broadsideblog

If one more woman bitches about the size of her body…

In aging, beauty, behavior, blogging, books, culture, domestic life, Health, life, Media, women on December 6, 2012 at 12:51 am
What scientists call "Overweight" ch...

What scientists call “Overweight” changes with our knowledge of human health (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am going to lose it completely.

Some of you read Kristen Lamb, who writes a blog about writing. It’s extremely popular and usually very helpful. But her latest post was a digression – an extended piece about being a size 10/12 and why she feels fat:

I am healthy, have beautiful skin and hair. I have enough energy to power a small city and am never sick, but I am still a size 10-12 and 170 pounds.

Why is it no one looks like me?

When we look on TV, we are confronted with extremes–super skinny or clinically obese. We are calling anorexics “beautiful” and calling dangerously obese women “curvy.” We are an a country that is dying because of euphemisms. I hear parents call morbidly obese children “husky,” “big-boned” or “muscular.” We have retailers calling anorexics “curvy.”

I get it. I’ve written about this as well.

But, seriously — it is time for women to move on.

Every time a healthy woman feels compelled to discuss the size of her ass or thighs or hips I want to throw a piece of furniture. Yes, being fat is annoying and unhealthy and no one makes pretty clothes for fatties.

I’m overweight, and have been since 2003 when I packed on 23 pounds in one year — the year I wrote my first book, traveling alone around the U.S., interviewing victims of horrific gun violence and crime, and dealing, alone, with my mother’s 3-inch-wide brain tumor and surgery in Vancouver. I was too damn distracted to even notice.

I’ve gained even more since then. Ugh. I’m not thrilled, believe me, to need to lose 40+ pounds. But we need to stop talking about this, and this is why I feel so strongly.

The larger issue here — pun intended — is this:

Whining about weight is the biggest fucking distraction that women indulge in! We have much bigger fish to fry!

Whining about weight is a huge time-suck.

Whining about weight teaches the girls in our lives, who look to us their role models, that this is just what women do, that focusing miserably and endlessly on our individual body size and shape is our most pressing issue as women — instead of political and economic issues that affect us all, size 00s to 24s,  like paid maternity leave or better domestic violence protection or access to birth control and abortion.

Whining about weight ignores and demeans the many incredible gifts we enjoy every single day. We are not living in Syria with government/rebel bombs exploding all around us, for example.

Whining about weight is the ultimate shiny object that women continue to focus their attention on, instead of:

– fighting for social justice, at home and abroad

– running for political office and kicking ass when we win

– creating astonishing works of art

– waking up every single day grateful for their health and strength, the not-so-simple ability to walk and stand and reach for things without pain

– knowing that women all over the world are dying of starvation, malnutrition and in childbirth at 14 or 16 because their young bodies are too weakened to do so healthily

– ditching the people in their lives who shame them by focusing on the size of their ass instead of what matters most, the size of our hearts and brains

– exploring the world, no matter our size, with excitement and anticipation

thinking, long and hard, about our legacies in this world

There is something ironic to me that Kristen’s blog post includes a photo of herself holding — of all things! — a very large gun. Having written a book about American women and guns, I know this decision isn’t one she made lightly, and showing her readers that she owns a gun takes serious guts. Shooting well also requires tremendous mental and physical control.

So, frankly, I don’t get it. You’re powerful and self-determining, or you’re not. A woman who knows how to handle a gun safely and shoot well is someone I respect; I’ve done a lot of shooting and know the power it conveys.

Labels are also something we generally choose to ignore after leaving the schoolyard, so why are women of all ages so eager to keep self-flagellating about how fat we are (or are not?)

At this point, I’m technically “plus size.”

Why don’t the curvy chicks start calling size 6’s and 00’s minus-size?

Give it up, ladies! This obsession is wasting our talent, energy, excitement and drive.

Give it up today.

  1. I’ll be you didn’t know that cigars are a marvelous appetite suppressant, Ms. Malled. Works for me.

    By the way, does this blog make my bottom look big?

  2. I’ve got an idea for a novel, a political thriller, and the president or vice president character will be a woman whose biggest criticism is that she looks like someone you’d have babysit your kids than run your country. At some point she says to another character, “I’ll worry about my weight when I’m not worrying about this country.”
    “You’re always worrying about your country.”
    “Then I guess I don’t have the time! What’s next on the agenda?”

    • A woman President? I wish.

    • Hi Caitlin, I think you’re making same egregiously erroneous conclusions based on some terribly fallacious logic. Just because there are more ‘important issues’, in your opinion, than worrying about overweight or obesity doesn’t mean that both issues can’t be addressed simultaneously without detracting from the ‘more important’ issues.
      It sounds a little like a coping mechanism you’ve developed or bought into to avoid addressing the importance of overweight and obesity, which is a very real and expensive burden on state healthcare systems, particulary in America and Australia, the two fattest countries on the planet.

      You do make some good points however, for example spending time whinging about an issue instead of doing something about it is wasted time, but I might say that whinging about people whinging about the issue is even more ironic than the example you provided.

      Cheers,
      J

      • You missed my point, but thanks for stopping by.

      • I agree with both of you, Jason, and broadsideblog. I’d agree that it’s annoying when women whine about their weight instead of doing something about it, and surely there are more important issues. But I also think there is a gender and social issue underlying all of this that should be included in the list of other important issues up there, and not swept under the rug or bitched about.

      • I think it’s a separate issue.

      • If I missed the point, then it is because you never made it!
        In any event, you’re certainly using some dreadful logic to arrive at whatever you think the point is that you imagine you’re making.

      • Seriously, Jason, give it a rest. We do not agree and I don’t feel like arguing with you any further. Your tone is rude and I don’t need to deal with it.

      • Nobody was asking for an argument, simply clarification on some conclusions based on very dubious logic, but if you’re too high-and-mighty on your pedestal to provide your lowly readers with simple clarification when they request it then I think perhaps that is much more telling than any ‘argument’ that could have taken place.

        All the best. J

      • “but if you’re too high-and-mighty on your pedestal to provide your lowly readers”

        Even more personal insults?

      • I said the exact thing. Our bodies are something we have control over- more so than global issues. Therefore, we are actually more accountable for our health than issues like world hunger. We can not help others if we are not disciplined enough to take care of ourselves. To write off personal health because there are other problems in the world does nothing but exasperate huge problems like health care expenses and the obesity epidemic. You nailed it, this is a fallacious coping mechanism designed to alleviate guilt for those two lazy to take action. We all agree-whining sucks. However, that means do something to change the outcome. Don’t say forget it because there are other issues.

      • Exactly Brent – feel free to read my latest blog post for my further thoughts on the topic.

      • Completely agree, it’s hardly the next step in evolution to ignore our bodies. What? is it okay to gorge oneself as long as we’re talking about economic or political issues?
        I understand that ,for women who are medically a healthy size, obsessing about one’s weight just seems silly.
        HOWEVER, for someone who is either underweight or over weight it’s exactly what they should be thinking about. ( and even for the women who don’t want to change their weight considerably, often talking about it is to do with self-improvement and the one thing we have complete control over: our bodies. The women of today are not as one-dimensional as you’re making them out to be.)

        I’s a bit much to say that, ‘Whining about weight ignores and demeans the many incredible gifts we enjoy every single day. We are not living in Syria with government/rebel bombs exploding all around us’. I think we are evolved enough to feel two emotions at once and while most consider themselves fortunate when listening to the news, we are not going to walk around all day dwelling on it; we have jobs to go to, bills to pay, lives to live. For those who are parents they have to think about the example that they set for their children in how we take care of ourselves.

        Furthermore, if you are overweight or obese, getting healthy* should be in your top five priorities. You’re effectively killing yourself, and placating oneself by saying ‘I SHOULD be thinking about my legacy, or creating fab art pieces or running for office, not trying to make myself healthier?!’ wont help you.
        No one is going to make it into any political office if they die of heart disease.
        Obesity is a pandemic, and if we stop talking about it and say that we have ‘bigger, fish to fry’ we are ignoring the problem.
        Don’t insult my intelligence by telling me I missed the point,
        To anyone out there who is trying to become healthy, is say:
        Getting fit is an up-hill battle but it is VITAL.
        You wont get there by validating your weight (or procrastination) because you were ‘exploring the world, no matter our size, with excitement and anticipation’, you’ll get there when you stop making excuses, and get on a tread mill.

        I understand that your saying there are more important things, like being grateful for what you have, trying to improve oneself intellectually or remembering that people love you for your soul as such, but none of those things can happen without your health.

        The fundamental point you’ve stressed is that we should stop TALKING about it?
        I’m sorry but obesity(or anorexia) is definitely NOT an issue that should be seen and not heard.

        Penny

        *by healthy I mean trying to combat both the weight and the underlying issue behind it, be it depression or any other illness. I have 2 friends who have battled with this so trust me I know it’s anything but easy.

  3. GREAT post. Just saw another similar one somewhere else after the Vic. Secret fashion show–finally we are getting fed up with hearing about it. Calling somebody an anorexic just because you can’t be that svelte is the same nasty name-calling as calling someone a fat*@@ or something like that. Models have different bodies than other people and that is why they get picked for that job. Same as why policemen seem to be taller. And pairs skaters are more all-around petite. New idea: why don’t we judge our bodies by what they could be, instead of by comparing them to somebody with a different body type, then quit hating everybody who looks different from us??? How ’bout the media stops reducing every female diplomat, actress, head of a monetary bank, Tyra Banks and politician to whether they can be called too fat or too “skinny”. Anorexia is actually a disease with a definition, and being slimmer than usual is NOT the definition!
    Like you, I am so sick of all the carrying on and I especially wish the media would shut up about people’s bodies, as that is one of the biggest reasons younger women are so fixated on it. And I think the “curvy chicks” and the small-boned chicks should stop insulting each other also. Small women need clothes too.
    Sore spot? YOU BET.

    • Hell, yeah! Thanks for weighing in — pun intended! :-) You make a lot of great points.

      Surely (?????) we have other things to discuss, like the fiscal cliff or what to wear to all our Christmas parties. Spanx is my best friend! :-)

  4. Hell, I’ve been carrying about 20-30 extra pounds since I WAS 30. But I work out, I eat well, and I indulge in the occasional beer, glass of wine, or glass of scotch. I feel good, I feel pretty healthy, and that’s what’s important. Do I think, “hmm, I could stand to lose a few pounds.” Yeah. Do I run around asking people if my ass looks fat? No. Do I eat a carrot stick at lunch and nothing else? Hell, no. I’m interested in dropping the extra weight because it’ll help with the ol’ joints and bones in the long run, not because I’m all, like, “people will think I’m an ultra hottie if I just lose this weight!” Please. I like who I am, I’m pretty clear on who I am, and I like how I feel. I, too, wish women would quit bitching about their weight (and I’ll own right now that yes, I have done this). I don’t like how it seems to be part and parcel of being a woman in this culture. Let’s focus instead on our sheer bad-assery! :D

  5. oh my. such a huge issue, pun not intended but allowed to stay. on the one hand, you are totally right that women should have – and do have – much more worthwhile things to think about. on the other hand, being overweight is not good for our physical health.

    • The day I hear 1/200000th of the same discussion about fat MEN and their body issues, I will agree with you. But we do not. It is a way to keep women shamed and angry and — most of all — distracted and divided. We will NEVER gain the political and economic control we need and deserve if we yammer on about our damn bodies.

      • you have a really good point! and think of all the overweight men out there who are fine with their “big” size! we do yammer on about our bodies. i’m involved in an intense dialogue online at the good men project, it’s about rape and what defines rape. it’s amazing, the huge differences of opinion…the one i’m involved with started with one guy admitting that he coerced a woman 20 or so yrs ago and feels now, in retrospect, that it was rape. so…..my point? that it always seems to be about our bodies, one way or another! pisses me off too!

      • The more attention we — men and women — pay to our bodies, the less we pay to the rest of our lives…which is truly bizarre.

      • hmmm, i’ve noticed “goss coaching” has a new blog. she helps people lose weight by finding ways for them to be happier, so happiness and contentedness becomes the goal. hmm, what to think of that? i mean, some people do need or want to lose weight. so her premise is that by enhancing other parts of their lives, then their bodies will take care of themselves. you are so right: we must pay attention to everything about our lives!

      • I think there is truth to that — if you can let go of food and drink being a source of comfort (let alone pleasure), you’ll get thinner fast. Some people deride food as mere fuel. I will never be one of them!

      • i’m with you, sistuh

  6. The comedian, Maria Bamford, does a great bit about women focusing on their appearance so that they won’t notice the glass ceiling above their heads. It’s only funny because it’s so damned true and you are exactly right, we sure expend a lot of energy and time on this bullshit – it’s become the “woman’s lament” and it’s tiresome! Great post!

  7. I wonder if it comes down to the idea that it really just doesn’t matter that much whether you like yourself or not. You are stuck with you–overweight, underweight, or healthy. Get over it.

    However, I also think that as the obesity problem around the world continues to increase, that being a healthy weight matters a great deal. It affects our quality of life and how long we live. We can’t attend to the things that matter most if our bodies don’t get us there.

    • I hear your point. There is a difficult discussion where people start finger-wagging others to get thin(ner)…always (as my Dad did to me for years til I told him to SHUT up) out of concern for my health. Obesity is caused by a whole range of factors, not just laziness or lack of self-discipline.

      I still think a woman who weighs 60 lbs more than she should — eve 30 — who is technically obese is fully capable of emailing, phoning or writing a letter to her elected officials, writing op-eds and speaking out for her political and economic needs.

      • You’re a grown woman, and it’s long past time Dad stopped telling you what to do–so that’s a completely different matter.

        I do feel that a woman’s own health and quality of life are more important than events in the world, but that’s a personal bias. And I do tend to think that the pain women feel about their bodies sometimes prevents them from being able to address real health issues in a pragmatic way. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of denial and self-berating that essentially stops all efforts to deal with the issue in an effective way. I should also add that obesity is not specifically women’s issue–that it is a human issue, and an increasing portion of the population is impacted by it.

        I don’t know that men are dealing with it any better. They just cope with with their emotional pain differently, and talking tends to be a less popular coping strategy. But I see boys just as teased and hurt as girls for their weight, their height, and even their skin color. I find it hard to believe that boys magically stop feeling this pain as adults.

      • Thanks. All good points.

        My goal is not to suggest men and boys are not teased or feel no pain over this. But no one can deny that women and girls, from infancy, are told — by their families and “friends” and by the media and their culture — how to look and that, often, they just don’t look “right” or “good enough” and it’s deeply toxic and MUST stop. Focusing on the externals of who we are as human beings (health issues ASIDE) is an absurd distraction and denies our essential value in the world as thinking, loving creatures — not a size 0 or someone with six-pack abs. It demeans all of us.

  8. MINUS SIZE… That’s awesome. I am going to start using that!

  9. [...] talked about this once before. But this one issue is bugging [...]

  10. I’ve written about body image. More specifically, I wrote about how important I used to think weight was only to learn that despite size I still had eyes and ears and hands that could write things. I understand your point, that keeping that conversation going might be spending a lot of time not doing something else. I’m all for uplifting commentary on balance and health and confidence, but the lamenting over pounds and pants size isn’t accomplishing anything.

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this.

      I really think it would be fascinating to do a content analysis of women’s magazines and men’s — and count up the column inches devoted to weight. I imagine that men’s media focus about 10%, at most, on what men LOOK like as opposed to what they DO. Women need to figure this out, stat!

  11. I think it has to do with what you see as a girl growing up. When I was growing up in Kenya, I first of all didn’t see many images of skinny women as the ideal, because that wasn’t how Kenyans defined beauty. I also don’t remember having had many conversations with my friends about our weight or how we looked. That’s not to say that girls didn’t care about their appearance, it’s just that it wasn’t the focus. We were all concerned with getting good grades because grades pretty much determined your status at school. When I came back to the U.S., I discovered that here, looks are more important than grades.

    • Which is a really depressing commentary on our cultural values! I was lucky enough to grow up in Canada in the 1970s, a combo of a less-fussy culture when it comes to women’s appearance and during the height of second-wave feminism. All we cared about, as well, was being smart and listened to. That never changed for me, so I have no patience or tolerance for women who can’t see how much that matters, then as now.

  12. Thanks so much for writing this blog! I admit to not even opening Kristen’s post when I saw the title and pics – I just didn’t want to read it. I agree with you – enough already – we have far more important things to be saying and doing.

  13. Truly excellent point.

  14. Insightful and poignant as always, Caitlin. To smack down the run on thoughts I often have about my weight, I needed that kick in my size 12 pants, which are filled by one tall, grossly healthy (as my doctor tells me), smart, fabulous woman. :)

  15. Weight-Schmeight! I never step on the scale outside the MDs office. After menopause, the hips went a bit wider, but I am active as all get out, riding my bicycle 100s of miles. Still not fitting into a size 8, but who cares? Have mondo-sized legs muscles. Anyway, to complain about weight tends to fortify the large store of resistance. Who said, ‘What we resist persists?’ Focus on something else, and the weight might just..um…fall…um…into place.

  16. Great post! I’m not sure if a bloke should wade into this… but actually, to me wearing my anthropologists’ hat, this issue raises some pointed questions that go well beyond the immediate issues. It seems to me that matters of ‘fashion’ and ‘image’ have always been a part of the human condition. This for women more usually than men, but there have been times when men, too, were subject to sartorial pressures. I am thinking eighteenth century styles particularly.

    I think the problem today is the particular way that the pressure to have a certain ‘look’ (extreme ectomorph) has been tied so closely to externally created definitions of worth and status, fairly specifically targeted to women, and then commercialised. Playing upon senses of self-worth is a very powerful device when it comes to parting people with their money and, to my mind, not a particularly ethical one if we consider the feelings of those subjected to it. (‘If you don’t use our product/have this shape/look this way, you won’t be attractive to people’). To me it epitomises the shallowness of pop-culture, but history tells me this is nothing new; and at the moment (alas and alack) it is the way the system seems to work.

    Men get targeted this way through cars. For women, it appears to be body shape, and what concerns me is the nature of the body image being imposed through commercial fashion advertising, through language, through advertising, through peer pressure and all the rest. The ideal image is a distorted one from a medical/biological perspective, though this is far from unusual – and once again, women are trying to force themselves into shapes that don’t often exist normally.

    I have no doubt humanity of the 22nd century will look back on today’s pop-image and laugh, just as we do now about nineteenth century ideals in which women were expected to have wasp-waists (this achieved variously via corsets or, at times, by having ribs removed), or to move about in floor-length dresses as if on rollers (‘deportment’). This, in its own way, was another pop-social denial in a different way of the reality of the human shape.

    The modern trend has come up within living memory; I suspect the 1960s had something to do with it. Marilyn Monroe, who symbolised female allure for a generation in the mid-twentieth century, was a size 16. Today? That’s apparently ‘plus’. What does that really tell us about the underlying nature of the society that imposes such thinking? It is possible to look on societies as ‘individuals’ and consider them ‘troubled’. I have to wonder about where we’re going today – and, of course, as I note above, history offers some pretty sharp lessons about other ‘troubled’ times.

    The anthropologist in me is piqued. I think I have a blog post coming along on this one.

  17. Great, great post. Contentious subject. Fight this everyday I get out into the city and see lean bodies on display and want to smack myself for reflexive envy that tightens my throat. I’ve struggled with my weight most of my life. It’s an f-ed up irony in a lot of Asian societies where you get criticized for being big (and I am structurally, big for an Asian. Tall and broad even without the flesh component), but simultaneously, being pushed to eat, eat, eat.

    I think in the history of my people (haha), perpetual hunger and the thinness resulting from that hunger is so “normal”, that most of them eat like hell whenever they can, and still remain that way. Roundness in a matriarch was an indicator or her husband’s wealth and thus, higher social standing. But things are very different for those of my generation onwards. These days roundness suggests a whole different set of (undesirable?) qualities altogether. But given food is a cornerstone of many Asian cultural identities, the almost genetic drive to eat eat eat just confuses the issue altogether. The myth of sylph-like girls who can eat anything they want and still remain waif like, is given life every single day in my Facebook feed. Having seen some of these girls in action, it is very clearly a myth, and a super transparent one at that, but women especially, really want to believe it exists, for others, if not themselves.

    It’s an ineffable madness.

    • The underlying issue is WHY we all want to be so damn thin:

      1) Pretty clothes are very very rarely made in sizes beyond a 12, so fatties get to wear ugly shit which is depressing and leads to self-loathing — when we should loathe designers and retailers.

      2) Hello, retouching?! You, as a shooter, know that many of the media images we see of women, who are already insanely tall and thin and have no booty or boobs, are made even thinner in the lab.

      3) Men and women’s contempt for fatties. If women with curves were, literally, embraced…skinnies would be jealous, not vice versa.

      This post will FPed in a few days, so it’ll be interesting to see what others have to say…

  18. When I was in college, I couldn’t find a size small enough. Zeros were too big for me. I’ve now been married for four years and work from home and have gained over 50 pounds since my wedding day. For a long time, I was depressed about it (but in my defense, I also had some other pretty big issues going on as well, so it wasn’t just the weight that had me in my depression.) I’ve come to terms with it, and I do want to lose weight, but not because I am ashamed of my body. I want to lose weight because I’m not going to be young forever, and I know that the older I get, the more affect my weight will have on my health. While I try to eat healthy, I don’t starve myself and I certainly don’t deprive myself of things I like. I eat salads and drink health shakes, but I also have ice cream, chocolate, fried chicken, and fast food (which, in my advancing age, I’m less and less tolerable to, but it’s still on my list!)

    Anyway, love the article, and I wish all women would listen up and learn to love themselves and if they want to lose weight, do it for health reasons, not beauty, because chances are they’re beautiful whether they are a size 0 or a size 20.

  19. Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed!

  20. Thanks for this post. It echos a conclusion I came to years ago, with a little help.

    When I was working to escape my eating disorder, I read a “It’s Not About Food” (Normandi & Roark) in which the authors asked the reader, as they do all the participants in their workshops, to imagine that tomorrow they woke up to discover that a magic gas had engulfed the earth. From that day on, no matter how much they dieted or exercised, their bodies would stay precisely as they were at that moment. They asked: “What would you do?” The responses went from terror, to a feeling of confusion, to a realization of how much of their lives had been wasted on this obsession, and how personally abusive it was.

    It was quite the eye opener for me, and really helped me to break the bonds of my body obsession.

    • realization of how much of their lives had been wasted on this obsession, and how personally abusive it was.”

      This is my point. Women need to re-focus their attention on issues far weightier than their damn bodies.

      Thanks for sharing the book recommendation and your experience.

  21. It hits guys too.

    Just have a look at how the average “men’s” magazine presents guys: Perfect tans, chiseled six pack physiques and not a speck of body hair on them. They all have either lush thick heads of hair or shaved heads. When was the last time you saw a male model with thinning or receding hair? it just doesn’t happen.

    There’s also the magazine content issue; what isn’t pictures of scantily clad impossibly thin women, who are supposedly the ideal object of desire for every heterosexual guy alive, is either articles on “How to keep her satisfied all night and begging for more” or expensive “Toys for boys” that only someone who was independently wealthy would part with the cash to have.

    Men are faced with every bit the impossible image that women are. The image we get from “men’s” magazines goes something like this:

    The ideal guy has tons of disposable income which he thinks nothing of using to live a playboy lifestyle.

    His natural environments are on his yacht throwing a party, going in a private chartered jet to some exotic and exclusive locale for the weekend or spending untold hours in the bedroom giving multiple orgasms to possibly multiple women.

    The balance of his time is spent between the gym, a sports field somewhere, and the waxing and tanning studio.

    I’ve seen just as many guys fussing over their lack of a six pack and thinning hair as I’ve seen women fussing over their dress sizes and backsides.

    It’s a problem for both genders, it manifests itself differently because women are raised that it’s OK to be publicly emotional but men are taught to “suck it up” and keep emotions under the surface.

    Just because you see a guy laughing and carrying on as if his whole world was in order, it doesn’t mean that he isn’t a mess of bottled up emotions on the inside that he was taught to suppress from an early age.

    • I guess the difference is: the “ideal male image” presented in men’s magazines is, as you rightly say, a heap of crap, but is mostly confined to men’s magazines. Granted, it leaks out into the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogue and car advertising, but it’s easy to avoid the bulk of it. (And I don’t know about you, but amongst the people I know, the men who actually follow that image are widely regarded as preening pains in the arse.)

      Conversely, the “ideal female image” is everywhere. All manner of advertising is more likely to use a malnourished female model in preference to a man, as long as it’s not trying to sell something gender-specific. And for all that many men actually prefer curvier, healthier-looking women, if women can’t escape from photographs of anorexic models, that subliminal message is still going to be bearing down on them wherever they go.

      • Thanks for sharing this. It’s annoying to walk through this world — as a loving, accomplished, caring woman — and feel de-valued because your ass is “too big.” It’s demeaning and fairly insane. We have to remember — it’s insane!

      • You make a fair point that the idealized female image is more prevalent than that of the male, but that idealized male image is far from confined to the men’s magazines.

        Take a look at the cover of any pulp romance novel that’s marketed at women, he’s there and has been for years. Guys are usually dealing with him when we buy underwear too, if not directly on the package then certainly on nearby advertizing boards.

        To entertain the notion the “Guys just don’t care about their bodies” simply downplays the actual frequency with which we do see that idealized male image.

        I’ve seen more than a few women buy into that idealized male image hook, line and sinker and make life hell for any guy that tries to get involved with her,

      • My point is the same as always — you can perseverate on how unfair it is and how many people buy into it. Or ignore it and move on, as my post suggested. I think men and women have more essential issues to consider than what the media images tell us matter. If someone is only with a man or woman because of their looks, that’s a choice both have made. It’s not a choice I think especially wise.

  22. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned role models. As a teacher, I deal with teen girls every day who struggle with their insecurities – whether that be body image, intelligence, family income, or whatever. We are hard-wired to care about how we look and about how others perceive us.
    You have no idea the power we adult women have to strengthen and encourage the next generation. Saying, “I’m proud of you,” or, “You are amazing,” truly does impact these girls. We – all of us – are looking for acceptance. Reaching out to a young girl or younger woman and essentially saying, “Hey, I accept you,” will change her life.
    What a powerful force we females could be if we stopped competing against each other and instead united for a common goal.

    • Thanks for adding your specific point of view on this. I don’t have kids, but for a while mentored a 13 year-old girl whose family constantly mocked her body — her grandmother used to poke her belly and ask if the child was pregnant, in front of me. Truly toxic shit.

      Whatever you can do, do it! Girls need to know that women’s value in this world is FAR more than our visual appearance. The more attention we pay to, nurture, reward and grow our capacities for kindness, compassion, hard work and intelligence, the better.

  23. Yes, true worrying about weight is waste of energy and time.

    So I jump onto the bike…and have been cycling since am car-free. Believe me, if you want a method of not thinking much about weight and exercise, ride a bike as a your form of transportation. You’re worrying more about getting to your destination or how to haul a load of groceries home.

  24. Great post! I’d like to weigh in here (pun inteneded) as the voice of the 0’s of the world. Many of my friends chastise me if I so much as utter a word about clothes not fitting properly. It is incredibly annoying to always be scolded because people think that petite women have it easier.

    Just to dispel the myths once and for all, we don’t have it easier, we cannot wear whatever we want, and not everything looks good on us. It is a nightmare trying to find pants or skirts when you are small because everything is cut too long. Forget wearing sexy, low-cut shirts because petite women tend not to have anything to show off in the bust department. Plus-size women may find this hard to believe but there are plenty of times we wish we had your assets (again, pun intended).

    Just as many women that are size 10 or 14 are simply built that way, I am also just built this way. And just as I would never give a plus-size woman a hard time about her body, I really don’t appreciate being given a hard time about mine. So please be gentle with your size 0 friends. We have our issues and insecurities too, they just might be different from other people’s.

    • Thanks.

      My point is to STOP talking entirely about our bodies. Ever. I don’t care what size anyone is. I care what size their heart and brain are. I want to know what they are doing, or planning to do, to change this world for the better. That’s it!

      • Amen, I’m glad someone finally said. Thank you again for including all women of all sizes in this. This was a breath of fresh air to read. Keep up the great work!

  25. Wow. Just wow! Great post. It needed to be said, and you said it superbly!!

  26. I could easily lose the equivalent of a small human being and still be labeled in some way by someone. I refuse to do it myself. I eat healthier than the average American…exercise regularly but not fanatically…and I make a difference in any ways every day. That is what is big about me…not the size of my posterior. My heart, my brain, my passion – those things matter more than the number on the label of my clothes. I love the human body…each and every one is a special miracle and a thing of beauty.

  27. Amen, Sister.

  28. I was fat for a couple of years when I was in my twenties. It took a huge lifestyle change to lose the 30 pounds. Even though I have kept it off, I too am uncomfortable when women draw attention to how they look.

    I thought that women had made great strides since the 60’s, but frankly the last 15 years or so has set us back. So many women these days focus how they look and have gone to extremes to look young or like Barbie. I almost wrote a non-fiction book about it, but it hit too close to home and I did’t think some of my friends would have appreciated my opinion.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed Caitlin!

    • Thanks, Susie.

      I agree, we live in frighteningly regressive times. I see so many women Botoxed and puffy-lipped with ropy arms and wonder how many of them are paying the same amount of energy and attention to their children, partners, work and the good of the larger world. I am appalled by the wasted energy. We are all going to end up very, very, very thin — as skeletons or ashes. Too bad more people forget this and focus on minutiae.

  29. Awesome post! I say this even as I have multiple posts obsessing about my own weight issues!

    • Thanks. I hope it might prompt you to look further abroad — and focus on larger regional, national or international issues. That’s my dream for all women.

  30. Focusing upon our looks, bodies, is a distraction! Thanks for reminding us all.

    It’s funny, when I had no power in my life, or a lot less than I do now, I was really into trying to maintain a slim body. As I took on more responsibilities and started to focus more intensely upon using my energy to improve the lives of those around me (I’m a therapist, writer with a deep interest in social justice), I had less time to exercise, less time to obsess. I’m definitely not obese, but I certain used to be skinnier, I also had little sense I could live my vision. Now that I’m living my life fully, doing what I always thought I should do, the size of my ass seems nearly irrelevant.

  31. I love this post — such a worthy Freshly Pressed! As the mother of a 10-year-old daughter, it resonates even more. And as the mother of a 10-year-old daughter whose step-mother is weight obsessed and inspired my little girl to one day ask, “How many calories are in this water bottle?” I can tell you this conversation needs to go viral. It breaks my heart that the media exalts images of bone-thin as beautiful, yet “chubby” girls are always the stoic, practical, intelligent, witty counterpart.This needs to change for women to reflect more of the norm, so beautiful 10-year-old daughters like mine don’t feel the need to count calories — especially in water bottles. :(

    • Thanks for such a thoughtful comment….my heart breaks for your daughter, and thank heaven she has a smart, tough, wise Mom! My stepmother and mother (ugh) prided themselves (and snarked at me) on their chic thin-ness. Whatever!

      I was lucky. I always knew from early childhood that I was smart and talented in many ways, athletic and creative, so I have never really given a shit about my appearance – today (I am writing this from Penn Station on my way to a BIG interview in D.C.) I almost forgot my hairbrush and am wearing no makeup. That’s totally normal for me. I just don’t pay that sort of obsessive attention to my looks, (other than my headshot and public appearances for work, of course!)

      I loathe the tyranny that women TRY to inflict in this area. IF — imagine!!! — we had the economic and political power we need and deserve, I truly wonder if we’d keep clawing one another to death over stupid shit instead.

  32. I am small. I am a size 6 and really struggle to keep weight on. I eat healthily (aside from the double dose of chocolate each day) and certainly do not starve myself. I didn’t really mind about my small body, I have a little shape if I work hard to show it. I started to care when people kept commenting on how ‘skinny’ I was or watching me at meals or telling me ‘You really have looked very skinny recently. You should be eating more and putting on weight.’ Would you say something to someone who was overweight? No? Well why are you saying it to me? My doctor is perfectly happy with my weight, thank you very much, and that’s all that matters. I cannot tell you how much those comments hurt. I was miserable for a long time, thinking that I had a horrible body but I have decided to not worry about it anymore. I hate that this generation seem to be completely obsessed with weight and I hope that we all grow out of it before we set a precedent for years to come! Thanks for a great post and I hope that it inspires many more women to stop worrying and just be happy and healthy, whatever the number on the scale is. I’m glad to finally know that I am so much more than that number.

    • I would nail every single person who ever addresses your body size and shape with a simple and direct question:

      “Do you really think this is any of your business?”

      If they say yes, ask it again. And again. And again. Then walk away laughing at their rudeness.

      The only person whose opinion of my body matters to me is my physician. Then, my (happy) husband and myself, not necessarily in that order.

  33. Amen! Men (for the most part) don’t give a damn about their weight, I wish more women could be that way!

  34. This is such a great piece. Thank-you!

  35. It’s very true that labeling ourselves as fat is demeaning and pointless in this age, where there are women of all sizes. I will, however, definitely add the caveat that culture plays a role in this model.

    I’m Chinese. I lived in China for a good part of my childhood. When I returned to China as a 16-year-old girl in the past, I’ve had women who told me “I looked so fat they didn’t recognized me” – verbatim. (I certainly hope that was not the case.)

    And yes, women in China are more often malnourished than naturally thin. But in collectivist cultures where the pressure to conform is much greater, the unspoken requirement for women to be stick-thin is rather ridiculous. Women in Asian cultures are more likely to call themselves fat, statistically.

    The moments when I’m most susceptible to calling myself fat is when my mother calls me and tells me I must lose weight at college. I find that sometimes it’s not introspection or self-absorption which creates a sense of obsession about weight, but rather the need to meet expectations or fit-in (to use the term very broadly).

    However, I agree with many of the points made in this post, and I commend you for having a strong, positive voice on the matter. I believe that women would benefit from reading and remembering this :)

    • Thanks for such an insightful comment! It’s really interesting (and sad) how cultural norms, pretty much anywhere in the world, seem to dictate women’s appearance — with very little, in comparison, about men. That’s my larger point.

      The United States is, putatively, all about individual freedom and liberty — but I see a slavish and sad attachment to gender norms of body size and shape that depresses the hell out of me. I (foolish me) expected, and still expect, better!

      • This is true, I must agree. Although, I think men have a different type of pressure: the pressure to be constantly fit and exercise regularly. Granted, I really don’t believe men have as much public pressure to look as certain way as women do.

        Large is beautiful :)

  36. I agree 100% with this great post. The media and commercial enterprises have brainwashed us into thinking that we’re not good enough, and that we need something to make us better. If we could only see our own value and help others to see their value the whole world would be a lot better off.

  37. I recently posted about the unrealistic expectations about beauty, so in a sense, I am guilty of what you are writing. But in a way what you said is exactly the point I was trying to make (but not as eloquently as you did)–talking about it, even if you aren’t telling someone that they need to lose weight, causes little girls and others to internalize the message that they need to worry about it and obsess about it.

    I shared you blog on my Facebook page and reblogged it (the only blog I’ve ever reblogged). Thank you, thank you!

    • I’m honored! Thanks very much for doing that and in, so doing, spreading the word.

      I think we really have to be aware how much our choices of word, action, tone of voice, the raised eyebrow, the eye-roll, can all make women feel shitty about their bodies. I’ve had it done to me. Boring!!! More importantly, toxic and very damaging to young women who look to us, when we are lucky, as their role models.

  38. You are totally right that women (and the media and diet industry too for that matter) should stop discussing the size of their bodies. I do not agree with you however on your statement that “being fat is (…) unhealthy”. Some of the comments say the same thing, but it’s not true.

    Someone can eat healthy and exercise and as a result have good blood pressure, glucose and other indications of good health. And still be fat.
    Just like there are thin people who eat junk food and don’t move at all. They would be called unhealthy.
    And yes, just like there are unhealthy fat people and healthy thin people.

    Point being that size and health are two completely different things. But the two get mixed up way too often.

    But again, I think you are right on everything else: if women took the time and energy they spend on criticizing themselves and used that for more important issues, the world would be a very different place…

  39. Amen! Thanks for the great post!

  40. Reblogged this on DisintegratingRose and commented:
    Amen! But honestly, it’s hard to get past when this is what you’ve been exposed to all your life. What do you guys think?

  41. I am completely sick of this, however had it not be the for shallowness of men, I doubt women would feel this way, as a man there are hardly any pressures for a man to be thin or big for that matter simply because in the eyes of the woman, it doesn’t matter. For a woman its all about how you make them feel not how you look which from a mans perspective it certainly is that case.

  42. Congratulations on your freshly pressed!
    I’ll keep this short because I’m sure you have other things to do-
    Weight is a tricky subject, especially among teenage girls. (I am a teenage girl) but I agree with you. Everyone just needs to shut up about weight in general. Beauty in all it’s forms and whatnot right?
    It’s almost become cliche to say things like that. This topic has become cliche. I don’t know how to get through to friends who think that the number on the scale defines them. People will say like “Oh a real guy will love you with or without makeup” and then they’ll go around wearing enough makeup to put covergirl to shame.
    My last point before I leave you. Men are the ones who have done this to women. I’m saying that as a feminist, not a man-hater (is there a word for that?) but sometimes people forget that we women also have expectations for men’s weight and bodies too. This is not a one-way street.
    It would be cool if you could get a guy to give his perspective on this stuff. (subtle post suggestion hint hint wink wink)
    Anyway, thanks for some good reading.

  43. I really like this one! ^^ I have weight problems years ago and it was true, I got problems from everyone around me. But, I am happy now with my body and me, for sure. ^^

  44. fecking brilliant!!!! you’re an inspiration

    K.
    kdotdiary.wordpress.com

  45. Amen! This reminds me of a passage I read recently in the novel “The last time they met” by Anita Shreve which made me stop and think about how our self perception influences those around us. Whether we torment ourselves and others about our weight, or about other forms of self criticism, not only are we wasting our time, we are damaging our relations with the people around us. This is the passage: “Regina was voluptuous, a fact she loathed about herself. A fact he had once adored. And might still had she not tainted the adoration with her own physical self-hatred”…

    • You can tell a (wise) woman wrote it! :-)

      This is a different point, but an important one. I bet many women’s partners are dying to make love to them, but being swatted away because “I’m too fat/skinny” whatever….Sad.

  46. Love the title and know the feeling! It is tiresome to listen to the constant complaints about weight and size, especially being the person being compared with. I am trying my darnedest to not complain about my weight, still catch myself doing it – getting nasty looks from the people around me, since I complain about being too skinny!

    I’m trying to live by the devise – “If you aint happy either do something about it or be quiet!”. Sometimes even I forget!

    Got written and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    • Truthfully? You have MANY other things in your life — I know this without knowing you at all — that would probably value your attention, whether people, pets, plants, career instead. Try it!! :-)

  47. I love this post! I am on a diet program here in San Diego and we have a support group on Mondays! I can’t wait to show them your blog! Thanks so much for writing this!

  48. I totally agree. I purposely try not to spend too much time in front of the mirror so my 18 month old daughter doesn’t think that’s what women need to do.

  49. Broad — may I call you Broad? — you rock. Completely and absolutely. Great Fresh Press!

  50. I am a morbidly obese man trying to lose weight. I was doing good but then I got married. My wife developed blood clots and nearly died a few weeks after giving birth to our son. I am in politics and work in the educational non-profit field. I got out of shape fast after I got married. I am working on it again and was even talking about the importance of magnesium and the fact that many people are deficient in magnesium. I do agree it is a shame that healthy women and sometimes men complain about there weight and it makes me want to scream too. It all goes back to people not being able to see things clearly because they are arrested in their development and need help. People like Paul Hegstrom Ph.D with Life Skills International could help people like that. His book “Broken Children Grown Up Pain” is absolutely amazing and has help me, my family, and countless other people.

    • Good luck! It is a horrifyingly difficult thing to do, but essential to your health and longevity. Thanks for adding a male voice here.

      • You are welcome. I was very happy to do so. I wish more women could see that it is okay to be naturally beautiful. Just because they are not a size 0 does not mean they are fat and they do not need make up to be beautiful. I love the fact that my wife does not ever put on make up.

      • You sound like a couple who knows how to love people as they are. Good for you!

  51. Couldn’t agree more. As someone who just wrote a blog on the topic as well, your points are solid and sound, and it IS a major distraction. We shouldn’t let ourselves get so consumed by this one aspect of who we are as people and it’s so sad and at times irritating when we can’t help that it does. We should at the very least try to be proactive / aware of how this *distracts* us from our more intelligent and amazing life pursuits.

    • If every single time a girl or woman started yammering on about her body and put $1 in a jar, I bet she could afford a fantastic vacation — or pair of shoes — or donation to charity within months.

  52. Reblogged this on A New Beginning and commented:
    Excellent blog post!!

  53. Awesome blog. I couldn’t agree more. I am particularly sick and tired of the way thin and “curvy” women appear to have to hate each other. My best friend is extremely thin, and just about gets assaulted sometimes by other women because of it. Nothing is wrong with healthy. But hating someone for who they are, what they look like or what they have is extremely Unhealthy.

  54. Another thing that needs to be considered is that a certain size does not automatically make a woman overweight, or even a certain size and height combo. Women are diverse in culture, race, body type height and weight. Myself, I am 1/2 Cherokee and my body doesn’t follow my European side. I am 5’4″, size 16, and 180 pounds. However I also have 19% body fat. I weigh more and wear a larger size because I have a large, muscular build though I am short. What is important is not the numbers, it’s how healthy you are. A 00 can be just as unhealthy, even without anorexia, as the size 20 woman who never moves from the couch, because they could both share the same habit.

    • I feel like I am trying to steer an 18-wheel truck here.

      I am trying to stop us ALL from forever discussing our bodies — and re-focus our attention on changing the world! But thanks for your comment and insights.

  55. This post is brilliant and I agree.

  56. I totally agree with your post – and by the way, what the hell is a size 0, and how can we have less than 0 for a size???

    It’s like we don’t know how to think anymore… last week I went to the nutritionist with my sixteen year-old daughter who has insulin resistance and the meeting was completely fucked up. She’s telling us to eat more starches… and trust me I was brought up with diabetes in the family and I’m a molecular biologist so I think I already understand a lot about that… but there she was, sitting in her perfect little suit in a body that you can tell she highly controls. This is all so crazy – where are we going with all of this!

    • Interesting — and scary. Time for a second or third opinion! I have seem nutritionists and, like any other professional, some are fantastic and some are bloody awful. Good luck!

  57. I have never read anything like this post. Its really thoughtful and original. Well done :D

  58. I couldn’t agree more. My friends and I stopped talking about weight altogether when we were in our mid-twenties, because we realized that it was boring, and we were not boring people. And it certainly does distract from bigger issues. I want my daughter to care about her community, about the environment, about politics, about school, about whatever interests she develops (she’s a baby, so right now her interests include her belly button, Cheerios, and cats) and about the world around her. Thank you for this post.

  59. Great Post! Wish I could speak my mind like this.

  60. I’m a petite woman and it annoys the hell out of me when women even thinner than me complain about their weight (it’s like giving me a dig in a round about way). But it’s not just being thin that women complain about — it’s everything: age, teeth, nails, etc. …. and really guys DON’T CARE!!!! Guys love us like we are, it’s women who constantly beat each other (and themselves) up. I take a stand by refusing to participate in such conversation with them. I always change the subject or avoid women like that.

  61. I’m guilty of worrying about my weight sometimes, and sometimes a little too often. I always thought if women could devote the time and energy spent worrying about their weight to…I don’t know, being awesome, kicking ass and taking names, writing books, making art…then who knows what could come of it?

    Great post.

  62. I guess I should be grateful that this post wasn’t written by a man – and I was surprised to see that. But I do have to disagree with this post.

    I really don’t like it when women blame other women for things like being insecure about their bodies. I don’t feel like it furthers the conversation on body shaming and I don’t think it’s helpful to those women who feel insecure.

    I have personally struggled with body dysmorphic disorder. For many women, it’s not simply a matter of being strong enough to love yourself and your body.

    Actually, I think that’s the case for most women. Women are constantly told that their bodies are not good enough, for whatever reason. You’re too fat, your boobs are too small, etc. I wish that each and every woman could look at her body and love what she sees. But I understand why that is so difficult. We are immersed in a culture that hates women’s bodies.

    It rubs me the wrong way that you say that we have more important issues to focus on. It’s dismissive, and you’re forgetting that the reason these women hate their bodies is misogyny. And misogyny is most certainly something we need to end.

    My genitals are not mutilated and generally speaking, no one openly promotes the idea that I should be raped because I am a lesbian. But no, I’m not grateful for that, because those are not things that should ever happen.

    I don’t imagine that anyone else will take kindly to this comment, but I think it’s counterproductive to tell women to shut up about their body issues, especially since you seem to be invested in feminism.

    • You are conflating many issues here.

      I am not telling women not to be insecure. If women want to indulge in that sort of masochism, that’s up to them. It’s not my job to fix it, but as a blogger, published author and journalist it is indeed my role and my right to speak out. Women suffering from psychological misery to the degree you have (for which I am sorry) may (or may not) have access to medical and psychiatric help for that.

      “We are immersed in a culture that hates women’s bodies.

      It rubs me the wrong way that you say that we have more important issues to focus on. It’s dismissive, and you’re forgetting that the reason these women hate their bodies is misogyny. And misogyny is most certainly something we need to end.”

      Yes. Misogyny is ugly, toxic and pervasive. It may take another few centuries to deal with it effectively — but every minute we choose to waste — CHOOSE — yammering on and on about how oppressed we are in how we are told to think about our bodies (yes, agreed, now what?) is a minute we are not spending thinking of more interesting and useful things we might do with our lives. Like mentoring a young woman who REALLY needs someone to help stiffen her spine in this respect, to name only one example, and one I have done personally.

      Women are AT CHOICE, every single one of us every single moment of our lives, IF we are healthy and sane, which many of us are not.

      Every woman who chooses to hate her body is at choice. It IS a choice, just as laughing off the in(s)anity of the photo-shopped magazine images fed to us daily is also a choice we can make. If you choose to be a victim, that’s up to you. It’s not the choice I make, or ever will. Dismissive? Yes, on this issue, I am.

      I’m highly impatient with people who choose to be(come) and stay victims — when so many people are fighting, literally, for their lives and livelihood. There are people dying of cancer and starvation and struggling to survive on pennies, even in the United States. THAT is a struggle I want us to talk about and focus our considerable energies on. But what do educated, intelligent and passionate women STILL keep doing?

      Arguing about who’s “right” in the discussion of our goddamned bodies.
      Q.E.D.

      • Oh man, I totally missed the “bitching” part of the title of this post.

        I would respond to your points, but from that title I can tell we would get nowhere.

      • That’s a sad conclusion to draw, and inaccurate — given the time, energy and attention I gave your first comment. I’m happy to hear other points of view but if you’ve made your mind up already, you’re right. Why bother?

  63. And you have so eloquently spoken all of the words exactly on my mind. Thank you :)

  64. Let me just say it: I love you!
    Three cheers!

  65. I am an activist and have been for a very long time so I agree with pretty much eveything you’ve said, but…and it’s a BIG BUTT…sometimes (like in the here and now not down the road when we have changed the mind set) people are so cruel in their judgements of another because of their weight it is demoralizing. Until the mind set changes and people change the hurtful hateful things simply hurt.

    • Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I agree with Eleanor.

      I was horribly bullied for three years in high school, although not over weight. I know what cruelty feels like. We have more useful ways to spend our time than giving power to people who want to hurt us with their bullshit!

      • I agree, but you didn’t just automatically become empowered, and that 3 yrs of bullying you endured hurt while it was happening. So maybe part of getting rid of the BS and moving forward is to help empower by way of more than just saying so? Like I said, I totally agree with you on your points so there is no arguement here, but you need to offer a course of action for those your words touched. Just my two cents.

      • Yes and no. I’ve always had a lot of self-confidence so even while the morons made fun of me, I still won writing awards and got terrific grades and helped our school do really well on a TV quiz show. It’s called having self-esteem from things OTHER than your looks. I attended all girl school and camp before going to a coed high school where it was normal for girls to rock and when boys made fun of me, more fool they for being so damn threatened.

        I also had dear friends.

      • excellent clarification :)

      • Maybe worth another blog post. If I had been raised to think my only value in this world was my looks (and I’m not a bad looking woman), God help me. I was, very fortunately, the product of a different culture (Canada), a smart family and second-wave feminism.

      • I am the oldest of 6 kids and the only girl…also the only girl in my generation on BOTH sides of the family, i.e. all male cousins. It was pretty harsh so I am glad another woman had it easier! :)

      • Boys, oy. That’s a whole book.

      • LMAO yes M’am it is ;) Would you like to write it with me? :p

      • Yes! Feel free to email me privately (email is on the welcome or about page) and let’s plot! (rubs hands in glee.)

      • hahahahaha ok! (jumps up and down in excitement)

  66. So well said! It will certainly make me think twice about complaining that I’m a size 16. I love a post like yours that makes me rethink things.

  67. It is always refreshing to read a post like yours. Women who defy the Beauty Industry – one of my favourite topics.

  68. Reblogged this on My One Precious Life and commented:
    Love, love, love this.

  69. Thanks for a great read. I grew up in a very small farming community and it wasn’t until I went to boarding school aged 14 that I first came across this… female habit? My bed and desk were opposite a skinny girl who asked me EVERY morning before school – do I look fat today? Geezus! I was scarred for life and from that time onwards did not have any tolerance for that sort of “chat”. I’ve been fat and skinny so it’s not like I don’t know what it’s like to be 25kgs overweight – I just didn’t want to bore people with the obvious.

  70. I wanted to stand up and give you a round of applause after reading this post! I couldn’t agree more. Women should love themselves at any size and dwelling on our size gets us nowhere – it just encourages negative thoughts about size, weight etc. The way we and the media festers over our weight is sexist and a horrible double standard…it almost creates a distraction, like you said, from issues that are, oh so much more important. So glad I happened upon our blog!

  71. I am so glad Freshly Pressed brought me to your blog. Your voice is so strong, and I’m glad that you addressed this because it’s a real problem. Can’t wait to read more from you :)

    • Thanks!

      Have fun poking around the archives; you’ll find lots of good stuff. I write 3x week on a wide variety of issues. My voice has always been strong — and I’m a journalist, so that’s my vocation as well.

  72. Love this! I’m so tired of hearing women at any point on the spectrum whine about their weight. I’m not thrilled with my size but rather than bitch about it, I’ve accepted it. I don’t see how whining and self hatred will solve my issue.

  73. You’ve hit THE nail on the head, my friend!
    and btw, I know some men too who need to stop obsessing over their weight problems.

  74. This is an enlgihtening post for a gymrat–like me. I should really start curtailing the time I spend at the gym to shoot the bigger picture.

    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  75. Bravo! You have eloquently stated what needed to be said. As women we have so much more to be concerned about than our friggin dress size.

  76. This is very well put and so right. I am quite happy being a size 14 – might sound huge to a model but I don’t care. It took me a long time though. My teenage daughter inherited my curves and her father’s hight. She hates her body because she sees so many thin people around her. Doesn’t help that we live in France where people tend to be smaller and have a different morphology. French women tend to be very slight with no hips or bottoms.. Maybe we should move to Africa where she would be considered too thin. I do like Alexander Mccall Smith’s books where she refers to ‘traditionally built’ women. I think I am – for a Brit – traditionally built.

  77. You might be reassured to know that, over on this side of the Atlantic, a campaign has begun to get one of the major national newspapers to stop including a full-page picture of a topless young woman in each edition: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/dominic-mohan-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3 – can’t find it now, but I’m sure at one point they had the excellent tagline “a woman is worth more than just her cup size!”

  78. Loved the post. 3 years ago I was a UK size 6, full of energy and life. Then I became ill and people thought I’d given up, got lazy and didn’t care for them any more. In fact I was heading into a coma and worse. I’m now a healthy UK size 14 and does it matter to me, not at all as the health issue almost killed me!
    I saw this ages ago
    The Girl you just called fat? She has been starving herself & has lost over 30lbs. The Boy you called stupid, he has a learning disability & studies over 4hrs a night. The Girl you called ugly? She spends hours putting make-up on hoping people will like her. The Boy you just tripped? He is abused enough at home. There’s a lot more to people then you think.

    • I’m so glad you are healthy once more!

      And hell YES you have made a great point. I had my hip replaced in Feb. 2012 and have gained a shitload of weight — when you are in agony 24/7 with every single step for 2.5 years exercise is not a priority and becomes unmanageable. I know many people whose bodies have become distorted through medication and/or disability or a medical condition, but ignorance (and cruelty) abounds.

      Thanks for sharing this really important issue, and that lovely and powerful quote.

  79. Reblogged this on Recovering me and commented:
    Loved this post. 3 years ago I was a UK size 6, full of energy and life. Then I became ill and people thought I’d given up, got lazy and didn’t care for them any more. In fact I was heading into a coma and worse. I’m now a healthy UK size 14 and does it matter to me, not at all as the health issue almost killed me!
    I saw this ages ago
    The Girl you just called fat? She has been starving herself & has lost over 30lbs. The Boy you called stupid, he has a learning disability & studies over 4hrs a night. The Girl you called ugly? She spends hours putting make-up on hoping people will like her. The Boy you just tripped? He is abused enough at home. There’s a lot more to people then you think.

  80. You took the words out of my mouth and wrote a great post! Thank you! I am ‘a big girl’ obsessed with the way I look and how much I hate it every day. My mother’s only wish in this world is for me to loose weight! It angers me that the only thing she notices about me, and she makes it very obvious, is the size of my stomach and ass. I don’t even think she would know what else to say about me to anyone else other than: she gained weight, doesn’t take care of herself and is lazy b/c she doesn’t commit to loosing weight. In the process of working, having a child, a husband and a house, all within the past 3 years, I forgot to watch what I eat and ballooned to a 225 from a 150. I know! Huge!
    Thanks again for making my day better!

    • I hear you!

      My stepmother, mother and father all took that tack. Forget all my many accomplishments. I told them to shut UP, as did my husband. My (thin) stepmother died five years ago; my father has shut up and my mother — who told me I was fat while I was doing all the work of putting her into a nursing home and trying to manage her affairs — and I no longer speak.

      Nice. :-)

  81. Depending on how what kind of body you have 170 pounds is up. I mean it all depends on the body because 170 pounds on 1 woman doesn’t look the same as 170lbs on another . I like thick women but I don’t like fat women 170 pounds can be fat but it can also can be a very attractive thick.

  82. Reblogged this on KurleeKaytee and commented:
    MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY.

  83. FINALLY! Someone with some sense and perspective! My two cents worth – I find that most women who moan about being fat and are not fat, are merely fishing for compliments. If that’s how you enjoy receiving compliments then go ahead; but at least think of innovative ways of fishing for compliments because the “oh my god I’m so fat” line is getting old and boring.

  84. Great post! I agree completely. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to body image. Eat, enjoy the curves and move on!

  85. Great post. I’ve reached a similar conclusion in my own blog: “As a matter of principle, part of me has long believed that worrying about appearances and putting so much energy into being the perfect weight, shape or size distracts women from being engaged in more meaningful world problems. It keeps our focus inward when perhaps we should be looking out.” Thanks for keeping this important discussion alive.

  86. I sympathize. I really do. On the other hand, I resist your plea.

    I have spent most of my life trying to convince myself that I SHOULD NOT BE THINKING ABOUT MY WEIGHT because doing so made me a whiny patsy. At the same time, I was becoming more and more overweight, and felt ashamed to talk or think about it.

    I lost a lot of weight a couple of years ago and have slowly been putting weight on again since. A voice in my head keeps telling me that talking/writing about it makes me shallow and vain. And yet I think about it all the time. And so I’ve decided: screw all y’all. I’ll think and write about my weight if I feel like it, and if I don’t, I won’t. It would be great if it weren’t important, but it is.

    I recently wrote about my weight struggles briefly here: http://whenitsathome.wordpress.com/2012/12/10/a-question-about-losing-weight-the-wrong-way/

    I also keep a pretty serious blog about being a college teacher here:
    http://siobhancurious.com/

    Thinking about your weight doesn’t prevent you from thinking about other things. Or, perhaps more accurately, it is only one of a billion other more-or-less important things I think about, and I will write about all of those, or not, if I feel like it, or if I don’t.

    Women (and men) write about weight because it matters to them. I understand that you’re tired of it, but stuffing our feelings about our weight is part of the overall problem.

    • This is what happens when I try — and this was my GOAL — to encourage women to shed their INDIVIDUAL dramas and struggles and get a wider perspective on the struggles other women face. Not just size and shape, but economic and political power. No one needs to take offense at my position. But I feel strongly about it and that’s why I wrote this post as I did.

  87. To a certain extent I agree with you…well mostly I agree with you. I decided to start blogging about my weight loss journey as a catharsis for me as well as to create a support system and some accountability. I agree that whining is not a productive use of anyone’s time. After all, if you don’t like something then you should work hard to change it or quit bitching about it. I am working hard to change it…all the while hoping my blog doesn’t sound like whining.

    • Talk means little to me, on any issue, just action. And if it’s difficult, so what? Who told us life would be easy?

      • No one ever said life was easy and I never implied that it was either. Thankfully there is freedom of speech and you also have the freedom not to read someone’s blog or listen to someone talk about being overweight. Have a Merry Christmas :)

  88. I don’t think she was complaining about her weight. She was saying that even though she feels good about herself society makes her feel like she is overweight and that in general the perception of weight and what is and is not good or healthy is highly skewed. We are focusing more on how people look instead of how they feel and whether or not they are healthy. As a society we are so obsessed with the physical appearances of others and ourselves that we often forget to really look inside of ourselves and be happy with who we are, not what we look like.

    But on another note, I completely agree. If women want others to stop focusing on their weight and how they look, they have to stop focusing on that as well. Stop complaining. If you don’t like something about yourself take that energy you spend complaining and do something to change whatever you don’t like.

    • “As a society we are so obsessed with the physical appearances of others and ourselves that we often forget to really look inside of ourselves and be happy with who we are, not what we look like.”

      Women need to move WAY past notions of feeling comfy with themselves and feel passionate about fighting for social justice. I am weary of this being an issue of “I feel good” or “I do not.” It’s about others’ needs, not just our own.

  89. “Whining about weight is the ultimate shiny object that women continue to focus their attention on, instead of…” is the sort of thing women need to be writing about. you are a star.

    a great post

  90. Great post, so many great points. I have had my issues, but some of what you raised is why I don’t read “women’s” magazines. Congrats on FP.

  91. Thank you so much for this! I don’t usually post links to my own blog in comments (sure, sure, everyone says that!) but I’ve written about something similar: http://taliamarcheggiani.com/2012/11/01/body-love/
    I don’t understand why a woman’s body is always up for scrutiny, whether the career she’s in has to deal with physical appearance (e.g.: a model, etc) or not. You’re right, it’s tiresome and we women are often the perpetrators. (What’s Hilary Clinton wearing today? Ohhh she looks good/looks bad/looks fat/ looks old). So I agree, let’s give it up! And embrace NORMAL sizes for once. Great post!

  92. I think you have a point about perfectly healthy-sized women complaining about being “fat”, but often times I feel like there are only two extreme ends in North America: anorexic and obese. While you shouldn’t feel like you have to look like a supermodel, it’s also just making excuses for yourself if you really are UNHEALTHILY overweight and just tell yourself it’s okay because you’re “curvy”. In some cases, in all respect… it’s truly just called fat. And I don’t mean it in the rude way – I just mean that analogous to it being annoying for average sized women to call themselves fat, it’s equally as annoying when people who actually do need to lose weight say they are perfect. Promoting obesity to young people is equally as bad as promoting anorexia. Just my opinion… =/

    • If you re-read my post, my goal is not to endlessly argue this point. It is to move PAST any discussion of women’s bodies at all. Thanks for your comment.

      • I didn’t mean any disrespect, nor do I wish to continue discussing the topic. Was just putting in my thoughts from reading your post, as there will be some generated whenever you post something online for the public to read! =)

  93. There are days when I wish I was much taller so I could eat more and not have to worry about the extra pounds I would gain. I’m only 4’11, so to maintain a healthy weight my calorie intake is MUCH lower than the average woman. It’s frustrating to eat out in public with friends or co-workers because I will get the “OMG, that’s all you’re eating?! You’re so tiny! You should eat more!” If I ate more, I’d gain weight and then you’d tell me to lose weight because I’ve been over-eating. /facepalm. Sometimes it can be about WHAT you are eating, like a grilled chicken with a side of brown rice and steamed veggies instead of that monster burger with three types of cheese, bacon, and a fried egg. There is no winning, is there? You eat healthy to maintain a healthy weight and suddenly you’re “becoming” anorexic. What does society want?!

    Much of the fabric of our society has preconceived notions about what a woman is supposed to look like, act like, dress like, etc. It is very frustrating and annoying at times. Women want to move away from stereotypes so much that our progressive movement is sometimes perverted into something that should not be taken seriously because of the hyper-focus on the issue, – sometimes over-exaggerating the topic – leaving us back to square one.

    I agree that women need to stop being so obsessive about their weight, instead thinking about how they can make their great selves into something better. No one really takes a complainer – that isn’t actively and continually trying to improve the situation – seriously anyway.

    Oh, and no one makes proportionate clothes for short women either. /le sigh.

    Great blog post. :)

    • A tailor might be your best friend! :-)

      Thanks for such a long and thoughtful comment. I find the whole notion of people commenting on my appearance or taste rude and irrelevant. I wish more women would make this clear to those who try it on them, too!

  94. As long as women keep accepting the notion that a woman’s worth is based in large part upon their sexual appeal this nonsense is going to continue. We are bombarded with constant reminders of how we are “supposed” to look. There is an entire multi-billion dollar industry that is entirely dependant on feeding women’s insecurities for profit and they start young. There are children in kindergarden with body image disorders. This is getting far too ugly.

    I’d rather be fat and happy (like I currently am) than apologizing and agonizing over the fact I exist in a body that does not measure up to this society’s beauty standards. I live for me.

  95. I whole-heartedly agree with you that there are bigger fish to fry in many parts of the world, and that complaining about the size of your thighs is useful to just about no one. But I do take exception with one major point.

    I agree that the conversation about beauty and weight is tiresome at best, and harmful at worst.

    But we absolutely must not “close” the national discourse regarding weight and health. Your blogger friend Kristen Lamb is quite right that we are dying of euphemisms. In a nation where 66% of the citizens are obese or overweight—well, to me, there is no bigger fish to fry in the U.S. than this country’s health crisis.

    I do not toss “crisis” around lightly. Statisticians have predicted that 75% of the country will be obese and/or overweight by 2030, costing trillions per year in health care. Of course, everyone knows this but obesity is directly related to myriad diseases: cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, etc. Let’s not forget how many millions of that 75% will be young kids. We’ll have the first generation in human history that will not live as long as their parents did.

    So ridiculous beauty standards aside, this country is quite literally eating itself to death, and that’s what we need to be talking about. And I worry when bloggers simply dismiss any talk of “body size” as maligned, misinformed, and a waste of time.

    • “I worry when bloggers simply dismiss any talk of “body size” as maligned, misinformed, and a waste of time.”

      The reality is this — people are obese for a variety of reasons. One of those, often, is poor diet linked to poverty and ignorance and lack of exercise; some people are working 3 jobs in this economy at poverty-level wages and have no time or energy or $$$$ to go to a gym. They are barely surviving **economically.** Are you aware that 47 million Americans suffer arthritis? I was for 2.5 years and gained all sorts of weight because it hurt too damn much to walk, let alone exercise. Obesity is a complex, multi-factorial issue.

      So until we broaden this discussion, I recuse myself. Doctors, nurses, academics and policy makers have to grapple with this. Women need to stop focusing on their bodies in general — and fat is too easy a target for this gender.

      I agree with you in general but that was not the point of my post.

      • There is a definite difference between generic “bitching” about being a few lb overweight and the health crisis—you’re totally right. I think I inferred a bit more than I should’ve. I’m sorry if I came across as a bit pushy, which was not my intent! This is just a topic I feel strongly about.

        The link between poverty and obesity is all the more reason why I hope we strive for some type of national reform—be it state-mandated health and P.E. classes, vouchers for low-income families to receive discounts on fruits and vegetables, or even a “junk food” tax on nutritionally-devoid products. Obesity is an incredibly complex, and emotional, disease, and one I hope this country is ready to take down in the coming years.

        Congrats on the freshly pressed, and thank you for curating this discussion!

      • No offense taken — I like your ideas!

  96. Reblogged this on Feeling Good About Feminism and commented:
    ‘Broadside’ talks about the distraction that is focusing on women’s weight. An important post from an excellent writer. We have more important issues to be concerned with.

    Honestly, I don’t think about my weight from one day to the next. I don’t weigh myself (other than on Thanksgiving to see how much food I ate, because I have a scientific curiosity about how much it’s possible to eat). I eat healthily on a regular basis, yes with cookies and chips occasionally thrown in. I eat hummus, spinach, beef, chicken, hemp milk, blueberries, apples, oranges, eggs with cheese, oatmeal, and many other things. I want to see how these foods affect my level of energy and happiness. I take a multi-vitamin so I can be awake and alert. I avoid coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, and other toxins which can cause bodily imbalances.

    I am really grateful not to be concerned with weight. I don’t watch it. I move around. I do things I love. I relieve stress. I avoid watching t.v. and I try to limit how much time I spend on the computer.

    I am interested in women’s rights and promoting them. I care about art, design, feng shui, photography, animals, nature, the environment, human rights. My family is vitally important to me. I am an intelligent person with many gifts, and much to offer humanity within the course of my lifetime. I am feeling good about staying focused on what matters!

    • Thanks so much for re-blogging this!

      Sounds like you have created a full and interesting life — and one not only focused solely on yourself. This is my wish for all of us!

      • That’s why I enjoy your blog so much – your good heart! :) I could say the same for you and your array of stories, adventurous and varied. You’re quite welcome.

  97. I agree and disagree. I agree we should stop whining about weight…stop letting others dictate how we feel about ourselves. At the most I weighed 235 and now am below 160 after having gained back from 137. I still want to be the 137 or less but I don’t obsess like I did. There comes a point you are happy with yourself and you own it…despite others ideals. I loved this post!

  98. Thank you so much for this. People need to hear it. When 12 million women are doing cosmetic surgery annually we know something is wrong with the image being presented. Airbrushed billboard models and anorexics shouldn’t be our role models. They’re photo-shopped if people don’t get it!

  99. I enjoyed reading this. What struck me the most were your comments about appreciating so many other things instead of getting sucked into the fat/thin whining. In particular, I liked “waking up every single day grateful for their health and strength, the not-so-simple ability to walk and stand and reach for things without pain.” Thank you for an interesting piece with lots of good insights.

    • Thanks very much Jennifer!

      I write it with firsthand appreciation of these things….I had my hip replaced (!) in Feb. 2012, about 15 to 20 year earlier than most people, and that ended 2.5 years of agony with every single step after steroid treatment for arthritis destroyed my hip bone. I had to miss all my favorite sports and activities — and made me SO grateful for what my body CAN do, not what it does not. I wish more people really understood what a gift a healthy, pain-free body is. We tend to take it for granted.

  100. HALLELUIAH!!!! THANK YOU for focusing attention on this madness.

  101. I whine about my weight frequently as a way to motivate myself to not put that chocolate in my mouth! I think many women do the same thing, we whine about it to try and get ourselves to do something about it. You know, the squeaky wheel gets the grease sort of thing. Does it work? No, but maybe it could! It actually works for me most of the time when I see that I am getting more fluffy, I whine and it irritates my staff and then I dont eat as much because they remind me of my whining!

    Fact of the matter is, women will always whine about their weight and if it motivates them
    not have an extra serving of pasta or skip dessert, what is the real harm?! I think a worse tragedy is when a woman no longer cares and does nothing to try and get to a healthier weight!

    As a strong woman who is very self confident and secure and wears a 10/12 and weighs 170# and frequently whines about being too fat, I have no issue with another woman who does it as long as she is doing something to fix it! :)

  102. I am SO glad you wrote this. My office staff meetings consist of the women talking about how fat they are and how skinny I am. I was appalled. Is this ALL we have to talk about? Is there not more to us than our body size? Again, thank you!

  103. Sorry to self-promote but… here is an article written by myself in a similar thread. I simply refuse to partake any more. Say it (or not) sister!
    http://theviewfrommywashingline.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/i-am-not-talking-about-weight-loss-and-other-conversations-im-missing-out-on/

  104. Reblogged this on The View From My Washing Line and commented:
    An article in a similar thread to my first post [http://theviewfrommywashingline.wordpress.com/2012/07/31/i-am-not-talking-about-weight-loss-and-other-conversations-im-missing-out-on/] on this blog. Glad I’m not the only frustrated one!

  105. I completely understand your point; women are way way more valuable than the sum of their body parts.

    However, I think talking about it can be therapeutic, especially for women who are recovering from eating disorders, and trying to adjust to their changing bodies. I realize that’s probably not Kristen, but their is some solidarity in realizing no women is 100% happy with their bodies. And I’m honestly not sure if the answer is talking more or if the answer is talking loss.

  106. And I left the infamous their instead of there typo if you don’t mind changing it for me…

  107. I love your strong take on this subject! I agree wholeheartedly! Oftentimes, I hear people complaining nonstop about their weight but don’t do anything about it. How about you shut your trap and do something about it or you just shut your trap and use your energy doing something useful (a.k.a. any of the things you’ve listed).

  108. The problem isn’t so much that we talk about – although we do talk about it A LOT – it’s that we (women) buy it. We buy the diet books, the plus sized clothes, the tabloids of celebrities getting fat, the diet pills, the fitness magazines promising a smaller butt with a 5 minute workout. We measure our health, our worth, our place in society, our potential by the number on the scale. We care more about Hilary Clinton’s pantsuits, Oprah’s newest diet, and Michelle Obama’s and Marilyn Monroe’s dress sizes than we do about any of the amazing feats those women have accomplished.I have no issue with people blogging about health and fitness – when the focus isn’t on size and weight. We need to, as a collective group, be nicer to ourselves, appreciate and care for our bodies.

  109. Best statement EVER: “Whining about weight teaches the girls in our lives, who look to us their role models, that this is just what women do, that focusing miserably and endlessly on our individual body size and shape is our most pressing issue as women”. I’ve actually met Kristen Lamb in person, and she is beautiful. It’s too bad that we, as woman, are programmed to think so much about what truly means so little. I have two daughters and one of my greatest hopes is that they will never own a scale.

  110. Reblogged this on The Chantal B. and commented:
    I am a size 6/8 buuuuut, I am happy I ain’t anorexic. :>

  111. Reblogged this on pivoine68 and commented:
    How accurate. I quit! I even bore myself.

    • Why anyone thinks this is an interesting topic of conversation is beyond me.

      • You are absolutely right. Self-depreciation is (for me anyway) a comfortable place to wallow and I often forget how incredibly selfish it really is. Great post!

        I am so envious of your Freshly Posted status. I need to write more about above the belt subjects if I ever intend to follow in your footsteps. Congratulations to you!

  112. Reblogged this on S U A R I * सुअरी and commented:
    This is great read for women who have hard time with body image. Thank you for the article, Caitlin Kelly.

  113. I love food. I will never be thin. I have a great life, I am happy and healthy. I agree with you wholeheartedly…just shut up and get on with life.

  114. **Well said N well written! However, I’ve got a different spin to add..For I’m also personally tired of hearing women whine also! The phrase b*tching never would’ve been created IF women didn’t do it so much..Dig? N as one of the former whining/b*tching women myself I’d like to say it needs to end..1st of all its not PROductive. I mean what is really solved by whining other than to..vent? (which of course releases stress for a brief minute) But at the end of the day whatever one whined about N did NOTHING to solve it will still be there. Including excessive weight..I wish women would stop labeling each other as anything negative! Including pro-size or minus-size..IF you want to lose weight N tone UP then stop whining/b*tching and do something to change it. Period. We, as women, have the power N the energy to change/manage/micro-manage everything/everyone in our lives..and we do when necessary. The very thing we need to consistently work on maintaining in a positive fashion is ourselves…In the interim I promote loving ONEself at all times N I practice that also..Stay UPlifted always

  115. Reblogged this on musings from outside the asylum and commented:
    I like all of this except the bit about guns.

  116. Where did the human race inherit this crazy body image madness from?

    • To put it simply, body image, back when people were more active than inactive, and walked miles and miles a day and worked physically for their living, the shape of a body often pointed to how healthy that person was. Long, shiny hair meant you had enough vitamins.

      Body size was also an indicator of status: being overweight meant you had a lot of money to spend on food and time to spend eating it, which meant that fat people were rich people.

      In a way, it’s normal to look at body image and make a judgement about the person. (Fat=unhealthy, thin=beautiful, or fat=rich/beautiful/smart, thin=poor/stupid/ugly) What’s not normal is obsessing over it.

  117. With my perspective of living in Korea- obsessing about weight can actually help accomplish weight loss. There are other factors that contribute to being skinny in Korea, but the biggest difference is women here take action. People should obsess about being overweight- this is a social issue that affects health care costs and personal livelihood. Plus, I don’t know how anyone can be fat and be happy with themselves. I bust my ass in the gym to look average. The problem is not the whining; the problem is the follow through. This post could apply to hair loss since people who suffer from hair loss (they can slow it) can’t control the outcome. However, most people can control their weight.

    Ignoring an issue never makes it go away, and we have to be happy with that person in the mirror who looks back at us every day.

    • Focusing all our attention solely on the look of our body is obsessive and narcissistic. Yes, be healthy. But we have other things to think about and all people seem to talk about — to the point of madness — is how they/we look or feel. Do we not live in a a larger world with other concerns?

      • No one said obsessing means focusing all of our attention one one thing. However, the obsession does point to how vital this issue is to our well-being both physically and mentally. People don’t obsess about weight loss because they lost perspective on the global good; people obsess about weight loss because our health should always be at the top of the list of our concerns. We also have trouble helping others if we don’t feel good about ourselves. My point is this article almost implies people should shrug off weight loss because they have other talents. This is ludicrous. The reason women obsess about weight loss is because it is important. My point it is to do something about it; don’t ignore it in the name of the global good. You are only fooling yourself with this logic. People have more control over their body than the global community. This is nothing more than running away from personal responsibility for which individuals are held directly accountable.

  118. Perfectly well said. Thank you! I wish more women thought the same as you. :)

  119. Absolutely agree. It’s such a terrible shame that dedication of this degree is given to the bloody weight topic. I feel guilty, almost like I watched while my really youthful, creative and communicative potency got sapped by a stupidly damaging yet utterly magnetic game of hating what nature does best, and I cant help but cringe when I see the process repeat in younger women around me. What a waste!

  120. True, there is obsession around looks. I hope you are not overlooking obesity as an American/global health and economic concern.

    • One is vanity and needs to move off our radar as an obsession, in my view. The other, which I have addressed in comments here, is a public health issue with many roots and causes. It was not the point of this specific post. As a journalist who reads widely, of course I’m aware of obesity as an issue. It would be hard to miss.

  121. YES YES Y-E-S. THANK YOU! Thank you so much for this post. I really really wish people would start focusing on their health and the health of our nation as a whole rather than the size of their rear end! THANK YOU.

  122. I couldn’t agree more. All women some point in their lives worry about their weight. I would be a liar if I said that I haven’t, because I have. If I get stressed I tend to go the other way and completely lose my appetite (not good either). As a mum to two girls I worry about the pressure they might feel off others as they get older. Luckily my 12 year old is happy in herself and I hope it stays that way.

    Great post and congrats on Freshly Pressed.

  123. Reblogged this on thought bubbles and commented:
    Eat it up ladies! This ones for you. No more complaining, just doing, changing and making things happen, regardless of your waist size. Thanks for the post Caitlin Kelly!

  124. Reblogged this on Ideas and Dreams and commented:
    to all the girls out there….err…men also!
    In Big Bang Theory, Raj Kuthrepally is shown obsessed with his weight. He needs to keep it in check till his wedding. It is like a national obsession of Indians. I’m not so sure of other countries but in India, millions of men-hours are wasted every year whining about extra fat and in making plans to trim it. A whole new economic category has emerged because of hair loss and weight gain.

    A similarity between the two – the tension of experiencing them (hair loss or weight gain) further aggravates the problem. Hence it is self – perpetuating once it begins. So better not feed the cannon with out own thoughts.

  125. i am guilty of this..but i liked this post and you bring up some great points!

    i think women in general can always have something about their physical appearance that they can complain about. even at size 00 and weighing under 100 lbs, i still feel like i’ve got a bit too much jiggles in my abdominal area.

    i do, however, think that the underlying problem is much greater than just women and weight obsession. i think that the general public is just very SUPERFICIAL and care about their outwards appearance, be it weight, what kind of car they drive, etc. etc.- it’s not just women!!

  126. stop by freshly pressed and found this post, inspiring, esp for me who start for dieting. thank u such a nice post… i bookmarks this post ^_^. and i will reblog this post. is it ok?

  127. Reblogged this on Little Orange World and commented:
    Inspiring Post and Love the content…worth to read!!!

  128. Provocative post for which I am always grateful. But could it be that whining about our weight and dealing with our image issues doesn’t prevent us from kicking ass and making a difference? I
    Changing our attitudes regarding some beauty ideal women strive to achieve is going to take some time and our collective effort but self-image is a tangible problem in the western world and asking women to shut up, suck it up and think of starving children might not be the solution. But thank you for writing it and opening up the conversation.

    • It’s not binary.

      But I really often feel that women are wasting a HUGE amount of energy on this issue of “self-image” — which STILL focuses our attention on self, not other. What will it take for us to realize how silly this is, really, when we should all be fundamentally insanely grateful if we are even healthy and safe day to day? I would never wish pain, injury or ill health on anyone, but I do wish women more appreciated what they DO have, not what they (think) they do not — it seems the people I know who have faced illness and injury are damn grateful for recovery and health.

  129. Thin-ness as the ‘ultimate shiny object’ – LOVED that description. Women’s weight issues surely do derail our thinking about more the important concerns you raise. Lamenting our weight, rather than throwing our weight around, sucks the life out of our self esteem and redirects our energy into a big wedge issue with no resolution. Madison Avenue advertising, fashion, cosmetic, and retail industries love this kind of devotion to a cause. As long as we remain indignant primarily about something as inconsequential as our own personal weight and how we measure up in sizes, we will not make difference where it can matter to the future.

    As for Hilary in 2016 – yes.

    Super blog post – thankyou!

  130. just puke a few times a day.. it’s the new trend

  131. This is a problem for men too. Trying to find pants that fit a man with a “large” waist is a real problem today. I take a 42 to 44 waist and a 29″ inseam. Most stores seem to go up to about 40″ and then the pants are too long. My wife is heavier than I am, and she has a lot of trouble finding clothes that fit. I suspect part of the problem is that most clothing is imported today from countries where virtually everyone is “thin”…

  132. May I say that for a blog post arguing that we need to stop talking about women’s weight, it is ironic that it garnered 323 comments, all talking about weight? :) I agree that obesity is a huge issue but I think the mental issues surrounding obesity should be of larger concern to society.

  133. Its okay. Maybe Men should have a national Complain about our body size to everyone and anyone we met? would it change anything?

  134. Reblogged this on labioactivo and commented:
    “The larger issue here — pun intended — is this:
    Whining about weight is the biggest fucking distraction that women indulge in!
    We have much bigger fish to fry!
    Whining about weight is a huge time-suck.
    Whining about weight teaches the girls in our lives, who look to us their role models, that this is just what women do, that focusing miserably and endlessly on our individual body size and shape is our most pressing issue as women — instead of political and economic issues that affect us all, size 00s to 24s,  like paid maternity leave or better domestic violence protection or access to birth control and abortion.Whining about weight ignores and demeans the many incredible gifts we enjoy every single day”.

  135. Indeed there are more pressing issues than the way we look. Insted I suggest people should fight aginst the Republican war on women, which has been going for way too long. The facts of this war is revealed in my blog: http://forwardNOTbackward.wordpress.com
    Best. Fede

  136. Everyone whether they think they needto lose 5lbs or 50 complain about it. No one is satisfied and it is hard to lose any amount of weight. Sorry I’m rambling. I am thin. My sister is morbidly obese. In addition she is vertically challenged. She just turned 50 and can’t lose the weight. She has tried to lose without success. I have gone to dinner with her and she is worse than Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally. Her thyroid function is just within normal limits and because of that her Doc will not prescribe thyoid rx. Our mother died weighing 306lbs. Bottom line everyone is looking at the person next to them who they perceive to be thinner and feeling inadequate.

    • We need to look beyond this. Your sister needs medical help, certainly — has she seen a nutritionist?

      But beyond issues of health, this is an obsesssion with vanity we need to move past.

  137. [...] Lue koko artikkeli:     If one more woman bitches about the size of her body… « Broadside. [...]

  138. ‘or go on a diet’

  139. You are so right and I wish all women could read your article. Whining about kilos our body is a way to avoid facing life, challenges facing anything that can really matter to life. While we must look into making our world a better because today we all have to act together to make it better. Thank you

  140. One day one of the teachers at my school (let’s call her T, for teacher) began talking to one of my friends (let’s call her F, for friend) I was standing with, and T asked F how her sister who’s a year older than her, in her first year of university studying to be a doctor (let’s call her S, for sister) was doing. Then T made a comment that the last time she saw S, she was a lot thinner than the other girls in their first year of university, who tend to gain weight from it. F made a comment that S doesn’t want to spend more money on food, and healthier food is cheaper. T then replied, “Well, good for her!” I found that somewhat offensive, as a feminist, and though I said nothing, I thought, What, so staying thin is a more important accomplishment than her studying to be a doctor? She also made it sound like some sign of a good moral compass. Okay, so skinniness makes a woman moral? How ridiculous! I can’t imagine anyone making that kind of a comment about a man!

  141. Truly we all want to feel healthy and alive in our bodies, mind and spirit. We are who we are. We are constantly micro managing mood by way of liestyle in an effort to seek pleasure and avoid pain.
    When we do get to self actualization it’s a process not a destination. It’s important to try and understand yourself and your personality and style. Food is just one way to escape or enhance your feelings often and the side effect is weight. People are so much more than just a pant size.

  142. I think women need to learn to love their natural shape, but your natural size is never 200 lbs (depending on bmi/gender). I’m a size 6/8. Me wanting to be a size 4 is ridiculous. Doesn’t stop me from wanting it. It also is unhelpful that I get more attention from men, better sales at work, more respect from other women, and a better mood every time I lose weight.

    Me thinking about these issues is far from a crime. Women can, in fact, hold more than one thought in their head, such as furthering my career or birth control coverage. I hardly feel that in a world where millions of dollars are spent on preventable diseases caused by unhealthy weight that we should ignore being overweight as a heavy issue (pun intended)

    If you choose to lose the weight you put on, you will experience a new confidence and control that is hard to beat as a bonus. Everyone has an ideal size and the last thing we want to do is discourage women from keeping that as a goal, whether that’s a size 6 or a size 12.

    I know I am ridiculous for wanting to lose weight, but there is no reason why someone shouldn’t blog about said insecurities (I did). The Internet is for expressing yourself. Just like this.

  143. Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank you for writing what I’ve been thinking for years. And doing. I couldn’t give a rats arse what women think about their bodies, weight, clothes, how many men like them… etc… etc… I’ve had to put up with bullying, but really I just feel sad for their delusions.
    We get ripped off by the cosmetics industry for this obsession, yet most women in this world have to fight to feed their families. Women, globally, those in work at any rate, still earn 25% less than men, and pay far more than men for their products and clothes. In addition, women support on average 5 family members, whereas men only 2. Support women’s business, women’s issues, get into governments, education and on the boards of business. Make a difference, and never mind the damned dress size.

    • “Women, globally, those in work at any rate, still earn 25% less than men, and pay far more than men for their products and clothes. In addition, women support on average 5 family members, whereas men only 2. Support women’s business, women’s issues, get into governments, education and on the boards of business. Make a difference, and never mind the damned dress size.”

      Thank you!

  144. Reblogged this on South East Slim Down and commented:
    Well now, she does have some good points, doesn’t she?

  145. Wow, finally we are having this conversation! I have struggled with my weight and dieted since the age of 8 until I realized…finally, almost 30 years later… IT WAS THE OBSESSION WITH MY BODY THAT WAS CAUSING ME THE MISERY NOT ACTUALLY THE SIZE OF MY BODY. BEING OVERWEIGHT ITSELF HADN’T CAUSED ME THE PAIN IT WAS HOW i FELT AND THOUGHT ABOUT BEING OVERWEIGHT. When I finally released the struggle, embraced my body, decided to SHOW UP in my life and in the moment everything shifted. As a result my body responded and I’ve lost close to 70lbs, but that is really only a result of the real loss and most important loss…the body shame, the constant obsession, the yo-yo dieting frenzy…in that I gained ME! I formalized my personal experience into a Graduate research study looking at how the practice of presence (showing up for our life) heals food and body issues. I am now working with other women through sharing my personal story on my blog and website http://www.deepercravings.com to help free those of us craving peace from the diet and weight loss obsession and to show how establishing an authentic connection to our body actually results in true health and how our body will respond (as it needs to when we learn to listen to it). What I soooo appreciate about what you are sharing here is that you help us reflect on what could actually be possible if even an ounze of the obsession with our weight could be redirected to expressing our talents, our passions and our compassion for the world we live in.

  146. Well said, it’s so disappointing that the result of an affluent society is what issues their own affluence bring upon themselves instead of a broader picture.

  147. This is a great post, right up to the end where you suggest that skinny women begin calling themselves minus size. This is a whole other issue related to complaining about your weight: shaming thin women. Your statement goes right along with, “real women have curves,” which somehow suggests that women who are thin and/or have fewer curves are somehow not “real women.”

    • That remark was somewhat jocular — but it makes the point. Who are you (designers, retailers) to call me “plus”? Flip the script and see how it feels.

      • I agree, and upon re-reading the statement, I understand that you meant it as a joke to call thin women minus size. But some people don’t say take it as a joke. It seems like a trend deftly to diminish the value or “realness” of skinny women in order to validate those same things for bigger women.

  148. Reblogged this on The Freshie and commented:
    I HAD TO REBLOG THIS!

  149. There has been some interesting discussion and I’ve enjoyed reading peoples’ comments. I shared this comment because I do agree that people obsess too much on things that are not important. I know I do have inane discussions with people to distract me from things that are too hard to handle at that moment, but I do my bit to make a difference in the community and world that I live in.

    As for the discussion on fat vs skinny, which I don’t think this article is really about, yes anorexia is an illness that needs to be dealt with, but the pressure in our society to conform to a certain type of body figure is very strong. I got upset when my gorgeous 7 year old niece said she was fat and ugly, she is neither of these, but she is told this by the books she reads, TV she watches and music she listens to. I agree, we should stop calling people skinny or fat, they are just people and we should also be concerned about the health of ourselves, the people around us and our communities.

    However, the point of this article is to show that we can obsess on things that are not really important, that was my understanding. I work in the disabled sector and see so many able bodied people complain about their hair, their nails, their make up, where they’re going for holidays – what do I hear disabled complain about? do they have enough money to pay their doctor and specialist bills, can they find a job in an able bodied world, is our government in New Zealand going to shut down their services, is the able bodied world going to ever treat them as equals. I suffer from chronic pain syndrome and I have some friends that complain about money, boyfriends, where they’re going to travel – my main complaint is dealing with my pain everyday while I work, do I have energy to spend time with my family and friends, can I still make a difference in this world, do I have enough money to pay for all the specialists. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting my nails done, I love having money for a naturopath and good quality food for better health, I love getting my hair done – but some people need to deal with the fact that they live for the individual more than the community.

    By the way, some people are too obsessed with the fat thing. My doctor said I was unhealthy and in pain because I was overweight, I lost 25kgs and completed a half marathon, but I was still in agony. It’s only now that I have a person whose dealing with the health issue, not the fat person, that I’m starting to get some of my pain issues dealt with.

  150. Okay, no more bitching about my weight. I’m going to focus more on my talents. Thank you. :)

  151. Important issues like access to birth control and abortion? Obviously you voted for Muslim Barry the Reaper and need Jesus in your life. May God have mercy on your soul.

    • In the interests of allowing diverse voices here, I am not going to trash this comment. But I will not allow another like this that disparages the President in this fashion.

      • Mr. Obama is overly sympathetic to the Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization. As a state senator in Illinois, he voted to NOT protect babies that miraculously survived the abortion procedure. I have merely stated the truth. Of course, I have yet to meet a lib that let minor details like THE FACTS get in the way of their jacked up political opinions or agendas.

  152. https://cindysouljourney.wordpress.com/2012/12/08/what-is-your-mirror-telling-you/
    Thrilled to let you know I’m someone who could complain but simply can’t and won’t! Have a read! And thanks for yours.

  153. Congrats on making Friday Fave! So awesome to see one my fav blogs featured. I still think it’s important for women to take care of their health so they can do all the kick ass things that you mentioned. But whining never got anyone anywhere. I feel like society encourages overweight men to exercise. Overweight women are encouraged to like, fall off the face of the Earth.

  154. Congratulations on your post…it is so dead on … I have been on both sides of the spectrum when it comes to weight…165 pounds to 112 pounds and now a happy 130 pounds…I am myself and that is enough. It does not matter what you weigh or what your body looks like it is how you convey to others through your thoughts and attitude.

  155. I have really no right to say anything, as I am basically a socially awkward engineering type/linux geek, but I thought I could offer my support. I think this is a good step for women of all types and ages, and have nothing but respect for the author of this post. :)

  156. Reblogged this on Plus Black blog and commented:
    Read, absorb, pass on and live it: A Broadside blog with a refreshing perspective on the plus size woman debate.

  157. Women and Chauvinism. Domestic Abuse Awareness Month

  158. Thank you for this. I’ll pass it along to the size 2 lady who is next to me in yoga and feels fat today from her carb packed lunch. I would like to go through one day where no one tells me they feel fat, makes me feel fat or puts a new standard on women & how they “should look” wishing people would give it a rest.

  159. You seem to have touched a nerve here, broadsideblog … I too am finally overweight after years of being a skinny chick. Now I am an old bat with a couple of stone overweight. I’m elderly … it’s hormonal … one day they will prove that middle-age spread is inescapable.

    I am never ill (have I just put the mockers on myself?), no, not even a cold.

    I take care to eat properly but will not deny myself occasional treats. Life is for living and those who whine on and on about their weight or their shape are just bores.

    I avoid them but then I have a very low boredom threshold.

  160. Everyone has the right to bitch, come on… and it’s healthy to bitch about the ugly fats.

  161. Totally right. I also think our Western culture has developed a bizarre obsession with “look-at-me-and-tell-me-I’m-beautiful-because-then-I’ll-have-worth!”

    If all of humanity were physically blind from birth, I how different self-image and relationship values might be.

  162. I think this was an interesting post, and I agree that it would be great if women could focus on bigger issues other than their body image. We definitely need to work on improving the way our culture talks about women’s bodies, and bring more ownership of women’s bodies image back to ourselves. However, I don’t think its as simple as telling women they are whining and to stop it..our bodies are an intrinsic part of our identities, and its not that simple to remove yourself from your physical body all the time.

    My main issue with this is similar to the uncomfortable feeling I get when people make “first world problem” jokes. I don’t think its that simple to say: well, you aren’t living in a war-torn country, so suck it up, and move on. Yes, people need perspective, but happiness isn’t simply a measured by how much better we have it than other people. Its whether our needs and wants are met, and having been born in a different type of society, these differ greatly.

  163. I agree with you,it’s time women stop complaining about their dress/pants size. There are more important things to complain and fight about. Frankly the ones who complain the loudest are the ones who to do nothing about their weight, they have a gym membership but dont go or seldom do., they complain about the price to hire a personal trainer and they forget that they ate every extra pound they are complaining about. I say shut up if you are not doing any thing to lose that extra pound and keep eating!

  164. Reblogged this on Louis Cecile's Poetry Blog and commented:
    Such a true blog article if ever I have read one.

  165. You are right BUT also in reality, Weight was/is and will be the primary concern of MOST women always at some stage. I am an intelligent professional woman, well travelled, have a post graduate degree,lovely children, good husband etc etc etc etc and I am grateful for these gifts BUT nothing makes me happier than when i can wear size 2 instead of size 4. I am small but it is not enough. Rationally I know this is wrong but it is the way we are conditioned through the society we live in.
    Do I worry about bigger issues? Sure, I do!! I volunteer and work with stray and abandoned animals and I worry about bigger issues in the world BUT the fact is, that worrying about weight also is a major issue in my head.
    Do I worry about other peoples weight though? or be nasty…no, as I have many friends a lot larger than me. I think if you are happy that size, thats ok, but its not for me.
    As long as people are healthy, does it matter what they weigh?
    It shouldn’t but it does….
    Interesting and well written article….

  166. I agree!
    I live in Japan, where I can just fit into the biggest size of pants sold at the only 2 decent clothing stores within 3 hours of my home. I’m not skinny, but I’m not really overweight, either. I have a larger gut than I’d like, but I agree that we need to stop bitching about their fattiness! What’s the point of it?? So that someone will hear you and say ‘no you’re not! You look great!’ to try & make you feel better? If you add up the time you spend whining or complaining or thinking about how you wish something were different, and use that time & energy instead to do something ( anything!), you would be in a better place. Walk more, move around more, ride a bicycle. Anything!

  167. Reblogged this on daisyandzelda and commented:
    Whining about weight ignores and demeans the many incredible gifts we enjoy every single day.

  168. I feel like the get over it and move on mentality is the easy way out. almost as easy at bitching about weight and not doing anything about it. we would all benefit from eating healthy, exercising, and making our health a priority rather than embracing the cop out. it’s hard work to be healthy, i get it. it certainly pays in the long run though. there are lots of tips and tricks to make it happen.

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