Things to read

From Jezebel’s Work-Life Balance Isn’t Just for Moms:

The basic point of all of this is that whether you have kids, have a partner but no kids, or are living alone, working too much sucks. It’s no way to live, and we’re not dummies. So at some point, most of us realize that we’d rather do something that allows us to actually have a life, rather than commit every waking hour to a job, no matter how fulfilling we find it.

This is why I’ve been avoiding startups.

Jezebel also had a good post from Lindy West on an Adipositivity Project  photo being used as “a joke”.

Can you believe fat people? Just existing willy-nilly all over the place, sometimes without even the courtesy to cloak their terrible bodies in heavy smocks and caftans.

Why, they even expect their copyrights to be respected?!?  It’s as if they think they’re people!

Why Obesity is NOT an Eating Disorder:

An ED is a serious emotional problem/illness and obesity is a measure of height and weight. …  The comparison between obesity and eating disorders is [akin] to comparing an apple with a chair. You can’t sit in an apple and you can’t eat a chair!

This sort of armchair misdiagnosing does not help anybody, especially not those with actual eating disorders.

Why Don’t I Diet?

Simple: There isn’t a proven, permanent method of weight loss that works for all (or even most) people.

Yes, most dieters lose 5-10% of their body weight in the first few months.  They then regain some or all in the long term.   This has been shown by a number of studies, including studies run by diet companies. (PDF)  Depending on how long dieters are tracked after the study, usually 1/3 to 2/3 end up regaining all they lost, plus more.

So the real question isn’t, “Should I lose weight?” The real question is, “Would a small, possibly temporary weight loss be worth it to me, and how much do I think I will regain?  Do I think I will sustain a net loss, or will this just result in me weighing even more than I do now?”

I’m not saying people may not decide to go for it, and there are people who essentially “win the lottery” and both achieve and maintain a huge weight loss. But it’s not as simple as “Oh, I’m going to lose weight now”.

In my case, I also have a proven history; every diet has resulted in me weighingmore than when I started.  Every one.  In fact, my weight gain as an adult has ALL been related to either clinical depression or dieting.  Sobering?  Yes.  But that is my history and ignoring it won’t magically make diets work any better.

Thanks to Elizabeth Patch for sharing this great poster!

Further Reading:

  • Health at Every Size: New Hope for Obese Americans?, by Marcia Wood, published in the March 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.  Highlights a 1-year study with 1-year followup comparing HAES with dieting.  The dieters lost weight initially but gained it all back by the 2-year mark.
  • Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight by Linda Bacon, PhD.  Very readable discussion of healthy living and intuitive eating, but also discusses the research on dieting (and how it fails) in detail.  About Linda Bacon -o-   Book Website -o- Available on -o- My review is here.

Cathy: You’ll Fill Out After Childbirth!

For those of you who don’t read Cathy, her noticably fat in-laws have moved in (with no notice).  Cathy went to the mall to try swimsuits alone…and ran into her mother-in-law, who’s trying on a larger size of the same swimsuit.

MIL: You came shopping to escape me, but of course, you can’t do that! You ARE me!

Cathy: What??

MIL: Men are searching for “mom” when they choose their wives, and my son chose you…so you must be just like me!

Cathy: I am NOT you! You’re… You’re…

MIL: [glancing down at her large bust, belly and hips]  HOT!  I know!

Cathy: [hiding in the dressing room] AACK!!

MIL: Don’t worry. I was scrawny once, too! You’ll fill out after childbirth!

It’s obvious that Cathy is not happy at being compared to her mother-in-law.  It’s also obvious that MIL considers herself beautiful just the way she is.  As she declares Tuesday: “I’m conscious of my fabulous curves! Conscious of my incredible figure! CONSCIOUS of every inch of my glorious SELF!”

I wasn’t happy when MIL became more prominent in the strip after Cathy and Irving’s marriage, because of course the fat woman was consistently small-minded, overbearing and insensitive.   I’m not sure what I think about these strips.  You?

This week’s Cathy

The comic strip Cathy debuted in 1976.  I was 10 years old and just starting to read newspapers on my own.  It was often the only image of a professional, self-reliant young woman I saw, and not just on the comics page.  Sometimes she was unsure about how to proceed, but she never moved back with her parents or relied on them to pay the bills.  

I think, 32 years later, we forget just how groundbreaking Cathy really was. Cathy also reflects our culture in another way: the main character’s love-hate relationship with food, dieting, and her body. 

This week has been different, however.  Cathy seems to have begun to travel a path of self-acceptance.


Monday's Strip


Tuesday Cathy wrestles with gaining 6lbs.  Instead of her typical panic, part of her is actually fine. Part of her, though, feels that she should be panicking.  The rest of the week has played out in a similar vein; it’s not that Cathy feels bad about gaining weight, she feels she should feel bad for gaining weight.  

Note, this is a teeny tiny baby step.  Cathy is not preaching fat acceptance.  But it is a step. Maybe she’ll take more. 

(Some of the comments on are positive too, but others are pretty negative, so you might want to check your available Sanity Watchers points before reading the comments.)

Dykes To Watch Out For

Harriet, Stuart, Ginger, and Lois during a Thanksgiving strip (#403)

Harriet, Stuart, Ginger, and Lois during a Thanksgiving strip (#403)

One of the things about being my size is that I don’t see many “people like me” in the media.  TV, movies, books…generally if it seems at all like “the fattie” is a joke, not a character, I don’t bother watching or reading it.  This does wonders for my sanity, even as it reduces my score on pop-culture quizzes.

I do have Dykes to Watch Out For (also  known as DTWOF) though.  Alison Bechdel‘s strip debuted in 1986 in the feminist newspaper WomaNews.  Other feminist and lesbian papers picked up the strip, with Bechdel “self-syndicating” across the US and beyond.

A few years later Bechdel introduced her recurring characters: Mo & Lois; their friends Toni & Clarice;  Lois and Mo’s boss Jezanna; and Mo’s initial love interest, Harriet.  Unlike most comics*, the women didn’t all have exactly the same body with different heads.   Clarice and Jezanna are African-American; Toni is Latina; Harriet is plus size; Jezanna is supersize.

Continue reading