Weighing In on Les Rondes

Apologies if this rambles and is a bit of a rant.  It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, having lived it for most of my life.

Tish at A Femme d’un Certain Age kicked off a lively discussion last week with these two posts, and then Duchesse at Passage des Perles followed up with some thoughts of her own

I’ll admit to carrying more than a bit of baggage of my own on this topic, having been a stocky kid in a fat-phobic family, and having spent the years from my early teens through my twenties living with eating disorders of varying degrees of severity.  I started dieting at age 13 and a weight of about 103 lbs. because I thought I should be as thin as Twiggy, the models in Seventeen magazine and the actresses on TV, and no one around me discouraged that belief.  My mother had her own weight issues/insecurities, and my father had inherited from his family certain WASP-y hangups about weight and food (excess weight is indicative of Lack of Character and lower social class, and acknowledging physical hunger Is. Not. Done.)  So no, I’m not neutral here. 

Obession with weight and food is a life-stealer.  At worst, it can cause disease and death.  At best, it makes one’s world increasingly narrow.  I’m certain that my strenuous dieting (and periods of anorexia) at such an early age stunted my physical growth, and certainly shifted my focus away from my potential place in the broader world back into a circular obsession with pounds and calories.  (In fact, this narrowing of focus is well documented among people experiencing starvation.  At the time, I thought it was only further proof of my “weakness” and “lack of character.”)

While I do think that young women of today are more aware and media-savvy than I was, I still have to wonder about the damage being done to young bodies and psyches when a single, narrow standard of physical beauty or even just acceptability is promoted.  But it seems that anytime there’s a discussion of increasingly skeletal models or attempts to show attractively presented women above a size 4, the chorus invariabley chimes in, 3, 2, 1…But What About Obesity??  So much worse!™

I’ve seen other articles/studies that back up the quote that Duchesse posted, stating that girls who diet are more likely to be heavy later on.  Would my weight be lower today had I not spent years starving myself, periodically bingeing and eating far less less healthfully than if I’d never had an eating disorder?  Without a time machine and the ability to rewrite history, I’ll never know.  But I do know that I wasted far too much mental and physical energy on trying to achieve a size/shape that just isn’t realistic for me and never was.

Nancy in comments on Duchesse’s post said: One of the things that really annoys me is when weight is presented as a dichotomy: either extreme of thinness or obesity. There is a middle ground; it’s where most of us should live, and it’s ok!   Yes!!  I’m annoyed by this too (see “3,2,1” above)!  The vast majority of us fall somewhere in between skeletal and obese. Presenting only uber-thin images of women is doing nothing to stem increasing obesity among the general population, and I’d argue that it’s actually accelerating it, by encouraging women and even young girls who are not overweight by any stretch of the imagination to diet and wreck their metabolisms and set themselves up for years of eating disorders and higher weights.  As Duchesse pointed out in comments over at A Femme, it’s hardly “promoting obesity” to present a few isolated images of larger women, when 99.9% of the time, only the thinnest and youngest are presented as “aspirational.”  But why can’t we see images of beautiful clothing modeled on women who are size 8, 10, 12, 16?  Who are older than teenagers?  Why does “aspirational” have to mean “impossible for 95% of us?”  Street style blogs used to be an alternative, but now even they seem to focus on either the young and very slender, or the fashion industry insiders.

The result of this, (and I’m in agreement with Duchesse here) is that it’s skewed our perception of what’s “fat” vs. what’s normal and healthy (hint: a wide variety of sizes, due in no small part to genetics).  I’m the first person to say that not enough people here in the US are eating healthfully or being optimally active, but a healthy diet of real food in moderate portions and daily activity do not always result in a culturally sanctioned physique.  I’ve personally known women who devote much time and energy (agonizing over the precise number of points in a salad, spending hours daily at the gym) trying to achieve a body that has no basis in their own genetic reality, to the degree that the rest of their lives get short shrift, while being applauded by their peers for their “discipline.” I find this disturbing and sad.

I’m also admittedly thin-skinned about the moralizing subtext that seems to tag along whenever weight is discussed, having been ingrained as a child with the belief that my non-slender build was somehow a moral failing (despite eating the same food as the rest of my family, fixed and portioned by my mother).  So the needle on my Sanctimony Meter shoots over into the red zone when I hear or read people stating we should stop complaining, that super skinny images of women in media should “motivate” us to “push the plate away” and “get up off the couch and get some exercise.”  Or “if you’d just do xyz you’d achieve 4% body fat just like I did!”

Marketers claim that we don’t want to see images of women who are size 12 or 65 years old, that it doesn’t sell products.  I’d disagree with the first part of that statement, but probably agree with the second part, which is really their motivation.  People who feel insecure are more likely to spend on products that promise to fix them. (Sal at Already Pretty addresses this beautifully here.)  Some women have stopped looking at fashion magazines, stopped watching television, removed themselves from those impossible images. And if you want to do that, fine.  But visual media do have an impact on our culture, or advertisers wouldn’t pay the billions annually that they do to present their products.  I’ve come to believe that cutting ourselves off from our culture isn’t the answer, raising our voices to change it is (even if it’s writing letters to CEO’s you know will never be read, or impotent bloggy ranting).  And keep teaching our kids media literacy, so they learn to question and deconstruct the images they’re presented, and ask “who profits?”

Summary: Life is short.  Eat real food, move around whenever you can in ways that you enjoy, and re-evaluate your beliefs and values periodically to be sure they’re serving you.  Question and discard those that aren’t.  In the end, a little roll of fat around the middle doesn’t say anything about the kind of person you are or how much you loved and were loved.

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  1. Hi, Followed your blog for ages, never commented before. I’m 55 with a history of weight distress, physical and emotional. May I be bold and suggest the blog, Marks Daily Apple. Honestly read every article, could change your life. Jayne

  2. Well you certainly addressed that subject in probably the most interesting/intelligent/direct approach I have ever seen.

    (I thought La Duchesse had an interesting take last week.)

    Why should we celebrate obesity or anorexia? As you so adroitly pointed out, just let us be normal, healthy and happy.

  3. Brava, my friend! Wonderful enlargement (pun intended) of the discussion.

    And let’s walk into Prada and say why the hell do your clothes stop at size 10.

    I got a marvelous local designer to start producing clothes in XL (14-16) and guess what? They sell.

    My problem right now is curbing my tongue when women I know start those “oh I’m so fat” harangues. I’m so sick of it that it’s hard to summon any tact.

  4. Excellent post. Life is for living – and to me that means enjoying food, exercise and drink (in moderation of course)! I’m with you & Tish, just let us be normal, healthy and happy.

  5. I think the term “weight distress” is a good one. You are right. The vast middle ought to feel OK. It ought to be about health. It ought to be about moving. It ought to be about nutrition. I wonder, what can all of us do to change the situation, especially those of us with daughters.

  6. I adore you. You know that, right?

    I work in marketing. I am constantly being asked to gather imagery for printed materials, and am ALWAYS told to represent multiple ethnicities when I do. And as forced as that sometimes feels, I can do it because I prefer to see ads that reflect the real world, and it’s a world that includes non-white people. I just cannot believe that body diversity is lagging SO far behind racial diversity. Not to say that racial diversity is accurately reflected at all times in all media, but it’s light years ahead of bodily diversity.

    And I think you’ve really hit the nail on the head. Some of us can eat right and exercise constantly, and STILL be not-thin. And that is normal, and we are still beautiful, goddamit.

  7. Brilliant post Pseu – I LOVE it!

    Whenever I diet, all I think (obsess) about is food. That’s not healthy.

    As much as I’d like to be 5kg lighter, I think I’m coming to the realisation that doing that will make me less happy, and my body is really OK as it is and doesn’t need changing, just because all the media images are of skinny people and I may be thinking that is normal – it’s not – and I should know.

    Being that middle ground is a fine place to be, and accepting myself in that middle ground is important to my self-esteem.

    You are beautiful.

  8. What a sane commentary on our culture-wide insanity.

    I think it is important to remember that no one ever bought a Ferrari with somebody else’s self-esteem. If advertisers can’t sell us itty-bitty clothes, they will sell us the latest diet aid or exercise machine.

    There is plenty of blame to go around for the public health problems caused by our collectively warped body image. One that doesn’t get much attention is America’s deep-seated belief that we can buy our way to happiness, and that advertisements show us the path to perfection.

    The goal of marketing is to move product, not to make our lives better. Along with nutritious food and regular exercise, we could all use a daily dose of skepticism toward commerce and consuming.

  9. I’ve read, I believe on one of the Sewing Diva’s blog postings, that the fashion industry is run by gay men and they of course, prefer slim young men, hence the obsession with cadaverously thin women with no breasts. It makes sense to me.

    I wish we could take the fashion industry back…. 🙂

  10. Wonderful post! It’s so true that almost none of us – even if we DID starve ourselves and exercise to the point of exhaustion – could ever achieve the ‘ideal’ body shape. To me, the ideal is a body that is well-fed on real food, exercised with joy, dressed with delight and loved!

  11. Let’s be normal, healthy and happy should be the new mantra. I’m slim with podgy areas after having children. My 4 year old says I love your wobbly belly as he lays on it. How nice is that!

    I do eat well, I exercise – I need to otherwise I get cross. Because I’ve always eaten what I want and exercised a lot since a young age. I realise that I’m lucky having grown up eating and looking as I pleased. No one ever commented on me or my weight. Which make a hell of a difference to you as an adult. I’ve never had a moments concern but equally social views on dieting or eating affects us all, it makes me think and judge and all manner of stupid things.

    I agree that there is a third way and that is nothing to do with lollipop head syndrome or obesity. I have noticed a massive change in society and the level of obesity is a concern but as you rightly say it disproportionate to the reality of what women look like at all ages in a norm which includes a range of shapes and sizes.

  12. Agree completely and would like to add this: My nurse practitioner told me years ago that for all the worry about the connection between fat, breast cancer and heart disease, that actually a huge number of women end up dying from – falling, breaking a hip or a pelvis and ending up with a blood clot that actually kids them. And why are they falling? Because through muscle and bone degeneration (due to – dieting, natural loss due to aging, lack of exercise, lack of actual nutritious eating), their whole support system becomes destabilized and brittle. She told me that women who are heavier in their younger years actually build up more bone, more muscle just to support the extra weight, so having thick calves, thighs and a big rearend is actually a good thing. I can tell you that when I cared for my (nice, thin, elegant) mom in the last year of her life, after she’d had a heart attack and a stroke and had descended into dementia, I was very happy for my very strong legs when she’d have a seizure and I’d have to lift her straight up off the floor. I always felt it was a bit ironic that she’d always given me a bad time for being short and rather stumpy. Being strong is the best thing we can do for ourselves.

  13. My 20-something son tells me that most women his age have gone through an eating-disorder period. How sad. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  14. I read this post with great interest. I grew up on the opposite side of the spectrum. I was the “runt” of the litter! I grew up with everyone in my family trying to put some meat on my bones. I come from a family of full-figured gals and my size, or lack thereof was a constant subject especially at the dinner table. I was the weird one.

    I think that we should all consider not the amount of food that goes into our mouths but the quality of that food. The food chain in America is atrocious. Hormones, antibiotics, genetically altered food and unethical treatment of animals is an everyday occurance. Why are young girls getting their periods earlier and earlier each year? If we don’t as a nation make changes then God only knows what future generations are going to be faced with. Just my 2 cents.

  15. Thanks for a great post. [Somehow my response ended up as a novel….]

    Not to be all Lifetime Channel, but I know it’s definitely a journey for so many of us to ditch the body shame and any behaviors linked to it. Here’s to steps forward even when we go backward for a while.

    Re the French Elle and the internet blowback around using a model with some flesh on her:

    I admit it never even occurred to me that the featured model (Tara Lynn) should be thinner — I was glad to see a model who looked like she might be “plus size” — a (tall) size 16 rather than a size 8!

    And I certainly doubt she can be any *less* healthy than the typical model these days…who make the 80s supermodels look like heifers. She certainly looks gorgeous and glowing and sparkly-eyed.

    I’m a proponent on Health at Any Size (HAES), and while I have no idea if Tara Lynn is healthy, I see a lot of women built like her in my exercise class who’ve been maintaining that size for years.

    I also see a fair amount of thinner women there who have a lot of stamina and appear as hale as their heavier compadres.

    So while I condemn the media images and weight discrimination, I do think it’s worth mentioning that one can mentally and/or vocally reject the tyranny of body image stuff–or try to do it, anyway!–while maintaining behaviors that end up putting one closer to the so-called ideal.

    However, I think US society is set up to seriously endanger our health. Long commutes; long workdays; lack of funding for nutrition education, physical education, and preventive care; high prices for even non-organic fruit, veg, and whole grains; the food chain issues already mentioned. These combine to make it a lot of effort for most to live a healthier lifestyle.

    On a personal note, my size hasn’t fluctuated tremendously since I stopped obsessing about what went into my body and really not giving it the optimal nutrients to function (20+ years).

    But my physical health and mental health, on the other hand, have fluctuated a great deal–upwards!

    I do find it takes a lot of back-end effort to get to a front-end effortlessness around health, though. Planning/choosing to ingest mostly-healthier meals (boring), aiming for 30-60 minutes of daily exercise (also boring to me, alas), addressing emotions that can lead to compulsive eating/alcohol use (hard…well not the alcohol part for me but the comfort eating!).

    And on the mental back-end, I find I do have to limit my exposure to high-fashion and even mass-market images…not because it’s a trigger for unhealthy behavior, but because the women look so emaciated and lifeless it just disturbs me. Plus it’s not like I can tell what the clothing will look like on me, as despite being on the smaller end of the spectrum I do have muscles and flesh.

    But I’m also disturbed by women who change their bodies to cater to “adult entertainment” IYKWIM. It’s all part of a larger issue which I feel correlates to Western women’s INSANE strides in economic freedom (of course there’s still a long way to go) and the resulting pressure to stay eternally youthful.

    Admittedly, I do obsess about finding clothing I think flatters my non-proportional proportions. I’ve done my time not thinking about that (and subjectively looking/objectively feeling bad) — and have no problems seeking a personal style based around conventional ideas of a balanced silhouette. As many style gurus and my larger-but-built-the-same sister and I say: shape not size.

  16. What a great post! I’ve been learning to accept my new body for a few years now. Try as I might by eating the right foods, cut back on some things and exercise more I’m never going to be thin. It’s frustrating to go into certain retailers and even their size large seems too small. What a job that can do on the self esteem. I’m 47 y.o and cruising towards menopause so I know things are changing, and not in a good way. I try and do the best I can.

    I have a sister in law who is a fanatic about exercising and eating right. She’s never had children so could spend hours on end in the gym. She’s very vain so even if she’s gained a couple of pounds she’s very upset. What bothers me, when she’s describing someone often she calls them fat. I’ve seen some of these people and they’re not fat! If she thinks they’re fat I must be obese to her. (Believe me, I’m not obese) Would I like to look like her, of course, she looks amazing in clothes. But I don’t have the desire or time to spend all of my time in the gym. It’s unfortunate there are so many people that can’t just accept others for the shape their in. Genetics often plays a role so we don’t always have complete control over how things turn out.

  17. I love your summary. I know that I have spent way too much time worrying about that extra 10 pounds (which still don’t put me in the overweight category) and not enough time being grateful for my good health. But it’s hard when most of the people around me are constantly obsessing about food, exercise and their weight. It’s sort of like our national past-time.

  18. Wow! Having kept most of this inside, has definitely been a strong burden. Declaring it all out was necessary. I admire your courage to express your thoughts. Thank you.

  19. I nearly wrote a letter of complaint to J. Crew after looking at their latest catalogue. The first section shows a model so emaciated it made me feel nausea as well as anger that I am supposed to find such images alluring.
    I say “nearly wrote” – had a coffee and a cookie instead and wondered what you’d make of it!
    But really – it’s one thing to make us think we have to look like skinny adolescent boys to wear their clothes, quite another to insinuate starvation.

  20. Like the gardener’s cottage, I too grew up on the other end of the spectrum, the “runt of the litter”. My mother also tried to get me to eat more and I constantly heard about how skinny I was (not a compliment).

    I grew up theoretically being one of the “lucky ones”: blonde, blue-eyed, and thin. But it wasn’t enough (I had frizzy hair and an “ethnic” nose), and I never felt attractive until nearly my 50th birthday.

    This leads me to think there’s some larger societal forces at work here: it doesn’t actually matter whether or not you reach the arbitrary standard, there will always be another waiting in the shadows…

    I stopped reading fashion magazines regularly when I was in graduate school and read about the study that showed women’s self-esteem plummeted after reading Vogue. I don’t miss it and don’t feel removed from society. Have to agree, sadly, about street-style blogs: with the exception of Advanced Style, they are featuring more and more models-on-the-street. Not interesting. (I’ve been especially disappointed in the direction the Sartorialist has taken.)

    Wonderful, wonderful post, pseu!!

  21. I design for women and girls who have “normal-shaped” bodies. This is a topic I deal with constantly. It is almost like demonizing motherhood and apple pie, it is so ingrained into our psyche. One of the ways I fight this is that I fit the client’s body, so that my client doesn’t have to go to the store, where they promote the body fitting the dress. And after 30+ years of doing this, what is most evident, is that every one of my clients looks fabulous when they are fit well. Not only do they look fabulous, but they know they look good and they feel great.

    Personally I’ve been too thin and too thick!!! But it is far healthier to be a little on the thick side, than on the too thin side, and I did not think I looked all that well when I was too thin. I’ve gotten so this waifish, post-apocalyptic look is not attractive nor desired, but it’s taken a few decades to get there.

  22. I’m a naturally thin person. I’m 5″11 and have been this height since I was about 13. Growing up was torture. I was bullied and make fun of for being so tall and thin. I’m blessed with good genes and a fast metabolism… my whole family is. I’m fortunate to have been so thick skinned and didn’t suffer any disorders as such

    There’s no happy medium in this world, is there!

  23. “I’m certain that my strenuous dieting (and periods of anorexia) at such an early age stunted my physical growth, and certainly shifted my focus away from my potential place in the broader world back into a circular obsession with pounds and calories. (In fact, this narrowing of focus is well documented among people experiencing starvation. At the time, I thought it was only further proof of my “weakness” and “lack of character.”)”

    I could have written this, Deja. My mother started harping at me about my weight when I was 10, to which my response was to stop eating. At 10.

    It makes me so mad thinking about it now as I look at the pictures of what was then a skinny girl. My mother has more than a few issues, and it set me up for a lifetime of starving/dieting/gaining weight, being obsessed with food, etc. I totally agree about life stealing.

    I am glad that there are SOME plus size models in SOME ads as opposed to the 0% there were growing up, but more variety as you say needs to be displayed to counter the ultra thin social norms apparent in our culture.

  24. I first noticed an odd phenomenon when I was in my teens – I became depressed, significantly unhappy, immediately after reading fashion magazines (which my peers loved). I knew that no matter what I did, I wasn’t going to look like the girls featured therein, and that made me sad. Either my peers had never reached the same conclusion about themselves, or they didn’t care, but I found it pointless to spend time striving for that which I knew I could never achieve. I stopped looking at fashion magazines. Completely.

    For similar reasons, I stopped weighing myself – threw out the scale, and forbade my doctor to tell me what I weighed. I only cared if I had gained or lost weight since my last visit. I did this for forty years.

    Now, I look at blogs such as yours, and I think I experience what my teenage peers experienced so many years ago, reading Vogue or Seventeen. I enjoy it. I feel entitled to like pretty things, and “pretty” has a much broader meaning than it used to for me.

    My new medical plan sent me a report on my most recent health issue (broken elbows), and before I knew it, I had inadvertently discovered my adult weight! But I don’t care – just that morning I had remarked to myself how nice I looked in my sweater and jeans. So I guess I can get on my husband’s scale now if I feel like it.

    Maturity – priceless!

  25. You know, what is so awful, is that the slim women you see in magazines aren’t really that thin. I was stunned by an image of Amanda Seyfried on the English Glamour magazine. They have thinned her face down so much that she doesn’t even have that wide-eyed look any more.

    I have a post in draft with a pic I tore out of the paper two days ago. It is an ad for a speciality store that sells 14+ sizes. The ad caught my eye because of the beautiful dress the model was wearing. Then I thought, hold on a sec… did I read this right? Size 14+????? The model couldn’t have been more than a 4. I do believe that most women don’t want to see larger models, but want to “aspire” to the smaller size. It is wrong, yes, but it is true. Ditto for obviously aged people in ads. I hosted a focus group for an agency ten years ago and showed them five images for a geriatric supplement. All the participants were 65+. ALL wanted the couple in their 40s in the ad. They didn’t want to recognize themselves in the older couples. A very well presented post. I’ll post the ad for the 14+ boutique next week some time and link it to this post.

  26. This is such a fantastic post. I am going to make sure my 19 year old daughter reads it too. So well said and beautifully written – you are wonderful you know. x

  27. Sal – thanks so much, and it’s true that we’ve become much more open to ethnic diversity than body diversity. Baby steps, I guess…

    Jayne – thanks, I will check it out.

    Tish – thanks! I think for many of us, perception of what’s “normal” has become so skewed toward the very thin.

  28. Duchesse – thanks, and thank you so much for your inspirational post! Yes, we need to find ways to stop the body disparagement.

    That’s Not My Life – thank you!

    materfamilias – thanks so much.

  29. kittykat – my guess is that’s some of it. I also think it’s become a self-perpetuating dynamic. Designers keep designing and providing sample sizes for size 0’s and magazines keep featuring those sizes so designers keep providing, ad infinitum.

    LPC – I really do think that younger women are more savvy to things like photoshop than I was (back in our day it was “airbrushing”), but yes, I think the barrage of images can still be destructive.

    tiffany – bravo, that’s an excellent manifesto there!

  30. Patty – thank you so much.

    Imogen – thanks so much, and for the link (and you too, Sal!).

    Anonymous @4/8 10:52pm – excellent points, thank you!

  31. L – thank you!

    Make Do Style – it’s great that you were able to grow up without being instilled with weight hangups, and I’d imagine you’re probably raising your kids the same way. Bravo!

    Anna from the Netherlands – thank you so much!

  32. Toby Wollin – excellent points. I think a lot of people don’t realize that osteoporosis is the second highest cause of death of women after heart disease. (There’s also a recent study showing that people with a little extra weight tend to have better outcomes after a heart attack, go figure.)

    metscan – thanks for your support!

    MJ – that really is sad, because for that time they’re being robbed of nutrients, of potential. Thanks for commenting!

  33. the gardeners cottage – I’m glad to see that people in general are becoming more aware of these issues. I’ve had friends who grew up being told they were “too skinny” and had body hangups about that too. They had as tough a time trying to gain weight as I did trying to lose!

    Arabella – I’ve been putting catalogs straight in the recycling bin without looking (to reduce temptation to spend), but I’ve been hearing about that J.Crew issue. It really is appalling.

    Vix – thanks for that thoughtful comment! I agree that our culture makes it harder to develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. I agree that we should be promoting healthy habits rather than achieving a specific size.

  34. Veuve – thank you so much! Yes, I agree that the “standard” is intentionally always just out of reach for any woman. I do think it’s about manipulating us to spend more. I’ve always loved fashion and style, and am always on the lookout for inspiration that doesn’t wreck my body image.

    Lulu – thanks for your comment. I think we need to shift our focus to how we *feel* when we eat well and move. To be an armchair psychologist for a moment, I’d guess that your sister-in-law doesn’t feel good about herself, and needs to put down others in order to build herself up.

    Shannon – thanks! Weight really has become our national religion/ obsession! We castigate the “sinners” (the overweight) and laud the “saints” (celebrities, those who lose weight). It’s assigning moral qualities to body sizes that really, really bugs me.

  35. ClaireOKC – Yes! I hate that argument “clothes just look better on skinny women.” To me, that smacks of lazy designing. Thanks so much for your comment, and for doing a fabulous thing to make women look and feel great.

    She Wore It Well – it’s just so wrong that kids are castigated for what is their natural shape, whatever that is! I’m glad to hear you didn’t let it get you down.

    Special – I’m sorry your mother’s hangups translated into harping on you. I hope you’ve been able to make peace with your body. Thanks for your comment.

  36. Marsha – thanks so much for sharing your experience. It sounds as though you’ve been able to develop a healthy body image, brava!

    Rosina – thanks, and I look forward to reading your post! I wonder if the fact that our culture denigrates both age and size, and we don’t want to associate ourselves with those qualities, explains your focus group results? I wonder if this will change as a big chunk of the population ages?

    Semi-Expat – thanks so much! It would be interesting to know how girls your daughter’s age perceive this issue.

  37. Pseu and Toby, I should add too that I am genetically “blessed” with being slim. I eat lots of really nutritious foods and work out lifting huge weights around BUT I have osteopenia. Go figure! Eating more now won’t help my bones. I do find this very frightening as my mother had the bones of an ox. I won’t take bisphosphonates so I am very careful to eat foods that contain minerals and take my supplements.

  38. Sher – while I do agree that some female athletes have more muscular and stronger physiques, I’d rather not see any one type of heathy body held up as an ideal to the exclusion of all others. (And some female athletes have opened up about their own battles with eating disorders and compulsive exercising, so I don’t think anyone’s totally immune these days.)

    Rosina – I’d certainly never suggest that someone try to put on weight for that reason. I believe that most of us are probably healthiest in the weight range determined by our genetic makeup.
    I think the point Toby and I were making is that there might be some health advantages to being built as we are.

  39. Enjoyed this post so much! There are so many athletes who are not rail thin, but are the epitome of a healthy woman. That’s who we should look to for body examples.

  40. I’ve been on all sides of this weight issue: “too thin” when young, “too fat” for a while when I was having real stress issues. Now somewhat heavier than the sanctioned guidelines but fine for my body. And I’ve gotten grief, and inappropriate responses at all sizes as well.

    I think you needed to say this and you stated your case beautifully. Thank you for everything.

  41. Maybe I’m a little late here but I just wanted to say that even what we think about the “obese” is really not representative. At 5″ and 148 lbs I AM obese and a size 6-8. (hopefully not what we imagine when we think about the obesity epidemic).
    And, really? I don’t think I have to apologize to anyone about being obese. In the end it’s my body.

  42. Amen, sister! Judging by the number of comments, fat will forever be a sensitive topic. I’ve been obese, rail thin and in between. My dad told me I waddled like a duck and needed to diet when I was just 5’8″ and 120 pounds. You never forget it.

    Now that I have tween daughters, I’ve banned fashion mags from the house, and the word “DIET” is forbidden in our home. We play games, discuss how the media distorts body types, eat good food and talk about how great it is to have strong legs to run.

    Sadly, the attack on obesity is too often an attack on the determination/morality/worth of the overweight. Something is very, very wrong in our culture when sites celebrating anorexia actually have followers.

    Thanks for a great article!