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I have a tendency to unconsciously appropriate other peoples' affectations, leading me to say things like y'all.

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Elaboration on a familiar theme

I've been thinking about the last post I did about body issues. Okay, the last rant I posted about body issues; fine. Maya, my faithful commenter raises a good question: Why would I want to join a community of women who are a size 16 or higher?

I wouldn't. Er, not exactly. But what I would really like is for women of all sizes to be supportive of one another, because issues are issues regardless. Let me take a step or two back, so that all of this can have some context; even though it's after the fact.

There are two blogs I read that are written by women who are in the size 16 range: Tales of the Cupcake Mafia and She Just Walks Around With It. Both of these women have dealt with their weight and with fluctuations in their weight and with shopping difficulties throughout (and recently in) their lives.

On March 22nd, Nancy (Cupcake) wrote a post about her dissatisfaction with her size. Around the same time I was on a losing crusade to find clothes for my new job, and I decided to do the one thing that would make me feel less miserable: I blogged about it. I referred to Nancy's post and took a position of solidarity, because I think the problems that affect curvy women affect them at all sizes (though of course there are varying degrees even as such). More than a week later I encountered a comment on Nancy's blog in which Anonymous wrote:

I was just reading Spectacularly Normal. I was shocked at the not-so-subtle passive bitchery of your "friend". She goes on about being "morbidly obese" then lists her size, 4/6 next to yours, 16. Nice.

Thankfully, Nancy didn't see it that way and came to my defence (Thank you again!!). But the comment was effective and it gave me pause. It also made me really fucking angry*.

Last week, Kristy (She Just Walks) did a post which I thought was really brave and just really great. I read through some of the comments and felt that same solidarity and was about to leave a comment when I thought better of it. I realized that the bulk of readers responding to the post related to Kristy's words through life experiences that I couldn't lay claim to. Even though I've had those feelings, even though I've been overweight and am the only woman in my family (aside from cousin Heather with whom I am not genetically associated) who is below a size 14, it was clear that my words of commiseration would have no place in that forum.

That's when I wrote my post. Because it isn't fair, right or appropriate that a woman should hesitate to empathize with her peers.

As Maya points out in her comment, we all have issues. At least many of us do. There is a lot of pressure put on women. Even John has said that men don't have to put as much work into maintaining weight and appearance because it's up to them to bring home the bacon (happy dieting John! he he) and he's one of the most progressive thinkers I know. And maybe Maya's right that many of us just deal with those things on the inside, and for some that works, but wouldn't it be great, for those of us who would like to talk it out, if there was an arena in which that could happen? Where women big and small could lend each other support. Or even better, grab steel pipes and take their woes to the designers throughout the land.

*I think it's fairly obvious that I never "go on" about being morbidly obese...I make a joke about how ridiculous it is that even a smallish woman with curves seems to be considered too fat by today's design standards.


Anonymous John said...

I would hazard a guess that what this John person said, or at least meant, was that on average people judge women more on appearance, and men more on money and power. This has nothing to with his personal attitudes, which are doubtless so progressive as to be incomprehensible from our retrograde perspective.

I wonder whether and how evolution shaped these broad differences. One argument might be that as males tend to have more variable reproductive outcomes than females, competition will greater among males than among females. Concentrations of resources and status are likely to accrue to the most competitive individuals, who will tend to be male. Females are thus on average able to get more status and resources from wisely choosing a male mate than males get from choosing a female mate, leading to somewhat different strategies between the sexes being evolutionarily selected.

Or perhaps it's just as Amil says on the Jay-Z joint: "You ain't gotta be rich, but fuck that--How we gonna get around on your bus pass?"

10:03 AM  
Anonymous amanda said...

I am in your size range (and willing to bet I am shorter than you), have never even been pregnant, and I agree with you fully. I have gained 20-ish pounds over the last 8 months and I think it's kind of traumatic, if only for the first time in my life I have a tummy that I have to always be conscious of hiding. Yay, one more thing to be constantly worried about.

My boyfriend accuses me of idealizing the 50s, but say what you will, at least the -clothes- were more forgiving, even if the social and political environments weren't!

Women have a hard time supporting each other through -anything-. It's a wonder suffragists and feminists were able to accomplish anything at all.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Irina said...


Needless to say, I understand and agree with what you're saying. It's always traumatic for me when I gain weight too and I've gotten seriously depressed about it in the past. At John's recommendation I bought a scale a while ago and I weight myself daily just to reassure myself that even if I "feel" fat, my body hasn't changed. It's helped enormously. But on the days (like this morning) when I'm a few pounds up, it's all I can do to just roll with it.

I believe that the 50's were my era. If I could wear all 50's dresses all the time, I totally would. But isn't it telling that the sizing structure back then was so different? Women in our size range would be more like an 8 or 10. I don't even know what that means. I'm not sure whether that's good or bad, but I do know this size 00 nonsense didn't exist.

11:19 AM  
Anonymous Stephanie said...

Hi. I have been lurking and reading your blog a bit. I don't have one of my own but plan to start one soon.

I was intrigued and I read the links to the posts you mentioned.

You seem to want an open discussion about this, so I am going to be a but frank.

First, just to enter the discssion, my weight fluctuates from about 6-10. I too get depressed about it, even though i know I am firmly planted in normal range. I like to talk about bodies and weight with other women and I do talk about it with friends, some skinny model-types, some Lane Bryant sized women, all with a range of tehir own issue. So that's me.

I have to tell you that reading your posts about your own weight pushed a button for me, and I kind of understand "anonymou"'s inflammatory reaction (although obviously over th etop and prob. looking for trouble).

I reacted a bit to the fact that when you posted about your weight, you cam eoff as a bit intent to put your stats up agaisnt bigger sizes. This coupled, with the repetition of sixe 4, size 6, and the posts about people reacting to you as an attractive person, painted a picture of the type of girl (sorry if I am projecting) that while asking for community, come soff as asking for attention.

It reads a bit like you are asking for people to respind with "oh come on, you are so not fat."

Do you know what I mean? You know the difference between a friend talking through issues, and a girl who whines oh I'm so fat, while making sure you see her size 2 tag?

Now, I understand, I do not know you, plus, even if my impressions are correct, this would come from insecurity, which is a body issue in and of itself.

So, that is my two sense. Maybe more later.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Irina said...


Thanks for being frank...I appreciate that. I do understand what you're saying and I think that you're right, many women do look for validation by talking about their bodies even though they're quite thin.

When I mention my size or weight it's because I don't know whether someone is reading my blog for the first time or the twentieth time and I repeat to allow for that. As I teenager I definitely sought out attention by talking about this kind of stuff. As a woman, I talk about it because it's a sad state of affairs in the world and I have a daughter who is growing up in it.

My point, which I did try to make repeatedly is that all women should feel free to talk without being condemned for being thinner or for seeking're absolutely right that that is an issue of its own and so a woman should feel entitled to express her issues to other women without getting shot down. THAT was what I was hoping to communicate all along.

6:53 PM  

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