Feel Good Friday

3rd September 2010

Feel Good Friday

by Rachel

Spousal/partner weight gain is a frequent letter seen among the sundry list of gripes and complaints seen by advice columnists and few columnists get it right with their responses.  The Washington Post’s Carolyn Hax has always been a moderate voice of compassion when it comes to such weighty issues.  She’s on vacation this week and readers are giving the advice.  Here’s a gem from today’s column in regards to a previous letter from a man who blamed his infidelity on his wife’s recent weight gain .

I’ve always believed that every woman is beautiful. Every woman. If I don’t see the beauty in one, that’s MY problem, not hers. It’s up to me to work harder to see the beauty, not up to her to make herself live up to whatever my standards might be.


posted in Body Image, Body-Affirming, Fat Acceptance, Rachel | 11 Comments

2nd August 2010

The Beauty Advantage

by Rachel

I meant to post this the other week, but that pesky thing called life got in the way and I back-burnered it.  Newsweek has put together an awesome special feature on the advantages (and yes, even disadvantages) of being beautiful and how it can affect our lives, careers and health.  There are a lot of great multimedia links to follow, but here’s a few that caught my attention:

(And in my own addendum on the subject, I highly recommend Kathy Peiss’ Hope in a Jar: The Making of America’s Beauty Culture and — what I consider the definitive work on the history of American cultural beauty standards — Lois W. Banner’s American Beauty: A Social History…Through Two Centuries of the American Idea, Ideal, and Image of the Beautiful Woman.)

I think that most of us would agree that lookism is A Bad Thing, but surprisingly, in a survey conducted by Newsweek, only 46 percent of the public said they would favor a law making hiring discrimination based on appearance illegal.  Is this a case of a deluded public who’s bought the beauty myth hook, line and sinker?  Or could it be a pragmatic public realizing the practicalities of such a law difficult to enforce?   Your thoughts on this and the other columns and galleries in Newsweek’s special feature on beauty?

posted in Body Image, Fashion, Fat Bias, Feminist Topics, Pop Culture, Rachel, vintage ads | 4 Comments

14th July 2010

Help stamp out fat hate groups on Facebook

by Rachel

Atchka of the blog Fierce Fatties is looking for your support to end Facebook’s demonstrated tolerance of fat hate groups on the social networking site. He’s started a petition with the ambitious — but not unattainable — goal of 100,000 signatures. F-word readers, let’s help him out.  Read the call below and sign the petition here.

There are an obscene amount of Groups and Pages on Facebook which are solely dedicated to the humiliation, degradation and dehumanization of fat people.

Although they seem to violate Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, Facebook refuses to accept fat people as a “protected group.”

Despite a request for clarification of terms, Facebook refuses to respond to followup questions and has deferred its responsibility to judiciously exercise editorial oversight.

However, they do currently exercise oversight with regard to gay bashing groups, despite the fact that sexual identity and gender orientation are not “protected groups” by federal definitions. They purposely delete gay bashing groups swiftly and effectively, yet fat bashing groups remain.

Seeing as how the majority of these groups are directed specifically at fat women, we do not understand how most of these sites are not a violation of the Rights and Responsibilities if only seen through the lens of sexism and misogyny.

WE RESPECTFULLY REQUEST that Facebook change or clarify it’s current policy with regard to fat hatred. Either remove fat hate groups entirely or justify the inconsistency of the current policy.

Fat people endure an intense amount of hatred both in public and online. It is a hatred that impacts every aspect of our lives and it is currently seen as a socially acceptable form of discrimination and bias.

As Facebook is the largest social networking site, we encourage them to take a stand against hatred IN ALL FORMS, rather than allow certain types of hatred to go unchallenged.

posted in Fat Bias, Rachel | 7 Comments

29th June 2010

Open Topic: Talking to kids about fat comments

by Rachel

I’m back on my thyroid medication and feeling more like myself than I have in the past month I’ve been off it, so I hope to be back posting regularly soon.  In the meantime, here’s an item for discussion.  My brother- and sister-in-law and their children live in a city about an hour and a half from us (and have 6-month-old twin girls), so we don’t see them as often as I would like.  We made the trip down on Sunday to celebrate my niece Klara’s seventh birthday; our previous trip was in April to celebrate my nephew’s birthday.  On our last two visits, my niece has made three comments on my weight, specifically about how fat she thinks I am.  On all three occasions I was caught off-guard and didn’t give as good of a response as I would have liked to give.  The first time I think I said something like, “Yes, Klara, I am fat” and changed the subject.  She made another comment later that night and I tried to explain to her that God made everyone different, like he made Uncle Brandon tall and Aunt Rachel short, and that we would be really boring if we all looked alike (the family are devout Christians).   The last comment came during dinner on our latest visit.  Klara suddenly grabbed the loose skin on my bicep and remarked that I wouldn’t be so fat if I didn’t have so much extra skin.  Caught off-guard, I kind of stammered that “Yes, I lost weight too fast and my skin couldn’t keep up and that’s one of the reasons I am fat,” and changed the subject.  * All three comments were unheard by her parents.

My BIL and SIL are very insistent on teaching their children good manners and both Klara and her brother are otherwise very polite children.  Brandon and I both thought it odd that she would comment so much on my weight, so I sent her parents an email letting them know.  Here’s part of what I wrote:

I don’t want Klara to grow up thinking that “fat” is a four-letter word — girls these days have enough issues with self-esteem and body image — but many people do consider it to be an inappropriate comment to lob at someone and I would hate for Klara to inadvertently insult someone in your church or at her school.  I’m also concerned that Klara seems to hold a negative perception of fatness and fat people and I worry that that perception may color how she sees and relates to others and may influence her own sense of body image as she grows older.  The prevailing cultural opinion seems to be that fat people just sit on the couch all day stuffing Twinkies down their throats, but genetics do not come in a one-size-fits-all sequence and people are fat for a variety of medical, physiological, socio-economic and emotional reasons.  You two do an awesome job of trying to instill in your children respect for different races and people and basic etiquette, so I thought that I would bring this to your attention so that maybe you can have a discussion with Klara on how it is impolite to comment on the bodies of others and to respect that people come in different shapes and sizes.

I don’t have children (thankfully) and I can usually only take kids in small doses before they mentally and physically exhaust me, so my experience in how to relate and explain things to children in language they can understand is limited to say the least.  I do think that it’s important to let Klara know that it isn’t appropriate to comment on the way someone looks or on their body, but I’m  concerned that by shushing her, it will reinforce to Klara that being fat is Something Bad, which is also something I don’t want her to think.  Does anyone have any suggestions on how to explain to a seven-year-old that being fat isn’t bad or something to be ashamed of, but at the same time that it isn’t polite to comment on someone’s body?

posted in Body Image, Body Politic, Fat Bias, Rachel | 40 Comments

23rd June 2010

Wednesday Weigh-In: A tide-you-over post until we can write something in more detail

by charlynn

I have a feeling I’m not the only writer for that is insanely busy right now since no one has posted in over a week. On behalf of the three of us, you have our apologies. We hate it when life gets in the way of blogging just as much as you do. :)

With that in mind, here comes another roundup of links instead of a fully thought-out post, but at least it’s something new…right? Right!

MSNBC profiles three women who gained weight as a result of illness, not overeating. One struggles with a hormonal imbalance and has noticed how people treat her differently because of her weight. Another gained weight as a result of taking steroids for migraines. The third woman developed insulin resistance, and prior to developing her condition, believed that obesity was a “couch potato disease.” Not any longer — she says she is ashamed for being so judgmental in the past.

In case you haven’t already heard about this, former Biggest Loser contestant Kai Hibbard is speaking about her experience on the show, saying she left the show with a distorted body image and developed an eating disorder. She is going public with her story because she feels that some elements of the show are misleading and hurtful to viewers. in Israel has a fantastic story about what life is like at the eating disorders unit at Sheba Medical Center.

And finally, the Los Angeles Times published an article a couple of days ago about the Maudsley Approach. Success stories as well as skepticism about the method are discussed.

For the sake of discussion, what has everybody been doing while we’ve been absent? Share your latest by making a comment!

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Bulimia, Charlynn, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Recovery | 12 Comments

9th June 2010

The Wednesday Weigh-In

by Rachel

Margarita Tartakovsky of the blog Weightless interviews Cheryl Kerrigan, author of the new book Telling ED NO! and Other Practical Tools to Conquer Your Eating Disorder and Find Freedom.

Fat Lot of Good blogger Bri weighs in on a recent study that found that children whose mothers were chronically abused by their partners were more likely to be fat by age 5.  Because being fat is so much more pressing of an issue than being victimized by domestic violence.

Urban Outfitters removes what many are calling a pro-ana t-shirt from its website, but the “Eat Less” shirt remains available in stores.   Outraged?  Join the Girlcott Urban Outfitters group on Facebook.

Should appearance-based discrimination be treated with the same weight as we give to other -isms like racism and sexism?  That’s the question Deborah Rhodes tackles in her new book, The Beauty Bias: The Injustice of Appearance in Life and Law. Read Dahlia Lithwick’s review of the book on Slate.

Just when you thought the insanity would never end…  It’s not enough that some parents lose custody of their obese children because of their weight.  Now a British animal welfare council has seized custody of an obese dog.  The pudgy pup Gucci is said to now be on a strict diet and exercise regime at a special canine fat club.

FEAST has launched its Around the Dinner Table Plate Drive through June.  The fundraising initiative supports the group’s mission, which is to empower families and support parents and caregivers in helping loved ones recover from eating disorders.

The British Mail’s Lucy Taylor ruminates on on how she gave up running and learned to simply enjoy the journey. contributor Karen Salmansohn looks at the Fox and ABC refusal to air the sexy new Lane Bryant lingerie commercials in a different light: “The fact that a TV network would find this Lane Bryant spot far more sexually enticing than Victoria’s Secret spots — which air all the time — simply shows they’re acknowledging the extreme sexiness of voluptuous women!”

Comments?  Any links to share?  Add your two cents in the comments below.

posted in Anorexia, Body Image, Body Politic, Body-Affirming, Eating Disorders, Fat Bias, Feminist Topics, Legal Issues, Mental Health, Non-profits, Politics, Pop Culture, Rachel | 12 Comments

7th June 2010

Replacing racism with sizeism? Not cool, Wonkette

by Rachel

So, the blog Wonkette recently opined on Prescott, Az. city councilman Steve Blair who used AM talk radio show to advocate for the removal of a black child’s face from a downtown mural.  Arizona isn’t exactly considered a bastion of racial tolerance right now, what with the passage of SB 1070, a stringent law many (myself included) would argue only legalizes racial profiling of Hispanics.  But the case of the mural, which was drawn from the photographs of actual children enrolled at the nearby, racially-diverse Miller Valley School, is especially egregious.  Blair’s call for the removal of an African-American child figured prominently in the mural was met with a wave of Waspian support, with even the school’s principal pressuring the artists behind the mural to lighten — a.k.a. whiten – the faces of children depicted (the principal has since backed down).  And this is just the latest insult — the children who worked alongside the artists were repeatedly subjected to drive-by racial slurs and epithets during the months-long project.  Read more on this affront to decency here.

Wonkette, like so many others, was naturally outraged by the blatant racism, as was radio channel KYCA, who promptly and appropriately fired Blair from his radio show (he still remains a city councilman).  In an blog update about the firing, Wonkette had this to say about Blair:


But whatever, look at this fat fucking hunchbacked pig, and pity him if you have that kind of generous soul.

Not to take attention away from this horrible display of racism, but is anyone else struck by the inherent hypocrisy of Wonkette replacing one form of -ism — racism — with yet another form of -ism — sizeism?  There are plenty of slurs with which to hurl Blair’s way — racist, bigot, uninformed, xenophobic and spineless, ignorant twit, to name just a few — but commentary on his size and appearance should not be among them.  Not only are these remarks entirely irrelevant to Blair’s speech and actions, such comments, in fact, only perpetuates the  exploitive hegemonies and ideology of domination that buttresses all forms of discrimination.  As Shirley Chisholm once said, In the end antiblack, antifemale, and all forms of discrimination are equivalent to the same thing – antihumanism.

posted in Body Politic, Fat Bias, Race Issues, Rachel | 14 Comments

25th May 2010

British “health” mag fattens up gaunt thin model

by Rachel

In a strange twist to the usual Photoshopped models debate, a British magazine has ‘fessed up to digitally manipulating an image of a shockingly thin model to make her look… heavier.

Jane Druker, editor of the ironically titled publication Healthy, admitted to airbrushing model Kamilla Wladyka’s cover shot on the April edition of the mag, explaining that the model initially *appeared* to be in good health, but had lost so much weight in the week between casting and shoot that airbrushing became necessary.   As the Daily Mail UK reports, editors added 2-3 stone, or 28-42 pounds, to Kamilla’s photo to make the 5-foot-10-inch, British size-6 model look “a little bit bigger, to make her look like she was a size ten as opposed to a size four” out of concern for the magazine’s commitment to promoting “health and wellbeing.”

‘There were plenty of clothes that we couldn’t put on her because her bones stuck out too much,’ Druker said.  ‘She looked beautiful in the face, but really thin and unwell. That’s not a reflection of what we do in our magazine, which is about good health.’

Good health?  Really?

In its defense, the magazine acted transparently and stated that they do not normally airbrush images of models to give the false illusion of health.  Yet if this model appeared to be so unnaturally thin and unhealthy that digital airbrushing was required, why wasn’t she sent home immediately and another healthier model used instead?  Oh, silly me… I forgot.  Healthy magazine, like so many others, determines health and wellbeing on almost the sole basis of appearance. And as everyone knows, thin=healthy but too thin=unhealthy, so instead let’s just made the model LOOK like she doesn’t suffer from raging anorexia, actual health be damned.

Yes, it’s a good thing that magazines and advertisers are beginning to take heed of the tragic and dangerous social implications of showing images, altered or otherwise, of super-skinny models.  But the solution is not to simply airbrush the same radically thin models into some slightly higher, but more socially-acceptable vision of conformity, but rather to actually seek out and hire models whose body shapes and sizes require very little to no airbrushing in order to meet these standards.  As eating disorder activist Susan Ringwood, who has campaigned for the use of diversely-sized fashion models, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph:

There’s a fundamental difference between using camera work to make someone look polished, and changing the shape and size of someone’s body in order to portray them looking differently, to conform to whatever ideal.  It’s just not helpful and puts huge pressure on people to keep up a hyper-perfectionism that isn’t real. If you can’t trust the health industry to be healthy, how can you expect the fashion magazines to put their house in order?

But, then again, what do we really expect from a “health” magazine that also advertises weight-loss advice on the same cover as the same gaunt-thin model airbrushed to look heavier?

posted in Body Politic, Eating Disorders, Fashion, Health, Nutrition & Fitness, Pop Culture, Rachel | 14 Comments

4th May 2010

No, I will not help you make money by spreading fat hate

by Rachel

Here’s an email I just received from some PR flack who’s obviously never been to The-F-Word.


Recent studies have shown that depression can actually lead to obesity in adolescent youth through raised stress hormones. With a very recent, hefty 6 million dollar donation from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, The Cornell Center for Behavior Intervention Development has begin its approach at striking down obesity in our youth, including minorities.

I’d like to take a moment to discuss the topic at hand with you and the readers of

Please, take a minute to consider this and get back to me at your earliest; it would be a pleasure to contribute!



And my reply:

Instead of “striking down obesity in our youth,” have you ever considered “promoting mental and physical health for ALL youth, regardless of weight”? Or, have you ever considered that fat kids develop “raised stress hormones” as the result of weight-based discrimination and harassment, including campaigns like this one that tells fat kids that their bodies are deviant and not acceptable? Have you considered at all that by specifically targeting fat kids, you are actually only contributing to the kind of hostile environment that lead many of them to develop depression and other mental health problems.?

No, thanks.

By the way, Rachelle’s signature identifies her as working in “Web Relations” for a large Chicago-based cosmetic surgery center.  No surprises there.

posted in Body Politic, Fat Bias, Rachel | 17 Comments

23rd April 2010

FOX and ABC refuse to air Lane Bryant lingerie commercial

by Rachel

Outrage is brewing over FOX and ABC’s opposition to airing Lane Bryant’s sexy ad for its new Cacique Intimates lingerie. In a post on LB’s Inside Curve blog, the company claims that ABC “restricted our airtime” and refused to air the spot during Dancing With the Stars, while Fox “demanded excessive re-edits and rebuffed it three times before relenting to air it during the final 10 minutes of American Idol, but only after we threatened to pull the ad buy.” They went on to protest:

It appears that ABC and Fox have made the decision to define beauty for you by denying our new, groundbreaking Cacique commercial from airing freely on their networks.

Yes, these are the same networks that have scantily-clad housewives so desperate they seduce every man on the block, and don’t forget Bart Simpson, who has shown us the moon more often than NASA, all during what they call “prime time.”

We knew the ads were sexy, but they are not salacious. Our new commercials represent the sensuality of the curvy woman who has more to show the world than the typical waif-like lingerie model. What we didn’t know was that the networks, which regularly run Victoria’s Secret and Playtex advertising on the very shows from which we’re restricted, would object to a different view of beauty. If Victoria’s Secret and Playtex can run ads at any time during the 9pm to 10pm hour, why is Lane Bryant restricted only to the final 10 minutes?

View the commercials for yourself:

I have seen MUCH more risque ads aired on FOX and ABC even during primetime, so I’m curious to see what kind of creative excuses the stations will give for singling out these ads (ABC and FOX have yet to respond to the complaints). Size discrimination, of course, is the obvious motivator here, but I would point out that while model Ashley Graham (of Glamour’snaked fat women” shoot fame) is considered plus-size in the insanely grotesque world of modeling, her reported measurements– 36-34-47 — make her just barely plus-size in the real world the rest of us occupy, and her BMI probably wouldn’t tip past “overweight”.  For more photos of the lovely Ashley Graham, see here and here.

What do you think?  Were the ads too risque for primetime?  Or are FOX and ABC just hating on fat chicks?  Did Lane Bryant take a cue from PETA and deliberately make a too-sexy ad with hopes that a brouhaha like this might erupt, resulting in even more (free) publicity?  Share your thoughts below.

posted in Body Image, Body Politic, Pop Culture, Rachel, Television & Film | 39 Comments

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