Tag Archives: fat

For Lent, Give up Dieting

For Lent, I’m giving up dieting. Well, not really. I haven’t dieted for quite a few years, based on my own reservations which the fat acceptance movement helped me put into words and even back up with scientific research.

But I want to encourage everyone to do this. For Lent this year, give up dieting. Give up on hating your body. That’s 40 days, 40 nights and absolutely NO food guilt, diet products, or self-flagellation related to the body that you were born with.Don’t give up chocolate or carbs. Give up the notion that foods carry moral values of “good” or “bad.”

Now, you Catholics know the irony of this suggestion. Lent is originally associated with fasting, sacrifice for God and avoiding the temptation of Satan. Now, I have no problem with folks fasting for religious purposes, but since Vatican II, Lent has been less about fasting and more about giving up a vice or a temptation and replacing it with something that brings you closer to God.

My challenge is that eating normally is not a temptation or a vice and that loving your body and yourself is the first step in having a closer relationship with God, the Divine, the Universe or however you represent your highest authority.

And it’s okay to engage in the practices of Lent even if you’re not Catholic. I was only Catholic for a few years and I still give things up for Lent. Sacrifice is often healthy for the soul but sacrificing food to lose weight is not healthy for the body.

So go without dieting and obsessing about food for Lent and see if you come out on the other side any worse for wear. Something tells me you won’t. Something tells me you’ll discover a freedom unlike any other–the freedom to improve yourself in ways that really matter.

6 Comments

Filed under fat, Health, Size Acceptance

Art and Beauty

An amazing thing happened in my life.

I learned to love my body.

And one of the driving forces that helped me to do this was my art. I’ve always dabbled with painting and I am by no means a talented renderer. But I’ve dabbled so long that I finally figured some things out.

I started painting women that looked like women are expected to look. And that was okay. But then I started wondering what other body shapes would look like. And I started painting those too.

It freaked me out at first, when people started asking if they were self portraits, mainly because they are so explicit. They’re not self-portraits–at least not in the sense that they represent anything specific about me. I was not thinking of my vagina when I painted them. But in another way, they are portraits of how I see myself in a positive manner and how I view the beauty standards of the majority of Americans.

My painting lately, much like my writing, is buried underneath my mound of other priorities at the moment. But since I have a lot of new readers lately, I thought I would share my art with you all.

Oh and FYI, my art is generally NSFW! That means don’t click on it while you’re boss is standing behind you. Unless she/he happens to be very open minded.

You can see the whole gallery here.  Please note that I have made this gallery public for a short time only. Go check it out now before I protect it again.

The thing is, we can talk all we want about fat acceptance–and talk we should. But we have to see it too. Not just in ourselves but in others and we have to show others how beautiful we really are.

Leave a comment

Filed under fat, Feminism, Media Literacy, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Less calorie intact + more calories burned = weight loss. Simple?

I got to thinking about the primary argument that anti-fatties make when fat acceptance gurus unload their pile of flaming logic upon them.

Basically, every argument boils down to this: diet and exercise work, I’ve seen it. How dare you say that diet and exercise don’t work!

Okay. So, in my life, the people who make this argument are the very same people who pump hundreds of dollars annually into the diet industry trying to force these things to work for them.

So I have a challenge, if you will. Not an us vs. them type of challenge. Its not a challenge that is about proving anything because its not safe or responsible to diet for those reasons. (I don’t believe its safe to diet for any reason but I’m trying to make this argument from the perspective of those who believe otherwise.)

The challenge I offer is a personal challenge for anyone who believes that diet and exercise are parts of that ever-simple math equation that less calories eaten, more calories burned will lead to weight loss.

The challenge is simple, too. Go on your diets, if you must. But I challenge you to diet without putting a single dollar into the diet industry. This means none of the following:

  • Diet books–healthy recipe books are okay as long as they are not published by major weight loss companies such as Weight Watchers or South Beach. But no water chestnut diets, no cabbage soup diets, no self-help books on weight loss, no inspirational weight loss stories.
  • Diet websites
  • Diet meetings such as Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc.
  • Special exercise equipment–beyond the simple treadmill, weights etc. I’m thinking of things like the Thighmaster.
  • Foods bought at the grocery store that are made by diet companies or marketed specifically to dieters. This includes but is not limited to:
    • Smart Ones
    • Lean Cuisine
    • South Beach
    • Slim Fast
  • Exercise videos, health magazines, reruns of the Biggest Loser or any other media that perpetuates beauty ideals

Because if it really is just as simple as diet and exercise, if being fat is really all our faults, then shouldn’t YOU be able to do it without having to put money into an industry that makes its living on telling you you’re not good enough?

And as a discriminating consumer, why would you ever trust any diet industry product when they would make more money off of you if you gain the weight back? Don’t you remember the tapeworms in the diet chews in the 70s? Corporations have no morals and will stop at nothing to make money. What makes you think that they don’t design these programs and food for failure–to keep you coming back.

So, if you refuse to believe that it is far healthier to learn to love yourself as you are and if you refuse to believe that being fat is more than just a lifestyle choice, then I challenge you to reach your own self-improvement goals without the help of the $30-40 billion diet industry.

Because if it really is that simple, then why would you need them?


No, ya’ll, I don’t really advocate dieting at all, for anyone. This is tongue in cheek. This is an example of how clinging to these ideals of weight loss are so heavily influenced by the diet industry and the media. As much as people believe that it is a moral imperative to hate your body and diet, they also believe that they can’t do it without help. What a racket!

And hey, people are going to diet whether I like it or not. I’d be a lot happier if they would do it without pumping money into the industry.

1 Comment

Filed under fat, Health, Media Literacy, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Thank you, Kate Harding. Thank you, Shapelings!

I typed this originally as a comment, but it got long so it became a post. This is in response to Shapely Prose’s triumphant stand against Dan Savage’s GodHatesFatties religion. This is a big thank you to Kate, Fillyjonk, Sweet Machine, Joy Nash and all the other sisters and brothers of all sizes taking on the diet-pushing, body-hating, money-churning self-hate machine.

This has been a weekend of me realizing how desperately people need to cling to their self-hatred.

If people admit that you can be healthy at any weight, that being fat is not a sin, that it is NOT OKAY blame, moralize or mock people for their size–whatever it is–then they have to admit that they can’t change the way THEY are.

I know that people at least my age (27) have grown up our entire lives with these standards of self-loathing during every commercial break we’ve EVER watched. Not to mention the magazines, weight loss books and water-cooler conversations.

And what we have the hardest time realizing (and I’m so glad that I have) is that there is no diet, no amount of cocaine (via post secret today), no amount of surgery and no amount of hating other people that can make us love ourselves.

Thanks for getting the message out there, Kate. For taking all the negativity and dealing with the trolls that think being behind a computer means they can call someone fat and be any less of a sad, immature pig.

And thanks for holding up a mirror to people like Savage and the others who hold so strongly to their ideals of beauty–disguised as health–so they don’t have to face the long, hard journey of learning to love themselves.

True self improvement can only come from self-love. It takes a hell of a lot of courage to go down that road.

1 Comment

Filed under fat, Feminism, Health, Media Literacy, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Can mothers love their fat daughters?

Last night, I fought with my mom…again.

I was telling her about this survey that I read on Shapely Prose. I told her about the four factors of health: little to no alcohol, no smoking, exercise and eating fruits and vegetables that can lead to a longer life regardless of weight. On the surface, she agreed with the article, which was cool. But does she take note of the fact that I’ve got three out of the four healthy factors down pat?

No, she focuses on the one that needs more work and harps on it. I kinda lost it and went off and she got mad and hung up on me.

In trying to figure out how I felt about the whole thing and looking for the underlying issues that caused me to react the way I did, I came to a very important realization.

My mother can never accept me as the beautiful, healthy, active, happy fat woman that I am until she stops hating herself.

And I will never feel like I measure up in her eyes until she sees me for what I am, instead of what I’m not.

Now, I just have to figure out a non-accusatory way of explaining this to her. *sigh*

2 Comments

Filed under fat, Health, Self Image, Size Acceptance

What is fat?

I have almost over-trained myself to not comment on people’s appearance. I hate it equally when an “average”-sized woman (or man) claims to be fat or needs to diet or when anyone tells a skinny woman that she needs a sandwich (and yes, I have been guilty of the latter). I don’t believe that someone’s body is a valid topic of conversation or criticism.

But sometimes, I find myself unwilling to state what seems obvious to others. She is fat. She is skinny. She is average. Our eyes can pick out of a crowd who is different and who is similar. But what does all that really mean? And what language should we use to describe ourselves and others in a casual, size-positive way?

If Kate Harding’s BMI project taught us anything, its that we can’t rely on this poor excuse for a medical tool to categorize weight. And our own experience shows us that what is considered “skinny” is a social construct that has changed drastically, even just in the course of our lifetimes. When I was shopping for clothes as a teenager, I had never heard of a size 0! Historically, harder times often meant that a person with a few extra pounds was seen as beautiful because they represented bounty, fullness and of all things, health!

But today, even though we have ample food, inequality keeps that food from getting to the places it should be. Fat, therefore, is seen as a symbol of excess, greed and injustice. The most nutritious foods are available only to those with the means, while those who are considered working poor or indigent can afford only the most processed, chemical-laden crap on the market.

Class, I believe plays a huge role in the social construct of weight. So, really when coming up with definitions, I think its important to note that anything I come up with are “middle-class” distinctions of weight. What is a fat or skinny person to me is based completely on the availability of food in my class or country and how I view others with similar socioeconomic and political circumstances.

So with those caveats in mind, what is fat? What is average? And what is skinny? And why do I think its important to even categorize people in this way?

Well, I don’t really. I don’t think we should need to categorize. But I have also read a lot in fat-forward blogs that people often feel they are either too fat or too skinny to participate in or be represented by this movement. So its got me thinking about what is too fat and what is too skinny?

There’s just too many variables to intelligently answer this question. How much do you weigh, how tall are you, where do you carry your fat, what’s your body shape, what’s your muscle mass? With all those factors, does average even really exist or is it just in our heads?

And isn’t there a difference between society telling you you’re fat and your body telling you that you’re fat? My body probably didn’t tell me I was fat until a year or so ago. My media-influenced mind, my insecurities and the people around me told me since I was in 5th grade. But my body didn’t speak up until quite recently. And Health at Every Size is about listening to your body, not the bias of other people.

I was hoping that writing this would lead me to a conclusion, but I don’t have one. Perhaps the answer is in discussion. Are you fat? What factors, social indicators or clues tell you that you are fat or not-fat?

3 Comments

Filed under Feminism, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Corpulent Cogitation

The holidays are over and I have boxes of excess consumerism to deal with strewn all over my house. But with a quiet day at work, I’ve had some time to catch up on my Fatosphere reading.

I responded rather late to a post over at Shapely Prose and it got me thinking about how much time the average person, affected by the average (read: extreme) amount of media influence regarding food, diet and health, spends feeling guilty about the most common activity of our existence: eating.

So I decided to think back to a time when eating was a terrifying, guilt-ridden thing for me. A time when I bought into the near religious nature of food associations and the morality they attempted to apply to my choices: sinful, indulgent, divine.

Say, I ate an entire plate of spaghetti. I’d feel guilty for at least as long as I felt full, sometimes longer. So since the gastric phase of digestion takes at least 3-4 hours, let’s say I spent an average of 1-3 hours feeling guilty about my meal.

I eat three meals a day and rarely snack in between. But let’s go ahead and throw in the average two snacks per day and double the guilt there because snacking is evil in the dieting world.

So at the very minimum that’s 7 hours a day I would spend feeling guilty about my food and therefore negative towards my body and thus my entire self-image. At most, that’s 15 hours of guilt, stress, self-loathing and fear.

Think about that. In today’s stressful world of multi-tasking, helicopter parenting and financial rollercoasters, does anyone need 7-15 hours of feeling like shit about yourself for a task as simple as eating?

This is why I contend that dieting is so much LESS healthy than the industry would have you believe. When you pile all that stress and self-loathing wrapped around the basic need of eating, plus the stress on your body caused by yo-yo dieting, plus the general desire of the media to make you feel like crap about yourself without their product, I’D RATHER JUST BE FAT!

And realizing that is the most freeing feeling I’ve ever experienced. This doesn’t negate my responsibility to be a healthy person. In fact, this is me ACTING on my responsibility to be a healthy person.1

To me, getting back my 7-15 hours and spending it living is worth it. To paraphrase a beauty company’s motto, I’m worth it!


1Edited 12-27-07: I marked this out because I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘responsibility to be healthy.’ That’s moralist talk creeping into my language. It sounded good when I wrote it but I wasn’t thinking about what it implied.

2 Comments

Filed under Feminism, Health, Media Literacy, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Fat Pride=Insecurity

Last night I was at a casual gathering. The topic of fat bashing came up. In particular, the topic of ‘gross fat women on motorized scooters in Target.’

Yes, I know. Couth.

The first thing that I thought about was how amazing it is that people think its okay to make fun of fat people IN FRONT OF FAT PEOPLE.

Keep in mind, these are dear friends. Friends that would not intentionally want to hurt me. But their bigotry is so engrained that they don’t even think twice.

“Oh, but I’m talking about people way fatter than you!”

As if that matters! That’s just a matter of scale. The point is still the same: fat people are gross. And no matter how you qualify it, that applies to me too.

The second thing that marveled me was my reluctance to speak up. I tried to come up with some easier reasons, like not rocking the boat. But when I hit the truth it was this: I didn’t want to speak up because having pride in being a beautiful fat woman is often viewed as veiled insecurity. And I just happen to be the type of person that can’t stand making my weaknesses public. So even though it had nothing to do with insecurity, I couldn’t handle that people would even think that!

So I wonder if this is an issue in other types of bigotry. Do people who are gay or hispanic or disabled ever fail to speak up against bashing because they might be perceived as insecure? Or is this a phenomenon reserved only for fat-hate?

Either way, I didn’t say a damn thing while they went on and on about how fat people who get that bad have no excuse and they let themselves go and blah, blah, blah.

I need an elevator speech about fat-hate. What do you say in these situations?

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Self Image, Size Acceptance

First Fat Faux Pas

I remember the day that I learned it was not okay to hate your body.

I was new to the women’s center. It was probably before I got hired on, when I was a volunteer intern. I said something negative about my body in front of everyone there. It seemed so run-of-the-mill to put myself down that I never even paused to think about what I was saying.

So, I was shocked when I was first called out for it.

“Put a quarter in the jar,” K demanded.

I must have looked utterly dumbfounded. “Why?”

“In here, we don’t talk poorly about ourselves because of how it makes others feel,” K replied.

Who was this person to think that she could tell me what I could and could not say. Hadn’t she ever heard of free speech?

I have a right to criticize myself, don’t I? Sure. A right. But what about common courtesy? What I didn’t know then, but I know now, is that in American society, courtesy about our bodies was tossed out the window a long time ago.

My friend K showed me that for every wrinkle, every curve on my body that didn’t meet society’s expectations, there was someone in the room with more wrinkles, bigger curves or a funnier looking nose.

This memory came up while reading a recent Shapely Prose article in which Kate is dealing with a post that has garnered comments of the “I love my body, but…” variety. She has put succinctly why it is NOT okay to put yourself down or talk about your ‘diet’ in front of others. And I quote:

  • There is someone fatter than you. (Okay, technically, one person actually does have to be the official fattest Shapeling, but since we don’t know who that is, just go ahead and assume it’s not you.)
  • There is someone whose shape is less conventionally attractive than yours.
  • There is someone who has all the same problems as you but is also a member of other oppressed groups.
  • There is someone with one or more disabilities.
  • There is someone recovering from an eating disorder.
  • There is someone currently struggling with a full-blown eating disorder.
  • There are a couple thousand someones who are here because they’ve struggled with low self-esteem, body dysmorphia, and/or disordered eating patterns over the course of their lives.

So when you say, “But MY body is disgusting because of X” or “I still need to diet because of Y,” what you are saying is that X and Y are disgusting and unacceptable characteristics, full stop — and the problem is, you can bet someone here shares those characteristics, or is worse off than you are, by your standards.

This is the standard of self-love that Kate sets for her community. I have a confession to make. I have utterly failed to encourage the same self-loving, healthy environment for my friends and family that the Women’s Center offered me.

Around me, people constantly talk about how much weight they need to lose and how much dieting has helped them feel better about themselves. And it breaks my heart everyday. Not just because of what they are saying about their own self-image but what that translates into when they look at me. It pisses me off that the diet, medical and media industries have influenced others to look down on me. Because I’m way better than that.

Wake up people. What you say does matter to the people around you. Stop vocalizing your self-hatred. Its time to dump the calorie counting, ditch the diet books and stand naked in front of the mirror with glee. Its time to embrace every butt dimple, to love every chin we have and to exhault the joys of back fat at the top of our lungs. Its time to shake what God gave us and love ourselves because we are healthy, happy, smart, independent, fuckable, sassy, proud women.

Anybody who’s selling you something called “health” that doesn’t involve loving yourself and your body first, is a charlatan.

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, Health, Self Image, Size Acceptance

Thanksgiving for Fatties

Thanksgiving ain’t my thang. Probably not for the reasons you think.

  1. I didn’t really grow up with any family around so it was always just me and my mom.
  2. Historically, I’m not keen on celebrating the day we led the native people to believe we wouldn’t rape and steal their land.
  3. I’m thankful for my blessings EVERY day.
  4. My dad died thirteen years ago today.
  5. And I could take or leave the food. I mean, that nasty cranberry goo that’s shaped like an aluminum can? Ew. And there are not nearly enough dishes at Thanksgiving that involve cheese.

But for many people, dreading Thanksgiving is about something different. Talk about a snake pit. If you’re fat and you have family, getting together for a holiday surrounding food is about the worst thing I could possibly imagine. In America (and elsewhere?), it is common place–hell its practically a Constitutional right–to comment about people’s weight and eating habits. Its okay to walk up to a person and tell them that they are too skinny and need a sandwich. And its okay to look down on someone for how much they pile their plate at Thanksgiving. And I think a lot of people out there will be facing that reality tomorrow.

Although, I may not have any horrid aunts telling me I really don’t need that extra scoop of dressing, I understand.

I remember in junior high, the greatest source of terror for me was watching educational nature videos. Sound weird? It was. But I would sink down into my seat every time I saw a hippo, an elephant or a rhino in school. Because inevitably someone would look at me and make a nasty comment. And that anticipation was far more torture than the teasing itself. Even today, I have a hard time watching these shows.

So yes, tomorrow many of us will face that same dread when ponying up to the buffet line. Anticipation of those comments that will make us feel completely worthless, make us want to hide, make us think that even our family cannot love us for who we are.

But folks, that’s bullshit. Don’t let it happen. Your family does love you, they’ve just been systematically trained by the media and health care industry to believe that being fat is wrong. In fact, it should be them who feel ashamed of their ignorance and insensitivity. And I challenge you to call them on it tomorrow.

“Aunt Betty, I love my body and you do not have a right to shame me for it.”

“Grandma, I eat healthy and exercise. My fat thighs are actually your fault for passing them down to me.”

“Mom, I’m going to have another helping of stuffing and I’m not pouring any guilt over it.”

And don’t just bring the smart ass comments. Bring your ammo, too. Go re-read Kate Harding’s Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy. Remind your family that:

And when all else fails, check out Shapely Prose’s Thanksgiving Vent Session.

Stuff your face, beauties and be thankful that your life is so bountiful and blessed. Its just a day. This is life and you’ll be that much healthier for living it.

Leave a comment

Filed under Feminism, Health, Media Literacy, Size Acceptance