Fat Girl Reporting for Duty

Hey, everybody, I’m Kate. And I’m beside myself with glee and gratitude at having been asked to contribute to Shakesville!

So I should probably start off with a really angry, defensive post.

Here’s the thing: I blog about fat acceptance. I blog about other stuff, too, but I’m probably going to stick to fat here, because most of my other obsessions are already covered so brilliantly by the established Shakers.

Fat acceptance, as you can probably guess from the words “fat” and “acceptance” being right together like that, does not go over so well in some circles. Even in some progressive circles — which are usually known for not hating entire groups of people because of their appearances, not thinking what other people do with their bodies is anybody’s beeswax, and not uncritically accepting whatever moral panic the media tries to whip up, but wev. Fat is different! Don’t you know there’s an obesity epidemic? Don’t you know that fat kills? Haven’t you ever heard of Type 2 diabetes? Don’t you realize how much money this is going to cost society down the line? Won’t someone please think of the children?

So, before I start getting comments like that, I want to lay out ten principles that underlie pretty much everything I write about fat and health.

1. Weight itself is not a health problem, except in the most extreme cases (i.e., being underweight or so fat you’re immobilized). In fact, fat people live longer than thin people and are more likely to survive cardiac events, and some studies have shown that fat can protect against “infections, cancer, lung disease, heart disease, osteoporosis, anemia, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis and type 2 diabetes.” Yeah, you read that right: even the goddamned diabetes. Now, I’m not saying we should all go out and get fat for our health (which we wouldn’t be able to do anyway, because no one knows how to make a naturally thin person fat any more than they know how to make a naturally fat person thin; see point 4), but I’m definitely saying obesity research is turning up surprising information all the time — much of which goes ignored by the media — and people who pride themselves on their critical thinking skills, as I know Shakers do, would be foolish to accept the party line on fat. Just because you’ve heard over and over and over that fat! kills! doesn’t mean it’s true. It just means that people in this culture really love saying it.

2. Poor nutrition and a sedentary lifestyle do cause health problems, in people of all sizes. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” The two are simply not synonymous — not even close — and it’s not only incredibly offensive but dangerous for thin people to keep pretending that they are. There are thin people who eat crap and don’t exercise — and are thus putting their health at risk — and there are fat people who treat their bodies very well but remain fat. Really truly.

3. What’s more, those groups do not represent anomalies; no one has proven that fat people generally eat more or exercise less than thin people. Period. And believe me, they’ve tried. (Gina Kolata’s new book, Rethinking Thin, is an outstanding source for more on that point.)

4. Diets don’t work. No, really, not even if you don’t call them diets. If you want to tell me about how YOUR diet totally worked, do me a favor and wait until you’ve kept all the weight off for five years. Not one year, not four years, five years. And if you’ve kept it off for that long, congratulations. You’re literally a freak of nature.

5. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it?

6. Most fat people have already dieted repeatedly. And sadly, it’s likely that the dieting will cause them more health problems than the fat.

7. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Fat people are human beings.

8. Even fat people who are unhealthy still deserve dignity and respect. Still human beings. See how that works?

9. In any case, shaming teh fatties for being “unhealthy” doesn’t fucking help. If shame made people thin, there wouldn’t be a fat person in this country, trust me. I wish I could remember who said this, ’cause it’s one of my favorite quotes of all time: “You cannot hate people for their own good.”

10. If you scratch an article on the obesity! crisis! you will almost always find a press release from a company that’s developing a weight loss drug — or from a “research group” that’s funded by such companies.

So let’s just be clear that if you want to tell me fat people are disgusting and unhealthy in comments, all I’m gonna do is point you back to this post. And/or point you to more posts from my own blog, or Junkfood Science, or one of my favorite fat bloggers, and/or bombard you with quotes from the aforementioned Gina Kolata, or Paul Campos, or J. Eric Oliver, or Michael Gard and Jan Wright, or Glenn Gaesser, or Marilyn Wann, or Laura Fraser. Seriously, you don’t even want to get me fucking started.

Oh, also? BMI is complete horseshit.

With that, hello, Shakers, and thank you for having me!

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99 Comments

Filed under 09_kate_harding

99 responses to “Fat Girl Reporting for Duty

  1. Meowser

    **clap clap clap whistle** I am so happy to see posts like this on a high-traffic progressive blog like this one. The more the better, because this stuff needs to be said and said and said. Thank you, Melissa, for giving the Great Kate a soapbox!

  2. Welcome! I’m really looking forward to your posts as I (like every other person out there) I struggle with reconciling my own body image and reality.

  3. Awesome! I’m so glad to see you here.

  4. Melissa McEwan

    And she enters with a big fat flourish…

    Welcome, Kate. And thanks so much for joining us. 😀

  5. Arkades

    Welcome, Kate!

  6. Angry Irish Bitch

    I used to be normal sized.. now I am obsese. I hate it. I hate feeling un-sexy and un-fuckable. I think it is great when big girls can be sexy and be up about life and not have an issue with their weight. I just can’t be that person.

    I am resorting to Optifast and if that doesn’t work I will go for bariatric surgery. If it kills me, I will control my food. I am sick and tired of it controlling me.

    Keep up the good work Kate .. Bless you and Congratulations on your big move up.

  7. Yea, Kate! Welcome aboard! The more the merrier!

  8. Kate Harding

    And she enters with a big fat flourish…

    Well, a small flourish would get lost against my ass.

    Thanks, everybody!

  9. DBK

    Well it’s nice to see you and I’m sure you’ll make a fine addition, but if you’re going to talk about fat acceptance and morph it at points into a discussion of health, I would like to suggest you peruse whfoods.com, where there is more information about healthy eating than you can shake a stick at.

  10. car

    Yea! I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and now here you are here too! I hope you have a good time posting.

  11. Ooo, curves… </homerdrool>

    Um. Sorry. Less inappropriately, welcome! Nice to see you; I’m new around these parts too.

  12. Kate Harding

    DBK, thanks for the link. I’m absolutely in favor of healthy eating. What gets me ranty is that healthy eating doesn’t make fat people thin, and that point gets lost way too often.

  13. So I should probably start off with a really angry, defensive post.

    Always the best way to begin. 😀

    Actually, that was several posts! Each of them would make for a good day’s worth of discussion.

    Last time I saw my doc, he volunteered that “we’re finding that BMI doesn’t really hold up as a marker of health.” I’d heard it before, but it was nice to see that some medicos are communicating that to their patients. It certainly shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum.

    Welcome aboard, Kate.

  14. *applause*

    I totally agree! I may or may not be fat, it’s such a relative term really, but I’ve always been a bigger girl. Even at my thinnest, no matter how I ate and how much exercise I got, I never got below 135, a size 8. Right now, I’m 5’2″ and 160 pounds, wearing a size 12. Sounds bad! Except I try to run 3x per week (squeezing it in with work & a one year old is tough!), have excellent blood pressure, decent cholesterol, etc etc. I’ve always hated that stupid BMI and have tried to ignore the body image issues that come up. Focus on being happy and eating well with exercise, and no matter what my actual size is, right? 🙂

  15. welcome, and a welcome post…
    Love and peace from a 300 lb guy in Georgia.

  16. Anne

    HELL YEAH, KATE!!! I used to weigh a bit more than I do now — I was only a size 9 or 10, though — and when some horrible shit happened in my life, I stopped eating, exercising and generally treating my body right, and whaddya know…Treating my body like SHIT made me lose weight. The accolades I got, and still get, for being thinner (when I was always thin to begin with!) make me so angry that I always swear I’m going to punch my next congratulater in the face. This experience has proven to me beyond a doubt that people’s weight obsession has nothing to do with health and everything to do with controlling people’s, particularly women’s, bodies.

    Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to reading your posts!!!

  17. TOAC

    Hi, Kate – I started reading your Shapely Prose blog a couple months ago and am a big fan. You seem like a perfect fit for Shakesville. Congrats and I look forward to seeing more of you here!

  18. Amy

    Hey welcome! I’ve been to your blog, I really liked it, and I’m glad to see you here now.

    FWIW I am by nature a thin person and I told people at my work I NEEDED to start eating better and excercising, and they were all “why, you don’t have to, you are so thin!” and I’m all (to myself) “uh, that’s f*cked up.” I tried to explain that because I was thin did not mean I was being very healthy and for some reason it did not compute.

  19. Kate Harding

    I am resorting to Optifast and if that doesn’t work I will go for bariatric surgery. If it kills me, I will control my food.

    Oh, AIB, that makes me so very sad — but it also doesn’t surprise me. So many people feel that way. I’d love to talk to you more about this stuff if you want to e-mail me (via my blog, which I linked to 85 times up there). I promise not to evangelize or crap on your decisions about your own body — but I really would love to hear more about your experiences.

  20. mamajane

    I’ve visited your blog many times. You have no idea how much your work means to us fat chicks! I’ve been fat all of my life, hell, I was a 10lb baby! Thanks for all that you do, and looking forward to seeing your posts here.

  21. What Mr. Bill said – but substitute North Carolina for Georgia!

  22. Misty

    Welcome, welcome!

  23. Thorn

    KATE!!! Congrats on getting to blog in this Shakier neighborhood!! Couldn’t happen to a better blogger, I say.

    I love your posts on Shapely Prose, even when I don’t comment, and I really look forward to you bringing the body acceptance message to Shakesville now as well. Congrats again!!

  24. Kate, thank you.

    And thank you, too, Melissa.

  25. Welcome!

    Oh, also? BMI is complete horseshit.

    I like you already. I once looked up LaDanian Tomlinson’s weight and height – he’s the NFL’s best running back in case you don’t know – and found that according to his BMI he’s as “obese” as I am.

    It’ll be nice to have a source of good information for once.

  26. Hooray! Great to see you here. Looking forward to your posts.

  27. Fun, good, informative post. I’m reminded of what the American Lung Association found in the 60s, I think it was – that the “guilt” approach didn’t work for smokers, because most people wanted to quit. They changed their approach. For people who are legitimately overweight, a support system is what’s important. Meanwhile, you’re absolutely right that our culture makes people uncomfortable with their own bodies and healthy weight. I’m also reminded of an aging rocker who remarked that he had more friends when he was thin and an addict than when he was fat, that one was more socially acceptable, at least in his circle.

  28. WELCOME! And your pic is hot! Viva La “Fat” Girl!

  29. Susan

    Hi, Kate and welcome!

    Thanks for your amazing post. I’m very overweight and have been for most of my life. Should I tell you about the doctor who gave me diet pills when I was 10?

    I’m also extremely healthy–I never get sick. It’s been years since I had a cold. I eat good food and walk every day, but I’m still overweight. Blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. always measure well. I have three friends, each at ideal weight, who have constant health problems from asthma, irregular heartbeats, vitamin deficiencies, and numerous other things.

    Anyway, again, welcome!!

  30. Kate Harding

    WELCOME! And your pic is hot! Viva La “Fat” Girl!

    Petulant, I should point out that that very myspacey shot is well known as the “Fat Girl Angle” over at Fatshionista, because it magically eliminates the double chin.

    Everyone, thanks so much for the warm welcome! There’s so much to respond to here (so of course I made educating everyone about Fat Girl Angles the priority), but I’m all distracted at the mo.

  31. nightshift66

    A belated welcome, Kate, from another 300+ lb. guy. But since I’m a guy, and 6’4″, I don’t catch the crap I see women catch all the time who are (to me) very attractive. I look forward to reading your perspective on things.

  32. Melissa McEwan

    I should point out that that very myspacey shot is well known as the “Fat Girl Angle”

    😆 This is so true. As I’ve said a million times before, I have very little vanity, but I what I do have is pretty much dedicated to choosing author shots that hide the Double Chin of Doom, lol.

    Sans Fat Girl Angle:

    See? LOL.

  33. Susan: It’s been years since I had a cold

    Grr. I’m thin as a rail (which refers to the bird, btw, not a piece of metal), always have been, and I catch every cold my body can find in a radius of half a mile. 😦

    Right on about the importance of exercise, good food, and NOT OBSESSING.

    How about a campaign to get advertisers and magazine cover people to Get It? (Well, I can dream, can’t I?)

  34. Kate Harding

    But Liss, that picture is so cute!

    Still, I know, I know. When I started getting serious about yoga, part of me did not want to move toward having my spine in proper alignment on a permanent basis, because it gives me more of a double chin. And I’m the fucking fat acceptance chick. The little hang-ups run so deep.

  35. katecontinued

    Welcome, from another Kate who finds you near and dear to her heart. I have visited your site and just read a post on Sara Anderson’s f-words. I look forward to your voice. Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

  36. Melissa McEwan

    But Liss, that picture is so cute!

    Ha, thanks. Actually, I don’t mind that picture. The only reason I didn’t use it is that it had the same problem as my last author photo: Too grinny for posts about things like war, pestilence, rape, and George W. Bush.

  37. Kate Harding

    Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

    Not yet. 😉

  38. “Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

    Not yet. ;)”

    A Portly Hear! Hear! to that.

    I am doing the big booty/big tata dance right now, in celebration of your arrival at Shakesville, Kate!

    I was born at 10lbs, 1 oz. My mother was given diet pills during her pregnancy. I was a skinny little shit until I was 44 (5′, 98 lbs), and unremittingly miserable and unhealthy.

    Since attaining my “true size” (Still 5′ now 155 lbs) — I am healthier, happier, and smarter (Who’da thunk that starving yourself could make you stupid? — they never mention that in diet ads) than I have ever been.

    I welcome your voice and will continue to read your blog.

  39. Melissa McEwan

    Also: SIDE chin.

    I lurve my side chin. It deflects attention away from my budding dowager’s hump.

  40. Kate Harding

    people’s weight obsession has nothing to do with health and everything to do with controlling people’s, particularly women’s, bodies

    Anne, AMEN.

    I told people at my work I NEEDED to start eating better and excercising, and they were all “why, you don’t have to, you are so thin!” and I’m all (to myself) “uh, that’s f*cked up.”

    Amy, no shit. And I’m not at all surprised, sadly.

    It’ll be nice to have a source of good information for once.

    Stephen, I swear to god, 50% of my blogging is just links to Junkfood Science. Sandy Szwarc is amazing.

    And everyone who came in after my last blanket thank you, thank you!

  41. Kate Harding

    I lurve my side chin. It deflects attention away from my budding dowager’s hump.

    LOL!

    And I will now stop hijacking my own thread. Who needs community? I AM A ONE-WOMAN BLOGGING/COMMENTING MACHINE!

  42. Pingback: Happy News « Shapely Prose

  43. Oh gals — never mind “side chin” — do any of you have, as one of my friends lovingly calls them:

    Back Titties?

    (If only I had the right photo on hand at this moment)

  44. OK — not just the gals — the guys too — come on in — who has back titties!

    *raising hand*

  45. BMI is complete horseshit.

    I just went to a BMI calculator to check mine out. I am 5’10” and weigh a little under 200 pounds. According to the calculator, I am overweight bordering on obese, which is fairly ridiculous based on just looking at my build.

    I checked what the minimum “normal” weight for me would be, and it’s 129 pounds for a 5’10” person. 129! To put that in perspective, when I was in college I was a lightweight rower, and I weighed in at 143 pounds at my lightest. The athletic trainers made me stop rowing until I could get my body fat percentage back above 3%; I spent the season at 147 pounds or so if I remember correctly. At 129 I would not only have to lose all my body fat, but a whole bunch of muscle and possibly several internal organs.

    So yeah, BMI is horseshit. It can’t be said enough, because if people use that calculator and conclude that they are obese they are being seriously misled.

    Oh, and by the way, welcome Kate! Great opening post.

  46. To Angry Irish Bitch — I was also convinced that my “obesity” made me unfuckable and undesirable. I met my true love at my current weight, and am having better sex than I’ve ever had in my LIFE!! No shit, true story.

    It was an amazing revelation to me — not only that someone could love me at my current size, but would find my rolls, curves, and flaps the BOMB sexually.

    My beloved is “naturally thin”, BTW.

  47. Regardless of the “special” pose, the eyes speak more than the “hidden” chin.

    You too Melmanda! Those titty rays fully charged!

  48. ? not ! DRINK, I NEED A DRINK!

  49. Melissa McEwan

    It was an amazing revelation to me — not only that someone could love me at my current size, but would find my rolls, curves, and flaps the BOMB sexually.

    Wobbly Bits

    Mark Darcy: What on earth are you doing?

    Bridget Jones: Getting dressed.

    MD: Why are you dancing around in that tent business?

    BJ: sighs Because I don’t want you to see any of my wobbly bits.

    MD: Well now, that’s a bit pointless, isn’t it, because I happen to have very high regard for your wobbly bits in all circumstances.

    BJ: Really?!

    MD: Absolutely. I think it’s high time we had another look.

  50. Hi Kate and a very warm welcome to you. It’s always nice to see new folks showing up at Shakesville.

    Why oh why did you have to post this tonight – the one night I happened to come home from work with a bottle of tequila. (OK, so I didn’t have tequila last night; I shouldn’t make it sound like a rare event for me to have tequila in da house.)

    But as a guy who was recently called a “misogynistic sizist” right here on this very blog (because I used the term “fat bitch” as a term of endearment – I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?), I feel you’ve provided me an opportunity to weigh in (no pun intended) on the subject. It was a rather absurd accusation considering almost all my friends are women, and most of them consider themselves to be large. But it was an odd night to say the least, and there are always new folks joining the community here who have no idea who I am, so it’s understandable.

    So here are some thoughts, questions, comments:

    1. Your thumbnail photo would never lead me to believe you were anything but rail thin. I’m assuming there’s some fat down there somewhere. You mentioned ass, so I’m assuming that’s where it starts.
    2. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” Amen. I’m not obese, but my best friend considers herself fat, yet she walks 5 or 6 miles a day; if I tried that I’d probably have a stroke. Or maybe I could do it but I’d stop after every 2 miles for a cigarette.
    3. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it? My friend mentioned above has lost over 50 lbs. She’s still large but obviously that’s a lot. I’ll be curious to see how she pans out over that 5 year span you mentioned. Her goal is to lose 99 lbs. She’s already had to switch from one diet regimen to a different one. We shall see. Personally, I think a person needs carbs, regardless of their size.
    4. You cannot hate people for their own good. Agreed. Tell that one to the anti-gay fundies.

    Again, thanks for making a BIG splash in the Shakesville community pool. It’s hot and we all need to get involuntarily wet occasionally.

    P.S. Liss, get over your “Double Chin of Doom” — enjoy it while you have it. When you’re 80, you’ll long for all that bulk. 🙂 (Honestly, I don’t even see it. You are imagining things.)

  51. I’m currently on a medication that has made me gain about 40 pounds in a short period of time.

    What amazes me is that very few people notice. I think this just shows the double standard that exists when it comes to judging the appearances of men and women.

    If a woman gains 40 pounds, you know that people notice. And, many feel inclined to dish out harsh criticism.

    Yet, I can gain about three pant sizes and go from a large to X-large shirt and no one cares. In fact, they still think I look good.

    I think I’d have to gain about 20 to 30 more pounds before anyone would call me fat.

  52. Woohoo! Represent, girl! I’m a new reader to your other blog and I love your style and what you have to say. You’re awesome. Congrats on the gig!

  53. Melissa McEwan

    I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?

    LOL – That is, of course, the preferred nomenclature when directed at me. By you, anyway. But you’re special. 😉

    If a woman gains 40 pounds, you know that people notice.

    That’s a bit more than I’ve gained since quitting smoking. (Even, as I’ve said, with increased activity and lower calories.) No one I know has said anything remotely rude about it, but people definitely noticed.

    Except Mama Shakes, bless her, who, when I mentioned it, said, “You’ve gained weight? I can’t tell.”

  54. And FYI, I have a beer gut when I don’t suck it in.

  55. I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?
    LOL – That is, of course, the preferred nomenclature when directed at me.

    txrad is appalled. He keeps saying “stop doing that; it’s not funny.”

    Well, I don’t say it to be funny. As I said, it’s a term of endearment. Like “what are you having, hon?” or “what can I get ya, sweetie?” “Where’s the Virtual Bar? Is the ‘fat cunt’ being lazy again?”

    I can see his point, but he doesn’t see my sense of humor. Nor do most. That is the nature of konagod I guess. Alone in my own little world.

  56. Oh, Kona — I have long since set you apart in your own world. I think of you as if you are Arrakis — there to test the faithful. 🙂

  57. katecontinued

    My sister used to have a wonderful line with people she just met. She would somehow work into the conversation a demur line, ‘I recently lost 110 lbs’. Now matter how fat a person is, people piss themselves raving over how fabulous you look. Silly rabbits.

  58. Kate Harding

    Your thumbnail photo would never lead me to believe you were anything but rail thin. I’m assuming there’s some fat down there somewhere. You mentioned ass, so I’m assuming that’s where it starts.

    Actually, Konagod, it starts at the tits. 🙂

    And I should probably just get linking to this post over with.

  59. Since we’re being all disclosurey and stuff, I’m six feet tall and two hundred thirty pounds.

  60. cp

    Welcome! Awesome post.

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  62. Evelyn

    I wish someone who is writing an “obesity epidemic” bit of boilerplate would look into the congruence between the number of smokers and the number of overweight people in the country. We all know that many people who smoke fear that if they stop they’ll gain weight. And people do. So have we traded in our cigarettes for overweight? And if so, isn’t that worth it? And could nicotine be the weight-loss wonder drug? (It’s have to be better than a drug that gives you diarrhea, which was released this week OTC!)

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  64. I’m so glad you posted the “You’re Not Fat” link, cuz I was just about to say you’re not fat. 🙂 But I won’t say it now, I promise.

    I’m delighted with your first post and to find your blog too, which I’ve added to my RSS feeds. I really related to this paragraph at your “You’re not fat” link:

    For the first 31 years–or at least the last 20–I just thought of myself as a floating head, and I tried to think about my body as little as possible. When I did think about it, all the thoughts were negative, because I seriously just had no experience of my own damned body, apart from how it stacked up externally to other people’s, and how people reacted to it (or how I perceived their reactions), and how I was told by SO MANY SOURCES to feel about bodies that weren’t perfectly thin.

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    That’s one of the biggest reasons that I’m vehemently opposed to school districts sending home BMI “report cards” for students. What a fat-shaming disaster that will be.

    My mom and grandmother were fat, but I don’t think being this fat was inevitable for me. It had a lot to do with me treating myself as bad as the world treated me at times for being “fat”.

    I don’t have much hope anymore that my body will become another size, unless I choose to mutilate my internal organs. But I’m working very hard to be healthy at this size, and to really LIVE in my body. I’ve just started yoga and I can feel it beginning to transform me already just through awareness that I had shut off or never developed.

    I’m really happy you’ve joined the Shakesville community and look forward to your work!

  65. Ann

    I really enjoyed reading your article!

  66. Thorn

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    Maura, I’m also a 24, and for all that once I hit size 16, I never got lower than a 12 again, you took the words out of my mouth.

    I think back to when I was a size 16, or an 18, and I think about how much time I wasted, back then, feeling crummy about myself. I think about how much time I spent worrying about how people were going to see me, worrying what strangers might say. I think about all the things I didn’t do, all the activities I didn’t try, and it makes me simultaneously furious and desperately sad.

    I still worry about what strangers might say. I worry every day. I’m trying to work on it, though. Really I am.

  67. Cheers for you, Kate!

    Maura and Thorn, that’s congruent with my story as well. All the women in my family who live long lives are fat. My great-aunt who lives in Eastern Europe is 86, walks the 3 miles return trip to work 6 days a week, is still mentally sharp (she started learning English at the age of 79) and is FAT. A big lovely grand old lady. And she’s eaten stodgy fatty food all her life too. My grandmother survived 9 years of cancer and its treatments because she was very fat too, a thinner woman would have lasted maybe one or two, said her oncologist (and he said he could see no reason to blame her cancer on being fat, either).

    And if only I’d known anything about size acceptance and been able to tell the body police to shove it where the sun don’t shine, back when I was a size 16-18. Ah well. I shall make the very best of how I am now.

  68. Nora

    Another welcome for a needed topic. I, too, am oversized. I gave up worrying about the pounds and continued to think about the health. All my life I’ve been used to eating real foods, not the processed garbage, and I may be big but I’m healthy. Another book I found to be really helpful was “Real Food” by Nina Planck. She gives another perspective on the cholesterol myth. It reconfirmed what I have always believed. If people don’t like me because I’m fat, then they won’t like me if I got thin, either.

  69. Kate Harding

    Thorn, Maura, La Di Da: when I starved myself down to a size 4, I was still obsessed with the proportion of my thighs, with my TINY little stomach pooch, etc. I still wanted to keep starving myself down to a size 2. I was still very curvy, and still envied women who had naturally boyish figures. And I vividly remember a night after I started regaining, when I was a size 8 and spent the evening with a tall, thin, downright willowy (all of that representing nothing but her particular genetic make-up) friend… I could not stop obsessing about how fat I looked next to her, how gigantic I was, how I needed to do something to get thin again!

    Size 8. Insane.

    We all think we hate our bodies only because they’re “fat,” but really, no, we just hate our fucking bodies, period.

  70. Melissa McEwan

    Maura, I’m also a 24

    Me, too.

  71. carol

    Hi Kate. This is so fabulous. What a wonderful addition to a website that I already love.

    I lost 50 lbs. last year. I am a size 8-10 now. I do Atkins, but I cook everything from scratch, and I cook for other people too (it’s how I make my living while homeschooling kids). I eat fresh veggies and fruit every day, so I’m really enjoying my lifestyle (not diet) and eat as much as I want. I lost the weight for ME.

    I have 2 daughters, aged 5 and 11. One of my biggest fears is how they will inevitably be poisoned by the magazines and media of America. NO Barbie dolls or Bratz dolls are allowed in this house. Our society is saturated with images of airbrushed super models. Our daughters hang on to a concept of “beautiful” that is impossible to acheive; because it’s not real in the first place. I am trying desperately to seek out positive role models for my daughters that have nothing to do with looks.

    I look forward greatly to reading your posts!

  72. Tricia

    Nice to “meet” you Kate. (I’m new around here, still mostly lurking…) But I wanted to say I loved your first post and I have an AYT, too. I started classes about a year ago and I’m still struggling a bit, but yoga rocks and makes me feel so much better overall.

    I have a hard time not busting into giggles pretty regularly because most of AYT’s answers to my questions about poses begin, “Well, Tricia, you have breasts, so you’ll have to modify the pose…”

    The first time he answered a question that way he added the caveat that most 18th century Indian men did not (have breasts, that is). 🙂

  73. That sound you hear is that of a 52-year-old, 4’10” woman who has battled weight all her life and is now a size 16 and postmenopausal and is having a heck of a time taking any of it off, clapping.

  74. Kate Harding

    I have a hard time not busting into giggles pretty regularly because most of AYT’s answers to my questions about poses begin, “Well, Tricia, you have breasts, so you’ll have to modify the pose…”

    Heh. In one of my first classes with my AYT (a non-skinny woman herself), she said, “Okay, I’m gonna need to teach you some boob management techniques.” That’s when I first fell in love with her, I think.

  75. Fizgig

    What a great post! As someone shocked by her own messed up body image stuff sometimes I definitely look forward to reading more about this issue.

    Just as an aside, I’m a naturally thin person and have my healthy and unhealthy time periods. My MOST unhealthy point in my life was after a year I spent working in Central America where I got an intestinal parasite. I am 5’3” and after fighting the damn parasite for months I was down to a horrifying 85 lbs and had to come back to the states to be admitted to the hospital to kill the damn thing. I never felt worse in my life and I was having serious health issues because I couldn’t eat enough no matter what I did.

    I went back through my hometown on the way to Houston (where the tropical disease specialists was) and, WITH OUT FAIL, every single person I saw said “wow, you look fantastic! Did you lose some weight!” Every single person. I was on my way to the hospital, to be admitted, because I was being killed by a parasite that ate every nutrient I put in my body, but I looked fabu! How fucked up is that!

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  78. Kate217

    YAY, KATE!!!! I’ve been a big fan (literally and figuratively) for a while now. I’m thrilled to see you here.

    I, too, am a size 24. When I was 5’7″, 127 pounds, and had muscles on muscles I thought that I was fat because I couldn’t get washboard abs. If I’d only known! I was teased relentlessly for being fat when I was in high school. At the time I thought that I was a size 16 because that’s the pattern size I used. I realized once I started buying clothes that that was a size 12.

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    That is so me, too.

    And Kona, I’ve told you twice that I knew you were kidding. I also told you that “fat bitch” is not funny to someone who hears it on a regular basis and tried to explain why. Here, Kate has done much better at making the points that I was so clumsily trying to. What you don’t seem to get is that I was in “Pub” character as much as you were at the time. Fat activism is new to me, so I haven’t really honed my skills well enough to inject humor into them yet.

    That said, “cunt” is probably my least favorite word in the history of language. Since I love dogs, I don’t really consider “bitch” an insult.

  79. SAP

    Sorry about being so late, but hi, Kate. Nice to see you here. 🙂

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  81. I think it is great when big girls can be sexy and be up about life and not have an issue with their weight. I just can’t be that person.

    You can be that person. I absolutely believe in you.

    The first thing I’d say is that you cannot expect to never have an issue with your weight. That’s too high of a standard for anyone to meet. Everyone who is self-accepting has bad moments. Awful moments. But they can see through them. And every person who is self-accepting probably started out thinking just like you. That couldn’t be that person. They did and you can, too.

  82. Big fat congratulations on a fierce and elegant statement of the basic arguments against weight-based prejudice and bigotry!

    I may be the person who started saying that you can’t hate people for our own good. Or it may have been Pat Lyons, RN. She and researcher Susan Wooley have, since the mid-80s, described the conclusion paragraphs of most “obesity” research articles — the part where they fly in the face of their own damn data and tell people to freak out about being fat — the “P.S., we hate you.”

    Of course, fat bigots will continue to romp about the countryside as long as fat-hating behavior and statements are socially acceptable.

    I am one old, tired, bitter, determined fat activist. I have been fighting fat hate since the mid-90s, when I was denied individual health insurance based on my weight alone. (Yet another proof that if all these people who allegedly care so very much about fat people’s health don’t really care one whit about us…or else they’d do something obvious like make sure fat people can see a doctor for a check-up!) I think we could all really use some help, in making our culture a safe place for bodies of all shapes and sizes. Really. Don’t stand up to fat bigotry out of sympathy or pity for fat people. Whatever your body is, it’s under attack…so stand up to weight-based hatred for your own selfish reasons! If you can’t be at home in your own skin, where, exactly, are you supposed to go to life life!?!

    Thanks tons, Kate, for raising a voice against a classic and pervasive and totally stupid and unnecessary and unbeneficial and thoroughly damaging prejudice.

  83. Kate Harding

    Marilyn, thanks so much for the comments! You’re a hero to so many of us! And I’ll start attributing “You can’t hate people for their own good” to you, even if that’s wrong. 🙂 I LOVE “P.S., we hate you,” too.

  84. cp

    *sigh*

    I pointed a friend to this page, and all I got in reply was this:
    “It looked more the whining and excuses conjured up by someone who doesn’t like her body. Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    She is currently working on “those last 15 pounds”. She went from 225 to 145 a few years ago, and then went up to 155. She wants to be 125. She is 5’3″.

  85. Kate Harding

    Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    There are some lovely answers to the laws-of-thermodynamics argument toward the end of the fat kids thread.

    Beyond that, I think you pretty much just shake your head and sigh. If what she took from all this is that I’m whining and making excuses and hate my body, she’s obviously running it all through a seriously warped emotional filter. I love my body a lot more now than I did after losing a massive amount of weight, and I happen to think nobody makes more excuses/deludes themselves more than dieters. Consider:

    “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!”
    “This didn’t work the last dozen times I tried it, but that’s because I didn’t try hard enough/I was on the wrong diet/something bad happened that made me start eating again!”
    “I’m doing it for my health, not because of how I look!”
    “I’m on a low-carb diet and living on bacon and sausage] because I want to be HEALTHY, not because I want to lose weight!” ”
    “I’m not focused on numbers, and it’s all about health, but my goal weight is 110!”
    “I know 95% of dieters gain it back, but they don’t have the willpower I do!”
    “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!”
    This time, I’m going to keep it off permanently.”
    “Once I get thin, there is no way I will ever let myself get fat again.”
    “When I’m thin, I will be happy.”
    “When I’m thin, someone will love me.”
    “When I’m thin, I will deserve X, Y, and Z.”
    “Fatty foods don’t even taste good anymore.”
    “I don’t feel hungry!”
    “I’m not obsessed with food!”

    I have said every one of those things (except the low-carb thing, which my brother said to me, while eating a meal of 3 huge sausages). I’ve never met a current or former dieter who hasn’t said most of them. And man, you want to tell me this post is a whiny, delusional crock of shit, but all that stuff is… embracing reality? Mmkay.

    All I can say is, there’ll be room in the movement for her when she gains it back.

  86. Kate Harding

    And hey, CP, can I repost your comment somewhere else?

  87. Fat people internalize fat hatred as much (if not more) than anyone. Especially for someone who lost some weight but is moving backwards away from their goal. They’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy focused on maintaining what they are lost and trying to push it further. If they don’t internalize the notion that they are personally responsible for their body, then what would all that be for? They have to think fat people just don’t “want it” to believe that they are unique to “want it bad enough”. There isn’t a lot you can say to refute these attitudes because of the nature and purpose of the belief.

  88. cp

    Sure, Kate. A here link to the context it ends up in might be good?

  89. cp

    That be link here, not here link. Dang to hasty editing 🙂

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  91. Sharon

    CP wrote:
    “Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    I see two ways to attack this: how can you possibly be choosing to do something more than a certain level when you don’t (and can’t) know what that level is, and secondly that the “choice” isn’t much of a choice (same as holding your breath isn’t something you have that much control of in the longer term).

    So…

    “Oh really? How do you know what energy you burn? Do you know what temperature your body maintains? Do you know exactly how much energy you’re expending whilst your asleep? Do you know how much energy the body extracts out of your food and how much gets passed out of your backside?

    No. We don’t. None of us knows that. Scientists can tell us what happens on average with human bodies but unless we have access to the same lab equipment, we can’t measure our own individual variation. And yes we DO have variation, look around at how body sizes vary to get an idea of how much energy expenditure differs.

    So as we don’t actually know what energy we’re burning, then we’re not in any kind of position where we can make a choice about whether our food input energy matches our output energy or execeeds it or is insufficient, we can’t know that! All we can do is rely on bodily signals, to let us know when we are hungry or not.

    And our bodily signals are very accurate, if we’re not deliberately trying to mess with them or ignore them, they maintain our weight to within a few lbs each year! But we don’t control what we get in terms of hunger signals. You may choose what you eat at a meal, but do you get to choose what your body does with that energy? No. You don’t get to choose how much energy gets spent on temperature, internal body processes, immediate energy stores, long-term energy stores. If your system is set up so that it sends as much as possible to the fat stores and then starts asking for more, with more hunger signals, you don’t get conscious control over this process!!!

    Yeah, you can try, you can try exercising, but if you try asking for more energy than your body supply, you’re just going to hit the wall (bonk). And then your body will send out more hunger signals because you’ve just gone and depleted its immediate energy supplies. Ultimately you don’t have very much control over what your body does with what you give it. The internal processes happen automatically.

    So don’t try this “Oh people CHOOSE to eat more than they burn” **** on me, that’s hugely simplistic because they don’t know what they burn, and the body’s systems ask for more food in a very powerful way over the long term, which you can’t change (without the aid of magic pills) and which you can’t choose to ignore any more than you can choose to hold your breath.

  92. Jenster

    Whoo hoo Kate, now I get to read even more of you. Congrats. I think I’ll celebrate for you and have a big ol’ fat piece of cake. Keep up the good work.

  93. Excellent post! I am heartened by every new fat-acceptance blogger I see. We’ll turn this tide yet.

  94. rosmar

    Awesome! I am glad you are here.

    And I love Junk Science, but wish she’d apply the same critical thinking she applies to food studies to her posts about global warming. (Or maybe it was just one post about global warming, but it was an uncritical one that swallowed the anti-global warming perspective hook, line and sinker.)

    (I’d post that at Junk Food Science, but there isn’t any place for comments there.)

    Welcome! I can tell I’m going to like you.

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Fat Girl Reporting for Duty

Hey, everybody, I’m Kate. And I’m beside myself with glee and gratitude at having been asked to contribute to Shakesville!

So I should probably start off with a really angry, defensive post.

(more…)

100 Comments

Filed under 09_kate_harding

100 responses to “Fat Girl Reporting for Duty

  1. Meowser

    **clap clap clap whistle** I am so happy to see posts like this on a high-traffic progressive blog like this one. The more the better, because this stuff needs to be said and said and said. Thank you, Melissa, for giving the Great Kate a soapbox!

  2. Welcome! I’m really looking forward to your posts as I (like every other person out there) I struggle with reconciling my own body image and reality.

  3. Awesome! I’m so glad to see you here.

  4. Melissa McEwan

    And she enters with a big fat flourish…

    Welcome, Kate. And thanks so much for joining us. 😀

  5. Arkades

    Welcome, Kate!

  6. Angry Irish Bitch

    I used to be normal sized.. now I am obsese. I hate it. I hate feeling un-sexy and un-fuckable. I think it is great when big girls can be sexy and be up about life and not have an issue with their weight. I just can’t be that person.

    I am resorting to Optifast and if that doesn’t work I will go for bariatric surgery. If it kills me, I will control my food. I am sick and tired of it controlling me.

    Keep up the good work Kate .. Bless you and Congratulations on your big move up.

  7. Yea, Kate! Welcome aboard! The more the merrier!

  8. Kate Harding

    And she enters with a big fat flourish…

    Well, a small flourish would get lost against my ass.

    Thanks, everybody!

  9. DBK

    Well it’s nice to see you and I’m sure you’ll make a fine addition, but if you’re going to talk about fat acceptance and morph it at points into a discussion of health, I would like to suggest you peruse whfoods.com, where there is more information about healthy eating than you can shake a stick at.

  10. car

    Yea! I just discovered your blog a few weeks ago and now here you are here too! I hope you have a good time posting.

  11. Ooo, curves… </homerdrool>

    Um. Sorry. Less inappropriately, welcome! Nice to see you; I’m new around these parts too.

  12. Kate Harding

    DBK, thanks for the link. I’m absolutely in favor of healthy eating. What gets me ranty is that healthy eating doesn’t make fat people thin, and that point gets lost way too often.

  13. So I should probably start off with a really angry, defensive post.

    Always the best way to begin. 😀

    Actually, that was several posts! Each of them would make for a good day’s worth of discussion.

    Last time I saw my doc, he volunteered that “we’re finding that BMI doesn’t really hold up as a marker of health.” I’d heard it before, but it was nice to see that some medicos are communicating that to their patients. It certainly shouldn’t be viewed in a vacuum.

    Welcome aboard, Kate.

  14. *applause*

    I totally agree! I may or may not be fat, it’s such a relative term really, but I’ve always been a bigger girl. Even at my thinnest, no matter how I ate and how much exercise I got, I never got below 135, a size 8. Right now, I’m 5’2″ and 160 pounds, wearing a size 12. Sounds bad! Except I try to run 3x per week (squeezing it in with work & a one year old is tough!), have excellent blood pressure, decent cholesterol, etc etc. I’ve always hated that stupid BMI and have tried to ignore the body image issues that come up. Focus on being happy and eating well with exercise, and no matter what my actual size is, right? 🙂

  15. welcome, and a welcome post…
    Love and peace from a 300 lb guy in Georgia.

  16. Anne

    HELL YEAH, KATE!!! I used to weigh a bit more than I do now — I was only a size 9 or 10, though — and when some horrible shit happened in my life, I stopped eating, exercising and generally treating my body right, and whaddya know…Treating my body like SHIT made me lose weight. The accolades I got, and still get, for being thinner (when I was always thin to begin with!) make me so angry that I always swear I’m going to punch my next congratulater in the face. This experience has proven to me beyond a doubt that people’s weight obsession has nothing to do with health and everything to do with controlling people’s, particularly women’s, bodies.

    Anyhow, I’m really looking forward to reading your posts!!!

  17. TOAC

    Hi, Kate – I started reading your Shapely Prose blog a couple months ago and am a big fan. You seem like a perfect fit for Shakesville. Congrats and I look forward to seeing more of you here!

  18. Amy

    Hey welcome! I’ve been to your blog, I really liked it, and I’m glad to see you here now.

    FWIW I am by nature a thin person and I told people at my work I NEEDED to start eating better and excercising, and they were all “why, you don’t have to, you are so thin!” and I’m all (to myself) “uh, that’s f*cked up.” I tried to explain that because I was thin did not mean I was being very healthy and for some reason it did not compute.

  19. Kate Harding

    I am resorting to Optifast and if that doesn’t work I will go for bariatric surgery. If it kills me, I will control my food.

    Oh, AIB, that makes me so very sad — but it also doesn’t surprise me. So many people feel that way. I’d love to talk to you more about this stuff if you want to e-mail me (via my blog, which I linked to 85 times up there). I promise not to evangelize or crap on your decisions about your own body — but I really would love to hear more about your experiences.

  20. mamajane

    I’ve visited your blog many times. You have no idea how much your work means to us fat chicks! I’ve been fat all of my life, hell, I was a 10lb baby! Thanks for all that you do, and looking forward to seeing your posts here.

  21. What Mr. Bill said – but substitute North Carolina for Georgia!

  22. Misty

    Welcome, welcome!

  23. Thorn

    KATE!!! Congrats on getting to blog in this Shakier neighborhood!! Couldn’t happen to a better blogger, I say.

    I love your posts on Shapely Prose, even when I don’t comment, and I really look forward to you bringing the body acceptance message to Shakesville now as well. Congrats again!!

  24. Kate, thank you.

    And thank you, too, Melissa.

  25. Welcome!

    Oh, also? BMI is complete horseshit.

    I like you already. I once looked up LaDanian Tomlinson’s weight and height – he’s the NFL’s best running back in case you don’t know – and found that according to his BMI he’s as “obese” as I am.

    It’ll be nice to have a source of good information for once.

  26. Hooray! Great to see you here. Looking forward to your posts.

  27. Fun, good, informative post. I’m reminded of what the American Lung Association found in the 60s, I think it was – that the “guilt” approach didn’t work for smokers, because most people wanted to quit. They changed their approach. For people who are legitimately overweight, a support system is what’s important. Meanwhile, you’re absolutely right that our culture makes people uncomfortable with their own bodies and healthy weight. I’m also reminded of an aging rocker who remarked that he had more friends when he was thin and an addict than when he was fat, that one was more socially acceptable, at least in his circle.

  28. WELCOME! And your pic is hot! Viva La “Fat” Girl!

  29. Susan

    Hi, Kate and welcome!

    Thanks for your amazing post. I’m very overweight and have been for most of my life. Should I tell you about the doctor who gave me diet pills when I was 10?

    I’m also extremely healthy–I never get sick. It’s been years since I had a cold. I eat good food and walk every day, but I’m still overweight. Blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. always measure well. I have three friends, each at ideal weight, who have constant health problems from asthma, irregular heartbeats, vitamin deficiencies, and numerous other things.

    Anyway, again, welcome!!

  30. Kate Harding

    WELCOME! And your pic is hot! Viva La “Fat” Girl!

    Petulant, I should point out that that very myspacey shot is well known as the “Fat Girl Angle” over at Fatshionista, because it magically eliminates the double chin.

    Everyone, thanks so much for the warm welcome! There’s so much to respond to here (so of course I made educating everyone about Fat Girl Angles the priority), but I’m all distracted at the mo.

  31. nightshift66

    A belated welcome, Kate, from another 300+ lb. guy. But since I’m a guy, and 6’4″, I don’t catch the crap I see women catch all the time who are (to me) very attractive. I look forward to reading your perspective on things.

  32. Melissa McEwan

    I should point out that that very myspacey shot is well known as the “Fat Girl Angle”

    😆 This is so true. As I’ve said a million times before, I have very little vanity, but I what I do have is pretty much dedicated to choosing author shots that hide the Double Chin of Doom, lol.

    Sans Fat Girl Angle:

    See? LOL.

  33. Susan: It’s been years since I had a cold

    Grr. I’m thin as a rail (which refers to the bird, btw, not a piece of metal), always have been, and I catch every cold my body can find in a radius of half a mile. 😦

    Right on about the importance of exercise, good food, and NOT OBSESSING.

    How about a campaign to get advertisers and magazine cover people to Get It? (Well, I can dream, can’t I?)

  34. Kate Harding

    But Liss, that picture is so cute!

    Still, I know, I know. When I started getting serious about yoga, part of me did not want to move toward having my spine in proper alignment on a permanent basis, because it gives me more of a double chin. And I’m the fucking fat acceptance chick. The little hang-ups run so deep.

  35. katecontinued

    Welcome, from another Kate who finds you near and dear to her heart. I have visited your site and just read a post on Sara Anderson’s f-words. I look forward to your voice. Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

  36. Melissa McEwan

    But Liss, that picture is so cute!

    Ha, thanks. Actually, I don’t mind that picture. The only reason I didn’t use it is that it had the same problem as my last author photo: Too grinny for posts about things like war, pestilence, rape, and George W. Bush.

  37. Kate Harding

    Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

    Not yet. 😉

  38. “Sadly, you do not have the billions behind your voice that the diet and Big Pharma (same?) business monsters have.

    Not yet. ;)”

    A Portly Hear! Hear! to that.

    I am doing the big booty/big tata dance right now, in celebration of your arrival at Shakesville, Kate!

    I was born at 10lbs, 1 oz. My mother was given diet pills during her pregnancy. I was a skinny little shit until I was 44 (5′, 98 lbs), and unremittingly miserable and unhealthy.

    Since attaining my “true size” (Still 5′ now 155 lbs) — I am healthier, happier, and smarter (Who’da thunk that starving yourself could make you stupid? — they never mention that in diet ads) than I have ever been.

    I welcome your voice and will continue to read your blog.

  39. Melissa McEwan

    Also: SIDE chin.

    I lurve my side chin. It deflects attention away from my budding dowager’s hump.

  40. Kate Harding

    people’s weight obsession has nothing to do with health and everything to do with controlling people’s, particularly women’s, bodies

    Anne, AMEN.

    I told people at my work I NEEDED to start eating better and excercising, and they were all “why, you don’t have to, you are so thin!” and I’m all (to myself) “uh, that’s f*cked up.”

    Amy, no shit. And I’m not at all surprised, sadly.

    It’ll be nice to have a source of good information for once.

    Stephen, I swear to god, 50% of my blogging is just links to Junkfood Science. Sandy Szwarc is amazing.

    And everyone who came in after my last blanket thank you, thank you!

  41. Kate Harding

    I lurve my side chin. It deflects attention away from my budding dowager’s hump.

    LOL!

    And I will now stop hijacking my own thread. Who needs community? I AM A ONE-WOMAN BLOGGING/COMMENTING MACHINE!

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  43. Oh gals — never mind “side chin” — do any of you have, as one of my friends lovingly calls them:

    Back Titties?

    (If only I had the right photo on hand at this moment)

  44. OK — not just the gals — the guys too — come on in — who has back titties!

    *raising hand*

  45. BMI is complete horseshit.

    I just went to a BMI calculator to check mine out. I am 5’10” and weigh a little under 200 pounds. According to the calculator, I am overweight bordering on obese, which is fairly ridiculous based on just looking at my build.

    I checked what the minimum “normal” weight for me would be, and it’s 129 pounds for a 5’10” person. 129! To put that in perspective, when I was in college I was a lightweight rower, and I weighed in at 143 pounds at my lightest. The athletic trainers made me stop rowing until I could get my body fat percentage back above 3%; I spent the season at 147 pounds or so if I remember correctly. At 129 I would not only have to lose all my body fat, but a whole bunch of muscle and possibly several internal organs.

    So yeah, BMI is horseshit. It can’t be said enough, because if people use that calculator and conclude that they are obese they are being seriously misled.

    Oh, and by the way, welcome Kate! Great opening post.

  46. To Angry Irish Bitch — I was also convinced that my “obesity” made me unfuckable and undesirable. I met my true love at my current weight, and am having better sex than I’ve ever had in my LIFE!! No shit, true story.

    It was an amazing revelation to me — not only that someone could love me at my current size, but would find my rolls, curves, and flaps the BOMB sexually.

    My beloved is “naturally thin”, BTW.

  47. Regardless of the “special” pose, the eyes speak more than the “hidden” chin.

    You too Melmanda! Those titty rays fully charged!

  48. ? not ! DRINK, I NEED A DRINK!

  49. Melissa McEwan

    It was an amazing revelation to me — not only that someone could love me at my current size, but would find my rolls, curves, and flaps the BOMB sexually.

    Wobbly Bits

    Mark Darcy: What on earth are you doing?

    Bridget Jones: Getting dressed.

    MD: Why are you dancing around in that tent business?

    BJ: sighs Because I don’t want you to see any of my wobbly bits.

    MD: Well now, that’s a bit pointless, isn’t it, because I happen to have very high regard for your wobbly bits in all circumstances.

    BJ: Really?!

    MD: Absolutely. I think it’s high time we had another look.

  50. Hi Kate and a very warm welcome to you. It’s always nice to see new folks showing up at Shakesville.

    Why oh why did you have to post this tonight – the one night I happened to come home from work with a bottle of tequila. (OK, so I didn’t have tequila last night; I shouldn’t make it sound like a rare event for me to have tequila in da house.)

    But as a guy who was recently called a “misogynistic sizist” right here on this very blog (because I used the term “fat bitch” as a term of endearment – I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?), I feel you’ve provided me an opportunity to weigh in (no pun intended) on the subject. It was a rather absurd accusation considering almost all my friends are women, and most of them consider themselves to be large. But it was an odd night to say the least, and there are always new folks joining the community here who have no idea who I am, so it’s understandable.

    So here are some thoughts, questions, comments:

    1. Your thumbnail photo would never lead me to believe you were anything but rail thin. I’m assuming there’s some fat down there somewhere. You mentioned ass, so I’m assuming that’s where it starts.
    2. This is why it’s so fucking crucial to separate the concept of “obesity” from “eating crap and not exercising.” Amen. I’m not obese, but my best friend considers herself fat, yet she walks 5 or 6 miles a day; if I tried that I’d probably have a stroke. Or maybe I could do it but I’d stop after every 2 miles for a cigarette.
    3. Given that diets don’t work in the long-term for the vast, vast majority of people, even if obesity in and of itself were a health crisis, how the fuck would you propose we solve it? My friend mentioned above has lost over 50 lbs. She’s still large but obviously that’s a lot. I’ll be curious to see how she pans out over that 5 year span you mentioned. Her goal is to lose 99 lbs. She’s already had to switch from one diet regimen to a different one. We shall see. Personally, I think a person needs carbs, regardless of their size.
    4. You cannot hate people for their own good. Agreed. Tell that one to the anti-gay fundies.

    Again, thanks for making a BIG splash in the Shakesville community pool. It’s hot and we all need to get involuntarily wet occasionally.

    P.S. Liss, get over your “Double Chin of Doom” — enjoy it while you have it. When you’re 80, you’ll long for all that bulk. 🙂 (Honestly, I don’t even see it. You are imagining things.)

  51. I’m currently on a medication that has made me gain about 40 pounds in a short period of time.

    What amazes me is that very few people notice. I think this just shows the double standard that exists when it comes to judging the appearances of men and women.

    If a woman gains 40 pounds, you know that people notice. And, many feel inclined to dish out harsh criticism.

    Yet, I can gain about three pant sizes and go from a large to X-large shirt and no one cares. In fact, they still think I look good.

    I think I’d have to gain about 20 to 30 more pounds before anyone would call me fat.

  52. Woohoo! Represent, girl! I’m a new reader to your other blog and I love your style and what you have to say. You’re awesome. Congrats on the gig!

  53. Melissa McEwan

    I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?

    LOL – That is, of course, the preferred nomenclature when directed at me. By you, anyway. But you’re special. 😉

    If a woman gains 40 pounds, you know that people notice.

    That’s a bit more than I’ve gained since quitting smoking. (Even, as I’ve said, with increased activity and lower calories.) No one I know has said anything remotely rude about it, but people definitely noticed.

    Except Mama Shakes, bless her, who, when I mentioned it, said, “You’ve gained weight? I can’t tell.”

  54. And FYI, I have a beer gut when I don’t suck it in.

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  56. I guess “fat cunt” might have been more acceptable?
    LOL – That is, of course, the preferred nomenclature when directed at me.

    txrad is appalled. He keeps saying “stop doing that; it’s not funny.”

    Well, I don’t say it to be funny. As I said, it’s a term of endearment. Like “what are you having, hon?” or “what can I get ya, sweetie?” “Where’s the Virtual Bar? Is the ‘fat cunt’ being lazy again?”

    I can see his point, but he doesn’t see my sense of humor. Nor do most. That is the nature of konagod I guess. Alone in my own little world.

  57. Oh, Kona — I have long since set you apart in your own world. I think of you as if you are Arrakis — there to test the faithful. 🙂

  58. katecontinued

    My sister used to have a wonderful line with people she just met. She would somehow work into the conversation a demur line, ‘I recently lost 110 lbs’. Now matter how fat a person is, people piss themselves raving over how fabulous you look. Silly rabbits.

  59. Kate Harding

    Your thumbnail photo would never lead me to believe you were anything but rail thin. I’m assuming there’s some fat down there somewhere. You mentioned ass, so I’m assuming that’s where it starts.

    Actually, Konagod, it starts at the tits. 🙂

    And I should probably just get linking to this post over with.

  60. Since we’re being all disclosurey and stuff, I’m six feet tall and two hundred thirty pounds.

  61. cp

    Welcome! Awesome post.

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  63. Evelyn

    I wish someone who is writing an “obesity epidemic” bit of boilerplate would look into the congruence between the number of smokers and the number of overweight people in the country. We all know that many people who smoke fear that if they stop they’ll gain weight. And people do. So have we traded in our cigarettes for overweight? And if so, isn’t that worth it? And could nicotine be the weight-loss wonder drug? (It’s have to be better than a drug that gives you diarrhea, which was released this week OTC!)

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  65. I’m so glad you posted the “You’re Not Fat” link, cuz I was just about to say you’re not fat. 🙂 But I won’t say it now, I promise.

    I’m delighted with your first post and to find your blog too, which I’ve added to my RSS feeds. I really related to this paragraph at your “You’re not fat” link:

    For the first 31 years–or at least the last 20–I just thought of myself as a floating head, and I tried to think about my body as little as possible. When I did think about it, all the thoughts were negative, because I seriously just had no experience of my own damned body, apart from how it stacked up externally to other people’s, and how people reacted to it (or how I perceived their reactions), and how I was told by SO MANY SOURCES to feel about bodies that weren’t perfectly thin.

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    That’s one of the biggest reasons that I’m vehemently opposed to school districts sending home BMI “report cards” for students. What a fat-shaming disaster that will be.

    My mom and grandmother were fat, but I don’t think being this fat was inevitable for me. It had a lot to do with me treating myself as bad as the world treated me at times for being “fat”.

    I don’t have much hope anymore that my body will become another size, unless I choose to mutilate my internal organs. But I’m working very hard to be healthy at this size, and to really LIVE in my body. I’ve just started yoga and I can feel it beginning to transform me already just through awareness that I had shut off or never developed.

    I’m really happy you’ve joined the Shakesville community and look forward to your work!

  66. Ann

    I really enjoyed reading your article!

  67. Thorn

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    Maura, I’m also a 24, and for all that once I hit size 16, I never got lower than a 12 again, you took the words out of my mouth.

    I think back to when I was a size 16, or an 18, and I think about how much time I wasted, back then, feeling crummy about myself. I think about how much time I spent worrying about how people were going to see me, worrying what strangers might say. I think about all the things I didn’t do, all the activities I didn’t try, and it makes me simultaneously furious and desperately sad.

    I still worry about what strangers might say. I worry every day. I’m trying to work on it, though. Really I am.

  68. Cheers for you, Kate!

    Maura and Thorn, that’s congruent with my story as well. All the women in my family who live long lives are fat. My great-aunt who lives in Eastern Europe is 86, walks the 3 miles return trip to work 6 days a week, is still mentally sharp (she started learning English at the age of 79) and is FAT. A big lovely grand old lady. And she’s eaten stodgy fatty food all her life too. My grandmother survived 9 years of cancer and its treatments because she was very fat too, a thinner woman would have lasted maybe one or two, said her oncologist (and he said he could see no reason to blame her cancer on being fat, either).

    And if only I’d known anything about size acceptance and been able to tell the body police to shove it where the sun don’t shine, back when I was a size 16-18. Ah well. I shall make the very best of how I am now.

  69. Nora

    Another welcome for a needed topic. I, too, am oversized. I gave up worrying about the pounds and continued to think about the health. All my life I’ve been used to eating real foods, not the processed garbage, and I may be big but I’m healthy. Another book I found to be really helpful was “Real Food” by Nina Planck. She gives another perspective on the cholesterol myth. It reconfirmed what I have always believed. If people don’t like me because I’m fat, then they won’t like me if I got thin, either.

  70. Kate Harding

    Thorn, Maura, La Di Da: when I starved myself down to a size 4, I was still obsessed with the proportion of my thighs, with my TINY little stomach pooch, etc. I still wanted to keep starving myself down to a size 2. I was still very curvy, and still envied women who had naturally boyish figures. And I vividly remember a night after I started regaining, when I was a size 8 and spent the evening with a tall, thin, downright willowy (all of that representing nothing but her particular genetic make-up) friend… I could not stop obsessing about how fat I looked next to her, how gigantic I was, how I needed to do something to get thin again!

    Size 8. Insane.

    We all think we hate our bodies only because they’re “fat,” but really, no, we just hate our fucking bodies, period.

  71. Melissa McEwan

    Maura, I’m also a 24

    Me, too.

  72. carol

    Hi Kate. This is so fabulous. What a wonderful addition to a website that I already love.

    I lost 50 lbs. last year. I am a size 8-10 now. I do Atkins, but I cook everything from scratch, and I cook for other people too (it’s how I make my living while homeschooling kids). I eat fresh veggies and fruit every day, so I’m really enjoying my lifestyle (not diet) and eat as much as I want. I lost the weight for ME.

    I have 2 daughters, aged 5 and 11. One of my biggest fears is how they will inevitably be poisoned by the magazines and media of America. NO Barbie dolls or Bratz dolls are allowed in this house. Our society is saturated with images of airbrushed super models. Our daughters hang on to a concept of “beautiful” that is impossible to acheive; because it’s not real in the first place. I am trying desperately to seek out positive role models for my daughters that have nothing to do with looks.

    I look forward greatly to reading your posts!

  73. Tricia

    Nice to “meet” you Kate. (I’m new around here, still mostly lurking…) But I wanted to say I loved your first post and I have an AYT, too. I started classes about a year ago and I’m still struggling a bit, but yoga rocks and makes me feel so much better overall.

    I have a hard time not busting into giggles pretty regularly because most of AYT’s answers to my questions about poses begin, “Well, Tricia, you have breasts, so you’ll have to modify the pose…”

    The first time he answered a question that way he added the caveat that most 18th century Indian men did not (have breasts, that is). 🙂

  74. That sound you hear is that of a 52-year-old, 4’10” woman who has battled weight all her life and is now a size 16 and postmenopausal and is having a heck of a time taking any of it off, clapping.

  75. Kate Harding

    I have a hard time not busting into giggles pretty regularly because most of AYT’s answers to my questions about poses begin, “Well, Tricia, you have breasts, so you’ll have to modify the pose…”

    Heh. In one of my first classes with my AYT (a non-skinny woman herself), she said, “Okay, I’m gonna need to teach you some boob management techniques.” That’s when I first fell in love with her, I think.

  76. Fizgig

    What a great post! As someone shocked by her own messed up body image stuff sometimes I definitely look forward to reading more about this issue.

    Just as an aside, I’m a naturally thin person and have my healthy and unhealthy time periods. My MOST unhealthy point in my life was after a year I spent working in Central America where I got an intestinal parasite. I am 5’3” and after fighting the damn parasite for months I was down to a horrifying 85 lbs and had to come back to the states to be admitted to the hospital to kill the damn thing. I never felt worse in my life and I was having serious health issues because I couldn’t eat enough no matter what I did.

    I went back through my hometown on the way to Houston (where the tropical disease specialists was) and, WITH OUT FAIL, every single person I saw said “wow, you look fantastic! Did you lose some weight!” Every single person. I was on my way to the hospital, to be admitted, because I was being killed by a parasite that ate every nutrient I put in my body, but I looked fabu! How fucked up is that!

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  79. Kate217

    YAY, KATE!!!! I’ve been a big fan (literally and figuratively) for a while now. I’m thrilled to see you here.

    I, too, am a size 24. When I was 5’7″, 127 pounds, and had muscles on muscles I thought that I was fat because I couldn’t get washboard abs. If I’d only known! I was teased relentlessly for being fat when I was in high school. At the time I thought that I was a size 16 because that’s the pattern size I used. I realized once I started buying clothes that that was a size 12.

    At size 24, I look at someone who is size 16 and think “You’re SO not fat”. But I also remember when I was size 16, and I sure as hell felt fat then. Sad truth is, I felt fat when I was size 12, too. And size 10. and size 8. The more I was called fat, the more shame I felt about my body, the more disconnected I was from my body, the fatter I got.

    That is so me, too.

    And Kona, I’ve told you twice that I knew you were kidding. I also told you that “fat bitch” is not funny to someone who hears it on a regular basis and tried to explain why. Here, Kate has done much better at making the points that I was so clumsily trying to. What you don’t seem to get is that I was in “Pub” character as much as you were at the time. Fat activism is new to me, so I haven’t really honed my skills well enough to inject humor into them yet.

    That said, “cunt” is probably my least favorite word in the history of language. Since I love dogs, I don’t really consider “bitch” an insult.

  80. SAP

    Sorry about being so late, but hi, Kate. Nice to see you here. 🙂

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  82. I think it is great when big girls can be sexy and be up about life and not have an issue with their weight. I just can’t be that person.

    You can be that person. I absolutely believe in you.

    The first thing I’d say is that you cannot expect to never have an issue with your weight. That’s too high of a standard for anyone to meet. Everyone who is self-accepting has bad moments. Awful moments. But they can see through them. And every person who is self-accepting probably started out thinking just like you. That couldn’t be that person. They did and you can, too.

  83. Big fat congratulations on a fierce and elegant statement of the basic arguments against weight-based prejudice and bigotry!

    I may be the person who started saying that you can’t hate people for our own good. Or it may have been Pat Lyons, RN. She and researcher Susan Wooley have, since the mid-80s, described the conclusion paragraphs of most “obesity” research articles — the part where they fly in the face of their own damn data and tell people to freak out about being fat — the “P.S., we hate you.”

    Of course, fat bigots will continue to romp about the countryside as long as fat-hating behavior and statements are socially acceptable.

    I am one old, tired, bitter, determined fat activist. I have been fighting fat hate since the mid-90s, when I was denied individual health insurance based on my weight alone. (Yet another proof that if all these people who allegedly care so very much about fat people’s health don’t really care one whit about us…or else they’d do something obvious like make sure fat people can see a doctor for a check-up!) I think we could all really use some help, in making our culture a safe place for bodies of all shapes and sizes. Really. Don’t stand up to fat bigotry out of sympathy or pity for fat people. Whatever your body is, it’s under attack…so stand up to weight-based hatred for your own selfish reasons! If you can’t be at home in your own skin, where, exactly, are you supposed to go to life life!?!

    Thanks tons, Kate, for raising a voice against a classic and pervasive and totally stupid and unnecessary and unbeneficial and thoroughly damaging prejudice.

  84. Kate Harding

    Marilyn, thanks so much for the comments! You’re a hero to so many of us! And I’ll start attributing “You can’t hate people for their own good” to you, even if that’s wrong. 🙂 I LOVE “P.S., we hate you,” too.

  85. cp

    *sigh*

    I pointed a friend to this page, and all I got in reply was this:
    “It looked more the whining and excuses conjured up by someone who doesn’t like her body. Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    She is currently working on “those last 15 pounds”. She went from 225 to 145 a few years ago, and then went up to 155. She wants to be 125. She is 5’3″.

  86. Kate Harding

    Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    There are some lovely answers to the laws-of-thermodynamics argument toward the end of the fat kids thread.

    Beyond that, I think you pretty much just shake your head and sigh. If what she took from all this is that I’m whining and making excuses and hate my body, she’s obviously running it all through a seriously warped emotional filter. I love my body a lot more now than I did after losing a massive amount of weight, and I happen to think nobody makes more excuses/deludes themselves more than dieters. Consider:

    “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change!”
    “This didn’t work the last dozen times I tried it, but that’s because I didn’t try hard enough/I was on the wrong diet/something bad happened that made me start eating again!”
    “I’m doing it for my health, not because of how I look!”
    “I’m on a low-carb diet and living on bacon and sausage] because I want to be HEALTHY, not because I want to lose weight!” ”
    “I’m not focused on numbers, and it’s all about health, but my goal weight is 110!”
    “I know 95% of dieters gain it back, but they don’t have the willpower I do!”
    “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels!”
    This time, I’m going to keep it off permanently.”
    “Once I get thin, there is no way I will ever let myself get fat again.”
    “When I’m thin, I will be happy.”
    “When I’m thin, someone will love me.”
    “When I’m thin, I will deserve X, Y, and Z.”
    “Fatty foods don’t even taste good anymore.”
    “I don’t feel hungry!”
    “I’m not obsessed with food!”

    I have said every one of those things (except the low-carb thing, which my brother said to me, while eating a meal of 3 huge sausages). I’ve never met a current or former dieter who hasn’t said most of them. And man, you want to tell me this post is a whiny, delusional crock of shit, but all that stuff is… embracing reality? Mmkay.

    All I can say is, there’ll be room in the movement for her when she gains it back.

  87. Kate Harding

    And hey, CP, can I repost your comment somewhere else?

  88. Fat people internalize fat hatred as much (if not more) than anyone. Especially for someone who lost some weight but is moving backwards away from their goal. They’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy focused on maintaining what they are lost and trying to push it further. If they don’t internalize the notion that they are personally responsible for their body, then what would all that be for? They have to think fat people just don’t “want it” to believe that they are unique to “want it bad enough”. There isn’t a lot you can say to refute these attitudes because of the nature and purpose of the belief.

  89. cp

    Sure, Kate. A here link to the context it ends up in might be good?

  90. cp

    That be link here, not here link. Dang to hasty editing 🙂

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  92. Sharon

    CP wrote:
    “Fat people are fat because they chose to eat more than they burn (myself included).”

    How the **** do you answer that sort of thing?

    I see two ways to attack this: how can you possibly be choosing to do something more than a certain level when you don’t (and can’t) know what that level is, and secondly that the “choice” isn’t much of a choice (same as holding your breath isn’t something you have that much control of in the longer term).

    So…

    “Oh really? How do you know what energy you burn? Do you know what temperature your body maintains? Do you know exactly how much energy you’re expending whilst your asleep? Do you know how much energy the body extracts out of your food and how much gets passed out of your backside?

    No. We don’t. None of us knows that. Scientists can tell us what happens on average with human bodies but unless we have access to the same lab equipment, we can’t measure our own individual variation. And yes we DO have variation, look around at how body sizes vary to get an idea of how much energy expenditure differs.

    So as we don’t actually know what energy we’re burning, then we’re not in any kind of position where we can make a choice about whether our food input energy matches our output energy or execeeds it or is insufficient, we can’t know that! All we can do is rely on bodily signals, to let us know when we are hungry or not.

    And our bodily signals are very accurate, if we’re not deliberately trying to mess with them or ignore them, they maintain our weight to within a few lbs each year! But we don’t control what we get in terms of hunger signals. You may choose what you eat at a meal, but do you get to choose what your body does with that energy? No. You don’t get to choose how much energy gets spent on temperature, internal body processes, immediate energy stores, long-term energy stores. If your system is set up so that it sends as much as possible to the fat stores and then starts asking for more, with more hunger signals, you don’t get conscious control over this process!!!

    Yeah, you can try, you can try exercising, but if you try asking for more energy than your body supply, you’re just going to hit the wall (bonk). And then your body will send out more hunger signals because you’ve just gone and depleted its immediate energy supplies. Ultimately you don’t have very much control over what your body does with what you give it. The internal processes happen automatically.

    So don’t try this “Oh people CHOOSE to eat more than they burn” **** on me, that’s hugely simplistic because they don’t know what they burn, and the body’s systems ask for more food in a very powerful way over the long term, which you can’t change (without the aid of magic pills) and which you can’t choose to ignore any more than you can choose to hold your breath.

  93. Jenster

    Whoo hoo Kate, now I get to read even more of you. Congrats. I think I’ll celebrate for you and have a big ol’ fat piece of cake. Keep up the good work.

  94. Excellent post! I am heartened by every new fat-acceptance blogger I see. We’ll turn this tide yet.

  95. rosmar

    Awesome! I am glad you are here.

    And I love Junk Science, but wish she’d apply the same critical thinking she applies to food studies to her posts about global warming. (Or maybe it was just one post about global warming, but it was an uncritical one that swallowed the anti-global warming perspective hook, line and sinker.)

    (I’d post that at Junk Food Science, but there isn’t any place for comments there.)

    Welcome! I can tell I’m going to like you.

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