On debates and comments and exhaustion.

I’ve never published an official comments policy, because it always seemed kind of an unnecessary thing to do. I mean, obviously this is my website, so what I say goes, and if I don’t like a comment, I don’t have to publish it. End of story. Pretty self-explanatory, right?

It gets fuzzy at times. I am actually quite lucky in that I don’t come under attack too often, and usually the really obvious stuff (UR A DUMB *$%@!!!) doesn’t get to me much, and I just delete it. But recently, it has been harder than usual to stomach that stuff because I am exhausted.

It gets especially fuzzy when people want to come here to debate. I want them to have a chance to air their questions and arguments so that I may answer them honestly for the sake of everyone else reading who may have similar questions. For some people, this is simply an engaging intellectual exercise in which they get to argue for or against the right of fat people to exist without having their bodies legislated against or their personal choices controlled. Debate club! Fun!

But it’s a little bit less fun and intellectual for those of us who live in those bodies – it is no longer just an exercise in civil debate, it is an exhausting and frankly scary conversation to have. In the current political climate, our lives may literally be on the line.

For some others, this is an issue of intense emotion because they have struggled with weight, and either found a way to lose weight and keep it off, or are still struggling and are very angry and frustrated with me for seeming to take their hope away. Or they have a family member who is struggling, or who died of some illness associated with being fat. Difficult personal experience has led them to the firm belief that fat kills, and that they must do everything they can to save themselves and others from that fate – and my viewpoint, and the statistical indicators that fat people can be healthy, represents an intolerable fly in the ointment.

For me, this is also an emotional conversation, for reasons I mentioned above, and because my beliefs about this issue are anchored to an immovable ethical conclusion that I have come to in my life: that it is not right to treat people poorly, or to afford them fewer rights, because of their body or appearance. This belief is the foundation not just for my beliefs about how fat people should be treated in society, but also my beliefs about racism, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the various ways we have of marginalizing each other as human beings.

People have complained about my inability to be shaken from my position, to which I respond: to some extent, that is true. From this position – that it is not right to treat people poorly or afford them fewer rights because of their appearance – I will not be moved. It is not a position based solely on logic (although there are logical arguments to be made in its favour) – it is a deeply-held moral conviction arrived at after years of study, relationships and conversations with others, questioning my priorities, spiritual belief/unbelief, and often painful personal experience.

On all other matters, I may be impressed by evidence, though I will not accept evidence on the strength of forced consensus, or comfortable and privileged status-quo. I also recognize that, while the scientific method is the best way humans have of observing and grasping something of a reality that is much larger and more complex than we can fully apprehend, the humans themselves, the researchers, reviewers, publishers of journals, university PR departments, and finally, the journalists who disseminate findings through the mass media, are all vulnerable to bias.

Nevertheless, science and sociological research has shown some things about fatness that I accept.

I am comfortable with the fact that, yes, there is a clear association between higher levels of weight and ill health. (There is a similar association between underweight and ill health, and there is data to show that healthy behaviours can lower this risk for fat people, even without weight loss.)

I am comfortable with the fact that, yes, behaviour contributes to weight. (But it is not the whole story. There are also significant contributions to weight from genetics, living conditions, and social determinants of health.)

I am comfortable with the fact that, yes, many people do not find fat people sexually or aesthetically attractive. (I don’t need them to. There is a subset of people who do, and aesthetic ideals of beauty are partly socially constructed, subject to change over time and place, and should never be used as a referendum on whether someone has the right to exist and be treated fairly.)

None of these facts shakes my conviction that It Is Not Okay To Engage In Appearance-Based Discrimination, to deny rights or enforce unfavourable social policies on people because of their appearance.

These facts also do not preclude the peculiar theory to which I subscribe, that people can be healthy and happy at a variety of weights by focusing on self-care instead of weight loss, and that, in my opinion, this is a preferable policy to the destructive and ineffective “War on Obesity” we have waged for the last decade.

I have been studying this topic, and writing about it online, for over ten years. I was so interested in it that I went and got a degree in nutrition, and worked in hospitals for nearly five years. I am not always right about everything, certainly, and my friends, mentors and colleagues can easily point out holes in my arguments and flaws in my reasoning that make me laugh and blush (Dee, Joy, Kate, Regina, Katja, Linda, Ellyn, Deb, Jacqui, Ricky, Kelly, closetpuritan, the two Chrises, and many others, I am indebted to you.)

I usually welcome this, though it may smart at times, because ultimately it makes my understanding better and my arguments stronger. What makes me able to take in these suggestions is the trust and respect we have established, and the fact that I can count on their sharing my moral belief that it is not right to discriminate against people based on appearance, and that all people have the right to bodily autonomy.

It is going to be much harder for me to engage in intellectual exercises and arguments with people who do not share those ethical underpinnings. It is uncomfortable and draining to talk with someone who seems to wish, more than anything, that people of my size and shape would just go away and stop ruining the world for everyone, or someone who genuinely believes that my body is proof of my laziness, gluttony, and moral corruption. I don’t debate about women’s rights with transparent misogynists, either. How could I have a productive, civil debate with a person who, not to put too fine a point on it, hates me at first sight?

Occasionally, I am up for it, and sometimes I am not. Right now is one of the latter times. As great as the outpouring of support and interest has been, it cannot undo the damage that is done when someone hurls epithets at me, wishes my death, or questions my worth as a human being. Love and abuse are two different things, and one cannot entirely erase the other, which is both a blessing and a shame.

This is my long-winded way of saying, I hosted a bit of debate at the beginning of the month for the sake of people who were finding my website, and this wild notion of fat people being equally valuable, for the first time. Now I’m done. Maybe we’ll have another debate again sometime, but it’s time for me to take care of myself, to take care of my regular readers and commenters, and to get on with the business of communicating with the people who largely get it, even if we disagree on the details.

As such, I’m no longer letting through naysayer or pro-weight-loss comments, because I do not have the time and energy to deal with them, and since this website is not intended to be a Speakers’ Corner, I will not let them stand without rebuttal.

If I get caught up in devoting my time to the same arguments I have had repeatedly for the last ten years (all of which ultimately boil down to the question, “Is it okay for fat people to be fat? Is it acceptable for fat people to exist?”), I could use all of my energy doing that and never progress in doing what I am trying to do, which is to help people who are looking for ways to care for themselves at their current weight, and to offer a different viewpoint in the largely negative, punitive, controlling and orthorexic discourse around eating, health and nutrition.

The right of fat people to exist as fat people is assumed here, and it is the foundation on which I am attempting to construct something larger. Continually questioning that foundation at the request of new commenters spoiling for a fight undermines my work.

I may touch on the basic arguments in my writing, like whether or not fat people are unrepentant gluttons, or whether food is poisonous and killing us all, or whether safe, permanent weight loss is possible for most people, or the health risks of being fat and what to do about them, but I am not going to engage in those arguments with commenters who come here with the agenda of proving, once and for all, that fat people are less than other people, and need to be forcibly re-educated into complying with the prevailing aesthetic standard.

Everyone else may stay.

Thank you all for the support you’ve given me, and all the sharing of personal stories and experiences, and the support you’ve given each other.

Carry on, and be excellent to each other.







146 responses to “On debates and comments and exhaustion.”

  1. Alison Avatar

    Thank you, Michelle. For this space, for your strength, for being a voice for people like me.

    1. Lauren Avatar

      Triple ditto. I’m so glad I found this site. It makes me feel like I’m not some kind of freak for being “fat” but also having excellent blood pressure and below normal cholesterol. <3

      1. April Avatar

        I hate that my cholesterol IS now highish (I’m not yet 40), since I feel like I’m failing at being one of those “model overweight people” — that my weight isn’t causing any other problems, since apparently it is.


        1. Michelle Avatar

          You’re not failing at anything, though I know it’s discouraging to have an issue with cholesterol. It’s also not necessarily the case that weight is *causing* your high cholesterol, though I know that is going to be people’s automatic assumption.

          Questions of causality aside, I think the best question to ask yourself is: “What can I do about this without driving myself nuts?” Sometimes cholesterol can be lowered by eating more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and more dietary fibre. Sometimes it helps to eat fewer fatty sources of meat and dairy. Sometimes it helps to exercise a bit. Sometimes it helps to take medication. But what can you DO about it, now that it’s a fact?

          Dwelling on feeling like a failure only distracts you from taking care of yourself. It’s one of the ways in which a fat-hating culture ensures that fat people become and remain unhealthy, like a self-fulfilling prophecy. You don’t have to play that game.

        2. Linda Strout Avatar
          Linda Strout

          April, please, please, please don’t feel like a failure because of your cholesterol. Mine was diagnosed as high while I was still in college, and even though I followed the stupid eating instructions and walked regularly (I was walking around campus after all) the numbers wouldn’t budge without medication.

          The notes they sent after each blood test to give me the results helpfully recommended the low-fat diet and exercise and I felt like such a FAILURE because it DID NOT WORK.

          It wasn’t until my late twenties when I had a different doctor who helpfully told me:

          sometimes it is just genetics and nothing but medication will help lower the numbers

          that I FINALLY FELT I WAS OKAY.

          You did not choose your genetics. I personally am kind of glad we don’t have that kind of control over our DNA.

          Take care of yourself. You are a unique arrangement of so many things and the world will never see it again. Treasure it.

          I’m trying to do that myself. Don’t fall into the same traps I did.

        3. Pauline Avatar

          the last apprentice I taught at my current job is a slim young man in his mid-twenties. He has got high cholesterol, too, and his doctor is still trying to find out why.
          So, he is one example that cholesterol does not necessarily depend on weight. I hope you will find a way to take good care of yourself.

          1. La Avatar

            It sure is tough to hold your head high – when you have the stereotypical “fat girl” diseases. I have to take meds for blood pressure and cholesterol, plus I have Type 2 diabetes. I know how much I exercise and eat the “right” foods. It is difficult to shake off the feeling that people are thinking…well, of course she’s diabetic, etc., etc. – look at her! Plus, I’ve had double knee replacements and I’m only 50 – that was because of trying to lose weight and keep it off through extreme exercise. The only thing I can do is hold my head high and push forward. I refuse to “explain” myself in hopes of acceptance. The people close to me treat me well, although I get an occasional comment. I work hard to keep my numbers in check. That’s the only thing I can do. I have to accept myself for who I am. I can’t change it. I’ve wasted too many years worrying about other people’s thoughts. No more of that! I’m not going to spend every moment counting and thinking about what I can eat either. Hold your head high, April! You are awesome just the way you are.

        4. LB Avatar

          My cholesterol was high, even though I’m a vegetarian and it really had no right to be that high. (Well, okay, ice cream helped.) It turned out to be a symptom of hypothyroid, not of being a fat fatty.

          1. Michelle Avatar

            Amazing…an endogenously-produced hormone might have a greater impact on the levels of other hormones in your blood than diet alone? WOW BIOLOGY.

  2. Sarah Avatar

    Thank you for doing the work I’ve been too cowardly to do, and am beginning to believe is something I will eventually have to do.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      You are very welcome, and you’re absolutely not a coward for feeling fear or needing to protect yourself. That is just human.

      1. Chris Avatar

        I identify with all of this. It’s intimidating putting your opinion out there, but the sense of community and support I feel expressed in various blogs such as this one is so valuable to me, and has been more important than I can properly express. There are always going to be struggles, and we’re not always able to do the things we wish we could – I seem to know a lot of people at the moment who buy into the fantasy that we’re always ‘in control’ – or even that we should be – and… It’s all good. If I may, just don’t judge yourself, whether you are or are not able to work towards whatever you’re wanting to work towards.

  3. Crystal Avatar

    Thank you so much for this site, I can’t even imagine how exhausting moderating it must be. There is so, so much debate already in this society, well-meaning and otherwise, and also so much anger, ignorance and hard words. Personally, I’m glad to have a site where I don’t get angry or defensive reading comments, and I’m grateful for your current decision. Sometimes there just needs to be a safe space.

  4. Sue Ellen Avatar

    You go. This is YOUR space, and you can manage it any way you want. I’ve really never understood the whole, “You don’t publish comments you don’t like!” mentality. No, I don’t publish comments I don’t like. I also don’t invite people into my home if they hate me or visit my home for the sole purpose of insulting me or telling me my whole life is wrong. How is it different?

    1. littlem Avatar

      ” No, I don’t publish comments I don’t like. I also don’t invite people into my home if they hate me or visit my home for the sole purpose of insulting me or telling me my whole life is wrong. How is it different?”

      It isn’t.

    2. Emily Avatar

      Exactly. It’s not like every personal or even commercial blog is the New York Times.

  5. Nomie Avatar

    I love this site so much. I’ve been a bit shaky around food lately thanks to yet another meeting with a new doctor and a suggestion of a “medically supervised weight-loss program,” and just going through the archives and reading your sane and sound thoughts has been immensely helpful. You’re a star, and if we lived in the same city I would totally bake you a pie. <3

  6. Diana Avatar

    I don’t know if I’ve commented here before. I think once? Twice? Maybe? Anyway, I’ve been reading for maybe a year or so now, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU! and I love this blog and I want to do your taxes for free.

  7. Laura (dusty_rose) Avatar

    Thank you for this site, and for articulating things like this:

    For me, this is also an emotional conversation, for reasons I mentioned above, but also because my beliefs about this issue are anchored to an immovable ethical conclusion that I have come to in my life: that it is not right to treat people poorly, or to afford them fewer rights, because of their body or appearance.

    I agree so much.

  8. Constance May Avatar
    Constance May

    Glad to hear you are getting back to your mission :) I have found you thru a friend who posted you on facebook and have been reading you for some time now. I am very grateful you are doing the work you are. I have had a weight problem since I was 8 and I am now 54. Up and down and all around. In every picture in the family photo album, all I every used to remember was how much I weighed in each picture. I remember being told “You’d be so pretty if you just lost 20 lbs”. Ouch. Comments like that were commonplace my whole life. Now, at my heaviest ever, I just don’t care what anybody else thinks. How good it is to hear people talking about this issue and expressing the feelings around it :) Thank you and keep on doing your thang girliewooooooooooooooooooooo !

    1. Elly Avatar

      It sounds to me like you’ve never had a “weight problem,” only an other-people’s attitudes problem. I’m glad you don’t have it anymore. :-)

  9. Jen in FL Avatar

    When my sis and I were doing our FA blog, the link to our “Comments Policy” was a Rick roll. Because fuck that, it’s our blog and we get to host the discussion we want. There are plenty of places online where people can go and hate on fat people, or share their tips for weight loss (always the same!) or decry the inevitable downfall of civilization because fat people. We had very little tolerance for that kind of bullshit in our space.

    That said, I think your blog serves a greater purpose than ours did, and I really admire you for trying to host the debate, because I think there are things people can learn from it. (First and foremost that fat people have a right to exist.) I’m sorry the futility of it all wore you down. <3

  10. M Avatar

    Thank you for all of your hardwork and effort to defending and publicizing my right to exist!

  11. Lisa in Boston Avatar
    Lisa in Boston

    Dear, DEAR Michelle: I am very glad to hear you are taking good care of yourself in this way. There’s only so much any one of us can do and you’ve been more than generous (IMHO) to the folks new to the concept of HAES who have been visiting your site for the past month or so.

    I hope you will let your regular readers and posters know how we can be helpful to you, if at all, in keeping this both a safe space for respectful questions and ideas about living healthfully in large bodies (however the individual defines health for themselves) AND a space that allows you to stay healthy and keep doing the good work you do :)

  12. Jen Avatar

    I’m think this is a great decision. I have been following the comments in the last few posts, and I think the discourse has been limited and diminished by the flood of unhelpful, argumentative, often triggering and more often disrespectful comments lately. You’ve dealt with it admirably. You’ve been SO patient and you’ve taken advantage of a SO MANY teachable moments, but the comments keep coming. As you said, you could spend the rest of your life continuing to deal with that, but I think I agree that it would hold you back from doing the work you’re trying to do. There are a million other places on the Internet for those commenters to go to argue their little hearts out. What you’re doing here is more important, in my opinion, and you own the space and have every right to drive it and organize it as you see fit. For my own part, I’m glad you’ve decided to turn down all that noise. Such people don’t need yet another forum and I for one was sick of hearing from them. Hope you are now able to get some rest.

    And just one more thing: I’ve only been reading the site for a few weeks and I feel like it’s changed my life for the better. You’ve given me so much wonderful language to use when faced with these kinds of people in real life, and that’s been really helpful, both practically in terms of conversing with them effectively, but also in terms of my self-esteem. Thank you so much!

  13. sharon Avatar

    Thank you for taking care of yourself :)

    I am an Australian dietitian and I am also fat – your awesome blog has helped me come to a much better place for looking after myself and my clients’ wellbeing and for this I cannot say thank you enough! Have a wonderful day :)

    Sharon xx

    1. Angela Avatar


      If I may ask, where in Australia are you based? I would like to see a dietician in regards to managing my PCOS, but REALLY don’t want to get yet another “try this Weight Watcher / shake diet / whatever plan” comment from yet another medical professional.



  14. rebecca Avatar

    I love you. And I support this decision wholeheartedly.

  15. Katja Avatar

    Huzzah! Good for you and your readers. My policy also is that my blog, FB page are safe havens for me and my readers. I tried engaging, but got nowhere, other than hateful comments, and a refusal from the “other side” to engage when I asked them questions or pointed out flaws in their “arguments.” You keep doing what you’re doing. Love the blog, love you. When I first learned about HAES, and undoing my brainwashing, I had a lot of dissonance, but I tried not to bash those who held beliefs that didn’t match mine. I listened, I doubted, I read-a lot- and I lived with new theories. I used my dissonance as the guide to where I needed to learn more, not to where I needed to shout louder or get mad. Maybe those folks who are so mad are so mad because on some level, they get that what they’re believing in isn’t a ‘sure thing’ anymore, and that’s scary as heck. So screen away!

  16. Tracy Avatar

    Thank you. Thank you. A million times, thank you.

    I am always thankful whenever I read a new blog post here. I link to many of your posts on Facebook, because I want more people to hear your message.

    Your posts make it possible for me to (sometimes) pop the shame-bubble that forms around my weight and my body. Again, thank you.

    Be gentle to yourself. Rest, recover, heal. You may have said it here–or perhaps I read it somewhere else–self-care is a radical act.


  17. Leslie Avatar

    smart move – thank you

  18. Angelina Littrell Avatar
    Angelina Littrell

    I just happened on this blog via a friend who is one of your faithful readers. I really appreciate the things you have said and pointed out. I have struggled with weight for many years. Because of medical reasons I underwent the “surgery” a couple of years ago. During all of my fat years the biggest thing I struggled with was the notion of self acceptance. But not in the traditional sense. You see, I was totally happy with me, my fat, and I. But my struggle ensued because society told me I shouldn’t be happy. I should always be aspiring for thinness. But I wasn’t. I was just happy and comfortable being me. Fat or thin… isn’t that the most important thing? Loving who you are? It is too bad that society hasn’t caught on that fact yet… :(

  19. Ang Avatar

    Yay on you, Michelle. For what it’s worth, your site is an ongoing source of inspiration, information, and all-around good vibes that has helped me a great deal in my own journey. I also wanted to tell you that as a sociologist interested in this stuff, I (and many other sociologists) are completely on board with you. When I finally get my book written and published (it’s highly critical of the whole “OMG, TEH DETHFATZ” discourse), I’ll send you a copy as a thank-you!

  20. Qhal Avatar

    I want to thank you and your teachers and good old Internet for allowing me to stumble across your ideas. A few years ago I was at the National Women’s Studies Association Conference to present a paper, which I did. I had the rest of the time to attend panels and I chose a panel on Fat Studies because it was something I knew very little about and I was at the end of graduate school and was sad that I was going to stop entering into new intellectual territory so regularly. It was poorly attended. I don’t think it had the draw/popularity of a lot of the other panels (the panel about historical nuns was also poorly attended, but also really really great) but I began to change just a little that day because I was able to begin to realize that I had beliefs that were actually not in line with the rest of my value system. That stayed with me awhile.

    Then earlier this year I read a long article that explained how we speak about fat bodies in the same way our culture that homophobes and heterosexists (or most regular people a generation or two ago) spoke about homosexuality — as in change the person no matter the cost. My mind continued to open up. I am committed to viewing the world through a feminist lens, and a queer one and began to realize even more that I believed/said things in one context that I wouldn’t in another (ie., we should change the culture for gay kids that want to go to prom together and little boys that want be ballerinas for halloween but that we should advocate changing the person/changing the body of someone who is fat).

    So I began to see this attitude even more around me (how can you miss it once it’s pointed out to you?) and I was even more changed. This whole time I was struggling to lose 10-15 pounds through exercise and weight watchers and felt so weird about it. I didn’t know exactly why I was doing it. I kind of just thought I should because some of my pants were a little tight, I thought it would be a good preventative measure, I thought I’d look better, I thought I’d somehow be more valuable and then I was standing in front of the fridge excited that I had enough points left for ice cream but then realizing I didn’t know if I even wanted any. I was standing in my kitchen completely unable to recognize if I was hungry or what I wanted and I got really angry about it.

    Then I came across your blog and I am so completely changed. As is my sister and my girlfriend. I see the world differently, I see people in it differently, including myself, strangers, my girlfriend. It feels amazing. I have read platitudes aplenty throughout my entire life about “Beauty is on the inside” but that’s like the republicans saying they value mothers. There is no talk behind the walk. But god, I am just so glad I found this window into an entirely new way of thinking that values humans in the way that I thought I had been doing all along.

    Thanks for writing. Good luck catching up on yourself and taking a break from all the ambitious “debaters.” I just want you to know that there are lots of us out here educating other folks one conversation at a time as a result of your work.

    1. Spiral Avatar

      Qhal, your story is really inspirational! I love that you arrived to acceptance of all body sizes through your feminist/queer commitment. I wish more people brought a critical lens to their attitudes about fat.
      And Michelle, thank you for your work and for standing against the tide. I’m glad you are setting the boundaries needed to support your stamina and prevent burnout.

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I thought that was a great story, too. And thanks.

  21. EZliving Avatar

    I also agree 100% with you, Michelle. It’s your blog! After all, tall people could have a leg bone or two removed or the tall parents of children could drastically restrict their child’s food to get keep them within their “normal” adult height. It’s a scientific fact that nutrition also affects height proved by the Dutch during WWII and the difference between North and South Koreans right now. And don’t forget…..”abnormally” short people can take growth hormones to make them taller. Maybe the appearance police could mail out charts of normal height and anybody over or under could be legitimately harassed? Doctors could also get involved. I’m sure there are studies where it’s been proven that being short or tall also affects your lifespan. Personally, I believe, you choose how tall or how short you want to be.

    My personal philosophy is “Beauty is fleeting but brains are forever.” Over the past 60 years I’ve had to say it out loud to a couple of people but, for the most part, not. If people have a problem with MY weight, it’s THEIR problem, not mine.

    By the way, I love your blog!!

  22. Chris Avatar

    Totally. Shared world view.

  23. Donna Skelton Avatar
    Donna Skelton

    Thank you for doing this work. I literally found you and other blogs like yours through the newswoman received hate mail story from earlier this month/last month. I found HAES and FA just when I needed them, when I was realizing that short of making well-being sacrifices that I wasn’t willing to make, that the dream of thin just simply isn’t going to happen. And that I’m beautiful, strong, active, fit, wonderful, intelligent, and loved without being thin.

    I really do thank you immensely for that, as you introduced me to this world and to the evidence-based data that I so desperately needed to see.

    You take care of yourself!

  24. Sam Avatar

    Just wanted to contribute to the “love” category:
    I adore you. I don’t know how to put heartfelt emphasis into this text to show you how much I mean it, but you saved my life.

    No, seriously.

    You helped me realize I’ve had disordered eating since I was 13 years old with some very serious bouts of ALL THE DISORDERS. I’m on the road to healing, and it’s IN A HUGE way because of this freaking blog. I read it anytime I get triggered… and honestly, I don’t know what I would do without you’re words gently reminding me that our culture is the crazy thing; NOT MY HUNGRY BODY.
    Thank you Michelle. Thank you for giving me my mind back. I love it, I love you, and most importantly, I love me again. ;)

    *Ehem* Fuck the haters.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      This is so incredibly sweet that I barely know what to say.

      Thank you, and thanks for everyone on this thread. I really appreciate all the love.

  25. Stella Avatar

    You are awesome.

    I love your site and your work.

    That is all.

  26. Elizabeth Avatar

    Thank you so much for all your amazing work. I am exhausted from just reading part of the discussion from the past month. Your drawing of this line so thoughtfully, so clearly, is a huge public service.

    I am so sick of this online notion that if you’re criticizing privilege/the status quo you then owe every privileged person/troll/angry person/unclear person hours of your time in discussion and free 1-on-1 tutorial, that you owe them this incredible amount of free work to come to some kind of peace just because a) they disagree with you b) they actually attack you!

    Activists drawing lines around this stuff, their own right to speak, to self-care–this is what the internet desperately needs, and I feel safer ON the internet with lovely boundaries like this.

    You’re the best.

  27. Heather Avatar

    I don’t comment much but you are seriously my favorite FA blogger ever.

  28. Jesse the K Avatar
    Jesse the K

    Thank you for your wisdom, for sharing it, for hosting useful and enlightening conversations, and not only taking care of yourself but modeling how to do that for the rest of your readers.

  29. Twistie Avatar

    Take good care of yourself, Michelle.

    Oh, and in case I haven’t said it enough lately, you rock, girl!

  30. Kirsten Avatar

    When I first came here recently (also through the newscaster link), I was amazed that I had finally found a blog where I could read the comments without feeling stupider. I wondered how you did that, Michelle, and it’s a bit comforting to find out that it’s not that you have some kind of comment-super-power.

    I’m sorry you have to read all the dreck before you hit ‘delete’. I’m adding my voice to all those above that thank you for it.

    It has been a new concept to me that if I have a Facebook page or a blog, I don’t have to allow anyone to comment anything that they want. I thought if I got upset or angry, it was my own fault for not being able to let it roll off me, or not understanding what they really meant, or not being able to vanquish them with a witty retort that would change their minds. As a teacher by trade it’s hard to realize that I’m probably never going to change anybody’s mind on anything, at least not on the Internet.

    It’s certainly trimming my Google Reader subscription list lately, and re-thinking when and what I do say online.

    Oh, and thanks for the link to the study; I’ve been looking for a concise article that hits the highlights that I can distribute to back up my points when I *do* get in these arguments.

  31. Gretchen Avatar

    Thank you!

    When I first started reading your blog a couple of years ago, I was struck by how hard you worked to make it a safe space for people to talk about their relationship with food without allowing other commenters to jump ion and say judgmental things. It is such a valuable thing and I really appreciate the work you do both in writing and moderating the blog.

  32. Audrey Avatar

    You go ahead and put your own oxygen mask before assisting other people !

    You are doing amazing work. I have (delicious) carrot cupcakes in my pantry that are not preventing me from sleeping at night because of YOU. I have had iceberg and tomatoes as a side every night this week and enjoyed it without reservation because of YOU, I had a sandwich and chips when Every. Other. Adult had a garden salad for lunch because of YOU. Every time I put my fork done and decide that I am finished I revel in the knowledge that I can and it is thanks to YOU. You are doing amazing work. You are amazing.

    1. Nadine Avatar

      I know you posted to commentd Michelle for her wonderful work on this blog.

      But I have to tell you that what you posted is inspirational to me. It completely resonates with how I aspire to feel/think. Thank you.

  33. Veerle Avatar

    I happily join the crowd in expressing my gratitude for the work you have done.

    I admire that you started the debate and think it was valuable. But I am also very happy to hear that you know put your health and wellbeing first. To me that is a lesson equally (if not more) valuable: don’t forget to take care of myself.

    Thank you.

  34. Unscrambled Avatar

    Just chiming in to thank you for the smart sense always contained in this blog, and to shake my head pityingly at all the schmucks. Saying that you have the right to exist over and over again is exhausting enough in life, screw bothering with it on your blog.

  35. Laura Avatar

    Moving and excellently written. Thank you. Well done.

  36. BJ Avatar

    Party on, dude.

  37. Linda Avatar

    Very much appreciate your comments and your conclusion. As a reader of a variety of commentary have come to the decision that every angry, bored person does not have a right to my time and attention and energy.
    Thank you

  38. Geniese Avatar

    I’ve been lurking for at least a year, but today I happily join the chorus of folks commenting here, and agree that this site has been life changing for me as well. This is indeed a safe space, and I love that I can always come back and read both your posts AND their comments to remember I am not crazy. Going to war against my body is dangerous silliness. Dammit I AM JUST FINE the way I am. Best wishes Michelle. And thank you thank you thank you!!

  39. Cathryn Avatar

    A graceful and intelligent decision. Self-care for the win! :) Have loved your blog for a long time now and would hate to see it downward spiral into something that causes you unnecessary stress or puts the important work you do on the back burner.

    Why some people think personal blogs are subject to their right to freedom of speech is beyond me. While I do enjoy witnessing your bad-ass debate skills, I am grateful you will not let this place become a “Speaker’s Corner”.

    Carry-on with your awesomeness :) And thank you!

  40. Natalie ._c- Avatar

    Michelle, I’m not sure whether you recognize me as a regular reader, because I don’t comment all that often, but I want you to know that I love you with all my heart, and your columns are EXTREMELY helpful to me as a diabetic with an eating disorder. Never mind that people don’t perceive me as fat (although objectively, I’m no skinny Minnie, either), but I have spent my whole life with an EMOTIONAL self-perception of being fat, which came from my family telling me I was fat — in comparison to my skin and bones sister. And I agree whole-heartedly that I don’t want to read the self-righteous comments of those who don’t understand how painful it is to be considered or consider yourself fat, and therefore unworthy of being loved or respected, or even suitable to be seen in public. Since I struggle so much with that, it means a lot to be able to read the thoughts of someone who fights the fight and stands up with courage. I love you for being a REAL human, and I’m sorry you’re so exhausted, and wish I could give you a hug.

  41. Constance May Avatar
    Constance May

    Love your stuff but do not want notification followup comments by email anymore! OMG. my battery went dead on my phone

    1. KellyK Avatar

      You should be able to modify your subscription options at subscribe.wordpress.com and unsubscribe from comments. Also make sure you uncheck the “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” box when you comment. (It looks like it’s unchecked by default, but if you had it checked before, your browser might be saving previous settings.)

    2. Michelle Avatar

      Sorry Constance – I have no idea how to unsubscribe from that. I don’t think I have control over that. There must be an “unsubscribe” button somewhere.

      1. littlem Avatar

        If you’re getting your comments by email, if you scroll to the bottom of the email of the last comment you received, there should be an “unsubscribe” notification there.

  42. diana Avatar

    You’re fabulous. Thanks for trying. I just saw Allyson Felix, gold medal winner, talk on Tavis Smiley. Tavis is not yet clued in to the problem with conflating health and body size and uses the word “war on obesity” in her introduction, but she does NOT use those words! She says “fighting physical inactivity.” It sounds so loving by comparison. :)

  43. Amber Karnes Avatar

    Thank you, michelle, for the important work you’re doing. And for everything you have done for me personally and professionally. I would not hesitate to say that you changed my life. Xoxo

  44. Cory Avatar

    I don’t comment often but I do read everything you post. It’s your blog, you get to do what you want. Period.
    I relearned how to eat here, I’m so glad I found you :)

  45. mara Avatar

    Michelle, you are awesome. I’m glad you set this boundary. Besides being demoralizing and upsetting, the debate over whether fat people have a right to exist is a ginormous waste of everyone’s time here when there is so much other cool stuff to be learned.

    I’ve been meaning to tell you this and there was never a right time. Remember (I think) at the beginning of the summer, when you did a series on hunger and fullness and so on? I learned something huge from that… even at a stage in my life when I thought I new my body and myself and it ALL.

    At the time, last spring/summer, I was having semi-regular blood sugar crashes… times when I would suddenly feel literally unwell from not having eaten in so long, and would have to eat NOW. Despite the fact that I have been a meal (and snack) eater for a long time now, and don’t restrict. I veer toward lateness in all things, and I guess that applied to meals as well. Anyway, what hunger felt like to me was that bad, queasy feeling – I think you described it as chemical hunger? Should go back and look. Anyway, THAT was hunger to me. That was what I noticed. That was my cue to eat- feeling shaky and sick. Not every day, but often enough – probably at least a couple of times a week. ugh.

    Anyway, then I read your post, thought “hmm, interesting”, and almost immediately became aware, for the very first time, of a quieter, subtler type of hunger. It’s just gentle, not demanding. It doesn’t feel ‘bad’. That’s what was throwing me, I think. Somewhere from back in my restricting days, I think I had preserved the notion that hunger as a justification for eating NOW had to feel ‘bad’.

    So, anyway. All these years, I just simply did not know what it felt like to start to be be hungry – to be a little bit hungry – I just. simply. didn’t. know. And even after reading your post, I didn’t have a big a-HA moment. That came later, probably a month or so later, when I realized that, omg, I haven’t had that blood sugar crash feeling in ages.

    And I still haven’t. And it’s a subtle but important contribution to my quality of life. It’s probably healthier. I don’t think it’s made me eat more (but if it did, well, whatever)… only sooner.

    And like all good realizations, it applies to all sorts of other things too. Like, I’ve realized I can also be a little bit tired, and worthy of rest, rather than going straight to exhaustion before I notice anything amiss.

    That’s by no means all that I’ve learned from you. It’s just such a nice tangible thing. You are doing fabulous, important work here, and to reduce it in any way to reiterations of that inane debate would be just… so not right. So, thank you for your decision and clarity.

    1. mara Avatar

      Oh, also, it wasn’t last spring/summer that you posted that brilliant post – it was December 2011. See? My sense of timing sucks. Sorry again…

    2. Michelle Avatar

      Thank you so much mara, and this is actually a really great explanation of feeling the subtler more comfortable forms of hunger. I hope you continue to feed yourself well…you deserve it. (And no, it won’t necessarily mean that you eat more overall. Perhaps just less desperately!)

  46. mara Avatar

    Okay, and, I really do not know how to work the italics! How to turn them off, anyway. Sorry, everyone.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Fixed that for you :)

      1. mara Avatar

        Thanks! :)

  47. Emily Hat Avatar
    Emily Hat

    Hi there. I am wondering something. I share your moral belief that it is not right to discriminate against people based on appearance, and that all people have the right to bodily autonomy. Further, I want to encourage fat acceptance, but I have a problem that makes me feel like I am a fake or broken if I do.

    I used to be fat. Through disordered eating I lost weight and became thin. I later learned to change my disordered eating into a healthy diet and exercise. But I still eat so as not to gain weight. I still work out so as not to gain weight. I do this because people were mean to me when I was fat. I was unhappy because people were mean. I don’t want people to be mean to me for no reason again. I am lucky enough to be able to do this without physically harming myself anymore.

    I feel like a hypocrite advocating for people’s rights to be accepted, when I diet myself. It’s because I don’t want to go back to where I was when people would insult and exclude me for no other reason than my size. Fear keeps me living my lifestyle. But I still see the meanness and think it’s wrong, even if I’m no longer on the receiving end.

    Am I too much a hypocrite to be of use?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      You have to do what makes sense for you in your own life. Some people do lose weight, and some people do choose to diet. As long as you don’t promote dieting here, or suggest that your experience applies to everyone else, just the fact that you believe that people of all sizes deserve respect and compassion makes you my ally. You’re not a hypocrite, you’re human, and humans sometimes struggle with difficult inconsistencies because we live in a complicated and often cruel world.

    2. closetpuritan Avatar

      You might want to check out Debra’s Just Maintaining if you have not already heard of it. She’s not currently posting new entries, but there’s some good stuff on there and she does respond to new comments. Basically she’s a pro-size acceptance weight loss maintainer who’s the first to say that it’s not for everyone. You may want to start with the first post.

      1. Emily Hat Avatar
        Emily Hat

        Thank you. I will take a look.

  48. tree Avatar

    You are a superhero, but even superheroes need to take care of themselves. Thank you for all the work you do.

    that it is not right to treat people poorly, or to afford them fewer rights, because of their body or appearance.

    I think the question to be asking naysayers is why they don’t believe this, too. I mean, the universal declaration of human rights doesn’t append “unless you’re fat” to the end of every article. (I checked.) I really don’t understand why it’s a difficult concept.

  49. Megan Avatar

    Absolutely in support of you! This is your blog, and it’s amazing. So many people, including me, come here to be inspired and feel accepted in a way we often aren’t by the dominant society. Or even ourselves without significant amounts of therapy. (I had the most awesome therapist, though, I must say!)

    I must say, too, that I am always rather triumphant that,when people (mostly nurses who don’t know my medical history) may criticize me (I’m 230 and an American size 20), I can tell them that I actually have PCOS, which normally makes people gain weight, but I’ve stayed the same weight for over 5 years now by focusing on being healthy FOR ME and MY body. Especially since that bloody body index thinks I need to be 140lbs, but I was hospitalized for severe anorexia when I was just 135lbs (oh was I scarily skinny for my frame!). Also? I can consistently overpower my 6ft2in 18 year old brother who is a linebacker for a college football team, and I’m far more flexible than most people I know.

    So, go ahead, world: tell me I’m not healthy just because I’m fat. And you can bite my cute, chubby backside. :D

  50. closetpuritan Avatar

    Hey, I made the list! All the more impressive since I’m always showing up late…

    This issue is one reason why I’ve delayed adding my blog to the fatosphere feed–I wasn’t sure if I wanted to deal with the increase in comments.

    With the middle part of this post (“I am comfortable with…”) I wanna be like, “Take THAT, ‘denialism’ accusers!!!”

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Massive side-eye to that denialism dude. Who now quotes Tara Parker-Pope with apparent zeal.

      I hate the fact that acknowledging ambiguities in the risk data, and insisting that association and causation are not one and the same, gets conflated with denialism. Whatever. People just love to assume I believe things I’ve never even said.

      1. Chris Avatar

        I hate it how people accuse you of not wanting to face facts when you start looking at the facts and exposing inconsistencies. Or to put it another way, how people accuse you of denying shit when you’re actually investigating it. Or how people accuse you of giving up when you decide to dedicate yourself to something bigger, something more meaningful, or how people accuse you of being too sensitive when you decide to stand up for yourself and call people on their bullshit – how they try to trivialise your position when you start to get disagreeable. How the marginalised are blamed for their oppression. Or how people think being kind and forgiving equates to being weak, and how people back up their own arguments with phrases like “everybody knows” or “it’s a known fact” when you bring up a specific study for discussion… I feel like I’m starting to sound a bit bitter, which concerns me a tad, but… of course when you stand up against the status quo, they try to trivialise you, they accuse you of bitterness and denialism, of being too sensitive, because what else can they say? “We hate bodies – we pretend to love them, but we want to make everyone better because deep down people are pathetic” – but how can you really defend that position? Be hard on yourself until you love yourself? “I lost weight when I learned how to love myself” – no, when you learn how to love yourself you stop judging yourself – especially by the standards of the body-hating status quo… Sigh. What’s an appropriate beverage to go with a long rant? Maybe a cup of tea… The problem is – being expected to play nice when people are abusing you? I might not have captured it in this particular comment, but when kindness is part of your agenda, you can’t just be an asshole to everyone who disagrees with you. It amazes me how many people still seem to think dominance and hatred can make you healthy. When longevity is on the cards – health ‘for life’ – why do so many people take such a dogmatic view?

        1. Kirsten Avatar

          I hate it how people accuse you of not wanting to face facts when you start looking at the facts and exposing inconsistencies. Or to put it another way, how people accuse you of denying shit when you’re actually investigating it. Or how people accuse you of giving up when you decide to dedicate yourself to something bigger, something more meaningful, or how people accuse you of being too sensitive when you decide to stand up for yourself and call people on their bullshit – how they try to trivialise your position when you start to get disagreeable. How the marginalised are blamed for their oppression. Or how people think being kind and forgiving equates to being weak, and how people back up their own arguments with phrases like “everybody knows” or “it’s a known fact” when you bring up a specific study for discussion…

          I love this, Chris. I think I need to print it out and put it on the wall by my desk as an affirmation; “I’m not denying, I’m investigating”, etc.

          1. Chris Avatar

            Thanks Kirsten! The thing that bugs me the most, I think, is the trivialisation. “We can’t argue your point (because we have no argument), so if you’re a man we’ll emasculate you, and if you’re a woman we’ll trivialise you”. So many levels.

        2. Michelle Avatar

          Thanks, Chris.

          You make an interesting point about sounding bitter. I realize that I often sound, often AM, quite bitter. I think my primary emotion is anger, which deeply concerns me. I think I have reasons for that anger, but I think for my own sake and for the sake of my writing and of my readers, I need to rethink how I manage it and express it. I don’t want to be a bitter person, even if I live in a deeply unfair world. I would like to learn to accept the unfairness to a certain extent, while still working to change it. It’s tough.

          1. Chris Avatar

            I wrote about my anger recently – link – but I’m not sure if I quite captured what I’m struggling with. I don’t want to be bitter either. But I don’t necessarily know what I can do. A friend mentioned the term ‘activism fatigue’, and I thought, hello yes! But I don’t feel like I’m even all that much involved. Working at a gym, and seeing the constant judgement palmed off as if it’s something positive. You know when you’ve seen behind the magic curtain – and I feel like I can’t even talk to some people any more. There are some topics I can’t engage in without wanting to tear (my remaining) hair out. For what it’s worth, this blog, this safe space (even considering the recent hostile comments) helps to keep me sane, grounded, and in touch with myself.

          2. Chris Avatar

            Hmm, that comment wasn’t meant to be all-link! Oh well.

          3. KellyK Avatar

            Chris, I think that mental and emotional endurance are similar to physical endurance in that they vary from person to person, and other stresses affect them. It’s totally possible to have activism fatigue without doing a whole lot of activism, either because you have other emotional stuff, random life stresses and frustrations eat away at your b.s. tolerance, or you tend to take things seriously and personally (that would be me). Working in a gym would wear me down emotionally in about a week.

            I also think that because activism fatigue is mental rather than physical, all the time you spend *thinking* about issues adds up, even if you’re not blogging or having conversations or signing petitions.

          4. Chris Avatar

            I agree. I keep expecting myself to be able to deal with a whole lot of stuff – you know that illusion – “everyone else appears to be coping, why am I struggling?” And while I have good endurance for some mental or physical activities, I don’t for others, and I have to remind myself to be gentle and take on only what I’m ready to take on. Little challenges that I can adapt to, like training your body – if you can lift 10kg for 10 repetitions, you might want to try 12kg to challenge your development, but it’s unwise to go straight to the 40kg dumbbell…

            I was on holidays recently, on an island, and it was so great being away from newspapers and TV and the gym, and now I’m back, and suddenly really aware of how much pressure there is to always be thinking about how imperfect and ugly our bodies are. It really blows my mind – all the marketing and judgement that we’ve come to normalise.

          5. DebraSY Avatar

            Michelle, in a comment to Chris you say:

            “You make an interesting point about sounding bitter. I realize that I often sound, often AM, quite bitter. I think my primary emotion is anger, which deeply concerns me. I think I have reasons for that anger, but I think for my own sake and for the sake of my writing and of my readers, I need to rethink how I manage it and express it. ”

            Recently, I was introduced to one of Plato’s metaphors that helped me to embrace my anger. We are all so many chariots. For each of us, our Reason is the charioteer controlling two horses: Anger and Desire.

            To my thinking, that means as long as your desire to educate and uplift is as strong as your anger, then you are on the track. If one horse gets stronger than the other, you will run in tight circles around your private crew in the repair pit and will never make it on the track where the race is happening. Don’t let anyone derail you with diminishing comments like, “Well, you just sound really angry.” They’re trying to get you to neuter one of your valuable horses. A good answer is, “Of course I’m angry, and that’s because my point is reasonable and important and alternative views I’ve heard are hurtful and wrong.” Woof.

      2. closetpuritan Avatar

        Wait, what denialism dude? I was thinking of Greta Christina. And I think Amanda Marcotte.

        Part of the problem is that people will also grab the easiest-to-argue-against representative of FA (or whatever they want to argue against) and compare it to the strongest arguments on their side. Random commenters vs. popular bloggers.

        I had a post from Alas on this bookmarked, but it looks like it disappeared.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Mark Hoofnagle. He writes a blog called Denialism for the Science Blogs network. Way back, a long time ago, he basically accused fat acceptance advocates of denialism, lumping them in with food industry front groups (like the Center for Consumer Freedom, blech.) Which is, you know, not exactly accurate.

          Did Amanda Marcotte accuse FA of denialism? Wow. I didn’t know.

          I’m not going to pretend I’m not biased – I clearly am because I have a personal and ethical stake in this. But people doing obesity research (sometimes even being funded by the pharmaceutical or diet industry) are often just as biased, and to sweep that under the rug is disingenuous. Also, bias is not denialism.

        2. Michelle Avatar

          Here’s the archived version – I wonder where the post went.


          Also, here’s me back in 2009 acknowledging that the data shows fat people have higher risks – http://www.fatnutritionist.com/index.php/are-fat-people-unhealthy-part-2/

          I don’t dwell on it a lot, because the media already does that for us to the exclusion of all else. I try to refocus the issue a little bit on, “What can we do about those risks, and why are they there in the first place?” because I think it’s more productive than hand-wringing and wailing.

          1. closetpuritan Avatar

            I finally remembered to ask Ampersand/Barry about the missing post; it’s back now.

          2. Michelle Avatar

            Yay! That’s great. I’m glad you asked him about it.

  51. ckcpurple Avatar

    Good for you, Michelle!!! Thank you for being true to you, your mission and to your followers. As for the rest, feel free to use my new favorite saying courtesy of Ben Affleck and his new movie ARGO: “Argo f**k yourself!!!”

    Take care of you!

  52. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout

    Thanks for providing a safe place for us to talk about our own issues, support each other, and learn new things.

  53. candace Avatar

    … Adding to the love. This blog has changed my life. I am a happier, bolder, more sane person because of this space. Whenever I forget my boldness or lose my sanity, I come here to feel human again. Thank you so much.

  54. […] at Fat Nutritionist on debate: For me, this is also an emotional conversation, for reasons I mentioned above, but also because my […]

  55. Tracy Avatar

    Rock on with your stupendously badass self, Michelle!

  56. kate Avatar

    I think anyone fighting against ideas that are deeply rooted within society suffers fatigue. It’s exhausting reading some of the stuff surrounding HAES and body acceptance.

    I’m studying to be a counsellor and in my area it’s called burn-out (I think this term is used across many fields though). It’s normal to get tired and exhausted from something, particularly when you are so passionate about it and have to have the same fights with the same type of people all the time.

    I agree with you about alot of things, the risk factors of under/over weight(edness), importance of self-care over weight loss etc. (Just a note – I am fat (deceptively so, as one kind hearted but misguided anaesthiologist put it).

    Your blog provides me with a lot of information other nutritionists I’ve talked to didn’t know about or didn’t think as necessary for me. Thank you for your hard work.

    Personally I think you need a rest, but of course that’s up to you. :D

  57. Valerie Avatar

    I am a person, who like many of us here, has never been a thin person. I look in the mirror and at aged 51, think “well, that’s it then. No more chance of beauty for you.” I am headed to a very fancy party sponsored by the ballet in my city. The BALLET. This means all kinds of extremely small people, current dancers and ones who used to be dancers who are older, but still extremely small. I have been dithering for weeks about this. Then, a few weeks ago, I attended my first opera. On the stage, were larger people. The star was – gasp – larger than me. And beautiful. Death defyingly beautiful and young. And then the other star – the older woman came out – again, larger – and she took command of the whole stage. I could not look away from her. She was lovely. She was irresistible. She was wholly and completely herself. And she was about 50. My ballet friends have certainly grown tired of my anxious body image issues, I know. And I looked at the opera singers and thought – what the hell have I been thinking? I am the one who holds negative stereotypes about others – not them. The dancers don’t give a whit about how I look. I’m the one that’s all bound up in my own self image issues. So now – I ordered the fancy dress. I am headed to the fancy party. Full of women who are smaller than me. I imagine those gorgeous opera singers on the stage – glorious, gorgeous women. If they can make me see their loveliness, why would I deny my own? Right there and then I decided that I would promise myself not to project my own history of shame onto perfectly nice ballet dancers. It’s not their fault they are slender. And they apparently like me anyway for myself. It’s been my own crap about myself – my size – my issues – that’s what’s gotten in my way. And here I was blaming them. Time for me to take the stage. Here I go!

    1. Kirsten Avatar

      I wish I could know you better Valerie, we are in such similar places!

      Right after a bad episode of feeling discriminated against late in the week, I had to go to an event yesterday and not only look good, but also perform. I felt like I was going through the motions, but I did all the right “stuff” (shaving legs, best-quality underwear, expensive shoes, flattering dress, matching jewelry, blow-dried my hair, put on makeup). I decided to put my trust in the “stuff” and hope that I’d managed to put a hard shell of “pretty” on the outside of my fat self that would make me acceptable to society.

      Like you, I deny that I could be lovely. I read your story and I have no trouble believing that you are going to be absolutely beautiful in your fancy dress, especially in the confident, happy way I imagine you will carry yourself. It’s harder to believe that I was actually pretty yesterday, all the way through, and not just the outside. But I will try!

      1. Michelle Avatar

        Just a lil PS – you might enjoy scrolling through these images to see people of many sizes and fashion aesthetics looking good and enjoying themselves – http://www.flickriver.com/groups/fatshionista/pool/

        Keep scrolling until you see someone whose body or style resonates with you. It can be a really good experience.

        1. Kirsten Avatar

          Somewhere recently I ran across a series of photos of plus-size models in lingerie; they weren’t exactly fat, but they weren’t the supposed “plus size” models that wear size 6 or 8, either. I wish I could find it again. I scrolled through thinking WHOA, these women are HOT!

          Which is a long-winded way of saying I will check out the link, thanks!

    2. Ezliving Avatar

      You go, girl!!!! Enjoy yourself and your gorgeous new dress!! I am so happy you have found yourself!

  58. ~julie~ Avatar

    Michelle, you rock. Your writing is brilliant, and frank, and fucking awesome. It inspires me, and I look forward to each and every post, because it’s such a refreshing change from the ever-present drumbeat of dominant culture that tells me I’m ugly and not worth the space I take up. I still hope to work with you once I get some extra $$ together :) Keep up your good work, and don’t let the bastards get you down.

  59. Barbara Avatar

    I’m one of the people found your blog because of the newscaster story. Someone linked to your post on the topic in a forum I frequent. I’ve spent the past week or reading the entire archives non-stop.

    I was in kind of a crappy place about my body since I’m spending a lot of time outdoors lately and finding clothes has been a serious issue. My boyfriend and I are living in an RV and traveling the country hiking and biking. This is fantastic, but I’m just large enough that finding outdoor clothes is a challenge. All of the major companies seem to be under the impression that no woman over a size eight ever sets foot outdoors. Those companies that do deign to make plus size gear have very limited low-quality offerings at substantially higher prices than the straight sized stuff. When you’re hiking around the wilderness in places like Alaska, you need good gear. So, I found myself falling into that “well, if I spend a few months constantly battling my body and making myself miserable, I can lose that 10-20 lb I need to consistently fit into standard sized clothing and gear. That’ll make my life easier.”

    Your blog was exactly the wakeup call I needed. It has been incredibly valuable to me in the last little while Your writing is so straightforward and sensible while also being wonderfully compassionate. I just wanted to say thank you.

  60. Jenny Avatar

    I love this blog and fully support your desire to moderate – I like having a place where I can come and not be bombarded with the usual fat hatred. I’m still working on being comfortable in my own body and sites like yours are what keep me going, when I feel like the entire world is trying to tell me I’m wrong for accepting myself. Thanks for the work that you do!

  61. Vi Avatar

    Michelle, I love your blog and I find it really helpful in keeping my food/body issues at bay. Although I’m a “normal” weight (I guess on the borderline between “not fat” and “in-betweenie”), fat demonization has an effect on everyone, not just people who are fat. I frequently look to your writing for support in helping me remember that it’s more important to me to try to do things that make me healthier than things that change the number on the scale.
    Block the h8rs all you want!

    1. ksol Avatar

      fat demonization has an effect on everyone, not just people who are fat

      I think of it that in this society, all of us breathe the same poisoned air of body hate. Some of us are just forced through circumstance to breathe more of it than others. It isn’t healthy for any of us.

      As for the common accusation of “giving up” Chris mentions above, the best part of beating your head against a wall is stopping.

      1. Chris Avatar

        “The best part of beating your head against a wall is stopping”. Love it!

  62. Emily Hat Avatar
    Emily Hat

    I have been reading through your archives in an attempt to learn more. I would like to say how smart your writing is. Like Hercules wrestling with Proteus, you have a gift for grabbing nebulous concepts from the cloud of the collective consciousness and forcing them to paper, making them keep their shape.

    What is more your writing is uplifting. It is both sane and humane. You are a darn good nutritionist; and you are a darn good writer.

  63. Liam O'Shaughnessy Avatar
    Liam O’Shaughnessy

    Hi there Michelle,
    I saw this article today which I guess follows on to the debates topic raised here
    The article to me came across as biased but it got me thinking.
    I’m a personal trainer and I’m in total agreement with the HAES principal, however I’m in quandary when it comes to the health component, what exactly health its definitely not BMI, is it a healthy cholesterol and blood pressure or is it being able to run laps & laps of a track or do millions of push ups. I just try to get the people I train to move more, in an environment where there is no judgment and they can feel better about themselves and an even bigger plus is making fitness fun nothing better than having a smile on your dial :)
    I was wondering what your perspective of health is?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      According to the World Health Organization, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I don’t like this definition much, because I believe it is unrealistic and basically ensures that no person, ever, could be considered “healthy.”

      In my opinion, health is more than BMI, and even more than any other physical measures. Health is the ability to live a meaningful life, even in the presence of disease or infirmity. Of course, treatments and cures should be sought and applied when possible, but there will always be cases in which someone who has a disease lives very well with it and could be considered “healthy” even in comparison to someone without a medical disease or condition, but who is miserable for one reason or another. I also feel like health is not a binary, you have it or don’t have it, but rather a continuum. Everyone has SOME level of health if they are alive.


      The idea that anyone could or does exist in a state of perfect biomedical health for any length of time is an illusion, and it also sets up a tendency to view health through an ableist lens that seeks to “fix” all problems (some of which may actually be instances of nonconformity and not actual disease or impairment – we tend to enjoy medicalizing nonconformity), rather than focusing on helping people with different health conditions maximize the quality and meaning of their lives within the reality of their bodies.

      I think it’s great that you help people to move as they are able, without judgment. We need more personal trainers like you in the world.

      That article was a rotten bit of scaremongering, and I’m unconvinced that scaring and shaming people leads to better health, by anyone’s definition.

      Humans actually respond better to intrinsic motivation than to operant conditioning (rewards and punishments) and tend to perform better at tasks at which they are intrinsically motivated. Scaring people by telling them how fat and unhealthy and doomed they are OR ELSE is not a good way to motivate people. If it were, it would have worked by now because we’ve been doing it for a decade with regard to weight. Time to try supporting people to pay attention to their bodies, value themselves, and start where they are at so they can enjoy a meaningful life in the best health possible for them.

  64. Sarah Avatar

    Please keep doing what you’re doing! I will admit, I am skinny, but I also have serious body issues, and all my friends seem to as well. They sit there and do the whole “I’m so fat. I worked out so hard, I can have one cupcake, but only one because otherwise I’ll get fat even though I weigh 110 pounds I’m so fat.” routine.

    However, my issues are unknown to them. I have had bulimia, anorexia, and every imaginable combination of the two on and off ( mostly on ) for about 10 years now, with significant recovery progress made in the past six to eight months. Sometimes, I gets really hard to tune out what they’re saying, and I’m fighting with all my might to not relapse, and I come here and read through your archives and it lets me know that *no matter what* my body looks like, it’s alright. What’s important is that *I*, me, who lives in my own body, *feels* healthy and comfortable with it. This place lets me know that. You are amazing, an a source of inspiration to myself and so many others that it’s OK for our bodies to be how they naturally are.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Don’t worry, I will be doing this for a while yet.

      If you haven’t already, check out this website – http://www.youreatopia.com/ – and keep fighting the good fight :)

  65. metaphortunate Avatar

    You are awesome. And I just bought Love Me, Feed Me because of your rec on Twitter, and stayed up way too late last night reading it. I didn’t really expect it to be a page-turner, but it was! And I feel like I now have a better idea about how I want to feed my son. So thanks so much for the recommendation.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I’m totally reading it, it is a page-turner, and I don’t have kids or know the first thing about kids. Glad you’re liking it! Yay!

      1. Kirsten Avatar

        Dang it… my library doesn’t have a copy!

        I didn’t realize it was specifically for adoptive and fostering families, and we are a fostering family. Food was a big struggle with our first child, but our second, who is still with us, is an infant, so that makes it easy.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          It’s very new, so the library probably hasn’t even heard of it yet. You can request that they order specific books…there’s some link on the website to do that.

          You might be able to contact Katja too and ask if there is a way to get a copy in Canada – her website is http://thefeedingdoctor.com/

        2. Katja Avatar

          Hi Guys,
          Meta, I’m so glad you are enjoying the book. Thanks again Michelle for the shout out, and letting me use a few of your words of wisdom! Kirsten, it is finally catalogued in the library system in the US, but I did not get the distribution worked out too well. Best bet is to request it from the local library, as my client did, and they did purchase it. I will be working on improving distribution to libraries, but the ebook may be the best way. Working on that too :) Food issues are so much more common with foster and adopted children, but alas, are ubiquitous in society today! I was sad at my mom’s group when all the talk today was about how triumphant the moms were when they were able to get rid of or buy back the Halloween candy… I didn’t chime in, but M enjoyed 5 or 6 pieces without drama, and I enjoyed a few too. There is a total cultural insanity around food and feeding, and it’s so hard to feed ourselves and our children well in this climate. Thank goodness for Michelle! Meta, if you feel so inclined, an Amazon review actually would help it get in libraries. Weird that they look at that stuff when deciding what books to stock… it’s all been such a learning process. Please look us up on FB, we have a lot of fun at thefeedingdoctor :)

  66. amcgrrl Avatar

    I am finding your site to be absolutely intriguing. I was fat as a child, hated it, lost weight by accident roller skating hours a day (I also tend to get a bit obsessive in my interests), gained some back, did a whole bunch of different diets, was yo-yo eating all the way to college, started dating boys, all of them liked thin girls, so I tried aerobics, jogging, went out dancing, ate cheap college food (ramen noodles, pizza, etc.), fasted some days due to lack of funds, and still had trouble staying thin. I was doing OK, was never really considered fat (5’8″ 125-130 lbs.), although deep down inside I always saw myself as fat. Then I didn’t care anymore. I hated the fact that men were attracted to my body when I was thin, that they didn’t know who I was/am on the inside (a little fat girl, who is really smart!) and didn’t seem to care. I was never going to get married, so why not enjoy all my favorite foods? I gained 40 lbs. in one year. Then 5 years later, I got sick, had chronic bronchitis and lost 30 lbs. At that time, I also met my husband, who didn’t care if I exercised or not. He was also not thin, but has an absolutely positive attitude and was a bit shy around girls, but never with me. We enjoyed lots of good eating and good cooking for 7 years before I gave birth to two beautiful children, both of whom had food allergies. Thus began my transition from food-as-pleasure-and-comfort to food-as-medicine/healing. Now I am not fat and not thin, but my weight has been relatively the same for the past 3 years and I can’t tell you what my weight is, because I haven’t stepped on a scale for quite sometime and I’ve been ignoring my GYN on that mammogram. :) I don’t eat what I want, because I eat what my kids need to eat and set an example for them (I don’t believe in “intuitive nutrition”), but the word, “fat” is not to be uttered in my home and my kids are forbidden from judging any of their classmates according to their looks. I also want to note that although we are not of Hispanic descent, we live in a Spanish neighborhood, where lots of kids here could be classified as “pre-diabetic.” Life is good, when you allow yourself to live it!

    1. Kirsten Avatar

      Some people don’t mind the word “fat”; I think it’s a personal choice whether you use it about yourself, and obviously not to be used pejoratively about other people.

      When you describe the kids in your neighbourhood as “pre-diabetic”, though, don’t you really mean “fat”? Unless you are a doctor and those kids are in your care, you can’t know if they are actually pre-diabetic.

      The American Diabetes Association list both “Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.” and “Myth: Eating too much sugar causes diabetes.” on their Myths page. .

      1. Kirsten Avatar

        Sorry, tried to post the link as a link and it didn’t work:


      2. amcgrrl Avatar

        Notice I put “pre-diabetic” in quotation marks, because I really don’t know what causes a person to be diabetic or what qualifies someone as “pre-diabetic.” But I have read (too lazy to cite sources, but will if you want me to – my mom is diabetic, btw) that people with a “thick middle” are more likely to be diabetic. So I’m not saying these kids are “fat.” (I also come from a belief that baby fat is a GOOD thing, but am uncertain as to what age it becomes not so good.) But they are shaped in such a way, that they may be classified as someone more likely to get diabetes than someone who does not have a thick waist.

        No I’m not a doctor and I’m not their caretaker, but I do talk to some of the moms. Many of them have been warned by their pediatricians that their child is “obese” and were told to put the child on a diet. I won’t go into all the details, will just say that I have been really careful not to contribute to their mom-guilt about how they are raising their kids. And you’re right, not everyone minds that word, “fat,” but I did and so I raise my kids accordingly. You are free to use the word as much as you like in your home. :)

        1. closetpuritan Avatar

          Thanks for clarifying; your intended meaning did not come through in your original post. “Pre-diabetic” does not mean “thick around the middle” and others had no way of knowing that that’s what you believed it meant.

          (“Prediabetic” refers to a blood sugar level that’s higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetic; high abdominal fat (“thick around the middle”) is considered a risk factor for diabetes, but that does not necessarily mean that that person has developed or will develop elevated blood sugar, just that they have a higher chance of doing so.)

          1. amcgrrl Avatar

            Yes I should’ve been clearer, don’t normally post on the internet for this reason – hard to say what you really mean in a short blurb and I don’t have the time to explain myself every time. But Michelle touched on a some personal chords within me with her site, so I felt moved to write something to let her know.

            Cheers to Health, whatever that means for you…!

      3. Natalie ._c- Avatar

        Right on, Kirsten! If you don’t have the genes for Type 2 diabetes, you will never get it, no matter how fat you are. 33.8 (or so) % of the US population is classified as obese, but no more than 8% have ALL kinds of diabetes, including Type 1, which has no relation to body size at all. So that means 25% of the population is considered fat, but DOESN’T have diabetes and never will. It’s time to get rid of the myth that increased weight = Type 2 diabetes, because it DOESN’T!!! And too many people are made to worry and obsess over their weight when they’re not even at risk! Hello, anorexia and bulimia! You can tell this is one of my hot buttons!

        1. Kirsten Avatar

          Diabetes is a hot button for me too. My father’s mother had Type 2, and so I’ve worried about my weight (and my mother has worried for me) for my whole life.. The upshot of 20 years of dieting is that I’ve gained 60 permanent pounds… but I am done worrying about that weight, and I will do something about the risk factors I *can* control instead!

  67. Kathy Avatar

    I was told by my massage therapist last night – in essence – that my weight gain has made me unhealthy. So she seems to equate thinness with health. I don’t know how to tell her thin does not = health. It’s true I’ve gained weight. It’s true maybe my portions are too big. It’s true I don’t eat as well as I could. It’s true I don’t exercise as much as I could/should. It’s also true I also get sick (viruses) easier when I restrict. Then I stop the restriction & go the other way & eat more than I’m comfortable with. I didn’t like having this conversation w/ her. I didn’t like discussing all this with her. A shame spiral has ensued today. And a little conversation in my head about “well maybe I should try THIS diet, or do what SHE does, blah blah blah”. Help!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Hi Kathy – thanks for leaving me a comment here. Twitter doesn’t give much room for replies.

      First, did you specifically consult your massage therapist about your weight, and give her informed consent to assess and treat you for your weight? Because if not, it’s not really her place to be doing that, and you absolutely do not have to discuss this with her, period.

      You can try to make arguments to her that weight does not necessarily equal health, but my larger concern is how you take care of yourself. What she thinks, ultimately, may or may not change based on whatever evidence you present her. Weight bias is pervasive and deeply ingrained, and people often do not respond well to arguments against it.

      What is the best way you can treat yourself, both physically and emotionally, right now?

      I’m so sorry this happened. This was not your fault, and your massage therapist was in the wrong.

      Lots of people have had these experiences – maybe you have seen this before, but I think it’s relevant for this discussion – http://fathealth.wordpress.com

  68. La Avatar

    I would have told her that the subject of weight is off limits. Otherwise, how can you feel comfortable getting a massage when you feel like she’s assessing your body like that? It would be awful hard to relax and enjoy the massage.

    1. Kathy Avatar

      Yeah Now it’s made me wonder how long she’s been judging my body while she’s been massaging me. I should have told her thin = health; my father-in-law’s thin, and he has many health problems.

      1. Kathy Avatar

        oops that would be thin doesn’t = health

  69. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout

    I was thinking about restriction and food and binging today and realized the same effect occurs with my money. When money is tight for me, that’s when I have the strongest urge to buy stuff I don’t need and usually don’t really want. When I feel comfortable with my bank account, it is much easier to make these choices.

    I wonder if all humans have these issues, or if some of us are more susceptible than others.

  70. Kathy H. Avatar
    Kathy H.

    This site is in a word, inspiring.
    I have my entire life (as far back as I can remember) worried about being fat. I have hated my body and dieted and gone to therapy for an eating disorder. I am now “fat” and it is exhausting constantly defending my body and eating habits to people. One of my coworkers is more body obsessed than I and it has been a real struggle dealing with her constant “oh that sounds fattening” comments. I am trying to come to a place of health, where I feel good, not look like some insane beauty standard. Thank You for all of the encouragement, it’s nice to be valued by someone besides the people who know and love me.

  71. Kirsten Avatar

    I saw this recently and immediately thought of you:

    It’s a philosophy professor who starts off the course by telling students “I’m sure you’ve heard the expression ‘everyone is entitled to their opinion.’ Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself, maybe to head off an argument or bring one to a close. Well, as soon as you walk into this room, it’s no longer true. You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for.”

    The real “aha” moment for me was the statement “The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned.”.

    I finally get it now – my website, your website, my Facebook page, all the places you or I control – we *don’t* have to let everyone have their opinion. Douglas Adams said “All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.” I am allowed to only allow well-formed opinions to enter my life. Hurrah!

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I read that a few weeks ago I think! I thought it was great.

  72. Brina Avatar

    I would just like to say, keep up the good work.

    Long story short: I’ve been dieting and mentally abusing myself since I was in elementary school. I wanted to be thin and happy like my friends. As a 28 year old adult I’ve been doing the same thing. After failing at yet another attempt to lose weight, I was at a really low point. I took a good mental look at myself and knew that I had to solve my food obsession. Food was my enemy. I found your blog when I Googled, ” How to have a better relationship with food.” I wasn’t looking for someone to tell me I could be happy at the size I’m at but you convinced me that I can be healthy and happy at the size I’m at. I’ve wasted so much time waiting to be happy when I reached a size 8. I’m going to try and make up for lost time and I’m going to start by giving myself permission to eat.

    Should be easy, right?

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