Fatties with Heads!!!

So, I was recently interviewed for a Reuters article on the size acceptance movement that’s been picked up a few different places today. On the plus side, it’s a pretty fair article. On the minus side, the reporter implies that I’m the sole author of the book, which has happened more than once and is getting seriously fucking annoying. (I e-mailed her and she says she’s asking her editor if anything can be done to fix that. See update below.)

But here’s what’s really exciting. Not only is the National Post iteration of the article illustrated by a picture of FATTIES WITH HEADS, but they’re fatties we know! Fatties actually involved in the movement the article talks about!
The boobalicious fatty right up front is Julia, aka sparkymonster on Livejournal, sometime contributor to Fatshionista.com, and a contributor to Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere (which also includes fantastic essays by Joy Nash, Barbara Benesch-Granberg, Lesley Kinzel and Cynara Geissler, by the way). I don’t have an e-mail address for the woman in line behind her, so I couldn’t get permission to drop her name, but if she sees this and wants to identify herself in comments, she’s more than welcome to. The photo was apparently taken at the Fat Girl Flea Market, and that’s one more reason to wish I had been there. 

Update: The reporter, Edith Honan, just called me, which was pretty awesome of her. (For the record, that “seriously fucking annoying” bit was totally not directed at her, specifically, but at the whole situation.) So first, she apologized for not including Marianne, and said it was really a matter of space limitations — which is totally understandable, though if any other reporters who plan to interview me happen to see this, would you please at least say “she’s co-written a book”? Unfortunately, the horse is out of the barn, so they can’t recall it, but it was very cool of her to call and apologize.

Second, she informed me that the photo of Julia and co. was a Reuters photo they chose to send out with the article — the Post just happens to be the only place I saw it, and some outlets chose not to use it. So I can comfortably go back to giving the Post no credit whatsoever! Whew. But props to Reuters for the heads and the relevance and the boobs! (And, uh, for not sending me a cease and desist about reprinting the photo here. Yet.)

How To Succeed in Research Without Really Trying

So let’s say you’re a medical professional. Forget having several square inches of a fatty’s thigh touch your thigh when you’re on a plane — that’s child’s play as far as you’re concerned. No, your row is harder hoeing. First of all, peering into fat people’s shopping carts and judging the contents isn’t just a hobby for you; it’s a duty that you take on in the name of public health, on the assumption that a doctor’s disdain is more potent and effective than that of a normal person. And as far as interacting with fat people, you don’t get the luxury of just ignoring them or insulting them on the internet like everyone else — no, you have to get all up in their business on a regular basis. It’s your job! And because you have to touch way more than just their leg in an airplane seat, your contempt has to be that much more fiery and glaring, in order to heat-sterilize you from fatty germs.

Sure, you could react to this situation by becoming one of the many perfectly lovely, compassionate, and professional doctors and nurses out there, but where’s the fun in that? Being a fair and benevolent physician is HARD and there is no GRANT MONEY in it, you sucker. (Being a trenchant and high-minded researcher might come with funds but is still really taxing. No thanks.) No, much better to put your little all into building an unassailable wall of research showing that fat people are going to die of every disease but not before bringing everyone else down with them. This does the handy dual trick of giving people a whitewashed podium from which to fling their poo — it’s not about bigotry, it’s about health! — and firing up public opinion against fatties, who are now to blame for the world’s ills. This is important, since all it takes for someone to lose weight (and thus, according to the research you’re crafting, to become instantly healthy) is for them to know that some people think they’re unacceptable at their current size.

But where to start? Well, some folks at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have a few suggestions for you.

1. Pick an arbitrary baseline. If you’re looking at anything that’s increased monotonically over time — man-made greenhouse gas production, automobile manufacturing, Abe Vigoda’s age, entropy –you can start measuring at any point and still turn up an increase. The trick is to choose a baseline that is far enough away to guarantee you’ll show a precipitous gain, while still being close enough to the present time that it doesn’t seem irrelevant. Remember, making it seem as though you must have a plausible rationale is much, much more important than actually having one!

2. Get a computer. Any mook can stick electrodes on a rat, but computer modeling allows you to ask all kinds of asinine counterfactual questions like “what if humans evolved from cats,” “what if dark matter were actually made of ladies’ panties,” “what if there were no fat people in the 1970s and also the 1970s was now,” and so forth. This is very original and therefore very fundable research — and depending on how you set up the model, you can make it find whatever you want!

3. Choose the parameters for your model based on impact rather than fact. For instance, if 25 percent of people in Great Britain are classified as “obese,” use 40 percent instead because it sounds way scarier.

4. Build your prejudices into the model in any way possible. For instance, if you assume fat people eat too much, you should make your model calculate that fat people will eat more food. If you don’t do this, your conclusion might only show that increased food production leads to more greenhouse gases! This could have a negative impact on the food industry, who may I remind you is NOT going to force you to have sex with it and then take half your stuff. Why go that route, when you can instead blame your simulated fatties for increasing the simulated production of simulated food because of their simulated boundless hunger?

5. While you’re at it, ignore other factors that could affect what you’re studying — if you’re looking at greenhouse gas emissions, for example, be sure to ignore the increasing population and cultural fascination with big honkin’ cars. The point of a model is not to simulate reality; it’s to present a constrained, idealized, paper-thin approximation of reality, and then assume that any discrepancies are reality’s fault for being so sloppy. That’s why they name them after these guys.

Voila — you’re ready to publish some social-ass science! Make sure you’ve lined up some reporters with shaky science literacy, short attention spans, looming deadlines and/or a propensity to exaggerate the anti-fat interpretations of scientific studies (either due to personal bias or because it allows them great range for puns on words like “heavy” and “bloated”). Hopefully the well-read, careful, or less time-crunched journalists are working with aforementioned trenchant researchers anyway, and nobody’s reading anything they write because they’re suckers. You, however, are on your way to leaving a lasting mark on the world, in the form of a link that douchebags can copy and paste when they want to argue that fat people are a proven menace.

Or if that’s too much work, you could just make some shit up.

1,000 calories a day: Officially not torture

Via Rachel at The-F-Word, the HuffPo is reporting that calorie restriction was a Bush-administration-approved torture technique, and the justification for its legality was that people do it voluntarily. We just call it “dieting” instead of “torture.”

In a footnote to a May 10, 2005, memorandum from the Office of Legal Council, the Bush attorney general’s office argued that restricting the caloric intake of terrorist suspects to 1000 calories a day was medically safe because people in the United States were dieting along those lines voluntarily.

“While detainees subject to dietary manipulation are obviously situated differently from individuals who voluntarily engage in commercial weight-loss programs, we note that widely available commercial weight-loss programs in the United States employ diets of 1000 kcal/day for sustain periods of weeks or longer without requiring medical supervision,” read the footnote. “While we do not equate commercial weight loss programs and this interrogation technique, the fact that these calorie levels are used in the weight-loss programs, in our view, is instructive in evaluating the medical safety of the interrogation technique.”

This is like saying that because people voluntarily engage in e-stim, it’s totally safe to zap detainees’ genitals. I’m going to set aside for a moment my extreme revulsion at the bureaucratic justification of torture — because I really cannot string together words strong enough to express how horrified I am by my own government in this matter — and focus on the whole, you know, dieting is torture thing.

This is what people who say “just put down the baby donuts, fatty” want you to undergo: something so mind-destroying that the Bush administration thought it would make you confess to terrorist acts. “Without requiring medical supervision,” my ass. The first thing I thought of when I read that was zombie z’s comment from this post:

zombie z: You want to know what makes me fucking CRAZY?!

As a thin anorexic, I was told over and over again that 500, 800, 1000, sometimes even 1200, calories a day wasn’t enough to even keep someone alive. I was told I should be eating 1800-2500 calories a day.

As a normal-sized anorexic, I was told (by a doctor) that I could “eat 800 calories a day and exercise and still lose some weight.”

Doctors are not immune from fat prejudice, as zombie z’s comment so distressingly demonstrates. The reason people don’t have medical supervision while doing Jenny Craig or WW is not because those diets are so clearly safe; it’s because they’re so clearly normalized as part of the (female) American experience. Feeling fat? Go on Weight Watchers! Everybody does it! If it doesn’t work it’s because you cheated and had some cough drops or carrots or something, not because it’s designed to fail so that you’ll have to pony up your money again next year.

We are firmly through the looking glass on this one. Diets feel torturous,* but doctors say fatties should go on them because duh, you’re fat — but if you’re thin, watch out! That’s not enough to live on, you’ll starve! The professional torture apologists say that diets are perfect because they feel like torture, but they must not be because look at all those fatties on them — they’re not being tortured, right? It’s voluntary and no one would volunteer for torture, which is why we only approve things that feel like torture but aren’t torture. If you object that there is no moral or physical difference between something that feels like torture and something that is torture — that the definition of torture is about how it feels — well, you’re just a liberal pantywaist. And you could probably stand to drop a few pounds.

*Now would be a good time to refresh your memory on the Minnesota Starvation Experiment, in which subjects went mad on 1600 calories a day.

Welcome, CNN Viewers

You’re gonna want to check out the comments policy before you try to join the conversation. Short version: I don’t publish comments from people who are promoting weight loss, insulting me, or insulting fat people in general. Don’t waste your time. 

If you’re interested in more of my thoughts on United’s policy, you can go here for the expletive-laden version and here for the relatively clean one.  (Note that “clean” relative to how I usually write around here is, uh, still not that clean.)

Regular readers who missed the segment, we should have video of it sometime in the next day or two. Meanwhile, here’s a pic my friend Jo took of her TV:


That was the purple dress, despite how blue it looks! And I’m really not digging how it coordinates with the cami in this lighting, but whatever. I had 110 lbs. of make-up and hairspray on, so hopefully, people were distracted by that.

Also, I would be psyched that Jo caught me with a total “bish, plz” face on, except I’m slightly afraid I was making it the whole time.  I’m waiting to see the video as much as everyone else. Eep!

Oh, last thing…  About 5 minutes after I finished, I got this:

Your arguments were ridiculous and you just made a fool of yourself.

Hey, thanks for writing, Mike! It’s so great to know that there are strangers who care enough to let me know they think I’m a fool. Because there is totally nothing foolish about taking the time to send a drive-by insult to a stranger from the teevee. That is the behavior of a reasonable, intelligent, all-around awesome person, right there. I have so much to learn from you!

Next they’ll print one about airplane food

Ah, the New York Times. The old gray lady, the paper of record, the practice workshop for standup comedians. If the latter strikes you as out of place, just check out this article (title: “What’s the Skinny on the Heftier Stars?”), which basically amounts to the author, Michael Cieply, saying “Fat actors! What’s the deal with that?”

Honestly, I have no analysis of this one; I’m just here to mock it. It was apparently written by a man who has literally never once thought about body size before in any context, much less film. We start off with obligatory fatphobia, which Cieply assumes is shared by all his readers:

Two men. One notebook. Four chins.

Hollywood’s pool of leading men is getting larger — and not necessarily in a good way.

Four chins?!? My god, has a double chin ever disgraced the screen like that?

Cieply goes on to note that some male film stars, like Russell Crowe, John Travolta, Hugh Grant, and Denzel Washington, now appear to be bigger than they once were. It’s crazy because they’re only around 50! How could this happen? Tom Hanks was totally skinny in Castaway when he was playing a man stranded on a desert island, but now he looks different! He doesn’t have a beard or a volleyball or anything.

My absolute favorite sentence of this article is about The Ladies.

Hollywood’s women may have weight issues of their own. But it is somehow less noticeable, possibly because actresses who expand do not often get roles to showcase that growth.

This honest to god made me LOL. This right here is a stunningly great example of the male gaze and how it is founded on male privilege. There are two parts of this sentence that are more or less factual: 1) “Hollywood’s women may have weight issues of their own” (depending how you define “issues,” of course), and 2) “actresses who expand do not often get roles to showcase that growth.” But it’s the hinge of these facts, that wonderfully clueless phrase “But it is somehow less noticeable,” that makes me want to put this article in a textbook under “Male Gaze 101.” See, there’s a phrase missing from this sentence, an important one. The sentence should read: “It is somehow less noticeable to me.” I guarantee Michael Cieply that the absence of fat women, or even size-6 women, or even very thin women who are not shockingly beautiful, onscreen is eminently noticeable to women moviegoers. To girl moviegoers. To fat moviegoers. To anorexic moviegoers. To flat-chested moviegoers. And so on. Behold the grammar of privilege: it rests in the absence of the phrase “to me” and the presence of the word “somehow.” The “somehow” is the male gaze. If you are a straight man, women onscreen are selected for your visual pleasure, and the camera acts as a proxy for your point of view.

“Desire […] is a property of men, property in both senses of the word: something men own, possess, and something that inheres in men, like a quality.” –Teresa DeLauretis, “Through the Looking-Glass: Woman, Cinema, and Language”

The reason it is “somehow less noticeable” to you that there are no fat women onscreen is that the entire history of cinema is designed to reassure you that you don’t have to look at fat women. Thin women are the default; they are how the cinematic world is populated, so they look normal to your eyes. You don’t notice the absence of fat women; you notice their rare presence, when the camera deviates from your point of view long enough for you to say “Whoa, fattie!” But every single woman who sits in a movie theater is forced to inhabit that male gaze, too, forced to watch how the camera treats women of rare beauty and slenderness as the only kind of women who exist. This is how it is possible for women as small as Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Simpson to be “Hollywood fat.” For women moviegoers, the “weight issues” of “Hollywood’s women” are one of the *most* noticeable things about movies — sadly, for some of us, the primary fact of movies.

(This matter of gaze and representation, incidentally, is why so many fat people and fat allies were angry about Wall-E. Here is one of the very very very few instances where the world is not populated only by very thin people… and it’s the dystopic future of the human race.)

Okay, it turned out I had some analysis in me after all. Back to mockery!

Cieply points out that the male actors of yesteryear, like Humphrey Bogart and Clark Gable, stayed skinny well into middle age. Of course, they smoked like chimneys and also survived the Great Depression… but seriously, you didn’t see them letting themselves go! That Denzel, he just needs more self-discipline.

Cieply saves the biggest laughs for the end, though, like any good comic.

He might want to get some diet advice from Jason Segel.

Mr. Segel, 29, was fairly hefty in “I Love You, Man,” a comedy released by Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks in March. But his face looked surprisingly thin on billboards advertising the film.

The advertising photos were done some weeks after the film shoot, with a slimmer Mr. Segel, said Katie Martin Kelley, a publicity executive with Paramount. “There was no retouching done,” Ms. Kelley said.

There is nothing I can say about this that would be funnier than it actually is. No retouching!

Since Mr. Cieply and his editors at the NYT clearly need a lesson in human biology as well as rhetoric, feminist theory, and film studies, I am offering myself up as an object lesson. Shapelings, I, like poor John Travolta, have gotten a lot bigger in the last 20 years. A LOT. It’s like my whole body has just ballooned outward in every direction, and I can’t control it, and no matter what I eat or how much I exercise, I just can’t get back to my old shape. I think you can see what I mean. (Edited to include funnier picture.)

Sweet Machine 20-ish years ago
Sweet Machine 20-ish years ago
Sweet Machine today
Sweet Machine today

There was no retouching done.

Your hairy legs could be mass murderers even now

In the spirit of “Obese blamed for world’s ills” comes this little ad video that shows what happens if you fail to shave your legs to absolute smoothness every single day: utter chaos. Not only will dudes be grossed out, but they could DIE! Here’s the link: click “watch film” to see what I mean.

Look, ladies, here’s how it is: even if you’re white and thin and traditionally feminine, and you wore your sandals and your cute sundress with the cleavage and you have no problem with your boyfriend groping you on public transit, if you forgot or, heaven forfend, chose not to shave the invisible stubble from your legs, YOU HAVE DOOMED ALL AROUND YOU TO MISERY. A woman may be pinned on her back under a stranger (god, it’s almost like you WANT her to be assaulted), and a perfectly innocent man who just wants to enjoy his perfectly healthy apple despite the fact that you’re not really supposed to eat on the bus will choke almost to death AND THEN EVERYONE WILL GLARE AT YOU AND YOU WILL GET A TEXT MESSAGE FROM YOUR FUTURE SELF OR SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW.

Here’s the thing: this ad would be kinda cute, in its Rube Goldberg-esque way, if it didn’t start from the premise that all women should be available to groping by men at all times. No matter how much you doll yourself up, if there is any part of you that is not sufficiently hairless and smooth, you are persona non grata in terms of beauty. Stubble turns you from a hot chick into a chick so disgusting that men actually leap away from you. You’ve ruined everything by failing to meet the endlessly exacting standards of beauty, which you can only hope to meet by buying our extra-fancy new razor or beauty creme or undergarment.

And remember, even if you look hairless, since your body is available to be groped at any time, your True Hairlessness is subject to scrutiny. If you are cursed with thick body hair, or dark hair against pale skin, you should probably just carry your fancy-ass razor along with you at all times, since your stubble might be noticeable under fluorescent light or when caressed by a (male) baby.

Because I am, as you know, a humorless feminist and a noted misanthropist, I am about to do something that is so dangerous to the fate of dudes everywhere, it will probably cause the dystopian women-only future that right-wingers have nightmares about. I live in Chicago, where it fucking snowed this morning, which should give you a sense of how many months it’s been since I showed my bare legs in public. Also, I am a very pale white woman with dark, thick hair. By now, you’ve sensed what’s coming: tell the menfolk to hide in the storm cellar lest they catch a glimpse of this, my real leg:

Behold: My hairy damn leg
Behold: My hairy damn leg

I have not shaved in WEEKS. Sometime I go the whole winter without shaving at all, and then I have what I think of as a Deforestation Session in March or April. It’s odd; I’ve lived with a man for six years, but he’s never mentioned the horrible chains of events that must happen to him every day because of my hirsute natural state. He must be suffering in silence, the poor thing.

This is what the beauty ideal is designed to erase: the reality of our bodies. This is what is so scary to proponents of fancy razors, diet pills, fake tans, and all that bullshit: the fact that women have hair on their bodies, just like they’re people or something. Some women are fat and some are thin. Some women have straight swingy hair and some have kinky hair and some have frizzy hair and some just stick what they’ve got in a damn ponytail. Some women have big pillowy lips and some don’t. Some women have curves and some have rolls and some have both and some have neither. Women, just like men, live in human bodies, and human bodies are incredibly diverse. We all know that, even the most brainwashed of us: but we also know we’re not supposed to know it. If we all just said that women are real people — if we said that out loud — what on earth might happen?

Chaos would ensue. Dudes might be harmed.

(Via Feministing.)

Want to talk to a reporter about me?

Hey, there’s a reporter for a local paper here doing a story on me/the blog/the book, who would like to talk to some Shapelings about how the blog has affected them. 

If you’d be interested in talking to her, please e-mail me (katesblog at gmail) with “REPORTER” in the subject line before 10 a.m. central time tomorrow. Please include your name, screen name, e-mail address, and a bit about how you found the blog and why you keep reading. I’ll forward the responses to her, and she’ll get in touch with you if she wants to know more or quote you. 

Thanks so much in advance to anyone who takes the time to do this! (Oh, and I should note that this reporter is supernice and seems genuinely open to the concept of fat acceptance — it’s not going to be a “gotcha” piece unless she’s a reeeeeallly good actress.)

Bathing Suit Season

The magazines have started. We are now in the pre-season — the  “unless you’re already quite thin, it’s time to start losing weight if you want to show your body in public this summer!” phase. (If you are quite thin, please wait for our May issue, when we’ll tell you you’re too pale*, hairy, blemished, and unfashionable, your boobs are too small to go with your butt, you could still stand to tone up those muscles, and your body insecurity is a real turn-off.)

With regard to all that, please go re-read Marina’s guest post, “28 Days to a Bikini Mind.” Today, I want to talk about more practical issues: To wit, how much plus-size bathing suits suck. I’ve been shopping for a new one lately, and I am not a happy fatty.

To be fair, bathing suit shopping just sucks, period. I didn’t find it much easier when I wore a common straight size. But at least I knew I could walk into several different stores and find options in “my size,” even though most of them wouldn’t fit me right anyway. As a fatty, I pretty much have my choice of Target or Wal-Mart — which would be fine (ethical concerns about big-box retailers aside), if they carried suits that work on my body. (More on that in a mo.) They don’t. Oh, I can also rent a car and drive to the suburbs to hit a Lands’ End** Inlet, where they will have about 4 plus-size bathing suits among the 900 non-plus ones. There’s that. 

So. I’ve compiled a list of requests I wish everyone making bathing suits for fatties would take into consideration. 

1) If you’re a retailer that sells both online and off, put some fucking suits in your bricks and mortar stores. You don’t have to put the entire line in there, but could we please have a handful? So we might have the tiniest little prayer of being able to buy a bathing suit we’ve actually tried on, instead of having to guess at sizing and spend a whole lot of time and money ordering suits and shipping them back? 

2) There has to be a happy medium between fabric that “takes 10 pounds off” while squashing your internal organs into a single blob, and see-through, lightweight shit that has no stretch left after it’s been in a pool twice. Please find it.*** I actually don’t hate the “control” fabrics as much as I probably should, given that the marketing is all about body shame; they have the side benefit of being far more supportive than regular suits, which comes in handy if you do anything other than lie by the pool. But A) being able to breathe is also handy, and B) the more “control” there is, the more they charge. So I don’t need a fucking Miraclesuit for $150 — taking off “10 pounds” around the middle will not actually prevent people from noticing that I’m fat — but I do want something that will keep my boobs and gut from flopping around in water aerobics class or, you know, walking to the beach. 

3) If you are a retailer who sells both straight and plus sizes, don’t have the same bathing suit available in 19 different colors for thin people and just black, brown and navy for fat ones. I know, I know, plus-size suits in light colors don’t sell as well, but that’s because we’ve all been brainwashed to believe that A) looking fat is pretty much the worst thing that can happen to a woman, and B) dark colors have magical slimming powers that, like control fabric, will prevent anyone from noticing that you are, in fact, a fat woman wearing a bathing suit. I promise, we’re working on getting women to stop believing that bullshit! But meet us halfway, would you? It is so fucking demoralizing to be clicking through the suits (or anything else) at Lands’ End and go, “Oh, I love that color!” then click on the “plus” button and find out some decision-maker doesn’t think I have any business wearing that color. It doesn’t matter that what the decision-maker actually thought, in all likelihood, was just that that color wouldn’t sell well enough to the plus market. It feels like a slap in the face, and you can only slap your customers in the face for so long before they start wondering who else might need their money more.

4) Two words: adjustable straps. My chronic issue with plus-size clothing being cut for people with way broader shoulders than mine is just that much more irritating when it comes to swimsuits. And I’d imagine women with broader shoulders have a similar complaint. 

5) Two other words: cup sizes. You don’t even need a broad range — just “smaller” and “larger” would be a step in the right direction. Since we’re dealing with stretchy fabric, it’s possible for one swim bra to work with a lot of different boobs.  But as it is, different manufacturers usually go too far one way or the other. I love Junonia because their suits will (mostly) accomodate the rack of doom — but accordingly, I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone who wears smaller than a C-cup. On the flip side, the main reason I can’t buy suits at Target or a zillion other places is that anyone who wears larger than a C-cup is basically SOL there. JMS offers a couple of their suits in regular and D-cups, which is all I’m really asking for, but why the hell aren’t more folks doing this with a wider selection of suits? (Also, if you’re smaller of boob, do the “regular” options in that case fit you, or do you wish they had a third option?) 

6) Give us options for bust support that don’t involve some sort of hook/clasp around the neck or across the back. The clasp just throws a whole other fit issue into the mix — OK, the bra fits, but will that stupid clasp be too loose or too tight on me? Also, on the rare occasion when I’ve found one like that that does fit, I have not noticed one whit of actual support coming from the clasp. Make the backs higher and the bras stronger, whatever it takes, but fuck the clasps. (I don’t own one of these, but I think it’s a brilliant concept for increasing support across the back while keeping the suit reasonably easy to get into.) 

7) There’s also got to be a happy medium between matronly and sexpotty. Find it. 

8) Empire waists and defined cups are great for those who like them, but they’re not the end-all and be-all. And here, I am looking straight at Lands’ End, 2009. They’ve finally made a cover-up skirt I really want, but it’s meant to coordinate with a bunch of tops I can’t wear. Last year, there were at least a couple of tankini tops that didn’t look like ass on me, but this year, not a single one.

9) Women who wear above a size 26 like to swim, too. See point 3.

10) Put your plus size bathing suits on fucking plus size models. I don’t look anything like a plus model, but I cannot even begin to imagine what a suit will look like on me when all I’ve got to go on is an image of a very tall, very thin woman wearing it. I’m sure there’s yet another argument here about how stuff sells better on thin models, but I really, really don’t care. It’s offensive and frustrating — and it’s also pinning all your hopes on self-loathing customers, instead of customers who already believe they deserve nice things and won’t hold off on buying clothes until they lose weight. 

11) Finally (for now), if you’re selling exclusively online, you need to post a size chart for every brand of bathing suit you carry, and ideally every single suit. Oh, and if there’s any sort of skirt or shorts involved, YOU NEED TO MENTION HOW LONG THEY ARE. 

All right, that’s all I’ve got right now. Shapelings, tell us what you’d add to the list!

Oh, and for the record, here’s a list of all the plus-size swimsuit retailers I can think of off the top of my head. Please feel free to add more of these in comments, too. 


Lands’ End

LL Bean

Eddie Bauer (mostly, if not all, Miraclesuits)



One Stop Plus (includes Jessica London, Roaman’s, Avenue, and lots more)

Lane Bryant

Swimsuits for All

Always for Me 

Ulla Popken

Swim Outlet

Love Your Peaches




*If you’re a woman of color, you’re probably exempt from this one, but on the downside, we have no idea you exist. 

** Did you ever notice that that’s where they actually put the apostrophe? As in, the end of many lands? My sister pointed that out to me a while back, and it continues to drive me nuts.

***Junonia has come closest to finding it, in my experience. Their “Quikshape” fabric is like Miraclesuit-lite, and their spandex-free, chlorine-proof suits — at least, the one I got a couple of years ago — are quite supportive, though they feel weird and are a bear to get into. But then, Junonia’s got other problems. (See points 4 and 5.)

Read ‘Em

There are about a gazillion things we’ve missed in the last week, so it’s round-up time.

First, though, I have a favor to ask of anyone who can swing it. Al’s friend Peter lost his job last July. He and his partner of 20+ years, Ericka, are now in danger of losing their house — foreclosure proceedings have begun, and a sheriff’s sale has been set for May 8. Making matters more difficult, in this case, saving the house isn’t just a matter of keeping a roof over their heads. Quoting Peter:

Ericka has multiple, chronic, life-altering diseases and Peter is her primary caregiver. We have modified our home to handle her medical equipment and power wheelchair, etc. Things like the added and increased voltage electrical system, the ramp, the bathroom, the enlarged doors and added bedroom door (so the wheelchair and ambulance gurneys can get through) are just some of the things that have been adapted so that Ericka can continue to live in our home.

Peter recently got a temporary job, and they’ve received some donations already, but they’re still going to need more to keep the house. I know everyone is struggling right now, but if any Shapelings have a bit of cash to spare, please go here and use the donate button or bid on one of the items other friends are auctioning off. A bunch of small donations could make a huge difference. Also, if you’re in the Twin Cities area and know of anyone looking to hire a webmaster/information architect/business analyst (I don’t even know what two out of three of those things mean), Peter’s resume can be found here.

Now, on to the round-up.

The Meghan McCain thing
Backstory here. FJ e-mailed about it this morning and all she said was, “Just in case you needed another reason never to pull that “last acceptable prejudice” shit…” No kidding.

Nevertheless, I replied that I was reasonably pleased with McCain’s response, overall — although yeah, the “last acceptable prejudice” thing NEEDS TO FUCKING DIE, and it also seemed like there was a little too much, “But I’m not fat!” going on, even though she had the decency to acknowledge that the criticism would be bullshit even if she were. I also admitted that a small part of me quite likes what I’ve seen of Meghan McCain (which is not that much, I hasten to note) — that is, the part of me that thinks deep down she’s a Democrat who’s just a little too green to get why her youthful energy and optimism almost certainly won’t make the Republican party any less hateful in the next few generations — so I might be giving her too much benefit of the doubt. FJ is not similarly impressed. What say you, Shapelings? Is her message refreshing to see, or undermined by the way she articulates it? Or both?  

Attack of the fat babies
There are reports out today about a new program  designed to keep pregnant women from gaining too much weight. Once again, the reporting suggests that fat moms have fat babies because their fat uteruses are fucking obesogenic environments, not because fat is hereditary. As I’ve said before, I don’t think genetics are the only reason why some people are fat, and I don’t entirely discount the possibility that a woman’s fat cells themselves could potentially affect her eggs or fetus(es). I do, however, think that when we’re talking about fat moms having fat babies, and no one ever says, “Hey, you think maybe that’s because fat is hereditary?” William of Ockham starts spinning in his goddamned grave.   

Also, check out Lauredhel on how the supposed upward trend in babies’ birthweights is horseshit. 

Brain surgery to cure teh fatz
Today, BFD  got around to highlighting Withoutscene’s fabulous rant on the brain surgery for obesity story we still haven’t gotten around to discussing. Discuss.

A good old fashioned blood-boiler
(via Shapeling Judith) Please enjoy this essay, in which Mindy Laube compares fatness to crime AND admits straight up that health is beside the point: Her whole argument is that fat people should rightly hate ourselves on aesthetic grounds alone. Money quote:

When teenage girls are willing to flaunt their oversize bellies in bikinis only one conclusion can be drawn: human nature is in flux. At some point during the last couple of decades, we seem to have misplaced one of the healthiest of human traits: vanity.

Yes, folks, once again, fat is fashionable and thin people are being persecuted by the millions and millions of fat-accepting folks, who are drowning out the noble few still fighting for a thin beauty standard.

The louder crowd insists that slender women are bizarre anomalies who ought to be force-fed into obese conformity because the rotund figure of the average Australian woman is “normal” and thus ideal.

Wow. I know American public schools don’t do such a great job of teaching geography, but I am 34 years old, and until this moment did not even realize that Australia IS ON ANOTHER FUCKING PLANET.

If you’re fat, you should be standing up to burn calories anyway. (If you can’t stand up, fuck you.)
A fitness club in The Netherlands has installed these high-tech bus shelter ads with a scale in the bench that produces a digital readout of your weight up in the usual ad space, where everyone can see it. As Liss says, “Not only fat-hating/shaming, but deeply hostile to the physically disabled, who have to exchange their privacy and dignity for their basic comfort just to wait for a bus.”

Leave more in comments, y’all. Self-linking encouraged.