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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

287

My History of Being Fat

Jami Attenberg's novel 'The Middlesteins' is out today. 

I was born 10 pounds, 7 ounces; fat from the get-go. There are pictures of my mother pregnant with me, walking around our neighborhood with my costumed brother on Halloween, the day before I was born. She is enormous. I am enormous inside of her. Nobody cares if you’re fat when you’re a baby. They say things like: There’s more of her to love, or Look at those chubby cheeks. And they mean it.

There were years I was an average weight, I think, but I was certainly fat by elementary school. I recall stopping by a friend’s house in the neighborhood once to see if she wanted to play with me, but finding only her mother home. The next day at school, my friend and some of the other little girls in our class laughed as I approached. “What’s so funny?” I said. “I heard you came over yesterday,” she said. “My mother said a husky girl knocked on the door. I asked her what ‘husky’ meant and she said it meant ‘fat’ and then I knew it was you.” Husky, they all laughed at it.

A new vocabulary word for them, but not for me. I knew so many more words than they did. Also, I knew that Husky dogs were from Alaska and had beautiful fur and could race sleds. Why bother sharing information with these girls?

I remember going to a birthday party at another friend’s house and playing a video game, checking out already from the world around me. I was so chubby that my pants rode down below my waist and my butt crack was revealed. Some boys stood behind me and shot a water gun at me, down my pants. I swiveled my head, appalled, and pulled down my shirt. And then I turned back to the video game and continued to play. I was approaching a high score.

I’m certain that all of this hurt my feelings. I am trying to remember what that pain felt like, but I have been in a perennial state of not letting it bother me for decades. Maybe I went home and cried. I wish I could remember. Let’s pretend I went home and cried. It’s probably true. 

In junior high school, in the advanced English class, our teacher engaged us in a verbal exercise. She wanted us to learn about the powers of description. So she had us all stand up in a circle, and everyone had to go around the room and say one word to describe the person standing. Funny, smart, etc. And when it was my turn to stand, a boy named Mark said, “Thunder thighs.” Mark, you idiot, that’s two words. Even now, that’s all I’ve got in terms of a comeback. I was never that good with the burns.

Why was I fat? Where do I start? I was fat because I loved books more than people and instead of playing with other kids, running around and getting exercise, I had my nose stuck in a damn book. I was fat because my parents were a little fat themselves at that point in their lives, and I ate what they ate. I was fat because I was a latchkey kid, so I would go home and eat whatever I could get my hands on in the house. And I was fat because part of me didn’t give a shit; I already lived the life of a mind, and I didn’t care how I appeared to the outside world, so satisfied was I in my imagination. I was fat because I lived in the Midwest in the 1970s and everyone was a little fat then, and only getting fatter.

High school: tits and ass, not-so-fat, but never skinny. I dated very little, and sometimes I cared, and sometimes I didn’t. I started going on runs, right before I went to bed. I liked the way I felt at the end of the run. The streets of the suburbs were quiet at night. I used that time to picture a life anywhere but there. I hated high school. I would feel like a fat girl forever. I think I realized that even then.

College: As much late night drunk eating as my heart desired. Freshman twenty. Also I started smoking weed somewhere in there, and discovered the pleasures of eating while stoned. Every vice begat another. Gateway chub.

And then it was up and down for a decade. I started having sex, and, in my mind, as long as I was having sex, I was attractive, which means I couldn’t be too fat, now could I? Sex as a guideline for physical health. How about that. That’s how I saw it in my twenties. That’s not how I see it now.

It is the year 2000, and I weigh around 200 pounds, a fact of which I am unaware because I never get on a scale. (Although I find it out a few weeks later in the bathroom at my brother’s house, finally too curious to resist.) I am sleeping with a man who is not a very nice man, and perhaps not even particularly attractive, but he is quick-witted and sort of cool, and this covers up the not-nice part of him, at least for a period of time. Also, we are always fucked up in one way or another when we are together, either on booze or drugs, and I am still insistent on proving my own attractiveness to myself by having sex as regularly as possible, even if it is with terrible people. We are lying naked on his couch in his shitty Lower East Side basement apartment, and for some reason he is talking about other women he's seeing, and I'm starting to feel terrible about myself. It's this feeling that's creeping slowly up my spine, an unfolding self-disgust, and then he says to me, “But you know, there’s something about a big girl,” and, after a pause, he pats my ass, and all of a sudden I realize he's talking about me, I am that big girl.

It was another few years until I lost the weight. Lost, that’s what it felt like, that it disappeared one day when I wasn’t paying attention, and I never saw where it went. I wasn't trying to lose weight, but I did. I went away for a summer to the woods in Northern California and started writing my first book. In exchange for a small cottage, I was tasked with taking a giant, cranky Tibetan Mastiff for hikes every day. I was introduced to yoga, and found that I loved it. There was no television, spotty internet access, and my cell phone barely worked. So I wrote. I wrote a collection of stories. I put my entire self into that book. And the book replaced the food. Whatever hole was in me that needed to be filled, writing books, for the most part has filled it. I realize this is not how it works for everyone, but this is how it worked for me.

But here’s the truth: If I could still eat like I did then, I would. I still do sometimes, though rarely. Definitely there are days when I cannot get full enough. But I enjoy being this thinner – but never thin – version of myself. I prefer my clothes fit in a certain way. And yoga and meditation have made me a happier person, stronger, more balanced, more capable of compassion, and a better writer. But most importantly: I want to live a long life. That, more than anything, is why I try to keep my weight in check. I have shit genetics in my family — cancer, heart attacks, all the fun stuff — and I have a lot I want to do over the next forty or fifty years, at the very least a lot of books I want to write, so I try to keep the goddamn weight in check, even when I don’t feel like it.

For the purposes of this piece, I got on the scale in the bathroom at the café near my house this morning. (I don’t have a scale in my house, because what do I need a scale for when I have Amazon numbers to obsess over?) I was at 156 with my clothes on but my shoes off, probably because I ate an entire personal pizza the night before because I found out a certain publication wasn’t going to review my book. (What is it about eating an entire thing, I wonder? Is there a sense of accomplishment? Or perhaps it’s that there’s nothing left behind to remind you of what you just did.)

Maybe tomorrow I’ll weigh 154 if I eat better today, but as of right now I'm three pounds away from being technically overweight, 158 at 5’6” being the danger zone on that chart I found on the internet. So right now I’m fat-adjacent. This is the territory I will travel in for the rest of my life.

Look, I don’t smoke anymore. I don’t do drugs anymore. I don’t date men who are terrible for me. I still like to drink, but I prefer to get up in the morning with a clear head and write my books, so I’m less likely to drink all night long. What I have left is food; that is my vice. And I will always want to eat a pizza when I am feeling rejected. And thus, my history of being fat is my past, present, and future. In the back of my mind, there is always a possibility of return. Fat-adjacency. But I like being responsible to myself. I like taking care of me, as much as I love food. So here I am. Alive.

Jami Attenberg is the author of 'The Middlesteins,' a novel about food obsession, families, love, the Midwest, and other important topics.

[Ed. – It's really good.]



287 Comments / Post A Comment

Passion Fruit

I loved this. LOVED IT! I will be checking out your new book.

And "Mark, you idiot, that’s two words." -- you are good with burns. It's what a mobster would tell his dumb minion. Totally boss.

ghechr

@Passion Fruit FYI TO ALL: This book is on Amazon's deal of the day today!

gigglefest

Childhood to college section could have been taken directly from my own journals. Really real. I'm still fat, not yet fat-adjacent, but this was awesome to read -- thank you!

mydoppelganger

I can relate to nearly this entire experience & I thank you so much for writing it.

muddgirl

Food isn't my vice and I'm still fat (heck, not even overweight - obese). I guess that means I'm irresponsible to myself.

maebytonight

@muddgirl Yeah... even though this is compelling and I find the narrator likeable, it's always a little tough to read stuff like this where there will always be the implication that all fat people are a certain way. All lazy or lack self-esteem, etc. Maybe you have to read the whole thing in order to not get that sense.

paddlepickle

@muddgirl Yeah, rubbed me the wrong way at the end too. I get that for her, taking care of herself meant losing weight, but considering the toxic environment we all live in when it comes to weight, that she is CLEARLY aware of, I think she could work a little harder to write this in a way that makes it clear that what she's doing is right for HER body, and her behaviors are representative of how she is, not how all fat people are.

Especially since my reaction to this ended up being 'wow- this is EXACTLY my story! Except, I have reached about the same mental place about it as her, except I am way heavier and about the same height'. And that feels kind of shitty.

ColdFinger

@muddgirl You know, it almost seems like this story isn't about being fat at all. I liked it, but the title seems off: it's about finding independence and abiding one's desire to tell the rest of the world to fuck off, not about losing weight, really. That part seems almost incidental. ("I wasn't trying to lose weight, but I did.")

I definitely don't mean to say your taking offense at that line isn't valid/understandable/right. But, with apologies to the keepers of the 'pin, I wonder if it's more about the way this story is presented to us, rather than the writer's own moralizing/lesson-giving.

anachronistique

@ColdFinger It's tough. Because this is a personal narrative, and that's fine, and I don't want to discount the author's experience. But we are all so trained by the bombardment of weight-loss stories that are all "I was fat but now I'm smaller and YOU CAN TOO!" that it's hard not to react the same way, not to feel the same shaming for being fat, not to read that as being told we're irresponsible and fucking ourselves over. And by "we" I mean "me." But I got a "medically-supervised" weight loss plan pitched to me yesterday when I was at the doctor for something totally unrelated, so maybe I'm just extra cranky.

crisisalert

@muddgirl Really? She literally says, "I realize this is not how it works for everyone, but this is how it worked for me." I think that's enough of a disclaimer.

kinbarichan

@muddgirl: I know what you mean - there is this implication of "Once I stopped eating my feelings I lost the weight.
It seems to me that there are two (bad) ways to approach fat people. One of them is, "Well, if you'd just stop eating..." And the other is, "If you'd only stop eating your feeling..."

kinbarichan

@kinbarichan: Ran out of edit time! "If you'd only stop eating your feelings..." One approach is aggressive - the other is condescending. People used to use the 'eating my feelings' line to me all the time, thinking they were being kind, (because eating my feelings at least ascribed some kind of trauma underlying my fatness) and it took years to realize that I really wasn't trying to fill some lack with food - I was just fat, and not particularly unhappy with being so. (Which is still a societal transgression - fat people seem to owe the world a diet plan and many, many apologies)

theotherginger

@kinbarichan I know! I was once quite overweight, now I'm not, but honestly, I had better body image when I just ate what I wanted when I wanted. Now I have to turn away from the sparkpeople sometimes so I don't get disordered-y.
Also FAT PEOPLE ARE NOT BETTER OR WORSE THAN SKINNY PEOPLE. I hate how this moral underlines so much of our discussion about weight. (even in this essay, a bit, which I liked, a lot).

ColdFinger

@anachronistique Oof, I'm so sorry, I didn't meant o leave this unanswered - but I find myself somehow having lost my ability to verbalize why this seems... miscategorized to me. (Though of course you're right, this is all such personal shit!)

If I say the story doesn't seem to be about being fat, per se, because she doesn't seem to *struggle* with being overweight, it makes me sound like a jerk because, well, struggle isn't/shouldn't be a defining characteristic of anyone's experience. But... it just seems to be so much more about self-reliance and self-definition than about physicality! (I hope I'm making sense, but I'm not sure I am. And I'm sorry you got unsolicited "advice" during your appointment!)

Elsajeni

Okay wait, WHAT WAS THAT ENGLISH TEACHER THINKING THOUGH. "Let's see, you kids are in junior high, so you're the meanest you'll ever be in your lives. I'll have you publicly describe each other!"

HeyThatsMyBike

@Elsajeni Right? Most terrible idea ever. I wonder if she continued the exercise in subsequent school years.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Elsajeni Yeah, that was a horrible idea.

rootmarm

@Elsajeni My jaw dropped at that part. That teacher had to be some kind of sadist.

Derbel McDillet

@Elsajeni In 7th grade art class, when directed to draw something with a pattern on it, a boy in my class drew a face covered in spots and said "It's Aconybelle's zits!" I cranked him pretty hard in the balls in response, which I don't recommend but which felt really good at the time.

catparty

@Elsajeni we did the same thing... but anonymous. to be fair, if i remember right, a student presentation sprung it on the class so the teacher wasn't really to blame in my case.

Sella Turcica

@Elsajeni I remember a health class I had in 7th grade where we did a self-esteem exercise. One person stood at the front of the class with a poster-sized piece of paper. The rest of the class got to either insult or compliment him and he could respond by either ripping or repairing the paper. The kid left in tears. I have no idea what compels some people to go into a career that requires compassion. I truly hope that teacher (that was her first job, we were the guinea pigs) went into another field.

Not Quite Sonic

@Elsajeni I KNOW. Might as well call it "Bullying for Class Credit"

angermonkey

@Elsajeni Similar things happen ALL THE TIME. I remember some art project we did in a Math class (who knows why? multidisciplinary teaching? who knows?) and my teacher insisted on holding up each person's piece of art for applause. You can imagine how this worked out for the unpopular kids, once everybody figured out how to make applause a social currency to measure your value.

I had forgotten this incident until I found an old diary of mine from middle school. I don't remember the social minefield of it now, but 6th grade me wrote about the dead silence that met her art project (and it wasn't bad, if I recall, it hung in our house) for about 4 days. All of it sad and trying to figure out why.

Cawendaw

@Elsajeni I agree it was a terrible idea, but I can see how it could happen, and I've made this kind of mistake before. There's a constant tension in lesson planning between eliciting responses from the kids on the one hand (intellectual development! meaningful participation!) and safe, shut-up-and-listen style lecturing on the other (reliable sources of information! insulation from the horror of your peers!).
You can't just do lecturing, or you end up with a room full of bored vegetables (and often start losing control of the class because they aren't invested in making their learning environment a healthy one). You can't just do voluntary elicitation ("raise your hand if you know the answer") or you end up having three or four kids really into it and everyone else hating you (or worse, each other). You can't just do compulsory elicitation ("go around the room and everyone does X") because students get bored when it isn't their turn, and sometimes act out when it is (which is what happened here).
Ideally you do something that seamlessly blends the benefits of these three (and also group work, which I forgot to mention and actually was my main focus when I was teaching but there are a lot of subjects for which group work just isn't an option), but when you're working eleven-ish hours a day 180 days a year juggling different class levels, different levels and learning styles within classes, testing, flavor-of-the-month orders from above etc. you're not going to get that perfect blend every day, so sometimes you fall back on imperfect methods, and sometimes those imperfect methods end up enabling awful kids in their awfulness.
That's not counting the days when your lesson plan runs short and you have to improvise something on the spot to fill up the last 10 minutes, or when a lesson plan that worked perfectly for all your other classes falls flat in this one, and you have to change direction quickly, or when something unexpected happens (a fight in the next room, say) and you have to get your class back on task with a quick-and-dirty activity.
So realistically I think you have to expect this kind of mistake to happen once in a while. Maybe not always this blindingly obvious, but kids (especially in middle school) are inventive with the evil that they do. You try to repair the damage afterwards, of course, but there's only so much that can be done.

yarabollocks

@Cawendaw
All of my best and worst teaching moments are because of lesson plans running short and having to improvise on the spot. Teaching = pretty damn hard.

WaityKatie

@HeyThatsMyBike I remember one of my junior high teachers doing the same thing, except people had to write the things down on a giant piece of paper with the person's name on it. And they had to be "nice" things. So of course, the mean girls wrote all kinds of bootlicking shite on each other's pages, and on mine they wrote "smart." Which was clearly not a compliment. I guess this must have been featured in some kind of teacher training exercise in the 80's/90's or something.

Decca

@Elsajeni I had a similarly awful experience in secondary school where a teacher stood up at the blackboard and encouraged us to yell out any derogatory words we could think of. To this day, I make the D: face whenever I think about this awful, awful idea. Why? I to teach us a lesson about the power of words? something something tolerance? I have no idea. It went much how you'd expect it to - most of us sat silently and uncomfortably in our seats while a few nasty kids gleefully shouted out racial and sexual slurs. Eeeeesh.

MissMushkila

@Cawendaw I'm a teacher too, and the first thing I thought wasn't "oh God, what was that teacher thinking??" but rather "what the hell did that teacher do to put the stop down IMMEDIATELY on that kid?"

Sometimes you have kids in class, especially in middle school, who take social refuge in being mean. But if you are going to have lots of people participating out loud in class, you make clear from DAY ONE what the expectations are regarding not being a shithead, and then clearly enforce them from the start.

I am a world language teacher. The book offered as vocabulary for our next unit both "fat" and "ugly". I will probably at some point ask students to describe themselves and others in the world and class both out loud and in writing (because how else are they supposed to learn to use descriptive personal vocabulary?). Let's hope I don't have to send anyone to the office.

Verity

@WaityKatie We had something like that - everyone wrote their name on a piece of paper, and the pieces of paper were passed around and "nice" things were written on them. I remember being devastated by it.

Oh, and we watched The Breakfast Club and then were asked to decide which character we were like. My friends insisted I could only be the nerd, because I was a nerd and NOTHING ELSE, no matter what I said.

The whole day involved activities like this. We were about 13; it was vile and I came home in tears.

Elsajeni

@Cawendaw @MissMushkila Fair enough -- I'm also a middle-school teacher (not currently working), but my subject area is math, and I recognize that other subjects require more "talk about yourself and your classmates"-type activities. I'm sure that's really tough to navigate, and honestly, that's part of the reason I didn't become an English teacher. (It takes a real evil genius to find a way to insult somebody by solving for x.) And of course I've made mistakes and invented activities that ended in total flaming disaster. But I really feel like this specific mistake shouldn't have been made unless the teacher was brand-new or totally thoughtless.

TARDIStime

@Verity @WaityKatie
We did this on my last day of high school. I got five different versions of "amazing hair!"
I didn't mind because I agree; my hair is fucking fabulous. Also, the people who wrote this were those who didn't know me that well and I struggled to come up with stuff for their compliment sheets, so fair call.

whoabecca

You're amazing. Can't wait to read your new book, and congratulations!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

This was interesting. I like the style - sort of detached but still feeling it, you know? I guess it's just straightforward writing and I appreciate that. Also: Dogs are the best.

Rommel Wood@facebook

Huge congratulations! I bought your book last night and have not been able to put it down since. I really love it so far.

etheline.

Loved this, except for the end, with its suggestion of BMI and what is technically considered "fat."
I am probably too sensitive, but with a history of disordered eating and my pregnant body seemingly growing out of control ... that bummed me out, seeing my dimensions described by someone else as fat.
Always a loaded topic, I know.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@etheline. I feel you. But I thought it was interesting she added, "on a chart I found on the Internet." Maybe that's a hint that she's saying there's always criticism of female body weight somewhere, and all that matter is how much value you ascribe to it.

Or maybe she just meant she found a chart on the Internet. I don't know.

etheline.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose That makes sense. I think my issue is being subject to any kind of classification, however "legitimate" it might be.
Really, the only way I have been able to escape my eating disorder is to completely ignore its trappings. I don't know exactly how much I weigh, I abstain from strict diets, and I can't be on any kind of structured workout regimen. Any attempts at this have ended up in a major backslide; setting limits is hard.
I spend a lot of energy trying to avoid weight and what counts as "thin" and "fat" ... and being confronted with labels is a slap in the face.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@etheline. Interesting. I'm curious; how does that work for you? I get where you're coming from, but living in this society, it's got to be really difficult to avoid all those messages and labels.

ETA: I reread this comment and I want to make sure you understand my tone: I really am just curious about the amount of energy that mindset takes to pull off, because the constant barrage of message about weight we get everyday is so shitty.

Stacy Worst

@etheline. Yes. It would take a lot fortitude to read that and not have the mind go down that hole. I barely refrained from searching for a chart on the internet, myself.

etheline.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose It takes a lot of energy, and probably isn't the best way to go about it. Probably a lot of it is denial, which is why cold, hard facts have such an impact.
I can see that I am bigger than other people, and for as much as that bothers me I tell myself that I am fine, I feel fine, I'm healthy, my husband thinks I'm beautiful, I'm not grotesque compared to everyone else. I can tell myself the photographs that make me cringe are just bad lighting, or an unflattering angle, and for the most part this works okay. I just - can't argue with empirical evidence that I am a certain way, or a certain number. That's when it becomes a fixation. That's when I see a number and become obsessed with making it smaller. Does that make sense?

etheline.

@Sister Administrator Thanks :) As I was writing that, I was thinking perhaps the smoke-and-mirrors aspect of what I was saying comes across as completely nonsensical.

anachronistique

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Just to jump in: it's hard! It's REALLY HARD. I mean, on a practical scale you would have to give up all forms of media and it's basically impossible. Some days it feels like all I am doing is giving the middle finger to people inside my head. I think I handle it a little differently from @etheline., though, since I readily describe myself as fat. On a very practical level, though, I don't own a scale and I don't look at calorie counts on anything, ever.

etheline.

@anachronistique Yes! I also don't own a scale or count calories, and while it means I feel bigger than I would like to be, I find it's preferable to the cycle of restricting and purging I used to put my body through. The amount of avoidance/denial might be problematic, but for now, it keeps me out of regular therapy sessions and hospital visits.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@etheline. Yes. It totally makes sense. Thanks for replying; I'm glad you're healthy and married to a guy who thinks you're the bee's knees. And congrats on the babe brewing!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@anachronistique Yeah, I figured it would be just too much work for me. I find myself actively reminding myself that society has unreal expectations, and I'm healthy so don't worry so much about that blub on the belly, but I've never tried just ignoring everything.

Claire Zulkey@twitter

@etheline. Hi! Recently former preggo, recovering BED person. Just saying hi and sending you strong thoughts. You won't be pregnant forever and if you're like me, once you're home from the hospital you will look at your now-not-pregnant-body and think "This is not so bad." And then you can sleep on your stomach which is awesome.

etheline.

@Claire Zulkey@twitter Oh! Thank you so much for that! It's a tricky time for sure, especially since so many feel now feel they are entitled to openly comment on my body and how its changing. There is a part of me that wonders if perhaps I will get to the other end of this pregnancy with a new appreciation of my body; it's not for being scrutinized! It can grow and sustain a person, which is pretty badass :) At the moment, hormones are clouding that body acceptance, but I'm hopeful it's coming. Hope life is wonderful with your body and baby!

etheline.

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose A sincere thank you for your congratulations - and for your interest in my fumbling attempt to explain myself :)

Claire Zulkey@twitter

@etheline. It's really messed up that there are body ideals even while you are pregnant, like all those adorable baby shower invitations showing stick-thin women with bumps on them. But there is very little really you can do to control how you grow unless you're severely binging or restricting yourself. I am really glad that I exercised throughout my pregnancy because it helped with my digestion and general health and energy and getting back to exercise post-babby, but at the same time I am glad I enjoyed my pregnancy and didn't deprive myself either because this is THE time. I am now two months out and enjoying the baby a lot more, but the process of losing weight a lot less. It's a drag! But I'm reminding myself that, yes, it took 9 months to put it all on so I need to just be patient because self-loathing never did me any favors.

email me if you want to talk more off-board: firstlastname@gmail (no worries if you won't want to).

Enjoy yourself and take care of yourself, that's my takeaway. You will be OK!

Claire Zulkey@twitter

@etheline. oh ps, listen to your doctor and not any book or website on how your weight gain is going.

highfivesforall

@etheline. Yeah, it is kind of depressing to me that on the ask a nutritionist thread the other day I initiated a conversation about how BMI is bullshit and provided many links and sources, and everyone was in agreement, and now this shit is back. I mean, it doesn't literally say "BMI" in this piece, but it might as well, and the part about the chart at least could have been cut out, as well as the references to her actual measurements - I like this piece as a personal reflection, but as soon as she tells us the numbers, it's not personal anymore, whether that's the intention or not.

wee_ramekin

@highfivesforall How does her listing her measurements make the piece "not personal any more"?

highfivesforall

@wee_ramekin Perhaps that was not the best way to put it, but basically I meant that by listing her measurements, everyone who read it will probably compare their own measurements to hers, whether consciously or not, and see where they fall on her scale. Before that, we didn't know exactly where she drew the line of "fat" so it was more about her personal journey and less about unintentionally making her readers feel judged.

I've noticed that pinners in these kind of discussions pretty much never mention their personal numbers, and I think that's great - you can still talk about this stuff without setting a benchmark for everyone to size themselves up to. Mentioning numbers also perpetuates the BMI issue, because even if you're not buying into what the BMI categories are exactly, we all have preconceptions, so once you have height and weight it paints a picture which is going to be wrong for a lot of people.

Deanna Destroi

@highfivesforall Thank you for that. Don't get me wrong, I loved this piece, but I was trying to figure out why the last bit made me a little unhappy. I have BMI rage though; I'm very muscular and have inherited my mom's genetic blessings in the boob area, which, according to the numbers, makes me fat. To that I say: fuck you, numbers (but thank you the writer for what is a great and honest piece).

lm
lm

"I wasn't trying to lose weight, but I did."

Not fair. Kind of a low blow, really.

oh! valencia

@lm It's what happened to her. She's not trying to hurt you by telling her story.

evil melis

@oh! valencia Cannot like enough. Must like more.

hotdog

@evil melis AGREED.

MissMushkila

@lm This is how it's worked for me too! I've tried to lose weight (I'm trying right now, and failing!), but the times I've actually lost weight have been when something about my life changed somehow for the better and I was happier. I'm not sure how that works. Magic, maybe.

It's actually super frustrating, because now I just want to lose weight and I'm not sure how to do it without, like, relocating my entire life and changing my whole schedule for something that will make me happier. I've gotta work, and I have a job and a lease, so...

shantasybaby

@lm Yeah, I'm with you. Sure, she is just stating what happened but you'd think a fellow fatty would understand that saying it all smug like that is going to piss off those of us who aren't "fat adjacent" and just fat (or just wanting to lose some weight.) I don't ge to rent MY magical book writing weight loss cottage anytime soon.

wee_ramekin

@shantasybaby For what it's worth, I didn't read that phrase as a smug statement; I read it as her recounting what happened to her. That phrase seemed as detached to me as the rest of the piece. I'm not really sure how else she could have told us what happened to her; is she just...not supposed to say that she lost weight?

piekin

@lm @wee_ramekin I'm not trying to be hater, but simply I don't understand why so many fat girl narratives have to name numbers, validate BMI, and more often that not end with the heroine losing weight and keeping it off because she just stopped being a fatty piggy overeater. Also, being like OMG I hit 200 lbs at 5'6"! And now I'm 154/6 but I'm not "thin" just "thinner." Because let me tell you what, if I ever get DOWN to 200 lbs on my 5'6" frame (which I'm trying to do, with agonizing effort) I will have a motherfucking party for my still-fat ass, and no one will ever publish a story about it.

sceps yarx

@piekin the part that had me crying "not fair" was the fact that she got to hide out in a cabin alone with nothing to do but write her novel and walk a dog. WHERE IS MY NOVEL CABIN???

Not Quite Sonic

Thank you for this. I can relate to most of this . . . the freshman twenty, seeking validation through sex, and hyper-awareness of being "fat adjacent" according to that very same internet chart. I always feel like I'm one pizza away from being a fat girl again. It doesn't control my life, but it does take up a lot more mental real estate than I'd like to admit.

RNL
RNL

I can't believe how hard I related to all of this. All of it. The detachment.

"Maybe I went home and cried. I wish I could remember. Let’s pretend I went home and cried. It’s probably true."

I didn't - I went home and ate. I have so few memories of people being cruel (thank god). The vast majority of the cruelty came from inside my own head.

I feel like I'm only just recently meeting my body. Like my body is a person who has been in my extended social circle for a really long time, and who I didn't like and didn't trust. Only recently have I realize that all of that was in my head, a result of my own feelings about myself, and this person is actually really cool and kind and interesting.

My poor body! To be hated for no reason for so long, abused and hurt and not taken care of. My poor self.

Veronica Lemmons

@RobotsNeedLove Beautifully put.

Blackwatch Plaid

As a former fat kid, I related a little painfully to this. I remember obsessing over my BMI and trying to force it into the "underweight" range by eating next to nothing. Today I'm "overweight" (though most of that seems to be tits/muscle- the BMI is kinda shit) and feel so, sooo much better about myself.

Biketastrophy

RE:Eating whole things

I don't know if I would call it "accomplishment" or just getting it out of the way. I have hardcore issues with eating whats in front of me, even to the point of vomiting cause I ate too much. I think in my case its more of a well, I'm going to eat it eventually, lets just get this over with.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Biketastrophy I can't remember where I heard this, but I remember someone saying something like, "If you eat three-quarters of a Ben and Jerry's pint, you feel fat. If you eat the whole thing, you feel victorious." I....don't know how true that is.

Biketastrophy

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I actually can't make it more than halfway through a B&J pint without stopping. My issue is things like pizza and french fries. There's still slices in the box or fries on the plate! Gotta finish those.

kinbarichan

@Biketastrophy: Okay, that's one part I really didn't get - the author ate a whole personal pizza. Call me crazy, but aren't personal pizzas meant to be eaten by one person, at one sitting? That doesn't signify excessive indulgence or piggishness to me - it signifies a pretty normal meal.

Emma Peel

@kinbarichan They're meant to be, but personal pizzas can vary really widely in size. Many are 8 inches, which according to serving sizes should serve 2-3 people.

Maryaed

@Biketastrophy Yeah sorry, personal pizza=possibly more than one person should strictly eat in one sitting but not OMG body-punishing shame-inducing binge.

Biketastrophy

@Maryaed Not sure if you meant to respond to me? I was talking regular sized pizzas.

kinbarichan

@Maryaed: (and Biketastrophy) Right! I mean, if someone tells me they ate a whole pizza, I'm guessing at least a medium pizza, and not thin crust - not one of those lightweight Dr. Oetker pizzas, which look big, but weigh about as much as a sandwich. Someone tells me they ate a whole personal pizza, I'm all, "Well, happy lunchtime!" It's like someone telling me they drank a whole 12-oz bottle of beer or a whole handful of candy. But, I dunno - maybe there's a whole world full of "Ate a whole 4-oz pot of yogurt - I'm such a pig" kind of people out there?

stephanieboland

@kinbarichan The word 'personal' is a marketing term, and not a meaningful descriptor that guarantees a suitable amount of food. Maybe I'm one of those people you mention, but at 870 calories in a mozzarella Dr.Oetker I would consider that a pretty excessive serving of fat and carbs to be eating in one go; but these things are very subjective depending on your appetite, exercise level etc.

stephanieboland

@kinbarichan Sorry, I just re-read that and I sound like even more of a dick than I consider myself normally. I suppose my point is that calling any sort of amount of food suitable or not suitable for someone based on how it's sold to you doesn't make much sense.

Reginal T. Squirge

Hold up, what kind of café has a scale in the bathroom? Is this a thing in cafés now? Or is this a thing in women's bathrooms?

anachronistique

@Reginal T. Squirge I had the same question, and I don't think I've ever seen such a thing in my many years of using the ladies' room.

CubeRootOfPi

@anachronistique Maybe one of those colorful standing scales where you put a quarter in and it lights up and everything when you weigh yourself (I've seen them once in a while)? Can't seem to find a picture of one online.

professionalmess

@CubeRootOfPi The ones that give you your lotto numbers right? I tried googling lotto scale, but that was not an effective Google.

CubeRootOfPi

@professionalmess Yes! I think they're fairly common at highway rest stops.

HA! Found a picture!

Reginal T. Squirge

Ok, so, eventually, we've learned that Jami Attenberg lives near a highway rest stop.

whateverlolawants

@professionalmess For some reason I got on one of those for the first time this weekend while at a rest stop.

Derevkova

I wrote a collection of stories. I put my entire self into that book. And the book replaced the food. Whatever hole was in me that needed to be filled, writing books, for the most part has filled it. I realize this is not how it works for everyone, but this is how it worked for me.

You just put into words something that I've been feeling for awhile, but hadn't been able to identify. A sort of psychological v. physical trade-off, if you will, of substituting one hunger with another.

Cat named Virtute

I really like that so much of what I see on the Hairpin is writing about experiences that I don't hear about a lot, but I really can't say that this narrative of "I was fat but then I got active and stopped stress eating and now I'm not" is particularly helpful, even for someone who has art on her side already. We get so much of this message already, and it doesn't explain our plus sized sisters who constantly cycle, do yoga, and eat veggies and whole grains, or skinny women who can eat everything and don't have to take social shit for it, or people who have access or health barriers to the ability and even the desire to make those healthy choices, and it sure doesn't help me Feel Less Crazy About [My] Body (TM).

I get that this is just Jami telling her story and not a prescription on how to live, but it's something I can read anywhere, and I generally have higher expectations here, which is why I'm a regular.

WaityKatie

@Cat named Virtute Agree, I mean, I get that weight loss works this way for some people, but for most of us, doing yoga and walking is not going to magically catapult us into the "non-fattie" BMI category, if we're not naturally in that category already. The inclusion of numbers rubbed me the wrong way a little too, because it's like...okaaaay I'm your height and 10 pounds heavier so I guess I'm A FAT even though I do tons more exercise than you cop to and eat healthily, etc. etc. etc. But yeah, it's her personal experience so I'm not going to say it didn't work that way for her, it probably did.

Valley Girl

@Cat named Virtute Halle-fucking-lujah. Yes, the author isn't trying to hurt anyone by telling her story, but when the story is "My History of Being Fat, Until I Figured Out My Moral Failings and Then I Wasn't Fat Anymore", guess what? That's still hurtful as fuck to me as a fat woman. More hurtful than the memories of the junior high bitches who mocked me for trying to exercise, in fact. At least they had the excuse of youth for their naivete.

entangled

@Cat named Virtute YES, exactly.

Honestly, I feel like there's a lot more interesting stuff going on in her story than gaining weight slowly and the losing weight. I would be MUCH more interested in hearing about how she went from sleeping with guys because she it was necessary to maintain her self-esteem to not dating men who are terrible for her.

Weight is seen as the be-all and end-all in society and I feel like the author's mentality is enforcing it. Good for her that she's now fat-adjacent or whatever she wants to call herself, but some people can't just stop eating while high and dog-sit and find themselves dropping 50 pounds. It also seems like she's still dealing with eating from an emotional and restrictive point of view, which yeah we all have our vices. That's cool. We all have some successes and some failures in life - it just seems like Jami has had so much successful which would be interesting and empowerful to read about rather than just hearing the mentality of "hey, I managed to lose some weight" as if that's a bigger success than quitting drinking, quitting shitty dudes, or getting a book published.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@entangled Maybe losing weight was a bigger success for her, because she had seen it as a problem for longer than drinking, smoking and shitty dudes. Maybe she's got different priorities than you think she should, and maybe she's got a different perspective on her success than you do. I don't see the point in telling her it's all bullshit just because it's not a universal experience.

entangled

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose My experiences have been really different and I guess what really unsettles me is that while a good deal of my life can parallel hers, her mentality at the end of the piece reminds me a lot of what I felt like at the depths of dealing with food and body issues.

You're right - it's not up to me to tell other people what they value in their own lives and how they should feel about their bodies. There's just something about reading this that really rubbed me the wrong way, as if it's reinforcing a lot of the fat-shaming mentality that hurt her as a child.

perfect_cursive

@Cat named Virtute I agree with this. While I would never, ever, ever begrudge or judge someone else's personal narrative b/c I don't see my own experiences reflected back at me, it would be nice to see a post about someone who accepted themselves without changing what they felt needed to be accepted in the first place. I liked this post, obviously it was well-written and well-observed and in no way do I think any disappointment I personally (hey, that word again) feel is the responsibility or fault of the author. Just sayin', it would be cool if we could read something about a fat lady who was able to accept her fat self without having to defend her body. Or, better yet, where a fat lady can be just a lady. You know, like a person.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@entangled I hear you. I was curious about a lot in this piece, but then I figured she was just maintaining honesty in that she's still concerned about pounds and BMI and all that other stuff. It kind of makes more sense to me than if she had been like, "I got thinner and now I don't even know why I was worried about weight because everything is beautiful and nothing hurts."

Cat named Virtute

@perfect_cursive I will be adopting "just bein' a lady; you know, like a person" as my personal motto. Perhaps I can have a crest made. I wonder what it translates to in Latin?

Maryaed

@Valley Girl She still sounds kind of sad in her body. Not much of a victory.

meetapossum

@entangled "I would be MUCH more interested in hearing about how she went from sleeping with guys because she it was necessary to maintain her self-esteem to not dating men who are terrible for her." I would ALSO love to hear more about this.

etc etc

@perfect_cursive THIS: "it would be cool if we could read something about a fat lady who was able to accept her fat self without having to defend her body. Or, better yet, where a fat lady can be just a lady. You know, like a person."

Ellie

@Cat named Virtute Yeah, this was kind of a nothing article. "I used to be fat. People teased me and I felt sort of bad, but I mostly didn't think about as much as you would expect I would. Then I lost weight accidentally and now I'm not fat. The end." Thanks for sharing?

GertyFlint

@Cat named Virtute - I'd also add that she frames her ongoing commitment to being "thinner" as a health choice which she supports with the BMI chart. Even as she works through the idea of fatness as a morality issues - maybe not totally successfully but whatever - she's reasserting a different code of health as morality. It would have made a huge difference if she'd said that the reason she remains committed to eating well and exercising (as well as quitting smoking and drugs) because those things are healthier - and for her, they equal a smaller body size. It's a small distinction but it makes a world of difference.

randummy

@randummy

After one more correction, then seriously, I'm out:

I mean I think she's drawing a connection between being happy and being fat

from the inside out not the outside in.

That's a true place she is standing in. Where a lot of people stand in.

Weight is not the issue. How other people feel about weight isn't even the issue even though it complicates it a hundred-fold.

There is a much bigger issue, and in the echo chamber, you have to be the one. You have to be the one to believe. Not to ask/demand/request that everyone else stop the feedback loop. Yes, it's hella helpful. Yes, I would go so far as to say it's even somewhat crucial.

But basically you have to be the one. Then you can spread it from there.

I just... basically... I'm not in love with Jezebel, you know? And I'm kind of in love with the hairpin a little bit.

As someone well versed in a strident voice and it's limitations, I just think maybe it's better to have more conviction and to create that from a place that takes itself a little less seriously because in some weird way that actually makes it way more true.

WHY IS THERE NO ERASE BUTTON ON THE INTERNET????

Nefertitties

Yeah, this essay and the book it's pimping are not meant to make fat people feel "represented" or good. It's very "Fat is a moral failing." The book is about someone who is killing themselves with food. The last line of this essay is about how the writer is fat-adjacent, but alive.
There are alive elderly fat folks.
In fact, there is research that fat people are more likely to survive heart attacks and cancer. I would like to take the compassionate route here and just think that Jami is on a journey.
I wrote & published two books and put my entire self into them, and stopped dating sleazeballs, and I *gained* 80 pounds. Happier than ever about my life. @Cat named Virtute and @Valley Girl, you are totes correct.

stuffisthings

@Nefertitties I agree with this kind of argument in sentiment but I always cringe at the "There are elderly fat folks!" line. I don't see the difference between that and "My grandma smoked for 80 years and she's still alive!" I *do* consider being overweight a health risk, and I'm OK with that, in the same way as I'm OK with other things I do that are not ideal for my health (smoking, drinking, sitting). There's obviously more complexity involved in obesity as a health risk than there is to, say, smoking, but trying to whitewash the scientific evidence in the cause of fat acceptance is going to put you on the wrong side of history, I'm afraid.

Signed, a fat drunk smoker.

Nefertitties

@stuffisthings Oh, and this http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/i-take-space/201210/fat-choice
because seeing the way you linked smoking and being fat as choices is sad.

stuffisthings

@Nefertitties I said "health risk," not "choice that is also a health risk." I understand that most people don't choose to be fat, but that doesn't mean it isn't unhealthy. At least at a population-average level. "Weight loss did not prevent heart attacks in diabetics"? "There is a subset of obese people who are metabolically healthy"? You're grasping at straws.

There are lots of health risk factors that people have little or no control over -- genetic predilection to cancer, for example. If there were social prejudice against those people, saying "My friend's parents both died of cancer and they lived to be 100!" would not be an effective argument against it. And in my opinion would undermine the cause.

Frankly it doesn't matter to me whether being fat is a choice or an inevitability or something in between -- random acquaintances and people on the street don't have a right to lecture me on my health, whether it is "a choice" or not.

stuffisthings

@Nefertitties Oh and incidentally I find it easier to lose weight, should I "choose" to make the effort, than to quit smoking. But I still don't extrapolate my reality onto other people.

shantasybaby

@stuffisthings I just think calling fatness a "health risk" is implying that it's a choice, you have to know that. People TAKE risks, that's the mental association. The less angry-making thing to say is to say you believe fatness can contribute to health problems. And it is just a belief since it's still being debated and people still can't seem to seperate someone's appearance and perceived weight from their health.

Diaphanous Gown

@shantasybaby for a lot of people, it IS a choice. I know that if I eat everything I want to eat then I will get fat. I know that if I don't go to the gym I will get fat. But sometimes I have weeks where I eat whatever I want and don't go to the gym...so I put on weight. But sometimes I don't eat much, or sometimes I eat what I want and go to the gym, and sometimes I don't eat much AND I go to the gym and then I lose weight. It's totally a choice.

Maryaed

@Diaphanous Gown Uh, no, it's partially a choice. And bully for you that your weight's so easily controllable.

Diaphanous Gown

@Maryaed my point was that for me, and for some other people, it is a choice. A choice between eating cake, or not.

My weight isn't "easily controllable", I have to work very hard to lose it and even then I don't lose a lot. I wasn't bragging, I was just talking about my body. and I think that's the issue in this thread- people are reading into things that are just not there. I'll make sure never to mention my weight again, in case someone gets offended that they weigh more than me.

adorable-eggplant

@Diaphanous Gown Um, I think the point is that you can't generalize from your experience. You can make a choice to not gain weight, but for other people it is much less simple (or the choice is between taking a life saving medication that will lead to weight gain or staying skinny, right up until death). You never know enough about someone's personal medical history or genetics to know from the outside.

For me, I've always been skinny and now I'm skinny adjacent. :) But I don't assume that other people could make my choices (fwiw, I eat a ton of cake and whole boxes of Mac & Cheese and also mini ice cream sandwiches... daily :D) and be skinny. I certainly can't be sanctimonious about 'choices' cause really, the last time I jogged was over a year ago. Some people see returns on effort to loose weight, other people put in the same amount of effort and see no change, and then some people put in zero effort and stay at a pretty stable weight. It's unpredictable.

Also, anyone recovering from an ED who choses to have a healthy relationship with food, rather than dieting is doing something really brave and commendable. Attempting to loose weight can be much more dangerous than carrying more weight.

Which is why it's so important to not wrap up judgements about moral strength and all that stuff into weight. Someone who makes the choice to eat cake might actually be making the healthier choice (given their personal history) and it's impossible to tell from the outside. Everybody is different.

Diaphanous Gown

@adorable-eggplant which is why I keep saying *some* people. I was just responding to the comment above which said it's not a choice ("I just think calling fatness a "health risk" is implying that it's a choice,"). For some people, it is.

Nefertitties

@stuffisthings Right... I'm fighting for equal rights for fat folks, and for better media representation of them that doesn't engage in fear mongering and death sentencing, but I'M on the wrong side of history. Whatever you say, dude.

stuffisthings

@Nefertitties If your fight is founded on the uncertain science of the health effects of obesity, then sure, TODAY you can make a case (which I don't find all that convincing) that being overweight isn't ALWAYS bad for you. For now. What if a new raft of studies comes out tomorrow proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that being even a little over the ideal BMI is terrible for your health? Do I have the right to tell you to go on a diet or glare at you for taking seconds as long as I can produce a taller stack of peer-reviewed studies than you can?

I'm saying that my health situation is none of your business, and vice versa. I don't see why if I believe, in line with the scientific consensus, that being overweight represents a health risk, and more generally that growing levels of obesity are a public health concern, that this makes me complicit in fat shaming and "death sentencing." I also believe that unprotected anal sex with strangers is a health risk, but when I meet a gay man with HIV I don't lecture him about how he should've used condoms. And not because he could've maybe gotten it from a blood transfusion, or been raped. But because I'm a decent human being.

The problem is people using the evidence about health as a shield for unacceptable behavior -- not the evidence itself.

stuffisthings

This was great!

I used to be a really skinny/little kid, then I stopped running around in the outdoors all day and got into computers and books and junk food and soda and got fat, and then in high school started working out and lost a liiiitle weight, and then discovered drinking and got fatter, and then lost a whole bunch of weight in my early 20s and felt amazing and said "I'm never getting fat again!!" Then I got fat again and sort of don't care, and everyone who sees my old pictures from the Skinny Days is like "Ew, you look weird," but now I'm trying to lose a little weight again for health reasons.

And anyway I'm a dude so things are really different. Different, but enough the same that I feel I can relate/empathize to a lot of the things.

stuffisthings

@stuffisthings (BTW not trying to say that all people are fat or thin because of their diet and exercise choices, but that's how it works for me.)

Veronica Lemmons

Thank you, thank you! This was wonderful. Staying alive is wonderful. Not the song.

Decca

@Veronica Lemmons If you say one more thing about the Bee Gees...

Veronica Lemmons

@Decca ::backing away slowly:: sorry, didn't realize there were fans of the falsetto, fine-featured, feathered-hair brothers 'round these parts. i respect 'em, i do. just can't jive with 'em.

wee_ramekin

@Veronica Lemmons

mlle.gateau

I really liked this story until she told her us her weight and height. I think adding that in really undermined her point.

highfivesforall

@mlle.gateau Yes, my feelings exactly!

evil melis

i liked this story until she identified herself as "a human woman" would have preferred to continue imaging her as a series of ultraviolet bees

Emma Peel

I liked this piece, but I wonder if the Hairpin isn't just better off not addressing body stuff (nutrition, body image) at all. No matter what you do, people will think you're doing it wrong, and the comments just get exhausting. Many people can't stand to read anything about any viewpoint that differs from theirs -- whatever theirs is -- on these issues and it seems to get very personal and scream-y quickly.

The Weight Wars are a big reason I quit reading Jezebel and I'd hate to see it creep over here too.

Cat named Virtute

@Emma Peel Oh, I don't know. It's a struggle, yes, but I learn so much from our conversations here, even when they're fraught. But I think calling for more empathy for fat folks, better understandings of how we get fat or don't because or despite our lifestyles, and more nuanced or less heard voices in the conversation are all a good thing.

werewolfbarmitzvah

@Emma Peel At this point, when I see a piece about weight, I just avoid commenting, in order to stay out of the ongoing argument. (A rule I am breaking by typing this comment right now. Shhhhhh, you saw nothing; this comment is a ghoooooooooost!)

wee_ramekin

@Emma Peel No no no no no! I don't think that the Hairpin should stop addressing body stuff at all. Just because the comments here are less in agreement with each other than they are on other posts doesn't mean it isn't worth talking about. In fact, I'd say it means that these are THE issues that we NEED to talk about.

perfect_cursive

@Emma Peel The cure for a complex issue is a multitude of voices. Not everyone will ever agree about, y'know, pretty much anything, so the best course of action is to provide a wide range of possibilities in which people can have their opinions realized, complemented, or even challenged. Discourse! Also, the ghost of @werewolfbarmitzvah has the right idea - don't comment or skip the comments if you want to avoid the AHHH of it all. Sometime life is too damn short.

perfect_cursive

Also, sometimes the best course of action is to just watch Drag Race.

Faintly Macabre

@werewolfbarmitzvah GHOST! You're BACK!

Lulu22

I liked this a lot. I'm sorry that other 'Pinners found reading it painful. It reflects my experience, and unlike some others, I haven't seen this story told elsewhere, with the detached voice, the eating more-or-less normally but still feeling out of control and anxious about it, the tenuous truce with oneself, the lifelong effects of being a "fat girl," the way food/weight issues can intertwine with everything else (partners, work, addiction, recovery), and the power of finding something that lets you sustain and express yourself in other ways. I used to weigh considerably more than I do now and was teased and degraded over it, dated shitty dudes, had a similar experience with "not trying to" lose weight, went up and down more after that, still feel fat and unacceptable at the low end of the weight chart, and am working on that. I was heartened to see someone else put that experience into words.

permanentbitchface

@Lulu22 I had a similar comment below, but neglected to read yours first! I really enjoyed the "detached voice" going on here that you mention.

lobsterhug

Oh god, the sleeping with terrible men. That was the worst thing about my 20s.

itiresias

@lobsterhug everyone's 20s. and everyone can associate with it.

Duh, don't you watch Girls? Lol

lobsterhug

@itiresias Yes! And it's the thing I hated the most at first about that show because it was so spot on. Then Adam turned out to be sort of an ok guy, which never happens in real life.

Reginal T. Squirge

Also, a great lesson! Stick with that awful dude long enough and he'll turn into a prince, just like Adam.

Reginal T. Squirge

And then everything will be great... until your selfish personality pushes him away.

Slutface

@lobsterhug I'm in my early 30s and still sleeping with terrible men. I've made a November resolution to bring it to a stop.

itiresias

@lobsterhug Hahah i hated that the most too. Because it was so spot on, and because it gave this message of sleeping with a douchebag for no reason totally not a big deal. Which, however relatable, we shouldn't be okay with. And THEN he turned into Prince Charming, and uuuugh come ON, self respect for women and hopes for young girls across the land.

WaityKatie

@Slutface Are there non-terrible men available to sleep with? (and if so, where??) Asking for a friend...

permanentbitchface

I really liked this. And I feel like the style here is sort of conveying a little "dead behind the eyes" thing. I felt like her whole life's struggles with bullying about her weight made her cold to the whole situation, and I don't get any "I lost weight, and you can too!!" sentiments here. Some things can make you feel a little empty.

Slutface

@permanentbitchface I liked this for the same reasons. This piece didn't come across as a "this is how you can lose weight!" sort of thing to me at all. I think people are projecting a lot of their own shit onto this.

TARDIStime

@Slutface Why can't I thumbs-up this more?!?!?!

doil

If you are insecure enough about your weight that a story entitled "My history of being fat" and the subsequent anecdotes and listing of a height/weight ratio that would in current discourse and medicine be consistently considered almost-fat, then -

The problem is not with the story
The problem is with your self-esteem.

This woman is, to use a cliche, "owning her weight" and writing about it, knowing that there would be critique. If you cannot accept another person's attempt to publicly voice what is obviously personal narrative without getting personally offended, fucking look at yourself.

catsuperhero

@doil like like like like like like LOVE.

Cat named Virtute

@doil How about the fact that it's fucking BORING, and DONE then? I can pick up any women's magazine on the newstand and hear about a woman who got a stronger sense of self-worth while getting less fat. (and where are the GQ and Maxim articles for men? Are they socially compelled to own their weight as ferociously as women do?).

I have friends far fatter than me who cycle and do yoga and eat way better than I do. Magazines don't tell their stories because it's not aspirational, or validated by the mainstream. Skinny women with abysmal habits don't write the same articles in the same way. Fat is loaded with morality from the get-go, and it's fucking tired.

perfect_cursive

@doil Mmmmm...while I understand and agree that being offended about someone else's personal narrative just spins wheels and gets us nowhere, I take umbrage with your theory that someone's disappointment is due to low self-esteem. Maybe people are getting bent out of shape b/c of the title? I for one (and, just one - I in no way intend to speak for anyone else here) hoped that, based on the title, the essay would lead towards acceptance of self no matter the size. Look, it's awesome and inspirational that the author kicked a lot of bad behavior and found her own balance - no one is trying to take that away from her/the piece. But sometimes people who are constantly told that they should have low self esteem b/c of their size DON'T - and it would be hella refreshing to read that. To sum up - yeah, getting offended over a blog post is not that constructive, but neither is assuming that offense comes from a place of self-hate.

doil

@Cat named Virtute Then write a fucking article, about how you are obviously so comfortable and happy with yourself that reading things by choice on the internet doesn't bother or offend you, but like, please it is a little bit boring, can you write something that makes me feel better about myself?

whateverlolawants

@perfect_cursive Saying that the reason someone doesn't like something must be because of their self-esteem may or may not be true, but it's a hell of a way to dismiss potentially valid criticisms.

perfect_cursive

@whateverlolawants yeah, as I tried to say upthread, discourse and discussion are good. Keeping emotions in check is gooder. I want pie.

RNL
RNL

I think this article is about the identity of "fat girl" as a way of seeing yourself. You can be fat, and know you're fat, and not identify as a "fat girl" in the same way. The "fat girl" identity (as I used it here) is "I'm different and not good enough". You can lose weight and still see yourself as a "fat girl".

My identity as a "fat girl" has followed me through every weight, from post first year of university highs to post break-up vodka diet lows. It started when I was a little girl who was not really that fat. I can see that now, looking back at pictures. I believed I was "fat girl", though, and that became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I ate to punish myself for not being good enough and to comfort myself in that fact, and became fat. I ate so I looked how I felt.

It is heartbreaking that I have correlated being fat with being not good enough since before I can remember. I became fat because I believed I was not good enough.

I don't know why I started to believe my body was not good enough, but I know that I did very young. And every step I take is coloured by that belief, which I work and have worked very hard to change.

Part of me wishes I had worked as hard on my mind as I did on changing my body, but it is in great part through exercise that I have developed the tools to accept and appreciate and love my body.

theotherginger

@RobotsNeedLove I think YOU should write an essay about your experience.

paddlepickle

@RobotsNeedLove Yes, this. I remember very vividly the day I realized that I would always see myself as a fat girl no matter what I weighed unless I drastically changed the way I thought about my body and weight in general. I was at one of the lowest weights I've ever been at, and I was having horrible shoulder pain, so bad I could barely move my arm. I got very, very stoned and entered this meditative state, feeling myself in my body. . .and I realized that the reason my shoulder hurt was that I am CONSTANTLY straining to make my body as small as possible. My daily posture is one of tensing and shrinking because I want to be small. I made a decision to stop, relaxed my shoulder. . .and the pain was gone. It went from being immobile to fully functional.

So, this is why your comment and marijuana are awesome, in sum.

just reading in a boat no big deal

@theotherginger Seconded. I think this is so wise and would love to read more. We fight our feelings of inadequacy in many different aspects of our lives, and I do think weight is one of them.

just reading in a boat no big deal

@paddlepickle I have totally done this, too! More with height than with weight. It was surprising how much more I accepted myself by just letting myself sit and walk normally, and take up as much space as was necessary to do those things.

Veronica Lemmons

@RobotsNeedLove Are you me??

theotherginger

@just reading in a boat no big deal yes! I think taking up space is something we (as women) are not taught to do. Cast in point: airplanes.

RNL
RNL

@paddlepickle @theotherginger @just reading in a boat no big deal

Aw thank you! God, I have so many thoughts and feelings about this. And now I'm inspired to write them down. This topic is pretty played out here and everywhere, so they may be for my own eyes only, but it will be good to write about nevertheless.

RNL
RNL

@RobotsNeedLove Wow I just spent like 3 hours of my work day writing a five page single spaced personal essay on this topic. Oops?

just reading in a boat no big deal

@RobotsNeedLove I'm so glad! Seriously.

I want some

@paddlepickle

Um... if you ever want to lead a retreat in the woods, I would like to pre-register now?

I'll bring the marshmallows (or tasty sweet potatoes and spices for making campfire chips... I'm all for healthy gourmet cuisine).

I'll even bring the brownies....!

I want some

@RobotsNeedLove

Maybe the hairpin could solicit some writing on this topic from hairpinners and post some of them into a smorgasbord on the issue of weight? I know I'm intrigued about what you wrote....

It's interesting to hear the personal stories of people, I love how the billfold has all these little individual slices of life that make up the bigger quilt, about a topic that people often don't really talk that much about or talk defensively about (money) that can actually be pretty segmenting and divisive. I feel like I learn when people share their stories from the first person pov.

RNL
RNL

@I want some That is a pretty neat idea...

paddlepickle

@I want some I think "if you ever want to lead a retreat in the woods, I would like to pre-register now" might be the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me!

Nefertitties

“Women who are fat are said to have ‘let themselves go.’ The very phrase connotes a loosening of restraints. Women in our society are bound. In generations past, the constriction was accomplished by corsets and girdles…. Women today are bound by fears, by oppression, and by stereotypes that depict large women as ungainly, unfeminine, and unworthy of appreciation…. Above all, women must control themselves, must be careful, for to relax might lead to the worst possible consequence: being fat.”
— “Letting Ourselves Go: Making Room for the Fat Body in Feminist Scholarship,” by Cecilia Hartley

theotherginger

@Nefertitties Recently someone asked me what would happen if I had that third beer, and I was like, umm, I would lose control. And then I would be fat and sad and alone. This train of thought needs to end. Thanks for the reminder and beautiful quote.

Valley Girl

@Nefertitties This is the exact quote that ran through my head reading a particular concern-trolling comment. Thanks for posting it!

baked bean

Yo, kids are mean. Like, really fucking mean. And not just middle schoolers. I actually think that elementary kids are meaner, like they have NO filter at all.

I worked at an after school program (K-5) where I encountered some of the meanest kids. It was SO frustrating to me trying to get them to stop being mean. They just don't fucking get it. They don't have empathy yet.
It's something I really have a hard time with. How do you get them to understand? I still encounter adults that never figured it out and it makes me so angry.

baked bean

@baked bean I will, however, brag about how I threw in some gender lessons (like questioning stereotypes, etc) every once in a while just in conversation with the older kids.
Sometimes I want to work more with kids just so I can give them a different perspective that they never hear. It's amazing how much society has already drilled in their heads by age 10.

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wee_ramekin

What a coincidence...I just read about Jami Attenberg in this week's The Week magazine!

stuffisthings

@wee_ramekin I was really afraid she wasn't going to mention J. Reilly and my opinion of her was going to plummet, but then she did and all was well.

piekin

Why does it seem that there are so many more fat narratives written by the formerly-fat than by the currently-fat? (As a currently-fat person, my question is rhetorical.)

runner in the garden

@piekin In big-budget media? Because it sells advertising better.
On places like the Hairpin? Very good question.
Have people been pitching such pieces to the editors?

Nefertitties

@piekin Here's a great new anthology of fat and fierce voices for you: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13594976-hot-heavy

piekin

@runner in the garden 1) Rhetorical. 2) You have a strangely vested interest in defending this piece from disappointed fat girls.

@nefertitties Awesome, thank you!

runner in the garden

@piekin I don't think I defended this piece at all...?
I absolutely think the Hairpin has the opportunity -- and maybe the obligation -- to run smart pieces about bodies that include narratives we don't see in shitty big-budget media. If Edith/Jane/Nicole are getting good pitches and not running them, that's really alarming. If (as I suspect) they're not getting such pitches, I hope they are actively soliciting some.

piekin

@runner in the garden SORRY, I left my defensive-pants on and got all kerfuffled. I've shut off the sneering tone in my head now, and everything sounds much better. My bad.

dontannoyme

I liked this but...she says she was fat at birth. How can this be attributed to fat people eating their feelings and somehow being to blame? The article goes on to say basically she got happier and lost weight - but she sounded like a happy kid (but a bookish one) who knew herself and wasn't that bothered. So again why do we pathologise it? Some people are fatter and some people are thinner. There's behaviour and there's genetics and it's all in the mix. Please can we stop pathologising all this.

Diaphanous Gown

So just to go in a completely different direction from everyone else. While I thought the article was a bit pointless ("I used to be fat and it didn't upset me and now I'm not" er, good for you?), it was nice to see someone who is around my height and weight describing themselves at 'not fat'. It makes me feel good.

WaityKatie

@Diaphanous Gown And here is the problem with including numbers, though...it validated you because you have the same numbers, but it insulted everyone who weighs more than that. I thought this was a fine article and I am not going to second guess someone's personal narrative, but then I got to the end and it was like, oh, that's right, I'm an unhealthy fat BMI person because this is the maximum amount I'm allowed to weigh without being one of those. And ok, I guess everyone needs to scream at me now for saying that because dissent is no longer tolerated here, but I think the numbers thing is what a lot of people are objecting to here.

Diaphanous Gown

@WaityKatie yeah that's why I said I'm coming at it from a different angle. The article made some people feel bad, it made some feel good. Heavier readers don't get a monopoly on feelings and I don't see why the writer should be made out to be bad because she told her own story. Everyone has a limit of what they think fat is, she is allowed to say she thinks she is fat over a certain weight.

Diaphanous Gown

@Diaphanous Gown further. There's someone I work with who always complains she's fat, and she's 60 pounds lighter than me. She thinks she is fat, but she's also always telling me off for thinking I'm fat. Just because she thinks that about her body, it doesn't mean she's judging anyone else.

randummy

@WaityKatie I will personally beat up anyone who screams at you (you hear that internet?!)

But it's a cheap shot to say dissent isn't tolerated around these parts. This IS dissent. This is what a bunch of respectful, dissenting, evolving conversations looks like.

I see both (or like the various shades of 50 -- oh good grief that book of all lameness which I will never read got stuck in my head) sides of the argument, and I agree with a lot of them, and I like the fuller picture that's emerging as a result of those various points of views engaging.

So...... can we at least agree that it's okay if you're the bomb no matter what your physical form? Rock on with your bad self.

If you're healthy, cool. If you're not healthy in some way I'd like to support you in getting healthy. Not in any way related to weight, just as a person on this planet, ya know?

randummy

And if you feel judged I'd like to support you in throwing shade on any who might judge you.

Eff them, ya know? Sometimes you have to be strong and be a good example of a human person in the face of petty stuff that tries to drag people down. And sometimes it can seem like the world is against you, but that's why it's important to have supportive people who've got your back.

(That includes any self-judgers you've got within you, fuck them too).

piekin

@Diaphanous Gown Hold up. So you felt good because you felt validated as "not fat" (because in your head fat=bad), and that's supposedly just as if not more important than fat people being annoyed that they have been reminded YET AGAIN that they are fat. Sorry lady, but that's some major BS all around.

(PS: The 90 pound girl in your workplace that calls herself fat in a derogatory way prooooobably has some issues to work through herself, and maybe isn't the best example to hold up in discussing societal body acceptance.)

likethestore

I agree with everyone else with the problems in this piece, but this: "I started having sex, and, in my mind, as long as I was having sex, I was attractive, which means I couldn’t be too fat, now could I?"

That's how I feel every day and didn't even realize it until now. Yikes.

meetapossum

@likethestore I cringed when I read that, because that exact thought has gone through my head more than once.

Diaphanous Gown

@Maryaed my point was that for me, and for some other people, it is a choice. A choice between eating cake, or not.

My weight isn't "easily controllable", I have to work very hard to lose it and even then I don't lose a lot. I wasn't bragging, I was just talking about my body. and I think that's the issue in this thread- people are reading into things that are just not there. I'll make sure never to mention my weight again, in case someone gets offended that they weigh more than me.

regina dentata

An interesting read but I had a sinking feeling as it got toward the end. The part which occurs in many an article like this - the "I discovered yoga," "I learned to love my body," "I found what I really loved," any or all of the above that causes the weight to just FALL off. Not knocking the author for this or disrespecting her story. It's just that I see this narrative a lot and because it hasn't worked that way for ME, it seems almost like a fairy story. Feelings, I have them.

piekin

@regina dentata i'm totally sipping on some "I FOUND YOGA AND THE WEIGHT MELTED OFF" haterade with you. PLEASE, BISH, PLEASE.

Valley Girl

@regina dentata YES, to the point where I feel guilty and shitty that sharing my visceral emotional reaction invalidates the writer's story, like so many of the comments above imply. But, goddamnit it, that fairy tale weight loss narrative is so exhausted and exhausting. Don't try to sell it to me under a headline that makes me think this will be one of the few times it won't be flogged yet again.

metricfan

One night I was laying in bed with this guy that I knew wasn't good enough for me in many ways, but being with anybody was more important. We're both naked, and he's laying there telling me about this friend he has, who is a girl, who keeps telling him he can do so much better. I stop, and I say, wait, why are you telling me this? You mean, I'm not good enough? And he quickly back peddled and claimed something different. I had a guy once blame his issues with ED on my stomach.

I'm not fat adjacent, and I still have people who can make me feel so horrible about myself. I don't know how to stop it. I've been through the transformation, I dropped from 220 lbs to 150 at my lowest. I constantly fluctuate between 150-170 lbs. I am hyper aware of how people treat me differently with just a matter of 20 lbs.

I can't let any of it go, I don't know how. Thank you for writing this.

Annie Murphy@facebook

This article just made me realize just how bullshit the concept of the correct BMI is. 5'6 and 158 being dangerous? Please. I'm right around that range and incredibly fit and health conscious. I really dislike how vague figures can create concrete ideals.

randummy

Not sure if this discussion is done, but I see that Jezebel has picked it up (and made me feel bad for dissing them because who doesn't love the Jez?)

And I feel like they really create a safe space to be very vulnerable, and I hope, also to heal. Ladies need some healing from some issues of being in the pretty/notpretty dichotomy. Just like dudes need to be okay with not being mr. alpha male (I loved a comment I read about Mr. Rogers, where someone thought he was gay, obviously, and that made her mom realize how little exposure her daughter was getting to men who were emotionally open. the phrasing in the comment was way better). But guys got shit to deal with too, emotional straight jackets and fears of inadequacies.

Anyways... on this "fat" thing. It's a "looks" thing.

So, if we could start there... It seems like a lot of people buy in to this idea that overweight people are not attractive, or certainly not as attractive as thin people.

Right there, you have to start with:

IS BEING ATTRACTIVE really so penultimate? Because as I have mentioned before, LOVE is really the gooey stuff, so if you have a bunch of unattractive people, there should still be plenty of love to go around, so really what's the diff?

Should you hate yourself if you are not beautiful? I think the issue with fat is the.... "but you COULD be, if...." and that carrot (sorry, *bad metaphor*!!) is the crux of the issue.

BECAUSE IT IS A MORAL FAILING NOT TO BE PRETTY IF YOU COULD BE, IT SAYS SO RIGHT HERE IN THE BIBLE. Old Testament, i believe. Or maybe it was in one of the new books? ANYWAY, IT'S IN THERE!

So all these fat ladies are pretty much betraying all that is good and sacred every time they take one step further from being *the most beautiful they can be*

AND THAT IS THE THING I HAVE AN ISSUE WITH. HOW dare they?

Because....

well, because that's just so utterly preposterous.

I think we would *all* benefit psychologically, if we could all just avatar it up a bit, and walk in the big dude's shoes, the hot girl's shoes, the fat girl's shoes, the little person's shoes, etc. etc. etc.

People, we are not these forms we inhabit. That's not like a news flash, is it?

That said, yeah... take care of the body. Usually one of the best ways of doing that is to take care of the soul.

I really did not mean to be insensitive to the depth of this issue for folks for how deeply it's penetrated & injured.

The thing about "fat" though, is it's not like saying, hey you should be white, it's better than being black.

Something I heard over and over on Jez is "I resent this story of weight loss, I am not losing any weight, and I don't feel like I should have to in order to justify my existence, and it's really really hard to do. (and I feel judged for not doing it."

First I DO think it's good to start with some numbers.

LADIES, if you are not skinny and you're extra curvy and that feels pretty good to you (or would if people didn't think you should look like people on tee vee (do people still watch that?) then... YOU ARE PROBABLY NOT FAT.

From what I gather, the bmi thing does seem a little iffy. Non-skinny girls are not fat by default.

Now, if you ARE fat, meaning your body does not feel at it's optimum (not for looking the american-beauty-standard-circa 20th/21st century "hot" but if you feel you are a bit less groovacious cause it's slowing you down)

then can we all take a deep breath here and EMBRACE THE FLESH.

If you do have extra fat, then you're soft. That's not all terrible. (And if that's what you've been saying all this time, then... yes, you're leading the way here...)

Can I now ALSO take a moment to say, as someone with some very definite bisexual leanings, that I find NON-THIN girls attractive, and I am pretty sure the hairpin backs me up on this one (in fact, I'm positive). Girls, GET YOUR BURLESQUE ON. If that's not you and is too far out for you... Hey brains are attractive too!

But like I said, it's not quite the same as saying, hey white's prettier than black, you should change color if you can (but too bad for you if you can't, you're uggo).

Because obviously black women are supes amazing and damn beautiful and lovely.

Howeves, it's not totally amazing to be mired in some body issue stuff, and it's good to work thru that. It's not MORE important than other, less visible stuff. People have much "worse" stuff to work thru. Shit can get dark, darker than just "I'm not pretty and I have no willpower". In fact, the dark stuff doesn't really take a form, per se. It can take many forms. But it usually does boil down to a lack of love.

So take the initiative to love yourself. Let's REALLY just ignore all the noise and focus on the important stuff. You have TROUBLE loving yourself?

Keep trying... any "dieting" you're doing or conscientiously objecting to should all come secondarily to just who the fuck is the you doing it?

To me, this voice from this woman seemed empowering. I got the right message from it. NOT PERFECT. Not perfectly spiritually clean.

But the core of it, which seems to me basically that SHE FOCUSED ON SOMETHING ELSE seems pretty legit.

Staying Fat could absolutely be aspirational. I admire someone MORE who chooses to walk in a difficult path rather than cave to convention.

I'd WAY rather hang out with that person. I'd WAY rather have sex with that person.

So while the outcry over this article may be a necessary step in carving out space for existence, I'd like to say that I do still think the hairpin is different than jezebel in that certain things are a given here. Things like fat girls can be hot.

And if you don't believe that, and then an article is written here like this one where someone says, I lost weight without trying when I devoted myself to being myself, and now I am kind of trying to maintain that accomplishment in my physical body, but there's some issues around that...

I think it'd be way cooler to see people perhaps anticipating some pitfalls she may be facing and saying..... Girl, I am glad some issues got worked out for you but be careful not to equate yourself with your size!

Rather than,

You made me feel bad because you equate healing with being thin! Where are the stories where the person doesn't get (less fat) and is still a winner?

For her healing DID make her thinner. And I know that's an old trope, but you know what? I can hear that one *over and over* again. NOT because of the thinner part. But because the message is DO YOUR THING. Not to get thin. She didn't do it "to get thin".

Is she worried? Does she express anxiety?

YES. SHE DOES.

And rather than respond to that worry with our own anxieties, we should be reassuring her. And congratulating her. NOT FOR GETTING THIN.

I think you'd have to be an idiot to think she would want your congratulations for that. I suspect she would think you were stupid if you congratulated her for getting thin (even though, yes, there might be a part of her that this would resonate with. Hey, there's a part of me that would like to taser people for funsies or bite them hard. It's a pretty small part, but there's a biter in there, none of us is purely any one thing, and that includes virtuous wise or smart).

She seems like she's pretty into being healthy. And, honestly, she does seem like she is potentially in danger of losing her step WHICH IS ALL THE MORE REASON why she needs our support, not our critique. I mean, a valid, thoughtful critique, yes. But not just the one that might be more based on making assumptions about the narrative of her story in context.

Or rather... I think those assumptions about the context are wrong. Because this in NOT within the parameters of society-at-large. It's within the context of the hairpin, where certain things can be taken for granted. Certain inalienable rights and whatnot.

I think a LOT of "fat" (not just people with different body types who are good with being bigger) people's stories have that same result when they are successful in that area (of perhaps turning less to food for comfort, food should probably not be a major source of comfort for the simple reason that we're emotional beings and how we feel is important, and if you have very strong feelings about food, maybe your life could use more variety, because creativity is much more kind of interesting, like if I just want to lie in a warm bath all day, maybe that's reverting to the womb or something? Food might be similar. It was a primary source of comfort, and it's provides some of the spice of life, but not the major one? And if it is, then you need to balance that out with the very real limitations of being in the body? I mean I hear heroin is totally the shit, but that amazing feeling is totally not worth the down side, so I'll pass on that self destruction. Food can become self destructive, too).

I don't think it's shaming or moralizing (demoralizing). I think it's honest.

I'm not expressing it well.

(and appartently I did not end up shutting up on this subject. I blather on a lot.)

Anyway, here's a post from Jez that I thought was really cool.

I met a personal trainer who had been anorexic, then got pregnant, gained 100 pounds during her pregnancy and then finally got her shit together. I can remember her telling me that her trainer told her she was on her way to death if she didn't fix her life, and then when she got pregnant all of the bad feelings she had about herself didn't go away, she just pushed them all onto eating "for the baby". She was the first person I heard who told me that food can be the thing people use to try and heal themselves and that you can't tackle your weight problem until you tackle your hurt. It was totally earth shattering for me. I had been from food, to booze, to sex and back to food and nothing had ever filled the hole for me until I figured out what I thought I had been missing. One of my aunts got gastric bypass and lost all the weight and didn't realize that her marriage problems didn't go away just cause she was thin now.

Now that I feel more complete as a human being emotionally and spiritually I've had a good run at weight loss.

I truly believe that a part of the failure part of weight loss for so many women is because we think we can fix our ourselves on the inside, by changing the outside but it's really the other way around.

randummy

@randummy

and if you don't have a "weight problem" and you resent people thinking/implying that you do, please know that *I* won't make that assumption about you because you're fat.

If there ARE health repercussions to your being fat, I'm not one to cast stones. I'm not exactly miss superhealthy emotionally or physcially. I mean, in some ways probably I am, but in other ways I'm not. So if it's an issue for YOU then it's an issue for me, in terms of supporting you. But if your issue is just that other people are assholes, then, I agree, and my experience is that people mostly for the most part really don't want to be jerks, but yeah.... let's bite 'em! Or at least give them the deep freeze cold shoulder and the stink eye.

Let's definitely NOT have sex with them. (The jerks. Let's have lots of sex with non-jerks though.)

And, last comment on the Jezebel article, while I kind of disagree with the writer, I LOVE that she contrasted her experience of being in SF around cool people who helped her to outgrow stressing about her weight as a major facet of her identity. One thing that I love about NY is that as kind of harsh as this town can be, it always welcomes interesting over pretty. Yes pretty gets privileges but it's also looked upon with suspicion as being potentially two-dimensional and, god forbid, not interesting (new yorkers hate to be bored).

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