The Role Model Problem

The Role Model Problem centers around whether or not a healthy fat person should speak about their health in terms of numbers. The main concerns that I’ve heard are:  What happens if someone discloses their numbers as a healthy fatty and then gets sick; and that every body deserves to be treated with respect so there is no reason to talk about our numbers.

I completely understand this perspective, I see the merits and I respect everyone who espouses this point of view.  I thought long and hard about putting my numbers out there for this exact reason and I came to a different conclusion for myself.

I don’t write or speak for the people who disagree with me. My work is for the people who are looking for an oasis of body love in a bleak desert of body hate. We are bombarded with the idea that fat is synonymous with poor health. I think that’s untrue and I think that it’s important to stand up to that stereotype.

Of course I always want to be clear that health is multi-dimensional and that I don’t consider health to be a moral, social or personal obligation or a barometer by which worthiness is judged.  My health isn’t just because of my habits, it’s also because of genetics, environment, access, and stress just like everyone else.  Nobody’s health is entirely within their control, and it does it make them more or less worthy, or better or worse than anyone else.

Still, one of my favorite poems is by Marianne Williamson:

…Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others…

All any of use can do is choose to shine our light.  Other people will chose insecurity, liberation, or something else as their reaction but that’s their choice, not our responsibility.

Our society does it’s best to hide people like me, and I don’t really feel like helping them out. I believe that healthy habits, while not a guarantee of health, are our best chance.  If I get sick I won’t start telling people “never mind, I was wrong, don’t move your body and nourish it”.  Marathoners drop dead of heart attacks and get cancer and they don’t lose their status as athletes who lived a healthy lifestyle.  There is a tremendous double standard if fat athletes who get sick do lose their status, and I simply refuse to buy into it.

We’re all going to die eventually, and whether my health is ended by a fast-moving bus, old age, or alien abduction someone will be standing around saying that it was because I was fat.  So what?  I’m not at all concerned with what these people think.  I’m also much less concerned with being a “good role model” than I am with being authentically me.  I feel good when I look for things to celebrate about my body instead of things to change or hate or hide.  Right now those thing include excellent numbers and I will not let fear of the inevitable stop be from celebrating my body as it is, continuing to pursue things that may me feel good, and bucking a ridiculous unsupported stereotype every single chance I get.

Leaving My Heart in San Francisco

I’ve spent the weekend in San Francisco at the Association for Size Diversity & Health (ASDAH) Conference.  It was awesome on a number of levels.  I’ll talk in a second about some specifically cool things and people, but the predominant thing that I experienced was the joy of being in a size acceptance space.  Being in the space was actually easy and natural, so much so that when I got back to my hotel room and turned on the TV to a weight loss infomercial it was at bit jarring.

This morning I’ve only been awake for three hours and I’ve already heard body hate and fat stigma language repeatedly – in the lobby waiting for the shuttle, on the shuttle to the airport, and in the airport.  It really drove home for me the work that needs to be done in this area.  Some of the science that I’m most interested in at the moment is around the effects of constant stigmatization on both mental and physical health.  It remains unbelievable (which is to say bat crap crazy) to me first that this is so often left out of the discussion on public health, and second that when it is brought up the “solution” is not to end the stigma, but to end fat people.

Miles to go before we sleep but I feel like some great ideas and action plans were put into place and I’m definitely jazzed to continue my work (hint:  there’s gonna be a book and I’m looking at ways to put my dance classes online…) and to collaborate with all of the incredible people fighting the good fight.

In no particular order, some of the amazingness of the conference:

Meeting the people who introduced me to the Health at Every Size(R) concept:  Linda Bacon and Marilyn Wann (with whom I got to spend a lovely evening going to the beach and then around San Francisco – Marilyn and SF are the awesomest and I can’t wait to come back here). I tried to maintain composure and act like a colleage instead of an over-exuberant fat girl but I’m not sure to what level I succeeded an I don’t actually care since they both deserve over-exuberant fan girlness.

I got to meet the amazing ASDAH leadership team (Deb Lemire, Deb Burgard, Dana Schuester, Jeanette DePatie, Fall Ferguson – apologies if I’m forgetting anyone).

I got to work with an ad hoc group who talked about how to combat healthism in the ASDAH message.  The people and the work were amazing and we came up with some action items that I’m really excited about.  The collaboration was also really amazing, we could easily feel competitive with each other, or focus on our differences of opinion but everyone at the conference seemed to be much more interested in collaboration.

I saw the newest screening of Darryl Robert’s Documentary – America the Beautiful II – The Thin Commandments.  That was fun but scary because I’m interviewed in the movie and  I was nervous that the people at the conference wouldn’t like what I had said.  In the end my part was well-received so yay!  (I also found out I get to walk the red carpet at the New York and Los Angeles Premiers. I am beside myself with excitement. Now I need to figure out what the hell to wear…)

I got to meet people who I know from online (I’m definitely going to leave someone out  – it’s very early in the morning – so I’ll just say Hi Y’all!!!)  Meeting people who identify as my fans remains one of the coolest things that ever happens to me.

There are so many blogs to write around things that came up this weekend but right now I have to get on a plane.  Thanks to everyone who made this conference amazing, big fat hugs to you all!!!

For Health Reasons

I blogged yesterday about Jess Weiner’s “change of heart”  in Glamour Magazine in which she spent years in the Fat Acceptance/Health at Every Size communities (in fact calling herself a leader of the movement) and somehow came away with the idea that our message is that loving your body means not practicing any other habit to support health (obviously, health and healthy habits by any definition are never an obligation, but I don’t know anyone who would have given Jess the message that body love precludes participating in any other healthy habits.)  Now Jess thinks that taking care of her body and health means focusing on weight loss. Since the idea of losing weight “for health reasons” is so prevalent, I want to look a little more deeply into that today because I think that Jess’s story represents everything problematic about the idea of losing weight “for health reasons”.

To be quite honest, I’ve been going through a lot of feelings around this issue. Yesterday I supported Jess in her claim that she was telling her experience from her truth.  Yesterday I tried to push aside my frustration that someone who calls herself a leader of the Fat Acceptance movement would so thoroughly misrepresent it in a major media outlet. Instead, I tried to focus on how sad it was that this woman, who considers herself a leader of this movement, missed the point by so much. I pushed aside my frustration because I felt that some way, somehow, we in the Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size movement had failed her.

I felt that way, right up until I found out that the Glamour article is part of a marketing push for a weight loss program she’s peddling:

“This interactive session helps you obtain conscious weight wellness… Self-esteem expert Jess Weiner and Dr.James Beckerman create a dynamic duo that explores the psychological and scientific aspects to foster steady weight loss. Together we will learn how moderate exercise, nutrition and self-awareness can give you a fullness you’ve never known.”

So now I’m a little more suspicious about a Glamour article that looks like it could be a ham-fisted attempt to grossly misrepresent a movement built on common sense and good evidence  so that she can vilify it for her own monetary gain. At the very least, I feel that instead of asking to be praised for her courage she should apologize for calling herself the leader of a movement that, based on her article, she never understood.

While I respect people’s choice to attempt weight loss “for health reasons”,  I do have some questions.  I’ve always wondered what it really means.  Since weight isn’t proven to cause any health issues, how would losing weight be a way to cure health issues? Ms. Weiner is a great example of this.  Her numbers before her weight loss (when she was loving her body but ostensibly not practicing healthy habits) were in the normal to high normal range.  She uses her blood sugar as an example: it was on the high side of normal, not even in the range for the scientifically questionable “pre-diabetes” diagnosis. Yet her doctor told her that if she didn’t lose weight she would get diabetes.  What with the who now?

After she started practicing healthy habits her numbers moved into the low to mid normal range.  She also lost some weight.  This isn’t surprising, since we know that weight loss is a possible, and 95% of the time short-term, side effect of healthy behavior changes.  Still I have to ask why, when behavior change leads to health improvements and weight loss, do we credit the weight loss for the health improvements and not credit the behavior changes, noting that both the health changes and the weight loss are side effects.

So Jess brought her numbers into the normal range and, for the time being, lost 25 pounds.  Success!  But not for Jess, and here is where “weight loss for health reasons” so often goes awry.

She says about the weight loss “I thought declining desserts and exercising when exhausted would have brought me a more dramatic verdict.”

Verdict?  Is this an episode of The People’s Fat Court?  It seems pretty negative to view your health as a trial of food restriction and “exercising when exhausted” all to get judged at the end by the scale. At any rate, she got healthy by every measure of actual health, but that still wasn’t enough for her.

She says “I’m still focused on losing more weight—30 more pounds is my goal—so I can stay out of the diabetes danger zone.”   If you want health, why would you not focus on health?  And what the hell is the diabetes danger zone? And how would being 195 pounds keep her out of it? If she is 6’3 that weight would put her in the “normal” BMI range, so maybe that’s what she’s looking at? Or maybe she’s just doing the arbitrary “50 pounds” thing?

Either way, despite a huge media push, there’s no such thing as “diabesity“. Diabetes risk in measured using blood glucose and Jess’s is already out of the diabetes danger zone.

If she truly believes that it’s weight-related then Jess might consider gaining 59 pounds because, at 5’4 284, my blood glucose is lower than hers by 16 points. In fact, I’ll make an exception to my normal rule of not comparing numbers to say that all of my health markers are farther into the “healthy” range than hers.  But I would never suggest that the path to health is to weigh what I weigh.  Because that wouldn’t make any damn sense and because health is not entirely within our control.

And that’s exactly why I don’t think that losing weight “for health reasons” makes sense.  Yesterday commenters Emerald and Sunflower put it beautifully with a car analogy:

“It’d be like taking your much loved car for an MOT, being perfectly happy to pay for any necessary work, only for the mechanic to tell you it needs all those crappy body panels replaced at enormous inconvenience and cost before they can pump up the tyres or service the brakes.”

“Whether what you need is a minor as an oil change or as major as rebuilding the engine, you’ll neither meet those needs nor improve their outcomes by getting extensive body work first.”

Health is not completely within our control, it’s not an obligation or a barometer of worthiness, nor should it be. I’m suggesting that if we’re talking about health then we actually measure, report, and work with health.  It seems to me that “losing weight for health reasons” tries to use body size as a substitute for information that we can fairly easily acquire through actual measures of health and tries to use weight loss as a stand in for healthy behaviors.

To paraphrase from a beautiful comment yesterday by Karen Reeves: There is no healthier habit than loving your body.

I would never be so foolish as to say that loving our body should mean that we don’t pursue other healthy habits.  But I also don’t think that people tend to take care of things that they hate, and bodies are no exception. Of course you can make any choice that you want for your body, and none of them comes with any guarantee.  I am simply suggesting that if you want to be healthy, consider instead of manipulating your body size and hoping that health comes along for the ride,  practice healthy habits, focus on actual measures of health, and let your body size sort itself out.

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Loving Your Body Will NOT Kill You

Jess Weiner is getting a lot of publicity for the Glamour Magazine article Jess Weiner’s Weight Struggle: “Loving My Body Almost Killed Me” (Thanks to reader Kim for pointing it out to me)

In the article she tells her personal story which would be fine, except, as with the NPR article that we spoke about a few days ago, there is no balance to the story.  I’ll attempt to provide my own balance here, because loving my body saved my life and I didn’t lose any weight at all.

Jess and I have similarities in our backgrounds: We recovered from under eating disorders in our teens and ended up as obese adults.  We write and speak about self-esteem and body image.

But our stories diverge.  Jess was challenged by someone at a talk about her health. She got tested and her metabolic health indicators (blood pressure, triglycerides, blood glucose etc.) were on the high side of normal. I don’t claim to know all about her habits, but it from the article it sounds like she was not making healthy habits a priority at that time.

Jess seems to have confused loving her body with making healthy choices.  This makes me think that she might have been practicing Fat Acceptance but not Health at Every Size, which is a completely valid choice.  But just in case this article mislead some people, I want to be clear that I don’t know anyone in the Fat Acceptance movement, let alone someone who considers herself a leader, who is saying that loving your body without practicing healthy behaviors is your best chance for health.

I don’t believe that health is a moral, social, or personal obligation (you can choose to prioritize things other than your health just like professional bull riders, X Games participants, stressed-out sleepless executives, those who have elective plastic surgery, sky divers, and people who don’t look both ways before they cross the street). Also, our health isn’t completely within our control.  Health is multi-dimensional and includes genetics, access, stress, environment, and behaviors.

So Health at Every Size says that, although health is never guaranteed, if you want health then your best chance is to focus on healthy behaviors.  And to me Ms. Weiner is a shining example of that working. When she started practicing healthy behaviors, her numbers moved into even farther into the normal range.  She also happened to experience weight loss.  I would note that they never mention the possibility that the improved numbers and the weight loss were both side effects of the behaviors -which is to say that it wasn’t the weight loss that made her healthier, it was the becoming active and/or making better food choices.  Statistically she has a 95% chance of gaining the weight back but that doesn’t mean that she can’t continue the healthy behaviors regardless.

Here’s that balance that I promised.  I was caught in a vicious cycle of thinking that I couldn’t be healthy until I was thin, and having trouble achieving either.  When healthy behaviors failed to make me thin I moved on to unhealthy behaviors (extreme food restriction, compulsive exercise etc.)  I had bought into the diet industry’s marketing that doing unhealthy things to get thin would lead to a body that was healthy, and that I couldn’t be healthy until I was thin.  Looking back is doesn’t make any sense to me but at the time somehow it did. Eventually I did my research and chose Health at Every Size.  My story is that I practice healthy behaviors and my number are all in the healthy range (“healthier” than Ms. Weiners post weight loss numbers), but my body weight stays consistent at 284. I love my body, I have great health, and I am obese. I’ve maintained this health and weight for years and I know lots of healthy fat people who are older than I, so I do not buy the vague future health threat – VFHT.

Loving your body and choosing healthy behaviors are two separate things.  You don’t have to choose to make health a priority but if you do, (and even if you want to change the size and shape of your body) I think it’s easier to make choices that nurture your body if you start by loving and appreciating the body you have now.  It’s pretty difficult to hate yourself healthy. I believe that those healthy habits are the best chance for health, whether or not they lead to long-term weight loss.  If health isn’t a priority for you, there’s no reason that you can’t appreciate and love the body that you have and all the things that it does. In fact, I can’t think of a single circumstance in which hating my body would improve my situation.

So the moral of my story is that while a great many things may kill me, loving my body never will.

One Beautiful Thing

What if there is no such thing as flawed bodies.  What if there are only variations.  Different shapes, different sizes, different abilities, but all perfect as they are.  What if, instead of reading another article about clothing that hides those “problem areas”, we realized that our bodies don’t have any problem areas? I was pondering this when I got a comment from reader Amlys with a brilliant idea.  She wrote:

After poking around the SA blogosphere, I started challenging myself to find one beautiful thing about fat women. Even if it was, “I like her earrings”. Eventually, I started seeing beautiful things about their bodies, too. It became an automatic response to fatness–looking for one beautiful thing. I don’t see anything that upsets me–i don’t associate adiposity with being unattractive anymore. Now, I instinctively look for one beautiful thing about every person I see, fat or thin. I truly have found myself to be accepting of all sizes–I don’t see size anymore, just that one beautiful thing that I find about that particular person.

One beautiful thing. No more flaws, no more problem areas, no more body snarking, no more “can you believe she’s wearing that“.  What if every time you looked at someone else, every time you looked in the mirror, you found something beautiful.  Imagine how that could change the world…

Just one beautiful thing.

Fat Kids and What Not to Do

Yesterday I talked about a song by Tim Minchin that celebrates his imperfect body.  But my trip on the Tim Minchin love train ended abruptly when reader Jayem pointed out his song “Fat Children”.  While he is trying to create a cautionary tale about obese kids, what he has actually done is create a cautionary tale about everything that is wrong with the “War on Childhood Obesity” currently being spearheaded by Michelle Obama, which should really be called the War on Obese Kids.  Let’s examine the messages through the lyrics of Tim’s song:

1.  Assume that fat kids are poor athletes

Macca’s [cookies] might shut them up now that they’re seven
But they wont forgive you when they’re getting picked last for PE

Yup, fat people are unathletic (As you can plainly see in all of the pictures and videos in the comments here). Thanks for reminding me.  I was so busy training for my next dance championship that I forgot that I’m a waddling out of shape slug.  Thank god Tim was here to remind me.

2.  Ignore actual science and just repeat bs, because if enough people repeat a lie, that makes it true right?  Try not to think about how the diet industry has manipulated you into being a spokesperson for a product that makes almost 60 billion a year with a 5% success rate.

So you’re telling me that your family
Has a history of obesity
You got a polycystic ovary
You say “its just the way God made me”

You can blame it on biology
You can blame your physiology
You can point to genealogy
And your social anthropology

You can say you are an ectomorph
That you just cant get the kilos off
Its unlikely, statistically

To be a physical thing

Of course Tim Minchin has the medical and scientific background to shrug off actual scientific research, make broad generalizations,  and give us all a lesson in statistics.  Wait – no he doesn’t.  Cite your research Tim or I’m going to assume that you are just parroting what you’ve heard from the diet industry. Don’t worry, you can protect yourself from any backlash with your air of smug superiority.

3.  Blame the parents

Boombalada motherfucker
Have you noticed that your kids are fat?
What you gonna do about that?
What you gonna do?

NOBODY knows what causes childhood obesity.  There is quite a bit of controversy about the whole concept.  But let’s ignore all of that and blame the parents. Even though we know that there are socioeconomic issues at play.  Even though parents raise several kids and not all of them end up fat. Tim decides to ignore all that and just start scolding adults he doesn’t know who didn’t ask for his opinion.

4. Stereotype

Do not feed donuts to your obese children

But stop feeding your boy KFC

you are in the queue at Burger King

Yes of course all fatties eat fast food all the time.  Sometimes we even commit the ultimate sin, the in -public EWF:  (Eating While Fat).  One of the Public Displays of Fatness, sometimes people (like Tim) get the idea that it’s appropriate to make judgments about our eating, or assume that one visit to a fast food establishment means that that’s where we eat all of our meals.  Of course, if your kid is thin Tim doesn’t care what you feed them because this isn’t about having healthy kids, it’s about having thin ones.

5.  Confuse correlation with causation

She’ll [your daughter] be dead of a heart attack
Before your grandchildren are ten

He’ll [your son] be dead of an aneurysm
Before his own children ism ten

People of every shape and size have heart attacks and aneurysms.  But why have a discussion about healthy kids of all sizes when you can terrify parents that their kid is going to have a heart attack so that they get them dieting at as early an age as possible. Thanks Tim, hell of a job.

6.  Induce a disordered relationship with exercise and a poor body image at as young an age as possible.  Be absolutely sure that kids know that if they aren’t thin, they deserve whatever bad treatment they get.

Send them down to the park
If they don’t wanna go, make em

Tell them they have to jog
Until their jogging shorts fit em
If they hesitate, ask firmly
If they still resist, hit em

And here is was thinking that we should find activity that kids really like and encourage them to develop a life long love of movement, am I an idiot or what?  Thank god Tim was here to tell me that I should let kids no in no uncertain terms that they won’t be worthy until their body is a specific size and that if they don’t achieve that size they deserve to be hit.

7.  Body shame toddlers and elementary school children

He weighs 40 kilos and hes only three
He looks like a clean-shaven Pavarotti

Like a moose whos eaten too much mousse
Your 6 year old miniature Jabba the Hut
Eating half melted Mars Bars from the folds of his gut

Fuck off Tim.  Seriously, fuck right the hell off.  I know this is supposed to be “comedy with a helpful message” but it’s not funny and you aren’t helping anyone. Making fun of three year olds?  Six year olds?  Seriously?

We can end the war.  We should end the war.  We can choose to be for healthy kids of all sizes.  We can focus on making sure that kids have access to healthy foods and safe, fun, movement options that they enjoy.  We can help them achieve not just physical health but also the mental health that can only exist when they are not constantly stigmatized and shamed from the time that they are toddlers. There is nothing, NOTHING, that can be accomplished by being against obese kids that can’t be accomplished by being FOR healthy ones instead.  Let’s be for healthy kids of all sizes.

Not Perfect

I adopted a puppy. His name is Prince Charming and he is a Poodle who was found wandering outside, covered with mats and ticks, and rescued by a shelter.  He was on his “last day” at the shelter when he was rescued again by an amazing organization called Austin Pets Alive.  He was then taken in by two foster parents.  Then he came into my life. In addition to being matted and a mess he is oddly sized and his front feet splay out funny.  His ears are too floppy and not the right shape.  He will never, never, never, be a showdog.  Too many imperfections – he does not meet his breed’s standards.

You see, show dog standards are extremely precise and often have little to do with the dogs actual health or personality.  People who breed show dogs professionally go through many litters to find a single champion who fits the mold.  Their standards are almost impossibly high. When we were at the pet store getting his first big batch of stuff, I saw magazines with pictures of perfect showdogs with what appeared to be photoshopping on the cover. Seriously, someone took the time to photoshop a dog.

If this sounds familiar to you then I’m not surprised, it’s exactly what we do to humans. Give one single standard of beauty that’s an impossibility for most people.

The difference between humans and my dog is that humans have somehow bought into the idea that we have to fit in to the single standard of beauty.  We try to change the size and shape of our bodies, wear underpants that constrict our breathing.  We risk death to get fat sucked out of our bodies and get other stuff put in just so that we can meet the ideal.  And if people choose those things I completely respect that, but I would be lying if I said I don’t marvel at a culture where there is plenty of money for research on new liposuction techniques but we have fundraisers for money to research cancer cures; a world where people risk death to have thinner thighs or remove the naturally occurring skin folds from their eyes.

My dog on the other hand, is unphased. I mean he just doesn’t care at all. He hasn’t asked that I do anything about his splayed toes (even though they are a “Major Fault” according to the AKC standards.) He hasn’t asked for an ear reduction or to buy him some doggie Spanx. I had all of his hair shaved off and he wasn’t even upset.

We’re staring on obedience training and we may eventually do agility. I love watching agility competitions where crazy looking mutts who make you wonder “how did that even happen” run around a course a break neck speed and win the day.  So maybe Prince Charming will be an agility dog.  Or maybe he’ll just lay around my house, but I won’t love him any less.

My body will never win a competition for meeting the stereotypical cultural ideal of beauty, but look what it can DO!  I’m an agility person, not a show person.  And even if it couldn’t do anything I wouldn’t love it any less.  It would be sad if I gave my dog more consideration than my body right?

Reader Julie turned me on to a singer/comedian called Tim Minchin and his song “Not Perfect” which I think it sums things up perfectly:

This is my body, and I live in it
It’s 31 and 6 months old it
It’s changed a lot since it was new
It’s done stuff it wasn’t built to do
I often try to fill it up with wine
And the weirdest thing about it is
I spent a long time hating it
but it never says a bad word about me
this is my body and it’s fine
It’s where I spend the vast majority of my time
It’s not perfect, but it’s mine.

Speaking of Underpants

Why yes, you can buy this shirt. Just click on the image!

I write about underpants a surprising amount on this blog.  Typically it’s the phrase “I am the boss of my underpants, you can be the boss of yours.”  By reader request I even designed a shirt about this, which is to say that I talk about it a lot.

As much as I talk about underpants I don’t think about them very often.  Until a couple of ddays ago when bought some panties at Ye Olde Fat Girl Store.  One pair of panties for 12.50.  They had a 3 for $29 deal going on but, as is typical for me, the panties I wanted didn’t qualify.  I’m not going to post a picture or anything because it’s not that kind of website but trust me they are cute panties and they seemed really expensive but I splurged  (And my sincere apologies to my work colleagues who are reading this and would probably rather not think about my  underpants.).

Anyway, later that day I was in the mall at a comparable store that doesn’t specialize in clothes for fatties and I saw a pair of panties that looked almost exactly like my most recent underwear acquisition.  And they were $3.33.  And they came up to an XL which, according to the chart, was one size smaller than my size.  My CEO brain kicked in and asked  – how does one size justify a 73% increase in price? I considered several options:

Extra Fabric

My panties just don’t use enough additional fabric to justify that kind of price increase.


Maybe they make more straight sizes than plus sizes?  Except that I can’t look at the health section on CNN without hearing that over 60% of people are big fat fatties so shouldn’t our clothes be cheaper since we make up the majority of clothing buyers? Or is that number grossly exaggerated?

Buying Power

I’ve heard that plus size clothing lines struggle because fat women don’t like to buy themselves nice clothes.  It’s been hypothesized that it’s because we have poor self-esteem or because we are always waiting to buy clothes until we lose weight.  Maybe that’s true but I have a hard time believing that we don’t all buy panties. Even the panties on sale in the fat girl store were $9.60 per pair.  Still a 66% increase.


So what’s the deal with my $12.50 undies? Because right now it’s looking like the stores that don’t want to stigmatize me want to price gouge me because they can. Because fat people need underpants. And if that’s what is happening, then it’s bullshit. If that’s not what’s happening – then I’m looking for an explanation.

Long Healthy Life

Fat people often hear that we should try to lose weight so that we can live a longer, healthier life.  I’m not capitulating, in fact I think it’s crap, but for the sake of argument let’s say that’s true.

First, remember that there are plenty of people who put themselves in a position to have shorter, less healthy lives:

There are the daring:  People who choose to be professional bull riders, race car drivers and stunt people. People who sky dive, bungee jump, and white water raft.  People who live fast and die young with a sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle.  People who try to climb Everest and swim the English channel.

And society typically thinks that’s great.  In fact, most of the people who engage in the activities above are celebrated.  Not because their life will be as long as possible, but because we perceive that it will be as full as possible.

There are the otherwise prioritized: Attorneys, CEOs, social workers, parents and others who are stressed, sleepless, and not eating as well as they should.

Society tends to give them a pass, as long as they are not fat, because they are driven and dedicated.

There are the lifestylers:  People who eat a steady diet of junkfood and never workout because it’s not important to them.

As long as they stay thin, society is either fascinated or oblivious to this.

To be clear, all of these are completely valid choices and I don’t believe that these people should be shamed or judged.

Then we have one last category.  Fat people.  Since fat is simply a physical characteristic, fat people are as varied as any group of people who share one physical characteristic.  Some of us are daredevils, some of us are otherwise prioritized, some of are lifestylers. Some live healthy lifestyles by the public health definition.

Regardless, fat people are told that our body size tells people everything that they need to know about us and that we  have to “do something” so that we can live a longer, healthier life.

Even if we assume that being fat is a choice for every single fat person (and I don’t think it is), the treatment is still unequal when compared to others who choose a “risky lifestyle”.  Nobody is launching a “War against people who don’t get enough sleep”.  If an NFL linebacker needs two seats on a plane people ask for his autograph.  If a fat woman needs two seats on a plane people publicly humiliate her.

I lived a diet lifestyle for many years and I know what that looks like for me. Losing weight, gaining it back, never being happy with myself, my body or my situation.

The thing we’re forgetting about is having the happiest life.  I choose Health at Every Size for the same reasons that I hear from people who choose to skydive. I think that the odds are in my favor and if not I choose the fullest, happiest life – not the longest one.  If a healthy diet and exercise aren’t enough to keep me healthy then I’ve made my peace with that because I’m happy, I feel great, and I love my life.  I’d rather have fewer years of that than more years of hating my body, and trying a strategy that fails 95% of the time.

I think that the odds are in my favor that healthy behaviors gives me the best chance at health. And I get to make that choice, just like others get to choose to eat a vegan raw food diet, do two hours of yoga a day, or drink like a fish or BASE jump, or live in a bubble  if you want.  And maybe I’ll die of a heart attack at 40 and wonder if dieting would have given me more time.  Or maybe they’ll get hit by a bus at 40 and wonder what cake tastes like. Or maybe we can hang out when we’re 90 and talk about how both of our choices were valid.  Either way, we both get to make our own choices.