Things to Read

This is kind of a mishmash ;)

If you’ve seen comments about “dickwolves” and PAX and wondered what it was about, JetWolf has a nice summary.

Author Seanan McGuire addressed why fixing the US healthcare system is so terribly, terribly important this week.  Seanan has discussed why she needs health insurance here and here.

Seanan’s new CD, Wicked Girls, is available for ordering at CDBaby.

Alternet has a well-done piece by Judith Matz on “Why dieting makes you fatter”.  It references Linda Bacon’s Health At Every Size study, Traci Mann’s survey of diet studies, and other research.   If you’ve been into fat acceptance a while it’s mostly things you know, but it’s good to see getting wider play.  It might also be a useful “FA 101” piece.

A 3-part Q&A with Linda Bacon is over at PyschCentral, too.

Ragen at Dances With Fat has a great post on respecting others’ choices while discussing Fat Acceptance and HAES.

Anything else?

On Decoupling Exercise and Weight Loss

From obesity researcher Travis Saunders comes this excellent post on how Canadian public health efforts to increase activity work against their own aims by tying exercise with weight loss:

[T]he average weight loss in response to a moderate increase in physical activity levels is very modest, and it’s likely that many people would see no weight reduction of any kind.   Even if it’s in the range of 5% of body weight (which is unlikely over the long-term), it’s probably substantially less than most people are hoping for. In which case the individuals who are only exercising for the sake of losing weight are going to get discouraged pretty quickly […]

Further, this overwhelming focus on the relationship between inactivity and obesity may lead some lean individuals to conclude that they have no reason to be physically active since their body weight is already in a normal range. […]

[A] single session of aerobic exercise results in measurable improvements triglyceride levels, HDL (good) cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity, even though it has no real impact on adiposity.   Further, it has been noted that mortality levels are lower among obese but fit individuals, as compared to lean but unfit individuals, suggesting that we really do need to be promoting physical activity as a healthy behaviour for everyone, not just those who are overweight or obese.

Travis writes at the Obesity Panacea blog.  Obesity Panacea focuses on the science (or lack thereof) behind popular weight loss products and discussions of the latest news and research regarding obesity, nutrition and physical activity.   It isn’t an explicitly size-acceptance space.

[Bolding and links within the quote are from the original.]


Microagressions is a site about venting those little racist/sexist/classist dings that hit throughout the day.  Some examples:

“Excuse me, do you speak English?”  Man at the bus stop.  I am an Asian American woman.  I was reading Jane Austen.  In English.

“Wow, from talking to you on the phone, I’d never know that you were a fat girl. You don’t sound fat at all.”  My friend’s grandmother, upon our first meeting.

Woman in store:: You’re so skinny, you must be anorexic.
Me:: No, not anorexia – Grave’s disease.

My friend tells me that he doesn’t think women should be engineers because when women join a traditionally male profession, average salaries go down whereas when men join a traditionally female profession, salaries go up.  We are both majoring in engineering, and I am a woman.

If you want to vent, it’s a good place.  If you want to get a better understanding of some of the fail out there?  Also a good place.

A few links

Marilyn Wann launched a new HAES site at, focusing at replacing diet resolutions with a revolution.

Jezebel: If You’re Fat-Phobic, You’re Also An Ignorant, Bigoted Idiot and Biggest Weight Stories of 2010.

“I don’t eat a hamburger and large chips every day!” A qualitative study of the impact of public health messages about obesity on obese adults. From the abstract:

Personal and contextual factors influenced the ways in which individuals interpreted and applied public health messages, including their own health and wellbeing and perceptions of stigma. […] Many described feeling stigmatised and blamed by the simplicity of messages and the lack of realistic solutions. Participants described the need [for] messages recognise the complexity of obesity and focus on encouraging healthy behaviours for individuals of all sizes.

You may recognize co-author Dr Samantha Thomas, who blogs at Discourse.


Things to Read

From Marianne Kirby at The Rotund:

FA represents a long chain of people coming to the realization that the diet roller coaster is, to mix my metaphors, a sucker bet. The diet industry – when you get down to the bare, capitalist bones of it – has quite a lot of profit to be made from making people, especially women, feel awful about their bodies and their weight. If we all felt awesome about ourselves, they would go out of business.

From Nudemuse on some recent posts about fat and feminism:

[T]here seems to be some gap in a lot of feminist thought when it comes to granting fat women the same agency they might give to a woman who wants to do something else with her body.
No one likes being told, hey you might enjoy bread but you can’t have any because I think it would be best for you.

Now, I don’t know about you folks but my first reaction to that kind of condescension is to say, oh really, okay fuck you.

Maybe people with this mind set are trying to come from a loving place. If you are trying to come from a loving place think about it this way; if it was your life your body how would you feel about some stranger telling you what’s good for you in this manner? If it would upset you, don’t fucking say it.

And April at Round is a Shape on setting a boundary with her mother:

One phrase that I uttered early on in the day when my mother started to bemoan the fact that she was so hungry (after an early morning and only a granola bar she was feeling guilty for daring to feel famished by noon after driving 1.5 hours to see us!) and relay her guilt about going for a piece of bread or another pierogi: “This home is free of food judgments”.  And, happily, this was the last of self-recriminations that we really heard or voiced all day.


FYI: About Ads

I do not directly profit from the Google Ads you may see on my site.  In fact, WordPress prevents me from putting many standard advertisements on the site, which I’m fine with — I don’t pay the hosting.

So, how do these ads appear?  They are placed by WordPress, and are not shown to logged-into-WordPress readers. WordPress user accounts can be created for free (blog not required).   This would avoid ads like this on my site:

a weight-loss ad I recently saw while NOT logged in

an ad I recently saw while NOT logged in

Logging into a user account would also avoid these ads on other sites.

There is an upgrade blog owners can purchase to turn them off, but it involves giving WordPress money.  While I don’t begrudge WordPress the money — again, I’m not paying a dime for this blog — the methods available to get the money to WordPress all involve breaking anonymity.  Currently I do not wish to do this.

Worth Reading

I was damaged as a result of being a fat kid, certainly; however, what damaged me was not my fat, but the messages I received about fatness. I was damaged by both perceiving myself and being treated by others as inferior, an object, something in need of repair, and not a person worthy of basic respect. I was seriously damaged by the endless dieting, such that I grew into adulthood with absolutely no idea of how to eat in a healthful and self-aware way. I was damaged by the idea that so long as I was fat, my life would be forever on hold, as only thin people get to be smart or successful in life.
Lesley at Fatshionista, writing on “childhood obesity”

I haven’t written much about my childhood here, partly because I’ve spent 20 years trying to get past it and partly because I don’t want to open the vein* that would probably be necessary to do so.

Thanks Lesley, for writing something that I wish I’d written.

*Metaphorically speaking. No actual blood involved, just tears.

Thankful Thursday

[a not-always-weekly exercise in gratitude]

I am feeling very scattered tonight and tempted to skip this … which probably means it’s a good idea to do.  So.  Today I am thankful for:

1) The Two Lumps books, which include creator commentary and well as the strips …

2) … and a husband who reads me excerpts from it when I’m stressed out.

3) Yoga and weight lifting, which not only help me get stronger but also help me de-stress.

4) People who write things like “I would like to put forth the radical notion that, if a fat person is fat by choice, it’s okay” and “[F]at stigma isn’t about improving people’s health“.

5) A king-size bed with clean sheets, lots of soft pillows, and a cozy comforter.

Things to Read

Some cool things you may have missed:

Meowser at Fatfu on fatergories:

[N]ot everyone has the same shot at permanent thinness, at least not the kind that is associated with the kind of vim and vigor that people typically pursue thinness for.  […] That’s how I came up with my “fatergories” theory — specifically, that there are four basic categories of people in the world when it comes to weight.

Shannon at Nudemuse on doctor shopping:

I asked if the lifelong health issues that I am really concerned with right now would be altered if I lost weight now as opposed to the times I have been far thinner in the past?


I rephrased and asked if a condition that never improved with weightloss as a factor in the past would somehow magically transform into an “obesity” related illness and thus be “cured” by weightloss.

I pressed and the answer was no.

At one point I asked if basically no matter what my actual issues and concerns are if the first treatment is weightloss she said yes. I said thank you for your time and hung up.

The New York Times has an interesting piece on how a hospital can have a cesarean rate less than half the American average:

  • Vaginal births are attended by nurse midwives, not doctors.
  • Personnel are on salary, so no profit motive in cesareans.
  • Less interventions in general, including fewer inductions.
  • Federal malpractice insurance means freedom from private insurer’s bans on trying a vaginal birth after a cesarean if all other standards of care are met.
  • Doctors live near the hospital and so are “on call” even when they’re at home.  So there isn’t a “must do cesareans before people go home” time limit.

Where is this?  Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation in Arizona, run by the Navajo Nation and financed partly by the Indian Health Service.   The hospital’s statistics also show they have higher proportions of obese and diabetic mothers than the population at large, too.


I am dependent on food.*  I truly believe that I need food to continue living.**

Further, despite weighing 401lbs (yes, I own a scale) I eat every day.  Even multiple times a day.***

Oh: and I think eating food when I’m hungry is a healthy and normal thing.  Bwah!  Clearly I am the destroyer of worlds!

*Yes, I’m making fun of MeMe Roth‘s statement that “we’re behaviorally and neurochemically dependent upon food.

**Note this link goes to a piece written by someone hospitals have actually employed to dispense nutritional advice to patients.

***Even in Lent.

Random Items from My Day

  1. Still here.  Still weigh the same as I did before the holidays.
    (That’s simply a fact, BTW, not a success or failure.  But it’s not what people expect, even though it’s incredibly average.)
  2. Excerpt from IM:
  3. Me: My dad called just as Good Eats started today.  It was an episode on Alton’s recent weight loss and how he switched from a “calorie-dense” diet to a “nutrient-dense” diet (which of course is not a diet).

    Me: …Dad and I had a nice chat.

    Friend: Hee.

  4. Today I was once again reminded that for all my bitching about having a sedentary job, I walk much more at work than at home because things are further apart.
  5. I liked this blog from Tara Parker-Pope: New Health Rule: Quit Worrying About Your Health.  It’s pretty much aimed at the “worried well” — those who are physically fine but worried that because they don’t eat blueberries enough or that they wake up after 7 hours of sleep instead of 8 they’re going to die — and discusses a book by Dr Susan Love which asserts “that perfect health is a myth and that most of us are living far more healthful lives than we realize.”   Nice idea, but I’m not sure we need more rules – other than the big ones, of course.

Oh, Michelle

Michelle at Fat Nutritionist wrote a terrific post today skewering the typical “Holiday Eating” articles.   She also, fatally, mentioned both Maggie May* and Michelle.

So of course this popped into my brain**:

Like many songs, it has a story behind it.  Unlike many songs, I actually have heard the story behind this one at a concert.   Seanan McGuire (singer/songwriter/blonde) was chatting with Michelle Dockrey (also a singer/songwriter, though not of this song; redhead; Michelle is also known as Vixy) on IM.   And Vixy was not feeling well.  In fact she was feeling very, very ill.  Vixy told Seanan how terrible she felt, and how it was probably some sort of Martian Death Flu or something similarly horrible, and after she died, Seanan, as her best friend, must immortalize her in song.

And you know how, in IM, you can see when the other person is typing, but not what they’ve typed?   Well, as Vixy tells it, she could see “Seanan is typing” for what seemed long a long while….and Vixy asks, “You’re writing it right now, aren’t you?”

And then came the first part of the song.  The chorus is:

Oh, Michelle, what the hell
Were you thinkin’ — were you drinkin’?
Did you really not believe things could go so, so wrong?
Oh, Michelle, how the hell
Can I tell your friends what happened?
I can barely scratch the surface in this song.

Full lyrics are here.

So, just in case Michelle (Fat Nutritionist Michelle) ever wanted a change from the Beatles Michelle, she now has Seanan’s Oh, Michelle to give her a change.  Or something.

*For maximum confusion I tend to “hear” the Melissa Etheridge version (I think from her Unplugged concert) combined with Rod Stewart’s.

**I tried to post it over there, but it didn’t embed, and anyway telling the story seemed like hugely threadjacking, so.

Some Things Worth Reading

Suethsayings summarized the research on long-term weight loss surgery results.

Bree at Life on FATS asks if anyone’s been refused entrance to a nightclub for being fat.  (I replied over there but thought I’d try “boosting the signal” ;)

Anyone thinking of doing NaNoWriMo?  I’ve done it in the past, but not this year.

Naafa quoted USA Today on flying while big — or tall!  Kudos to the reporter who realized that it’s not just fat people who don’t fit in airline seats but tall ones too.

Cordy at Scattered Marbles posted a paper she wrote on Media and the Obesity “Crisis” and some cool fat-positive art like:

…and in a totally off-topic moment, the everyday life of Darth Vader.

Health At Every Size “whether you’re 100lbs or 500lbs”

The LA Times ran a couple articles on Health At Every Size this weekend.

One bit that from the second article gave me a smile:

“You can’t know just based on a person’s size whether that person has good or poor health habits,” says Linda Bacon, a professor of nutrition at City College of San Francisco and author of “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” (Ben- Bella 2008). “Some people are heavy and unhealthy, and some are heavy and health- y.”

So instead, folks behind the Health at Every Size program, which Bacon and many others are researching and promoting, advocate intuitive eating — that is, teaching people to tune in to their hunger signals.

By doing so, they say, people are more likely to eat when they’re hungry, not because it’s lunch time, and to stop when they’re satisfied not stuffed. These advocates also encourage people of every size to embrace physical activities that feel good and that they enjoy. “The advice applies whether you’re 100 pounds or 500 pounds,” Bacon says.

Now, not everyone wants to do these things.  Not everyone has the money/time/ability to do these things.  But it’s nice to see the LA Times print that it’s not about the weight.   They’re not only acknowledging that HAES exists, but that HAES isn’t just for the people who “aren’t really fat”.

This is also something I love from the FAQ at Shapely Prose:

Q. OK, I’m mostly with you. It’s not nice to hate fat people, BMI is flawed, it’s possible to be fat and healthy — but come on, isn’t there a limit? I mean, when it comes to really fat people, isn’t it our duty to remind them of the health risks and encourage them to lose weight?
A. No.

Because, you know what?  Being really fat doesn’t make diets any more effective in the long-term.

I know people want to believe otherwise.  Yes, it might just may be possible that if you became fatter due to a life change that made you really sedentary, starting to exercise might cause lasting weight loss.   Returning to a normal routine after recovering from breaking a leg, for example, might result in a return to your pre-broken-leg size.  But then again, it might not.

I also thought it nice that the LA Times article followed the obligatory health professional quote asserting that “It’s dangerous to go down the path that it’s OK to be obese”  — because of course the only reason anyone’s obese is because they are so ignorant they think it’s OK to be obese — with a quote from the same health professional that

Weight-loss interventions are so ineffective […] I agree that if you’re obese and doing what you can to reduce or manage other risk factors, that’s an important goal.

It’s like the writer actually asked the health professional whether she could recommend a weight loss method that, you know, works or something.   And she couldn’t.  Because there isn’t one.

Links: Healthy Enough, Attractiveness, Photoshop

This quote comes from a personal finance blog, but it ties into the “enough” conversation a bit:

If one defines the word rich in non-monetary terms, the seemingly herculean feat of “getting rich” may be one of the easiest (and most valuable) accomplishments of one’s life.  What if “rich” is simply defined as “being content?”  […]

It is quite true that without sufficient financial health to provide the basics of life — food, shelter and clothing — one’s non-monetary measures of health (physical, emotional & spiritual) can be eroded.  If you have enough, however, to provide these basics of livelihood, then the pursuit of financial wealth need only be a support for pursuits that truly bring meaning and purpose to your life.
— from the Financial Philosopher

This comment on “financial health” got me thinking of how we define physical health.  So often it’s about physical perfection.  Does it help to think of physical health as  “a support for pursuits that truly bring meaning and purpose to your life”?


Marianne Kirby (co-author of Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere) hasn’t been posting much but this bit on getting checked out at the mall was worth the wait:

Here’s the thing: It’s nice to be appreciated. […] A lot of fat women I know talk about how much they just flat out didn’t see when they were trapped in the spiral of self-hate that so often comes with being a young fat woman in America […]  But we as fatties are trained to buy into this idea just as much, if not more than, the rest of our culture. It’s one of the most efficient means of policing ourselves.

So, a bit of external validation can help with that. I know that – I really do get it, because it helped me. The flip side of this, however, still exists.

Living in pursuit of that external validation is a sucker’s game. […] This is why I don’t have a lot invested in external physical validation […] There are a couple of people who get to have an opinion that matters (like my husband) and everyone else, well, it’s nice if they think I’m attractive but if they don’t, eh, wev.

I don’t find every single person on the planet attractive; why should I worry about whether or not every single person on the planet finds me attractive in return?
— from The Rotund


Oh, and that PETA billboard?  Someone ‘shopped it into a HAES billboard.  :)

Things To Read

First: Unapologetically Fat spotted “Obesity Police’s Shaky Science” in The Baltimore Sun, which starts with:

Why is a thin, male smoker considered a physical role model as president but a full-figured African-American woman is considered an embarrassment as his nominee for surgeon general?

…and moves on to discuss the recent obesity research that finds that overweight people live longer than those in the “normal weight” category.   It also points out that what correlations are seen are not very large.  The authors’ example?

[T]he reported lung cancer risks for smokers are typically 10 to 20 times higher than for nonsmokers, the death risks for those who are overweight and obese are often closer to only 0.5 above those of normal weight.

Second: From The Atlantic comes Americal’s Moral Panic Over Obesity“, which features a discussion between Megan McArdle and Paul Campos.  One message I thought worth repeating:

Obesity is defined completely arbitrarily as a body mass index of 30 or higher (175 pounds for an average height woman). Now body mass follows more or less a normal distribution, whiich means if the the mean body weight is in the mid to high 20s, which it has been for many decades now, then tens of millions of people will have BMIs just below and just above the magic 30 line. So if the average weight of the population goes up by ten pounds, tens of millions of people who were just under the line will now be just over it.

Most overweight and obese people are not very fat.  Only 3-5% of the US population even has a BMI > 40.    “Super obese” people are a subset of that.

I do wonder where Campos got this statistic on weight-loss surgery, since I wasn’t able to find statistics when I was looking for them:

At five and ten year followup the average weight loss from these procedures is about 10% to 15% of body mass (it’s actually less than that since lots of people drop out of the studies) which means most of these people end up still “morbidly obese.”

On the other hand, he might’ve gotten that one the way he got this little mot:

I know for a fact (because they’ve told me) that some public health officials engage in what they think of as a noble lie about the effects of physical activity on weight, because they know people won’t become more active just to be healthier.

Is it an age thing that I’m willing to work out because I like how it feels and I want to be stronger?