December 26, 2009

Coming Out

Coming out as a plus-size person is a challenging and upsetting thing to do, with many unpleasant repercussions.

The main problem is that body size and shape are not yet widely considered to be something we're born with. People who are born thin are given credit for it and take credit for it---even if what they consider to be their body-maintaining efforts wouldn't have the same effect on others. People who eat enough to maintain their non-thin weights are considered to be overeating, and the overeating is considered to be why they're non-thin. And because a small percentage of people who were born non-thin have managed with disproportionate and unceasing effort to make limited changes to limited aspects of their shapes, it's widely thought that all people can be born thin if only they cared about their "health." Next, perhaps, doctors will recommend that people who are too tall should have height-loss surgery. People who are too short will be advised to use heel supplementation devices to help them achieve a healthy height. Charts showing healthy height ranges will be posted prominently on doctor's walls. Really we are just concerned about the non-ideally-heighted person's HEALTH.

Another problem is that once a person is known to be plus-sized, his or her opinions about weight, diets, exercise, eating, appearance, etc., are forever and completely dismissed. Does a plus-sized person object to a friend's self-loathing comments? The plus-size person is obviously jealous, and has Body Issues they're projecting onto the friend. Does a plus-sized person think there are goals and achievements in life more worthwhile and laudable than being thin? The plus-sized person is just trying to feel better about herself and her failures to achieve thinness. Does a plus-sized person object to what she considers an offensive and disgusting cultural attitude toward body size? Well, of COURSE she does! Does a plus-sized person consider herself to have healthy eating/exercise habits? She is wrong. Does a plus-sized person feel sick when she sees articles praising people who are responding to social pressures by eating 1100 calories a day and exercising 2 hours a day? Body issues. Jealousy. FATNESS!

So I am painfully aware that by allowing you to know more information about the size and shape I am, I have potentially dramatically changed your feelings about me and the things I have to say. Now when I talk about baking, the baking is why I'm so PLUS-SIZED---even though if I were thin and liked to bake, no one would link the baking with my body size. Now if I complain about cultural problems, I'm jealous/fat/issued. Now if I worry about a friend's exercise and eating habits, I'm jealous/fat/issued. My opinions on such subjects, which would be listened to if my body were a different shape and size, will be used to attack me, my "health," and my mental condition. Only thin people are mentally healthy.

I'm tall. I'm Dutch. I'm light-skinned. I'm straight. I'm female. I'm narrow-shouldered and long-torsoed. I'm plus-sized. These are all characteristics on my DNA. It's upsetting and disturbing that certain characteristics on the DNA, such as sex, sexual orientation, and skin color, have, over time, been used for discriminatory purposes---and that there's very little reason to hope that anything will ever change about weight attitudes.

The upside of coming out as a plus-sized person is that a person's nearest and dearest are not surprised or affected by the news.

[Clarification: I put this in the comment section, too, but it's not likely to be seen there. I'm DEFINITELY NOT saying EITHER that change is not possible OR that lifestyle doesn't contribute to body size---I thought both those things were clear, but clearly not. However, I do think that DNA affects what you start with, what it is possible to end up with, and how much effort it takes to get there. The amount of time and effort it takes me to be non-plus-sized costs me more than it's worth. For another person, the price might be lower, or worth it; this is a way in which we are different.]


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Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

I understand completely -- fat bias is the last permissible bias... and some physicians will pretty much ignore anything else. I had to go to someone other than my regular doctor a while back -- and, instead of ordering the sleep study I needed (my sleep apnea is 3x the "high" number) his main concern was my weight. I can't change the wight overnight, and I had evidence in my hospital records of apnea -- and that CAN literally be fixed overnight -- but, his main concern was the fact that I'm overweight, not that I can't sleep without stopping BREATHING.

Anne said...

A very honest post.

I am so fortunate to have a community of gals in our sport/hobby- triathlon- who are all HEALTHY. We eat healthy, we exercise, and we nurture each other's spirits. When we line up on race morning, in our bathing suits or bike shorts and sports bras, there are women of all ages and all body types. One of the things I have noticed that is stressed in our sport is that people have different body types- it's genetic, it's what you are born with, and you learn to love your body for what it can do. (But I do work a little bit harder to pass the tiny girls in their skimpy outfits- is that wrong?)

And yet- I have been teased my whole life for my height. I slouch to appear shorter. And the women in my family are all prone to be chesty or hippy. I'm tall and rectangular like my dad's mom, and the women in my mother's family have picked on me my whole life for not having their large chest or large hips. And, on occasions when I have gained a lot of weight, they are the first to point it out.

As a mom of 3 girls I try very hard to keep them focused on just being healthy- playing, enjoying sports and being outside, and having balanced nutrition. By nutrition I don't mean "diet" - I hate that word.

My husband, though, is a typical male athlete. He is one of those people who thinks that, if you work hard enough, anyone can be skinny. I don't know that I will ever change his views on that, and it is sad.

I hope no one has made inappropriate comments, or sent you any mean-spirited emails, about saying you are plus-sized. It didn't affect me as a reader- I can just relate to you having trouble shopping or finding camis in different colors in store. I have to order EVERYTHING tall- including shirts- so shopping in stores just is not an option, and even online I get upset about how many clothes there are for skinny short women, but so few for everyone else.

It's also sad that you even have to address the issue- but everything you said is spot on.

Anne said...

Oh- and the BMI charts- My husband, the Ironman triathlete, the man who works out 2-3 hours per day, and completes races that are 6 hours long (for a Half-Ironman, his current favorite distance)- he is considered overweight. His BMI is almost 26. He is 6'4" and according to that chart he should be 180 to have a healthy BMI of 22. He would be a skeleton- even mid-summer at the height of race season he is not allowed (by me) to go below 195.

From an althlete, and someone who is studying nutrition, I have to tell you those BMI charts are no good.

Mairzy said...

Very true, and very nice that somebody says it out loud! Body shape and metabolism determines your weight more than how much you eat. My own children demonstrate it: my daughters and my older son eat basically the same things and have the same level of activity. And I can't find pants that will fit my son properly around his plump waist.

Actually, attitudes toward weight probably will change over time. Everybody will fixate on some other, equally unattainable, ideal. Like, say, having perfectly rounded hips instead of skinny ones. It's very ironic to me that we know all about punishing gym routines, airbrushing, photoshopping, surgery, and the fact that celebrities are the few most beautiful people among us... but we STILL think we should look like that slim (haha) minority.

Health is a cult of the Religion of Food, and it's shocking to admit that you don't really think it's worth trying to get down to your "ideal weight." Thanks for the post.

Joanne said...

It is crazy, the way people think. I see it so much here recently, because I and a bunch of women I know have recently given birth, and there is an insane race to have baby weight off. I, of course, gave birth to my second at the same time as Christina Aguilera and Nicole Freaing Ritchie, and I gave birth to my third two seconds later, the same time as Nicole Freaking Ritchie Again. I see pictures of those girls and I think really? Really they just had babies when I did? Ugh.

BUT I too am built a certain way and I am also 41, which makes a HUGE difference in the way that I used to lose weight. I am also sort of sad and depressed sometimes, I have issues of my own within my family, and sometimes I don't get enough rest to do anything (it seems, at the time) but eat my feelings. That's part of my makeup too, right now.

I was watching The Proposal last night and both Ryan Reynolds and Sandra Bullock looked incredibly thin and chiseled. My husband commented how great SB looked, for 45, and I thought even if I stopped eating now and didn't eat again UNTIL I was 45, I would not look like that. I don't think she looks like that either.

Anyway, babble babble. Great post, as usj!

@MoCo Mom said...

Well said, Swistle!

Type (little) a said...

Yes, yes, 1000 times yes!

Melissa said...

Gosh, I hope you didn't take my last comment the wrong way. I mean, I was surprised, but pleased that you mentioned you are plus sized in such a casual way like it was no big deal. Sometimes, I think people are so busy trying to change what their DNA dictates they miss out on life. I was surprised you didn't mention before that because it seems line so many bloggers mention it one time or another. Sorry to lump you in with the rest. I should have known better! :)

Meltini27 said...

Thank you! Thank you!This is a great post. You have put the way I feel into words like I never could. I fight so hard to keep my confidence level even though at every turn there is negativity toward people of my size (3X)

Swistle said...

Oh Melissa! No no no! I LOVED your comment! It encouraged me to continue with what I found a very scary thing to do!

Omaha Mama said...

But doesn't it ever make you see a size XL shirt? I don't know where you are on the plus-size spectrum, but I could wear an XL shirt if they were not skin tight and SHORT. I laugh when I hear/see some of my small(er)(ish) friends buying size L and XL. I usually have to wonder where that leaves the rest of us. But I know. In the Women's section. Which is just fine anyways.
I don't think any different of you. I'm tall. German. Broad shouldered. And became a plus size once I had my two kids. Something about pregnancy changed my body FOREVER.

g~ said...

I broke up with my boyfriend strenuous exercise because it was a 'give, give give' relationship. I exercised religiously for at least an hour four days a week for almost a year...and I merely had a teeny bit more room in my normal size. Zero pounds lost, zero size decrease. It is not worth it to me to kill myself trying to be a size I am obviously never going to be able to be. Although, one time, when I was INCREDIBLY stressed and basically ate nothing for a week--to the point where I got sick, I lost 10 pounds. thanks. I still battle the "if I just worked out a leeeeetle bit more or ate less, I would look like *that*" thoughts, though.

amyella said...

For what it's worth, I never really gave any thought to what you might look like. I've seen your face posted a couple of times, but that's about it.

If you were polka-dotted and nine feet tall I'd still adore your baby name help (I have no kids but am obsessed with baby names!), the antics of your more-than-a-handful of children, your shopping lists, the silly things Paul does, and fun Target clearance stuff.

Really? People care what size jeans you wear? How sad for them...

kimberly said...

I inherited my dad's side of the family body type. My mom's side are all like super models. At family gatherings, they like to make comments about what I'm putting in my pie hole.

Thank you for such a wonderful blog post.

js said...

I admire you for "coming out". And anyone who has anything negative to say about any of it...well...screw 'em. I can't stand it when I hear people say that ANYONE can be thin if they try hard enough. Some people cannot do it, they just aren't built that way. I'm thin, but at one point I had a doctor tell me that at 5'3" I should weigh 110 - 115lbs. I've been 115lbs and because of my wider set frame, I look disgusting. I look like someone streched skin over my bones. And my daughter, she is active, eats very well, and she has a weight problem. It's genetic. And sure, people could starve themselves and workout 5 hours a day to get skinny, but they would literally kill themselves trying to maintain it.

Laura said...

This makes me love you even more.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to what Laura said. You are honest and thoughtful and awesome.

Misty said...

You know, I never really thought about what size clothes you wore. And I love that you bake. :) I bake, too!

There is truth to what you say, I just wish it weren't so.

Aimee @ Smiling Mama said...

The more I learn about you the more I love you :) Also, I have to add that finding cute plus-sized maternity clothes is down-right impossible.

Lawyerish said...

For what it's worth, I love you and value everything you have to say regardless of what you look like in any respect, and it wouldn't even occur to me to assume anything about your opinions or motivations based on something so unimportant as body size. I think you are a smart, loving, balanced, healthy, thoughtful person, and I hate that anyone might have ever made you feel like anything less.

sagessa said...

Thank you for your honesty. As a plus size woman, I can relate to everything that you said. People judge you when you eat and there is an unrealistic expectation about how women are supposed to look.

I used to be thin, but it required two things that are now impossible for me: hours long workouts (for sports in school) and the metabolism of a teenager. I have come to terms with the fact that I will never be thin again, and you know what? I'm still a great person, a great mom, a great wife.

There are more important things to do with my life than obsess about my size. Thanks again for being so honest with us.

Sleepynita said...

I LOVE YOU! I always thought you were about a size 8 or 10 in my head (you know how you paint a picture of someone in your brain?), but now I love you even more.

I myself have been straddling that 'plus size' line since I was 25 years old. Currently, I am 5'3" 190 pounds and wear a size 12. Do I give 2 shits about this? Not really - I used to but I don't now. Does my husband care - not at all, and he is reasonably slim guy.

I too come from some stout European breeding stock on my father's side, which was always difficult since my Mother looks like a 50 year old supermodel and my Dad was 6'2" and 170 pounds - it took a long time for my own Mom to accept that I was just different then them and no matter how hard she tried to make me a different shape as a teenager it would never ever happen.

In the last year I have lost over 35 pounds to get to where I am now - which is comfortable for me. But this took massive diet changes and 6 hours a week at the gym and heck I am still a big girl. I am done trying to force my body to go where it has never gone before.

Good for you Swistle!

Mairzy said...

Here I am back again to thank you for the post. I went off to shop for jeans and had to get two sizes up. (And of course jeans are counted two sizes at the time, 10-12-14, so that means I had to get FOUR actual numbers higher than what I consider my Nice Size.) And I didn't feel like a failure as a human being.

Also, I realized recently that if I never lose the 20 pounds I'd like to, that's okay because I actually like my body in general. And I was afraid that I SHOULDN'T be happy with it until I was thinner. Wow, that's not pathological or anything.

Farrell said...

I've only seen pictures of your face but your face certainly didn't look plus-sized.
Either way, I love you just the way you are!:)

Sarah said...

I'll tell you the truth, when you described your general body shape in the last post re: jeans I didn't interpret that to mean "plus-size". Now, or course, I know. I gain (a lot of) weight in my belly. Of course, so does the instructor for my fitness class, though she doesn't have as much to show for it as I do. :)

I used to work in a retail clothing store. I was surprised to learn during this time that even the thinnest person would have characteristics that she was trying to minimize or maximize. She's look FINE to me, but in her eyes her narrow hips, flabby arms, or short legs would be unforgivable and something to work hard at camouflaging. In the end, I learned that despite the number on the tag in our jeans, most of our hang ups about our bodies exist more in our heads that our pants.

Kathy said...

I'm not plus sized but I want to say RIGHT ON - I just loved your post! Thanks so much for it. What you say is obviously SO totally correct, and written so articulately!

Laura Lou said...

It's funny, Swistle, but I tend to picture all bloggers as about my size (for the record, that's a 12-14ish range). Maybe we tend to imagine people that we haven't seen in person but identify with as just like us. So you can, in real life, be whatever size you are, but we who love you in the cyber-world are going to think of you as a size 6 or size 10, or size 16, or whatever, because that's what we are!

Miss Grace said...

Very well said. I'm plus-sized as well, so you're in good company.

Stimey said...

I adore you beyond words. Really, beyond words. I am plus-sized as well, and it's kinda hard even to write that. It's not like it surprises anyone but me, because everyone else looks at me all the time. I just see myself in photos. I agree with everything you say here. But rock on, sister, for being a voice. Plus-size or not, you touch a lot of people, and honestly, I think that shines stronger, brighter, and louder than any tag on clothing ever could.

Kristi said...

Have I told you lately how much I love you? :)

Alison aka Baby B said...

I am a nutrition student, so I do a lot of thinking about health, weight, dieting, etc. because I love what I'm studying.

My $0.02: Healthy happens, and not just for a certain range of jeans size. Unhealthy happens, and not just for a certain range of jeans sizes.

Health SHOULD be the concern. The way you state it, Swistle... Sadly, lots of people do think everyone should be thin and everyone could be if they tried and that thin = healthy. That is not being actually focused on health!

PS: The BMI system has some serious flaws, FYI.

Anonymous said...

Honest and superb post.
I had a baby in May and while the pounds on the scale are not alarming my body is so much softer and looser than it used to be.
It requires a re-introduction to your own self, in a way... For the first few months I could not be bothered at all with appearance, between breastfeeding all day and all night and everything else. My favorite attire now is black stretchy pants and a top that I can nurse in, and my slippers.
Motherhood is not glamorous. I am learning to roll with it. I crave sweets and I am not sure if it is lactation or emotional or both. Do other breastfeeding mothers just want sugary foods?

d e v a n said...

This post really does make a lot of sense. Especially the part about baking! Well said Swistle.

Julie said...

I'm a strong proponent of HAES and intuitive eating -- and sometimes that means those of us who are plus sized eating cookies. Yay cookies!

Thanks for writing this -- the more of us who are not-thin and who are in fact happy with our lives, the more we challenge this idea that fat = misery.

Sarah said...

Anonymous- yes, for me anyways. Especially with my second, who was very sensitive to ANY amounts of caffeine I took in. Sugar became my substitute for caffeine, since it gave me a bit of an energy jolt during the days of round the clock nursing, i.e. sleep deprivation torture.
And Swistle! I have seen pictures of you and wouldn't at all have pegged you as plus sized. It's like someone above said- maybe we bloggers always imagine everyone as looking about like WE do, so I had always imagined you about size ten.
Another thing I'd like to say is this: I really do think the tide is turning a BIT in terms of people assuming that SKINNY thin is the ideal for everyone. I notice a lot of people from my generation (because yes, I am younger than a lot of other bloggers- 25) not giving much thought to gaining five pounds here and there or eating what they want without chastising themselves for it. I hear people talking about wanting to be more in shape for cardiovascular health, etc. and wanting to have healthier eating habits for HEALTH's sake, but I don't honestly hear a lot of fretting about diets and fat butts and lack of flat abs or anything. I think people are MAYBE moving beyond the Kate Moss, "nothing tastes as good as skinny feels" mentality a little bit. It's certainly tiring to think that way, imo!

Snarke said...

Frankly, I heart you no matter what the number on the tag in your jeans might be. 00 or 100 you're funny and smart and I like to read your blog because of it's content, not because of the size of the package that contains the brain and heart that create it. :)

Snarke said...

Oops. "Its" not "it's" :)

Linda said...

After you posted this, I started wondering what plus-size is and what it means. I'm 5'10" and wear a size 14 - plus-size stores start at 12 or 14 - but I never thought of myself as plus-size. Is there a definite line? Is there a grey area where it depends on your body image or the people around you?

You came out as plus-size - and I want to make it very clear that I like your writing and what I know of you and don't care what size you are - but I don't really know what that means.

Alicia @ bethsix said...

I think it's natural for people to be curious about other people this way and want to put them in neat little boxes. But I wish it weren't so. I wish everyone really only cared about HEALTH... There's this guise of fat bias that's covered up by a faux concern about HEALTH.

I come from a family of "fat" women, my mom the biggest of all. She has worked for the same company for almost 30 years and is considered very valuable to them. She gets perfect reviews every year except in the area of "personal appearance." She is meticulous and has a very nice (plus-sized) wardrobe, but she is considered less "professional" than other women who work in her office who are "normal" sized, even if they come to work in casual clothes, etc.

I was thin until I got married and had four kids. I'm considered "obese" now by BMI charts, although I don't feel it. It's discouraging to even be categorized in this way.

My husband, on the other hand, comes from a family that's on the thin side, but he has always been overweight. His mom, the thinnest in his family and most obsessed with weight, I think, bought him a book called _The You Can Do It! Kids Diet_ when he was younger. We joke about it, but I know it was very hurtful. It's like his weight has always been a barrier to her fully accepting him.

Thank you for "coming out." I think it's important that people who don't have these kinds of "issues" (or people who see them as issues to begin with) realize that someone can be larger and still be interesting, opinionated, funny, etc.

Kelly said...

oh girl, you're up on my soapbox now!! body acceptance is seriously one of my flagship issues that I promote. I will not hijack your post by making my own, I am just going to should AMEN!
did you ever see Carson Kressley's "how to look good naked" on TLC (I think?) ? it was so great!!
we are all beautiful and need to accept ourselves as we are. If we don't like ourselves, we need to ask ourselves why. Is it because someone else told you you should feel a certain way, or because you really are unhappy?
anyway...bravo to you and we all love you regardless because you're brilliant and wonderful and beautiful!

Sundry said...

I think that if someone is content with their size and weight, that's all that really matters. We all have opinions about how much genetics and metabolism determines our fate, and what sort of lifestyle makes us happy.

Me, I like talking about fitness because I'm interested in it. And in doing so, it's funny, but I've encountered some of the opposite of what YOU mention here. I'm shallow! My goals are insipid! I'm buying into an antifeminist ideal when I care about my weight!

It's all about happiness. Not happy? Make changes. Happy? Keep on keeping on. Fuck everyone who thinks the way you look has anything to do with who you are.

Nicole said...

I love your writing!!! Very excellent post.

Amy W. said...

You know, I've always struggled with my weight, especially after having my son in 2007. I just cannot lose the baby weight.

But when after 2 1/2 years, I asked my doctor if there is any short term medication I could take to help me just get down to my pre-baby size (which is by no means thin, but is a more comfortable weight for me), she acted like a was a lazy drug-seeking idiot. This is the same doctor who, when I mentioned feeling a little blue, instantly wrote me a Rx for a potentially habit-forming anti-depressant and never bothered to return my call when I had some scary side effects.

That's just the latest, most glaring example I've experienced. Especially irksome since this was a health professional.

Trina said...

I'm with Linda. What exactly is "plus sized"? I mean, it seems there is a grey area from size 12-16. And XL and 1X which I have seen at Target. I have gained a substaintial amount of weight since I got married, then had babies, then ate to make me "feel better" after losing my MIL 2 years ago. I am 70 pounds heavier(all in my belly and boobs) than when my husband married me. I am in the grey area and I don't think a single person who knows me would say I am "plus sized" but I feel like I am "plus sized".

Swistle said...

Linda and Trina- I think of "plus-sized" as being when there's a W after the size number, which I think is almost always at 16W. (W stands for "women's," by the way, though I once heard a man in the plus-size department calling it "16 wide." Nice.)

momstinfoilhat said...

Thanks for the post!

Do you want to know what's weird? Since I have come out as obese on my blog, the person who has given me the most static is my one of my closest real life friends.

Lucy said...

Oh IS in our DNA isn't it...I think it runs through our gene pool...I look more and more like Norma Mielke every day! ugh...sigh...cousins through THICK and thin! :o)

KG said...

You go, girl!

Anonymous said...

Haven't read any of the other comments...but I think I love you just a little bit more now, and think you're awesome. Shit - any of us over a size 12 are plus sized. That's the majority of women. F the rest! :-) hehehe

karen said...

as someone who was born thin, but overcame it, I understand all these issues. when I go home and people who knew me when I was half the woman I am now are so uncomfortable. it's more than the haven't seen you in a long time uncomfortable. It's the you can't be the same person inside if you are so different on the outside uncomfortable.

with a great deal more effort than I have thus far managed, I may be thin again. but those 'friends' will still be former.

Kristin H said...

When I read your last post I didn't really think about the fact that you were "coming out" as plus sized. I just thought it was a good post, as usual. What I like about you is that your posts are always interesting and make me think, like this one. It never even occurred to me that there would be repercussions for you about mentioning your size.

nicole from much more than a mom said...

So well said - thanks for that!

When I read yesterday I did notice the plus-sized drop but promptly forgot about it until today's post. I am also in the plus range - and I run half-marathons, teach yoga and can bench press my slim husband if I try hard. So there. ;-)

St said...

You've made me cry and I love you I love you I love you. Even more now. So true.

melisagogo said...

and just like that, I love you even more.

from another "plus sized woman"

Anonymous said...

I'm a little put off by how many "Now I love you MORE!" comments I'm seeing. I mean, maybe I'm wrong and people are just loving the way you were able to articulate your situation. If you had come out as a size 4, who would have said "SWEET! I LURVE YOU MORE NOW!"?

Anonymous said...

I love your blog, I've never sat around and wondered what size you were because it makes no difference to me, but now that I've read this it dawned on me that I thought you were really skinny. Why I thought this in the back of my mind I'll never know. I guess we get mental pictures of people before meeting them and they just stick? Ok another option is maybe I'm just weird LOL!

halloweenlover said...

Yay for honesty, Swistle! This is why we love you!

Alice said...

oh swistle! i want to hug you forever. this post is fantastic, and you are a fantastic writer, and oh my goodness everyone ever should read this.

Anonymous said...

Im posting this as anon. because no one is really supposed to fess up to their weight, right? :)

For the record- my opinion of you is no different no matter what size of jeans you wear. I agree and disagree with what is said in this post (comments included). Unlike height/torso length/shoe size etc, weight is something that you *can* change. I don't think everyone should be (or can be) supermodel thin but I think as a society we're failing to maintain our HEALTH which has a lot to do with weight.

When I was working full time (before kids) I got up to about 155-160 lbs. (Im 5' 4") When I gave birth to my son I tipped the scales at 190. I also got gestational diabetes because I was so heavy. After being a diabetic for about 15 weeks I said no way am I going to live like this. After having him I started diligently working out and just eating well and kept my promise of getting the baby weight off in 6 months. I have a terrible sweet tooth, I bake just about as much as you do, I LOVE sweets- so don't go thinking I snack on carrots and broccoli all day. But I want to feel healthy and feel good about myself so, I have to be disciplined about what I eat, its hard and I fail all the time (why eat one brownie when I can just eat the WHOLE ROW?). When I got pregnant with my daughter I only gained about 30lbs, and with two kids to chase after I was back to fighting form in about 4 months.

I work out several days a week (30 day shred!) and I love how its made me feel. Im not skinny. I weigh 145 and its something I have to work at every day, but-- I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel beautiful. I feel sexy....crap- some days I feel like one of those girls in the Athleta catalog. ;) The fact that I can wear the size I do is just a bonus.

For all the, house-size, mouse-size-- whatever-- do you feel beautiful? do you feel strong? do you feel healthy? I don't think everyone needs to be a size 6, but every woman deserves to feel--like *really feel* strong, beautiful and healthy.

Katy said...

You know, I feel like the gap between the ideal and reality just keeps getting wider and wider. I was watching some old Christmas movie and was struck that the thin women still looked a lot more normal than the women you see in Hollywood today. Thanks for coming out, Swistle--we should all be so comfortable in our own skin.

Sarah said...

Good on you for "coming out", Swistle. It shouldn't matter what you like to do, like bake, in relation to your size but I am all too familiar with the judgy-judgy looks and comments.

For the record, I think the BMI is totally bogus. I am from strong Scottish stock who seem to have dark matter for bones. At 5'7" and 200 lbs, I have a BMI of 31+. I comfortably wear a size 14. The stupid BMI chart says anything over a BMI of 25 is overweight. It thinks I should weigh no more than 153 lbs. The skinniest (pre-baby!) I have ever been as an adult was 155 lbs. on the day I was released from a week in the hospital when I almost died of a staph MRSA infection. I looked like a pallid anorexic and it was awful. At my "happy weight" of 170-175lbs. I am a size 8-10.

I am so tired of people judging me by my weight and BMI. I figure as long as I have a good resting heartrate, blood pressure numbers and blood sugar levels, I'm doing great. Right now I am still trying to get back to a weight where my knees don't bug me as much (my weak knees being another DNA-determined health issue) but darned if I don't have great blood chemistry!

Swistle said...

Anonymous- I think that both the concept of "weight = health" and the concept of "weight CAN be changed" are greatly over-believed-in.

Hair color can be changed, too, but my real hair color is still my real hair color; the changes are temporary and fake and require unusual levels of maintenance. I believe it's the same with weight. Yes, a person can change her weight, but not much, and not without far more effort (lifetime, unrelenting effort) than someone who has a different body type.

And I think that "weight is a HEALTH issue" is a load of bullshit, and I don't take swearing lightly. We don't put anywhere near the level of interest in HEALTH into much more serious health-related issues as we do with the one that affects people's attractiveness and wallets. And I think that if thinness were best achieved by eating pure bacon fat, that is the way people would eat, and screw their health.

I know people GENUINELY BELIEVE what they're saying when they say weight is a health issue, that being thin is about being strong, that weight is changeable, etc.---I'm not saying people are lying. But I think they've been completely convinced of these things by a very VERY high-profit industry.

Stacia said...

I completely understand where you come from, Swistle. Many times online I've dealt with people drastically changing their opinions of me once they found out I was fat. People Who Know (tm) have told me I could never be a featured blogger on TV because of it, and they're right.

What's worse is that those who are pro-plus-size or accepting think there is acceptable fat and then unacceptable fat. So they still judge fat people based on how fat they are. You see this on blogs all the time, the ones who deal with fat issues in society. They act like being a size 10 is HUGE and most of us know that's just not true.

But I do want to say to some commenters that we do NOT need to say "fat is the last acceptable bias", because there are plenty of issues with racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and all sorts of other bigotries. Fat is NOT the last acceptable bias, it's one of many.

Rachel of Ithaca said...

Sundry, I think your story is an excellent illustration of Swistle's main point, which is that it's not a matter of "If you're not happy, just change it." I've been reading your blog since before Riley was born, and what I've seen is that because you were unhappy with your body you completely transformed your life in the service of fitness and made huge changes that have resulted in only small changes to your body. The changes seem big to you the way a half-inch haircut or a 1-shade haircolor change seems big to the person who got them, but not to anyone else. On the other hand, the changes to your personality and values and priorities have been huge. For me it's been a cautionary tale about the effects of converting to the religion of fitness.

Sundry said...


I'm not even sure where to start, except to state for anyone reading such a ridiculous comment that it's not all about how you look. Maybe you think I don't look different. That's fine, because I didn't do it for you. Here's what I have changed in ADDITION to the 30+ pounds, the dress sizes, the inches, the substitution of lean muscle for fat: my confidence, my ability, my courage, my discipline. You think doing my first triathlon at the age of 35 is a cautionary tale? You think having the balls to train for a half marathon when I couldn't run more than two miles in a row is something I shouldn't be proud of? This RELIGION OF FITNESS has made me happy in ways you clearly cannot begin to comprehend.

Anonymous said...

I've been "plus-sized" and overweight my entire life. I honestly can't remember a time when I wasn't one of the largest people in the room. Even throughout school when I played 2-3 sports a year I was heavier then anyone else. My smallest "adult-weight" was my Senior year in HS when I was in practices/training for 2-3 hours a day, 5 days a week and I weighed 175 and wore a size 12. I will never, ever be thin - it's genetically pre-determined and I and my doctors are convinced of that. Now, at age 32 I'm over 250 lbs.

A few times in my real adult life I have undertaken a few exercise programs (usually in conjunction with Weight Watchers) that have taken the pounds off...but they aren't sustainable - the one time I worked out for 3 hours a day/6 days a week I lost exactly 8 lbs in 2 months - not at all worth the time I put in. The most recent endeavor had me 40 lbs. lighter in 5 months but the moment I let up on the 10-hours a week of exercise or slipped just a 100 calories in my daily count the weight came back on quickly. And for me, religiously working out for a minimum of 10 hours a week just isn't feasible for the long term. I work full-time, have one child and another on the way...I'm lucky to fit in 45 minutes when I do.

Am I happy? No! My knees hurt (part of that is from soccer injury 15 years ago), I hate shopping and I fear taking my kid to amusement parks because I'm scared I won't fit in the seats. I do eat pretty well, focusing on whole/real foods and trying to watch my sugar intake. I work out 3-4 times a week for 30-45 minutes and that allows me to maintain my well-overweight status. However, every time I try to do more, to lose more weight, become more fit and be "healthy" I'm even more miserable...I feel like a slave to the scale and the schedule.

I still feel like exercise is very important for overall health and I do endeavor to fit it in 3-4 times a week. So it kills me when people think that fat people never exercise, or know nothing about diet/nutrition.

Thin does NOT equal healthy but I'm under no illusion that at my size I'm not at any increase risk for a host of diseases - diabetes, heart diseases are at the top of that list. I am lucky that I've found doctors that are working with me and my body type to give me a healthier future - no goals of weighing 130 lbs...just the goals of reducing heart and belly fat to decrease my risk of certain ailments.

kakaty said...

Sorry - that last (very long comment) was from me...didn't mean to leave it as anon

Lindsay said...

This is totally interesting. The quality of free reading on the internet is mind boggling.

For some, accepting that some people can be happy plus sized will probably always be as difficult as it is for others to accept that some people can be happy slaving away at the gym for supposed teeny tiny results.

Nonetheless, everybody steel yourselves for the onslaught of gym and weightloss gimmick commercials in the coming week. As of yesterday I have already seen a couple.

Jeninacide said...

One thing I think I have learned, as a student of nutrition as well as someone who has had, (and to some extent still has) body issues is that as humans we tend to put a lot more focus on our *OWN* size and shape than anyone else does. It's most likely that most people in our lives could really care less about our size, but it's something that is relevant to *US* for whatever reason. I am still trying to pin down WHY- although **cough** MEDIA *cough cough* might have something to do with it..?

Marie Green said...

Swistle, this was an excellent post with much to ponder. Unfortunately, I'm not feeling articulate enough to add much to this discussion.

I will say, re: Sundry and the following comments, that I've viewed Sundry's fitness journey as inspirational, but not simply because she lost weight and gained muscle. To me, it's more about her realizing, and helping all of us realize, that if you have a goal, you CAN achieve it. And that achieving BIG goals is extremely satisfying,fulfilling, and life-changing.

I think someone could have a very similar journey to Sundry's by setting and meeting a non-fitness related goal.

Jamie said...

Very well said as always :)

I have always been plus sized, and though I am trying to lose weight, my goal size is a plus size (14/16) because I feel like I look damn good at that size.

wishokie said...

I said this on Twitter, but I think Linda (Sundry) is an inspiration. Whenever I think, oh, I'm too old, too busy, too lazy to get fit, I can read about her journey and realize that yes, normal people, with harried, hectic lives, do it all the time, and it's not too late..

When I combine Linda's "you can do it" message with Swistle's "be happy in your own skin" message of this post, I feel..really feel, like I CAN do this--not for anyone else, but for me.

Thanks to both of you.

Allison said...

"Small changes" to Sundry's body? Are... are you serious? Have you not seen the 'before' and 'after' shots? Sundry has a slamming body, not only visually, but all her recent fitness persuits tell me that physically, her body is in top form. Being able to do a triathlon, run up a crazy amount of stairs etc. when Sundry wouldn't have been physically fit enough to do these activities years ago is no small feat. I wouldn't call this a small change, and I am continually inspired by her story.

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Well said from one plus sized woman to another.

Sarah said...

I just want to chime in again with a big ole DITTO to what wishokie said above. Both of you are truly inspirational.

clueless but hopeful mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
clueless but hopeful mama said...

OOoops! Made a mistake!

I'm late to the party but I'm thinking about all these comments, turning them over in my mind.

I've been on the other side of this issue. I'm thin and have been for my whole life. Sometimes I've been thin and healthy. Other times I've been thin and had serious mental/physical health issues. I've always been extremely physically active (Well, up until now. Being home with two kids has kept my exercising to a minimum, for better or worse.) and this was a big part of me being thin. But now, whatever thinness remains, is clearly a biological set point that I would have to work hard to change significantly one way or the other.

When I was teaching Pilates, it was very difficult to find the right balance in talking about health/fitness/weight with clients. So many projected their own body issues onto me, assuming I wanted them to lose weight (Um, NO.). So many came to me hoping to be SAVED from fatness. I always tried to focus them, and myself, on being strong and fit, moving efficiently with less pain. For some people, losing weight can make a difference in how their knees function or how their back feels. I supported clients who felt that way. I also tried many, many times to help people just accept their weight and be strong and fit at that general weight. I believe in how being fit and strong can greatly improve your life, no matter what your size. Stronger, more flexible muscles are where it's at for me. Talking about these issues feels loaded with land mines for me.

Party of 5 said...

Ah. Amen.

Lesley said...

I believe Rachel is what is known on the Intertubes as a concern troll.

First to echo everyone else who has eyes that see clearly: "Small changes", my ass!

Calling huge changes small is mean-minded. You may not appreciate the fitness focus, but you could have just said that, right?

As for the dig about her personality, how low is that? Jeezus, some people just have to suck don't they? And at Christmas, of all times. Way to be an example to your kids, Rach.

Lesley said...

Btw, does anyone for a second think a group of men would engage in this bullshit, and by bullshit I mean wondering if it's right and good to focus on fitness, be an athlete, question whether being an athlete makes you a good person or not? GOOD LORD, NO! But somehow women aren't entitled to be athletes or try harder or strive to be better.

Seriously, this is a woman's thing to put other women down who are bettering themselves. It's never a man's thing to do this.

Rachel of Ithaca said...

I beg your pardon, but I'm not a troll. I'm a regular reader on this blog and Sundry's and many others. I don't have my own blog so I can't provide a link but I've tried to be as un-anonymous as possible: my name is Rachel and I'm from Ithaca, NY.

I think another thing women do is require each other to be 100% supportive of everything they do, right or wrong. I've noticed that Sundry used to be an interesting, funny, multi-faceted person with many interesting things to say on many topics, but that fitness changed that for the worse in my opinion and now it makes me angry and upset and disappointed that she thinks physical accomplishments are the important ones and that her life has somehow been transformed with the transformation of her body. I feel like I'm defending Old Sundry from New Sundry's horrible mean attacks.

I am sorry I said so, because although I'm sorry to see a blogger I love change so much, it's her life and she doesn't have to live it in a way that makes good blog fodder for me, I mean obviously. And I am sorry she read what I said, I know it's stupid but I was forgetting she might actually read it and that she's a real person with real feelings and not just words on a page. I wanted to bring up what I think is a valid point, which is that a serious devotion to fitness involves trade-offs in other areas of a person's life (just like every other devotion), but I could have done so without mentioning the example of Sundry personally and with a more tactful phrasing. It got on my nerves that she was acting like size was a matter of what a person wanted (who wants to be plus-sized, I sure would rather be thin if it were a choice), and I think I let that inappropriately effect my response.

What I meant about "small changes" is relatively small. Sundry was thin and beautiful before her fitness kick, and she is thin and beautiful now. She didn't go from a plus-sized person to a petite size 0.

I'm sorry for the mistakes I made in my comment, but I don't like being called a troll, or being told that I suck just because I disagree that physical fitness is something worth high praise. I was much less mean than that in my remarks, and no more anonymous than the people who said those things about me.

Wendy said...

Swistle - I just wanted to say Thank You for this post. I have always thought you had very healthy attitudes towards food and body image. Learning that you have these attitudes and are plus sized is inspiring to me.

Rachel, I'm sorry your comment was taken so negatively. I hate when there are 70+ positive comments and one dissenter who is viewed as a terrible troll. I understand how you feel about fitness being a huge commitment that doesn't necessarily yield huge results. However, I think the biggest change I have seen in Sundry has not been in her body but that she now participates more fully in her life. To me this is strikingly evident in the fact that she rarely posted pictures of herself before the changes, and now she regularly shows pictures of herself. This has inspired me to want to get to a similar place of happiness and confidence in my life.

Sundry said...

It is awfully hard to read that without hearing sour grapes in your voice, Rachel. Which goes against everything Swistle said in her post, but when a person is 1) criticizing someone for their fitness interest and success, while simultaneously 2) bemoaning the fact that they'd rather be thin if ONLY THEY HAD A CHOICE, I'm really not sure how to hear it any other way.

You can be bored with me all you want, that's fine. But when you're talking about my "horrible mean attacks", I have no idea where you're coming from. Except my guess is that it's from an unhappy place.

Lurking seester said...

This is Seester from Marie Green's blog... I refuse to let a number (how much I weigh) have any impact on how I feel about myself. For this reason, I have not weighed myself since highschool. Instead, I focus on how I feel. If my clothes stop fitting right I think "Hmm.. maybe I should eat less fast food and maybe a little less cheese (I love cheese!!). I am not overweight (I don't think) but I certainly don't have the "ideal body" either. But I'm okay with how I look and how I feel. I know there are peeps that think that maybe I should be more concerned, but hey they have issues that maybe they should be more concerned about too (they just aren't things you can physically see when you look at them). Women- lets quit being so hard on ourselves and each other and maybe society will follow suit.

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

This was awesome and heartfelt and I HATE the very idea that you're getting crap blowback from it. I've always been fat (we're talking from BIRTH, when I came out one ounce shy of ten pounds). Even when I've been thin (like in the size 14-18 range), I've been fat, having justify the amounts of food I eat and space I occupy. I've lost 30 or so pounds in the last year, which I'm semi-proud of, except: it's maybe a fourth of what I ultimately need to lose to have a baby, get off blood pressure meds, stop worrying about diabetes, etc. I get very uncomfortable when people compliment me on my weight loss. It's like they had a "before" picture of me in their heads, and I'd just as soon not take up that space either.

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

And dang it, there's a "to" missing in there. Fudge.

Rachel of Ithaca said...

Sigh. I know. Someone who's not thin and can't change it must be jealous and resentful of someone who isn't. I don't know how to show that this isn't the way it is, especially to someone who so deeply believes it and thinks the whole not having a choice thing is a crock. How else can I say that without you thinking it's sour grapes? And if I were thin, would I be allowed to have this opinion? It's because I'm not thin that my opinions on fitness and thinness don't count, just like Swistle said. I don't think you did go from fat to thin, I think you went from thin to thinner.

I'm definitely not criticizing your success or interest, Sundry. What I mean is that the success cost you a lot, and that this cost has to be taken into account when making fitness decisions, and to me it doesn't seem like it was worth it. As I said, I wish I hadn't said so, since what I think has no bearing at all on what you should do.

And what I mean by horrible mean attacks is hard to put a finger on, but it's the way you talk about your old self with such distaste and disgust, and your new self gets petted and praised for its accomplishments, and your old self's accomplishments are nothing compared to your new self's feats of physical ability. I thought you were wonderful when you dared to have children, wrote, had a job, etc., but you didn't think you were wonderful until you were running marathons. Why is it wonderful to run a marathon? People train hard to eat 50 hotdogs at one sitting too, but sheer physical difficulty doesn't make something worthwhile and praiseworthy.

Saying that I must be in an unhappy place to disagree with you is such an icky thing to do. Seriously, surely you have better ways to support your position than to drag me down.

Superjules said...

My goodness what a hot debate this has started. Swistle, you are lovely. And there are always going to be judgemental assholes in the world-- one of my exes used to have issues with my weight (and I looked exactly the same then as I do now). Every time I saw him he would ask me if I had gone running and he would act all disappointed if I hadn't. And if we were eating together he would make little comments like "are you sure you want to eat that?" Jerk.

Cheryl said...

Is it anyone's business who is "overweight" and who is "thin?" Why do we think we should have an opinion about how someone else is living his/her life?

Nowheymama said...

Swistle, you make the best. analogies. ever. I love the analogies in the post and in your follow-up hair color comment. And as always I appreciate your balanced point of view.

Becky said...

I noticed the mention in your last post, but like many others, I had never really thought about it before, and it doesn't change my opinion of you or your opinions at all. I agree also that I had always pictured you as about my size...although even pre-pregnancy I was borderline plus-sized (by your definition) myself.
I have to say that this couldn't come at a better time for me personally. I just had a doctor's appointment last week, and I had gained another 8 pounds since my last appointment a month ago...I'm already over the "recommended" weight gain for the entire pregnancy and I still have a month and a half to go. I was pretty upset about it because I've tried to watch how much I eat (like I don't need 3 helpings of stuffing at Thanksgiving) and make good choices, and yet the weight keeps coming. My doctor told me that as long as I'm trying to be active (doing some walking most days; not anything crazy), and trying to make healthy choices she's not worried about the number on the scale. It made me feel a lot better about it, knowing she's not judging me.
Anyway, thank you for helping me remember that weight is just a number. It doesn't mean anything until we let it.

Anonymous said...

Rachel in Ithaca. If you had a blog, I'd read you. I like your writing and your retort was written like a true woman. You apologized. You repented. There was nothing catty about what you said -- you just shared your honest feelings. When a blogger puts her entire life out there, she's got to woman-up and accept the negative comments along with the cheerleading and the "you go girl!" comments. I love Sundry's blog and she seems like such an overall cool gal. I'm a new reader who relies on her humor daily whether through her hysterical tweets or her blog. I agree that her writing is becoming increasingly "fitnessy" and that comes with a big, fat, yawn. I roll my eyes when she talks of dress sizes and OH MY GOD I ATE COOKIES! AND OH MY GOD I ATE SOMETHING OTHER THAN CHIA SEEDS, LET ME BEAT MYSELF UP FOR THE ENTIRE DAY AND GO RUN 9 MILE! As women, we are way harder on ourselves than we ever need to be. Why can't we accept ourselves more like men do? They don't constantly whine with one another about their paunches or their cankles. It's cliche, boring and such a first world problem to hear thin girls bemoan their crisis of going from a size 6 to a size 8, or to have slipped and eaten a damn cookie, for god's sake. I see the self flagellation lately in Sundry's posts and although I'd like to think it's hyperbole, sometimes I wonder if it really is. I see self-loathing for eating cookies, ice cream, whatever the damn treat was that probably made her happy at the time. I wish she'd accept herself and forgive herself and not beat her self up so much. I fear that she's turning into an anal-retentive perfectionist and is that really the message we want to give our kids? I do feel it's often condescending and a slap in the face to women who aren't a size 8 to hear skinny women yammering on about their fitness prowess, which in the U.S. happens to be the majority. Maybe she should keep the fitness talk to her other blog, which is more of a niche, strictly for the fitness junkies and keep the irreverent mommyblogging hilarity we love to her tweets and primary blog. Please, please, please Sundry don't get out of touch like dooce with an onslaught of first world problems like eating too much sushi, drinking too many lattes at Starbucks or having to pull yourself out of bed to that God-awful personal training session with your hot personal trainer. Because, girl, that's called a LUXURY today. Especially in this damn recession. Please don't get me wrong, Sundry, you are talented beyond measure and funny as hell. I just think sometimes an audience can read between the lines and see into a blogger's psyche and you're way too hard on yourself. I wish all women would accept themselves more. We'll never be the perfect dress size, the perfect wife, the perfect mother. And damnit, chia seeds are nasty and taste like ass.

melisagogo said...

As a quick note, my confession of additional love for Swistle comes out of deep admiration to make a difficult (for her) admission-to put herself out there. It's easy to hide behind old photos and no photos but to say it for it to be out there is brave and I find myself often reluctant to speak enough of my own.

I'm envious of Sundry but not for the whole slimdown thing. I'm envious that she's got determination and stamina and the energy to do what she's done and has 3 rowdy boys in her home! I've got a 5 year old and a 39 year old and I'm exhausted and just the thought of pulling together a decent homemade meal for my family drains me beyond belief. I'm envious of Swistle for taking such good care of her family-for being a fantastic mom who clearly loves her family enough to bake and cook for them.

I don't care if she's "plus sized"-I wouldn't care if she was a twig. I love Swistle for the mother she is and the woman I strive to be like.

Kate said...

For what it's worth, I think you, Swistle, are lovely and thoughtful and inspiring. Sundry, too.

lisa said...

I just have to add my two cents....I used to be heavy before I had kids and after being pregnant I was determined to lose it all and then some. After reading Sundry for a long time I sort of caught the bug and have really started to push myself to workout. There are so many mornings where I have No. Interest. and just want to dive straight into my cup of coffee instead but I remind myself that *I* should come health, my body- Im the one who makes the choice every day. I've never ever felt as good as I do right now. I know how easy it is to stay status quo and to think you can't change but if you want it bad enough you can. You can't expect to just cut out a few cookies or walk around the've got to push yourself. Don't just settle and think you are doomed to be a certain "pre-determined" size. Thats selling yourself short. Im not saying all this from a "we should all be size 8s" but more of a "you have no idea how good it feels to be really fit/healthy/strong." Being fit/healthy/strong isn't a certain size or weight.

Lesley said...

Rachel writes that she's really annoyed that women are "required" to support each other 100% about everything.

Beyond never having seen that whatsoever, especially in the female community, especially, exclamation mark, oh no you din't say that really? Are you sh*ting me? I'd like to know how challenging oneself and striving to be an athlete, renders a person humourless and unfit. Hah, now there's a contradiction for ya. Run 9 miles and you risk losing your personality.

I sincerely hope Olympic athletes aren't blogging because, my God, how humourless and one dimensional they must be: a real bore. My God, who would want to read such a person.

If you liked yourself, Rachel, you'd have the generosity of mind to allow another person to pursue an admirable goal and write about it. Sundry is a real criminal: not only can she run for 90 minutes straight, she can write well, too. The nerve.

It's usually the case that people who are filled with self-loathing try to make other people miserable. Put the pie plate down and take a walk, Rachel. Your personality could use some fresh air.

Lindsey said...

Really, Lesley? Put the pie plate down? It seems to me that Rachel has kept her class through this whole argument. You could use a lesson.

lisa said...

"put the pie plate down and talk a walk"- thats funny!

Sahara said...

I think all of this just confirm's my belief that Tessie's "Policy" is a great idea. Don't mention anyone's weight or what they are eating, etc. and don't make a fuss about comments directed toward you on those topics.

Swistle, Sundry: I think you're both great. Rachel and others who have expressed your dissent: I also think you are fine too. Written comments sometimes don't capture things quite the way we wanted them to, but you did a good job apologizing and explaining your position. Sundry, I didn't read you before you were all fitnessy, and I may never have found you without that angle. I can relate to the humor you find in training your ass off (it's not fun! why am I doing this?!)only to consume a ridiculous amount of trashy food later that day/week (durr). It's not that you are hating on yourself, it just feels stupid enough to illicit comment.

I am curious about why you, Swistle, chose to "come out" at all. Was this post just a series of ideas that was bouncing around in your mind and that you wanted to post because they are interesting? We all make judgments based on (sometimes unfair) perceptions of other people, not just those that are weight/health-related. Or was there some specific event that sparked this thought process?

And just in the time it has taken to compose this, the comments section has taken yet another turn for the worst. oy.

Sahara said...

Bah. Bad punctuation on that last comment. Please don't judge me. Oh hahahaha.

Kaitlyn said...

This is a really interesting post. I'm not plus sized and am lucky enough never to have been. I DO believe that genetics play a huger part in things, and much more than most people realize or acknowledge. I agree with Swistle, that people mean healthy when they say thin, and thin when they say healthy, and that if eating pounds of bacon is what made us thin, well, there'd be a whole hell of a lot more people on blood pressure meds.
That said, I completely disagree with the people who've made comments about physical fitness and physical accomplishments not being important. I ran a marathon, and I'll tell you what's great about it: spending hours upon hours of my life clocking miles on my sneakers to do one of the most difficult things I have ever done in my life, physically AND mentally. Oh yes, it required a lot of mental strength.
But what we need to remember is that just because our challenges are different, from marathoning to writing novels and everything in between, it doesn't take away from anything anyone else does.

Lesley said...

One painful characteristic of any significant change is that even as new people are attracted and drawn into one's life, people will also drop out because the change makes them uncomfortable or threatens them in some way. Even people who describe themselves as friends and supporters.

Expect naysayers and take them in stride. Their negativity is more a reflection on them than on the person who has changed some facet of their life for the better.

Like zillions of others, I'll happily continue learning from role models who blaze trails.

Lindsay said...

Well since this comment thread is totally removed from the original post at this point...

As an athlete, I love Sundry's writing. As I filter it, it's rarely weight loss oriented (although yeah that was part of the original story), instead I read it more like it's an athlete talking about her passion. Her and Kristin Darguzas(could be screwing that name up... the better now blog I mean) are real women who are also writers and athletes and I feel so lucky to have stumbled into their corners of the web. I actually do read the blog of a Team USA Olympic female hockey player and while I subsribe to it and respect the hell out of the athlete behind it, it's not in the same league writing wise as what Sundry and Kristin produce (nor is that the writer's attempt - it's a keep the fam up to date type blog). Even the blogs at runners world dot com by Kristin Armstrong and Mark Remy are just ok by comparison to Sundry and Kristin's stuff, in my opinion. Maybe because the RW people have to work within confines of editors, or maybe because they are runners trying to shoehorn themselves into the writer role rather than the other way around. There are a ton of great blogs out there that center around parenting, but a well written, female perspective, sports focussed blog is so hard to find, so I have the opposite reaction to the sports themed posts from Sundry than some commenters.

jonniker said...

Lesley, no matter what your feelings on Rachel, telling her to put the pie plate down might be the single rudest, most foul comment I've seen on a blog anywhere, but PARTICULARLY on the topic -- on SWISTLE'S blog -- and you should be ashamed of yourself.

You came here to support one person, and instead insulted an entire cadre of others. The entire tone of this post was intended to be about acceptance, and while Rachel admittedly -- and rather magnanimously, I thought, no matter whether I agreed with her comments or not -- made mistakes in giving personal examples and in the tone that she used, you turned it into something really ugly and unnecessary. Have you forgotten that this is SWISTLE's blog, and that, hey, um, she has admitted she is PLUS-SIZED and that mean comments aren't really something she's looking for? Did you ALSO want to insult Swistle and everyone else who might be plus-sized in the process? Because if that was your goal, WELL DONE, LESLEY. I am insulted. I will go put my birthday cake plate down and fire up that Wii Fit! Thank you for the lesson!

I am honestly disgusted, and I rarely say something of this magnitude on a blog, but I'd like you to picture it said with as much anger as a human being can muster: That was cruel. Go fuck yourself.

How dare you. Honestly. How dare you say something like that on this post. How dare you let your feelings on one person's comment lead you to insult so many other people.

Lesley said...

Re my put the pie plate down, I don't think I'm far off.

I suspect Rachel's real problem is that, like many North Americans, she eats more pie than she can metabolize and when she reads a blog entry focused on fitness she has conniptions because she's reminded of it.

Americans are eating so much proverbial pie, they could exercise all day and not burn most of it off. The amount of pie we are eating is unsustainable.

I have been pummelled in threads for expressing this truth, and expect the Rachels will savagely attack me for it.

What adults choose to do with their lives - what they eat, how they live - may be their business, but the delusion, being normalized in American society, that excess body fat - the fat that kills Americans every year and creates horrifying levels of disease from diabetes to cancer - is healthy - boggles the mind. Whether you think it's beautiful or not is a matter of personal taste. But healthy? NEVER.

I'm not talking about being big boned or muscular, I'm talking about defending a lifestyle that is detrimental to the human body. At least, that's what Rachel's subtext seems to be. Sundry hasn't lost her personality, her wit, her humour, her ability to speak about many subjects, she's committing the crime of writing about her feats of fitness.

If Rachel felt truly comfortable in herself she'd be able to support someone exercising, but she knows she can't defend this "fat is healthy" bullpuckey so what she does is attack someone's character.

Lesley said...

Re Jonniker saying "Lesley, no matter what your feelings on Rachel, telling her to put the pie plate down might be the single rudest, most foul comment I've seen on a blog anywhere."

I frankly don't care.

Rachel's comments were disgustingly dishonest.

If you are taking the pie comment personally, I don't know what to make of that. I wouldn't have. And believe me, I've eaten a lot of pie in my time.

I should head back to the men's fitness blogs where they don't attack each other for speaking scientific truths about pie consumption.

jonniker said...

Stop talking Lesley. Stop. Talking. I didn't pick up on half of that subtext, and for the record, I am very happy with myself.

And you need to stop. It's out of line, inappropriate, and has no place in this discussion. The level you have taken it to is ... well, it belongs in a totally different discussion, and not this one.

Yes, our portions are too big, yes, Americans eat too much, but that does not mean that Rachel -- and anyone else who is overweight -- is sitting around in a pool of self-loathing, which they could be like the hot, popular girls.

(For the record, my body size is average. I am overweight, and I know that I could change it, and have many times. It is not a source of constant strife in my life, lest you psychoanalyze me.)

But you need to stop doing that here. I am being entirely honest in that as much as you're saying about Rachel, you are saying MANY more volumes about yourself. Whether you are right or not, the way you are presenting what you are saying is incredibly unkind. Please. Stop.

I'd rather be overweight than mean. True story.

jonniker said...

And yes, this belongs on a men's fitness blog. Because PS, last time I checked, this wasn't a fitness blog.

As for being insulted, when someone insults other people -- be it another group of people, an individual or otherwise -- I, too, feel, insulted, whether it applies to me or not. It is called empathy, and is also why I don't like when racial or homophobic epithets are tossed around, even though I'm straight and white.

Funny, that.

Now, yes, please, head back to your fitness blogs.

Jan said...

Linda exercises and eats the way she does because she wants to. It makes her feel better about herself. Why does anyone care about that? If you don't like how she's "become," well then too bad for you. It's how SHE wants to be. Would you rather she stay overweight for the sake of the humor of her blog? I am a new reader and I fucking love her. Love her tweets, love her sense of humor, love it all. To ask why it's wonderful to run a marathon really shows how little you know about running marathons: guess what? Running a marathon is less about exercise and losing weight then it is about persistence, determination and dedication. It is incredibly rewarding to run a marathon -- I have watched my (somewhat overweight) husband run two. It is beyond my understanding how someone can do it. Kudos to you Linda for getting in shape and being who you want to be. I'm glad you have a goal in mind and I wish you luck getting there -- you will feel AMAZING at the finish line. No need to be so defensive -- you're fine. You really are.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to wager this entire piece of blackberry pie that Lesley was the mean girl in high school who liked to gang up on the misfits, while secretly puking her lunch up in the bathroom stall just to fit into her cheerleading uniform, metaphorically squeezing her body and her mindset into a relentlessly unforgiving American paradigm that says all women need to be skinny to be desirable. Just sayin'.

jonniker said...

Also, not to be a dick, but I'm sorry that this entire thread has become about Linda -- who, by the way, I also love very much, and no, should not have been dragged into this -- and not about Swistle, who wrote a very honest post and deserves better than this pile of meanness.

(PS, I think I figured out who Lesley is: MEME ROTH!)

(Yes, get Googling, folks, for you're in for a treat!)

Superjules said...

Does anybody else have a sudden craving for pie? Because I totally do.

Lesley said...

Yes, Joniker, mainly because Rachel decided to attack her. In Swistle's blog. For no constructive reason. But you seemed to have no objection to that.

Oh, and look at you taking your own advice and yet being mean. Way to role model.

Not that I care, but you know...hypocrisy.

Lesley said...

Btw, did anonymous (brave) just inadvertently describe Rachel and her defenders as misfits? Why, yes she did.

Always amusing when "mean girls" (who travel in cowardly little groups) insult themselves.

Point out to me how Rachel wasn't a troll and I'll eat my words.

Jenni said...

Woot, woot! Swistle representing for the larger ladies! I love it, and I love that you don't apologize it, and that you are breaking the silence on such a taboo topic. I too am a plus-sized person, though I prefer the term zaftig. I think it sounds more... whimsical.

Anonymous said...

I know Leslie is getting a lot of flack but I think this statement:

"... but the *delusion*, being normalized in American society, that excess body fat - the fat that kills Americans every year and creates horrifying levels of disease from diabetes to cancer - is healthy - boggles the mind. Whether you think it's beautiful or not is a matter of personal taste. But healthy? NEVER."

She's spot on.

SUEB0B said...

As soon as I saw you had written about weight, I knew it was gonna get ugly up in here. People lose their freaking minds about it.

I kind of love being fat AND happy with myself. It just drives some people nuts.

jonniker said...

I don't think the comment about MeMe Roth is as much mean as ... well, I'd be shocked if you didn't identify a little with her. I do believe her crusade is similar to yours, yes? And yes, I have a problem with Linda being dragged into this, and said as much, but you are the one who chose to make it a larger issue and attack everyone. People who might not necessarily stand up for themselves. (And Linda can -- and did -- stand up for herself quite handily.)

I'll say it again, Lesley -- this is not the place for your tirades. Linda was kind and eloquent in her feelings on the topic, although her personal applications are very different. You, on the other hand, were not.

And Rachel claims to be a regular reader of this blog, and Linda's, and I believe her. Saying something that we don't like or agree with or that is even rude does not make someone a troll. Coming to someone's blog for the sole purpose of defending someone (not even the blog AUTHOR) and being deliberately cruel in the process? More troll-like than Rachel.

Let us go back to elementary school: two wrongs. Do they equal a right? GEE I DON'T THINK SO.

I'm done. But Lesley, I am not impressed. Nor am I converted. Fail.

angelynn said...

First I'd like to say thank you to Swistle for writing so honestly. To everyone who has turned this into a mean spirited rant you should be ashamed.

I've been reading Linda's blog for years. I agree with Jonniker. She shouldn't have been dragged into this, but since she has I'd like to say that her dedication to fitness and changing her mindset has been an inspiration to me. I've never in my life considered running, because I'm not a runner and I couldn't possibly... blah, blah, blah. People change. I never used to believe that either. We learn and move on.

My lowest weight was 135. My highest was 260. I'm currently at 215 and working damn hard to improve it. I hate the way I feel when I'm doing anything other than working at my computer. I want to be able to play with my two young sons without having to take breaks because I'm getting tired or out of breath.

Stop being mean people. You are free not to read this blog. Disagreement is one thing. Constructive criticism is another. Being downright rude and dismissive and using this woman's blog as your own soap box is lazy. Go somewhere else.

LifeIsABanquet said...

I am thin, but my mother has been seriously overweight for most of my life. Because of her I've always thought I was sensitive and sympathetic regarding weight issues. When I read this post I realized how some of my thoughts and biases have changed over the years. I won't go into it now because, um, this comments section is a little out of hand. Anyway, Swistle, I just wanted to say thanks for a thought provoking post.

Mom101 said...

This is one of the most exquisite, honest, and thoughtful posts I've seen about weight, ever. Thank you for this Swistle. I have a morbidly obese dear friend whom I know will be weepily reading it and nodding when I send it.

As for Sundry? She's smoking in person - and her personality is what shines through first. I'll have what she's having.

Swistle said...

Sahara- Oh, what an interesting question, especially since the last day or so I've been thinking "WHY OH WHY DID I DO THIS??" I did it because I found I was reluctant to ever post pictures of myself or meet any of you, because I felt like the plus-size had to stay hidden. When I realized the "hidden plus-size" was a source of anxiety that was limiting me in things I wanted to do, I thought it had better stop being hidden.

Swistle said...

Lesley- You sure are doing a good job illustrating the problems I mention in the post. Your feeling is that because fat is unhealthy, it's okay to be mean to fat people, and to tell them what to do, and to assume things about their mental states, and to dismiss whatever they say as being fat-related. And that's exactly what I was talking about in the post.

Also, you yourself completely fit the description of troll, so please stop calling other commenters trolls.

Rah said...

Obvs you touched a nerve, Swistle. Thank you for giving this a voice. I have been overweight my whole life, and have been hurt innumerable times by intolerant, self-righteous people who think because their particular limitations don't SHOW, they have the right to ridicule mine.

g~ said...

It's amazing to me how many people lose their MINDS over posts...controversial or no. I fall into the in-between category of neither thin nor fat...and I read this and appreciate it and I read Sundry's posts about fitness and appreciate them. Very little can compel me to write dissenting opinions on *any* blogs (because obviously, it's not worth the flack from adoring/loyal readers) but to be openly mean to someone is just beyond me. I particularly enjoy when a blog comment section gets well-reasoned, thought out differing opinions which maintain respectability and at least the guise of politeness and generally, with usually one or two exceptions, this blog tends to adhere to acceptance. Why this topic (and a few others) brings about something different is beyond me...possibly because people are hell-bent on defending their choices.

Tess said...

Lovely post, and of course I read all of the comments as well. Pretty standard for this type of discussion, and I have a feeling it wasn't anything you didn't expect. There's so much EMOTION wrapped up in this topic, and one of the reasons I try to adhere to The Policy is that I don't GET that, and wish to discourage it if possible.

Anyway. As you know, I'm a mix of both you and Linda here. I don't like the way weight affects perception of the things I write either. Some of the nastiest comments I've ever gotten have been on fitness posts. But that's because I'm NOT plus-sized. Just like it would be fine for you to talk about your baking hobby if you were not plus-sized, it would be fine for ME to talk about my fitness hobby if I WERE plus-sized.

However, I like to think that I consider fitness a hobby just like any other. It's no more noble to me than spending your free time reading, or sewing, or baking, or whatever. And THAT is why I completely separate fitness from weight, or "health" (TOTALLY AGREE ON THE HEALTH BULLSHIT).

jen said...

I'm reading this post & all the comments while inhaling a monster burrito. I think that sums things up nicely.
Swistle, I think you're very brave! You always post what's on your mind in an eloquent and concise manner, and for some reason you wind up with a big ol' bullseye on your back. There will always be people who have to be unpleasant, but please, don't let them keep you from writing from your heart.
Linda, all I can say is damn girl! Your determination and drive to conquer your fears & get out of your comfort zone... it's amazing to see.
Both of you, thanks for being strong, inspiring women!

Caitlin said...

Swistle, I have been thinking non-stop about this post and the ensuing comments, and keep coming back obsessively to read them.
I find that I have so much emotion and...and I don't know what tied up in this particular issue that I can't even begin to start saying all the things I have to say because once I start, it would never stop. Also, it would likely be incoherent.
So, just, THANK YOU for writing this.

[HA. Word verification = "giver". That you are. Thank you, Swistle!]

Lesley said...

Responding to Swistle. No, it is not. I am not "mean to fat people". I did deliver a blow to Rachel, who I felt deserved it. (BTW, by your very statement you've assumed Rachel - the only person I've addressed re pie) is fat. You just called her fat. What's that about?

I'm not persuaded that some of you are happy in your skins. I'm also not persuaded some of you actually know or have charted what's possible with your bodies. I don't see a lot of honesty here. Loads of emotion and knee jerk reaction, but not a lot of factual input, science, or honesty.

I'm also not seeing how defending a person who rabidly attacks a person - you describe as a friend - for exercise is friendship.

In any case, while Jonniker was losing sleep over this comment thread, I was sleeping soundly because I let Jillian kick my ass for 50 minutes. And if you think my pie comment was "mean", you probably don't want to work out to one of her videos. (I say that with good humour, though it probably won't be taken that way.)

Shelly said...

Bravo, Swistle! This was a wonderful post.

Alias Mother said...

I've been reading and thinking and reading and thinking and I may see where Lesley is missing the point. (The original Rachel/Sundry doodah seems to just be a diverging of interests. Sundry's blog went in a direction Rachel isn't interested in. Um, end of story there, ladies.)

But Lesley, it was your last comment, and this sentence in particular, that stood out: "I'm not sure that some of you actually know or have charted what's possible with your bodies." You are correct. I haven't. Nor do I care. Nor is what my body is capable of at all related to being happy in my skin.

Tess is correct that exercise is a hobby. At this point in my life, it is not a hobby I choose to pursue on a daily basis. I work full time, freelance on the side, raise a toddler, am pregnant with another, bake bread, knit, run a household, keep my house from being condemned, spend approximately an hour a night talking with my husband, and sleep for seven or so hours a night. At this juncture, I am not willing to drop any of those items in order to fit in an hour with Jillian Michaels. It's just not that high on my priority list. Does the fact that I can't run a marathon or do 100 squats make me less of an evolved person? No, because I value my success as a mother, wife, employee, and writer more.

I'm sorry you don't see that.

Fay said...

I'm late to the party, but Swistle: Love this post. You rock the casbah. Tessie, Sundry, Rachel, Jonniker: love you too.

lisa said...

Im sorry....Im kind of siding with Leslie here. Maybe her delivery is touching some nerves but really she has some valid points.

Alias Mother---How you can view exercise as a "hobby" in the same way you see baking bread as a hobby boggles me. Do you go to the dr. and do they tell you you should consider taking up the hobby of exercise? No, exercise is not a "suggestion" for a healthy lifestyle, its a requirement. I exercise everyday and don't consider it a hobby. Its painful...even during the workout I am cursing it but the way I feel afterwards--there is nothing like it. All the cliches about a "natural high" are true. You say you're not willing to drop any of the other things you enjoy doing to put in an hour with Jillian....have you considered the consequences 5/10/15 yrs from now of NOT putting in the time now?? I have all those same balls to juggle as you listed (except Im not pregnant) but I know that I have to drag my ass out of bed in the morning and put in the time to workout (and as a sidenote-- the 30 day shred is a 20 minute workout. TWENTY minutes- thats nothing!) Because if I don't keep myself healthy and don't take care of myself I am not able to juggle all those other balls you listed.

I want to live a long healthy life-- I want to see my kids grow up and to see them have kids of their own. Its a lot harder to attain that if I don't take care of myself mentally/physically/spiritually (have I left any out?). I think several people have already stated/acknowledged that being overweight buts them at a much greater risk for a whole host of health problems.

Honestly it makes me makes me sad to see so many just settle thinking that they can't change anything. Several people have said they are comfortable in their skin. Does that mean, if you're "comfortable" you'd walk down a beach in a swimsuit? Im with Leslie-- Im not buying it. If you are comfortable in your skin does that mean if given the chance to lose 20lbs overnight you'd say "no, Im perfectly happy the way I am?"

I hope this isn't coming across as an attack on anyone because Im genuinely trying to understand/ask questions/ discuss. I guess this is my question and Im asking this in the most humble way possible- if you are heavier than you'd like to be, whats stopping you from changing it that you don't feel like you can? Is it that you don't feel you have the time? Don't want to put forth the effort? I've read this blog long enough to know that so many of you are awesome mom's, amazing writers and generally just kick a lot of ass. I just don't understand why so many people just 'settle' (maybe thats a poor choice of words) in this area. (please don't yell at me......)

Annika said...

Something about this whole coming out thing has been bothering me and I finally figured out what it is. Am I the only one who absolutely does not care if you are plus-sized, but was STUNNED when you outed your real name? I mean, THAT was a revelation.

Stacia said...

Weight discussion makes people go completely bazoo. Leslie would never be seen chiding people for other "unhealthy" things, like smoking or not using protection or participating in dangerous hobbies. Lisa only pulled the guilt-trippy "You'll DIE because you're LAZY and your KIDS WILL SUFFER WHY DON'T YOU CAAAAAAAAAARE?!" because of weight, she'd never say it about any other subject.

The Internet makes it so easy for people to put others down, and some people just can't help themselves. A few of the commenters here are just loathsome people, honestly. Their comments stick out like a collection of sore thumbs -- they all sound like commercials. The rely on cliches, half-baked platitudes and bumper sticker philosophies, and then have the damn gall to judge people based on their insipidness. Maybe they could step back and realize that life is complicated. People are different in a variety of ways, ways that medicine and science are only beginning to comprehend. But no. When presented with that fact it scares them so much they scold, guilt trip, accuse, and chide everyone who dares disagree with them.

lisa said...

No....I'd say it on a whole host of subjects....smoking, drinking, drugs,...the list could go on. :) And I really wasn't trying to be guilt trippy.

I think I'm done...I wasn't trying to offend or cause hard feelings.

St said...

Lesley, I'm large and I love Jillian's workouts. She'd NEVER say the things you've said here because shaming people does not help them in any way. ever. at all.
You are hateful and cruel and easily pegged as a troll for the way you misstate the facts and make sweeping assumptions about everyone here.
Even if it were true that being overweight brings on health problems, it's still not a MORAL FAILING. Get over yourself. Why are you even here?

the new girl said...

Holy Shitballs, Swistle. I haven't read for a few days and omfg, what the hell?

Obviously, I have no problem inserting the swears.


Love the post. Love it.

Kacey said...

I am overweight, not morbidly obese, but overweight. I don't care if people judge me by my weight, or my height or my hair color or lifestyle choices or whatever. THAT to me is what being truly comfortable with oneself is about: liking yourself enough to not be affected by the opinions of others. I happen to know that I am an intelligent, honest, hardworking person and a wonderful girlfriend, mother, daughter, and friend. In the face of that what does my pants size matter? If one day I feel uncomfortable or my weight affects my health or prevents me from doing things I'd like to do then I'll change it, but that has NOTHING to do with anyone else. And if people choose to wear clothing, have surgeries, engage in activities, or eat things I wouldn't choose personally (and I mean things on both sides of the spectrum healthier and less healthy than my current choices) why do I care. Unless they are chaining me to a treadmill or shoving fried chicken down my throat how is it hurting me? How is it hurting any of YOU that two bloggers, one plus-sized and one athletic, are happy with themselves? Are our lives this small?

Lesley said...

St, watch a few series of Biggest Loser and get back to me. Jillian makes my pie plate comment (which I admit was snide, but don't care because Rachel, the person I delivered it to, is a total bitch.)

I'm of two minds about Jillian. I have been taken aback by her "style" on the show, and many of the things she's screamed (yes, screamed at her clients, hurling abusive invective). I don't view that approach as productive at all. Her workouts certainly deliver results, though, and I respect her tough approach to working out. I think she was the first DVD instructor to wake me up to the fact that change required a certain amount of discomfort and by God, there was no getting around that.

By the way, I never said being overweight is a moral failing. I said it was an unhealthy state. I also separated the aesthetics of appearance - and one's personal taste in this regard - from the health issue. It's a medical fact that carrying excess fat poses significant health risks. I don't see why that is so threatening.

If you don't care about the health risks, fine, but please be honest about what's actually true.

Lesley said...

By the way, you'll never hear me say I love Jillian's workouts. That's like saying you love someone who beats you up. I turn those suckers on and curse and when it's over enjoy the cellular level orgasmic feeling. I do not enjoy them, particularly.

I'm also someone who finds exercise (andn calorie restriction) drudgery for the most part. It's painful and if I could be healthy not doing exercise (and journaling what I eat), I'd probably never do it.

Kacey said...

Also, Lesley? Extremes are unhealthy, period. Too much fat, too little fat, too much excercise, too little excercise, too much protien or not enough. Focusing on only those who are overweight (and the name calling) detracts from what may be a sort of valid point buried in there somewhere.

Swistle said...

Oh, Lesley! You are so very interested in everyone being HONEST! But you don't know any of us, nor can you read minds! And furthermore, you're accusing people of "lies" they didn't say. And apparently the only truth you accept is yours.

Let's look at the situation:

1. You are not a regular here.

2. You are here only as a Special Appearance on this one subject.

3. On this one subject, you are spinning like a sprinkler, with spittle flying everywhere.

4. Very little of what you say has anything to do with what people are saying.

5. When someone counters one of your points, you instantly shift the discussion to something else.

6. You are mean and awful. Your tone is like a lesson the capacity of mankind for assholery.

My conclusion: You are a troll. Not "a troll" as in "you're saying something I don't like," but a CAREER troll, someone who goes from blog to blog with this purpose. You say you get pummeled in comment sections for spreading your truth. Yes, I imagine this happens all the time to you.

The reason you sleep well at night is not that you exercise but that you are having fun. You LIKE doing this. They're total strangers to you---what do you care if you make them upset? And the reason other people are not sleeping well is that an illogical, crazy, mean, vicious SPITTLE-SPRINKLER is delivering massive doses of Teh Mean and Teh Crazy to them.

I dislike deleting comments, but I'm getting to the point where I think it's clear you're done here. You've made your point, you made it repeatedly, and you're attacking my other readers. I think we alllllllllll totally understand your point of view now. Can you now rest easy, knowing you've fully delivered your message? Or do I need to do an exorcism?

Alias Mother said...

I think, Lisa, that there's no point in commenting because you won't get it. You'll never get it, because you are choosing to misunderstand what I say.

It's clear that for you, right now, exercise is a priority in your life. For me, right now, it is not. And don't think that because I don't "feel the burn" and shove myself through workouts I hate, that I am inactive. I walk often, I hike in the summer, I do yoga when I can, but, no, at this point I am not scheduling exercise in, because to do so would mean giving up something else that is more precious to me. I will not feel guilty about that. I eat healthier than any person I know, my annual physicals come back squeaky clean, and I am (despite your assumption) not overweight at all. My usual, non-pregnant BMI is on the low side of average. Much like many women have mentioned here, you cannot equate health and weight directly. My weight is just fine, yet I don't consider myself to be in-shape at all.

There was a point in my life where I went to the gym like clockwork, 4 nights a week, and hit the treadmill, did the stairclimber, lifted weights. I spent an average of 8 hours a week in the gym. And I hated every minute of those eight hours.

My sister is a marathoner. She has two small children. She has the time to train for marathons because she went through a hideous divorce a few years ago and her ex has the kids part-time. Would she give up her running time to have her family whole and happy again? I'm guessing she would.

St said...

I will stop feeding the troll now. Love you, Swistle!

Alias Mother said...

Yes, what St said. I will sit on my urge to comment any more, for the Swistle? She deserves better.

Fay said...

Okay I can't help it: Truly, some of this on Lesley and Lisa's part is just ignorance.

Y'all: slightly overweight people? Live longer than supposedly "normal" weight people. There's quite a few studies that back that up. Look it up.

The BMI standards? Are bullshit. They were revised downwards a few years ago due in large part to pressure from the diet industry.

Health and weight really do have very little to do with each other. Eating? Yes. Exercise? Yes. Weight? No. You cannot tell how healthy someone is by looking at them. You cannot tell what someone's eating/exercise habits are by looking at them.

Seriously. You need to do some soul-searching. If you have a soul. There is a lot of money behind the industries that want you to hate your own body and severely restrict the foods you love, for the rest of your life. I, personally, refuse to do that.

If I am uncomfortable walking down the beach in a swimsuit, whose fault is that, exactly? Because my body is beautiful, normal, and healthy, even if it doesn't look like a picture in a magazine.

And Lisa: the vast majority of people you see who are "heavier than they'd like to be," have dieted their whole lives, and learned that it doesn't work. 95% of all dieters regain the weight they lose and MORE, within 5 years. Dieting is what messes up people's metabolism more than anything else. Dieting is bad for you. Do you really think they haven't tried anything, and are just sitting around eating baby-flavored donuts (or pie!) and wishing society thought they were prettier? Jesus. Those people aren't "settling." They're learning to live with their body the way their body wants to be.

I know you said you aren't attacking, and I feel you. But what's true for YOU in this area, is not true for EVERYone.

Check out,, the BMI Project, etc. Just to name a few. There's also a great book by Dr. Linda Bacon (heh) called "Health at Every Size."

I know, I shouldn't feed. But no one else appears to have mentioned these things and someone is WRONG on the INTERNET! :)

Julie @ The Mom Slant said...


I think you're amazing just as you are. I honestly don't care what size you, or anyone else, may be. Even when I watch The Biggest Loser, I'm concerned for the physiological inner workings of the players, not for the size of their ass.

I wish more people would focus on what their bodies can DO, vice how they LOOK. That's what got me started training and what keeps me going. It's given me the healthiest mental attitude I've ever had toward my body.

Sundry said...

I can't help it, I have to say I wonder what it means that I took a raft of shit from Rachel in Ithaca and Anonymous at 8:01 PM for being boring, self-flagellating, having the wrong priorities, and sending the wrong message to my kids (???), all because I'm committed to fitness—and everyone seemed to think that was fine and not troll-like at all. What's that about, guys?

It seems like it's a LOT easier to jump on the person with the pro-fitness message, and while I certainly don't agree with Lesley's approach (the pie plate comment was way over the top, Lesley), I'm not sure she deserves the BURNING WRATH that's going on here.

Kim said...

Swistle, I'm away from the internet for a few days and look at all this! Personally I'm shocked because I always thought you were just a pink, orange and green flowery skirt who made me think/laugh/cry every day. This post was amazing though I must be still very naive because the comment thread still shocked the hell out of me.

St said...

Sundry, there were lots of comments about how we like you and your fitness message. Rachel was called out and when she was she apologized. She seemed sincere in her apology even though she went on to defend her message and she established that she was a regular reader. So we disagreed with Rachel and told her how we felt about you.
Lesley and Lisa were here solely to rage against the fatties. I know you get flak for your fitness focus but I'm guessing you haven't been teased your whole life with comments like, "Put down the pie" You know what I mean? I don't know about Lisa but Lesley's a straight-up troll for the reasons Swistle listed. You don't treat a troll the same way you treat someone like Rachel. Apples and Oranges, IMO.

jonniker said...

I'm not sure Lesley had as much of a pro-fitness message as an anti-anyonewhoisn'tFIT message, and I think it's easier, yes, for people to feel like they're defending themselves because there are more people in this thread (and, frankly, in the world) who are NOT super-into fitness.

(New drinking/pie-eating game: See how many times I can say FITNESS! in this comment.)

For my part, I will admit that I was going to jump in on the Rachel stuff, but then naively thought that I would only make things WORSE for everyone, including you (HAHAHAHAHA OH MY GOD SO DUMB), by continuing to feed the mess unfolding, and then when Lesley started launching off on fat people, I was THEN reading from the bottom and I just LOST MY SHIT at the pie plate comment, and it just SPUN OUT OF CONTROL from there. So you can see how my strategy really worked to cool things down and bring the conversation to more positive, uplifting things, yes?

In other words: I have no good reason other than I was just SPEWING out of control without any real direction or forethought.

Fay said...

Linda, I'd say there's a big difference between your pro-fitness, look-what-I'm-doing-that-I've-never-done-before message, and the sheer ignorance and meanness of "fat people just need to eat less and move more." I've never had one problem with anything on your site, because you've never once accused someone of LYING about their own eating/movement habits, or of just being lazy or afraid to change, etc.

Pickles and Dimes said...

Wonderful post, Swistle. 100% wonderful.

Sundry said...

I may have missed something Lesley said, but it seems to me the majority of what she contributed was opinionated and occasionally impolite—no different from many of the opposing viewpoints.

I don't disagree with the idea that an overweight person needs to eat less and move more to make changes to their body. It's hard work. It takes time. If it's not a choice someone wants to make, that's perfectly valid, but it's the necessary path to losing unwanted weight. I absolutely—and hopefully politely—disagree with Swistle's take that our DNA dictates our plus-sized bodies. DNA gives us the blueprint, lifestyle choices and eating habits add the details. I believe our biographies do not have to dictate our biologies, and that we often have to make uncomfortable habit changes in order to stop taking in more calories than our bodies can burn.

If a person is happy with their weight, that's what's truly important. But if they're not, I tend to side with Lesley that it's not a forgone conclusion that every possible path to making changes has been tried. Yes, diets often fail, because most people can't commit to a total—and permanent—lifestyle change. Yes, a workout won't do much good if we continue eating poorly. I know these things firsthand. This doesn't mean I think people are lazy or afraid or weak-willed. It simply means I think they have the capacity for change, but they aren't there yet. And if they don't WANT to change, that's absolutely fine, obviously.

Now you tell me, are the things I just said considered to be "rage against the fatties"?

Wendy said...

I think what I have a problem with is the assumption that because I see your body I know everything there is to know about you.
I think that sometimes people will make a particular change in their lifestyle (in this case incorporating fitness) and it will make them feel better and so they assume everyone else should do the same thing they did, forgetting that it took them countless years to get on this path. Everyone is in a different place in their journey, and we can't know where that is by looking at them. I think we can safely assume that everyone has heard the eat less/move more advice, and so bombarding them with it is just as obnoxious to them as it was to you before you reached this particular place of enlightenment. I happen to believe that the truth about our bodies lies somewhere between Swistle's and Sundry's viewpoints, but I think we have to acknowledge that science and research have not found a definite truth at this point.

Swistle said...

Sundry- Lots of commenters supported and defended you against the few comments made against you. Then the comments started attacking people other than you, and so the defenses started being of them instead.

Rachel was not a troll, though she was called one on your behalf; Anonymous made only one comment and most internet people know to ignore those. One-time anonymous comments on the other side of the issue were also ignored. Lesley is not a reader here and is only here for one issue (that's the definition of a troll), and she is coming back again and again to call people liars and bitches.

Plenty of people agreed with her anyway.

I am dismayed that you think her comments were reasonable, or that they represent "pro-fitness." This is a very upsetting discussion and I hope it ends soon.

St said...

Of course not. You can offer a dissenting opinion in a way that isn't hurtful to the people around you. You are smart enough to know the difference so I'm surprised at your response here.
I was absolutely right on board with Lesley up until about 8:52 and the pie remark. Rachel was way out of line and Lesley was calling her out. The pie remark colored the rest of her words and maybe that's not fair but that's how words work.
She started with Rachel but then moved on to everyone who is not ideal body weight. Her 3:13 post is a blow against all fat people because they couldn't possibly be happy. The fact that she defends her pie plate comment is the thing I can't get past. She thought Rachel deserved it but she slammed every single fat person out there when she said it.

Sundry said...

"Liars and bitches?" Swistle, I think you should re-read Lesley's comments, because the one egregious thing I found from her was this:

""It's usually the case that people who are filled with self-loathing try to make other people miserable. Put the pie plate down and take a walk, Rachel."

Rude, yes, and I'm not condoning it. But the rest of what she had to say is hardly fanatical or even condemning.

And I'm really, really sorry that you're upset! Totally not my intent, and I will shut up now.

Miranda said...

This is the first time I've read your blog. And after trying my hardest to get through the comments to say that I think that everyone woman has a struggle with their weight, even if they're already skinny. They have a problem with it. Like everyone else I have my own story of my "weight problem" I was a fit and healthy person until my junior year of college. Since then I have put on over 100 lbs in less then 10 years. By no fault but my own. I did not gain this weight with child bearing, I stopped moving. I know this. And yet I don't do anything about it. I have on my blog "come out as a fat person" which isn't a surprise because most of the people that read my blog know me. I am not an ordinary "plus" size. I'm a 22 at the moment. I hate it. I hate my body, I hate looking in the mirror, I refuse to take my picture. I never really appreciated my body when I was skinny. And now that I'm 245 I can't stand myself. And yet, I don't do anything about it. I eat, I don't move, I make excuses. I read comments from women bitching about not cheering each other on. I read comments that should be taken else where when all we should be doing is saying:
Thank you Swistle for throwing your name into the plus size coloumn.
All of our bodies are different. All of our personalities are different. I for one would LOVE to be able to put the pie down and go for a walk. But I'm tired. And it's cold out. And I don't have a cheering section behind me kicking my ass out the door....etc and so on...
I'm with Swistle, even though I don't know you yet...
I hope this disscussion is over soon. (I didn't read your comment until right now, or else I wouldn't have added anything...but now I have to, because I've written it and I don't want to delete it.)

Alias Mother said...

Heaven help me, I'm commenting again. But I think what Wendy wrote is important and may be what I was trying to say: we are all different people at different stages of our journey.

Sometimes people who are fitness nuts can start to think they they have the answer to everything. It's just so OBVIOUS. They feel great, so why wouldn't everyone want to feel that way? They like to run up buildings and find satisfaction in feeling their muscles scream in agony, because they think the result is worth it. But you know what? Some of us don't, just like some of us don't like bacon, or the cold, or the color blue. Some of us are okay with our smooshy thighs, because the trade-off we make (food enjoyment without guilt, time with our family, a few more minutes of sleep) is worth it. We certainly know what exercise will do, we've just decided not to care right now.

So reading some of the "pro-fitness" comments is like getting the save-your-soul Christmas newsletter from the evangelical Christian members of my family. They are so full of the love for Jesus, and they just want to share it with me. Because why wouldn't I want that, too? But me and Jesus, we decided a long time ago to give each other some space. And I need them to respect that.

brightfeather said...

I'm FAT. Forget plus-sized. I've always been overweight, even as a child. Now that I can't exercise much due to physical handicaps, I've ballooned. And frankly, even if I weren't carrying excess poundage, docs would tell me to lose weight. Why? I'm broad-shouldered, almost six feet tall (1/2 in short of it) and big boned. I'm a danish/welsh/english/scots/irish mix and nothing about how I'm built is skinny. If I were male, I'd play linebacker on a football team.

I am carrying around about 250 extra pounds. And I'm working on losing it, because I think I'd feel better and it might help my lymphedema a bit. However, how overweight I think I am and how overweight the docs think I am are two different things. The charts claim I should weigh 165. I'd be anorexic then.

I saw seven doctors to find out why my legs were swelling, I had odd rashes on them, and why the skin was breaking open and leaking. I was told that I needed weight loss surgery to make it go away. LIAR! What I had and still have is an incurable condition. They don't know how to fix it when your lymphatic system breaks, but it's treatable. Unchecked, it's life-threatening. And the idiot doc said it was because I'm fat. Riiight. It's because I wrecked a knee, had surgery to fix it, and they knicked a lymph node. And it spread to the other leg....

Now, my sister is infuriating. She's a size six and lost her baby-weight within a month and a half of having my nephew. And she eats three times more than me!

Lucy's mom said...

I got here because a friend told me to read this post - this is my first time here and I was very impressed with your post. I also read through the comments which was a larger endeavor than I first thought it would be.

I'm surprised no one commented on my concern with body size which is my teenage daughter's. She is currently struggling with a whole range of issues related to low self-esteem and now weight has entered the picture. Her father and I have always been careful to stress that we only want her to be healthy and we have never said anything about her weight (she got a little chubby when she entered puberty but then added some heighth and returned to a very average size). In recent months she has become obsessed with her weight and it is clear to me that she is struggling with an eating disorder.

I do think health matters but it scares me to see my daughter so affected by the messages she gets from peers and the media that she needs to be "skinny" in order to have a good life. Her father and I divorced last year and she has started telling me it was because of my appearance (I am 5'7" and 125 lbs.).

Lucy is beautiful from the inside out but she is becoming dangerously thin, and, I fear, is developing a terrible attitude toward others based on appearance. As parents who taught our children well on this issue her father and I are baffled about how we counteract the attitudes that currently exist against people who aren't "picture perfect".

I am going to share your post with her but I also hope some of your other readers have insight into this struggle.

Swistle said...

Sundry-- I can hardly bear to re-read Lesley's comments, but she said again and again that people weren't being honest or were being dishonest (both of those things are the same as lying), every time they disagreed with her or with the way she experiences things or with her opinions about things. She also kept making sweeping generalizations about how women suck in comparison to men, and how Americans eat too much. She called Rachel a bitch, although from my point of view Rachel was apologetic when called out, whereas when Lesley was called out about that awful pie remark she said she didn't care and that the recipient deserved it. She argued with Rachel based on what she assumed Rachel ate and looked like. Lesley also said Rachel was a bad example to her kids, which is something you mentioned as a troll-like thing someone said to you. She referred to the whole discussion as bullshit, and said that the idea that someone could be fat and healthy was bullpucky. She condemned someone else for being anonymous even though she herself is anonymous, and then she implied that other commenters were mean girls, cowardly, and misfits, and she called Rachel a troll again even though LESLEY is the one who fits the troll description and Rachel does not. She implied that Jonniker was losing sleep over this whereas Lesley is not because Jonniker doesn't exercise and Lesley does (Jonniker has mentioned being overweight; therefore Jonniker must not exercise).

I suspect a lot of this doesn't bother you because it was aimed at the person who said the things about you that you didn't like. It probably wouldn't bother me much, either, if Rachel had been saying things about me---I'd probably be GLAD to see her attacked, and I realize that's human nature. But from my point of view, Rachel is one of my readers, and she was apologetic and polite and she clarified her point of view and tried to make the same point without specifically mentioning you anymore, and she said a lot of complimentary things about you, while Lesley is a troll on this blog and was out of control and had nothing nice to say about anyone except you. The worst part, I think, was her tone, did you notice her TONE? It was so disrespectful and hostile and vicious and word-twisting.

Marie Green said...

This whole line of commenting is giving me a MAJOR case of Tess' NERVOUS TUMMY.

I think Swistle's original post was honest and vulnerable. Her point was that people judge based on what they believe to be "fat" or "thin" and make sweeping assumption on a whole person's lifestyle based solely on their physical appearance and/or waist-line.

My dad ran marathons for YEARS, and as a frequent Marathon Observer, I can tell you that ALL SHAPES are "fit" enough to run 26.2 miles. Have you noticed this too, Sundry, in the races you've participated in? That many "surprising" body shapes are physically fit?

Since it's true that a person's body size or waist line does not, in fact, dictate their "health", I go back to Swistle's original point that BASED ON SIZE ALONE people make assumptions about other people. Fat= lazy, pie-eating, self-loathing. Thin= happy, healthy, physically fit. (NOT TRUE.)

We, as in those of us who at our very fittest will never be "textbook thin", wish that those that ARE thin would not judge us/make assumptions about our lifestyle, exercise routines, or eating habits.

I think, though this thread is so long I'm no longer sure, that this was the original point. Am I correct Swistle?

Swistle said...


Marie Green said...

I also wanted to mention that my dad ran 50 marathons by the time he was age 50. He started in his 30's, so that averages out to 2-4 marathons PER YEAR. Even at his most fit he was "fatter" than many of the other runners. Now that he's stopped running marathons, and instead runs/exercises a "regular" amount (instead of an "inhuman amount") he is quite round. Twentyish years and 50 marathons, and the dude slows down to "normal" levels of exercise and now appears to be "fat", though he can still run farther/faster/longer than many men (like my "thin" husband- who is YEARS YOUNGER.)

Just my own personal illustration of how someone *looks* is not an accurate assessment of their physical fitness level.

Marie Green said...

Also, Sundry, as I'm rereading my first comment, my question to you sound quite snide. I did not, in fact, mean to sound snide. It was an actual question. Sorry about that.

Seester said...

Wow! I think this topic has been sufficiently covered.. Lets move on to another sensitive subject- HOw about abortion? Religion? I'm Pro-choice.. GO!!

Seester said...

Just Kidding!!!!

jonniker said...

If I may, one of the things that gets me about the "Anyone can do it!" messages are that ... well, everyone's circumstances are different. It's easy for me to say that I can change my personal weight/circumstances, because I have done it before and I know that it can be done.

HOWEVAH, and this is big, for me: I speak from a position of privilege. I have the luxury of extra time, because I do not have an obscenely demanding job in addition to raising my kid(s).

And I know you can do it while working -- Linda, you are a great example of this -- but I think that working an albeit-very-demanding office job is different from, say, having to work 14-hour shifts at the Circle K convenience store for minimum wage. I know what the former is like, but not the latter, and I'm guessing it's a lot harder. (I am speaking for ME here, folks.)

I also have a supportive spouse who takes the baby when/if I want to do something like work out/have some me time/get my hair done, what have you. Not everyone has this, whether they are married or not, and I think this is really important. You can't GO for long runs if you're the only person taking care of the kids, and even if you want to work out at home, sometimes kids are so goddamn demanding, it's all you can do to bring the spoon to your lips at the end of the day. And frankly, if I only had ONE hour to myself a day, TOTAL? It would not be on exercise, and I can hardly blame anyone for feeling the same way.

And if you're financially strapped, it can be worse, which brings me to ...

I am relatively affluent. I can afford a DVD player and workout videos and a Wii Fit, and even if Adam were a total deadbeat in the childcare department, I could afford to pay someone once in a while to watch Sam so that I could go for a long run. I can afford to buy healthy food without breaking the bank, and without making myself miserable. Not everyone has this.

And finally: I have never had more than 30-40 extra pounds. I do not have any idea what it's like to carry around an extra 100 or even an extra 50. I think, therefore, it is easy for me to say that anyone can do it, provided they have the benefits of the lifestyle and circumstances that I am fortunate enough to have. But I also recognize that not everyone has those circumstances, so I can't say that, you know?

This, among may reasons, is why while I think the "Anyone can do it!" message is empowering on the one hand, on the other, it can be terribly naive and unintentionally ignorant.

Sundry said...

Honestly there are now so many messages here that if Marie's comment clarifies the original intent, I'm glad for it. (And yes, Marie, that's one thing I LOVE about races—all shapes and sizes!)

And I hear what you're saying, Jonna, but I'll never back off my stance that if a person WANTS to make changes, they have the ability to do so, with very very few exceptions. That opinion comes from a place of positive support, and not criticism, as I hope you know.

St said...

I like what you've said here, Jonniker. After years at home with new children, struggling with PTSD, depression and anxiety I have put on about 75# I have an eating problem, I regularly overeat and I can't find the power within to stop. So for me, and countless others, saying anyone can do it is like telling an anorexic person to just eat. I'm looking for help but I'm having trouble knowing where to go.

Janet said...

"if a person WANTS to make changes, they have the ability to do so, with very very few exceptions."

Replace "make changes" with, say, breastfeeding, and see how that sounds.

St said...

@Janet Because both make it sound like you SHOULD want to.

Anonymous said...

Jonniker, well said!


js said...

I agree with Linda on her last comment (at 7:54pm...may miss one while I write this). We all have the ability to make changes. But we may not have the "want". I used to work out regularly when my daughter and I lived with my parents because I had built in babysitters. But I find I use my daughter as an excuse NOT to workout now that it's just me and her. To be fair, if I try to work out while she's awake, it's non-stop interuptions which piss me off and wind up making us have a bad day. I have tons of workout DVD's a treadmill, a stationary bike, an elipitcal, speedbag & heavybag all in my garage. I can't tell you the last time I touched any of those because I always say that I can't stick with it. If I get on the treadmill to run 4 miles, it's so easy for me to hop off after 2. But if I am running outside and want to give up after 2, guess what, I still have to run back home 2 miles. So I totally screw myself. But the fact of the matter is, if I really WANTED to, I could do it. I could force myself to use the machines or the DVD's, etc. But right now, I don't have the want. Which I suppose means I should also stop bitching about the pounds I've gained.

Also, in reference to all body types being healthy, I totally agree. I can bet you that you could stand me (being thin) next to a handful of heavier people and I would be one of the most unhealthy ones. But, like it's been said on here, people look at me and assume that because I'm thin, I'm fit (which makes me choke on laughter). Just like people look at overweight people and make judgements that they are lazy and unhealthy. I can tell you, my dad (at 50lbs overweight and 33 years older than me) is healthier than I am. And has much more physical endurance than I do.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, but I still cannot get over the fact (and really, the misconception) that just because someone exercises with a trainer and runs 5 miles a day, that equates to "healthy." In a span of 3 days, Sundry herself has talked about combining chocolate covered espresso beans with Red Bull (heart attack waiting to happen by the way), eating an entire box of Russian tea cookies and noshing on an entire bag of a lethal-sounding Doritos cocktail or sorts, made up of a variety of three different types of artificially flavored cheese chips. And then topping it all off with Pepperidge Farm Texas Toast and a "schooner" of Haagen Daz. If that doesn't say INSTANT HEART ATTACK waiting to happen, if that isn't abuse to the body, I don't know what is. The food she's abusing her body with is worse that what I've EVER seen a "plus-sized" person eat. I don't care how many miles you run, or how much iron you pump, keep getting hopped up on Red Bulls and Doritos and see what happens over time. Do you know Lesley's now-infamous piece of pie (especially if it's fresh fruit-filled) pales in comparison to the toxicity of just one of those Red Bulls?

That is the real irony. Because if you're really into fitness and you're truly treating your body right (outward appearance is only a fraction of the proof), you're not eating that type of shit.

St said...

@Anonymous If you have something to say to Sundry, why not say it to her face? Because you'd rather hide here in anonymity and pick apart someone else's lifestyle?
This plus sized person outdoes Sundry's food indulgences by a long shot. Please.

She Likes Purple said...

Swistle, I just caught up with this post and comments section, and I don't want to prolong a conversation you've clearly said you want to see end, but I do want to agree with something you said that seems to have gotten lost in the noise of the comments: as a culture, we DO find it cute, quirky, not-an-issue when a thin person eats a lot or bakes cookies or orders dessert (I think of the Gilmore Girls here and how FUNNY it was that they never ate anything healthy and HA HA HA so cute, BECAUSE THEY WERE THIN). It's a (sad) reality that society DOES draw this line between fat and thin in terms of which behaviors are accepted and which aren't. If an overweight, plus-sized friend orders a piece of cake, we (generally) jump to thinking, Is she stress eating? Can't control herself? Has no willpower? But if a thin person does the same thing, she's indulging a little, treating herself, enjoying life. THAT'S what's so upsetting to me. We simply TREAT people differently based on body size without knowing anything about them.

And, yes, Linda is right. You certainly can lose weight no matter what.The formula is the same for everyone. You eat less + workout more = lose weight. Can anyone really dispute that? No. But how we treat people at various shapes and sizes is much more complicated and the total opposite of simple and black and white. (Esp since we gradually change the way we gain/lose weight as we age and what it took to shed 15 lbs when I was 21 simply does not work any longer AND GAH, ANNOYING.)

Also, WHY a person is overweight or continues to be overweight is complicated and it's just ignorant to think that FAT = UNHAPPY and THIN = ALL FIGURED OUT, ECSTATIC. (Not that anyone alluded to that, just saying.) This is coming from a person who at 178 lbs (holla!) is happier than I was at 98, when I was throwing up everything I ate.

(And have I said you're beautiful. Yes, you are. Beauty doesn't top out at a certain size, I know this from personal experience.)

Kakaty said...

I can't beleive I'm adding to this, but gah! I just can't stop.

I am, depending on what chart you use, somewhere between 90 & 110 overweight. As I said before, even as a 2-sport athlete w/ a teenage metabolism I was classified as overweight. I work out, there have been times in my life when I dedicated ALL my free time to fitness & was only able to acheive moderate success. Linda - I love all your writing & you have been a huge inspiration to me, but I have to disagree with you on the anyone can do it if they make sweeping lifestyle changes point. I am not discounting the daily effort you put into maintaining what you've acheived, because I read your blogs and I know the work you put in. However, I wonder if you would still make that assertion to someone who at 100 lbs overweight trained for the Breast Cancer 3-day by walking 7 miles/ day 5 days a week + a 12-15 miler on the weekend while on Weight Watchers. That was 2-3 hours each night ang up to 5 hours on the weekends. I did that for 3 months and lost 15 lbs. That's the kind of lifestyle I would have to maintain to keep losing weight. I work, have a kid & a spouse and other things in my life and that schedule is not something I can maintain (not to mention, that if I weren't training for the 3-day there is no way I would have had any motivation to continue with that schedule).
My choices do effect my weight and health. However, I will never be at or able to maintain a comfortable weight (for me that would be between 180-190) without medical intervention. My genetics/DNA are just not wired that way.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, some nasty comments. I've been thin and I am currently fat. The thin world is easier in ways that are hard to describe.

I have two parents with type 2 diabetes and my dad's cancer treatment options were narrowed due to his size and medical history. This is not a position I want to be in the future. I have to find my own healthy and happy medium when it comes to weight. Everyone is different and what is achievable for one person may not be achievable for another.

jonniker said...

oh geez, anonymous, no. No no no no no. I do not have the tolerance for that kind of criticism, no no no no no no. NO. NO NO NO.

That is such ridiculous rude UNCALLED-FOR RIDICULOUSNESS, criticizing someone's FOOD CHOICES based on a Twitter account and the occasional offhand jokey indulgence comment oh my STARS NO. NO NO NO NO NO YOU DO NOT GET TO DO THAT ON MY WATCH.

Who DOESN'T eat Doritos and ice cream and all that shit on occasion? COME ON. Even Jillian Michaels indulges from time to time.

I'll tell you, I am VERY fortunate in my genetics in that I can basically eat whatever I want and never get more than 40 pounds overweight. And my bloodwork and general health is squeaky fucking CLEAN, to the point where I have a life insurance policy based on predictions on my lifespan that beats 99% of the population.

I am healthy. And I can, on occasion, eat the everloving shit outta some Haagen Dazs, and I have also been known to eat my weight in butter and trans fats on special holidays. And if it shortens my lifespan by a TEENY TINY MARGIN, so be it. At least I'll get a little morsel of joy from time to time.

But I'm glad we've devolved to the point where we're criticizing people's diets on the macro level AND determining arbitrarily what equals health. It's like we've all learned NOTHING OH MY GOD.

St said...

I did not know of Jonniker before this thread and OMG you f*cking ROCK! You have a new stalker, J.

Swistle said...

This comments section has such ugly things in it, I don't even know what to do. If I start deleting, where do I draw the line? Who's so rude they have to be deleted, and who's only moderately rude and can stay---especially since some of the very worst offenders think they're not being rude? It's a hard decision, and so far all I've decided is to take a sleeping pill tonight so I can stop composing mental replies to all the ugliness.

Also, the first line of my post now seems almost PROPHETIC.

St said...

I'd leave it but it's probably hard knowing these words are here in your space.

Sarah Lena said...

All I know?

We're letting the terrorists win with this nonsense.

I told you, Swistle.. Rule #1 of Fat Club: DON'T TALK ABOUT FAT CLUB.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just close the comments? Just a suggestion.

Lesley said...

Exercise has very little impact on weight loss because (unless you're climbing Mount Everest or working out like an Olympian) exercise burns very few calories. You'd have to do a shitload of exercise to burn one pound of fat, so it's pointless relying on exercise for weight loss.

Weight loss is almost entirely accomplished via food intake and the state of satiety. Without satiety, long term weight loss and maintenance is impossible for most people (because most people don't enjoy feeling hungry).

There's plenty of reliable science on this - and what to eat to experience satiety while restricting calories - but you won't find it at places like Weight Watchers, which depends on thousands of repeat customers.

This should be a relief to people who aren't keen on hours and hours of exercise, particularly of the cardio variety.

It is possible to lose weight comfortably, with very little effort, and very little exercise (if you're not keen on exercise) and feel satisfied and stable, hormonally. Not only does the weight come off, but you can feel better than you've ever felt in your life. There's no gimmick, nothing to buy, nothing to join, just information that is freely available, thanks to people who seriously research this stuff (most of them, athletes). I've got links for this, but I fear no one here is particularly interested.

Seester said...

I would guess that I am probably thinner than many of the people on the Plus size side of the fence...By looking at me- you probably wouldn't automatically assume that I am un-healthy. This is due to 2 things- a. I haven't had kids b. I smoke a pack a day
I would also guess that most of the Plus size peeps are healthier than me.
I maintain my size by smoking which helps decrease my appetite and promises me frequent colds which helps decrease my appetite further. So chubby girls- get off your asses and go have a smoke or 20. That way you can be un-healthily thinner like me :) (again, joking!!)
My point is the same as other people have tried to make- Thin doesn't mean healthy and heavy doesn't mean un-healthy.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Swistle, you rock so much, seriously. :) I'm also plus-size and am always amazed at how some people seem to think that means lazy, stupid, eats far too much for every single meal, etc. (though most people are fine.)

I actually had a guy at work say once, "Wow, you don't eat that much," when he looked at the smallish cup of noodles I was having for lunch. He meant it as a compliment. I nearly decked him. ::g::

Um, anyway, I've meant to comment on this for ages, especially as I follow both you and Sundry on Twitter as well as your blogs. The problem I'm having is that it's really difficult to affirm what she's doing, without seeming like I think all overweight people are BAD. And on the other hand it's difficult to affirm overweight people as surprise! not evil and lazy, without seeming like I think all people who put lots of effort into their food and exercise are BAD.

So, I dig you both, you both look great (seriously, you look good in that photo with Rob!), and it's none of my goddamn business what choices you make, anyway. :) I mean, I'm interested in reading about it all, because I'm nosy and you're both intelligent, hilarious, and entertaining, but I'm not about to judge. *Especially* as I'm very good at doing *some* things in looking after myself, and extremely crap at other things.

Wow, that was a long, exciting essay. ::g:: Anyway, take care!!!


Anonymous said...

Um, PS, did not mean to imply that I think you or other plus-sized people put no effort or time into your health. I'm a self-confessed fatass and *I* put some time into mine. I don't mean you're the anti-Sundry, or any other plus-sized person is the anti-Sundry!

Meg the Awkward

Swistle said...

I would like to clarify a few things. I keep getting credited with saying that body size/shape is DNA, which I did---but it's getting interpreted to mean that I don't think change is possible. Of COURSE change is possible. What I think is DNA is: (1) the starting point, (2) how much effort it takes to change, (3) what the end result can be, and (4) how much effort it takes to maintain it. Those points sound so simple, but I think they're HUGE. One person may need to do certain things to maintain a certain shape; another person making the same changes might see no results at all. This is why "_I_ did it, therefore SO CAN YOU!!" is silly. It's like me saying, "_I_ became pregnant naturally, therefore SO CAN YOU!!" or someone else saying "_I_ gave birth naturally, therefore SO CAN YOU!!" or "_I_ learned particle physics easily, therefore SO CAN YOU!!"

There are also a lot of people interpreting me to mean that I am pro-fatness, or happy being plus-sized, and I didn't say anything like that (nor did I say I WASN'T). The comments are probably trying to be supportive, but I think it's silly to say that the most important thing is that we be happy with our bodies. We don't say that to anorexics, we only say it to fat people, and the message comes across as a trick: "You obviously MUST be happy being fat, because it's so easy to be thin you'd definitely be thin if you wanted to be. ...Oh, you're not happy? THEN YOU MUST DIET AND EXERCISE, HA HA HA GOTCHA!!" I think it's a comment that is probably generally MEANT well, like when people say they don't care if a baby is a boy or a girl as long as it's healthy (which implies they don't want it if it's not healthy, but they probably don't mean that).

And lastly, I sure would like to see the fat/fitness division STOP. We ALL KNOW that thin people can non-exercisers and poor eaters, and that fat people can be good exercisers and good eaters. We ALL KNOW this, and yet we keep associating overweight with non-exercising, non-healthy-food-eating, and we keep associating thinness with exercising and healthy food eating. It's like some kind of mental stumbling block and everyone keeps tripping over it again and again. If someone is overweight, the assumption is that they're obviously not exercising, or that they're obviously eating too much UNHEALTHY foods. What a very silly assumption! I suppose a person could assume that the non-thin person wasn't doing enough healthy things TO BE THIN if THAT'S the goal, but to assume they do nothing at all? As Meg said it above me, it's not that the two sides are "thin and fit" versus "plus-sized and unfit."

St said...

Swistle, I'm glad you clarified these points because it seems like people are arguing against things you never said.

Lesley, I know you have all the answers but you are right that we don't want your links. Contrary to what you believe about the people here, we are intelligent individuals who know how to use google and most of us already have your special information. You are missing the point.

Anonymous said...

Lesley, Id like the links please. Thank you!

Sundry said...

The opinions I expressed with regards to my belief that anyone has the power to make changes to their body—which are only my OWN opinions, really, and I've tried to be clear about that by using words like "I believe" and "I think", etc— have now been described as silly, naive, and ignorant. I think the main thing I've learned from this thread is know your audience, and don't offer opinions where they weren't asked for when it comes to [whatever word it is that we're agreeing is okay to describe this topic]. Swistle, in your last comment you've clarified so many minefields I don't know how I could have said *anything* in this thread without offending someone. I think I have a lot to learn.

You know I love you and I think you're amazing, so I hope none of this leaves a bad taste on our friendship.

St said...

Sundry, while you were clear that it was your was your opinion about other people's bodies. Anytime you make a statement regarding other people there is going to be criticism!
The majority of people on this thread were supportive of you and your fitness journey even if we disagreed about your opinion of what other people are capable of.
And yeah, NONE of us could have said anything without offending SOMEONE. That's what makes this a controversial topic!

jonniker said...

Linda, I think maybe you made the mistake of thinking that a lot of the comments made here - including ones I made -- in relation to fitness/body type and against Lesley's message was somehow directed at you personally. There were a LOT of opinions tossed around about a LOT of things, and to mirror your comment to Swistle, I don't even think I was able to say what *I* think without offending you, based on what you just said. Honestly, I didn't realize you were offended by something I said until you made that comment, for it wasn't really about you.

(I used the words 'naive' and 'ignorant' for example, and I am well aware of that when reading your comment just now, when frankly, the vast majority of my comment was extremely general, and something I have thought about before, independent of you and anyone else here about fitness/body types/dieting. It came from a series I did a few years ago on overeating and the Biggest Loser. For God's sake, it was the theme on the Today Show this morning, where they talked about how money was an obstacle and then presented us with three upper-middle-class people who lost weight with videos, the Wii and other items not everyone can afford.)

I think the mistake we're all making is taking all of this VERY PERSONALLY and focusing on the negative. Both you and Swistle received an overwhelming number of positive comments that FAR outweigh the negative. What I find most upsetting, to be honest, is that while yes, many other people were attacked, this is Swistle's blog, and her original post and point are completely lost, and it was a great one, and one that made me appreciate her more.

And I hate to say it, but I'm putting quite a bit of this on Lesley and Rachel, though less so: No matter if Lesley was right or wrong, pro-fitness or not, she came here as a *visitor*, stirred shit up and pooped all over Swistle and other people, changed the topic to God-knows-what, and then left. That was incredibly impolite and rude to do, and the fact that it upset Swis upset me.

Yes, she did it in defense of you, but I'd rather that defense been in the form of kind words about YOU (which many people did, and I will again add my voice in support of you and what you've accomplished -- I think you're great, and you've been one of my favorite people on the Internets before AND after the fitness kick and I ... I love you, man, really, I do, and there is no 'but' to that whatsoever), rather than unkind words about the person who offended her, and lumped a whole lot of people in with that comment. It's unlikely it would have devolved to this point, had she not done that. Truly.

I think we could all use a deep, Al-Franken-style breath and tell ourselves that we're good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, and that not everything in this thread is about US. Because it really isn't.

jonniker said...

And PS, by "all of us" I am definitely including myself in this category. It's SUCH a heavy (OH A PUN) topic, and it's hard NOT to be offended by something someone says, even if it isn't directed at me personally. IT FEELS LIKE IT IS. I KNOW THIS.

Anne said...

A good point, Jonniker. I'm totally guilty of taking comments directed at others or to the world in general very, very personally.

I also tend to get pulled into debates like this that flare-up my insecurities about the safety of having differing opinions from people I like (but they won't liiiiike me if I don't agree!), and I flail about in my living room wanting SO MUCH to defend everyone in the discussion (on both sides) that I like and show up on doorsteps with hugs (and pie!), because disagreement/hurt feelings = DANGER AND DOOM and I just want everyone to be happy and know that I like them and think they're awesome even if they have no idea who I am and I really, really need to calm the hell down.

*deep breath*

It is a wonder I have spent so much time online over the years without exploding, considering.

Anyway, go read Jonniker's last paragraph on her comment from 1:40pm. That? Is the important lesson here.

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