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Dan Savage: Pot, kettle, black

6th December 2007

Dan Savage: Pot, kettle, black

posted in Fat Bias, Pop Culture |

Dan Savage’s follow-up note last week promising to revisit the issue of a spouse who no longer finds his fat spouse attractive initially gave me cause for optimism. His advice, reaffirming spousal weight-gain, really disappointed me, but I had hoped readers would help him see the error of his ways and he’d set things right.

Wrong.

This week, Dan rants and raves about the perceived contradictions in reader reactions to a similar situation involving gay men – although, as Fillyjonk points out, people write in to get Dan’s opinion, not that of his denizen of readers.

Dan tries desperately to cling to his fast-crumbling pedestal of self-righteous narcissism. But in the end, his feelings on fat people are clear.

In response to a letter writer who asks what Dan would say had the spouse got breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy, Dan writes:

There’s a difference between eating yourself into unattractiveness—or dieting yourself into unattractiveness (some people are attracted to big folks, marry big folks, and want ‘em to stay big folks)—and suffering a disfiguring accident or boob-threatening illness. It’s the difference between something that happened to you and something you did to yourself, YMIOTO.

Again, the passage of time destroys us all. But you can’t sit on the couch stuffing Twinkies in your mouth and bitch about how shallow your partner is for not finding you attractive anymore because some people get cancer. Please.

So, there you have it. Fatness is something “you do to yourself.” Fatness is a “choice.”

Sound like deja vu? Oh, right. It’s the same thing the ex-gay movement folks say, too.

Ex-Gay Movement
*Edit*

Welcome to The-F-Word newcomers who’ve stumbled across my blog thanks to Dan’s mention of my entry in his blog here. You’re more than welcome to debate the issue, but do keep in mind, this is an eating disorders awareness blog. People who frequent the site either currently struggle with or are recovering from either an eating disorder or disordered thinking about food. Please be sensitive to this and exercise restraint in your comments.

And please don’t come here and tell me that you’ve lost weight by dieting and exercise, and that if you can do it, I can too. I’ve been there and done that and chances are, I’ve probably lost more weight than you in a shorter amount of time – 175 pounds in a year, to be precise. Of course, my diet had a name: anorexia and bulimia, and my willpower damn near killed me.

Just to clarify, I think the ex-gay movement is abhorrent. By no means do I agree with or endorse its views in that homosexuality is a “choice.” But nor do I think one’s body weight is always a “choice.” Yes, there is a correlation with what we eat and how much we weigh, but just as with height and eye, hair and skin color, there is no genetic one-size-fits-all.

Before you comment, I ask that you read Kate Harding’s primer on the myths of fatness in her article “But Don’t You Realize Fat is Unhealthy.” The diet industry is at at an all-time high, generating $55 billion a year in revenue. If fatness were a matter of simple “choice” and lifestyle changes, we’d be a nation full of thin people.

And last, I ask that you please be respectful of one another, and keep in mind my Comments Policy. Thanks, and welcome.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 6th, 2007 at 12:37 am and is filed under Fat Bias, Pop Culture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 215 responses to “Dan Savage: Pot, kettle, black”

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  1. 1 On December 6th, 2007, KarenElhyam said:

    I hate this so much. He is saying one thing, and one thing only.

    “You fat people are choosing not to be attractive to me, also, you’ll die sooner, but that choice doesn’t impact me as much as the fact that I can’t look at you and get the hard on you owe me.”

    I just…I have always known Dan was a douchenozzle in the extreme, but this is just the nail in the coffin. I refuse to believe anything but pure malice could make a man that oblivious and stupid. Really? All fat people he’s ever known in his life are just Twinkie stuffing losers? Is he really that stupid, or does he only have skinny friends? Just…AUGH. I would send a Very Angry Letter, but when you’re just that completely moronic, what good would it do?

  2. 2 On December 6th, 2007, Fillyjonk said:

    Oh, badass. I just finished a post on this column, and I was so busy rolling my eyes at the ridiculous premise for the whole thing that I didn’t even see the Twinkie comment. Glad you made such short work of it!

    And yeah, I think the “ex-gay” analogy needs to be made more often, because it’s pretty striking.

    (I’m sure if Dan showed up here, which he probably wouldn’t since he might catch fat, he’d point out that the letter-writer specified his wife’s eating habits. But of course, what we don’t know is whether his assessment is accurate, whether she had physical or psychological issues, whether she had an ED history, where she was wrt baseline when she met him… a whole host of complicated questions that Dan neatly sidestepped by handing the column off to a bunch of unpaid and unknowing lackeys.)

  3. 3 On December 6th, 2007, rebecca said:

    sit on the couch stuffing Twinkies in your mouth

    wow. what a wildly creative, piercingly insightful analysis of fatness.

    i mean, it’s not like folks over at shapely prose were recently using the phrase “stuffing my face with donuts” as much as possible because it is the NUMBER ONE ICONIC MYTH ABOUT FATNESS to the point of absurdity.

  4. 4 On December 6th, 2007, annaham said:

    But you can’t sit on the couch stuffing Twinkies in your mouth and bitch about how shallow your partner is for not finding you attractive anymore because some people get cancer…

    I can’t be the only one who’s confused with the sudden connection between cancer and “bringing fatness on oneself.” Help plz?

  5. 5 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Annaham – Dan’s supremely cocky comments there are to letter writer YMIOTO. She asked Dan what he would say if one partner got breast cancer or such and had to have a mastectomy.

    Glad you made such short work of it!

    I just don’t have the time nor the effort to give Dan much more space or thought. Really, I have no clue how you and Kate manage to write such tomes.

  6. 6 On December 6th, 2007, Heather said:

    Rachel, I’m impressed with those tomes over on Shapely Prose too! Those ladies are keeping the movement on its feet. Having said that, this post is perfectly-sized and says it all. Thanks for posting it.

  7. 7 On December 6th, 2007, Meowser said:

    My fantasy: Dan Savage gets locked in a closet with Harvey Fierstein until the guy who’s won a Tony and a Pulitzer feeds a giant clueburger to the one who hasn’t.

  8. 8 On December 6th, 2007, Baconsmom said:

    Did he break some sort of fat-hating code by going for Twinkies over donuts? Won’t he confuse all the sizeists by switching junk food so late in the game?

  9. 9 On December 6th, 2007, Sarah said:

    Good to see Dan Savage perpetuating myths about fat people.

    How do you “eat yourself into unattractiveness” anyhow?
    I’m sure Savage would have a problem if a thin person with a fast metabolism did the same act, right?

    But yet, I can force myself onto a variety of failed diets and exercise programs for 15+ years, and still end up at 315 pounds. How does Savage explain that? What exactly is his remedy for me? Am I doomed just to be in the sphere of “unattractiveness” for the rest of my life then?

    Whatever. Fuck him.

  10. 10 On December 6th, 2007, Rio Iriri said:

    The ONLY thing I have ever liked that he wrote was the “Buy your daughter a dildo” column from way way back.

    A lot of what I’ve read by him has been fairly sanctimonious and shallow. I really don’t understand why people write to him, or why he’s even published–maybe he was shocking and controversial five years ago, but the one trick pony is long-dead and over-bludgeoned.

  11. 11 On December 6th, 2007, Sarah said:

    Ah, I forgot to comment on the “eating Twinkies” thing:

    When I was a kid, I loved to swim. I didn’t have a pool, so I went to the local community one with friends.

    Every time that I went, some boy would come up to me in the pool and scream, “TWINKIE EATER!” Then he would run in terror from me, because I was a fat monster that had to be avoided.

    Yeah, guess I have to thank Savage for bringing up THAT memory. I think my Twinkie eating count stands at one or two for 25 years. I’d rather have a nice and prepared meal by my mom.

  12. 12 On December 6th, 2007, Michelle said:

    Quite frankly, the only reason he is wildly popular is because he says what he wants and not many column writers have that liberty. This column is a rush of truth about his character and it is a shame that he is feeding such prejudice to his readers as well. This story was written from the man’s point of view so of course we don’t know what he is saying about his wife’s eating habits is actually true.

    And I have to agree, what is the connection with Twinkies and cancer?

  13. 13 On December 6th, 2007, JoGeek said:

    I just finished blogging about the myth of fat as a choice instead of a biological reality, but the correlation with the gay rights movement illustrates it much better!

    Personally, I think twinkies are gross, like eating a packing peanut soaked in sugar water. The trouble is, I could provide an ass-hat like this with a full diary of everything I eat each day, and he’s so entrenched in his urban legends that he would simply accuse me of lying. (what? you can’t possibly weigh that much if you eat SALADS!!!) It’s so not worth anyone’s time to try and convince him!

  14. 14 On December 6th, 2007, MrsDrC said:

    Sound like deja vu? Oh, right. It’s the same thing the ex-gay movement folks say, too.”

    BRAVO! Way to shove a twinkie of his own words in his mouth!

    Nice post. Short, sweet, and to the point.

  15. 15 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    There is no connection with Twinkies and cancer – I quoted Dan’s response to a letter writer who asked what Dan would say if the spouse had not gained weight, but had breast cancer and had to have a mastectomy.

    Sarah writes: Whatever Fuck him.

    Yep, pretty much sums it up for me, too!

  16. 16 On December 6th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    sit on the couch stuffing Twinkies in your mouth

    wow. what a wildly creative, piercingly insightful analysis of fatness.

    Yeah, that’s why they pay him the big bucks, I guess.

    As I just said on Fillyjonk’s post, I really wish Shakesville.com were back up, so I could go back and link to the post I wrote about him, where he came along and sneered that it was absurd to act as if fat is “some kind of social justice issue.” That right there kinda tells me all I need to know.

  17. 17 On December 6th, 2007, GeekGirlsRule said:

    I have had issues with Dan Savage for years. I find him unnecessarily mean most of the time, and a prick in general. I have never forgiven him for his “Bisexuals don’t really exist” stance of the early 90s, and I don’t care that he has since “recanted.”

    Also, when I was much younger, I wrote to him for advice on a really troubling problem (I was trying to figure out how and if I should tell my father I’d been raped as a teenager), and he was exceptionally cruel in his response, basically telling me I was stupid for even asking the question.

    I have no love for Mr. Dan Savage.

  18. 18 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    I think his response was showed not just contempt for fat people, but his audience in general. Basically his answer to the uproar over his recent column was “It’s not my fault! Look what advice these idiots (ie my readers) came up with!”

    Nor was I too impressed with his ‘statement of fact’ that women cannot cope with truths about their bodies if that means the truth is some part of them is unattractive. Please. Because we all know we ladies can only handle the shiny happy stuff, unlike those ‘straight-talking men.’

    Funnily enough Dan Savage did quite an interesting piece for “This American Life” a while back on the prevalance in the late 60s and early 70s of TV portrayals of gay men as purse-toting sissies, and the impact that had on him as a kid. The gist was he knew he was gay too and he knew he would never be like this. Interesting that he would in spite of this peddle the tired old stereotype of the donut – sorry, twinkie – eating fatty.

  19. 19 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    Sorry, I should clarify, I meant Dan Savage thinks women can’t handle the fact that someone else thinks some part of said woman’s body is unattractive.

  20. 20 On December 6th, 2007, max said:

    Since when has being overweight become anything but a lifestyle choice. I agree that some people have different body types and some people may be genetically predisposed to becoming overweight, but the truth of the matter is, your body needs a certain amount of calories to maintain weight, and thus a certain amount of calories to increase weight.
    I have two overweight sisters and overweight parents. I’ve heard the whole metabolism argument over and over. But the truth is, my sister would bitch an moan about her weight while sitting on her ass eating an entire package of Haggen Daz. Look, if you want to live that way, live that way. But don’t blame society if men (or women) don’t find you attractive.
    I’ve known some beautiful big people who were very accepting of their bigger bodies. They were beautiful because they were confident and ok with themselves. Not because of their body size.
    Live and let live. I wouldn’t date a fat man because that is not what I find attractive, the same is true that I don’t like guys with red hair and freckles or if they are under 6 feet tall. It is personal preference. So being overweight does limit your dating pool and if you are ok with that, then stop blaming society. Stating a preference is not being shallow.

    Blog author’s note:

    Max – you seemed to miss the entire point. And I’d also point you to this article, which sheds light on your whole “calories in/calories burned” theory.

  21. 21 On December 6th, 2007, visitor said:

    Good god. Fatness may or may not be a choice, but whether it is or isn’t is entirely irrelevant to the intrinsic nature of homosexuality. It isn’t appropriate to impugn an entire class of people because you don’t like something Dan Savage said.

    I’m all for fat dignity, but please. Does anyone on this board really think that you become fat and that you become gay in even remotely similar ways? This is not an apt comparison, and it doesn’t lend you guys any additional credibility to make it.

    Blog author’s note:

    I don’t see where anyone is “impugning” a class of people. If you think by equating fat rights with gay rights is derogatory, I would encourage you to examine your own prejudices and bigotry. People do possess a genetic pre-disposition to body weight, just as one is born gay. Both groups are stigmatized and denied equal opportunities in scores of areas. Social justice doesn’t apply to only those who you agree with.

  22. 22 On December 6th, 2007, Gitai said:

    Um, yeah, people who are fat, barring those that have particular, rare medical conditions, are choosing to be fat. When I got married, I gained fifty pounds. Why? I went from working out four times a week to two, and started eating more. I’ve lost twenty-five pounds this year, because I started eating less, and went back to exercising four times a week. See how that works?

    Editor’s Note:

    Gitai, by your own admission, your weight-gain was temporary. Perhaps the reason you lost weight is because it’s rarely possible for a naturally thin person to become fat, just as it is for a naturally fat person to become thin. See how that works?

  23. 23 On December 6th, 2007, AMB said:

    In the vast majority of cases (VAST), weight gain is caused by one thing: consuming more calories than you’re burning. Any fat person (myself included) who deludes themselves into thinking otherwise is in serious denial.

    Since joining Weight Watchers I’ve lost over 30 pounds, and I did it by simply reducing portion sizes and cutting out sugary desserts.

    People aren’t born to be fat, and being fat is a great way to die young. Dan is right, you are wrong.

    Blog author’s note:

    Once again, the myth of calories in/calories burned is just that: a myth. People are born black. People are born with blue eyes. Suggesting there is a genetic one-size-fits-all is just plain ignorant.

  24. 24 On December 6th, 2007, Fer Sure said:

    You know, I kind of feel sorry for Dan Savage. He’s got this huge gaping blind spot when it comes to this aspect of human health. I mean, he’s falling on the wrong side of science here. Usually he is pretty tolerant of people, but during his crazy fat-hating moments he gets all curmudgeonly, tin-eared and bigoted and I can just picture his face getting all red, his eyes bugging out of his head and the spittle flying as he freaks out about the “fatties.” His writing in these instances does sound a lot like the anti-gay loonies. Just substitute fat for gay and there you have it. It’s rather amazing, and I have a hard time finding him credible on any subject because of it.

  25. 25 On December 6th, 2007, Jamoo said:

    I lost 95 pounds and you can too. It took me a long time to figure out how, and I tried many different methods until I stumbled upon the magic “diet & exercise” formula. Sometimes one hour a day isn’t enough – I do three hours of exercise a day. Ultimately calories in vs. calories out is all it boils down to.

    With very few exceptions, obesity is no less a choice than smoking.

    Blog author’s note:

    Hey, I lost 175 pounds and you can too! It’s called an eating disorder! And let’s debunk the whole “calories in/calories burned” theory here and now.

  26. 26 On December 6th, 2007, anotheca said:

    This is just amazing. All this outrage over something you chose to do to yourselves. Every bite you put in your mouth is your choice. Every moment you stay seated rather than active is your choice. All this outrage is just covering up the fact that you don’t have the self-discipline to put down your fork and go take a walk. There’s so much dogma, that it sounds like it’s own religion. Nearly everyone in my family is fat, and I gain weight as easily as breathing, but I do not whine about it. Instead, I choose to eat carefully, and choose to exercise like a madwoman, and guess what, I’m skinny! It’s like magic. Less food + more exercise = skinny! Mad at me? Go take a walk. Maybe join a gym. But don’t sit there being inactive and claim that you didn’t do this to yourself. Relationships are work, just like staying skinny is work. You have a responsibility to stay mentally and physically attractive for your partner. Dan is just telling it like it is. And don’t forget, ladies, bitterness is the least attractive emotion there is. So take a deep breath, and make today the day you start changing your life.

    Blog author’s note:

    Self-discipline? Really! Let’s talk self-discipline: Self-discipline is tearing your esophagus because you’ve eaten lettuce. Self-discipline is going 12 days subsisting on water alone. Self-discipline is forcing yourself to drink syrup of ipecac and then hobbling your way to the emergency room because it hasn’t come back up. You want to talk self-discipline; I have your self-discipline right here.

    The only outrage I see here is the amount of idiocy pouring from your fingertips.

  27. 27 On December 6th, 2007, sonia said:

    Say what you will about Dan Savage, clearly his real advice to the letter writer was effective. He points out that he told the writer to ignore what appears in the column. It seems as though he follows the advice of my former mentor: creating controversy is the key to being successful (and famous). And it worked…look at all of you doing exactly what he wanted, paying him attention. Way to fall into his trap.

    And for the record, while not every fat person is fat from shoving twinkies in their faces, some people are. I was (except it was beer, not twinkies).

  28. 28 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    I suppose I’ll be the sole voice on this forum expressing support for Dan. Here’s the thing–Dan was talking about preventable weight gain. Suffice it to say that if my thin girlfriend were to gain 100 pounds, I would be concerned. I would be concerned because she works out 4-5 days a week, and while her diet is perhaps not the most healthful, it is hardly the sort of thing that would lead to rapid weight gain. But if my girlfriend stopped working out and began eating without regard to consequence then I would not be merely concerned–I would be dismayed.

    You see, in his column, Dan is not talking about people who have been overweight since childhood. He is discussing significant and preventable weight gain in adults (mid-late 20s and on)who were previously thin. It is true that one’s metabolism slows as one ages. But no one, save those suffering some medical condition which results in uncontrollable weight gain, has the right to claim that there is nothing they could have done about their weight gain unless they truly have been following a 4-6 day a week exercise regimen and been mindful of what they eat.

    There are plenty of people who, over the years, progressively put on weight because of lifestyle choices: poor diet (too many high calorie meals, drinking, and the like) and minimal exercise. That sort of weight gain is preventable, and that is what Dan is talking about. If the 25 year old you spends his or her time on the couch watching t.v. and eating junk, well, the 35 year old you should not be surprised about having gained some weight over the decade. I know plenty of fat people, and they eat far, far less than I do (I am fairly thin), but these people have always been fat, and thus I do not feel they deserve disparagement on this point. But I have no sympathy for fat people who got fat because of a lifestyle choice, and who then choose to complain about it.

  29. 29 On December 6th, 2007, Meowser said:

    Geez, Rachel, Dan must have sicked all his fat hating trollbuddies on you. Oh, and Dave, Dan Savage has gone on record as saying he doesn’t give a shit if someone is “genetically fat,” they still have an obligation to eat as little and exercise as much as it takes to become thin, no matter how extreme that behavior amounts to. (He’d probably have been right there cheering Rachel on when she swallowed the ipecac.)

  30. 30 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Here’s the thing–Dan was talking about preventable weight gain.

    I don’t think so, Dave. Apparently Dan has quite the history of being a fatphobe, regardless of the how or why of weight gain.

    And here’s another thing: How do we know this woman wasn’t thin until this point because she has engaged in a cycle of dieting/disordered behaviors? How do we know that this really isn’t her natural setpoint weight range? We don’t, and for Dan to casually make assumptions that she is now fat because she sits on the couch and stuffs Twinkies in her mouth is not only offensive, it’s potentially harmful.

    And once again, it sounds as if there is a pathological reason behind the wife’s weight gain, yet not once does Dan or the husband seem to consider this. Like you, if my naturally thin husband suddenly started to gain weight and exhibited other skin and dietary problems, I’d be making a doctor’s appointment for him, not toking it up and writing to an advice columnist.

  31. 31 On December 6th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    Does anyone on this board really think that you become fat and that you become gay in even remotely similar ways?

    Yes. They’re called genes.

    Nice work with the responses, Rachel. You’re a better woman than I am.

  32. 32 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    Rachel–I cannot and will not analyze whether or not Dan is a “fatphobe,” the degree to which he may or not be one, and for how long he may or may not have been one. What I am familiar with, and will discuss, is this particular issue.

    In this instance Dan is discussing what he calls a “partner’s premature and avoidable physical deterioration” and what I referenced as preventable weight gain.

    Now, you are correct. I know little detail about this woman. For all I know, she doesn’t really exist and Dan has fabricated the entire thing so as to have something to submit for his column. Nevertheless, assuming that Dan is being honest, he has been communicating with the gentleman writer both via e-mail and telephone. My guess is he knows substantially more about the circumstances than almost everyone except the husband.

    And by the way, my “naturally thin” mother gain a substantially amount of weight in her late 20s, and frankly I’m not surprised. You see, she did not start exercising until she was nearly 60, and I’ve witnessed her eating habits for most of my life. So yes, a person who is thin can gain quite a bit of weight, and keep it on.

    Finally, and somewhat unrelated to the rest of this post, it is possible to lose a lot of weight without having an eating disorder. My father lost what I can only guess was over 100 pounds in a little more than a year through daily exercise (walking) and careful–but not unhealthful–dieting.

  33. 33 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Dave – Yes, it is possible to lose a drastic amount of weight sans an eating disorder. But there is a reason why 95 percent of dieters not only regain weight lost, but more, within 5 years. Obviously, if dieting worked and was effective, there’s be no need for a $55 billion-a-year industry and rising.

    And I might also add, my lowest weight required an anorexic lifestyle to maintain. And yet, my lowest weight was considered “average” for my height and weight. The point is, we all need to stop fighting our bodies and begin inhabiting them. Dan encourages the former, and ignores the latter.

  34. 34 On December 6th, 2007, anotheca said:

    Dear blog author,

    Self destruction is not self discipline. The actions you described are not the actions of a smart, self-disciplined person. They are the actions of a desperate person. If you or anyone you know is acting like that, you need professional help immediately.

    Self-discipline is studying martial arts every day for twelve years, which I have done, and will continue to do the rest of my life. I attend over 12 hours of class most weeks, rain or shine, and if I’m sick, I drag myself down there to watch class anyway.

    Self-discipline is realizing that there is no quick fix for your problems, but being committed to fixing them anyway. I have a dear friend who has lost over 160 pounds by practicing karate at the same school I attend. Because of her weight, it was a much harder road for her than it was for me, but she attended class daily, and worked harder than any of us. She’s wearing a size 4 these days, and absolutely deserves the black belt she wears so proudly. That is self-discipline, and it humbles me every day. Hurting yourself is not self-discipline, it is a symptom of mental illness. If it is yourself that you’re describing, then I hope you can find help. My very best wishes.

    Editor’s Note:

    My eating disorder days are behind me, luckily. Thanks for the concern. My larger point, however, is to illustrate that battling our bodies, even taking extreme measures to do so, is often pointless, futile and can be dangerous. I lost weight, yes, but to maintain that “average” weight, I’d have to continue the dangerous and unhealthy practices I listed. We should encourage folks to eat right and exercise (if physically able-bodied) but we shouldn’t measure good healthy by the numbers on the scale.

    And your friend sounds as if she deserved the black belt, regardless whether she lost weight or not.

  35. 35 On December 6th, 2007, Terry said:

    I followed this link from Savage’s page, and I think there’s a bit of willful obliviousness going on. The question in that column was not about how unattractive “fat people” are. It was about people who get overly fat.

    I completely agree with you here, the evidence suggests that it’s not “calories in, calories out.” (You all probably know about that study that showed that large people who lost a lot of weight and kept it off were essentially in a permanent state of starvation — it seems clear that people have a setpoint, and in a lot of people it’s set at a pretty high weight.)

    But Dan’s original writer was a guy married to a woman who had gained a lot of weight since their marriage. She was not an originally, or “naturally,” large person. She was (as I am), a person too heavy for her frame, who was not the person physically whom the guy had originally fallen for, and he no longer found her attractive. Sure, people’s bodies are going to change over time, but not taking proper care of one’s body was what the letter was about. It was not about the way this culture denies that fat people can be attractive — that’s another issue. I’m too fat, I don’t feel attractive, it’s not a happy thing. But if I were married to a guy who had found me really attractive when I weighed 70 pounds less, and that guy was unhappy, I’d understand why.

  36. 36 On December 6th, 2007, Dancinghawk said:

    Meowser — my theory is that it’s just one or two fat-hating buddies posting under different names — I’m thinking I can detect a similarity in patterns of speech. Maybe someone who knows how to track IP addresses can prove me wrong. ;)

  37. 37 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    Jamoo, for real, 3 hours a day in the gym? All to “maintain” weight loss? Is that really what you want the rest of your life to be?

    I lost about the same amount of weight, my friend. And the only way I was able to keep it off (and I did keep it off for a long time) was, in the end, 2 hour sessions in the gym 5 days a week and absolute constant vigilance of everything I get in my mouth. Sometimes I would add an extra run during my lunch hour in the hopes I’d finally lose those stubborn 30 pounds. (See no matter how much I dieted and exercised, I never got below ‘overweight’ BMI-wise.)

    Do I miss being a size 12? (The smallest I could get to with that much effort involved) I suppose kind of. But I absolutely do not miss devoting that much of my life to maintaining my ‘ideal’ shape. It was a very lonely period in my life.

  38. 38 On December 6th, 2007, AvgWeightWoman said:

    People who are gay are born gay and gay their entire lives, but not everyone who’s fat was born fat. The majority of them weren’t. Obesity rates are rising, not remaining still, which would be the case if genetics were the sole reason. Yes, people’s metabolisms are different, but if you are a thin person and you get married, it is not unreasonable for you spouse to expect you to not get fat (not remain thin, but not get fat, there *is* an in between, in case you’ve forgotten). The same goes for if you marry a fat person and are attracted to fat people, as Dan mentioned. If you marry a gay guy (or a straight guy) you’d expect him to stay that way too.
    The person who wrote to Dan stopped being attracted to his wife because she *got* fat, not because she started out fat. There could be a lot of reasons for why that happened. If it’s an undiagonosed medical condition, it’s something that she had no control over, if she stopped exercising, then she did to herself.
    All that article you keep citing says is that you have to carefully plan how exercise and diet will best help you lose fat and lose weight, because making ‘calories in’ less than ‘calories burned’ is exactly how you lose weight, you just need to know how to count the calories burned correctly. Yes, it’s harder for some people than others based on metabolism, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

    Editor’s Note

    Actually, obesity rates have leveled off. And the average increase is only 5 – 7 pounds. Our heights, too, have increased, thanks to more plentiful and better nutrition. And the article I referenced does a good job in illustrating when a calorie isn’t just a calorie; one’s weight is much more complex than a simple case of calories in/calories burned.

    It is reasonable to expect your spouse to remain healthy; it is unreasonable to expect them to remain thin, just as it is unreasonable to expect them to retain unwrinkled skin, a youthful appearance and to avoid hair loss. Health and weight can be related, but can also be mutually exclusive.

  39. 39 On December 6th, 2007, Marya said:

    “Self-discipline? Really! Let’s talk self-discipline: Self-discipline is tearing your esophagus because you’ve eaten lettuce. Self-discipline is going 12 days subsisting on water alone…”

    That’s not self-discipline, that’s being self-destructive. There is such a thing as being self-disciplined enough to exercise and eat a healthy diet without going overboard with it as you apparently did. I realize that it’s very difficult to lose weight and that some people do have naturally slower metabolisms than others, but it’s silly to equate “have the discipline to live a healthy, active life” with “you must develop an eating disorder now.”

    Editor’s Note:

    The larger point is: All the self-discipline in the world will lose in the face of genetics. If your body is meant to weigh within a certain weight range, it will do what it can to settle there, despite your best efforts. So, either you diet and obsess your entire life, or you learn to inhabit and celebrate the body you do have. Having done the former, my money’s on the latter.

  40. 40 On December 6th, 2007, Tari said:

    Wow, it’s troll-tastic up in here. I think I used up all my Sanity Watchers points in one sitting!

    I love all the science being referenced. It’s clear nobody’s trying to convince us that fat is unhealthy (not to mention curable!) via anecdotal evidence. What a relief!

  41. 41 On December 6th, 2007, Lexy said:

    Rachel, way to go calling out Dan. As we know fatness is not a “choice” and if you think a naturally thin person can make themselves fat you should read this:
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/05/08/healthscience/snfat.php?page=1
    (sorry I’m no good with links)

  42. 42 On December 6th, 2007, Jamoo said:

    Cherielabombe –

    I didn’t say three hours a day in the gym. I work out three hours a day – one hour before work on my exercise bike reading or playing video games, an hour of weights with 3 friends around lunch, and an 8k or so run after work (or the bike again in the winter). I love hanging out with my friends, I enjoy video games, and I love the way a long run makes me feel. I enjoy all of these activities much more than I enjoy zoning out in front of the TV.

    I was 267 pounds. I’m 172 now. I’m healthy. I placed in the top 20% of a 25k trail in May. I don’t get winded climbing the stairs. I’m not lonely at all, I have a beautiful wife that I spend oodles of time with.

  43. 43 On December 6th, 2007, Upset about misogyny said:

    I like Dan Savage. I read his columns, and most of the times he is funny. But his answers leave no doubt: he’s a misogynist. He doesn’t have sympathy for women of any shape or size. So his answer was not only offensive to fat people, but to women in general. If you choose to read his column, do so with a grain of salt. Be aware of his many limitations (he doesn’t seem to know anything about women, sexually or otherwise), and read it for the fun content. Just don’t expect any intelligent or minimally reasonable advice from him to women!

  44. 44 On December 6th, 2007, visitor said:


    Good god. Fatness may or may not be a choice, but whether it is or isn’t is entirely irrelevant to the intrinsic nature of homosexuality. It isn’t appropriate to impugn an entire class of people because you don’t like something Dan Savage said.

    I’m all for fat dignity, but please. Does anyone on this board really think that you become fat and that you become gay in even remotely similar ways? This is not an apt comparison, and it doesn’t lend you guys any additional credibility to make it.

    Blog author’s note:

    I don’t see where anyone is “impugning” a class of people. If you think by equating fat rights with gay rights is derogatory, I would encourage you to examine your own prejudices and bigotry. People do possess a genetic pre-disposition to body weight, just as one is born gay. Both groups are stigmatized and denied equal opportunities in scores of areas. Social justice doesn’t apply to only those who you agree with.

    No. Frankly, blogauthor, you need to examine some of your own shit.

    I just read your amendment to the post, and I’m glad you acknowledge that the ex-gay groups are abhorrent. But by invoking them in the first place, you did EXACTLY what you accuse me of. It’s beyond the pale. I am a fat person. I understand the ramifications of that, and for other people who are similarly situated.

    But the injustice fat people face in our society is not as bad as the institutionalized oppression of gay people today and throughout our history. Fatness isn’t on the same level as the race/class/gender/sexuality continuum. Having people reject us and devalue us for our looks, which is what this whole stupid Dan Savage-related sniping is all about, is not something that justifies gay-baiting. It’s inappropriate to score points against an anti-fat Black writer by cheekily referring to white supremicist arguments, and what you did with the ex-gay vs Dan Savage post is also not appropriate.

    Also, Kate Harding: Fair point about both sexuality and weight being affected by genes. But I think that’s where the comparison ends- the chemical processes regulating body weight and the psychological phenomena governing sexuality really aren’t the same thing. That analogy is just a cheap trick, and the blogauthor (Rachel?) probably ought to apologize for utilizing it.

    Editor’s Note…again

    There is no gay-baiting here. There is, however, fat-bashing, and your comments only serve to underscore fat hatred and marginalization. Social injustice is social injustice – you can’t pick and choose whom it applies to. Fat people are regularly denied equal access in employment, education, access to public accommodations, adequate health care, adoption, and housing – as are gay people. I think it’s a tragedy when people profess to be all about equal rights, but yet pick and choose what groups are deserving of those rights.

  45. 45 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    1: Anotheca has it right. Read above.

    2: The $55 billion a year diet industry perpetuates because it feeds on a widespread ignorance of the principles of discipline and lifestyle Anotheca outlined. Most of the diet and exercise products and programs for sale are despicable.

    3: BMI is a horrible indicator of proper weight for a number of reasons. Among them, it does not take muscle mass into account. Using BMI as a measure, many athletes are overweight.

    I think there needs to be some education about what it actually takes to maintain a certain physical condition. For some people, what works (e.g., 2 hours of daily exercise) is easily incorporated into their life. For others–because of work or other time commitments–this sort of thing is impossible, and it then comes down to a choice between incorporating exercise or following a certain career. Ultimately, that is a very personal decision that turns on what a particular individual values more. Many make the calculation that exercise and careful dieting aren’t worth being thin, just as I make the choice that a marginal decrease in my cholesterol level isn’t worth giving up bacon. But I’m not going to complain if I have a heart attack because of my choice no more than I suffer complaints from overweight people about their condition assuming–and this is key–that it is otherwise preventable.

  46. 46 On December 6th, 2007, geokatgirl said:

    On December 6th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    Does anyone on this board really think that you become fat and that you become gay in even remotely similar ways?

    Yes. They’re called genes.
    ————————-
    THANK YOU ! I was wondering when someone was going to say the word ‘gene’ because it is obvious that some of the commenters arent getting it. Regardless of your twinkie consumption, your weight is pre-determined before you are born by GENES. I believe a doctor once said to me that genetic pre-disposition for height was 78% linked.. meaning that your genes say you are going to be 5 foot 7 BUT that hinges on things like good nutrition, and not walking around with a brick on your head. SO wanna know how genetically pre-disposed you are to your weight?
    79%
    makes you wanna rethink all those years in WW, doesnt it?
    Hasnt the gay population for years been flogging the ‘gay gene’? So to ME.. the comparison of gay vs fat from genes seems like a viable comparison.
    Just sayin…

  47. 47 On December 6th, 2007, Becky said:

    But Dan’s original writer was a guy married to a woman who had gained a lot of weight since their marriage. She was not an originally, or “naturally,” large person.

    Or maybe she is a naturally large person, who had temporarily lost weight due to dieting and now has gained it back. Happened to me, but since my fiance is not an asshole, he continued to love me and find me attractive after the weight came back.

    Yes, it’s harder for some people than others based on metabolism, but that’s the exception, not the rule.

    How on earth would you know whether it’s the exception or the rule? The fact that 90% of dieters gain the weight back would rather indicate that it’s being unable to keep weight off that is the rule.

    Since joining Weight Watchers I’ve lost over 30 pounds, and I did it by simply reducing portion sizes and cutting out sugary desserts.

    I’ve lost twenty-five pounds this year

    Both of you, please come back in 5 years and let us know how much of the weight you’ve kept off.

  48. 48 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Jamoo – I encourage everyone who is physically able to adopt healthy eating and physical activity. But fitness and diet alone don’t always result in weight-loss. There’s a woman who regularly competes in triathlons and is much more active than I am – and yet she weighs a good 75 + pounds more than me.

    I’d also point you to studies that show overweight and fat seniors who are active live longer than average and even under-weight seniors who aren’t physically active.

  49. 49 On December 6th, 2007, Kristin said:

    Anatheca, I am so impressed by your dedication to martial arts, and so glad for your friend who lost weight doing it. Wanna compare stories? I led 30 day backpacking trips for youth at risk, hiking about 12 miles a day in mountains and living on granola. I would leave for my trips at 215 pounds…and return at 210. How much more dedication do you want? Or is that not discipline?

  50. 50 On December 6th, 2007, Jae said:

    I love hanging out with my friends, I enjoy video games, and I love the way a long run makes me feel. I enjoy all of these activities much more than I enjoy zoning out in front of the TV.

    Me too! And guess what? Still fat :-D

    I eat a healthy, balanced diet. I don’t eat until I’m stuffed. I work out most every day. I have tried almost every diet out there. I’ve exercised until I was at the point of passing out. I’ve even had an eating disorder! But I have never been anything, but fat. At height of my disordered behavior, the best I could do was 188lbs. I have fat parents, and a couple of fat grandparents. I suspect that has something to do with it, but you know what? It doesn’t matter.

    At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why I’m fat, why any of us are fat. We still deserve the respect and care that is supposed to be afforded to all human beings. I don’t care if you (and by you, I mean the collective you, not just the individual poster whose comment I quoted) think I chose this. I don’t care if you don’t want to have sex with me (chances are, I don’t want to have sex with you either!). I don’t even care if you like me. But we are all on this earth together, and we all deserve to be here and to be treated well during the time we have.

  51. 51 On December 6th, 2007, kitana said:

    “All the self-discipline in the world will lose in the face of genetics. If your body is meant to weigh within a certain weight range, it will do what it can to settle there, despite your best efforts.”

    This is simply not true. There are experiments where they gave supplements to pregnant fat mice (that have genes that predispose them to be fat) and their off springs are skinny (despite having the “fat” genes) whereas the fat mice that are not fed the supplements have fat off springs as well. In the last 20 years, the US has gone from something like an 8% obesity rate to a nearly 30% obesity rate and still growing. If only genetic plays the part then how do you explain that? Not unless 30% of the US population suddenly all had the same spontaneous mutation.

    Editor’s Note:

    It should be noted that the average increase in weight is 5 to 7 pounds. And is it really a case of the obesity rates increasing, or are the standards classifying obesity just being lowered so more people qualify as overweight and obese? The most recent lowering of BMI standards was just in the late 1990s, when 30 million Americans were turned overweight overnight.

  52. 52 On December 6th, 2007, Becky said:

    For some people, what works (e.g., 2 hours of daily exercise) is easily incorporated into their life. For others–because of work or other time commitments–this sort of thing is impossible,

    And if it’s impossible for your wife, is it fair for you to expect her to maintain her figure anyway? Or should she give up her other time commitments just so she can stay attractive for you?

  53. 53 On December 6th, 2007, vesta44 said:

    I just love these people who say they have time to work out 3 hours a day, work a full-time job, and still spend time with their family and friends. Must be nice to be able to go without sleep in order to do all that and all the other day-to-day chores involved with living life.
    And, Dave, if you think weight gain is preventable, just be glad you don’t have the ability to get pregnant, which totally messes with one’s hormones and metabolism and everything else. I was considered overweight when I was a young adult (and I now don’t think I was, looking back at pictures of me then), and after 2 pregnancies, yeah, I’m fat. Diets didn’t work, surgery didn’t work, and I’m still fat even though I eat a wide variety of foods and do what exercise I can. Will I die early? Who knows? No guarantees for anyone how long they’ll live or what will kill them. Am I unattractive just because I’m fat? Not from what I’ve been told, by my husband and others (and my husband should know, he sees all of me and loves it all).
    The guy who wrote to Dan is looking for a way out, or a blessing for him to cheat on his wife now that they have a few problems that he’s not willing to work on with her.
    And Jamoo, I hope you’re able to keep on working out 3 hours a day for the rest of your life, but I’m betting that something will happen one of these days, and you’ll either have to cut back on working out, or have to quit altogether. Things like kids, accidents, injuries, you know, life in general.

  54. 54 On December 6th, 2007, Kristin said:

    Jae- There it is! No need to argue! Like Kate, I think, said this morning, “fat people are humans” or something close to that…

  55. 55 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    Hey Jamoo, that’s cool. I am all for exercising for fun. I genuinely enjoy exercise and now I do it for fun and health rather than weight loss. I walk about an hour each day (I live in a city so I walk and take public transportation everywhere),ride my bike and go dancing regularly.

    I am all for excercising because you enjoy it and I think that that’s part of living a full and active life. The lonely part, to me, was devoting huge amounts of time on working out so I could stay an ‘ideal’ shape when I could’ve been out there living.

  56. 56 On December 6th, 2007, Upset about misogyny said:

    Being prejudiced against fat people is the only socially acceptable (even encouraged!) form of prejudice today. Most intelligent people would feel strongly about racists and homophobes, but hating fat people is perfectly okay – and all in the name of science. Fat is automatically associated with disease, short life expectancy, being unhealthy… Most fat haters won’t say “you look horrible”, but rather “you are unhealthy, and if you don’t do something about it (getting thin), you’ll die soon”. Those people forget that, less than half a century ago, science was used to validate prejudice against blacks and gays. Now it’s being used against fat people. It’s that simple.

  57. 57 On December 6th, 2007, Terry said:

    Becky, you illustrate my point about willful obliviousness. Granted, we don’t know anything about the letter writer’s wife, and her natural set point. But nobody here seems to want to acknowledge that there are a whole lot of people in this culture right now who are OVERLY fat – because they’re too sedentary, because they eat too much processed food with corn syrup in it, because they have issues they’re medicating with food instead of taking proper care of their bodies and dealing with their issues in a more healthy way (this last might set some people off, but I’m in this category, so I know whereof I speak).

    Sure, it’s not a great guy who focuses on his attraction to his partner rather than really considering what might be going on with her. But look at our population right now, compared to 60 or 70 years ago. We are, collectively, quite overweight. And a LOT of that is accounted for by the fact that we don’t move as much as we used to and we eat really unhealthily (as a group).

    Looking at the whole set of the American population, I think the odds are pretty good that the wife wasn’t exceptionally (for her set point) skinny at the time they met; rather, she is now exceptionally (for her set point) fat.

    Some of the people I really love are very big, have always been big, will always be big. I feel for them, living in this censorious culture. It’s brutal. But again, that’s not, I’m pretty certain, what the letter was about.

  58. 58 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Terry, There are thin people who also engage in those kinds of activities. One’s weight is not always a litmus of their lifestyle. Focusing only on fat people simply places emphasis where it’s not always warranted, and ignores a segment of the population who also behaves and eats similarly.

    And, let me point out folks who have drunk the Obesity Epidemic Kool-Aid:

    The average increase in weight in the U.S. is 5 to 7 pounds. Obesity rates aren’t necessarily rising; the standards classifying obesity are continually being lowered so now more people qualify as overweight and obese. The most recent lowering of BMI standards, in essence, turned 30 million Americans overweight overnight.

  59. 59 On December 6th, 2007, Tari said:

    But nobody here seems to want to acknowledge that there are a whole lot of people in this culture right now who are OVERLY fat

    Hmmm……wonder whether I’m a good fatty or a bad fatty?!

    Seriously, Terry, who gets to draw that line? What’s it based on? And, assuming we accept that it’s real, what can be done about it (what with the diets not working and all)?

  60. 60 On December 6th, 2007, JoGeek said:

    What a lovely collection of trolls you’ve collected, do you have the whole set yet, or do you need more box-tops? :-)

    I spent two years counting, weighing and analyzing calories/fat grams/fiber grams and working out two hours a day (swimming laps before work, weight training, cardio and/or pilates after). Guess what all that did for me? Well I got all the way down to a size 22 women’s, and all the way down to 270 pounds (I’m 6’2). I also had no life, because 8 hours working plus 8 hours sleeping plus 3 hours (including travel) working out plus 3 hours shopping for and preparing all those healthy meals left me exactly 2 hours a day plus weekends for cleaning, maintaining my house, dressing, undressing, showering, e-mail, etc. Do you think Dan Savage or his troll cronies would still call me a fat blob who just needed a little discipline?

    I’m sorry, at some point you have to look at the research and realize that outside 3-5 1/2 hour walks each day, additional workouts don’t necessarily improve your health or guarantee you’ll live longer. Neither does being fat mean you’re unhealthy or that your life will be shorter. If you like to work out and consider that your hobby, groovy for you. But don’t try to marginalize the rest of us to justify how you spend your time. If you honestly feel as if you need to control your life to the extent of obsessive exercise, categorizing your food and creating “rituals” around eating such as careful measuring, not eating when you’re hungry, eating fewer calories than your body needs, you should really talk to a counselor about the possibility that you have an eating disorder.

    If you marry someone, you should consider whether you’re marrying them or their body. The fact is that women naturally gain weight past their 30′s. Maybe it’s because of the hormonal and metabolic changes in their bodies that cause them to process food differently. Studies have shown that it’s protective, as in the studies that show that fat patients are more likely to survive everything from surgery to heart attacks. The fact is that the person you marry has a good chance of becoming old, wrinkly, bald, fat, varicosed and otherwise less Hollywood at some point in your relationship. It’s inevitable, and expecting anything else is idiotic. If you’ve spent the preceeding years reading, or talking, or generally living instead of exercising, you may actually have something to talk about when you get old. You know..like conversation? Spending time? Being friends with your spouse instead of considering them a live-in prostitute? sheesh.

    Sorry about the book :-)

  61. 61 On December 6th, 2007, Becky said:

    Terry, I know of which I speak too. When I met my fiance, I had just lost 30 pounds (due to stress and depression rather than dieting). I’ve since gained it back (plus 10 more from the bounce back effect). If my fiance was a less accepting person, he could be the one writing to advice columnists about how I’ve let myself go, even though that is not the case. Lots of women spend their lives in a yo-yo weight cycle, losing weight, gaining it back, over and over again. And their self-esteem cycles too, feeling good at their low weights, and bad at their high weights. So they’re most likely to meet a partner at their low weights, and then when they eventually gain it back… well he has the choice of whether to accept her how she is or write into an advice columnist bitching about the fact that she’s let herself go.

  62. 62 On December 6th, 2007, Jennifer said:

    I like Dan; I think he’s often very sensitive to people regarding their sex issues. However, sometimes he’s right, and sometimes he’s wrong. I think he doesn’t get it about how troubled many of us women are about size: the pressure we feel, the self-loathing, the unwelcome comments from others.

    And, in the interest of full disclosure, I’d eat Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, King Dongs, cupcakes, and every other kind of Hostess crap that exists if I had a different metabolism. I’m not fat now, but I’m not the skinny thing I was in my twenties, either. And I miss that freedom…that blithe sense of fitting the ideal. But now I’m trying to accept the changes that come with age instead of driving myself nuts keeping slim in my forties.

    Weight is political for women — I think Dan just doesn’t get that. Period.

  63. 63 On December 6th, 2007, downtownvenus said:

    Anoteca

    Self destruction is not self discipline. The actions you described are not the actions of a smart, self-disciplined person. They are the actions of a desperate person.

    Oh nutz! Now we know disordered eaters couldn’t possibly change their self-destructive behaviour because they aren’t disciplined enough to have got there in the first place, nor intelligent enough to see their way out of it.

    Self-discipline is studying martial arts every day for twelve years, which I have done, and will continue to do the rest of my life. I attend over 12 hours of class most weeks, rain or shine, and if I’m sick, I drag myself down there to watch class anyway.

    This is not self-discipline, this is “I will do this or I am a bad person” – and that’s the different to disordered thinking, how? Discipline is obedience to the method of teaching, the teacher, and consistency of performance. That’s how you earn the belts my friend. And going to class – even as a spectator – while sick is NOT cool. You do know how germs work, right?

    I have a dear friend who has lost over 160 pounds by practicing karate at the same school I attend. Because of her weight, it was a much harder road for her than it was for me…..She’s wearing a size 4 these days, and absolutely deserves the black belt she wears so proudly.

    There is no connection to be made between achieving the black belt and dropping size. My god, imagine the incomprehension if she hadn’t lost the weight but still got the belt!! All that happened was that she got really good at karate despite having a body size (and perceived level of fitness and ability) that at the first class caused people doubt she would be successful at karate. That’s why you feel so humble. Not because she lost weight, but because she proved you wrong. It is a shame you haven’t seen the lesson within that situation.

    So many trolls think that fat people are lazy slobs who can’t do anything to save themselves and that their life’s work is to hit 500lbs. You can shove anedotes down our throats long enough to halt the conveyor belt of donuts but really, if any of those fast or slow fixes for weight loss actually worked and it WAS just a matter of personal choice, do you think we would stay fat to enjoy the barrage of hate and discrimination? I don’t know about you all, but I’d really miss all the name-calling and social invisibility I currently enjoy. Who’d give that up? *headdesk*

    Terry

    The question in that column was not about how unattractive “fat people” are. It was about people who get overly fat

    ….and how unattractive they become to their partners. What was your point, exactly?

    The only thing wrong with people ‘who are unnecessarily overweight/who were thin but now are fat’ is that some other people don’t like how they look. Frankly, if I were the overweight one I want to hear someone say they didn’t want to be with me to know how superficial they are and dump their stupid ass. How could I dare have a child and expect my partner to continue to want to be with me if being a new mother meant I had no time to get back to the gym and drop the baby weight? How could I suffer a debiliatating injury and be laid up in bed and expect them to still hang around while on the long road of recovery? And I’m sure they’d be okay with me dumping them for gaining unnecessary pounds because it’s pretty much the ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ card, right?

    People who insist that something is unattractive about YOU because THEY don’t like the look of your body after they sign on for the relationship need a swift coc*kpunch.

  64. 64 On December 6th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    I study martial arts and am therefore an expert on self-discipline and know that anybody who gains weight is undisciplined, lazy, and doing a disservice to their spouse.

    I am a fat person and therefore know that every other person who gains a large amount of weight is lazy and not taking care of themselves.

    I have this wonderful anecdote about a family member who lost a lot of weight and therefore know that any person who exercises more and eats les will gain weight.

    I am an expert in weight loss because I have eyes and my eyes tell me that fat people are miserable and skinny people are happy. So, if everybody was skinny, nobody would be unhappy or unhealthy.

    Wow, no wonder these people think Dan is brilliant. If I didn’t know the difference between a well-reasoned position and anecdotal evidence, I’d probably think he was brilliant too.

  65. 65 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    Becky–If my girlfriend did not have time to exercise enough to stay thin, I would hope that she would at least eat reasonably so as to moderate any weight gain. But I have told her–repeatedly–that she needn’t worry so much about her weight (she is quite concerned about it) because I am certain that I will still find her irresistable even were she to gain 50 pounds. 100 pounds, maybe not; harsh, perhaps, but honest, and I think that as she weighs 130 pounds, she could only nearly double her weight through horrible choices or a medical condition. In the latter instance, I might be less attracted to the 230 pound version of her, but not resentful.

    As for pregnancy, well, she would rather die (quite literally) than give birth, so pregnancy is not a factor for all women. Its not the fear of weight gain; she just hates kids.

    Oh, and Vesta44, I worked full time while going to school full time and still had time for nearly 2 hours of daily exercise. How? I rode my bike 40 minutes to and from school, and exercised a bit at home as well, and on days that I did not have classes, I stepped up the exercise a bit at home. The bike commute was not as mentally painful as exercise can be, as its primary purpose was transportation, not fitness.

  66. 66 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    Actually as a fat person I think I do eat a lot. I never skip meals (unlike my naturally thin boyfriend who is one of those people who forget to eat – he and I have been eating the same foods for the past 5 years and he has stayed thin and I have stayed fat, btw), I snack when I am hungry and I will have a cookie after dinner.

    You are welcome to hold that up as “proof” as to why I am fat but I know there plenty of skinny people who do the same exact thing. I have a friend who I’ve known since we were 8 years old. When we met, she was fat and I was skinny.

    She lived on a diet of gummi bears, slurpees, cheetos and peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. I liked some of those things (cheetos!) but not all of them. Her mom was always taking us out to Dunkin Donuts or giving us money to go get candy.

    My mom cooked us lots of homemade meals and refused to let us have sugary cereals for breakfast unless we were on vacation or it was someone’s birthday. Both my friend and I spent literally hours watching MTV together or laying on the floor of my room drawing.

    Guess which one of us got sent to Weight Watchers as a kid? And guess which one of us is still thin? (Though to be fair she eats a lot better these days!)

    But of course, none of this matters. That’s just me and my friend. It’s just my story and the story of someone I know and I can’t really offer that up as proof.

    Which brings me to my second point: Just because your friend is fat and all they eat is junk or your coworker is fat and always eats a fatty lunch or just because your fat sister eats a tub of Haegen Dasz in one sitting (oh and we know no thin people do that) does not mean you have proof that the fatties are fat because they gorge on twinkies while lying slothlike in front of the TV, while all the skinnies are out hiking and eating celery sticks. Sorry, doesn’t work that way.

    It’s only proof that SOME fatties like fatty food and eat a lot of it and don’t move much, and others don’t eat that much, and other fatties eat really healthfully and work out a lot. Hate to break it to you but that’s also how skinny folks eat too, and you are deluding yourself if you think differently.

    And don’t offer up your recent weight loss as proof. Cuz, hate to break it to you, most people who lose weight gain it back. Yes, you may be different. But let’s talk in 5 years and see if you are.

  67. 67 On December 6th, 2007, Sarah said:

    Jae, you said it the best with your last paragraph. Everybody should read it:

    “We still deserve the respect and care that is supposed to be afforded to all human beings.”

    “But we are all on this earth together, and we all deserve to be here and to be treated well during the time we have.”

    True enough. We are all individuals as deserve to be treated as such.

    Dan Savage, quite frankly, is a rotten person. But that doesn’t mean I’ll go and vote yes on every gay-bashing proposal that comes up around election time. I believe every person deserves respect – under law and in society. It’s too bad Savage and his readers can’t reciprocate when it comes to fat people. I don’t buy into all the myths surrounding “the gay” people, so why do you continue to buy into all the myths about fat people? Please enlighten yourselves, for the betterment of humanity.

    I’m not asking you to “accept” me or be my friend. Just let me be and I’ll do the same for you. I’ve got friends that aren’t judgmental to being with, and I wouldn’t want friends with such a negative and hateful mindset anyway!

    I have a great quality of life, despite being “morbidly” obese. I don’t sit around and eat donuts all day. I eat a variety of foods, and I prefer meals that are cooked at home via going out. As mentioned before, I love to swim. I also love to walk and sometimes dance. I’ve spent a NUMBER of years on “diets,” all to no avail. At best, I would lose ten or fifteen pounds. To achieve this, I basically had to eat next to nothing and exercise like a madwoman. Sorry, but how is that a quality life? It’s not. I’m MUCH happier now than I have ever been.

    I’ve worked as a medical receptionist (imagine that!) for several years, and have seen that disease ravages ALL people, not just the fatties. Thin people suffer from the same ailments as fat people. A healthy diet and moderate exercise is good advice for ALL people, don’t you think? Why only pick on the fat people? What about the thin people who don’t take care of themselves? Basically, you are making a shallow judgment of a person because of their weight.

    I know the stereotype of the rejected fat person is amusing to the ignorant, but it has no truth to it. Yes – I live, laugh, AND love. And I am NOT going to stop because of misguided prejudice directed towards me or others of my size. We are NOT going anywhere and I am not going to let you push me out of society.

  68. 68 On December 6th, 2007, Jae said:

    Weight is political for women

    Well put.

  69. 69 On December 6th, 2007, Shinobi said:

    I have to seriously wonder when people fit all this excersizing into their day? I mean, 2 hours a day? really?

    Personally I am at the office for about 9 hours a day, plus a 45 minute commute so, that knocks out about 10.5 hours. Plus I like sleep, I have to get at least 8 hours so I’m useless so now we’re at 18.5 hours. Which leaves mea bout 3.5 hours a day to do what I want with. So now I”m supposed to spend 2 hours or 57% of my freetime jumping up and down, or running, or lifting heavy things just so other people can find me attractive and wont think I’m lazy?

    Uhm… Gee… Pass. I’d way rather do things I actually enjoy. Sorry if people who think I should be skinny find that offensive. But my time on this earth is limited and I’m not going to spend it being miserable just so other people will approve of me.

  70. 70 On December 6th, 2007, Sarah said:

    Ah, I forgot to add:

    Should fat people who are sedentary be treated with different standards than “good” fat people? Short answer – no. Goodness knows some of the posters here would never apply those standards to a thin person, because thin always equals HEALTH! Oh wait, not.

  71. 71 On December 6th, 2007, Lexy said:

    Oh, I got another link for the “if you lose weight you’ll be healthier, don’t you want to be healthier” choir.
    weight loss risks

    That one’s about the health risks associated with yo-yo dieting (the most common type, since 90-95% of dieters gain all the weight back)

  72. 72 On December 6th, 2007, Paul said:

    Shinobi: that’s fair, but then (in many cases, in my experience) said people will say, “Oh! Well just park farther from your office front door!” or “Take the stairs! TAKE THE STAIRS!!!” in order to make exercise work around one’s schedule.

    The thing left unsaid is that this puts a very large judgment on exercise: if you do it, you’re “good”. If not, you’re “bad”. Worse, if you’re fat you can do all of these things and still be seen as “bad” because… you’re… fat. Catch-22.

  73. 73 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    JoGeek, it’s obvious. You made your lifestyle choice. In the end, you chose to actually HAVE a life.

  74. 74 On December 6th, 2007, Becky said:

    But I have told her–repeatedly–that she needn’t worry so much about her weight (she is quite concerned about it) because I am certain that I will still find her irresistable even were she to gain 50 pounds.

    That’s good to hear. And my advice to anyone who didn’t feel that way is that he had no business getting married in the first place. Because sometimes, that kind of thing happens. And taking wedding vows means vowing to stick with someone for better or worse, and that should certainly include changes in appearance. That’s why I have such a problem with Dan’s column.

  75. 75 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Echo that Becky. My husband has told me he would love me at 100 or 1,000 pounds. You see, it’s because he – and not his dick – fell in love with me, and not my weight.

    What it boils down to is this: You have a right to expect your spouse to remain healthy; you do not have a right to expect your spouse to remain or become thin.

    And if the concept that one can be fit and fat, as well as thin and unhealthy, blows your mind, then so be it. You have room to expand.

  76. 76 On December 6th, 2007, Lindsay said:

    Okay, this notion of “no one is born fat” is utterly ridiculous: i have never seen a healthy skinny baby. Yeah, i know it’s only a difference in semantics, but still. It irks me.

    And as far as “well, my spouse was ___ when i married them, why should they change?” goes? Well, unless you married a blow-up doll, i’ve got news for you: your spouse will change over time. Might be in weight, will definitely be in age – and as the latter is unavoidable, to expect a static appearance of anyone is just plain dumb. Furthermore, to base a relationship entirely on appearance is not only shallow, but also setting yourself up for eventual divorce.

    I’m 230 pounds, my husband is 170; he eats three times as much as i do, and doesn’t exercise. If it were as easy as “calories in / calories out”, our weights would be reversed. And since our relationship is based on so much more than the way we look, it wouldn’t impact our marriage in the slightest.

  77. 77 On December 6th, 2007, Lindsay said:

    Oh, and: when i was in high school, i regularly rode my bike to and from school – eight miles each way. It did not have any noticeable impact on my weight.

  78. 78 On December 6th, 2007, Shinobi said:

    uhmmm that should say 5.5….. and 36%.

    Drugs are bad mmmkay?

  79. 79 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    You have a right to expect your spouse to remain healthy;

    For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

  80. 80 On December 6th, 2007, Shinobi said:

    Paul, that’s true, I actually walk about 1.5 miles as part of my commute and another .5-2 miles (depending on how early I get up in the morning) walking my dog. But I’m still fat. And I’ve actually gained all the weight back (about 40lbs) that I lost two years ago when I moved to Chicago. It’s incredibly depressing.

  81. 81 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    For better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

    Right. I didn’t see the part where it said “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, or until you gain weight and I’m no longer sexually attracted to you…”

  82. 82 On December 6th, 2007, kitana said:

    “It should be noted that the average increase in weight is 5 to 7 pounds. And is it really a case of the obesity rates increasing, or are the standards classifying obesity just being lowered so more people qualify as overweight and obese?”
    Hmm according to http://www.bigfatfacts.com/ it says today’s average American adult is 7 to 14 pounds heavier than one thirty years ago. From my own experience I’ve always been average (5’2, 125 lbs hardly goes over 130). Three years ago I started baking and within three months I gained almost 20 pounds by just eating too much baked goods. I stopped and my weight went back to normal. Also I have observed many immigrants from other countries who were skinny and after they come to this country they gained a lot more weight. My point is that you should recognize there’s something else that make a person fat other than genetics.

  83. 83 On December 6th, 2007, Deborah said:

    Hey, folks, you know what else happens to people you marry?

    They age.

    Their firm hawt bodies get all wrinkly and saggy and shit. And you know what? If you don’t want to be married to them anymore because they don’t look so hot, you’re an asshole.

    When you marry someone, you are choosing to marry them, y’know, for better or worse? Remember? And you’re choosing to love them and have a relationship with them NO MATTER WHAT. And if you think their bodies won’t change, really truly honestly get over yourselves.

    I stuck by my husband through a chronic, debilitating, and potentially fatal illness. (Ironically, our marriage ended after he started getting well.) You people who can’t handle a little weight gain need to get a clue.

    And don’t even go there about how weight gain is totally someone’s fault and chronic illness isn’t. Even if that were true, did your marriage vows say for better or worse unless it’s totally your own fault? Mine didn’t.

  84. 84 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Kitana – Seven pounds. Whoop-di-do. I can gain and lose seven pounds the week I am on my period. It’s hardly sufficient evidence to suggest an epidemic.

    It also sounds like you are a naturally thin person who was able to easily rebound back into your setpoint range. There are fat people who don’t eat baked goods and do eat healthy foods and exercise and 125 pounds is still an impossible dream for them.

    I’m not ruling out lifestyle here, folks. But what I am saying is that studies show that fat people, as a group, eat no differently than thin people. Many people – fat and thin – eat crap food and don’t exercise. Some gain weight, while others don’t, which suggests more than lifestyle is at play, here.

  85. 85 On December 6th, 2007, Becky said:

    says today’s average American adult is 7 to 14 pounds heavier than one thirty years ago

    It depends how you calculate the average. You get 5-7 if you take out the outliers. Even so, 7 to 14 pounds really isn’t that much. When people talk about “the obesity epidemic” they make it sound like everyone’s going from “normal weight” to “obese”, which is a 50 pound weight gain, not 7-14.

    I stopped and my weight went back to normal.

    That’s because it’s not possible to permanently make a naturally thin person fat anymore than it is possible to permanently make a naturally thin person fat. People will gravitate back to their natural weights over time (as you did).

  86. 86 On December 6th, 2007, Tari said:

    Many people – fat and thin – eat crap food and don’t exercise. Some gain weight, while others don’t, which suggests more than lifestyle is at play, here.

    What? You mean, human biology – including size – is complicated?!

  87. 87 On December 6th, 2007, Astrobabe said:

    Rachel- in one of your comments you mention that obesity levels are leveling off. I’m not certain that’s exactly a correct assessment even though that’s the conclusion that’s being bandied about.

    New methods of patient tracking including computerized systems have made it more easily possible to sample a large population for simple items such as weight at check-in and blood pressure. I believe the ability to do this data collection via a simple database query has yielded a larger and more diverse sampling population. Simply said, I think prior samples made have been biased due to small numbers and queries only being run on small sections of the country given the paperwork needed.

    And Dave:

    Aren’t you a ass? Implying that the only way your gf could gain 100 pounds is from by making horrible choices is pretty shitty. I went from 140 to my current 220 without horrible choices. . .well unless you count eating the same as my fiance (who hasn’t gained weight), training and competing in triathlons and oh yeah walking the dog 5 miles every day as horrible choices. One can only hope your gf wises up to you idiotic shenanigans and dumps you.

  88. 88 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    Heh. My husband lived on crap before we married but since I’m a good cook he now eats tasty vegetarian dinners and healthy snacks like carrots and applesauce (because I’m a produce nut). Net result? He’s healthier (better cholesterol numbers and blood pressure) and has gained exactly zero pounds. I’m healthy too, but still fat.

    I guess that would be the “for better” part.

  89. 89 On December 6th, 2007, Buffpuff said:

    ”I know plenty of fat people, and they eat far, far less than I do (I am fairly thin), but these people have always been fat, and thus I do not feel they deserve disparagement on this point. But I have no sympathy for fat people who got fat because of a lifestyle choice, and who then choose to complain about it.”

    Gosh, that’s awfully generous, decent and fair-minded of you, Dave, but, since you don’t know the precise body history of everyone commenting thus far, (everyone, that is, who isn’t a member of the Savage Cheerleading Squad), how can you possibly tell which of us here merits your disparagement? Personally I think you should err on the side of caution and keep your sanctimonious, self-righteous moralising to yourself.

    People get fat for a whole raft of reasons, Certain medications, – steroids or antidepressants for instance – thyroid or endocrine disorders, (such as polycystic ovary syndrome), and insulin resistance can all have an impact on weight gain regardless of diet and exercise. Numerous other factors, such as poverty, genetics, disability, long-term illness, depression, extended deep sleep deprivation, (as experienced by sufferers of fibromyalgia or sleep apnoea), serial-dieting and eating disorders can also have an impact on body-size; as can a combination of several of the above. Anyone making sweeping statements about why “the vast majority” of fat folks are fat is going to get pretty short shrift from me, ditto those who grudgingly refer to those that have “particular, rare medical conditions” before justifying their fat bigotry on the grounds of health. Add all these pretty commonplace factors together and you get a pretty substantial chunk of the populace. Of course poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle can be contributors too, but these are by no means the exclusive province of the fat – any more than diabetes, high cholesterol, cancer or heart disease are.

    Ooh – and anotheca, while I’ll agree with you that bitterness is indeed an unattractive trait in a lady, I think smugness is probably just a tad more repellant.
    As for your assertion one has an obligation to stay mentally and physically attractive for one’s significant other, one can only hope you never develop Alzheimer’s.

  90. 90 On December 6th, 2007, The Wet One said:

    Well, in my case, after years of going to the gym and working out about 7 hours a week and weighing about 200 – 220 lbs, I starting working too much, stopped going to the gym due to an insecure girlfriend (and working too much), and stopped eating well (due to working too much), my weight increased over about 2 years to 270 lbs.

    Maybe my working too much, stopping going to the gym and stopping eating well had something to do with my weight gain (I consider myself fat), and maybe I was just born that way. It seems to me that on the evidence, my lifestyle change (neurotic girlfriends and working too much to stay healthy) had a lot do with my being fat. Maybe I’m wrong.

    In any event, I no longer care about either health or girlfriends (neurotic or not), so being 270 lbs isn’t that much of a problem. Sadly, no I’m out of work (no more working too much) and not really interested in taking up the old lifestyle again.

    Something is screwed up here I know, but I don’t think it was me being born fat.

    The Wet One

  91. 91 On December 6th, 2007, Game Dame said:

    The other issue raised by Savage’s “advice” has to do with his (and his commenters’) view of marriage. I’m not sure what vows other married folks here took, but mine included things like better/worse, richer/poorer, sickness/health, etc. You make a vow, a promise, a pledge (which I guess doesn’t mean much to many people these days) to stand by your spouse no matter what. That’s what makes it a commitment not a booty call. But even the question of standing by your word is irrelevant if you TRULY love the person. How can your appearance touch anything about who you really are? If you only love your wife based on her dress size, then you don’t really love her. I mean, do you only love your wife if she wears blue? If she has two arms? If she stands a certain way in the sunlight? If she makes your eggs JUST SO? It’s all totally ridiculous. The wife’s weight is not the issue; it’s the husband trying to distract from his guilty conscience. Eff him AND dan savage.

  92. 92 On December 6th, 2007, visitor said:


    Editor’s Note…again

    There is no gay-baiting here. There is, however, fat-bashing, and your comments only serve to underscore fat hatred and marginalization. Social injustice is social injustice – you can’t pick and choose whom it applies to. Fat people are regularly denied equal access in employment, education, access to public accommodations, adequate health care, adoption, and housing – as are gay people. I think it’s a tragedy when people profess to be all about equal rights, but yet pick and choose what groups are deserving of those rights.

    That’s all well and good. But the subject matter that we’re discussing isn’t social injustice. It’s Dan Savage’s opinion on how people should behave in relationships. It’s not housing access or employment. It’s not the Chinese government saying fat people can’t adopt babies from China.

    I think your rhetorical tactics go too far. And you just did it again, conflating my critique of your ex-gay analogy with widespread discrimination against fat people. You’re suggesting that by criticizing your inappropriate overreaction to Dan Savage’s column I’m an accomplice in societal bigotry against fat people. All the while, you already have other commenters embracing and repeating the same tripe from your post.

    I recognize that it can be challenging to be fat in our image-obsessed society, especially for women for whom the pressures are more extreme. And I think you’re doing a beneficial thing overall in bringing these issues to light and providing a forum for their discussion. But I disagree, adamantly, that the bigotry and forms of discrimination against fat people can be considered in the same breath as those facing historically oppressed groups. It understates the agenda and history behind ex-gay groups to compare them to someone who disrespects fat people.

  93. 93 On December 6th, 2007, everstar said:

    Weight is political for women.

    I would say weight is political, period. My brother grew up expecting that he’d have a heart attack and die by the age of thirty because he was overweight. It affects men, too.

  94. 94 On December 6th, 2007, The Wet One said:

    Eh… Life sure is tuff isn’t it?

    I sure wish it could be nice, easy, simply and exciting like in books or movies.

    Sadly not the case.

    And then everyone will jump on everyone else and slander and hate them or claim to be hated by them because, well, that’s what we humans do.

    Maybe that’s why I don’t care anymore and I just watch the gong show go round and round and wait for death. Thankfully, this farce will end.

    The Wet One.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  95. 95 On December 6th, 2007, Anne said:

    Have you ever known a “skinny” person who ate and ate and ate and ate, couldn’t gain weight when they NEEDED to?

    I’ve known and lived with several people like that.

    Have you ever known a “fat” person who ate very little and yet was still fat?

    I’m her. And there are a lot of people just like me.

    It’s not simply a matter of dicipline. Can the skinny person discipline their metabolism into being slower?

  96. 96 On December 6th, 2007, kitana said:

    “People will gravitate back to their natural weights over time (as you did).”
    Only when I stopped eating baked goods and back to my normal diets. I have known and seen many immigrants who came to this country thin as a rail packed up much more weights when they adopted the American diets. If I didn’t stop eating sugary stuff I believe my body would have adapted and it’d be difficult to get back to my normal weight.

    “I’m not ruling out lifestyle here, folks.” I am not ruling out genetics neither. Our contention is how much of it is due to genetics and how much of it is due to life styles. Let’s say a certain percentage of people are big no matter what they do and the scale goes the other end. However most scientific studies (some of them junk) indicate the TREND is that people are getting bigger.

  97. 97 On December 6th, 2007, Upset about misogyny said:

    One other thing, or make it two:
    We all know how “healthy” top models are. They set beauty standards, certainly not health standards.
    About the guy who wrote Dan Savage complaining of his wife’s “letting herself go”: does anyone really think that, if his wife loses weight, he will become attracted to her again? Is that really how it works? Or maybe he just lost interest in her, period, because he’s tired of having sex with one person, and is putting the blame on fattiness?

  98. 98 On December 6th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    Rachel commented: “What it boils down to is this: You have a right to expect your spouse to remain healthy; you do not have a right to expect your spouse to remain or become thin.”

    You have right to expect your spouse to treat you with love, respect, compassion, and kindness. Your spouse has the right to expect the same from you. Anybody expecting health, attractiveness, and personalities to stay within a small range of possibilities is naive in the extreme.

    People grow and change. Bodies change. Diseases show up unannounced for no reason at all. People cut their hair, change their clothes, play with makeup, gain and lose weight, pursue extreme sports then settle down. Variety is the spice of life.

    If people can’t deal with change, they shouldn’t be getting married…or they should learn awfully fast how to deal with change because there’s no way to avoid it.

  99. 99 On December 6th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    Three years ago I started baking and within three months I gained almost 20 pounds by just eating too much baked goods. I stopped and my weight went back to normal.

    Gosh, it almost sounds like you ate yourself past your genetically determined setpoint or something!

    No one here is arguing that’s impossible, or that no one ever gets fatter than their setpoint by overeating — we’re arguing that it’s certainly not the case for all or even most fat people, who, as Rachel said, have been shown to eat just the same as thin people on average.

    We’re also arguing that, unless you have personal knowledge that any given person got fat by overeating and underexercising, you need to STFU, ’cause you have no idea how much that person eats or exercises, what medications s/he’s on, what illnesses s/he might have, how fat his or her grandparents were, how many diets s/he’s been on and how much weight s/he’s lost in the past, whether s/he has an active eating disorder or is in recovery from one, what his or her cholesterol/blood sugar/blood pressure levels are… shall I go on? BECAUSE I COULD. You can’t tell any of it by looking.

    And, uh, even if you could? Even if you do have personal knowledge that someone’s gotten fatter from couching it up with the Twinkies? STFU anyway, because that person ALREADY KNOWS, and shame does not cause weight loss.

  100. 100 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Visitor who doesn’t leave a name:

    But I disagree, adamantly, that the bigotry and forms of discrimination against fat people can be considered in the same breath as those facing historically oppressed groups.

    And here is where you and I differ. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how much you try to minimize it. It wasn’t that long ago that people, much like you, argued that gay people deserved neither the respect or benefits groups like black Americans have fought for and won.

  101. 101 On December 6th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    But I disagree, adamantly, that the bigotry and forms of discrimination against fat people can be considered in the same breath as those facing historically oppressed groups.

    Yeah, nobody misunderstood that. It’s just that we still disagree, adamantly, with you on that point. (And so do a whole lot of gay people and people of color who also work to combat fat hatred.)

    You said that fat hatred isn’t a social justice issue; Rachel gave you a few examples of why it is; you said she was no longer talking about the topic at hand, because she directly addressed your criticism. Um, what?

  102. 102 On December 6th, 2007, MBI said:

    “And please don’t come here and tell me that you’ve lost weight by dieting and exercise, and that if you can do it, I can too. I’ve been there and done that and chances are, I’ve probably lost more weight than you in a shorter amount of time – 175 pounds in a year, to be precise. Of course, my diet had a name: anorexia and bulimia, and my willpower damn near killed me.”

    What in God’s name does your anorexia have to do with any damn thing? I have no idea why you’re exploiting your own personal tragedy for this situation, it has absolutely no bearing on the discussion at hand, and I’m going to have a hard time taking you seriously because of it.

    Also, way to be hard on HARD without reading what she actually says. Those of you who are hammering the poor guy for demanding unchanging physical perfection from his wife clearly haven’t bothered to read the actual articles, only the shrill activist who wrote the original post. Savage isn’t saying that you should try and keep yourself perfect, but as a sign of respect that you should at least try to keep yourself on some base level of attractiveness. Ladies, try being married to a guy who one day decides that he’s just not going to bathe anymore.

    Editor’s Note:

    Let’s see. People come on my board and leave comments stating that they’ve found the “magic” cure for weight loss and that if only I learned some willpower and dieted and exercised, I too can lose weight. Yet, me mentioning the fact that these suggestions are useless, futile and totally irrelevant somehow has “no bearing to the discussion at hand.”

    Way to totally miss the point there, Sparky.

  103. 103 On December 6th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    kitana commented “I have known and seen many immigrants who came to this country thin as a rail packed up much more weights when they adopted the American diets.”

    The problem with the “lifestyle” argument of fat bigotry is that people with socio-economic limitations have limits on how much control they have over their lifestyle. Most immigrants don’t come to the states and become middle class Americans with budgets and leisure time to maintain a “healthy lifestyle”.

    People in lower socio-economic classes don’t necessarily have time or money to shop for fresh produce every week. Inexpensive “fattening” foods tend to have a longer shelf life, feel more filling, and don’t require as much prep time. Adopting an America diet isn’t always as much a matter of choice as necessity.

    Weight bigotry is often strongly tied in with bigotry against the poor because of such factors.

    If you need anecdotal evidence, I lived in a slum with Mexican immigrants and saw how little time they had for shopping and food prep. A healthy lifestyle isn’t “possible, but difficult”. It’s simply not possible, in some cases. Also, most of them were bone thin from near starvation. I guess you knew the lucky ones.

  104. 104 On December 6th, 2007, JoGeek said:

    Kitana: Which immigrants are you talking about? Because in the years I spent in Mexico, I saw the same sort of weight averages as I see in Michigan. Don’t let spring break videos fool you. Are you talking about foreign exchange students? Because I was one, and let me tell you the Americans going to other countries put on just as much weight as those coming here. Guess what else? When they either went home or decided to stay in their host country (even in the U.S.) their weight averaged back out to their original range after a few years. Because, like the pretty and informed lady said above, studies have shown/are showing that there is no way to make a naturally thin person permanently fat, and vice versa. But I guess all those pesky scientists with actual university degrees in the subject observing a large group of people in a controlled experiment must bow to your oh-so-pointed story about “a friend of a friend lost weight once” (really, wasn’t it more like a dozen times throughout their lives, and only for a couple years at a time before their biology asserted itself?) Look at the studies that aren’t funded by the weight loss and pharmaceutical industries, and you’ll find some real challenges to your beliefs about fat and fat people.

  105. 105 On December 6th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    Only when I stopped eating baked goods and back to my normal diets.

    Yeah, I have a friend who seemingly dropped about 10 pounds by “cutting out pastry” and announced that on her blog as proof of how easy it is to lose weight. But really her story and yours, are anecdotal stories about how your bodies work, not proof that all we fatties need to do is “eat less and move more.”

    Actually I agree with you about the fact that massive changes in people’s diet can cause people to gain or lose weight, but I think overall it’s a complex issue and I actually think putting it all down to the food you eat is probably too simplistic.

    I know I’ve read about some tribe in Mexico where some of the tribe moved to the states and all the ones who moved to the US became “obese” while all the ones who stayed in Mexico remained “normal weight.” Certainly, diet is a factor but could there be other factors as well? Like just the stress of moving someplace new? Or perhaps (as I suspect) the members of the tribe were already pre-disposed to gain weight easily and so gained more weight from the U.S. diet? Would you put that down as evidence of a ‘lifestyle choice’?

  106. 106 On December 6th, 2007, Jae said:

    And here is where you and I differ. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how much you try to minimize it. It wasn’t that long ago that people, much like you, argued that gay people deserved neither the respect or benefits groups like black Americans have fought for and won.

    Exactly. The idea that the importance of discrimination should be determined by the descriminators is ludicrous.

  107. 107 On December 6th, 2007, Cindy said:

    “But I have no sympathy for fat people who got fat because of a lifestyle choice, and who then choose to complain about it.”

    I’m chubby. I stand at under five feet tall and weigh about 145 pounds. I’m a runner, I do yoga and I eat fruits, vegetables and lean proteins. I eat sweets and fried foods, too. I have low cholesterol, low blood pressure and good blood sugar. I’m still chubby.

    In order to be treated like a human being, worthy of respect and a loving relationship, should I fucking put all that on a goddamned T-shirt so that you know I’m the kind of fat-ass for whom you should “have sympathy?”

    I’m calling all of you sanctimonious pricks out. This handwringing over obesity is the great cultural feint of the 21st century. It exists to stoke the vanity sector economy (and now, coincidentally, the medical economy) and to hang on to a population that can safely be reviled. Tart it up anyway you want, using “facts” to make any group of people “the other” is bigotry. (Jesus, does anyone have any idea how many men over the age of 50 have heart disease and cost the healthcare system millions? Should we start telling women to dump their over 50, paunchy male partners who have heart attacks? Oh, that’s right. Messing with men based on “facts” would get — I don’t know — slapped down as man hating. Or start World War III.)

    As for Dan Savage? This fat, healthy gay chick is done with him. Oh, and I don’t think the ex-gay comparison is far fetched at all. Homosexual BEHAVIOR is always a choice, after all.

  108. 108 On December 6th, 2007, visitor said:


    And here is where you and I differ. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how much you try to minimize it. It wasn’t that long ago that people, much like you, argued that gay people deserved neither the respect or benefits groups like black Americans have fought for and won.

    Not once, anywhere, did I say fat people don’t deserve the same respect or benefits anyone else deserves. Nowhere. You’re either being obtuse or you are willfully fabricating lies out of whole cloth.

    Dan Savage’s rantings about twinkies do not amount to discrimination. That column is the subject of the discussion, and Dan Savage’s column being juxtaposed with a well-funded and pernicious campaign against gays is what got my ire up. I don’t disagree that substantive inequalities exist for fat people. But I continue to think that the way you addressed the subject in this post is over-the-top, disrespectful and disingenuous. Fat people are not subjected to the same kind of institutionalized exclusion from fundamental rights as are other groups. It isn’t necessary to think that anti-fat bigotry is as big a problem as homophobia to recognize that it exists. Nor is it necessary to believe that the problems that face fat people are remotely equivalent to the problems facing gays to realize they exist. But the two are not the same thing. I think I’ve made that point as clearly as possible, so I won’t bother you anymore repeating myself. Take my criticism, offered in good faith, or leave it, but I’m done with this site.

    Editor’s Note:

    Oh, please. Your contradict yourself with each sentence. Ta ta and good riddance.

  109. 109 On December 6th, 2007, Game Dame said:

    Okay, wait. Fat people aren’t a historically oppressed group??? ZOMG, it’s just recently that people started hating us?? Wow. You learn something everyday on teh intarwebs.

  110. 110 On December 6th, 2007, Paul said:

    “Dan Savage’s column being juxtaposed with a well-funded and pernicious campaign against gays is what got my ire up.”

    Oh, please. Ever hear of the diet industry? The weight loss surgery industry? Each movement has a big bad money machine on its opposing side, it seems.

  111. 111 On December 6th, 2007, downtownvenus said:

    I <3 Cindy.

  112. 112 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Fat people aren’t a historically oppressed group???

    Actually, it depends on your definition of historically oppressed. It’s only been since the late nineteenth century that fat has come to be vilified. But the movement sure did pick up momentum. A recent study of young girls revealed they’d rather risk cancer, nuclear war or lose their parents than become fat.

  113. 113 On December 6th, 2007, Rick said:

    I have never seen “genetic” fat people remain fat through a famine. Why is that?

  114. 114 On December 6th, 2007, keshmeshi said:

    Dan’s being incredibly disingenuous here:

    There’s a difference between eating yourself into unattractiveness… and suffering a disfiguring accident or boob-threatening illness. It’s the difference between something that happened to you and something you did to yourself…

    So what? The issue is whether a partner or spouse is still fuckable, right? If a woman has to have a breast lopped off and her husband no longer finds her attractive, for all intents and purposes, that’s the exact same thing as if she gained 100 pounds. Her husband can’t get it up for her and, according to Dan Savage, they might as well get divorced.

  115. 115 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    Cindy, please read the quote you pulled from my post. It cleary states that I do not have sympathy for people who started out thin, became fat, and then complain about it. It doesn’t sound like you are complaining about your chubbiness, and thus I really don’t care. It isn’t really any of my business. But if you complain to me about it, and it was preventable in the first place, and you are doing nothing to help yourself, well, I’m going to be somewhat callous.

    That is part of the issue Dan is addressing. In the instant case, neither he nor I are considering those who may have been overweight since childhood. Rather, what is at issue is two people who looked a certain way when they began their relationship, time passed, one person’s looks change dramatically even though that change was preventable, and thus their partner is no longer as attracted to them. Looks may not be everything, but they are something, and it is unlikely that every poster on this forum lacks any sort of attraction to their partner (or anyone else) based upon that criterion.

    That said, the gentleman who wrote into Dan did not abandon his wife because she gained weight. He was concerned about it, wrote Dan for advice, and then decided to be honest with his wife about how he felt. She was “actually understanding and loving about the whole thing” and “admitted that she needs to do some work to feel sexier herself and that won’t happen unless she makes an effort.” So those of you concerned about the whole “for better or worse” thing should at least recognize that at least in this instance, the husband did not abandon his wife.

    Incidentally, I am not so naive as to think that exercise will necessarily make someone who tends to be fat thin. Nor do I believe that all fat people are out of shape and all thin people are paragons of good health. There are plenty of fat people who are far more healthy than I am. Nevertheless, whereas some people are attracted to fat, healthy people, I am not. If I were, and that fat healthy person over time became thin, I would likely find myself less attracted to them. This is also a point at the crux of Dan’s argument, and its not clear to me what’s wrong with this.

  116. 116 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    And Rick, exactly how many famines have you been through?

    Of course naturally fat people wouldn’t remain fat through a famine. My natural setpoint range is within 160 and 185 pounds, and I was able to starve myself down to 125 pounds. But, that weight required an anorexic lifestyle to maintain it, and when I began eating healthier again, I naturally gained weight until my body settled into its predetermined weight.

    All of which reinforces what people here have been saying over and over again. You can’t permanently make a naturally thin person fat, just as you can’t permanently make a naturally fat person thin.

  117. 117 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Dave writes: He was concerned about it, wrote Dan for advice, and then decided to be honest with his wife about how he felt. She was “actually understanding and loving about the whole thing” and “admitted that she needs to do some work to feel sexier herself and that won’t happen unless she makes an effort.”

    Well of course she was understanding and loving. How the fuck else are you supposed to react when your husband sits you down and tells you that he finds you physically repulsing and that you need to turn him on more because his eye is wandering?

  118. 118 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    Nevertheless, whereas some people are attracted to fat, healthy people, I am not.

    I think this is your entire point, really.

  119. 119 On December 6th, 2007, littlem said:

    “All the self-discipline in the world will lose in the face of genetics. If your body is meant to weigh within a certain weight range, it will do what it can to settle there, despite your best efforts.”

    “This is simply not true.”

    Sounds like “DON’T YOU TAKE MY HOPE AWAY” to me.

    http://kateharding.net/2007/11/27/the-fantasy-of-being-thin/

    “Not unless 30% of the US population suddenly all had the same spontaneous mutation.”

    They did. I’m not going to argue with you about biochemical mutations caused by things like birth control pills and antidepressants, but that one?

    It’s called High Fructose Corn Syrup. You may want to do a little research on the correlation between the time regulations permitting its inculcation into the majority of packaged food products and the so-called “obesity epidemic” coincided.

    Come on. It’ll be fun.

  120. 120 On December 6th, 2007, littlem said:

    “…you can’t permanently make a naturally fat person thin…”

    Unless you STARVE them. And with all this talk about how people that came out of concentration camps were thin, and “whatever it takes”?

    THAT’S what Rick, and people like him, think fat people really deserve.

    They’ll never SAY exactly that. Because it sounds barbaric.

    Because it is.

    But I’d bet a lot of doughnuts — sorry, Twinkies — that that’s what they really mean.

  121. 121 On December 6th, 2007, Fatadelic said:

    Gosh, that’s awfully generous, decent and fair-minded of you, Dave, but, since you don’t know the precise body history of everyone commenting thus far, (everyone, that is, who isn’t a member of the Savage Cheerleading Squad), how can you possibly tell which of us here merits your disparagement?

    I know! I know! We could brand all the BAD FATTIES somewhere prominent. And then it would be a simple matter to decide who could be safely disparaged:

    No brand = good fatty = be nice.
    Brand = bad fatty = blame and shame.

    We might find we accidentally brand a few good fatties, but that’s the price we will have to pay to ensure all the bad fatties are treated appropriately.

  122. 122 On December 6th, 2007, littlem said:

    “Fat people are not subjected to the same kind of institutionalized exclusion from fundamental rights as are other groups.”

    Um, “visitor” doesn’t get out much, does he?

  123. 123 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    THAT’S what Rick, and people like him, think fat people really deserve.

    Well, yeah! Better to have a culture of bigotry and barbarism than a bunch of fat people being fat all over the landscape.

    Sigh. And many of the people who espouse this crap consider themselves liberal. Unfortunately, there’s too often a tipping point. Examples I’ve actually heard recently: Sure, I want equal rights for gays and lesbians, but not for trans folk. All religions should be treated equally, but atheists are just creepy. I don’t believe in fat discimination, except for the really gross fat people.

    I wish we’d just grow up as a species, now if possible.

  124. 124 On December 6th, 2007, Michael said:

    The responses here cracked me up. Dan’s response was targeted at a man whose wife had simply let herself go, not a man whose wife had some sort of a clinical disorder.

    Like most men, if I felt my wife had some sort of a disorder that made her fat (or thin or unintelligent or disfigured, etc.), I wouldn’t hold her accountable for that. But if I felt she were deliberately doing something (or not doing something) within her reasonable control that made her less attractive to me, I would not be pleased about it.

  125. 125 On December 6th, 2007, littlem said:

    “Well, unless you married a blow-up doll…”

    I’m starting to think this might actually be better for the people who can’t seem to hang with the “people change as they age” concept.

    Doesn’t give their genes a chance to murk up the pool either.

  126. 126 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    *Cue eye rolling*

    Because isn’t every wife’s supreme goal in life? To avoid “letting herself go” so she can still be attractive to her husband?

    My husband prefers me with red hair, as opposed to my natural blonde color. But I’m going to dye it whatever color I damn well please. It’s called agency, an autonomy even marriage doesn’t diminish.

  127. 127 On December 6th, 2007, Rick said:

    Rachel writes: “And Rick, exactly how many famines have you been through?”

    I lived in the United States, and now I live in the third world, and have seen scant fatness in communities that have scant food, but that stuff where the rationale for “genetic” obesity is that 1)yes, you can be thin, but 2) only at starvation-level conditions is a new one on me.

    I am still trying to get what being “naturally” fat means? I mean, exactly what “natural” purpose is served by being extremely overweight? And if it is a biological abnormality, shouldn’t one focus on seeking a remedy?

  128. 128 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    Fatadelic, I am not sure your post is worthy of response, but: I don’t walk around judging fat people. Seriously. The people who I do know who are fat, and whose history I am familiar with, I do not look down on or criticize unless of course they meet the conditions I previously outlined. Even then, their whining might be met with a “well then why don’t you do something about it” as opposed to cold contempt. But not sympathy, certainly not sympathy. That’s a general policy that I apply to complainers of any stripe.

    And to littlem and all those who agree with her (or him): I think (although I do not know) what visitor meant by “institutionalized exclusion from fundamental rights” was that certain classes of people-particularly gays-face official exclusion from rights granted to others (which may are may not be considered fundamental; that’s a different set of debates). By “institutionalized” I think he meant government. So it is correct to state that whereas gay people are to this day proscribed from enjoying, most saliently, the right to marriage in most states–by the state governments–fat people face no similar such government sanctioned discrimination. Not that any of this has anything to do with Dan Savage’s column.

  129. 129 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    I would not be pleased about it.

    Because marriage is all about keeping the husband happy, no matter what.

    Apparently the concept of partnership is a lot more revolutionary than I had imagined.

  130. 130 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Rick, you might be interested in reading about a study that showed fat people who lost a lot of weight and kept it off were essentially in a permanent state of starvation. Gina Kolata addresses it in an article here.

    As for your second comment about being “naturally” fat: Humans have evolved to naturally store body fat. This is why it is so easy to gain weight, and so very hard to lose it. And, I don’t think its a biological abnormality at all. Myriads of recent studies now show that being overweight is actually healthier than being of average weight or especially underweight. Fat has also been linked to increased longevity, amongst other health benefits.

    And have you ever read Lester R. Brown’s Who Will Feed China? We’re already seeing food scarcity and rising prices on products like meat and dairy. With the increasing move to convert food products into ethanol and the rising industrialization of countries like Vietnam, China and India, food items will become even more pricier and scarce. Wide-spread famines are a very real possibility, and one that is potentially more imminent than we care to believe. In such a case, who will fare better? Fat people or thin people?

  131. 131 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Au contraire, Dave. It has everything to do with Dan’s column – or at least, with my analogy of the ex-gay movement to the views expressed within Dan’s column.

    what visitor meant by “institutionalized exclusion from fundamental rights” was that certain classes of people-particularly gays-face official exclusion from rights granted to others

    Cincinnati is one of the most conservative cities in the United States. And yet even we were able to pass a city charter prohibiting the discrimination of gays. Yet, only one state has an official law in the works that prohibits discrimination against fat people: Massachusetts. And that proposed law is facing widespread opposition by people who don’t think fat people ought to have equal protection under the law.

    While fat people may be able to marry, they are still denied equal access to education, adoption, housing, and can be fired or not hired based on no other criteria than their fatness.

    So, yes, fat people do face government-sanctioned discrimination. And unlike gay people, they have no laws protecting them from it.

  132. 132 On December 6th, 2007, Jae said:

    Incidentally, I am not so naive as to think that exercise will necessarily make someone who tends to be fat thin. Nor do I believe that all fat people are out of shape and all thin people are paragons of good health. There are plenty of fat people who are far more healthy than I am. Nevertheless, whereas some people are attracted to fat, healthy people, I am not. If I were, and that fat healthy person over time became thin, I would likely find myself less attracted to them. This is also a point at the crux of Dan’s argument, and its not clear to me what’s wrong with this.

    So, for arguments sake, lets suppose the wife in this case was one of those people who are tends towards being fat and that the reason she was thinner was because she starved, and dieted, and exercised like a jack rabbit on speed, because she believed this is what it would take to get someone to love her. Now she finds someone to love her, and they get married, and they live happily for a few years. She lets her guard down and eats like a normal person; she gains weight back to, what you concede, might just be her more natural body type. Now the husband who was supposed to love her, unconditionally mind you, finds now there is a condition…he loves her, but if she doesn’t get herself back to fuckable, he’s not going to be able to stay with her. Because attraction is more important than love to him. And that actually is wrong.

    I know it’s cliche and will surely be dismissed, but if you love someone and pledge to spend your life with them, you have to love them through the changes. I’m sure the husband who wrote this letter doesn’t look like his wedding picture anymore. Maybe his hair has thinned or he’s got a few wrinkles. Maybe he too has lost his youthful figure. And yet, as far as we know, she still loves him and he doesn’t disgust her. And even if he looks exactly the same as his wedding picture, he won’t forever. And it is no more right to make her love conditional on his keeping up his supple, unwrinkled, skin and thick, ungrayed hair than it is for him to make his conditional on her maintaining a size four. As Chris Rock said, when you love someone, you have to love the crust of that person, not just the middle part of the bread.

    Not everyone can do that, I get it, and that’s why we have relationship therapists and divorce. If you can’t love your partner, than you can walk away. But no one should expect applause for it. At the end of the day if this guy can’t love his wife unless she exists on a diet of brown rice, lettuce, and 3oz portions of boiled chicken and spends three and a half hours a day in the gym, than he should leave because she deserves better than to live with a man who is disgusted by her, and who will eventually grown to resent her (if he doesn’t already). He can go out and find himself a thinner woman, and when she gets too old or too fat or too whatever, he can dump her and find someone else, and keep finding new someone else’s until he’s old and gray and the doctor won’t prescribe him anymore Viagra. I would not begrudge him that life, and in fact, I would wish him well in it.

    But you can’t make those choices and pretend it’s love. It’s selfishness. When your desires come first, always, even at the expense of someone else, there is no other word for it. And it’s okay, really it is. It’s okay to be that way. But you have to call it for what it is and be upfront about it, and the reason that no one wants to do that is because it means they aren’t as good a person as they thought they were, because we know love is supposed to be about more than who looks best in a thong. So instead we blame others and tell them that as they are, they are not good enough to be loved. And that is wrong.

  133. 133 On December 6th, 2007, Fatadelic said:

    I have never seen “genetic” fat people remain fat through a famine. Why is that?

    Because noone gets enough to eat in a famine, and if you starve, you lose weight. However each time you go through a period of starvation or near starvation it will make you more pre-disposed to store fat reserves in the future.

    That’s what our (fat) bodies excel at: surviving famine when thinner people would not.

    It’s called adaption and evolution. An it’s why 95% of people who lose weight put it – and more – back on: our bodies fight to prepare for another famine in the future.

    To mix my metaphors somewhat, fat people have evolved to be fuel-efficient, not gas-guzzling.

  134. 134 On December 6th, 2007, MBI said:

    Pleasing the husband may not be all a marriage is about, but it’s certainly part of it. Those who claim a marriage shouldn’t be based on looks or physical attraction would sing a different tune if they were involved in a marriage where the other member stopped doing things that would make them attractive (such as bathing). It is clear in the article that this is not a woman who is just naturally fat, but a woman has chosen to let herself go, and has made no effort to remain attractive. These are important things, no matter how much you want to vilify this poor man for thinking them.

  135. 135 On December 6th, 2007, HeddyBee said:

    Grr, argh. “let herself go”? I am so glad I have a partner to whom I have not ceded control over my physical appearance or any other facet of my being. If you get 10 years into a relationship and weight gain is enough to alienate your partner’s affections, then your relationship has been a scam based on contingencies. “I’ll love you, but only if you (insert control mechanism).” Ick.

  136. 136 On December 6th, 2007, JoGeek said:

    What in God’s name does your anorexia have to do with any damn thing?

    How about the fact that the one thing most (if not all) anorexics have in common is that they started out dieting before they progressed to an eating disorder?

    How about the fact that over a third of “normal dieters” progress to unhealthy pathological diet behavior, and a quarter of them progress to full blown eating disorders?

    How about the fact that 95% or more of all diets fail in the first five years (including WLS!), and dieters normally end up about 10% heavier than their starting point?

    How about the fact that Savage would still, despite all this and the recent study that shows not only that fitness, not fat, is the true health risk, but that fat is not an indicator of someone’s fitness or health (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16890505)
    despite all this, he would still say that it’s all right to pressure someone to diet and risk their health simply to accomodate a spouse who isn’t willing to love his partner as she is.

    There are many studies, facts, research articles, etc. posted in this thread if you bother to read through them, that prove fat is not a choice made, but a fact of nature. One can move from one end of their weight set range to another, but if the bottom rung of that range is still fat, it is not a choice. Fat or disordered eating and malnutrition is not a choice. Remove that biased thinking, and it would be no different from him demanding that she get a face lift to please him.

    There is no way to know if Savage did his research into the situation to know exactly what’s going on. Even if he did, I doubt he has the qualifications as a doctor or psychologist to really offer the kind of advice he did. There is no way to know if the woman is suffering from depression that caused her to be above her set range, and would or wouldn’t settle back into it if given the time. There is no way to know if the fat person eating a donut in front of you eats entirely macrobiotic every other day of the year and jogs five miles a day. Since there is no way to tell, any judgements you make upon that person is stereotyping, pure and simple.

  137. 137 On December 6th, 2007, Dave said:

    Okay Rachel. That is a substantially more complicated discussion, and one for which I haven’t time at the moment. I’m still not certain that the evidence you’ve produced amounts to government sanctioned discrimination, but again, that’s another potentially lengthy debate. Of course, non-discrimination legislation tends to protect people who fall into a certain classification because they possess particular immutable characteristics, like skin color. Its questionable whether weight or sexual orientation meet that criterion. But before anyone gets even more angry with me than they already are, it turns out that at least with respect to sexual orientation, I’m leaning toward genetic disposition. Unfortunately there is still no undisputable scientific evidence supporting that position. If there were, gay people would have an easier time achieving legal equality in our society.

    In any case, thank you Rachel for providing this forum. This discussion has been interesting and informative, in no small part to the skill with which you have moderated it.

  138. 138 On December 6th, 2007, Anonymous said:

    “I am still trying to get what being “naturally” fat means? I mean, exactly what “natural” purpose is served by being extremely overweight? And if it is a biological abnormality, shouldn’t one focus on seeking a remedy?”

    What is the natural purpose of having blue eyes instead of brown ones? Or red hair instead of blonde hair? Or being short instead of tall?

    There is none. There’s a little concept in biology called ‘variation,’ you might want to look that up. If physical attributes such as skin color and height varies per person or race, why can’t weight/general body composition?

    And biological abnormality? Hello, eugenics.

  139. 139 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    These are important things, no matter how much you want to vilify this poor man for thinking them.

    The poor man who wrote to Dan Savage looking for an excuse to cheat on his wife? That guy?

    And if my husband stopped bathing, to use your example, my first thought would not be, “Ew, I don’t want to sleep with him any more.” Rather, I would be seriously concerned about his mental and physical health, because a major change like that could mean depression, or a stroke, or some other serious problem. One of the nice things about being in a marriage is (or should be) having someone to look out for you, not someone who views you as a sex appliance.

  140. 140 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Thanks for your input Dave. I really do welcome debate, as long as its done in a civil and polite manner, a rule you’ve respected.

  141. 141 On December 6th, 2007, Meowser said:

    And if my husband stopped bathing, to use your example, my first thought would not be, “Ew, I don’t want to sleep with him any more.” Rather, I would be seriously concerned about his mental and physical health, because a major change like that could mean depression, or a stroke, or some other serious problem. One of the nice things about being in a marriage is (or should be) having someone to look out for you, not someone who views you as a sex appliance.

    Thank you, Sniper. The “ew, I don’t want to sleep with him/her anymore” response should be reserved for serial monogamist types who know they’re incredibly shallow and mutually expect to be unceremoniously dumped for ceasing to be arm candy. Even if HARD’s wife does have a binge-eating disorder, which really is not at all clear from the information given, is the proper response really, “How dare she”?

  142. 142 On December 6th, 2007, Joel said:

    Hello folks.

    It’s seems pretty clear that most of the people posting on this subject have not read the original post by Dan Savage – just the extract at the top of this page or the other column about it on this site. And frankly neither of them does justice to the original.

    Dan’s original post can be found here:
    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=442309

    And further letters/justification appears here:
    http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/SavageLove?oid=454823

    Feel free to disagree with them all you want, but at least check out the original context before you do so. Because many of these comments are way off-base.

    For example, Dan also says that losing lots of weight when your partner likes you large is an equally distressing thing. Does that sound sizeist? What he objects to is the bait-and-switch, when your partner changes their habits/size/desires once they’re safely married.

    Joel

  143. 143 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    It should be noted that the above links are all referenced in my posts on the subject.

    Right, because women who gain weight after they get married do so deviously. Aha, I’ve officially landed him and he’s legally obligated to me, now I can go and gain all the weight I want! Muhahahaha.

    The point you don’t seem to get Joel is that you should not be beholden to a certain person to look a certain way all the time, regardless if you’re married to them. While you may expect your spouse to maintain good health if possible, you have no right to expect them to remain or become either thin or fat.

  144. 144 On December 6th, 2007, Meowser said:

    I have never seen “genetic” fat people remain fat through a famine. Why is that?

    Oh, the “concentration camp” trope, i.e. “nobody remains fat during a famine, or in a concentration camp.” I was wondering when someone was going to pull that one out.

    Here it is. If a person receives no nourishment of any kind for weeks and months at a time — either because they have nothing to eat or keep throwing up everything they do eat and drink because of a septic condition — they will, in fact, start to decompose. Their muscles will atrophy, their internal organs will break down, and under these circumstances, recalcitrant fat is indeed burned. Hallefrickinlujah. That does not mean that that same person, when in a fully nourished state, can get and stay thin. It also does not mean someone who loses weight this way won’t suffer terrible sequelae to their health. My father-in-law died after losing 100 pounds in a septic state over a period of six months. Was he in great health when he was fat? No. But he had his frigging liver function.

  145. 145 On December 6th, 2007, Jae said:

    For example, Dan also says that losing lots of weight when your partner likes you large is an equally distressing thing. Does that sound sizeist?

    Yup. As Rachel says, and as I said explicitly in my previous comment, when you expect your spouse to maintain a certain aesthetic standard, that is not a sign of love, and your partner’s failure to live up to you physical expectations is not a betrayal.

  146. 146 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    Does that sound sizeist?

    Hell, yes.

    I read the original letter and Savage’s advice, thanks. My view is that Dan Savage is a sideshow. He can be funny, sure, but he’s not someone to go to for serious relationship advice. If you want to find an all-night sex toy emporium in a strange town, or ask about the latest sexual urban legend, he’s your man, but that’s the extent of it.

  147. 147 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Just a note here for future posters. I’ve been incredibly lenient in allowing posts that make assumptions and contain ugly remarks to be posted here for the sake of debate (and quite frankly, some of them are amusing in their vapidity). But, it’s getting old and is taking up way too much of my time.

    So, for future reference, any posts that contain the following will automatically marked as spam and deleted:

    1. “I lost weight and you can, too!” success stories;
    2. Comments that contain the phrase “let herself go” or similar terminology;
    3. Comments that purport all fatness is caused by physical inactivity and gluttony;
    4. Comments claiming fat people to be ugly or not deserving of civil rights;
    5. Stories of “But I know this fat person who totally stuffed their face with donuts and twinkies…”

    So, heed the advice above and post accordingly. If you don’t like the rules, get your own blog and go hog-wild.

  148. 148 On December 6th, 2007, Mustella said:

    “The responses here cracked me up. Dan’s response was targeted at a man whose wife had simply let herself go, not a man whose wife had some sort of a clinical disorder”

    Actually, since the husband also complained about the wife’s “gnarly gas” , bad skin, and depression, I’d happily lay fifty bucks on it being some sort of clinical disorder. The fact that Dan addressed his response as if she had just let herself go is just part of Dan’s knee-jerk fat hating shortcomings. He did the exact same shit to a woman who wrote in with undiagnosed PCOS, and basically told her to just work out more- completly ignoring the other symtoms she mentioned, since, after all, the ony one that mattered is that she was FATOMG! It took his readers to set him straight on that one- but he couldn’t be bothered to do some basic health research to discover that weight gain+ excessive hair growth+ amennohrrea+ no libido = something more serious than just eating too many twinkies. It would have gotten in the way of some facile chubby-mocking, and he’s not one to pass that up!

  149. 149 On December 6th, 2007, Rick said:

    “I know it’s cliche and will surely be dismissed, but if you love someone and pledge to spend your life with them, you have to love them through the changes.”

    This is such laughable bullshit. Essentially, it comes down to this: men are expected to make the effort to suffer a lousy or non-existent sex life in their marriages, but women are not expected to make an even minimal effort to stay moderately in shape. A similar double-standard can be found who women who scoff at the notion that they should make an effort to enjoy sex with their husbands, even when the woman’s sex drive fades. Because if you are a feminist, marriage is essentially all about what the wife wants or doesn’t want, the husband be damned, because women are victims, see?

    And there is a literally huge difference between being a little bit overweight, and being 50 to a 100 pounds overweight, or more, and there is more than enough evidence that relates the latter to any number of life-shortening illnesses.

  150. 150 On December 6th, 2007, Game Dame said:

    I go back to my last comment about the marriage ceremony somehow including a vow to never change. I wonder if the person who wrote about “the bait and switch” has ever been in a relationship that lasted longer than 5 years, much less a marriage. People DO CHANGE over time — even if we don’t talk about physicality and aging. People mature, grow up, have kids, regress, have mid-life crises, lose jobs, lose parents, and all kinds of other things that may or may not cause them to change in major ways. To think otherwise is naive. There is no “bait and switch” unless you have some kind of miracle machine in which you can freeze your spouse’s mind, emotions, psychology, experience, body, and age. I hope this point has been beaten to death because I’m pretty tired of reading about people who don’t have a clue about what it’s like to be in a mature relationship.

  151. 151 On December 6th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Because if you are a feminist, marriage is essentially all about what the wife wants or doesn’t want, the husband be damned, because women are victims, see?

    No, rather feminism is the radical notion that women are equals. Gee, it really sucks when women demand to be treated as more than uterus’ with a head, huh.

    And, go ahead, Rick. Put your money where your mouth is and cite some studies that show the so-called life shortening illnesses allegedly caused by fatness. Scratch the surface on any number of them and I bet you find them to be financially backed by Big Pharma or the diet industry.

  152. 152 On December 6th, 2007, Sniper said:

    Is Rick under the impression that the commenters with male partners expect them to remain unchanged?How absurd. How foolish. How utterly self-centered.

    You might want to sit down for this but… men change. They wrinkle. They gain weight and lose muscle tone. They lose sexual function. They suffer health problems and require special care.

    And we still love them. Go figure!

  153. 153 On December 6th, 2007, Bennie said:

    Ok, people are pretty complex and its hard to draw a hard line between “can not” and “choose not to”. If its a rare woman who is able to find a way to change her physique, it must be at least as rare for a man to through willpower/empathy change his sexual preference for a fit woman. So in the stereotypical case in point where the woman in a relationship can/will not get in shape and the man can/will not be attracted to an out-of-shape woman, it seems that there really are only four options, all of them bad:
    1) End the relationship
    2) Stay in the relationship and have no satisfying sex life
    3) Come to some sort of ‘arrangement’ for outside sexual contact
    4) Have discreet affairs

    This is reality, folks. Blasting the woman as lazy or the man as shallow doesn’t really help.

  154. 154 On December 6th, 2007, attrice said:

    Gawd, you sure have some winners here today, Rachel.

    As a big fattie fat lesbian, allow me to say that I think the fat/ex-gay comparison is quite appropriate. I had to think about it a bit, but, like fatness, I think being gay is more than just the work of a gene and definitely not simply a choice that one can easily turn away from…just like being fat. Complexity. It’s a beautiful thing.

    As for those saying that of course there is a difference between someone who gains weight due to ‘legitimate’ reasons and someone who just “lets herself go”….oh please. Fat is fat and if some douchehound can’t find it in himself to look at his wife in a slightly different body and find all the things he loved about her before, then it’s not going to magically happen just because she gets a diagnosis and becomes an acceptable fatty. The most someone like that might do is try not to be too obvious about his digust.

    And you know, I’m not trying to downplay the descrimination against GLBT people, but there has never ever been a single moment in my life where if offered the choice to either be thin or be straight that I would have chosen the latter.

  155. 155 On December 6th, 2007, Malcolm said:

    You know, as a strongly queer-allied, trans person with a history of partnering with intelligent folks, regardless of size or sexuality, the I have to say that in general I’ve found the comments here carried out by those who apparently Dan Savage’s supporters disgusting and disgraceful to the extreme. People, THINK and LISTEN to what many of the reasoned folks here have been saying to you.

    Anecdotal evidence really doesn’t get this conversation about fat, health, desireability and self-will very far at all. Aside from statistics there are ethics, and I don’t find it at all ethical for you to come over here and throw down about how unhealthy all the fatties are and how self-change (presuming it’s even possible – and the statistics bias strongly against) is the only moral choice.

    Can you think critically about how problematic it is to argue along the very same lines that have been used against queers for decades? You do realize that there are folks in the world (arguably both your enemies and ours) who believe the same stupid crap about queers, right?

    Let’s stop attacking each other and go fight against the REAL bad guys (those who would revoke our liberty for ANY reason).

  156. 156 On December 7th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    Nevertheless, whereas some people are attracted to fat, healthy people, I am not.

    I think this is your entire point, really.

    Sniper, you nailed it right there. So many of these arguments ultimately come down to, “But I’m not attracted to fat people!” Gee, no shit. And your point is?

    If you’re not attracted to fat people, here’s a tip: DON’T SLEEP WITH THEM. Other than that, your lack of attraction to them has diddly to do with squat. There are a zillion characteristics I’m not attracted to (that’s right! fat chicks have standards!), but that doesn’t mean I hate people with those characteristics, or feel repulsed every time I see them, or feel entitled to insist that strangers change to be more aesthetically pleasing to me. It just means I DON’T SLEEP WITH PEOPLE WHO HAVE THOSE CHARACTERISTICS. Problem solved! What the hell is so confusing about that concept?

    And that goes for the guy who originally wrote to Savage, too. You’re not attracted to your wife anymore? Sucks, but it happens. The thing is, it doesn’t give you a right to demand that she fix herself — or to blame her for your wanting to bang other people. If my boyfriend grew a mustache, I’d be grossed out, and I’d probably tell him so, but it’s his damn body, and if he really wants a mustache, my choices are to get over it or leave him and find someone clean-shaven. Same deal if your partner gains some weight, and you find you’re not attracted to them anymore. You can tell them how you feel, but if it just so happens that your feelings on the matter don’t change anything, then you need to get over it or get out. You don’t just get to stamp your feet and insist that they change.

    More importantly, as many others have pointed out, if my bf developed depression, bad skin, “gnarly gas,” AND gained a whole lot of weight in a short time, my first thought would be, “Damn, he needs a doctor,” not, “Damn, all these OBVIOUS SYMPTOMS OF A BIGGER PROBLEM are really harshing my libido.”

  157. 157 On December 7th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    someone said: I have never seen “genetic” fat people remain fat through a famine. Why is that?

    That’s a very pretty strawman.

    Did you really mean to imply that starvation is a more healthy/natural state than fatness?

  158. 158 On December 7th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    Bennie said:
    1) End the relationship
    2) Stay in the relationship and have no satisfying sex life
    3) Come to some sort of ‘arrangement’ for outside sexual contact
    4) Have discreet affairs

    Bennie, you forgot option 5: communicate about what is enjoyable about being with your partner and find ways to expand that enjoyment into a healthy, mutually enjoyable intimate experience.

    If a partner starts to smell funky because they love garlic, explore ways to sweeten the scent of the room and even try scented/flavored products for the body. A person might even find they’ve grown a fondness for the scent after awhile because it’s a part of the person they love.

    No matter what circumstances have changed a partner’s body, there are ways to explore that change together and decide over time how it affects the relationship. Sometimes, it will be a healthy opportunity for deeper intimacy. Sometimes, it will be a deal breaker because there’s no emotionally/physically healthy way to come to terms with it.

    The biggest problem with the guy who wrote the letter is that he isn’t even exploring options. He is taking his disgust with his partner at face value and smoking dope to avoid confronting his own biases. He asked Dan for an easy way out and Dan gave it to him by placing the locus of responsibility on the wife for “letting herself go” and telling him it’s ok to be disgusted and leave without first exploring all of the options. Honesty with self is every bit as important as honesty with a partner. Why is he disgusted? Is it really a natural preference or does he have biases about body fat that he doesn’t want to admit to himself, let alone to her?

    How important is the relationship to him? How much does he value his partner? How much does he want to be with the person he promised to share all the stages of his life with?

    Is he willing to find out if she’s developed a medical problem or depression? Is he willing to stand by her while she finds out if there are factors within her control? Is he willing to stay with her if the factors are beyond her control? Is he willing to explore his own biases, preferences, and possible bigotry and do something about them if something can be done?

    Unfortunately, people want simple solutions and the fast way out of an uncomfortable situation. The problem is that life doesn’t work like that. The hard solution isn’t always the best, nor is the easy solution. The solution that takes some thought, exploration, evaluation, re-evaluation, and more thought is usually the best. That takes too much time and processing in this culture of fast fixes and instant gratification.

    He should probably just leave her and allow her to find a partner who won’t be so unwilling to enjoy the process of sharing life and all that it entails.

  159. 159 On December 7th, 2007, Dark said:

    Ouch. If Dan were black, would you have made the analogy about how he can’t change his skin colour (or crack about how he could stand to act more white)?

    Poor taste. Just plain and simple poor taste.

    Regardless of how you feel about him right now, the ex-gay thing was an inappropriate jab. And by conflating being gay with being fat, you’re not helping your own case, but you are hurting theirs. As you yourself said, there is “some correlation” between your lifestyle and your weight for at least some people. Point? Some people do cause themselves to become fat. No one causes themselves to become gay.

    Honestly, I am a lurker on The F-Word (and Shapely Prose, and Big Fat Deal, and other fat blogs), not a random fat-hating SL fanatic who wandered in (though I admit I have been reading and loving SL for years), but I was really quite shocked that you’d bite back at Dan by bringing his sexuality into the mix. I know you were trying to make a point, but it was a particularly vicious one. And personally, it offended me (as a straight fat chick) way more than anything Dan’s said.

    Editor’s Note:
    I find it ironic that you, a “straight white chick’ are offended by the analogy, and yet several self-identified queer and gay people on the board have commented that they totally *get* the analogy. The important question is not whether one “causes” themselves to become fat; it’s in how they’re treated once they are fat.

  160. 160 On December 7th, 2007, Bennie said:

    twilightriver wrote:

    Bennie, you forgot option 5:
    communicate about what is enjoyable about being with your partner and find ways to expand that enjoyment into a healthy, mutually enjoyable intimate experience.


    Why is he disgusted? Is it really a natural preference or does he have biases about body fat that he doesn’t want to admit to himself, let alone to her?


    Is he willing to explore his own biases, preferences, and possible bigotry and do something about them if something can be done?

    I’m sorry, but this really seems to be the flip side of the “she should just lose the weight” coin. Very few men will be able to legitimately change their sexual tastes whatever persuasians they use; probably they will just succeed in making themselves feel very guilty on top of not enjoying their sex lives.

    How important is the relationship to him? How much does he value his partner? How much does he want to be with the person he promised to share all the stages of his life with?

    I know you are right about this; I don’t think the man in this situation WANTS to end the relationship. But for many (most?) men sex is important enough that if it isn’t there it makes the situation unsustainable even if everything else is good.

  161. 161 On December 7th, 2007, Real said:

    I got to this blog from Dan’s site at The Stranger, and I just want to make something clear that I made on Dan’s blog, it is:
    Dan’s column this week, and the prank he pulled to set it up, WAS NOT about Dan’s perceived hatred of fat people or his personal beliefs about the control one has on their weight. Personally, I’m probably with most of the people here in terms of weight issues being very much a result of the genetic hand you were dealt. I think as the science comes in, hopefully people will understand these issues for what they really are.
    But the problem is that that WAS NOT what Dan’s column was about. It was about the issue of women who believe that it is okay to be brutally honest, to the point of condescension, when speaking to a man. It is about the double-standard that exists that these same things that our society accepts something to be said to a man does not accept the same said to a woman. Dan demonstrated this very well by utilising his female respondent’s own words about how to talk to a man about a problem HE has with HIS partner’s weight and then copying it into how a man should talk to a woman about a problem HE has with HER weight. See, all the supposedly mean, hateful, condescending, and brutal things he wrote before were things WOMEN thought were acceptable things to say to a MAN.
    So, while the people on this blog may decide that Dan holds the opinions he has because he is mean or arrogant or ignorant (I think it’s just ignorance), you ought to do so realising that Dan DID NOT set out to make his column about his opinions of overweight people. He simply presented his opinion, which he has a right to have, in the context of a column which was about something completely different, but which related to weight issues.
    SO, before you judge Dan as a bigot or a muckraker, bear in mind that this is an opinion that Dan has presented before, it is well-known, and was not the focus of this week’s column.
    Dan Savage isn’t perfect, and many times he has been VERY WRONG on things, but in the past few weeks he utilised a hot-button issue to expose a double-standard that regarding male/female issues that ought to be discussed, and did a damn good job of making his point.

  162. 162 On December 7th, 2007, Cherielabombe said:

    This is such laughable bullshit. Essentially, it comes down to this: men are expected to make the effort to suffer a lousy or non-existent sex life in their marriages, but women are not expected to make an even minimal effort to stay moderately in shape.

    A similar double-standard can be found who women who scoff at the notion that they should make an effort to enjoy sex with their husbands, even when the woman’s sex drive fades. Because if you are a feminist, marriage is essentially all about what the wife wants or doesn’t want, the husband be damned, because women are victims, see?

    And NOW we’re really getting to it, aren’t we Rick? It’s not so much about the fatties as it is those nasty feminists playing the victim and hurting the real victims (poor men.)

    Gee, I always thought relationships were partnerships, which meant WE BOTH had to do some work. if I found my attraction to him was waning I would talk to him about it and see what we could do but I certainly wouldn’t blame him for my lack of desire.

    Personally I think I would love my sweetie and find him attractive no matter what size he was or what his body looked like, but that’s because I fell in love with him as a PERSON, not just a body.

    And there is a literally huge difference between being a little bit overweight, and being 50 to a 100 pounds overweight, or more, and there is more than enough evidence that relates the latter to any number of life-shortening illnesses.

    Is there? Really? How do you know? Or does the difference really come down to “Girls who are a little bit chubby are still hot but those fat chicks just don’t do it for me.”

  163. 163 On December 7th, 2007, cggril said:

    Wow. Rachel, you are amazing to be so patient, restrained and intelligent in your responses to all the comments.

    I am just incredibly happy to see someone like you, who has overcome so much, setting a wonderful example for everyone. I’m sure many people reading this blog look up to you, admire you for seeing the beauty in yourself and freeing yourself from disordered thinking and behaviors.

    Of course this comment is really about your whole blog, not just this post, but it’s particularly impressive that you can maintain your composure even when ignorant people are just commenting like crazy and ignoring obvious and basic points of fact. Good for you!!

    You are a class act, woman.

  164. 164 On December 7th, 2007, Buffpuff said:

    “Like most men, if I felt my wife had some sort of a disorder that made her fat (or thin or unintelligent or disfigured, etc.), I wouldn’t hold her accountable for that. But if I felt she were deliberately doing something (or not doing something) within her reasonable control that made her less attractive to me, I would not be pleased about it.”

    So tell me, Michael, are you getting her the “wives should always be lovers too” tattoo for Christmas?

  165. 165 On December 7th, 2007, La di Da said:

    Littlem:

    It’s called High Fructose Corn Syrup. You may want to do a little research on the correlation between the time regulations permitting its inculcation into the majority of packaged food products and the so-called “obesity epidemic” coincided.

    I gotta point this out again. Australia has around the same official levels of “obesity” and “overweight” and all those things like heart disease and diabetes and cancer. Australia also has very rare use of HFCS in anything (it’s called glucose-fructose syrup here when found, and it’s only been used very recently). The vast majority of sugar used is regular cane sugar, followed by glucose syrup from wheat, then fructose from … fruit. Also, few hormones in meat, which is mostly free-range by default. The use of HFCS in North America and a rise in weight (and height) is a correlation, but comparison to a similar society such as Australia kind of throws out the causation idea.

  166. 166 On December 7th, 2007, wriggles said:

    ‘……shouldn’t one focus on seeking a remedy?”’

    ‘Who is the ‘one’ here, scientists? They’ve got the labs!

    But seriously this illustrates the (mostly)thankless task of attempting to communciate with people that do not recognise that a different point of view is possible.

    I also love the fact that people think that we are deluded, even though we are observing our own bodies the same as they are. They can perceive reality, their own and OURS, something I would like them to explain, how is your understanding of our bodies, superior to our own understanding of them? Are you sure that your conclusions about your own bodies are also delusional, I only have your word for it, can any of you be trusted more than us?

    Yes I’ve decided that you fat haters are all wrong, it makes me feel so much more powerful and right to dismiss you completely. At last, certainty is this seemingly ever changing world.

  167. 167 On December 7th, 2007, JoGeek said:

    Dave:

    As to your question about institutionalized discrimination against fat people, I’d point you to the following as a small sample:

    In the U.S., Only one state has “weight” in the official nondiscrimination policy, plus two cities in California. In every other state, employers can (and do) fire, not hire, deny insurance to and refuse promotion to fat employees.

    In New York, California, Iowa, Indiana, New Mexico, and Texas, a child can (and have been) removed from a home solely on the basis that they are overweight, even if the parents are following a doctor-reccomended diet and exercise plan for the child.

    http://www.geocities.com/laurie_avocado/Anamarie

    In central Florida, The CEO of one of the largest employers (Westgate) says that he will not hire (and will fire) all obese employees or those who become obese, as there is no law protecting them in Florida.

    A study of U.S. employers has shown that 16% admitted they wouldn’t hire an obese woman under any conditions, regardless of qualifications. Another 44% reported they would only hire them under certain circumstances.

    Despite evidence that sedentary living, rather than fat is responsible for health issues, it is common and legal for health insurance companies to deny coverage or charge additional fees solely based on a person’s weight.

    Outside the U.S.: a U.K. couple recently made headlines because they sought to emigrate to New Zealand only to find that New Zealand routinely denies visa entry of people above a set BMI, regardless of their health. Even though he was an ex-military rugby player in perfect health and had his own private insurance, he was not allowed to enter New Zealand for his new job as a submarine cable inspector:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?view=DETAILS&grid=&xml=/news/2007/11/17/wfat117.xml

    The U.K. government is pushing to deny in-vitro fertilization to women whose BMI puts them in the “obese” category, regardless of whether their health poses any risk to the mother or baby. As a contrast, they do NOT deny IVF for mothers who smoke or drink.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7092164.stm

    Several children in the UK have been removed from their homes solely based on their weight:

    http://junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/2007/09/more-fat-children-seized-by-government.html

    These are just a few examples. There are a few websites that will have more and this and other size acceptance blogs will often post new evidence. I’d also reccomend the book “Tipping the Scales of Justice” by Sandra Solovay.

  168. 168 On December 7th, 2007, Pastry Chef said:

    Hey folks-down in the follow-up to this column, Dan has this to say to the guy “Your wife—the weight gain, the hair growth, the moodiness, the drugs—may be clinically depressed or have some undiagnosed medical condition.” So he’s not dismissing the possibility, or pretending to be a doctor.
    As for the rest-yes, people’s bodies change. But a good part of the chemistry of attraction is appearence. Especially for guys. This person says “I love my wife, but I no longer find her attractive.” Then he asks how he should explore his options. Dan said first to see if it’s not a medical problem, then to talk to his wife, share his feelings and work something out.
    If your body is allowed to change, so is my response to it. If I get off on masses of chest hair and you shave it all off, I may no longer find you as sexy. Still lovable, but not as sexy. If you gain weight and I’m turned on by wafer-thin, I may not find you as sexy. I may find my eyes wandering when the wafer-thin person at the coffee shop flirts. I may faind the UPS person very enticing. Does this make me shallow and insensitive? Perhaps. But if fat is biology, then so is attraction. We no more understand the biopsychological basis for attraction than we do for fat. To deride someone for admitting that his attraction had faded is just as shallow. Sure, you marry a person, not a body-but the package is part of the person.
    And hey-Dan Savage writes a deliberately over the edge sex advice column. He’s not a doctor, he’s allowed to have his dislikes, and your disagreeing with him doesn’t make him a horrible person. Don’t put the guy on a pedestle just so you can knock it down-it’s neither effective nor pretty. As for the fat vs. gay discrimination question, so far I haven’t heard of anyone getting beaten to death because of their weight, or refused the simple leagle status of marriage.

  169. 169 On December 7th, 2007, Rio Iriri said:

    I’m totally loving the comments over there that basically say, “OMG NO FAIR THEY R DELETING OUR COMMENTS THAT TELL THEM THE TROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTH” when they’re basically trying to parrot the same stupid, uneducated bullshit that we hear a million of every day.

    And I love how, if you have a thyroid problem or PCOS, they will give you a “free pass” to be fat, but anyone else is just eating too much “chocolate cake”. I think you should add a note that says, “Any mention of chocolate cake, donuts, or other pastries will result in the immediate deletion of your comment.”

    Oh, and trolls? I’ve got my two free passes (I’d be happy to scan the photo of the enormous cyst they removed for you, and photograph my Levoxyl bottle), so don’t bother trolling my blog :P

  170. 170 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Haha, really? I stopped reading the comments there after the first few nauseated me.

    I thought I was being incredibly lenient, actually. This blog is like my personal space on the internet; would you let someone into your living room who tramped mud on the carpet and then proceeded to belittle and degrade you? I think not, and the fact that I let so many of them do that for more than 100 posts is more lenient than others would be.

    I posted an addendum above (in bold) specifically highlighting the things I would not allow. I can’t help if I took away all their talking points.

  171. 171 On December 7th, 2007, Aebhel said:

    Rick-

    (I just have to say that your name creeps me the fuck out because my fiance has the same name. Fortunately, unlike you, he’s not an asshole)

    I know this is a really big fucking stretch for you, but MARRIAGE IS NOT ABOUT THE HUSBAND’S SEX DRIVE. Srsly. Yes, sex is an important part of marriage. But people change. People age. People get pregnant and gain weight, people get older, go bald, get wrinkly, develop middle-age spread and beer bellies, get age spots, get sick. And don’t pull that ‘feminists are oppressing us POOR MEN’ crap, please. The real problem here is that middle-aged men think that they have a right to a partner that doesn’t age.

    And really, seriously, if someone you love goes through a massive, sudden bodily change for the worse, is ‘oh, well, I don’t want to fuck you anymore’ going to be the first thing you think? Seriously? Because I, personally, would be more concerned about their health than whether or not they’re attractive to me.

  172. 172 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Dan’s column this week, and the prank he pulled to set it up, WAS NOT about Dan’s perceived hatred of fat people or his personal beliefs about the control one has on their weight.

    I understand that. But, the prank is not what I am referring to. As I’ve highlighted in the post above, my concern is directed to the decidedly fat-hating comments Dan did make in regards to fat people and spousal weight-gain. Dan does, in fact, think weight to be a matter of choice, and his comments do reflect his personal beliefs on the matter.

  173. 173 On December 7th, 2007, J said:

    Sexual preferences, just like t3h fat, are not normally things that go on either extreme of Nature vs Nurture. There’s some varying degree of both in most cases (Both sides of science, biased or not, will agree that you don’t choose, nor does your genetics directly choose the exact number/preference for you necessarily: You’re given a propensity that can be strong or not unless you’re of the few where it is completely genetic) and that’s why these can be compared. Homosexuality is definitely more often than not highly genetic (If not completely genetic in some cases) in regards to N vs N (Which is why some Christian crazies are completely out of line), but if there’s no barring on living: How do people come out? As we grow, we don’t know about the things we like in a person, because nature only gives us certain guidelines that are subjectively defined, hence the variety of traits people can admire or detest.

    If being gay had no barring on how you live whatsoever, I don’t think anyone would be out. There has to be something that draws the trait out, whether it’s an event, a person, a group, et cetera: Very few gay people know they’re gay when they’re 10 years old (Some do now, and both cases are perfectly natural, but the same can be said for t3h fat, but that’s easily noticed especially in the society we are in).

    This goes back as far as when homosexuality was considered a psychological disorder, which brings me to another parallel: Even if fat people were chronic overeaters, you cannot expect change to come simply from lifestyle changes if there’s any psychological component. Think of Binge Eating Disorder: You aren’t going to help someone with that by putting them on the Atkins diet, but you might help them with that bout with psychological treatment.

    If you want be unethical with “CLEANSING”:
    One of the “Treatments” for homosexuality was electro-convulsive therapy. How about we just shock both groups until they see the things they naturally like (In the case of ‘duh fat, it’s obviously t3h food and lethargy as most dull normal believe) as bad? Wouldn’t that just help us all?

    All three traits listed are different obviously (And there’s no choice in race, although there’s still a variety of people within the groups), but we aren’t comparing on the level of what’s more this or that: They’re being compared on how social treatment goes, and how no amount of science and even moreso shaming can help. Speaking of which: Does anyone here that hates fat people/their own fat have any evidence supporting the notions that shaming a fat person causes substantial weight loss? OMG WHERE IS IT!?!??! GIMME GIMME!

    Obviously I don’t believe in the ending: Straight ally of LGBT, Size Acceptance Advocate (That is OMG thin, but was heavier: I got thinner because of puberty, as I’ve taken martial arts since I was 12), and racial equality fanatic of 20. Just accept everybody, and Malcolm brought up simply the best point ever: Trying to shame someone using your notions in attempt to change them is like trying to tell a bull to stop charging you because you’re a vegetarian.

  174. 174 On December 7th, 2007, Rick said:

    “Rick-

    (I just have to say that your name creeps me the fuck out because my fiance has the same name. Fortunately, unlike you, he’s not an asshole)

    I know this is a really big fucking stretch for you, but MARRIAGE IS NOT ABOUT THE HUSBAND’S SEX DRIVE”

    Yes it is, sweetheart. It is about the husband’s sex drive, and the wife’s sex drive. There are marriages in which the husband looses interest in sex — with anyone — while the wife’s doesn’t, and he just shrugs his shoulders and goes “so what?”. Needless to say, I have no respect at all for such men, and I also think that when the wife maintains self-discipline with regards to her diet and works out regularly, the same should be expected of the male spouse, and I don’t hold it against women who don’t want to be intimate with their now-blubbery husbands.

    And as for your fiance, pack on 75 pounds after the marriage and see how “pure” his love will be afterwards. Of course, then you can claim that ALL men are assholes.

  175. 175 On December 7th, 2007, sweet machine said:

    It is about the double-standard that exists that these same things that our society accepts something to be said to a man does not accept the same said to a woman.

    Wait, you mean our society thinks it’s acceptable to treat men and women differently?

    MY GOD, SOMEONE SHOULD START A POLITICAL MOVEMENT ABOUT THIS

  176. 176 On December 7th, 2007, Weebot said:

    I find it ironic that you, a “straight white chick’ are offended by the analogy, and yet several self-identified queer and gay people on the board have commented that they totally *get* the analogy.

    Are we really playing what is essentially a variation of the “I have a gay best friend” card?

    Regardless, I don’t think that editors’ comment negates Dark’s point, and that the ex-gay analogy is remarkably offensive to this self-identified queer.

  177. 177 On December 7th, 2007, Michael said:

    It’s interesting to read these responses. To expect your partner to not care that you aren’t interested in pleasing them seems ridiculous, even solipsistic. If you don’t care what your partner thinks, what do you talk about? To care about someone is to care what they think – even if you don’t agree with it. I’ve been with my wife for 20 years. I doubt if anything would make me stop loving her. But, as I said, if she lost interest in taking care of herself, that wouldn’t please me. However, I should probably note that she does many things on a regular basis that don’t please me. And I don’t think my situation is rare. To my mind, unconditional love doesn’t mean that you love everything your partner does (or doesn’t do). Whatever your wedding vows were, they probably included something on the order of, “And I promise to care about you and to try to please you.” If you’re not prepared to make reasonable sacrifices to keep your word, what does that say about you and your commitment to your partner?

  178. 178 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Weebot: What is is specifically that you find so offensive? I’m truly curious. While body weight is subject, to a degree, by one’s lifestyle and choices, I don’t think it is possible to permanently make a naturally fat person thin, just as it is rare to permanently turn a naturally thin person fat. Our weight, to a large degree, is genetically encoded and fighting what we are meant to weigh is often a futile battle. How exactly is equating this to the gay plight offensive?

  179. 179 On December 7th, 2007, Kate Harding said:

    Are we really playing what is essentially a variation of the “I have a gay best friend” card?

    Uh, no, that would be the “Some bona fide gay people have put it in writing right here, which suggests that, at the very least, different gay people can have different opinions on the same subject” card.

    It’s almost like oppressed groups aren’t monolithic hiveminds. Who’da thunk?

  180. 180 On December 7th, 2007, Dark said:

    ‘I find it ironic that you, a “straight white chick’ are offended by the analogy, and yet several self-identified queer and gay people on the board have commented that they totally *get* the analogy. The important question is not whether one “causes” themselves to become fat; it’s in how they’re treated once they are fat.’

    Straight fat; you assumed the white. And isn’t this the equivalent of saying “Well, all my black friends find it funny”? You obviously offended Dan with the analogy, which was your intent – did he just turn straight and I missed it?

    I fully agree that fat-discrimination is wrong and a huge problem in this country. However, this guy isn’t discriminating against his wife because she’s fat. He’s at his wit’s end because he still loves her, but she’s become a greasy slob – which goes well beyond her weight, and if he’d written in with all the other complaints but she hadn’t also gained weight, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. Weight gain was just part of the picture of a woman who has some sort of serious problem – medical, mental, or other I don’t know – which is killing their sex life and killing their marriage.

    If your husband is in a disfiguring accident, and you stick by him (like an exemplar human being), that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to still find him sexually attractive. It will probably take a long time to be able to “get over it,” if either of you can get over it at all. (And I’m only making this analogy because others have made the distinction between things that are “not your fault” and things that “are.”) Find ten serious, most-of-the-body burn victims and see how their sex lives are doing – I’m guessing not so hot for at least half (or at least not soon after recovery). It’s the same thing – whether or not the fat is her “fault,” her current body, weight and hair and bad skin and all, is putting her husband off. You’re just focusing on the weight because that’s the issue you deal with every day, but I promise you that it isn’t the problem. And as others have commented, Dan advised the guy to get his wife checked out before he said that partners have a duty to keep themselves minimally attractive for their spouses, a principle he’s been espousing for years. If a guy gets fed up shaving (maybe because he’s depressed, or gets ingrown hairs, or just doesn’t feel like it, or whatever other reason) and grows a massive funky beard, but he’s not taking very good care of it and it’s pretty unkempt and dirty and gross, I think it’s pretty reasonable that his wife wouldn’t want that beard anywhere near her. That’s the point you’re missing. You shouldn’t be obligated to find your spouse sexually attractive (I’m not even sure how you can *force* yourself to find anything attractive) if they become a total slob – and it’s clear from the pimples, the gnarly gas, and yes, the weight gain, just in this specific case, that this woman does not give a shit about her body.

    I think people who would dump or cheat on their partner simply over some natural, aging/stress-related weight gain are evil, but this woman sounds like she’s well beyond that point. It is important here what the underlying problem is – it’s the difference between having major halitosis because you have an infected tonsil or something and having gnarly bad breath because you simply gave up flossing and brush once a week – the former you should seek help for (and should stick by your spouse through), but the latter is indicative that you just really don’t give a shit about your body or your spouse’s feelings.

  181. 181 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Okay, I see the misquote. Somehow the mention of white in your lede stuck in my mind when I replied.

    The issue of the man who finds his fat wife unattractive is really irrelevant to the ex-gay analogy, though. My comments were in direct response to those of Dan’s whom I quoted in the original post. It had nothing to do with HARD or with what Dan advised HARD in the original column, nor in what Dan revealed his true response to HARD to be.

    The simple fact is: Dan believes fatness is a “choice” and he believes that lifestyle changes will “fix” that “choice.” The ex-gay movement also sees gayness as a “choice” and thinks lifestyle changes will also “fix” that “choice.”

    I see fatness as something largely determined by one’s genetics, and I don’t see body weight as an all-consuming “choice.” I also don’t think gayness is a “choice,” and since I do believe one’s sexual identification to be genetically encoded, I don’t see how lifestyle changes will also “fix” that choice.

    So, given the clarification, how again are the two mutually exclusive?

  182. 182 On December 7th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    in response to my long comment about questions the husband should work with: “I know you are right about this; I don’t think the man in this situation WANTS to end the relationship. But for many (most?) men sex is important enough that if it isn’t there it makes the situation unsustainable even if everything else is good.”

    The questions I suggest he ask himself, should get him to the root of figuring out why the sex isn’t there and whether it’s something he wants to learn to accept or if it’s something he can’t accept in a partner.

    Sex doesn’t have to end because a partner got fat. Both partners can learn to work with and enjoy that change in the body just as they learn to enjoy baldness, hairyness, wrinkles, and other changes in both partners’ bodies.

    Fat is not always a disgusting deal breaker for sex. It can be soft, sensual, interesting, playful. If the disgust is coming from social biases about believing fat is deadly, disgusting, and the direct result of personal choices regardless of other factors, then a bit of education and exploration can get them both into a healthy place of exploring sexual options and even options that lead to her body reverting to it’s natural setpoint if she has somehow eaten herself fat. Being brutally honest with her without knowing why he feels that way or whether it’s something he can work with or not, is just cruel and won’t help either them explore their options. I’m assuming he wants a partnership, so I advise against being brutally honest without his partner before he’s been brutally honest with himself.

    Without knowing her side of the story, it’s best to stick with his and his is that he needs to ask himself some hard questions, unless he wants to keep avoiding uncomfortable topics of discussion by smoking pot until someone tells him that it’s ok to hurt someone he cares about with blame and demanding he get his own way about a thing without first finding out if his own way is mutually healthy both physically and emotionally. If he keeps avoiding his issues, he’ll keep burning through relationships as he finds reasons to blame his partners for not keeping him sexually aroused. I assumed he wrote in for advice because he didn’t want to do that.

    Sexuality isn’t a matter of concrete preferences. It’s is a complex system of a few specific concrete preferences mixed up with a ton of flexible preferences, biases, misconceptions, lack of information, and education. When a person has committed to what they believe to be a life-long relationship, it behooves that person to spend some time asking the hard questions that will clarify which preferences are concrete an which are flexible before bailing just because bailing is more simple than asking hard questions and trying new things.

    If he does want to stay and explore sex with a larger body to find out if he can like it, there are all kinds of fun ways he can do that, but first, he needs to ask the hard questions or he’ll do them both some harm with his ignorance and biases.

    That’s all just his side of it because he’s the one who wrote in. Knowing both sides of the story would allow for more specific discussion of things she may need to consider and how they can both work together on the issue. I’m not in a position to do that, so I didn’t include it in my comment. It’s probably best if they work on it together with someone who is in a position to help them explore their options, like a sex therapist or a marriage counselor. Barring that, they are stuck with asking the hard questions and not being cruel to themselves or each other in the process.

  183. 183 On December 7th, 2007, Sniper said:

    The bottom line is that Dan Savage doesn’t like fat people and finds them unattractive. He’s entitled to his opinion, but making his biases known so clearly in his advice column is unprofessional.

  184. 184 On December 7th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    Dark said:
    “Find ten serious, most-of-the-body burn victims and see how their sex lives are doing – I’m guessing not so hot for at least half (or at least not soon after recovery).”

    By the time a burn victim has recovered, both partners will have had time to adjust to the fact that they will be coping physical disfiguration for the rest of their lives and will probably be into figuring out how to work around nerve damage to share physical pleasure. Sex and attraction are not as simple as what turns someone on visually and what feels good in the moment.

    Dark said: “partners have a duty to keep themselves minimally attractive for their spouses, a principle he’s been espousing for years.”

    Partners have a duty to take proper care of themselves for their own health. Their partner’s arousal is a happy side effect of that. When medical and mental issues arise that get in the way of both of those things, partners work together to deal with those issues.

    “That’s the point you’re missing. You shouldn’t be obligated to find your spouse sexually attractive (I’m not even sure how you can *force* yourself to find anything attractive) if they become a total slob”

    You don’t FORCE yourself to find new things attractive. You explore whether you can grow a fondness for something or work together with your partner to find mutually healthy ways to solve the problem. Why do so many people talk about partnership like it’s a list of obligations each person should be living up to instead of discussing ways people can explore their own issues and find ways to explore options together in order to find solutions for issues that affect both of them?

    “it’s the difference between having major halitosis because you have an infected tonsil or something and having gnarly bad breath because you simply gave up flossing and brush once a week – the former you should seek help for (and should stick by your spouse through), but the latter is indicative that you just really don’t give a shit about your body or your spouse’s feelings.”

    It could be indicative of gum disease that needs to be treated because it’s made brushing too painful. It could be indicative of depression. It could be indicative of many things that have nothing to do with not caring about a partner’s feelings. It’s easier to explore the possibilities when people are willing to admit that the things they are taking personally, may not be directed at them personally, but may be indicative of deeper issues that their partner need help with.

    Perhaps, “Honey, I’ve noticed that you are not as conscientious about your habits as you used to be. Could we discuss why that might and what we could do about it? I’d really like to help if there’s a problem. I admit that the results have been distressing to me, so it would really help me too, if we can talk about this,” would be a much more effective form of honesty than, “You are grossing me out with your weight gain and poor hygeine, so what are we going to do about it before I take up offers from more attractive prospects and bail on you because you aren’t taking care of yourself.”

    Just a thought.

  185. 185 On December 7th, 2007, kitana said:

    “The simple fact is: Dan believes fatness is a “choice” and he believes that lifestyle changes will “fix” that “choice.” The ex-gay movement also sees gayness as a “choice” and thinks lifestyle changes will also “fix” that “choice.””

    Here is what I find the analogy not working. If I want to gain weight I can buy weight gainer or eat a lot more hence lifestyle changes (for big people they can go through other measures (however extreme) to make themselves thinner). However gays (and almost most ex-gays) cannot change their DESIRES to be with the same sex by marrying the opposite sex or abstaining from sex.

  186. 186 On December 7th, 2007, Meowser said:

    And I love how, if you have a thyroid problem or PCOS, they will give you a “free pass” to be fat, but anyone else is just eating too much “chocolate cake”.

    If they actually consider “a thyroid problem or PCOS” to be anything more than an “just an excuse to eat chocolate cake,” they’re doing relatively well for a troll.

  187. 187 On December 7th, 2007, Alphonse said:

    Dan is not a health or body issues expert. He writes a sex/relationship column, not a fat acceptance column, and it seems like you’re damning him for that. He answered a question from one guy, and instead of turning it into a societal, political issue about body issues in America today, he treated it like a particular, personal issue. He said that if the man’s wife gained weight by overeating and not exercising (which is a possible way to gain weight, beileve it or not) he needs to bring it up with her, because the two of them owe it to each other to make reasonable efforts to keep themselves attractive to each other.

    No, he didn’t turn the question into an opportunity to deconstruct the myths about body size and our warped cultural standards of acceptable proportions, but I don’t see why he needed to.

    Most of the anti-Dan comments on this page chastise him for not recognizing that women can be naturally big, and that no healthy diet or exercise can change their bodies into a size 2. But that just doesn’t apply. The story here is about a woman who went from thin to very large. Is it possible that she kept herself thin by developing an eating disorder or by some other unhealthy means, and that now she’s grown into her natural, healthy size? Maybe, but we’re taking the letter-writer’s word, because that’s the only choice you have in the advice business. Most of the time, you’re answering hypothetical questions because of the letter-writer’s possible bias. And his advice in that situation was good.

  188. 188 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    I’m not sure if people are being obtuse or are willfully misreading the original blog post at top of the page. It seems as if many people are ignoring the post, skimming through the comments, and then firing off their own opinion based on comments from Dan’s site.

    Let me reiterate this: Dan’s advice to HARD, both the fake advice and the real advice he gave him, is entirely irrelevant here.

    So, please. Stop beating a dead horse. And really, no one cares who you do or do not feel sexually attracted to. Your personal sexual desires are also irrelevant to the topic at-hand.

    What I commented on and what Dan picked up on, rather, are comments Dan made in a reply to one of the letter writers, which I have spotlighted in the post above. According to Dan, fatness is a “choice” one does to themselves – from sitting on the couch eating Twinkies to be specific – and therefore fat people are deserving of poor treatment and have no right to expect equitable treatment.

    There are also those who view gayness as a “choice” that someone can just “fix” with a lifestyle change. I, and many other people here, do not believe fatness is entirely within our control, hence the analogy made.

    But let’s say fatness is a matter of “choice” and people do “eat themselves into unattractiveness.” It makes fat people NO LESS DESERVING of the same civil rights that gay people are fighting for. One’s religion, too, is a matter of “choice” and yet one is protected from religious discrimination by constitutional law. Fat people and gay people are both marginalized groups, and making distinctions in what groups “deserve” civil rights more than the next group is counterproductive and undermines the rights of ALL groups.

  189. 189 On December 7th, 2007, wriggles said:

    The point is that the man in question said that his wife has always been there for him supporting him so that he could achieve his dreams. This is presumably where she let herself go, so instead of telling her that it’s time they focused on her and what she may want and need (over and above his happiness of course) he moans that he can’t get a hard on and because of his ‘distress’ has turned to smoking copious amounts of marijuana, something that would certainly lessen the attractiveness of anyone.

    The point for me is that people used fatness to continue the selfishness that can sometimes facilitate it, it’s very difficult to disturb the status quo especially if your winning, male or female, so here’s this tempting blame locus. I think this is unfair to both parties.

  190. 190 On December 7th, 2007, Alphonse said:

    But that’s where the analogy fails. You’re turning Savage’s advice (or his particular comment) into a civil rights issue, but both his advice and his subsequent comment were about a romantic relationship. I’m with you that fat people shouldn’t be discriminated against, and people who make idiotic claims like fat people should pay more for insurance, shouldn’t be covered by medicare or any proposed universal health care are hateful idiots.

    And I agree with you and the people who read your blog when you say that you do not believe fatness is ENTIRELY within your control, or that fatness is a simple, fixable lifestyle choice. But gayness is COMPLETELY out of my control. And, despite it being a crude and short-sighted argument, sitting on the couch eating twinkies will actually make a person fatter. But not even the longest Project Runway marathon in the world could turn a straight person gay (and no amount of football and hardee’s commercials can turn me straight.)

    Anyway, I think I agree with you most of the time. I’m only making such an effort to explain myself ’cause I got Savage’s back. He’s done a good job of making me feel more normal, and I think if you get past his confrontational style, you’d find out that he’s not trying to deny you your civil rights. He just thinks it’s fair game for a person to try to stay in shape, so long as they’re not draconian about it.

  191. 191 On December 7th, 2007, Raye said:

    What was Dan Savage supposed to say? The man isn’t attracted to his wife anymore! No amount of fat activist nonsense is going to make him feel attracted to a fat wife. He can either try to convince her to lose weight, without sex, cheat on her, or divorce her.

    Trying to get her to lose weight sounds like the happiest option.

  192. 192 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Alphonse – I was a loyal Savage Love reader before this and even with this debacle probably would have continued reading Dan’s columns. Several years ago, conservative groups in Cincinnati mobilized against an alternative weekly newspaper who printed Dan’s column. They forced large-chain grocery stores to discontinue carrying the weekly until the weekly was forced to remove Savage Love altogether, and relegate it to online only. I vocally supported Savage Love and the weekly then and wrote letters of protest in support of them both. This is, in fact, the first issue I’ve ever disagreed with Dan on throughout the entire time I’ve read his column.

    But the way he has addressed my site on his blog and his persistent use of stereotyping fat people is really making it difficult to remain so. And even if fatness is a “choice,” are fat people no less deserving of civil rights because they can “choose” to undergo procedures like bariatric surgery, which still carries a high risk of physical danger or even death? What kind of choice is that?

  193. 193 On December 7th, 2007, Alphonse said:

    That’s cool, it sounds like we probably have a lot in common, except for some details about this post. Let’s get to it. You said:

    “But the way he has addressed my site on his blog and his persistent use of stereotyping fat people is really making it difficult to remain so. And even if fatness is a “choice,” are fat people no less deserving of civil rights because they can “choose” to undergo procedures like bariatric surgery, which still carries a high risk of physical danger or even death? What kind of choice is that?”

    You’re coming back to that again, and I don’t think I understand. I don’t think fat people are less deserving of civil rights, regardless of how much choice they have in their fatness. I’m not trying to give you a different impression than that, and from my reading of Savage Love, I don’t think Dan would disagree with that either. I think it’s safe to say that the answer to your question is no, and I don’t understand why you think I or Dan are saying something different.

    I also don’t think his twinky comment had anything to do with civil rights. To recap: someone wrote him a letter and said it’s wrong to say that HARD’s wife should have to make any changes because what if instead of getting fat, she got breast cancer and had a mastectomy? After all, that would be a dramatic change to her appearance, just like getting fat. Dan responded by saying that’s different because she presumably had some choice in getting fat (sitting on couch, eating twinkies,) whereas a woman who gets breast cancer and needs a mastectomy has no choice (other than death by cancer.) He was being specific to HARD’s letter. Dan said that his wife (not all fat women) is fat because of her choices. And according to HARD’s letter (which is all we have to go on) he’s right. That’s why I don’t think he made a political statement and blamed fat people for being fat, because he was referring to this specific example.

  194. 194 On December 7th, 2007, Meowser said:

    And I agree with you and the people who read your blog when you say that you do not believe fatness is ENTIRELY within your control, or that fatness is a simple, fixable lifestyle choice. But gayness is COMPLETELY out of my control.

    But coming out of the closet IS a “choice.” And it’s one I completely support. I also support people’s right not to have children, not to get married, not to believe in God or to follow a “minority” religion. All “choices,” too, but as it would make a person’s life a living hell to “choose” otherwise if it completely goes against their grain, how much of a “choice” is it really? Yeah, I suppose I could “choose” to make getting and staying thin my life’s work, if that’s what it takes to make it happen. But should I be required to do that in order to be treated like a decent human being? NO.

  195. 195 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    You see, this is where we differ. I think Dan’s comments here were more generalized beyond HARD’s wife. And nowhere did HARD even mention his wife sat on the couch and ate Twinkies. Even Dan admitted to HARD in his revealed advice that it sounded like something pathological was at-play with HARD’s wife.

    I understand what you’re saying, and I think we’re in agreement here on the primary issue. The second part of my comment was directed at your remark that, “But gayness is COMPLETELY out of my control.”

  196. 196 On December 7th, 2007, keshmeshi said:

    This is such laughable bullshit. Essentially, it comes down to this: men are expected to make the effort to suffer a lousy or non-existent sex life in their marriages, but women are not expected to make an even minimal effort to stay moderately in shape. A similar double-standard can be found who women who scoff at the notion that they should make an effort to enjoy sex with their husbands, even when the woman’s sex drive fades.

    I love this assumption that men never pull the ol’ “bait and switch” on their partners. My few relationships that lasted more than a few months inevitably devolved to a point where my boyfriends would become complete duds. They had no interest in going out with me. They had no interest in listening to/carrying on a conversation with me. They weren’t interested in the most fundamental aspects of a relationship. And yet, women are exclusively the ones responsible for destroying relationships because sometimes we let ourselves go.

    I am so glad I’m single.

  197. 197 On December 7th, 2007, Robert said:

    I’m late to the discussion here, but want to ask about this quote from far above:

    “it’s rarely possible for a naturally thin person to become fat, just as it is for a naturally fat person to become thin”

    Is that really the thinking here? It’s rare? Does that mean that everyone I know who has shifted their body weight for thinner or fatter is a rarity? I guess I know or have seen a lot of rare people.

    Also, regarding this:
    “Fat people and gay people are both marginalized groups, and making distinctions in what groups “deserve” civil rights more than the next group is counterproductive and undermines the rights of ALL groups.”

    Can you list the civil rights refused to fat people? I’m coming up with a short list (none), but could fill an entire website with the civil rights denied to gay people… please elaborate.

    Thanks.

  198. 198 On December 7th, 2007, Cindy said:

    Okay.

    I’ve slept on this whole thing. For one thing, I understand Dan’s point. A whole bunch of people are all for brutal honesty — as long as they aren’t on the receiving end of that kind of punch.

    I do wonder, though, if Mr. Savage happens to know whether the women who responded so vehemently about the man who was unhappy with his boyfriend’s weight are the same women who took offense to the later one about the wife. I think it’s manipulative to say “Hmmmm, all these WOMEN say the gay guy should be brutally honest about his man’s fat ass. I know! I’ll make up another scenario where the fat-ass is a woman, and if a bunch of women e-mail with criticism, this proves that women are hypocrites!” Frankly, I disagree with those who said brutal honesty was the order of the day for the gay man.

    My issue with this today? Didn’t Dan say the column was fabricated? If indeed it was, he should be censured. To pass of a fabricated letter as an actual letter asking for actual advice is a clear violation of journalism ethics. Other columnist have been fired for similar stunts.

    If I thought a columnist was making up letters to hand out perfectly scripted, witty, biting advice, I’d skip it.

    You don’t make things up and pass them off as real – even if you are “just” a sex columnist.

  199. 199 On December 7th, 2007, Becky said:

    Raye, Laurie and Debbie at the Body Impolitic give some good advice on what to do in that kind of situation. It involves working on changing your preference rather than expecting your partner to change their body. (After all, if it’s possible to change your preferences in situations like hair loss, masectomy, tragic disfigurements, it should be possible to change it in the case of weight gain too).

    As for the: “Being fat is a choice, being gay is not…” well, I disagree that being fat is a choice. But so what if it is? Are you saying that if being gay was a choice, you wouldn’t support gay rights? You’d tell gay people that if they don’t want to face discrimination, that if they wanted a loving relationship, that if they wanted their damn rights, then they should change? They should become straight? Is that really what you believe? And if it’s not, why do you believe it for fat?

  200. 200 On December 7th, 2007, Weebot said:

    @Rachel: A couple of points that I’ll try to make without succumbing to dull outrage. I’d like to answer your question about why I was offended as politely as possible.

    Regarding the analogy itself, I’m mostly concurring with Dark, but I’ll add that it’s offensive because it willfully ignores the cultural and historical baggage associated with the ex-gay movement. Just off the top of my head: the fact that the explicit goal for these movements is our erasure; the fact that many see this as an outgrowth to the more violent forms of erasure practiced—and still practiced—in the United States and throughout the world (to think that the American flavor of these are the only ones is to be a bit parochial); that many of these ex-gay movements actually have resorted to methods of torture (shock therapy, aversion therapy, psychotropic drugs) as recently as 2005; and that many who are ex-gays continue to perpetuate this. Unless you would be willing to make the claim that dieting is torture; that dieting is underlined by systematic forms of violent (and possibly lethal) coercion; and that a large-and-notable portion of those who’ve lost weight actively advocate and perpetuate this same system on a political and physical level, I find it hard to buy the analogy as anything but trivializing.

    Maybe a very good case can be made for those claims (I can imagine a couple of good responses to some of those points already.) But to reduce it to simply a matter of choice-versus-biology and recidivism in two lines of a blog post is to be appallingly reductive.

    The second thing that offended me—and maybe this offended me more, since I see not-thought-through analogies every day—was the glib Editor’s Note to Dark. Suddenly Dark, a “Straight White Females” (note that white is presumed), is allowed no standing about that what offends her. Implicitly, the message is: Why should you find it offensive? You’re not gay! And then the Note condescends further by appealing to the approving gay commentators. Never mind the fact that appealing to that type of authority is logically fallacious. What I took from that is essentially “if my gay commentators aren’t offended, you have no right be offended.” I should stop before I fight other people’s arguments, though.

    No, gays aren’t monolithic, but that Note makes those approving gay commentators as the be-all, end-all of what is and isn’t an offensive statement (the “I find it ironic that…” phrasing certainly leads me to believe that.) I just wanted to point out that, no, not all of the gay commentators here approve, and not all of them are willing to give it a pass.

  201. 201 On December 7th, 2007, Becky said:

    Yes it is, sweetheart. It is about the husband’s sex drive, and the wife’s sex drive.

    Marriage is about so much more than sex. If you dont’ realise that, you have no business getting married.

    And as for your fiance, pack on 75 pounds after the marriage and see how “pure” his love will be afterwards. Of course, then you can claim that ALL men are assholes.

    I’ve “packed on” 40 pounds since I met my fiance (and I’m only 5’1, so 40 pounds is a lot). He loves me more than ever. And the sex is as good as it ever was.

  202. 202 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Robert: Your questions have already been addressed elsewhere in the comments here. I suggest you read above to find the response to the issues you raise.

    Weebot: Despite the unnecessary snarkiness, I appreciate your thought-out elaboration on the issue.

    However, I don’t think engaging in a competition of “But my oppression is worse than your oppression” is, in the end, constructive, really. And I disagree with you on many points you raised:

    Erasure – Ever hear of the “War on Obesity?”

    Methods of Torture – “Torture” is relative term. Stomach amputations and diets-turned-eating disorders represent only two of more serious and potentially lethal repercussions of the so-called war against obese people.

    Advocacy – Fat children are being taken away from their parents; fat people are denied the right to adopt a child; fat people can be legally discriminated against in hiring, and can be fired just for being fat; fat people are denied equal access to housing; fat people are charged more for health care, despite a lack of evidence showing fatness itself to be a primary cause of health-related issues; the list can go on and on.

    What I took from that is essentially “if my gay commentators aren’t offended, you have no right be offended.”

    But I didn’t say that. This is what your interpretation of what I said. Frankly, I think you’re reading way too much into my note and are now putting words in my mouth. My comment is what it is: I find it ironic that a self-identified straight woman takes offense at an analogy that some gay people find perfectly reasonable. I still find it ironic. I’m not stating fact; I’m stating opinion – just as you are. We are entitled to both.

  203. 203 On December 7th, 2007, Meowser said:

    Unless you would be willing to make the claim that dieting is torture; that dieting is underlined by systematic forms of violent (and possibly lethal) coercion; and that a large-and-notable portion of those who’ve lost weight actively advocate and perpetuate this same system on a political and physical level, I find it hard to buy the analogy as anything but trivializing.

    See Surgery, Bariatric. And then get back to me.

  204. 204 On December 7th, 2007, Dan Savage said:

    Interesting reading.

    Re: 197. There was nothing “made up” in the column. HARD’s letter was real, and my response to it — the one that appeared in the print — was cobbled together from real letters I received. I didn’t and don’t invent letters.

  205. 205 On December 7th, 2007, Weebot said:

    To be honest, I make no claims towards trying to be constructive; I’m just offended, and would like some off my concerns addressed.

    And I gave myself some rhetorical hedges later on in that post because I did think of some particular cases where a good argument could be made (though I don’t think Bariatric Surgery is a good one.) What I find offensive is the careless use of loaded language and glib reductiveness of the analogy in the blog post—still maddeningly unaddressed—and the attempt to pass off some of the more unseemly aspect of that statement by appealing to some of the other commentator’s approval, which you’re being disingenuous about.

    But I’ll have to get at that later.

  206. 206 On December 7th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Weebot – Your opinion has been duly noted. Moving on…

  207. 207 On December 7th, 2007, definitive.dot said:

    Were those letters from the exact same women in both instances? Because to me it seemed very sexist to claim “SEE! Women are such hypocrites”, especially when it’s not even the same women. Even if it was the same women in both instances, it’s still sexist to ascribe to all women the hypocritical mindsets of a few.

  208. 208 On December 7th, 2007, Sniper said:

    I wonder if some of the people who are offended with the gay/fat comparison (which is, like most comparisons, only valid to a point) are upset because they’re cool with someone being gay but being fat is just icky and gross. Oh, and unhealthy.

    Which are all words I may have heard bigots use once or twice in reference to gay people.

  209. 209 On December 8th, 2007, Weebot said:

    @Sniper: Wow, there are so many unfair and uncalled for insinuations there that I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

    @Rachel: Was there something I said that made you want to cut off the conversation with those italics? As far as I can tell, I wasn’t trolling, or wasn’t trying to, anyway. Nor have I resorted to personal attacks, overarching assumptions, or personal judgments (I was careful to limit my judgment to what was written.) If you would rather not have a protracted conversation over the comments, since it looks like the italics mean I’ve lost my posting privileges, you have my e-mail if you would be willing to talk privately.

  210. 210 On December 8th, 2007, Rachel said:

    Weebot: You’ve made your opinions abundantly clear, as I’ve made mine. We’ve reached an impasse that appears uncrossable. No further discussion between us is necessary.

  211. 211 On December 8th, 2007, twilightriver said:

    Raye said:
    “The man isn’t attracted to his wife anymore! … He can either try to convince her to lose weight, without sex, cheat on her, or divorce her.”

    Or he can spend some time communicating with her about what his issues are and her issues are and try to find solutions that will be healthy and sexually gratifying for both of them.

    Brutal honesty is not effective communication. It’s one of those destructive tendencies that rips apart relationships that could be healed with a kind of honesty that addresses issues without blame and seeks to find ground that is healthy for both parties involved in the relationship.

    But promoting healthy patterns of behavior isn’t profitable.

  212. 212 On December 8th, 2007, meherenowie said:

    …which is why I’ll never be a lesbian. The thing is guys ARE tougher about hearing harsh truths.

  213. 213 On December 8th, 2007, Rachel said:

    I’ve been quite lenient in allowing folks from all viewpoints to post here, even those who go against my comments policy. I have neither the time nor the motivation to further moderate this discussion.

    If you’d like to add your perspective, The Body Impolitic has a great discussion on it, as well as Fillyjonk’s post over at Shapely Prose. And, of course, trolls can continue to add their prejudices to the melee of comments on Dan’s SLOG.

  214. 214 On July 30th, 2008, Plus Size Linkorama « Fatadelic said:

    [...] in the Fatosphere who hasn’t thrown their 2 cents in to this discussion yet, Rachel took on Dan Savage’s recent fatist advice and showed both her extreme patience and excellent moderation [...]

  215. 215 On September 23rd, 2009, Love is blind, except when it comes to weight » The-F-Word.org said:

    [...] his reply: “I will love you regardless if you weigh 100 or 1,000-pounds.”  The endless array of bad advice from columnists to men and women bemoaning their fat spouses has only convinced [...]

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