I’m taking a quick break from my one week journal, after one entry! (hey, it is my blog and I can do what I want) because I’m reading all these posts lately on “fat acceptance – yes or no,” written by some female bloggers, and the tone of some of these posts — and the comments — is unsettling.
I find it odd that in the middle of difficult economic times and horrible disasters around the world, so many people are fighting online about weight issues.Â Why aren’t women more supportive of each other on this topic?Â I though blogging was supposed to be a meeting of the minds, not bodies.
What’s going on?!
Fat Acceptance is Bullshit
I Call Bull
What if Fat Doesn’t Mean Miserable
She Just Walks Around With It
I’ve written about women and size on my blog in the past.Â In fact, someone asked me recently how I ended up with a majority of female readers.Â It was not my intention when I started to blog.Â If you go into my archives, you will see that my first three posts were dumb little items about pop culture.
My fourth post, on March 14, 2005, was a post titled OhmyGod!Â A Size 14 in the Beverly Center!
This post was my first “true-life” entry (90% truth quotient) about shopping with “F,” my “cousin from Israel” for size 14 clothes at a popular mall in Los Angeles.Â This “F” was not my cousin, but Sophia.Â I was still unclear at the time whether to use her real name, or even to talk about my wife at all.Â I was a blogging newbie.Â When I wrote this post, I was not setting myself up to be someone specifically interested in women’s issues.Â I’m not a woman, but I was MARRIED to one.Â I was writing it as a guy who accompanied his wife when she went shopping for clothes, and it was a pain in the ass finding clothes for her.Â Very few husbands enjoy shopping with their wives, including me, and I just wanted the experienceÂ to be painless as possible, but after shopping a few times with Sophia, I understood why men wanted to date women who are size 2.Â It wasn’t because they are “sexier.”Â It is because they can get in and out of Macy’s in a shorter amount of time.Â The size 2 clothes are on the main floor.Â The size 14 clothes are on the seventh floor, by the kitchen appliances, and the styles tend to look like potato sacks.
This post attracted six commenters, all of them women, which was six more commenters than my first three posts combined.Â Â The rest is history.Â I started viewing my readership as being largely women, and once I tasted the forbidden fruit, I just couldn’t stop.
Throughout the years, Sophia’s size fluctuated between 12-16, depending on several factors, some health related and others just because we ate too many pastries.
Every year or so, I seem to bring up this weight issue, mostly because I saw how concerned she was over this subject.Â In May, 2006, I wrote a post titled “Fat People.
In this post, I compared “fat” discrimination to anti-Semitism.Â Â The comparison was probably unfair, but the post provoked a lot of discussion.
One of my favorite posts is titled “Neilochka Sex:Â Boycott theÂ Fashion Industry!”
In the post, I make fun of the lack of support between women over this weight discrimination issue.Â If you think about it, mothers will boycott Motrin for a silly commercial, but say very little about 3/4 of their peers unable to go into certain stores which only cater to certain sizes (and surprise, surprise, many of those NOT size 2 are African-American and Latina women!)Â I still get angry comments on this post, usually in support of the fashion industry.Â I get a sense that some fashionable women don’t think other women “deserve” to wear nice clothes.
Three days ago, I wrote a darkly “funny” post about replacing our health care system with Jillian Roberts 30-Day Shred DVDs.Â Some commenters got mad at me for writing statements such as:
“The fashion industry does a better job than the medical establishment in promoting HEALTH with their healthy thin, role-models. Those who insist that â€œrealâ€ (read fat) women should be portrayed in ads, are not your friends. These women, so-called â€œfeminists,â€ are mostly lobbyists for the pharmaceutical companies wanting to promote bad health to increase profits for diet pills.”
I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings, even though I thought I was making fun of exercise fanatics.Â Â In some circles, this is called “satire.”Â You should see what some female bloggers actually SAY without being tongue in cheek.
I’m not fat.Â I don’t think Sophia is fat.Â Neither of us have abs that are very impressive.Â I do think obesity is an issue in America.Â I do think exercise is wonderful and important, and I should try to get more healthy, no matter what my weight.
I also think education is important, and if guy drops out of high school, I don’t say he is a lazy loser, because I don’t know the circumstances of his life.Â Â I also don’t look down him because when he becomes a plumber and makes ten times as much money as me, I don’t want him laughing at me for wasting my life with this ridiculous “writing” nonsense!
Be nice.Â And remember, when you get to be 75, the bigger woman will always look younger.Â My size 18 mother looks 60.Â Her size 2 friend with 20 plastic surgeries looks 90.
We should all exercise.Â We should all eat right.Â Better education, housing, and pay for all Americans will do a lot more for obesity than calling names, or dismissing people wanting to accept themselves in a society that makes them feel second class.Â Â Rather than judging each other on weight, we should judge each other on how many orgasms we have each month.Â That is a better barometer of a person’s happiness.
Finally, as I said on Twitter earlier today, “God help us if they ever perfect penis enlargement and men are made to feel as insecure as women with their weight.”
I spent 30 years dieting, and hating my body, and praying that I would be in a car accident that landed me in a coma long enough to be thin.
With each diet, I went up a size, sometimes more. No diet I ever ate was sustainable in the long term, and whenever I upped my exercise I immediately ceased to lose weight, no matter how few calories I was taking in.
Of course, many people don’t believe this. I don’t care.
About two years ago I was introduced to fat acceptance, and the idea that you have to love the body you HAVE, not the body you WISH you had. This means moving that body around, and letting go of the shame of being the fattest person on the trail or at the gym. This means eating healthy and nutritious foods, and not eating teeny amounts of calories that make you so hungry you end up hiding in the kitchen scarfing down food in secret, ashamed of once again failing.
Part of my journey has been embracing “intutitive eating” and once it finally clicked in my head (and it took a long, long time to break away from the diet mentality and the binge mentality and figure out how to LISTEN to my body), I have slowly and painlessly gotten smaller, to the tune of about 40lbs. I am NOT actively trying to lose weight, I am simply taking care of myself.
This feels right and healthy and normal. And as much as I love some of the bloggers you listed above, frankly, I don’t think they really know too much about the reality of fatness. How could they? There is a massive difference between 40 or 50 extra pounds and 200 extra pounds. For me, it was NEVER as simple as eat less and move more, and I’ll lose weight. Who knows why? It could be that I broke my metabolism when I was a skinny 11 year old girl that began doing a liquid diet. I don’t know. For whatever reason, if I eat low calorie and exercise like crazy, I don’t lose weight.
But if I eat in an emotionally healthy way, and move my body in ways I enjoy that don’t hurt, it turns out that my body feels good about that and is willing to let go of some of the extra pounds.
But it’s taken me 30 years to get here. I am so glad that others can lose the weight by changing their diets. But declaring that is true for everyone? Is simple ignorance.
I am fat. I don’t accept that I am fat as a chosen lifestyle. I am fat as a consequence of bad habits and bad genetics. I don’t expect sympathy or acceptance from anyone because I am fat. What I do expect is to be treated with respect because I am a human being. I also expect people to mind their own fucking business about my life choices, and I will gladly do the same regarding theirs.
(That last one is actually pretty difficult to pull off.)
It’s all about power-to-weight ratio, at the end of the day. I’ve been over 300 lbs, I’ve weighed in at 135 and 7% bodyfat. I wasn’t particularly happy at either end of the spectrum.
I accept that when I carry extra weight up a mountain, it’s gonna hurt a bit more. It’s also more comfortable when I sit down on a rock pile.
I think your point is well taken in that we women have a propensity toward picking at flaws until the scabs are bleeding. A whole lotta MYOB goes a long way toward growing self-esteem.
I know this is issue is very hard for women to deal with because of the patriarchal system where women are judged much more — still! – on how they fit into a physical standard, while men are still seen as worthwhile based on their career and money.
I do think women could learn a little bit from men in how we think about each other’s bodies. There are fat men and skinny men and athletic men. We know some who are healthy and some who aren’t. The big difference is that men (at least most straight men) don’t put a moral sentence on those who are over or under weight. Even those who are very overweight, we might see as having some sort of health or emotional issue, but it wouldn’t stop us from sitting down with the guy and having a beer with him. We just don’t CARE that much.
I’m now a 12-14, down from a 22. I feel fabulous, and I think your wife might be in the wrong Macy’s. ‘Regular’ girls clothes range from 0-16.
Anyway, 14 for me right now is the best. I just wish my husband would fuck me more.
Neil, it is these kinds of posts that keep me reading your blog – the genuine curiosity, the desire to speak openly, the hope for some kind of healing… thanks for keeping it real.
Jen14221 – I have no proof of this, but I did mention a vague racial/class element to the Macy’s/mall story. At the time, the store there did NOT have larger sizes. In fact the entire mall didn’t seem to have over size 8 because they wanted to brand themselves as young and trendy, as if overweight people in your store would ruin the image. Let them go to Lane Bryant… or be a Person of Walmart. We were told by the salesgirl at Macy’s to go to the Fox Hills Mall Macy’s where they did have larger sizes. Meaning: Black neighborhood. Black women are bigger.
But why would this mall in Beverly Hills not also have large sizes? The only thing I could think about is that they didn’t want these minority women shopping there, at least not the blue collar ones.
A fat post of yours was the first one of yours I ever read, and it made me angry because you insinuated that thin women are stupid. I have struggled my whole life with a weight problem. I try to eat sensibly, but no matter what I do, I cannot achieve a healthy weight. Am I fat? No. I am UNDER weight. And I have put up with nasty comments about it my whole life. “Why don’t you just eat a cheeseburger?” Ha! I could eat 20 cheeseburgers right now and not gain an ounce. I get blurred vision and erratic heartbeats if I falter in my diet of frequent meals of lean meats, whole grains, and fresh produce.
I’ve even heard people saying I should have my children taken away because I am too thin to be a responsible parent. No I do not have an eating disorder, I have a hyper thyroid. And I am SO TIRED of people saying “I wish I had that problem.” I’d give just about anything to be a size 14, because then I’d be considered normal.
I find it amusing that you had a hard time finding a size 14, that’s usually all I can find. Try shopping with a hyper thyroid. Sometimes I can find a zero that fits, sometimes I have to shop in the children’s department. Try being a 33 year old woman forced to shop in the children’s section because fashion designers only sell clothes that fit the majority, which right now means size 14. And sadder still, a lot of the children’s stuff is still too husky. And having a DD chest on top of that. (sigh)
Bottom line, a weight problem is a weight problem, be it too much or too little.
There are legitimate arguments to be made both ways. I was horrified when people told me it was a shame I didn’t have a figure like my sister’s. At the time, she was a chemo patient with breast implants. Under no circumstances should that be considered the ideal.
On the other hand, I think obesity is a serious public health problem, and I don’t see the point of promoting it as acceptable. What’s the point of a positive body image if you have an unhealthy body?
Neil, you are a class-act. All the way.
Anne: I’m not arguing with you, but your comment makes me want to bring up something REALLY important that gets lost in these discussions a lot…
…and that is that overweight and “fat” — to some degree, depending on many things — does NOT have to = unhealthy.
Sometimes it’s a no-brainer. No one who weighs 400 pounds is healthy. But some of us in, say, the size 14 arena ARE, by most accounts, healthy.
My point is, it’s no fairer to say that a moderately overweight person MUST be unhealthy than it is to say a thin person MUST BE healthy. You don’t know, and can’t tell just from looking.
The being bigger looking younger thing is totally true – even at a young age. I remember after I had my daughter, a friend saw me for the first time in a few years and her first words were that being so thin (I lost my pregnancy weight, plus 20 pounds, was emaciated) made me look old and tired. And it’s true.
But the Shred post truly made me laugh out loud.
I’m the same size as your wife, and have the same problem shopping. It is crazy to me that there are so few options for larger women when there are so many of us. Recently I signed up for a fashion design class, and the instructor (who sells her own line) mentioned that “I wouldn’t make this skirt in a size L because no one that size would wear it.” Was it a gold lurex mini? Nope, a black knee length skirt. I can’t even fathom the reasoning behind all this, but I’m seriously considering starting my own fashion line, and it will be double digits only.
Size 14, here.
I think the only thing that is fat and full of bullshit these days are the bloated egos of those who equate smallness with sexy/smart/capable/honorable/courageous/memorable/intelligent/literate/well-read and witty.
Which would be almost everyone in Hollywood.
I was literally wincing as I started reading this post. I’m an unabashedly pro-fat acceptance woman, and almost every post on the issue I’ve read in the mainstream blogosphere has been… well, hurtful and ignorant at best, outright hateful at worst. I was expecting more of the same here — after all, you’re a guy! A guy who’s pretty open about his rampaging penis! Surely you’d come down on the side of “all women should be skinny and beautiful!”
Thank you, so much, for not being a dick. Thank you for paying attention to the experiences you’ve had with women in your life, taking the time to think about those experiences, and formulating a worldview based on caring for those women. Thanks for not being a dick, and thanks too for writing about not being a dick. I just love it when people surprise me in such awesome ways.
I live in the thinest state in America and we are proud. I carry about 25 more pounds than I would like, but I’m 5’11” so it’s not glaringly noticeable, well that’s what I tell myself.
I worry about all the processed chemical shit most Americans consider food that they feed themselves and their families daily. I worry about type 2 diabetes and the pharmaceutical culture we’ve come to accept so we can keep on putting crap in our bodies.
I worry that I won’t stop typing. (insert laugh)
Sorry for the double comment, but — to Kristy, who says that, “No one who weighs 400 pounds is healthy”: I encourage you to rethink that statement. I know what you were trying to get at, but that particular portion of your comment was a generalization that is more harmful than helpful.
TRIPLE COMMENT, the fat has clearly impeded my typing fingers! That first link (“I encourage you”) should have been this. Neil, feel free to edit or condense if necessary.
I had the same problem as your wife in the Santa Monica Macy’s. http://www.thepeevery.com/2006/07/too_fat_to_live.html
I will only say that exercise and moderation in excercise and eating is the key. The pills, the diets, never work.
I read all the bloggers you linked to but found the discussion among your commenters even more interesting. I’m impressed that you seem to refer to women’s sizes as if you know what you’re talking about. I wouldn’t know a 2 from a 22. I’m surprised about the department stores. If Sophia, who is the opposite of fat, cannot find a broad range of clothes, what do women do who ARE overweight? I think plenty of men obsess about their weight, too, but fat men are not scorned by society as much as women are unless they are so big they’re on Oprah talking about how they can’t get out of bed.
Wow. I skimmed the comments on the first post you referenced and it is amazing how much passion there is on both sides of this issue. Two things come to mind.
One, I suppose we should be grateful to live in a country where we have so much abundance that we can even bother debating the size of our citizens.
Two, I’ve never been comfortable with ‘Fat Acceptance’, because I’ve met a lot of the people in that movement (at one time I thought ‘fat activism’ was the answer to my problems) and I don’t really see how accepting life in a scooter because you are too fat to walk is honoring yourself at all.
I guess what it comes down to is simple kindness. When I’m out in the world, should I ‘accept’ the people I come in contact with? Certainly. Because they are human beings with inherent worth, regardless of the body they are walking around in. It doesn’t make sense to be more or less kind depending on how well they are taking care of it.
That’s why I like living in Iowa. Most guys I know like what they call “thicker” Women. Junk is sexy.
What a relief to finally read a post on this topic that didn’t target one side of the debate for ridicule. I keep hearing bloggers say, this is just my opinion! when it’s actually their opinion about someone else’s body.
If fat acceptance means ONE MORE WOMAN can walk around feeling like she’s worth personhood then I’m all for it even if it’s not my personal philosophy.
Hi SARAWR – You know, I thought about not writing anything like that, but I am pre-defensive on blogs and in comments these days.
My earnest question is, is there a size (or poundage or something) where it can be universally agreed-upon as being “unhealthy”? And if not, which parts are the gray areas? Again, I ask in earnest.
And as someone whose weight is never what anyone suspects.
“I understood why men wanted to date women who are size 2. It wasnâ€™t because they are â€œsexier.â€ It is because they can get in and out of Macyâ€™s in a shorter amount of time.”
I’m a woman. I’ve been skinny and I’ve been fat. And that line of yours above is why I’ll read your blog. Because you’re funny.
First off, I’ve been every size from a 0 to an 18, and Neil, here in Ohio, it’s WAAAY harder for a woman to find fashionable clothing in a size 2 than it is in a size 14. Our Cleveland area Macy’s doesn’t even carry anything smaller than a size 4. I’m happy at a size 2 currently for a variety of reasons but shopping is NOT one of them. I could get in and out of clothing stores–and find them for a woman of my age (50)–far more quickly (and cheaply) when I was a size 10 or higher.
My husband is stationed in Afghanistan right now, where almost no one is overweight. They can’t even fathom having such easy access to food. Americans are overweight mainly because we are so blessed with easy access to cheap, plentiful food. Next time you have to lie down on the bed to zip your blue jeans maybe take time to feel your blessings. You’ll never know real
hunger. I love you, Neil. You’re awesome.
@Kristy, Honestly? There is no one size that can be pre-determined to be unhealthy. Many sizes can cause issues with, say, mobility that can lead to ill health — but those sizes are different for every person. There are people who get around just fine (aside from obvious limitations re: car sizes and things of that ilk — societal design problems) at 600 pounds. There are some people who are severely and unhealthfully affected at 500 pounds. There are some people who experience shortness of breath or flexibility strains at 200 pounds. There are others who love yoga and theatrical dance at the same weight.
Size is not an indicator of health. Size can, at some extremes, pose a certain impediment to achieving or maintaining true health, by virtue of impeding mobility or causing musculoskelatal pain, but… not everyone will experience those issues, even at “extreme” sizes. Size alone is no indicator of health, no matter what the size in question is.
“We should all exercise. We should all eat right. Better education, housing, and pay for all Americans will do a lot more for obesity than calling names, or dismissing people wanting to accept themselves in a society that makes them feel second class.”
PRECISELY. the anti-fat-acceptance screeds are misguided and ignorant and upsetting and frankly, the opinions of people who are placing themselves in a struggle that isn’t theirs. I understand that they’re coming from a place of concern, but they’re failing.
i read some of the links in the post and, wow, not always the posts but the comments. wow. so many folks think it is all good to say whatever the hell they want about each other. rough stuff. though the first link seemed like extra rough stuff. that chick seemed like a total bitch.
anyways, you have proven to be an excellent writer/communicator of your message…the way it reads to me is be a bit nicer and if it ain’t your body, you do not know and do not need to make a judgement on it.
the whole penis twitter comment made me laugh but also says how very hard and harsh it can be in the world of the vagina.
I love this line: “Rather than judging each other on weight, we should judge each other on how many orgasms we have each month. That is a better barometer of a personâ€™s happiness.”
Western society judges us so harshly based on weight. Our current culture even judges tiny girls who may have a bit of extra hip or a tiny sweet belly.
Thanks Neil, for even daring to talk about a topic that raises the hairs on the backs of people’s necks. Many wouldn’t dare to there. It makes for good conversation.
I read this post three times. The first time I gained over 3 pounds. The second and third times I found that if I only read half of the post, then walked around for 5 minutes before reading the other half, I only gained 1 pound.
you just got promoted.
hey and what is with the Gottlieb’s? Jessica & Lori are they related? cos they have some serious anti-sista opinions and I want to know why.
I love that you say that because, in the end, all these debates need a heavy dose of it. Fat vs thin. Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom. Natural childbirth vs. epidurals. Batman vs. Superman. Jeez. We all just need to be nice. We don’t have to agree, but all the judging is too damn much.
And I am totally on board with judging people’s happiness by the number of orgasms. If we’re all competing that way, at least we’re having a whole lot more fun doing it.
As long as the orgasms can be of the do-it-yourself kind, then yes, I’m in support of that. I agree – why are some women so unsupportive? Why do we judge? How is it we live in a society where we know it’s bad to discriminate for any reason…except, no fatties? Bah! Sometimes I hate people. Then I read awesome blogs posts like yours and people become a’ight again.
Being fat is not okay and calling the knowledge of that fact bigotry annoys me. It is not bigotry, and to say that it is insulting to those who experience the real thing.
If you’re fat and you want to change it, you can. You may have to work harder (I know from experience, definitely) than others, but it can be done. If you want to accept how you are kudos, but don’t start some movement that’s going to teach MY daughters that’s it’s ok. It’s not ok.
And it’s immoral, not immortal Neil! 😛
Are you saying there’s no fat discimination? And I don’t understand bringing your daughter into the argument? Of course we want our children to be healthy, but if your daughter comes home crying that the other girls are mean to her and call her names because she is bigger than them, are you going to tell her that these girls are right?
And I thought you were immortal. Sorry.
Well, I say that being blonde is not okay. Also, being short is not okay. I mean, as long as we’re deciding what is “okay” for other people’s bodies and all.
I’m not sure if I should thank you or not. FYI it’s not just women. It’s not about how you look, it’s about shortening your lifespan and killing your children.
Morbid Obesity means that you are going from fat. It’s a health issue, just like smoking or drinking too much.
I’m 5’6″, if I wore a size 14 I would be obese. That is a medical term and has nothing to do with sisterhood or fashion.
FYI men… if you want your penis to look bigger… loose the belly fat.
Oops, going should read dying. Auto spell check isn’t my friend tonight.
I’ve struggled with weight loss for such a long time, and I’m always on one diet or another. It’s not fun, to maintain a healthy body weight. For some people, it’s easy – for me – being Greek and passionate about food – it’s hard!
excellent post neil, the important thing is it’s being talked about. if people could leave emotions out of it, it’s possible that we can actually find solutions to the obesity problem. especially in kids b/c that’s where it all starts.
I spent many years becoming comfortable in my own skin. I really thought I was there, but I recently was n a relationship with a man who thought it was ok to say very cruel things about my weight & body… probably because for some reason I never told him it wasn’t ok (but you would think the tears would be a clue). I found myself actually trying NOT to loose weight when I was with him. I thought if I lost weight he would think he “won”, all the while I was only hurting myself with this behavior and staying with him. To this day I still do not know why I allowed someone to treat me in this way.