citing him) sometimes has this slippage between moralizing about the food industry (OK by me) and moralizing about how people eat, what their bodies look like, what rights they have in regard to their own health (not OK by me).”

    Perfect summary! … of my own critique of Pollan et al. Again, more with some of his quasi-religious disciples than with the guy himself. Himself, he seems pretty boring albeit opportunistic, just a journalist who got lucky and found a niche.

  178. @Snuffycup: Yeah, follow your own instincts. It’s a constant battle trying to subvert the system and advocate for patients. I graduated in December and haven’t found work yet. I refuse to work for any place where patient safety is compromised by understaffing (and other shenanigans no one wants to hear about), so that narrows my options considerably. I also live in a VERY politically-conservative state, and I am a socialist, or social democrat, at heart. I suspect I will have to relocate to find work.

  179. @january…I think that we can all relate to your feelings, and perhaps that holds the key. I feel that everyone when faced with a school/college party feels (or felt) that they will be the the one that won’t fit in,the one who is the outsider, the one who has the crap hair day , the one who can’t dance, the one who hasnt got the right clothes, the one that,etc…you get my drift. Every single person feels like the outsider in some way however confident they may appear. Once you see that and believe it, perspective changes.
    The other point is, if you really don’t want to do something, don’t. We all have the right to follow our instincts and if something feels wrong, quite often it is – for us. Maybe at the moment you are going through a more quiet reflective stage, and that’s totally fine and cool. Often you feel like this at a time of transition where parts of yourself are changing and maturing, so don’t worry about it at all. In the past I’ve always over-analyzed my thoughts and actions and been hideously worried about how I come across and how others judge me, but thankfully I’ve managed to stop doing it. That’s partly age and partly discovering who I am. I’ve realised that actually, I have never been a team player and have always been a bit on the edge, but actually, I really like that now and have career that actually requires it and succeeds because of it. Be yourself and do it confidently, and you’ll be fine and respected for that.
    I feel that you are strong in making your decision, but I would say this to you. On the night of that school party, make sure that you have a terrific evening planned for yourself. Whatever it is that YOU love to do, do that. Have a shitstorming arse kicking night doing the things you love, and that way two things will happen. Firstly, you won’t feel shut out wondering what everyone else is getting up to at the party, and secondly, you’ll feel great that you were the captain of your ship and enjoyed doing your own thing. When school and the college years fade away, being the captain of your ship will become ever more invaluable, so start enjoying it and feeling proud of it now. Ahoy matey!

  180. @RNigade — thanks, re: Croc. Yeah, it was just an object, but it was the object I was most attached to as a little kid and carried everywhere, and that teacher didn’t so much claim to have lost it but say she must have given it back already and I had lost it, and though I had counted down the days to get him back I was confused by that, and grieved at myself, and annoyed everyone in my family for ages searching for him and asking if they’d seen him around. Thirty years later I will occasionally dream that I find Croc somewhere stupid, and am very happy.

    Sometimes I try to find one made from the same mould, but alas, ebay fails me and they don’t seem to make them now. Which is not surprising. I must confess that having him confiscated (but not forever for pity’s sake) was not entirely unjust, because the spring-loaded jaw pinched hard enough to hurt a bit and this aspect appealed to all children except the one being pinched at the time. Croc was a disruptive influence.

  181. @Grafton…My inner Croc will snap at them and do it’s best at-school-so -you-can’t-shriek-out-loud pinch :)

  182. One of my straight male college friends used to do the “funny drag” thing and later confessed to me that he was a transvestite. Don’t know if he is any less closeted now; we haven’t kept in touch.

    This is such a great open thread. All the advice about doing something self-nurturing instead of the “obligatory” party, I should print out and save.

    And @krishji, I’m so sorry for your loss. Your dad sounds like a wonderful warm person and it made me happy to read about him.

  183. @RNigade, Oh I think you and I could have some very good conversations about conservative state life (I’m originally from Idaho, my husband is originally from Utah and neither of us ever fit in there) and all the craziness about nursing today. I agree that moving may be your best bet to find a position that makes you happy or at least doesn’t make you wanna shake somebody ;) No matter what you do or where you go, good luck, I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for you!!

  184. 1. I often read the archives of older posts, and comments, and I’m a bit surprised at how hard it is for some people to understand that people who are running a blog get to decide if they want to publish comments and if they want to have a policy for comments.

    It doesn’t surprise me one bit. Folks with a sense of entitlement – in the privilege/oppression sense, don’t tend to be real good at navigating the few situations when they are unable to express their privilege. They also are under the supposition that folks they don’t agree with HAVE TO listen to their opinions and then adopt them as their own.

    It’s one of the reasons I don’t allow very many comments through on my own blog despite getting quite a few because I don’t feel like going, “GET YOUR OWN DAMN BLOG.” two hundred times a day and twice as much on Sundays.

  185. @january–have you thought of writing an editorial for your school’s paper to address your feelings about the dance? My school’s queer student union hosts something similar, and it’s been contentious in the past for the same reasons you mention, but a good op-ed can really get some dialogue started. It’s something to consider. You might also suggest making it a more concretely themed costume party–we’ve gone with ‘famous queer figures in history,’ which was fun, and a ‘video game’ theme, which was quite antic and transgressive.

    I’d also say go with some friends and try to do it in your own reclamatory way, if you do feel you’ll be haunted otherwise.

  186. @RNigade
    I’m in nursing school, currently, and I HATE the part where I’m supposed to “teach” a dying man that he needs to quit smoking. A) He’s heard it a MILLION TIMES already, and B) he’s DYING. This should be a no brainer.

    I’m allergic to smoke, but I direct my dislike at big tobacco and the media, not individual smokers. They have as much right to partake in that cigarette (away from me) as I do to drink the diet coke that is slowly killing my kidneys.

  187. @name – I’m allergic to smoke, but I direct my dislike at big tobacco and the media, not individual smokers.

    Yep, me too. Actually, I don’t think I’m allergic to tobacco smoke — cigars and pipes I’m just fine with, but cigarette smoke gives me a really bad headache. I’m not sure if it’s something done to the tobacco or something in the paper, but I only get that reaction with cigarettes.

    Ergo: it is perfectly logical to blame the cigarette companies for that. ^_^

    Slightly off-topic: my parents got into town yesterday around noon. Elapsed time between their arrival and the first bit of diet talk: four hours. *sigh* This might be the visit I just come out and say “diets don’t work, yo”. They’re here until Friday noon. Wish me luck.

  188. @name: Yep, I tried to get a script for a nicotine patch for a patient in the hospital who was suffering withdrawl symptoms (in addition to having pain from a mangled leg). I caught hell for being an “enabler” and depriving the man of the opportunity to experience the “consequences” of his “dependency”. These folks just don’t get irony.

  189. @Jo – best of luck to you….I’ve resorted to jumping up and covering my ears and shouting “La-la-la! I don’t want to talk about this! La-la-la!” in a sing-song voice. Does it work? No. But it does cause a distraction long enough to change the subject. I come across as profoundly immature, but no news there.
    I should say that this only works at home, not restaurants, places of work etc.

  190. @RNigade:
    WTF??? I’ve worked in a big teaching hospital for a decade and never even HEARD of such a mean-spirited response!
    – Don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard plenty of patient blaming, GOMERS, FOSers, etc… but, like, the FIRST thing done for an INP smoker with an expected LOS >3d is to slap a patch on them. It’s a smoke-free campus, so most pts accept gladly; although they certainly can say no, it’s a LOOOONG walk to the smoking station, and a COOOOLLLLD walk in the winter! It is “A TEACHABLE MOMENT”, goes the theory around here. Our Medicade pts are then eligible for a free 30d Rx of patches. We’ve got some anecdata that this does help a significant portion of patients quit, actually.

  191. For those who don’t know hospital acronyms:
    GOMER = Get out of My Emergency Room. As in “GOMER in Exam 3 is having DTs”.
    FOS = full of shit. As in “Mr Jones denies smoking in the last month. FOS”.
    – These kinds of notations would actually make it into patient charts once upon a time (probably still do). However, with more records being electronic, and with more patients getting savvy to their rights & asking for copies, it goes on less and less, which is all to the good.

    INP = inpatient.
    LOS = length of stay.

    I meant to write those out, but accidently clicked submit.

  192. @krishji- Sorry this is so late, but my sympathies on the loss of your father. Mine died thirteen years ago now, but the way you talk about yours makes me remember my dad. Who also smoked, but died of a completely unrelated medical problem, which may be why no one was an asshole about it. I wish you all the support and serenity you can find.

    As for smoking, as long as someone doesn’t blow smoke in my face, I don’t care. I’ll never start, as I watched my parents quit cold turkey when I was in 7th grade, and I am NEVER getting in a position where I may wind up that snarly… :)

  193. @IrishUp

    GOMER is pretty good. At the vet’s a chart might bear a symbol that’s really a little stylized drawing of a dog’s anus, indicating, “Technician, beware, the owner is an asshole.” But it looks more or less like a meaningless ‘does this pen write?’ sort of squiggle.

    Library circulation clerks have been known to insert a meaningful ‘typo’ into patron records, to mean the same thing.

  194. .
    That’s pretty funny, Grafton. But in seriousness, patient blaming has negative consequences that I doubt can be said of put-upon vets or peeved librarians.

    I mean, first off, is that people who show up at hospitals & drs offices are sick or in pain the VAST MAJORITY of the time. IDK about anyone else, but if I’m sick or in pain, there’s a good chance I’m scared and worried too. And let it be known that if I’m sick, hurting, scared and worried – I AM NOT AT MY BEST! And if you’re in a profession that bears the label “CARE GIVER” in some form, well then, fuck-all if I don’t expect to be taken care of, and forgiven for not being at my best. My point being that a GOMER designation in a CHART now tells everyone else to think about me the patient as an asshole, rather than as a sick person.

    More importantly, patient blaming – on whatever level – leads to poor diagnosis and treatment, full-stop. There is a ton of peer-reviewed literature supporting this, as well as reams of anecdotes like RNigades. Read the blog “First Do No Harm”, or trans/queer friendly health sites. The stories are beyond horrible. I understand the need of service professionals to decompress. Being an MD, RN, PA, etc. is really hard work, physically and emotionally. But systematically encouraging “othering” of the people clinicians are supposed to be taking care of is NOT healthy for either patients or clinicians. It’s downright dangerous.

    @krishji – my sincere condolences. My dad passed away >10yrs ago, and I still miss him.

  195. Very valid points, IrishUp.

    Working for the vet, we’d often comment on how the animals got better care than we got from our MDs. This no doubt was because nobody blamed them. Particularly notable when it comes to fat, actually. The experiences of my friends lead me to believe that if a fat woman goes to a doctor and says, “I’m tired all the time and depressed,” the doctor thinks, “Fat lazy bitch.” Take your dog to the vet and say it’s not active and acts grouchy, the vet says, “Check its thyroid.” And will often actually believe you that you don’t overfeed it, even if it’s fat.

    Really I wonder if this patient-blaming doesn’t end up just bleeding over onto everybody, so calling the next guy over a GOMER lead to my co-worker’s sister being left alone in a room with the lights turned off while she recovered from anesthesia, so she woke up all confused and terrified. Which is something we never did to a dog. Somebody sits with it and talks to it and tells it things are okay ’til it’s doggy-coherent.

  196. @Grafton Patient blaming doesn’t go on with dogs at the vets, but it does go on with dogs’ owners (at some clinics). My puppy (who died almost two years ago at the ripe old age of 15) was overweight and growing steadily less active when I was about twelve or thirteen; the vet told us she was less active due to arthritis (possibly true, she did have arthritis) and fat because we fed her too much. Then he proceeded to tell us we were killing our dog and pretty much called us horrible dog parents and instructed us to feed her less.

    So after a few months on a diet with my dog still not losing any weight, my mom called shenanigans and we went to a different vet. Vet ran some tests and lo and behold, she had hypothyroidism. She was much happier and more active once she was on the right medication.

    Almost a decade later, I still deeply resent the first vet.

  197. Trig, that’s pretty funny. To paraphrase, “One partner believing the other is somehow worth less is NOT the foundation of an equitable relationship.” Who knew? (:

  198. TooManyJessicas, I would resent that vet too. He’s telling owners they’re killing with food and to starve their dogs! How mean. And how reflective of our society, as if that needs to be said.

  199. TooManyJessicas — The first vet sucks. Hypothyroidism is extremely common in dogs and is easy to test for and cheap to treat. I’ve plenty of complaints against them, but none of the five vets I worked for would have jumped straight to ‘blame the client.’ Way to lose a client. Heck, they were always sympathetic to people who overfed, figuring hey, not wanting the dog to be hungry indicates compassion and love in the owner, something to be encouraged. We’d sell ’em low-calorie dog food and give them a measuring cup and a recommendation for how much food and tell them to give the dog green beans to fill up if it seemed like too little to them.

  200. @ Grafton
    Oops; I didn’t mean to imply all (or even most) vets are like our obnoxious old one. I just can’t hear about weight in animals without starting to fume all over again!

    I work closely (in a non-clinical) setting with one vet who is very HAES minded towards animals, and I always wonder, “Why can’t MDs go to the same school he went to?”

  201. I actually am looking for a new vet, after having had a few bad experiences. The animal hospital I took my critters to for decades USED to have awesome vets; they were a training hospital for a local uni vetrinary program. A few years ago they got bought by a for-profit.

    First we noticed that our long-time vet had taken a new job. So sad, she was made of win. Then we noticed being given a hard sell about buying flea & tick treatments. Meh. THEN we could take nary kitteh nor doggeh for even the most routine thing like a rabies booster, without having our vet try and prescribe something. Something costing about $20/mo, usually. grrr.

    But the straw that broke the camel’s back was when vet fat-shamed the dog – and by extension, our critter parenting abilities. Took doggeh in for yearly check-up and kennel-cough vaccine. Vet says doggeh has to diet. I’m like, why? Oh, b/c she’s 15lbs heavier than when she started going. You mean, she was a 14mo puppy then, but now she’s 6, and she’s heavier? Vet’s like “Yeah” then -and I shit you not, he fat-shamed doggehs butt!!!! He was all like “look at the saddle she’s getting back there!”.

    He ends by saying to try feeding her 1/4c less food at each meal. Why I did this, I do not know. Do you know what happened? Doggeh was hungreh. Doggeh started stealing fud from anywhere and everywhere. Took me about two weeks to say fuck this and start feeding doggeh her normal amount of food. Now she only steals the good stuff. She’s a good girl, but she will steal ur hotdog in a nano-second! Never been able to break her of that – nor of sleeping on the couch. Eh, we all have our vices.

    Had to go back to the vet for a follow-up. He asked how it was going. I said “She started stealing food all the time because she was hungry. Apparently diets as bad for dogs as they are for people.” He started getting seriously concern-trolly. Oh, and tried to sell me super expensive diet-dog-fud. I smiled, thx-but-no-thxd him, paid the bill, and that’s the last we’ve been there.

  202. Right in a row on the Health page of the New York Times:

    Baby Fat or Early Obesity?
    March 22, 2010

    Seeing Body Flaws That Aren’t There
    March 22, 2010

    I’m sure it’s a coincidence.

  203. @IrishUp

    Asshole vet. Argh.

    You’re lucky he didn’t try to sell you “Slentrol” the diet drug for dogs that showed up just about the time I quit. Pfizer says that “Slentrol” works by creating an artificial feeling of satiety, so your dog feels full and doesn’t want to eat. Human veterinary technicians who ate the stuff told me that it just made them feel slightly nauseated all the time so they didn’t want to eat. Which would certainly explain the owner-reports of the dog looking rather sadly at its half-finished meals before walking away.

  204. @IrishUp, ugh I feel your vet pain. My poor 13-yr-old cat is in pain today, I’m thinking the cold weather we had has made his very mild arthritis flare up and I’m seriously dreading taking him in to get it checked (just to be sure that’s what is going on) because I know I’m going to get a bunch of fat shaming about him. Our cat was 10 when we got him from a rescue shelter, so he’s not a young cat by any means. He’s also a gigantic pure white Persian, seriously his paws are at least twice as big as our other “normal” sized cats, he’s a big cat. Even when he’s been soaking wet from a bath, he’s still huge. Yes he has a tummy but he’s active and plays, way more than any other 13-yr-old cat I know. And he weighs….13 lbs., that’s it, which to me is not a fat cat, he actually only weighs about a pound more than our “thin” cat who’s 4 and had a litter of kittens before we adopted her. But even though he’s healthy, especially for his age, and looks great and feels great, we always hear about how he needs to lose weight, always. Grrrr….

  205. Today in Intuitive Eating:

    I wanted to eat a salad.

    (That should have had some serious sound effects, the kind that indicate something truly and utterly bizarre has just happened.)

    I never want to eat salad. I loathe salad. It’s icky and slimy and bitter and I don’t like the texture of lettuce. But I was Treating Myself to lunch at a restaurant, and one of their salads just looked really yummy. (Probably because it included bacon and Gorgonzola and marinated grilled chicken — you know, all those things that you aren’t supposed to have on salad because then it doesn’t count, or something.) So I got it, and it was pretty good, and I took about half of it home for later. (After first picking out the bacon, because it would only get soggy, right?)

    This isn’t meant to come off as smug or food-shaming or anything for anyone who didn’t want to eat salad today. It’s more intended to express my utter amazement that this happened. And maybe I’m feeling a little self-congratulatory for another baby step taken in re-learning how to eat in ways that don’t involve harsh moral judgments against myself for liking things that taste good.

    (I gave the leftover salad to Mr. Other Becky, who loves the stuff. I’m having chili, cornbread, and steamed collards sauteed in olive oil for dinner.)

  206. Oh, and Grafton, I l0ve your new blog. Cute baby animals FTW! (And btw, you misspelled “echidna” in your tag for the one of the spiny anteater trying to learn how to use a long-lens camera.) (I also mistyped it 3 different times writing this post. New challenge for Shapelings without enough to do: try typing “echidna” really fast and see if you can consistently put the “n” in the right place! I can’t!)

  207. EWWWW, Grafton, that seriously sound like a horrible thing to give your dog. I mean, humans can cognitively process when we have to/want to take something that has bad side effects. Poor puppehs must be all “WTF? Why I feel so crappeh?”

    Wow, I cannot believe that it’s gotten so bad that we have to look for HAES vets – but I’m glad to hear you know one, TMJs. Seriously, you people out there, get over the fat hate!!!!!

    Other Becky – that salad sounds delish.

    @Snarky, I am probably waaay behind you on this, but just in case you haven’t come across it, Bill Moyers did an excellent Journal with David Simon:

    I never got to watch H:LOTS (working or in school like all the time) or The Wire (no cable), but that interview makes me really really want to.

  208. Thanks, Other Becky. Fixed that. Enjoy Eeple. Now I’ve got to resist the urge to post too many in one day, since my little kick-off eeple storm last night.

  209. I have never been as happy in my life as I was when Nancy Pelosi gaveled the passage of HCR. I have a genetic disorder, I’ve been sick since I was 15. Now I can look forward to getting off medicaid and getting a job with normal insurance, since they won’t be able to deny coverage for a preexisting condition like me. I know a lot of compromises were made, including affirmation of the hideous Hyde Amendment, but for me at least this is the greatest thing anyone but my parents has ever done.

  210. Hi yall! I was wondering if anyone could direct me to some good, active FA sites for men? Or written by men or anything? :)

    Congratulations on the passage of your health bill! (I’m in Australia)


  211. @Krishji – I’m so sorry about your father. It sounds like he was a good man.

    @animal folk – Now I’m even more excited about going to vet school! If I get in anywhere…once I finish slogging through undergrad…which is stretching out an absurd amount of time…because I was once-upon-a-time an anthropology major and then in a theater design conservatory…and there are no science credits in my background to draw from…so I’m almost starting from scratch…this is a bunch of ellipses…sorry.

    But seriously – I swear to be a HAES vet. (And an obnoxious antidote to fat-fear-mongering professors in vet school. That’s the best thing about being a “non-traditional” student, I think. I’m not that intimidated by the teachers. Mostly).

    Of course, this is all contingent on passing a really stupid public speaking class headed by a stalwart fan of arbitrary grading behavior (who has assigned me two group presentations in the same week, lucky me); a stats class taught by one of the most arrogant men I’ve ever met (who is a terrible, terrible teacher who seems to think that ordering us to understand a concept is going to diddly-squat, and spends more time than necessary putting down public colleges as compared to private ones, insulting us, the public community college students in his public community college class, in the process); and a Spanish class with a very warm-hearted woman who has no clue what she is doing.

    My precalculus professor is unmitigated awesomesauce, so I guess he’s the universal balance for the rest of this nonsense. I’m getting desperate for my transfer acceptance to come through so I can have some concrete motivation for dragging my ass through this semester. This system (CUNY – there, I said it!!) is one gigantic unreliable and inconsistent bureaucracy, and I’m pretty well-resigned to the idea that they have once again mislaid my information and I am screwed for the fall semester. I am a pessimist.

    rant over

    Wants to read Homicide re-caps. Kay Howard!!!

  212. Snarky, is it true that Melissa Leo was fired from Homicide for responding to unrelenting pressure to do a nude scene by writing ‘Fuck You’ across her back in lipstick and ruining the take?

  213. Other Becky: Salad rocks. I used to feel really guilty about eating salads, as though by doing so I was betraying the women-can-eat-what-they-want faith. I also didn’t want people to think I thought I was fat, because I didn’t, and didn’t want to do the whole dance. But I think the fact that I usually got salads full of delicious delicious meat helped =X

  214. @aleks- I’m really glad to hear that. I remember when I first heard (about HCR passing), I couldn’t bring myself to be excited because I felt like so much of what needed to pass was completely left out. But then I read your post and remembered, OH HEY, this bill actually has a lot going for it, despite being less than perfect.

    It’s so great that you can’t be denied coverage now :-)

  215. Smitten Kitchen’s blue cheese dressing made salad my new obsession. It’s never too early for salad now.

  216. @lucizoe: Fellow CUNY-er here! Just wanted to let you know that your description of the school system would have likely made me squirt milk out of my nose were I drinking any at the moment; it is 100% true!

    I went to a CUNY for undergrad and I am now in a different CUNY for grad school. This semester I have a fieldwork assignment and my supervisor is a new professor (to this school). She has called the entire class stupid, has told us it is our fault that we do not know information that hasn’t been told to us, and from week to week goes back and forth between thinking the things we do are great and then the next week telling us that they suck. People have complained about her to the higher-ups and gotten no support. The other day someone came round to observe her…and she made a 180 degree turnaround in how she acted during that time.

    In terms of bureaucracy: They have been promising us a blackboard site with all the needed documents on it since week one; halfway through the semester, no such site exists. Financial aid lost my original loan application. A friend gets mail sent to every one of her old addresses, even though she has submitted several change-of forms. Another friend was entered as a non-matriculated student…in a program that doesn’t accept non-matriculated students; he’s in his late 20’s, but no one would help him until he brought his parents up to stand ominously over his shoulder.

    If it wasn’t for the cheaper tuition and the good professors sprinkled in there, it would be a complete nightmare!

  217. Thank you Nora. I know a lot of people are wondering how HCR will positively or negatively affect them in the future. For me, it’s pretty simple: I have a future now.

  218. Oh, good point. In 2014 it’s entirely possible we’ll both be unemployed, so we could afford it even less. And I could get Medicaid, or I could keep the thing I have which only covers birth control, but not both.

  219. I mean to say, the Michigan Medicaid doesn’t cover birth control. So I can have unwanted kids and be able to go to the doctor when I’m sick, or not have unwanted kids and not be able to go to the doctor.

  220. Re: diet pet food–

    That stuff is solid gold crap (given how expensive it is, might as well be gold)

    They take out the protein and the fat to make it “diet,” not to mention anything resembling, oh, I don’t know, MEAT???

    I feed my cats no-grain wet or raw only. Works great, no weight issues one way or the other (although the Ragdoll does have to be gently talked into sitting his Fancy Feast self down to eat from time to time).

    I’ve also heard from cat owners with diabetic kitties that the low-grain diets seem to help control the issue with their cats better than the stuff the vets try to sell. I once saw a drug rep in the vet’s office. Just like a freaking drug rep at a doctors office but with no federal controls. Scared the pants off me.

  221. Slightly off topic – I was just listening to a health programme on BBC radio, and it mentioned that it is being debated in British medical circles whether or not obese people should be classed as suffering from an eating disorder. This would mean that anyone obese would be in the medical category of “suffering a psychiatric illness”. Sounds as though defining things in this way probably won’t become legal, but bizarre and disturbing to even debate it. Alarming and VERY Big Brother.

  222. slythwolf – I believe there is an exemption for people who cannot afford insurance. I didn’t know Medicaid forbade people from using birth control! That is horrible. Choosing to use Medicaid shouldn’t mean you lose the right to making your own reproductive choices! I don’t know how Washington’s medicaid laws work, but if they do the same, I will definitely be writing my reps.

  223. @paintmonkey – I think that is ridiculous as being obese is not a behavior. Just like people who are underweight or even on low end of weight range do not necessarily have an eating disorder. I think the problem isn’t so much that it’s being discussed (after all, socialized medicine *is* kind of Big Brother), but the questions being asked are just all the wrong questions.

  224. I’m pretty sure that’s limited to MI, cause I know they basically want to force sterilization on many folks who can get pregnant and use entitlement services including Medicare/Medicaid.

  225. My dog has suddenly started to enjoy being vacuumed. He is actively standing in the way of it and seems especially keen on the nozzle – he actually races towards it when its switched on and tries to get us to vacuum him.. Should I be concerned about the new vacuum fetish, or simply enjoy the new handy way to deal with dog fur?

  226. P.S. I don’t literally vacuum him by the way – I just edge up close to him so he can at least have a laugh once in a while. But honestly, I think he wants me to.

  227. @ Jae – wooooot!! High-five! CUNY represent. Funnily enough I just today got my transfer acceptance email, so in the fall I am Hunter-bound, and that’s nice and motivating. I’m really not hoping for much, just the occasional professor who isn’t a jack-ass…and maybe offices that answer their phones. But frankly, given my *cough* lengthy and extensive undergrad experience, while this semester is definitely the worst in terms of personalities and teaching styles (including the guy who doesn’t really teach and is aiming for complete ineptitude), I haven’t noticed any definitive superiority of professors from say, my private seven sisters college, as compared to the four-year state school I went to for two semesters, or even the community college at which I took classes during my senior year of high school to stave off a complete nervous breakdown (as such it was just partial). It’s so up to the individual, and whether or not they have any natural teaching talent.

    Ah, Blackboard. My one prof was practically yelling at us for not knowing what was on the Blackboard site, saying things like, “I am not your technical support! Talk to them! I’ve posted it and it’s there!” When in fact she had not opened up the access to it, so it was, in fact, all her fault. No acknowledgment of her responsibility though. I guess we’re all meant to have psychic powers or something.

    If the professor you described had been a man, I would swear it was my arrogant prof. He’s all but called us stupid for not understanding him. I keep fantasizing about saying something like, “Look, dude, you like math, so let’s take a look at this problem: 80% of the students in this class taught by you are having comprehension problems. What is the common denominator?” But I hath not the guts. But he is such a douchehound.

  228. Paintmonkey — vacuum him. If he likes it, hey, it’s great. Some dogs do. You can actually get a pet-brush attachment that fits on vacuum nozzles.

  229. “You can actually get a pet-brush attachment that fits on vacuum nozzles.”

    @Grafton…..every fibre of my being wants to believe you, but I’m half tempted to think this is your inner Croc trying to trick my into asking for one at the Pet Shop, just so I have to face down the gales of choking laughter… my dog would like it though.

  230. @paintmonkey, if you do end up vacuuming your dog, make a vid and post a link so we can all see and enjoy ;)

  231. The discussion of fat-shaming vets has inspired me to de-lurk for a moment to ask for suggestions. I have two cats, a brother and sister from the same litter, and they are about 5 years old (I’ve had them since they were tiny kittens). My little boy, Mr. Peaches, has always been very thin whereas his sister, Kylie, is noticeably fat. I chalk this up to gender and genetics because they eat EXACTLY the same thing (they eat out of the same bowl, FFS) and get the same amount of activity when we play with them.

    That being said, my vet (whom I otherwise love) consistenly refers to Peaches as “a perfect specimen” of a cat while telling me that Kylie needs to lose weight. I am extremely nervous about passing on my ED mindset and behavior to her (reading this, I realize on an intellectual level how ridiculous a cat with an ED sounds…but I’m a bit of a neurotic pet parent) so I’ve always done free-choice feeding with dry food, which my vet tells me every single year to stop doing.

    I’ve been trying really hard to walk the walk of FA in all areas of my life, and I WANT to tell her that Kylie is just a fat kitty, she has been for her entire life, and that it isn’t going to change and to please stop shaming me by proxy for not “controlling” her weight, but have yet to come up with a tactful way of doing so. Suggestions? Like I said, she’s great otherwise but how do you introduce the concept of HAES for pets to a vet?

  232. I didn’t know Medicaid forbade people from using birth control!

    It doesn’t, it just doesn’t pay for it. The thing I am on now does, but only birth control. And $60 a month is expensive.

  233. And by the way, may I say, fuck exemptions for people who can’t afford insurance in a bill that’s touted as making insurance affordable for everyone.

  234. Paintmonkey — my reply, with links, is in moderation, no doubt because of the links, but well, you’ll find the same stuff with ‘pet brush vacuum attachment’ plugged into google.

    My inner croc does want you to ask at the pet shop. I’ve only seen them mail order. And pet shops are often staffed by arrogant idiots.

  235. I should make my dog go and get it himself really. He can sort of stare at you until you do his bidding, so I think this would be a piece of cake for him. Or I could sit him outside the petshop with a “Will work for Vacuum attachments” sign hung on his collar. He’s very small with huge eyes so he’d get something for free in a heartbeat.

  236. Jerome — Why be tactful? Just say you don’t want to hear about the cat’s weight any more.

    Wet food is better because it doesn’t contain as much grain and cats really are not made to eat grain. And it’s wet and cats are desert beasties meant to get a lot of their moisture from their food, they forget to drink. Many small controlled meals of wet food best duplicate a cat’s natural lifestyle. But it’s a pain in the butt and I feed dry more often.

    If your vet has asked you to put your cat on a diet without explaining to you that it needs to be moderate because cats trash their own livers and die if they burn their own body fat too quickly, he’s crap. I always figured that the biggest obesity-related health concern for cats is the risk of owners putting them on crash diets and giving them hepatic lipidosis.

  237. Jerome–

    I advocate free choice feeding of pets, just not with dry food (particularly for cats). There is a pretty strong argument to be made that it is pretty bad for them and has been sold to vets, in vet school, by the pet food companies’ representatives. I do think there are a lot of fat AND thin cats who have unnecessary diabetes (and other diseases) from crap pet food.

    Cats really do not need carbs–they aren’t built like people. I know there are lots of viewpoints on this, this is just mine, so feel free to ignore. Works well for my boys, though.

    Free feeding with wet or raw food takes a little bit more effort, though–I mean, they scream, you feed them, since you can’t leave the food sitting out all day. Not all people have insanely vocal cats who yell “STAFF! DINNER!” when they feel munchy, though.

  238. Also, to echo what Grafton said:

    NOT that anyone here WOULD, but PSA:

    NEVER, never ever, put your cat on a “fast” to “clear their system” for any reason. Never ever. THeir little kitty liver will fail.

    My stepmother thought this would be a good idea for her guys. Luckily I got the email in time and flipped out at her over the phone.

  239. All our cats get super bad diarrhea from wet food, every brand we’ve tried (from cheap-o to all-natural-chunks-of-oh-so-tasty-meat-type stuff) so we only feed them dry food. All 3 cats have very different backgrounds, one was a showcat who was given to a shelter after a nasty divorce, one was a stray who was found very pregnant and incredibly malnourished by a shelter worker and the last was a loved pet who’s owner passed away from cancer. Given that we didn’t raise any of our cats from kittenhood, I can only guess that our particular cats’ tummies were just made for the dry stuff.

  240. I’m working way too late and just headed over to the student center to grab a quick dinner, and on my way back I saw an awesome poster that I just had to share. Black-and-white photo of a male student of color, captioned “I’m gay. Your homework isn’t.”

  241. I buy a low-grain dry food, and make sure the water bowl is close by for my cats. The old lady cat is fat, but happy; and the young brothers are active and not fat or thin. Our lady also quaffs, she lays down at the water bowl and soaks up two thirds of it in her ruff.


    We discovered it during our frentic search for anything that would put some weight on our dog when she started losing it during her last few years. It didn’t put the weight she’d lost back on; but she was perceptibly bouncier and healthier. Of course, neither did puppy food or prescription vet food for gaining weight. Her body just wasn’t going to change what she weighed, no matter what we offered her.

  242. @ Piffle–EvoPet is awsome stuff, I feed it when we are on vacation.

    Snuffy, you’ve got to go with what works, no kidding. Kitty diarrhea is no fun for anyone. I think cats that are raised on dry get very used to it–there is some research on how cats “imprint” on their food from kittenhood and it can be VERY hard to change that food later on (makes you rethink those kitten food ad campaigns).

    Dry food will not kill your cat! But from now on, whenever I get a new kitten or cat, if the kitteh can tolerate it, I’m feeding wet or at least a low grain dry. That’s just my two cents on the matter.

  243. @Other Becky:

    I love salads, but there was definitely a victory for me in intuitive eating — heck, in just exercising choice over what I ate — when I ordered a salad at Applebee’s. When I first came ’round to fat acceptance and its cousin food acceptance, I realized I could order the steak topped with shrimp and gooey parmesan and it was okay and nobody would stop me. So I kept ordering that every time, even when the spinach salad with shrimp and bacon on it</THESE ARE A FEW OF MY FAAAAAVORITE THINGS> looked so good. Then the time came when I definitely wasn’t craving that much protein, wasn’t so hungry that I thought I could eat a strip steak with cheese and shrimp on it, and ordered the salad.

    There’s a step beyond realizing that you’re allowed to eat whatever you want, and that’s realizing that you’re allowed to want whatever you want, too. I think Kate wrote a post about this in re: the hazing of cheezburgers.

  244. Can somebody help me out with something? I’m looking for a post that either included or linked to something like a certificate that entitled its bearer to eat tasty food, or words to that general effect… I’m pretty sure that I saw it on this site but it might have been somewhere else on the sphere-o-sphere. Or maybe I made it up. I am kind of doped up at the moment, which might be why my search-fu is failing me. But if it does exist, there’s a thread on another blog where I need to drop a link to it.

  245. Re: cat food, some cats can deal with a change of food if it’s changed s-l-o-w-l-y, by mixing in a tiny bit of the new food with the old and increasing the amount of new food very gradually. Of course, there are also cats who simply have too sensitive stomachs for diet changes, so it won’t work on all cats.

    Orijen is another low-carb grain-free dry cat food. It’s what my ex’s cats eat, as one of them refuses most wet foods. They do get served wet food too from time to time.

  246. Cat food story: You know that Carnation branded dry food that has little milk-flavored balls mixed in with the meat-flavored ones? We can’t get it because our cats eat it like kids eat Lucky Charms: they root out the marshmallows and then ignore the rest.

  247. @alexandra erin – I think Sweetmachine posted something like this not to long ago. It was called “Friday fluff: Play with a full deck”. I think that might be what you mean.

  248. Bit perturbed by all the catfood comments. I feed my cats Hill’s Science Plan kitten food because the vet recommended it, as did my friend who is a vet (she says Whiskas is very salty, which is why cats like it so much, and Iams is not v good either). Now I feel like I’m doing it wrong. :(

  249. @thegirlfrommarz: if it’s working for your kitten, I wouldn’t worry about it. I think the theme of the pet food thread breaks down to: 1. don’t underfeed your pet – that’s bad 2. pets get used to their diet – if it ain’t broke, it don’t need fixing.

    My current cat loves his dry, but he supplements with fresh-catch (mice, starlings, finches, moths, flies) often. He eats all his catches, except rats. We find their bodies outside our compost bin, usually with broken necks or severed heads. Gooooood Kittteh! OTOH, I had a cat who, if offered dry food, would slay some poor pigeon, and leave its disemboweled bits POINTEDLY all over the front porch. I swear, he would make as big a mess as possible -Purdue Pigeon Parts everywhere, not to mention the feathers -uuuggghhh. Usually he’d be sitting near it, a feather or two still in his fur, ear set at “pissed off”, to impress upon me the full depth and breadth of his indignant disdain.

  250. Hey, all, I’m working on a fluffy little piece about people whose jobs make you say, “Cool!” Even if they’re not, really. I worked as a PI for the last four years and everyone said, “That is sooo awesome” when, in fact, it was pretty damned boring. I’m trying to write up a sarcastic little piece comparing the idea to the reality. (For example, no fedora. No trenchcoat. No disguises. No crime-solving. Limited whiskey, none in desk drawer. No chainsmoking, world-weary blond men with beautiful legs. Very disappointing.) So if you have a job that you see misrepresented in the movies, or people come up to you at parties and say, “I thought about being a [whatever]”, could you drop me a line here or at my e-mail? It’s phaedra dot starling at gmail dot com.

  251. @Starling. Please tell me you at least had a large glue-on moustache, walked around in a Hawaiian shirt and had a friend called Higgins? Pllleeaaasseee?

  252. @ Starling You said PI and I thought “Principal Investigator”, so the stuff about the fedora confused the heck out of me. (I should have figured it out when you said people thought it was interesting!)

    Re: catfood: My (parents’) cat has eaten dry Friskies for thirteen years, plus the occasional cute fluffy rodent; he also eats as much as he wants whenever he wants and is as healthy as a horse (which is why I roll my eyes whenever someone chastises our bad kitty-parenting). I guess probably there is healthier food for him, but wet food doesn’t sit well and he freaked out when we tried to change from “Seafood Medley” (or something) to “Tuna”, so…

  253. Other Becky, one of my first (real) posts here was about the cognitive dissonance of finding I wanted to eat salad, and how my brain kept yelling at me every time I added croutons or dressing even though THEY ARE THE BEST BIT (because they wreck the point of salad, or something). It’s weird how many things salad comes to represent when you spend your life in a culture that’s completely messed up about food. So yay for your victory!

    I also cannot even talk about people calling things gay when they mean stupid or bad. People I know do it around me (a giant gay) all the time now because it is so commonplace. My ex-gf has started saying it FFS. That’s cool, you participate in your own oppression, I’ll be over here. *eyeroll*

    even when the spinach salad with shrimp and bacon on it

    Alexandra Erin, this made me giggle so hard. Awesome.

  254. @TooManyJessicas and @Starling, I read “PI” and for some reason my brain went “MP” as in military police, I was super confused when I read fedora, trench coat, etc. too, oops lol :)

  255. Vacuuming dogs – yes, this can be done. I used to do it to my Cookie all the time – she was part hound, part “some other dog breed with 3 layers of fur”. She shed copious amounts constantly. You can do it with just the vacuum hose. She used to hate the vacuum, but take out that hose and it was belly up :). Kind of feels like a massage.

    I don’t have a glamorous job, but as a project manager, I often get the “so…what do you do as one?”. Interestingly enough, unless you *are* a project manager, no one really seems to know just what one actually *does*. LOL. I usually end up saying “I work in Healthcare IT”.

    I used to drive cars from dealership to dealership over long distances. This is common for the smaller dealerships. Fun cars like, jaguars and such. Good times :)

  256. I just realised in my post to Alexandra Erin the internet ate the bit in <'s that was the awesome bit. Ffff. Internet.

  257. My benevolent feline overlady, Snickers, eats old-lady kibble from Royal Canin, and likes to nom on feline Greenies. She does like to slurp up tuna soup (the water that is drained out), but hasn’t been getting gooshyfood. Not sure what would happen if I slipped her a little.

  258. slythwolf PERMALINK
    And by the way, may I say, fuck exemptions for people who can’t afford insurance in a bill that’s touted as making insurance affordable for everyone.

    There are subsidies to make it affordable . . . medicaid is expanded to cover people who still can’t afford it . . . you were complaining that you’ll have to buy it, but you won’t because of the exemption, so fuck the exemption? Huh? Michigan’s uniquely fucked up medicaid rules are hardly Obama, Pelosi and Reid’s fault.

  259. Zoey used to fear and flee the vacuum. Now she’s 10 and entirely passive in all things, I can vacuum her if it’s so important to me, really what’s it to her . . .

    She’s also retired from chasing tennis balls. Meh. I’d just throw them again anyway so what’s the point?

  260. My reply to slythwolf was much more dickheaded than it should have been. A moderator is welcome to erase it, and I apologize for being rude and for using political facts as if they nullified a personal experience and consequence when I’d just given my own. I’m sorry.

  261. Caitlin: To do fake HTML, you have to type “& l t ;” and “& g t ;”, without the spaces and quotes (for “less than” and “greater than”)

    Re: The national health bill.

    Yeah, it falls way short of making health insurance affordable, due to all the compromises that were made to get it passed at all. Instead it focuses on making it available. I know everybody’s situation is different, but I’m happy to be worried about how I’m going to pay for health insurance instead of worrying how I could qualify for it and worrying about how I’d ever pay serious medical bills. I will probably qualify for subsidies under it, and I think that as time goes on and the benefits of universal coverage become apparent and the flaws of not doing enough to keep it affordable become unavoidable, we’ll get the reform we really need. If the bill had died, on the other hand, we’d have the anti-reform contingent claiming that they’d delivered exactly what America wanted and any further reform would be seen as political poison.

  262. I think that as time goes on and the benefits of universal coverage become apparent and the flaws of not doing enough to keep it affordable become unavoidable, we’ll get the reform we really need. If the bill had died, on the other hand, we’d have the anti-reform contingent claiming that they’d delivered exactly what America wanted and any further reform would be seen as political poison.

    This is my thought. Expanding subsidies, exemptions, and medicare programs already in place strikes me as easier politically than having to start from scratch once again and hoping to end up with a real universal health care plan.

  263. Expanding subsidies, exemptions, and medicare programs already in place strikes me as easier politically than having to start from scratch once again and hoping to end up with a real universal health care plan.

    This is what I’ve been trying to explain to my husband for months, as he obsesses over the fact that without a public option, we still won’t be able to afford insurance for him. I get insurance through work and it covers only me, but my boss covers the entire premium. If I had to contribute to my premium, we couldn’t afford insurance for me either.

    He’s no worse off now than he was before, and I think the legislation will have to be added to and improved once the realization hits that forcing people who can’t afford insurance to buy insurance or pay a fine still isn’t going to work because they don’t have any money.

  264. And just to give a little background: I’m currently struggling to pay for some non-trivial dental issues that had me so scared I added the tag “long dark night of the tooth” to my Livejournal. I am not at all sanguine about medical costs in America even after the passage of the bill. But the bill gives us a way to move forward, even if it’s not a giant step forward itself.

  265. Thank you TRIG, I’ve no idea-WHY?! Link flunk. The post is called

    “A long-delayed missive on “childhood obesity”, from a onetime obese child.” dated 24th March 2010.

    It’s Friday, and I cannot be arsed.

  266. Random question – has anyone here bought any dresses from Shabby Apple? I’ve been looking at their catalog and trying to decide how they would fit on a hippy woman like myself; all the models they’re using are so thin, it’s hard to imagine how the dresses will translate.

  267. @Alexandra Erin: Ooohhhh, dental bills can be horrific. So sorry to hear that you’ve experienced dental issues. The U.S. medical establishment often acts as if the mouth is not even a REAL body part, but poor dental health is closly linked to heart disease and diabetes, among other serious ailments. Some studies show bidirectional causation. I haven’t checked to see if the new plan provides improved dental coverage (compared to typical private plans now.) The lack of dental health care in the U.S. (because of prohibitive costs) should be a national scandal. (One of my children works in the dental health field and spends an inordinate amount of time trying to get legislators in our state to pay attention to this issue. It’s really frustrating.) I hope your dental issues are getting resolved!

  268. thegirlfrommarz

    “Bit perturbed by all the catfood comments. I feed my cats Hill’s Science Plan kitten food because the vet recommended it, as did my friend who is a vet (she says Whiskas is very salty, which is why cats like it so much, and Iams is not v good either). Now I feel like I’m doing it wrong. :(”

    Don’t worry, you aren’t a bad cat mom! :) I had the same fear with my foster kitties who came to me eating Fancy Feast and loving it. If your cat is doing well on Hills and/or you don’t feel like changing and/or you can’t afford to change foods, don’t worry about a thing. You’re doing better than 90% of cat owners just by giving a shit and feeding your cat the best diet you can.

    That said, Hills is not a very good quality food. If you look at the ingredients list, it’s not that different from Iams, Purina, etc which are classified as low end food. A lot of cats like it primarily because they were raised on it, and as other people have mentioned it can be difficult to convince a cat to eat something that she isn’t used to. The main reason vets recommend it and sell it is because they get kickbacks from Hills, and Hills pays for the nutrition courses that most vets take in school. Most (not all!) cats do better on foods that contain less grain and more meat than these common lower end brands. If you’re interested in changing foods, look for a brand that’s first 5 ingredients contain at least 3 named meats (not “poultry meal” or “animal fat” – you want to see “chicken meal” or “beef”) and not too much grain. There shouldn’t be any artificial coloring, nor should you see unnamed meats or “by-product”.

    I think a few people upthread mentioned EVO and Orijen – both fantastic foods. Orijen is made close to where I live so I’m able to get it for really cheap, but I hear it can be a bit spendy in other place. There are lots of others though. And you could even give raw a try. Many cats really enjoy eating a raw or mostly raw diet, and it’s wonderful for their teeth. Feeding raw is a bigger time (and money) commitment than just opening a bag of kibble or a can, and not everyone has the time/energy/money/desire to even try it. I don’t have the time to do it regularly any more, but my dog and foster kitties have all done great on raw in the past.

    But what you’re doing right now is totally a-ok, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. :)

  269. My cat simply barfed food straight back out if she didnt like it. She would do it almost out of spite, and pick her place – on shoes, bags, that kind of thing. My dog spits food out just incase there will be something better on offer and if there isnt, he eats his spat out snacks. Revolting.
    He did it yesterday – because he thought he heard the sound of a cookie packet opening….he realised he was wrong then went back and ate what he had been eating. Yack. I think he and I need to have words. He also growls his way through all wildlife/nature and animated tv programmes so no-one can hear anything but his voice. He is 12 though, so is now the old man of the house and if he could prod us with a walking stick and talk about war-time rationing, he would.

  270. Depends on what you mean by ‘kickbacks.’ Hill’s didn’t pay us to recommend Hill’s. The clinic made profit on their ‘prescription’ diets, though.

    Raw food must be very fresh. I saw a few kitties get very ill from it. Probably not from the diet alone but from what happens when you buy a big bag of chicken wings and don’t freeze them but just divvy them up day after day for a couple of weeks. Probably everybody here is sharper than that, but remember, raw is safe to eat for less time than cooked meat is, and salmonella is bad for cats, too.

  271. I agree that EVO is spendy, I probably would be less interested in using it if I hadn’t seen how much difference it made for my very old dog’s activity level.

    That said, I used to have three kitties that I raised from a couple months old; and they all lived until they were seventeen on Science Diet dry food. One died from liver cancer, one from kidney failure, and the last from pure lonliness when the others were gone. They all went in one Summer about four years ago, it was a tough time. Fortunately, my current kitties are all wonderful too.

    My current cats all do fine with diet changes too, and even the occasional wet food treat. One also steals all the butter she can get her greedy little paws on. So some cats must be more flexible than the others. One of my previous cats also stole all the blueberries he could get his paws on, rather baffling.

  272. Piffle — my grandparents had a cat who *loved* raw green peas. He’d come running at the sound of my grandmother shelling peas into a metal bowl. Then one of my family’s cats liked to eat the seeds off the top of rolls and bagels and things. Not the bread itself, but we couldn’t leave any kind of seeded bread product out or we’d come back to find all the seeds carefully nibbled off.

  273. @Piffle and Sarah Your cats sound so cute!

    I’m dog-sitting for my boss right now, which mostly means vegging out while three dogs vie for my affections. I’ve spent all day being followed around–talk about an ego-boost!

  274. I noticed in my local health food store they have quite a selection of natural/organic food for cats/dogs. Perhaps those looking for alternative pet food to what they’re using now might want to inquire at their local shoppe?

    As for the Un-Constitutional so-called “Health Care” bill. I think it’s a disaster and I find it interesting that most of the taxes and cuts don’t start until after the Nov 2012 election. Cuts in care to the elderly and the mentally disabled come first. And most frightening of all — the IRS is responsible for making sure US Individuals are complying and if not then we’ll be fined and possibly jailed. WTF is going on?!?!?! Since when can the US Govt force people into buying a product and fine/jail them if they don’t?!?!? Yeah..because nothing say’s “Health” like the IRS! WTF!!!!!!

  275. And most frightening of all — the IRS is responsible for making sure US Individuals are complying and if not then we’ll be fined and possibly jailed. WTF is going on?!?!?! Since when can the US Govt force people into buying a product and fine/jail them if they don’t?!?!? Yeah..because nothing say’s “Health” like the IRS! WTF!!!!!!

    Well, we can go to jail if the IRS determines we’re not paying taxes. In some ways that’s what these fines are – an additional tax with a rebate if you buy health insurance.

  276. @diane – They can levy taxes and provide services in exchange for them, and have been able to do that for a while. Of course, this law doesn’t do that… we have to go through a bunch of middlemen to get the same basic idea. Somehow, though, I have a feeling that if they’d cut out the middle steps and stuck to “government taxes and provides public service for the common good”, most of the people decrying the existing bill as unconstitutional would be screaming even louder.

  277. Diane, I don’t have your qualifications as a Constitutional Scholar, but pragmatically which would you prefer to the personal mandate:
    1. That people who get sick without insurance be ineligible for medical care of any kind, including emergency care, unless they can pay for it out of pocket?
    2. That people who get sick without insurance get coverage they haven’t paid for, sticking everyone who’s paid their dues with the bill?

    Me, I prefer that everybody pay in according to their abilities and then when someone needs help we don’t have to determine whether or not they deserve it. I personally think that I deserve medical care even though I’m already sick (and have been since I was 15). I’m mandated to pay taxes to cover everyone over 65, an age I probably won’t live to see . . . but I can’t buy care for myself because of a “preexisting condition.” ObamaCare is far from perfect, but BushCare has been murder.

    Also, do you have something in mind when you say “Cuts in care to the elderly and the mentally disabled come first. ” or is that deliberately false concern trolling?

  278. because nothing say’s “Health” like the IRS!

    Actually, nothing says “health” like having life-or-death decisions made by for-profit companies.

    But then I live in one of those crazy European countries where I’ve had modern medical care for free since birth and will till the day I die, so what do I know about anything? There’s no way that should be the birthright of every human being, so it’s completely not ridiculous that citizens of the richest country in the world don’t have access to it.

  279. All I can say is, Screw the insurance companies. I have a private policy with Blue Cross Blue Shield and in the last two months they’ve raised my rates twice – by $135. I am now paying over $600 a month for coverage for two people. In the last 18 months, my rates have been raised by $175. They don’t even bother giving a reason – the reason is that according to their own algorithms they CAN. And I have a $1000 deductible. My health insurance is almost as much as my rent, and I am a healthy person!

  280. hsofia, I think we pay “The brown tax”. You can be the healthiest POC around and I swear it feels like you’re still gonna pay more than a white 20something smoker.

  281. But then I live in one of those crazy European countries where I’ve had modern medical care for free since birth and will till the day I die, so what do I know about anything? There’s no way that should be the birthright of every human being, so it’s completely not ridiculous that citizens of the richest country in the world don’t have access to it.

    Yeah, I lived in SEVERAL of those “crazy European countries” and it was new hotness. My Nana broke her ankle in London and received excellent care! That said, what it would require to get the US there would require some serious bootstrapping from folks who don’t have boots or feet.

    Firstly, the US is MUCH larger than all of Europe and would need a total infrastructure reorganization, since we’d have pay eleventy billion dollars for a thimble of gas and probably need to have 15% sales tax on everything like I remember in Germany (and that was in 1984!) Hell, they were already rocking the equiv $2.70 for a LITER of petro in 1984.

    And to be sure it would all be new hotness: reliable public transit, sustainable infrastructure and the rich paying their fair share in the form of VATs (value added tax), but we got to get some feets and some boots before we can do all of that. Plus, I’m not sure the US could be as overtly Xenophobic in its immigration policies/border stuffs as most European countries are, which I’m sure those countries feel is really useful.

    Otherwise I’m afraid we will create more problems than we’d solve.

  282. I agree with the other commenters above that moralizing about pet food and pet diet is not a whole lot different from moralizing about human food and diet. Do what works, stop beating yourself up, and if your vet is being an asshole about it, maybe find a new one? I mean, I don’t think the “natural” argument works here any better than it does for people. (Cats are built like carnivores, sure, but they also have evolved as domesticated and partly-domesticated animals alongside people for thousands of years, and they are excellent scavengers. And when they hunt and eat, say, rodents, the rodents still have grains in their stomachs. Grains aren’t going to kill your cats, FFS.) And as with people, each individual cat has different needs from every other cat.

    For instance, some of them have chronic digestive illnesses triggered by both food allergies and high-fat foods — either wet OR dry high-fat food, that is, which means basically all of the high-end foods made without by-products. So do I deliberately free-feed my beloved cats dry food with by-products? Hell yes, I do. In fact, it’s technically weight-loss food from the vet, because it’s low in allergens but cheaper than the technically-hypo-allergenic stuff (but they free-feed; they are NOT on weight loss diets). I do this because eating is better than not eating, digesting is better than not digesting, and pooping normally is better than blood on the floor. And do my cats get fat every winter because they free feed? Yes, they do! And anyone who wants to tell me I’m Doing It Wrong can stuff it.

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