Your friendly neighbourhood plague rat.

French version of this post here, courtesy Stéphanie Potin-Grevrend.


I like to go on walks. I live in a good neighbourhood for it, near the beach.

During the summer, I spent a fair bit of time swimming at the beach. I have a lot of anxiety about going outside at all, thanks to about twenty years of sexual harassment and fat bashing from strangers, so it took me a couple of summers of living here to work up to that point. (And I still got exhorted to consider polyamory by some dude on the boardwalk. This world is just one big ambivalent boner, sometimes.)

I got a swimsuit that covers me nearly head-to-toe. I practiced going down to the water on my own and putting my toes in, and then walking back home. Then I practiced going down to the water and wading around and then walking home. Finally, one day I cannonballed into the lake from a pier, and this summer I went swimming several times and really enjoyed myself.

I was aware, the entire time, that the people around me (it’s crowded) were very likely judging me. Or at least, some of them were. Maybe some of them pitied me, maybe some of them thought I was “inspiring” for being a fat lady exercising in public (maybe I was on a Weight Loss Journey ™ !) Probably some of them just thought I was gross, disliked having to see my fat body in tight swimwear, and wished I had stayed at home under a blanket. Such is life.

It is painful to know that people make judgments like this, and that they sometimes directly tell me all about it (WOOOO FAT BITCH!!!), but ultimately I have decided it is none of my business until they make it my business. And despite being an oversensitive sadface whinybaby, I work hard to fight against the impulses that tell me to just stay home forever, or at least until everyone else has been killed in the coming zombie apocalypse.

(No shit, sometimes I fantasize about a world where I am blissfully, peacefully alone, and can walk down the street without anyone looking at me or thinking anything about me; where my body and my time are not subject to the whims of strangers. I watched the first twenty minutes of 28 Days Later with morbidly rapt attention.)

Now that the weather has cooled and the fall colours are out, there’s no more lake swimming to be had, but plenty of lovely walking to do. I have a complicated relationship with exercise, due to a history of overdoing it and hurting myself, but since I work from home now, I have to be extra mindful of making the effort to get out.

I make that effort as often as I can, because it makes my legs feel awesome, because my knees get cranky if I sit around for a couple of days in a row, and because I love the slight burn and tingle in my lungs and heart from going up a really good hill. I love having an excuse to listen to loud, obscene music through eardrum-killing headphones, and to be as close as I can get to blissful aloneness. I love coming home and peeling off my sweater and letting the sweat dry and feeling the happy warmth in my chest while I drink delicious cold water.

But when I stood up to go for a walk on Tuesday, I hesitated more than usual. The conversation of last week – about how fat people need to be shamed and harassed for their own good – came back to me. I was hyper aware that, if I went out, people would be judging me, pitying me, or wondering if they should speak up and point out to me, for my own good, that I am fat.

I went out anyway. Almost the entire time, I felt like a plague rat. I felt that people would look at me and assume I was diseased, and shudder and move away. And even though I was doing something ostensibly good for my health, this understanding and awareness that people find me gross did not make it easier or more rewarding to care for my health.

The emotional risk of being fat in public makes it tempting to not care for yourself by going out and getting some fresh air and walking around like you deserve to be in this world. The emotional risk of being fat in public makes it safer to stay home in your dinky, 90-year old city apartment with creaky floors and a tiny living room in which it is not fun for you, or for your downstairs neighbours, to exercise.

Eventually, though, I got home and enjoyed the lovely feeling of having moved my body in a way that wasn’t punishing. I took this picture and reminded myself, once again, that I deserve to exist and to take care of myself in the ways I deem most appropriate. And that, even though people will question me and judge me, they are wrong. They are on the wrong side of history, and until the sea change happens that will show just how ridiculous our culture was for stigmatizing people based on appearance, I need to survive.

I went out again the next day, and I’ll go again today. It’s stupid that it has to be an act of rebellion, but for now, in this world, that’s exactly what it is.

Since this is a post about my personal experience, either play nice or don’t play. Suggestions of noisy music are welcome.



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156 responses to “Your friendly neighbourhood plague rat.”

  1. Kim_n21 Avatar

    As much as I absolutely hate that it is a revolutionary act or a rebellious act for size 22, 260 pound, me to put my swimsuit on and go to swim practice (where my fellow swimmers and coach don’t seem to give a damn what I look like, thankfully), the joy I have in being in the water is a pretty decent trade off. And it’s a similar act of rebellion to go get on the treadmill two days a week as I teach myself how to run. Heck, my entire plan to do a triathlon in the spring is an act of rebellion. And I hate that. But I’m going to love that I can do that in this body that I have. So, you are not alone in your rebellion and your feeling of discomfort as you get out there and walk.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Water makes EVERYTHING better. Solidarity.

      1. Rosemary Avatar

        When my husband and I go to the beach we choose a motel with a pool. I wear my big swimsuit and have unshaven legs. Will never see those people again. Having bad vision and swimming with my glasses off makes it easy to not focus on other people.

  2. Atchka! Avatar

    How utterly terrible is it that it takes so much courage to do what others take for granted. If the War on Fat were really about health, then the first thing we would do as a society is tackle stigma and shame so that we could give ALL people the breathing room to pursue health at their own pace. Until then, we are lucky to have advocates like you, who are by no means perfect, who are still struggling, who are still fighting the instinctive self-protection of retreat from society, yet manage to overcome, to survive and to give voice to both the doubts and the triumphs.

    You are 100% correct when you say that what others think of your body is none of your business. And if someone decides to make it your business, I give you permission to give them the beatdown (physical or verbal) that they so richly deserve. Way to be strong and to model such courage. You are awesome.


    1. Fat Fox Avatar
      Fat Fox

      Stole this bit for a tweet: If the War on Fat were really about health: we would,as a society, tackle stigma so that ALL people could pursue health as desired. #atckka!

  3. Laura Avatar

    Yay for you and yay for you sharing with us. The theme from Rocky is good for walking, I also like Marilyn Manson and Gary Numan.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Gary Numan!!!!

  4. melanie Avatar

    This post is a great example of why I love your blog so much. I’m a big fan of being fat in public as often as possible, and also wearing, eating, or doing whatever I want while being fat in public. I make it a “thing” to push that envelope as much as possible by making sure my needs are met wherever I go (NYC and San Francisco subways with their turnstiles and gates that do not fit my fatness? No problem walking through the big gate as obviously as possible – same goes for flying, and I do it a lot). I know a few people who don’t travel very much or wear tank tops or shorts or eat ice cream in public because they’re terrified that someone will try to shame them, which breaks my heat. I welcome anyone to try. It takes a lot of bravery to actually go out and live and embrace life while fat, but it’s so fucking worth it.

    Oh, noisy music! My preferences fall on the punk side of things – The Menzingers, Fake Problems, The Front Bottoms, Apologies, I Have None, and Frank Turner. All very good and very noisy.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I don’t know any of these, but the name “The Front Bottoms” is the most brilliant thing I have ever heard. Thank you.

  5. melanie Avatar

    Ugh – breaks my *heart* and I welcome anyone to try to shame me – because they’re going to get an earful. Stupid typos and incomplete thoughts.

  6. ALKD Avatar

    Exercise is an all or nothing thing for me, and I have to consciously keep track of myself to make sure I don’t over-do it. I think this is a carry-over from the eating disorder habits I gradually started in high school. After conquering the thought-processes of the eating disorder, it was too hard for me to go to the gym without triggering the, “everyone thinks I’m fat, must work out for 7 hours, even though I haven’t eaten anything but half a yogurt today,” thought processes, which would then trigger the eating disorder thought processes. So I just stopped going.

    Unfortunately, my metabolism was not prepared to catch up with my suddenly eating again AND ditching any exercise plan whatsoever, so I gained weight. Rapidly. It’s gone down and up and down and up (and now I’m pregnant, so it adds a layer of complexity to things in a positive way), but it’s been hard for me to feel safe from my own brain when I enter a gym when now I know for certain that people really are thinking what I feared they had been thinking all along. I am terrified to exercise alone some days, because it’s so much easier to go out and be in the world when there’s someone else with me. Problem is, then I’m always waiting around for someone else to be there before I allow myself to take care of me. It’s silly. So I’m working on fixing that, but it’s an anxiety-ridden battle.

    I think I’ve come a long way from high-school me, and I also think that being pregnant has forced me to start taking care of myself, if not more for our developing baby than necessarily for me. So, that’s a good thing, because I want to model healthy behavior for our kiddo once they’re out in the world and observing these things. And I want to do it in a body-positive way, so that our child will feel comfortable talking with me about these issues. If I can, I really hope to prevent this little person from ever falling into an eating disorder or feeling like less than a person for being & looking the way they are.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I hear you on the wanting to go out with people thing. Unfortunately I’ve had to learn the hard way that I can be walking down the street literally holding my husband’s hand and still get harassed to my face. In a weird way, it made me realize that that kind of safety is an illusion, and I may as well go alone as with someone else. I never go to gyms, except to the Y a few times for water aerobics. I like exercising outdoors if possible. Probably because I come from lumberjack stock.

      1. ALKD Avatar

        I also like exercising outdoors much more now. Originally, the gym gave me an illusion of privacy, but gyms never really are private and they always made me feel like I was being judged by everyone inside… Now I have parks with walking trails that I frequent, or I use a nearby middle school track field to walk along. I chose them because I run into far fewer people there, so the risk of harassment is much lower. I am not brave enough to go to the beach alone, due to all of the people always there. Although you are right, harassment happens regardless of how many people I’m with. I think, for me, I’m less likely to turn around and give up if I have someone with me to remind me other people just suck sometimes and it has nothing to do with me. I’m just not there yet on my own. :o/

        It is a goal for me, and it is really helpful & encouraging reading about your experience and the courage that you’ve developed. So thank you very much.

      2. Melanie Avatar

        That just put the Monty Python ‘Lumberjack Song’ into my head (:

        I just found the article featuring you and your nutrition practice in Shameless Magazine, and I’m going to pass it around to everyone I know. I like how your website has a good dose of common sense and a sprinkling of whimsical profanity.

        It’s too bad you’d get an assault charge for bitch-slapping people who harrass you… But it’s nice to think about. I took karate for a few years, and it’s left me with the sure knowledge that anyone who tries *anything* is going to get a very nasty surprise ;p

  7. Rosemary Avatar

    Weird Al Yankovic is good to walk to. Both noisy and funny!

  8. Elle Avatar

    Your mileage may vary, but lately I am obsessed with Lee Bains III and the Glory Fires. So far they’ve only released one album, so I’m forced to play it over and over. Southern Rock with a punk aesthetic.

  9. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout

    Geeky songs:

    By Seanan McGuire:

    Wicked Girls Saving Ourselves
    My Story Is Not Done
    Causes and Effects
    Oh, Michelle (This was written for another Michelle, but you might get a giggle)

    Vixy and Tony:
    Siren Song (Live)
    Ladies Don’t Do Those Things

    Jonathan Coulton:
    A Talk With George
    Stroller Town (this is about a baby, but it’s catchy)
    I Feel Fantastic
    The Future Soon
    First of May (bad language, sing loudly)

    Paul and Storm:
    The Captain’s Wife’s Lament
    Extremely Old with You
    Strip Club Daddy [studio version]
    Buffett Night (Tonight, I’m a Parrothead)

    1. Laura (dusty_rose) Avatar

      I LOVE Vixy & Tony and Paul and Storm! I will make sure to check out the others as well. :)

      Also, anything by Hank Green is good geeky music.

      1. Laura (dusty_rose) Avatar

        Forgot to put in a link to Hank’s music–you can find it here:

        Also, I recently overheard my boyfriend listening to “time rock,” aka music about Dr. Who. I don’t remember the name of the band, but I’ll see if I can find it out.

        1. Linda Strout Avatar
          Linda Strout

          Thanks for the link! I will have to check him out.

          1. Linda Strout Avatar
            Linda Strout

            Forgot to let you know that Vixy’s real name is Michelle, and that is who Seanan wrote the song about.

            I’ve had the good fortune to hear them perform together, and Vixy and Tony are on some of Seanan’s songs.

    2. April Avatar

      I tend to like to walk to CBS Radio Mystery Theater (old time radio from the late 70s and early 80s) CBSRMT.ORG has the episodes (or — each is about 40 minutes, and I find myself walking more because I’m caught up in another dumb story.

  10. Ron Graves Avatar
    Ron Graves

    ” . . .fat people need to be shamed and harassed for their own good . . .”.

    We have the same situation here in Britain – just substitute fat with disabled, as if making our lives untenable will cure us!

    What makes it worse is that the hatred is government-sponsored. Prime minister David Cameron’s disabled son died, so now he’d dedicating his life to ensuring that we all suffer for having the temerity not to die – to date, his policies are responsible for just under 11,000 deaths. ( )

    Not to mention innumerable attacks, by strangers, on disabled people simply for being disabled – our position in 21st century Britain has become directly analogous to that of the Jews in mid-1930s Nazi Germany.

    But to return to your post, what is it about Americans that makes them think they have the right to publicly voice criticism of fat people, or pretty much anyone else they disapprove of? I ask, because we’re getting to that stage here – at times it seems nobody is safe from public disapprobation, and I do wonder if we, as a nation, have picked it up from US TV and movies, or whether it’s part of a wider process of de-civilisation?

    To be honest, I rather suspect it’s both, but mainly the latter.

    Enjoy your swimming . . .

    1. closetpuritan Avatar

      Michelle is actually in Canada, so presumably most of the fat-shamers are Canadian…

      1. Michelle Avatar

        Yep, sadly, they are. Polite my arse!

        1. Fat Fox Avatar
          Fat Fox

          Come to the US! We love appropriating other cultures soooo much that we like to combine fat hatred and disability hatred and just shame the fuck out of everyone!

  11. Sandra Avatar

    You are beautiful inside and out, that’s a lot more then some “beautiful” people can say.

  12. Nancy Lebovitz Avatar

    Not sure if this is what you have in mind, but here’s a fairly noisy electric guitar version of Pachebel’s Canon in D.

    I try to remember that anyone who’d automatically despise me is my enemy, and I don’t want to do their work for them by imagining their point of view.

  13. Allan Avatar

    On the music matter there’s always a good old “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” something people like that lack.
    In all fairness at least you’re not making the mistake of wearing a two piece suit, for myself I don’t much like bikinis in general and people wear them when they do nothing to flatter their form which applies as much to the string beans as the larger bodied, and you have a right to be able to exercise without listening to their inane chatter. If they feel the need to “save the whale” let them go to the coast and do some real good instead of making someone embarrassed to be seen in public and contributing to any self esteem issues they already have.

    1. buttercup Avatar

      Since when does my choice of swimsuit have to be “flattering”, whatever that means?

    2. Laura (dusty_rose) Avatar

      In all fairness at least you’re not making the mistake of wearing a two piece suit

      ?? How is anyone wearing what they like a mistake?

      1. Michelle Avatar

        The ironic part is…it actually is, technically, a two-piece suit, even though it is not a bikini.

      2. Jen Avatar

        Just want to throw it out there that when I am at the beach or pool and I see a fat woman in a bikini I quite literally experience a wave of jealousy. Jealous that they accept themselves in a way I have not yet learned to. Jealous that they are engaged and comfortable with their bodies in a way I am not. Wish I was self loving enough to be the fat lady in the two piece!

        1. ALKD Avatar

          Jen, I agree 100% with that. Last summer, I found a tankini that had a halter top and little shorts on the bottom — my husband loves it, and after wearing it a few times, I also found that I really enjoyed wearing it. So — find a swimsuit you just love the look of, and ease yourself into loving the look of it on you. :o) If it takes awhile to get yourself there, invest in cover-ups that have a good dose of glamour to help make yourself get used to feeling awesome while at the pool/beach. If you’re out with friends, I bet eventually you’ll want to take the cover up off just to show off how awesome your actual swim attire is.

    3. Elodie Avatar

      I look incredibly sexy in a two-piece suit, i.e. bikini, according to my dude. He is the only person besides myself whose judgment of my sexual attractiveness matters, because he is the only person I have sex with. I don’t give one tiny little itty bitty damn what you think about how I look, and I don’t understand why you think I should.

    4. closetpuritan Avatar

      Hm. I’m not much of a fan of stomach-baring suits, but if the person wearing it enjoys wearing it, I don’t believe it’s a “mistake”.

      1. Allan Avatar

        I only consider it a mistake since the women I see who wear them the most are the ones where it’s nigh on impossible to tell they’re wearing anything due to the excess skin, or are so bony you can count every bone in their body. The bikini seemed to have been designed to only flatter a very specific form, anything else and it seems to over enhance the parts of the body that aren’t covered. I honestly find one piece suits are way more attractive on most women regardless of any consideration other people might make.

        In short I don’t consider it a mistake to wear what you like, but when people typically choose their suit, in my experience, to get attention, I don’t get why people pick the bikini.

        Sorry to the ladies who felt I was picking on your choices, it was not my intent.

        1. Kaz Avatar

          This may be a radical idea you have never considered before, but it is possible that the women who wear a bikini aren’t, actually, doing that so that you find them aesthetically pleasing. The fact that you *don’t* is therefore completely irrelevant.

          Shorter: It is not about you. Stop making it about you.

        2. Elodie Avatar

          I honestly don’t care what you think about what I wear. Or about my attractiveness generally. Neither of those things is any of your business. Women were not put on this planet in order to be visually pleasing.

          I choose my swimsuit to be comfortable, swimmable in, and attractive to me and, secondarily, to my dude. Not to be attractive to you or any other random strangers. Ick.

    5. Nebet Avatar

      Seconding all the other comments to the effect of “what does the cut of my swimsuit have to do with you”! I ain’t swimming to spare your eyes, hon, and saying that “string beans” don’t look good in them either doesn’t keep you from being a body-shaming so-and-so.

      Mind your own underpants.

      1. Allan Avatar

        As I said in another response it was never my intention to shame anyone, but explaining my thoughts on things it’s difficult to strike a balance that isn’t going to upset someone it seems.

        No it’s none of my business what you wear, nor what Michelle wears or anyone else. Which is why I don’t just say ban the bikini.

        1. Elodie Avatar

          You claim you know it’s not your business, and yet you keep insisting on sharing your opinion about the attractiveness or lack thereof of women you don’t even know.


  14. Beth M. Avatar
    Beth M.

    Sigh…. I never made the connection before (duh!), but I realized reading it this morning that THIS is why I have what I call “hermit tendencies”. I just don’t like people very much. My husband tends to fall on the optimistic side and believes people are basically good. That has not been my experience – I tend to assume people are basically acting out of self-interest often with utter disregard or even contempt for the feelings of others. It makes me sad to think I had enough experience with fat shaming that it’s framed my default view of human beings in general. I’m quite sure this is why I particularly don’t like children and teenagers. I’m sure adults didn’t like my fatness when I was growing up, but at least I could generally count on them to keep their opinions to themselves. To this day, I still am far more likely to feel safe around people who are older than I am.

    Why WHY WHY do other people seem to think everyone has an obligation to make their environment aesthetically pleasing by being pretty to look at?!? I’m pretty D**N sure that’s not my function here on the planet. Even now when I fit within the confines of “generally accepted” weight range, I still rebel against expectations that I make myself beautiful so others have something pretty to please their eyeballs. I should dye my hair, and spend a ton of money keeping up with the stupid fashion trend of the month? Why?? This makes me SO ANGRY, but deep down I know there’s a decent dose of shame and self-doubt behind that anger …. which makes me even angrier.

    1. Elodie Avatar

      Society doesn’t think *everyone* has a duty to be aesthetically pleasing — just women.

      Back in the early 20th century, preachers railed against this trend. There was a healthy dose of misogyny in many of their sermons (how dare women look attractive and sexual!), but there was also a very good point. Women’s value is not in how we look. Attending constantly to that, as so many women do these days, shuts out our ability to grow as human beings, to realize our true, full worth, and to actually do stuff.

      Looks just plain don’t matter. And somehow, we’ve gotten to the point where our society acts like they’re all that matter when it comes to women.

  15. Amy Avatar

    love this post. this is exactly how i feel each and every single time i engage in physical activity in public. exercising is an act of protest. for me there are added layers as black woman doing things that black women supposedly dont do – like swimming or biking. i’m saying to the world, i’m here and i’m living life – and i will not be shamed.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Absolutely. Thank you.

  16. em smith Avatar
    em smith

    thank u for writing this…i identify so much with what u say…it made me cry. i have a really hard time with self acceptance also and have to deal with guilt for eating. i’m trying this new way…any find when i give myself permission to eat whatever i want, i don’t feel so compelled to keep scrounging around for something more. thank u for your blog!! so glad i found u!!!

  17. miaokuancha Avatar

    A society that sees only through its eyes is blind. If any person could only be held by you, how they would feel your beauty. If any person could simply hear your voice, or share a meal at your table. And we, all, in our bodies, amputated from the neck down if we cannot feel how exquisite it is to breathe and to move. To feel the ground beneath the feet, the give and take of our muscles, all of this. To feel the body change and adapt and become stronger as we take on each activity. We all need to stop living in and through our eyes alone. Thank you for telling your truth.

    1. Kay Avatar

      This is beautiful – thank-you.

      1. miaokuancha Avatar

        I feel that our bodies were made for doing and feeling, not for looking. In so many ways, living through the eyes can breed hatred, while living through the body generates compassion.

  18. Kay Avatar

    I had not even connected my hermit-like tendencies to my weight. I will have to go back mentally through the years and see if I can connect some dots. For a long time I’ve put it down to being a country girl living in a big city that I didn’t choose and have never really liked much.

    Just today while eating lunch (where I ‘let’ myself have a club sandwich and fries because I had to fast all morning for the doctor and I just felt like it, dagnabit), I thought for the first time about doing a triathlon. Coming here and reading Kim’s very first comment about her triathlon in the spring was so inspiring! First step… learn to swim…

  19. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout

    So, I went looking for information who had managed to lose weight and keep it off for more than a year. Of the few sites I looked at, what I saw that these people had in common was a) watching what they ate (including calorie and carbohydrate counting) every day and b) exercising vigorously for at least an hour every day.

    I can’t live like that for the rest of my life. I do know from personal experience that an hour’s worth of brisk walking will make me lose weight, but I hate having to do it every day. I also don’t always have time. (I can hear the argument ‘you should make the time’ but I say ‘fuck you, I pay my bills and work and want to have fun’)

    I know for a fact my skinny friends don’t do this amount of exercise. Okay, one does, but she admits she thinks it’s fun and not for everyone. I also have some friends that want to lose a little bit more weight and do exercise regularly and it just won’t budge.

    Of course, if you harass fat people then you are almost guaranteeing they won’t get that hour’s worth of exercise, or even any exercise. I personally have escaped the fat harassment, but I have had the big boobs harassment, which is also freaky.

    A lot of this is me thinking in type, but I hope someone finds it helpful. I’m still trying to wrap my head around not worrying about weight loss, when I live in a world that started telling me when I was fat as a 145 pound teenager.

    1. cmorgan Avatar

      I totally understand where you are coming from! I have been successful at taking off 60 lbs. so far since last winter but there is no WAY I can commit to excercising an hour a day. I truly wish that I could as I really enjoy my time walking (most of what I do). I know that I will always need to track my food (I don’t worry about carbs, but keep my calorie count down under 1400 per day and get in plenty of protein) and will just have to suck that up.

      I do longer walks on the weekends but the reality of the situation is I’m not a paid athlete so can’t train like one. Gotta pay the bills and have a home life as well!

      I put up with a lot of name calling as a child (not only fat but my last name was Snodgrass growing up…). I can’t believe what “cr&p” comes out of some people’s mouths sometimes.

      Not going to live in a closet because someone else doesn’t like the way I look… and they can shove it! ;o)

    2. Jen C. Avatar
      Jen C.

      I want to reach out and hug you (if you’re cool with hugs, that is). I had the same problem growing up. I was 140 lbs in high school, and I thought I was fat because all my life, people had told me I was fat. (At my height, though, 140 lbs is just under the “overweight” limit, if you believe in BMI.) I was also teased mercilessly once I hit puberty because, yeah, women in my family are predisposed to having large breasts. Looking back (and man, I wish I could find my senior pictures), I now know how beautiful I really was (and am, even if I’m no longer 140 lbs), and I consider it tragic that I’m only just now seeing it.

      In middle school, I had kids telling me that I had bigger breasts than their mothers. (That’s not the word they used, of course.) My maiden name was Tisler, and man, I could not wait to get rid of it because “Titler” was just too obvious for most people to miss when they were looking for ways to make fun of me. Well, obvious to everyone except my mother, who is also large-breasted. When I told her about that a couple of years ago, she couldn’t believe it. I guess it’s easier to marry into that name than to grow up with it.

      I had breast reduction surgery at the age of 25 because I just could not carry those things around anymore without doing damage to myself. Seriously, I wore a 38H. Don’t know what an H cup is? We have A, B, C, D, and then the stores go to DD, which is really E, but for some reason they think DD sounds better. So by the time you get to H, that’s a DDDDD cup (and that’s kind of what I looked like in profile, now that I look at those letters all together. Maybe that’s the point). Now I’m a C cup. I tried to get rid of them naturally by losing weight, but while my waist got smaller (which contributed to the structural problem), my breasts never did. They took 5 lbs off of me in surgery. 5 lbs in one specific place (well, two) that I just could not get rid of on my own.

      On the subject of exercise – I’ve been working out with hand weights for the last 2-3 months, and while it’s not real exciting, I’m enjoying the added strength that I’ve managed to build. I can get up out of chairs easier, walk easier, pick things up easier, and it’s great. I don’t work out now to make the scale change; I work out now to see if I can lift those $%^@ 8 lb weights any easier this time (the 3s and 5s are sooo much easier, but no longer a challenge). I go for walks when the weather is nice, and lately my husband will go with me, which gives us some nice conversation time on the downhill parts. I’m working out to get healthier, but it’s not my weight I’m concerned about anymore; it’s making sure that it gets easier for me to do stuff so hopefully it will stay easier for me to do stuff when I’m older.

      Sorry for the babble, I just wanted you to know that someone else has dealt with the big boobs harassment and knows how you feel. If they hadn’t been causing problems (seriously, I had carpal tunnel-like symptoms because the weight hanging off my bra straps was pinching nerves in my neck and shoulders), I would have kept them just to spite all the people who thought I should have been ashamed of them. They just didn’t realize that in some cultures, with a figure like that, I would have been looked at as the Goddess incarnate. :)

      1. ALKD Avatar

        I feel like you just wrote my big breast story for me. Currently, I’m a 38G, so not quite the same as where you were. However, when I lose weight, my cup size does not go down at all. Currently, I look fairly proportional, but when I loose weight my boobs do NOT get any smaller and it becomes very painful to my entire back. I think this might be a reason why I can’t keep weight off for very long — I just don’t like the attention from being a thinner version of me with even more obvious big breasts. Being larger makes the boobs less obvious and takes some of the attention away. I am waiting a couple years to have a breast reduction only because I’m in the process of spawning a human, and I want to see if my boobs will “deflate” a little like they have for other women in my family after they nursed for awhile.

      2. Ms Chicklet Avatar
        Ms Chicklet

        I was what is sometimes called an “early bloomer.” Meaning, I got boobs before most of my peers. And they kept on growing. I have not been able to pass the pencil test since seventh grade.

        One time, at a high school basketball game, I left my dad and brother to go meet my friends. I ran over to the other bleachers where they were sitting. On the way home, my father admonished me to not run in public because I “drew attention to myself.” Which, to a 14-year-old who was self-conscious as it was, meant that it would be my fault if men saw my bouncing teenaged boobies and had dirty thoughts. How dare I bounce in public or do anything that might make people look at my breasts!

        This was not the only instance of being shamed for being large-breasted. There were also tut-tuts if my clothes were perceived as too snug, too revealing, too attention-getting. That might brand me as a slut.

        And my father probably still doesn’t get why I dropped out of swimming after that and to this day hate exercising.

    3. Linda Strout Avatar
      Linda Strout


      *HUGS* to you all for coping with the big boob problem. I think the ability to get surgery if your breasts are so big they hurt you is brilliant. I also think being able to enjoy having them is brilliant.

      I resent the few times someone suggested surgery to me so I would fit into clothes better (why don’t they just make clothes that fit ME, dammit) or had a sales lady bring me a reducing bra.

      I seriously resent all the times people made comments or treated me differently because of my breasts. I still tend to be self-conscious about them, but it has gotten easier as I’ve gotten older (and probably because I’ve gotten heavier) and now they are starting the dreaded sagging.

  20. Kay Avatar

    Oh, and how did I forget to say this?

    The Weakerthans, especially “Reconstruction Site”. Rocking Canadians, eh!?!

    Also Basia Bulat’s “Oh My Darling”, and The Undesirables’ “Summer’s Gone” (which is perfect for this time of the year).

  21. Renee Avatar

    Reading this made me want to cry because I so often feel the same way. I’ve always been bigger, last year I had finally, FINALLY gotten to a point where I went out wearing what I wanted to wear, I liked shopping for clothes and genuinely loved myself. Then I got pregnant. My entire pregnancy I was happy, loved my body and myself and had a little too much fun buying maternity clothes. Towards the end of my pregnancy I started feeling sick, a lot. at 37 weeks I had an emergency c-section and appendectomy, I had acute appendicitis. As suddenly as I got sick I suddenly hated my body again and not even entirely for the way it looked. I tried so hard to take care of myself and be healthy and in the end my body failed and all anyone could see was The Sick Fat Girl. It didn’t matter that I was 8.5 months pregnant or that appendicitis happens to people of all sizes, I was fat so that was the cause. I went home with this tremendous guilt for my body being the way it is and an absolute aversion to being outside of my apartment during daylight hours.

    It’s been 3 months since I had my son and I find myself feeling very aware of how people treat me and look at me. I went out the other day with my son, we went for a long walk around the area where his dad works and nearly every person who stopped to tell me how cute my son is also decided it was their place to let me know all the many ways I can lose the baby weight (which I already have, I’m right back at my normal weight) and that I won’t look this way forever. By the end of the day I was so depressed I felt like I should just stay inside all the time, like I didn’t have a right to be outside because I don’t fit the mold society say is acceptable.

    I’m trying desperately to get back to that place I was before I got pregnant, where I loved myself and didn’t give a damn what anyone had to say about my body.

  22. thayln Avatar

    Hey Michelle,

    Long time lurker, first time commentor. I love your blog.

    I just wanted to say that it does get easier as you get older. I’m 50, and I realized that when I go to the beach I’m basically invisible. The young, “beautiful” people don’t even see me. So I wear what I want and enjoy my walk. *eg* And believe me, there are plenty of other fat people out there with me.

    As for music, you might want to check out Poe. Her song Walk the Walk has kind of become my war cry.

  23. Mel Avatar

    Hope this offends no one’s sensibilities….but for some noisy music I downloaded from iTunes some military cadences. They sure do get you moving, and some of them are pretty humorous.

  24. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout


    I am by nature a hugger and I feel the need to hug you people, so


  25. Donna Skelton Avatar
    Donna Skelton

    I started exercising at the Gold’s Gym (not plugging them, just mentioning since they’re national in the US) last November, after starting exercising by just walking around the work building in August. I was very conscious of feeling like I was the “fattest person in the gym” until I figured out I wasn’t. (It’s rather pathetic to feel better about yourself at a gym because you perceive someone else to be bigger than you are, but there it is. I’m being honest.)

    It took me a short while of enjoying the cardio equipment (especially with testy knee joints) and really getting into the strength training (weights) to realize that I didn’t care about anything but the results in having a body that worked better and didn’t hurt as much. I didn’t care about the people working out in the same place, and, I never noticed that they cared about wasting their time staring at me either.

    Eventually, I would make conversation with guys who working out with the weights/weight machines as well. Again, no one treating me badly. I’ve even gotten compliments on my form, and if I’m looking at them it’s to observe the form they’re using or how to use a particular, unfamiliar machine.

    My long-winded point is that everyone has a right to exist and pursue exercise, movement, breathing, eating, and existing. I applaud you, Michelle, and everyone else who lives with their heads held high.

    Thank you for writing this, and being brave enough to claim your right to be in public in any way you see fit.

  26. JoGeek Avatar

    I think “Some Nights” by Fun would be awesome power-walking music. When the drums start in it always makes me want to skip!

  27. MK Avatar

    You deserve to exist, and in public. And I hate that people make that difficult for you.

    My current favorite workout music is LMFAO, which I don’t think I’d enjoy for just fun listening, but cracks me up while I move.

  28. Stef Avatar

    It’s weird how my “exercising while fat” shame and my worry about being judged keeps going away and coming back. I had it for a while in my 20s, mostly didn’t have it in my 30s, and was surprised that it came back in my 40s. Lately it’s been fading again (I’m about to turn 51).

    I rarely get fat-shamed by other people (except doctors) so that doesn’t seem to be the source of it. It also doesn’t have any correlation with my weight.

    1. living 400lbs Avatar

      Me to! I go through phases. These days I’m getting more upset when going to the doctor or exercising. A few years ago it was no big deal – I’d prepare myself to handle common situations and be happy I didn’t need them. Probably spending a year managing my dad’s medical care and home care needs is related.

  29. TheNailPixi Avatar

    Thank you for “Posting On”! I can’t even imagine how you could have been feeling. Being on “This side” of the computer, I read, I get angry at some of the things that are said, I try and deal with my own struggles (having help from reading things like this blog) but for you, each comment is much more personal. Of course you had a harder time with your own struggles! And Congratulations and more power to you for taking that step out your door and still getting out! You are an inspiration!

  30. Vin Avatar

    I really needed to read this right now. I also work from home (wooo, feeding the introversion) and live near the beach, but it’s tourist beaches, and I’ve been wanting SO BADLY to be in the water and needing to not be anywhere near that many people and feeling really alone with all of that. So this helped a lot. Thank you.

    It’s a lot easier for me to go out walking with distracting music, because then I don’t hear what people say when I walk by. Then I found a phone app/game that I got caught up in (originally geared towards runners, but works perfectly fine at any speed), and that keeps my attention centered on the game narrative and myself. Not gonna link that particular game, ’cause I wasn’t sure if that was ok, but I thought I’d offer up the strategy in case it’s useful for someone else.

    Oh, and parts of one of my favorite walking/dancing mixes:
    Animus Vox and Fistful of Silence by The Glitch Mob
    11h30 by Danger
    Khalgi Stop by Thievery Corporation
    Get Up by Badmarsh and Shri
    Nourah by Makyo
    Sufani by Gaudi

  31. Hel Avatar

    Fuck the haters. And not the good fun kind of fucking that leads to orgasms. The other kind, where they fuck off. I have an beautiful purple low cut swim suit from lane bryant, and I FUCKING ROCK IT.
    And right now, after reading this post, I want a t-shirt that says “I know I’m fat, did you actually have something useful to say?”

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I kind of want one that says NOT AN EPIDEMIC.

      1. Anne Avatar

        Not an epidemic is perfect. I’ll take one in a women’s 2x, please!

  32. […] “I was aware, the entire time, that the people around me … were very likely judging me. Or at least, some of them were. Maybe some of them pitied me, maybe some of them thought I was “inspiring” for being a fat lady exercising in public (maybe I was on a Weight Loss Journey ™ !) Probably some of them just thought I was gross, disliked having to see my fat body in tight swimwear, and wished I had stayed at home under a blanket. Such is life.” – The Fat Nutrionist […]

  33. BJ Avatar

    That reminds me, I need to update my workout mix. Needs more Metal.

    Mix material includes Metal and Industrial Goth stuff (I love Rammstein, all the lyrics are snarled), random pop tracks I encountered in movies, dance stuff I hear regularly at the local goth club. I got some weird looks once at the gym when I got a little too into a Combichrist track and started throwing middle fingers around. Oh, and the orchestral bit from the training montage in Rocky IV.

    Anything loud and obnoxious will do; it’s the most effective way I’ve found of quieting that little voice in my brain that insists people are pointing and laughing at me. I can’t shut it off completely, but music helps make it bearable.

  34. Blue Avatar

    It’s interesting to read the comments and realize that I’m not the only “hermit” type. I love swimming and dancing and all kinds of activities, but I don’t do them much because it’s easier to stay home and not have to worry about what I’ll look like and what other people might say. I also tend to be shy and introverted by nature, and those activities tend to involve way more people than I’m comfortable around. I do take weekly dance lessons, but I don’t practice much because I’m in a second floor apartment and do I really want to be bouncing around on my neighbor’s ceiling…?

    I can keep coming up with more reasons and excuses all day long. However, I really like your method of walking to the beach, then walking to the beach and putting a toe in, then wading in, then…. Working up to it like that is great. I will think about trying something like that, with practicing dance at home, maybe.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I am a hermit too, have been since I coincidentally started being harassed as an adolescent, and now I am thinking it is not just a coincidence.

      We noticed that, for some reason, the floor in our kitchen seems to be more sound-proof than the rest of our apartment. My husband practices imaginary jump-shots in there, and I sometimes dance around while singing.

      NB: I am a terrible dancer.

  35. Cat M Avatar
    Cat M

    I used to go to a weight loss clinic, with weekly meetings with a counselor. During one meeting, we were discussing ‘excuses’ not to exercise. Everyone was sharing their ‘favourite’ excuses. When she acknowleded my raised hand, I said that I was ‘afraid of being ridiculed’. The counselor completely dismissed my comment, did not discuss it or acknowledge me again after that. Needless to say, I do not attend that clinic anymore.

    Thank you for writing about this personal experience, for being honest and insightful. It makes me feel better to know that I’m not crazy for being a little afraid to go out into the world.

  36. Amanda Avatar

    I just got back from Tampa, FL and was AMAZED that I felt so comfortable in my swimsuit there. NO ONE looked at me the whole weekend. It was weird. Minnesota is a terrible place to be fat. People don’t really say anything here, they just “ignore” you with giant invasive oogling eyes.

  37. Michellers Avatar

    I’m way out of the demographic, but I watched Pink sing “Blow me (one last kiss)” on the Daily Show and it is the perfect beat and attitude for a power walk. Be warned that it’s difficult not to sing along when she talks about having a “shit day” which might get you some funny looks.

    I live in LA, land of the skinny people, but weirdly I think I get harassed a lot less than other places because most people in this city mind their own business. Having moved here from Texas, I am so happy to live where you can walk down the sidewalk and people don’t make eye contact. I’m a friendly person, but I love the anonymity of a big city, especially as a fat girl.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I can’t seem to stop listening to this song –

      I’m 33 and have no idea what I’m doing.

  38. Gena Gilliam Avatar
    Gena Gilliam

    Michelle, thank you for posting this when I needed to hear it most. I had a big rant last night about exercise. As a child in sunny SoCal, I loved to play outside and had dance lessons to keep active. Now I live in Tennessee, have gained 100+ pounds, and am still recovering from being struck by a pickup truck while walking across a busy intersection 2 1/2 years ago. Obviously, this body won’t and can’t at this stage do all the fun things it did before. I am struggling to come to terms with the disappointment I have about this and I can’t seem to find a decent type of exercise. Your post reminds me that it’s still worth it to try. Thanks for your inspiration. I love your blog, and I am so grateful to you for sharing your experiences.

  39. Jen Zilla Avatar
    Jen Zilla

    They hate and judge me for staying home,
    They hate and judge me as I walk down the street,
    They hate and judge me as I wear shorts in 100 degree days,
    They hate and judge me when I dare to venture out in a swimsuit,
    They hate and judge me when I dine out,
    And there seems to be no safe place from this tide of resent.

    I hate and judge myself when I let them stop me from living.
    And that is when they win.

    Keep doing what you want.
    Standing still or walking down the street the people that judge will judge you either way. Just one way I’m not hating myself.
    Sitting on the shore dressed head to toe I’m still as fat as I am in a swimsuit. Just one way I’m not hating myself.
    Choose to make yourself happy.

  40. jacqueline Avatar

    A comment to you, a gorgeous woman who is brave and strong WHY OH WHY do you care about other people’s opinions and judgements? Please remember that those who matter dont mind and those that mind dont matter.
    You may think that these people are judging you but they may not be, they may be looking at you wishing they could be as amazingly beautiful as you. They may be wishing they had your courage and strength, they may be loving the style of your hair and wonder which salon had cut it or simply that you just looked really pretty, as you are. Mind reading never works….dont feel that you need to rebel, you absoloutely do not need to do that. Love is always the answer, love your SELF because you are unique and how fabulous is that xx

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I really appreciate the sentiment and the encouragement, sincerely. But I do need to point out that it is often not so simple as just choosing not to care, or choosing not to rebel.

      People actively insert themselves in my life in damaging ways, and they have been doing this pretty consistently for twenty years. They yell things at me, they try to coerce me into sex, they try to find out things about my personal life, they even assault me on occasion. I live in a society that treats women in general, and fat people (as well as people of colour, people who don’t conform to gender norms, and people with disabilities) like we are subhuman.

      It’s not something I can easily choose to ignore. This is a systemic problem. Systemic problems require systemic solutions. I will do the best I can as an individual, for my own personal well-being, but I demand that we change the world at least a little, to be somewhat of a better place by the time I die.

      1. Shaina Avatar

        I’m sick of people thinking its ok to “just ignore” because the haters are” stupid”. First off they made the choice to interrupt my life and cut me down and second off everyone that says just ignore can go to hell! Because I don’t care if my reaction is going to cause you discomfort, embarrass you or make you feel sorry for the fact chick that’s causing a seen by sticking up for herself.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          I feel like I will do what I can on an individual level to take care of myself and protect myself, but I cannot erase the actions of others at will, and I’m not going to stop wanting the world to change.

          1. Shaina Avatar

            I completely agree! I will protect myself as well. I always pick and choose my battles. But my protecting myself is not encumbent for how it makes my “skinny mother” feel.
            In other words my biggest problem is going out in public, someone making a comment, to which provokes me to assert myself, then just because my
            “mother “or “friend” does not want to watch the fat
            bitch cause a seen for fear that it could damn them in some way or make them uncomfortable. Having no regaurd as to how I feel. So why do the skinnys hang around.. anyway I know I just got of subject a little I
            thought I would share a small part of some of the things I go through being FAT. I really enjoy your Blog Michelle

          2. Michelle Avatar

            Nothing worse than a lady causing a scene!!!

  41. Courtney Avatar

    It makes me so, so sad that anyone would ever have to feel that way. I know you know this already, but anyone thinking anything negative about you based on your appearance doesn’t deserve a second thought from you.

  42. Susan Avatar

    I know the looks and worries of which you speak. Being fat in this world is hard. Sometimes I’m glad I ended up so seriously ill that I don’t give a damn anymore. Living without fear is difficult, but when else am I going to get a chance?

  43. xhaller Avatar

    For what it’s worth, when I’m feeling sluggish and gross driving in my car and I see someone out walking around, I immediately pump my fist in the air and say “you are awesome!” Regardless of size, I think anyone who is out getting fresh air, getting some exercise, enjoying the view, etc. is absolutely doing the right thing. I love seeing people exercising outdoors.

  44. Christina Avatar

    Of all the information about weight bias that I have read, this helped it sink in the most. To realize that an attractive young married woman could still feel so worried about getting looks or comments on a simple walk really emphasized how severe the situation is. On the beach we all have some insecurities and with how packed it gets there may be more comments but it is shocking to me that people are making comments about someone who is just out walking (and I’m assuming these aren’t just teenage boys?). Thank you for sharing this.

  45. Vera Avatar

    I’m so sorry that you are struggling with this rotten crap. I can absolutely empathize. I am just over 300lbs, and decided a few months ago to finally join the local park district gym in my town. I’ve belonged to gyms before. Most in my early 20s–the kind where women show up with a full face of makeup and their hair “did”. This time, things are very different, and I love it. The mix of people that workout there is fantastic! Old folks, young folks–every body type you can imagine. It’s one of the few places I don’t feel looked at, even when I’m the largest one in the room. Of course, exercise brings up a whole bunch of crud for me. I have to really fight the idea that I have to exercise because I’m fat. So, four or five days a week I tell myself I can go to the gym, turn around and come right home if I want to. As long as I go. I don’t have to do a darn thing if I don’t want to. But, once I’m there, I hop on a machine or 2 and have a great time making myself feel good. It makes my body less creaky, it makes me feel strong, which is one of the best feelings ever (and since my depression so often makes me feel weak in so many ways), and I remember that I don’t do it because I’m fat. I do it because I’m human. And humans do well with movement in any capacity that is available to them.
    Anyway, you are so beautiful, inside and out (at least, from reading your blog for the last few years, you seem pretty darn awesome) and I sincerely hope that you start feeling those awful things less and less as you work through them. Thank you for all the inspiration I’ve gotten from your work!

  46. Natalie ._c- Avatar

    Just wanted to mention that when I looked at your picture I saw a very pretty young girl (yes, I get to say girl, because I’m 64, and you ARE young!!) rolling her eyes up. It absolutely doesn’t matter to me what you weigh (and the BMI charts are arbitrary, and not worth even thinking about), because I can’t help admiring beauty. In spite of the SOBs you do encounter, not everyone who is looking at you thinks you’re gross or ugly. I know I can’t be the only one who sees people, recognizing that we come in different shapes and sizes, and that beauty is to be found if you only take the time to see it. Large people deserve to dress nicely and make themselves beautiful with jewelry or makeup, or NOTHING, if it pleases them, and deserve to be appreciated. And if I saw you, yes, I might be looking at you, but please don’t read my mind — I would probably be appreciating your beauty! (And my son told me he PREFERS fat women!!)

  47. Linda Wendt Avatar
    Linda Wendt

    That was a wonderful post! I’m a 60 year old fat person who is having trouble convincing the sweet people in my Zumba class that I’m doing it to have fun. I don’t give a darn that I’m not losing weight.
    Oh yes, my suggestion for loud walking music? Anything Celtic but especially BAGPIPES with great big drums.

    1. closetpuritan Avatar

      Yay bagpipes! (I think sometimes I enjoy the things I like more if I know that other people dislike them. I’m also partial to kazoos, and with food, I enjoy anchovies and sardines.)

  48. Mary Avatar

    I love this rebellious act of showing people that bigger bodies can be active and be happy and healthy! As a woman who is 5’3″ and 200 lbs, I used to be bigger (257lbs) and cover up when swimming. But, now, I wear a bikini because I will still have thighs, belly, ass and all that extra stuff even if I was wearing a t-shirt. So, why make myself uncomfortable? I run, do yoga, boot camp, and live an active lifestyle so why should I hide myself when I worked so hard. Check out my running blog if ya need some inspiration,

  49. Alex Avatar

    Current noisy music faves:
    “Big Girl (You are Beautiful)” (Mika)
    “Bourgeois Shangri-La” (Miss Li)
    “Energy” (The Apples in Stereo)
    “A Change is Gonna Come” (Sam Cooke)

  50. Kit Avatar

    You’re going to have to excuse my language here – but really – who is enough of an arsehole to give a flying fk about whether you go for a swim or walk the dog? And if they are then tell them exactly what they are in no uncertain terms. Don’t let people get away with that shit. Don’t let wankers stop you from be healthy and strong. Don’t let them suck the joy out of your life and don’t spend your days worrying about what other people are thinking! You can’t control what they are thinking you can only control how you react to their actual actions (not what you think they thinking – they may be thinking what an awesome day everyone is out having fun). Repeat after me – I am STRONG, I am PRECIOUS and I AM PROUD! Be proud of who you are!

  51. Amy Thomlinson Avatar
    Amy Thomlinson

    I took up running /jogging in March because my blood pressure and blood sugar were too high and I don’t want to be on medicine for the rest of my life. All summer there would be people sitting in lawn chairs or driving in cars that felt the need to insult me. I read an inspirational thing that helps me a lot: Every step I take is one step more than they have taken. Every mile I go is another lap they didn’t do.

  52. littlem Avatar

    I, um.

    I identify with everything in this post so much I just, um, had a few small somethings in my eye. Yes, that’s it.

    I need to put on Pink’s “Are We All We Are” and go stomping to Pilates class now, treating the 42nd street sidewalk like my own personal runway. I mean, really, if I’m going to be in class at 7:30am (what am I thinking??) I will have the sidewalk pretty much all to myself anyway.

  53. littlem Avatar

    “being an oversensitive sadface whinybaby”

    I must also add that I thought I was really the only one of these in the universe.

  54. bigsky Avatar

    I remember a time when both my daughter and I had lost about 30 pounds and we talked about what a relief it was to be able to be out in public and just blend in, to be free of the feeling that a hundred million judging eyes were trained on your every move. And coincidentally, I just came from the pool where I bravely walked across that slippery tile in front of all those people and swam my laps. I enjoyed the feel of the water and the power and grace of my strokes. I enjoyed huffing and puffing for air through my snorkle as I did the crawl stroke, then relaxing a bit when I switched to a breaststroke. I just found your blog a week or so ago, and I’m thankful for your words of compassion and insight. And I love racoons. I live in a small town on the coast of British Columbia, and I have black bear roaming around my yard every night. Thanks for writing this blog.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      We have wild minks wandering around the beach here in Toronto. Sometimes they venture downtown! I saw one swimming and I was like, “What is that stick do– A WEASEL!” It was great. Everyone on the beach thought I was nuts because apparently I’m the only one who noticed.

  55. Jake Avatar

    I love this. Being fat in public shouldn’t be a radical act, but it is and I’m glad that you’re willing to do it. I feel like this sometimes when I’m on my run. Like everyone around me is way thinner and totally judging me and probably thinks I’m trying to lose weight and yadda yadda. But then I feel the burn in my lungs and my calves and (lately) the freezing air numbing my fingers and toes and I forget about the rest. That’s one thing I’ve noticed I really like about exercise. If I work hard enough, I can make my jerkbrain (or my anxious brain or my angry brain or whatever) shut up, because I get so singularly focused on the physical sensation of exercise that everything else disappears.

    All that said, isn’t Lake Ontario in the Toronto area kind of nasty? I’m always amazed that people are willing to swim in it.

  56. Chris Avatar

    I love walking, and I swim a bit, but I’m not good at it and sometimes get a bit panicky in the water. When I was younger, I was aware of Rage Against the Machine, and their song “Killing in the Name Of” was a bit too much for me, but now I love it. Maybe because now I’m more openly rebellious. Also, Wasting Light by Foo Fighters is a totally rocking album, and I’ve been listening to P J Harvey a bit lately, but not much of what I’ve had playing would be considered loud.

    If in doubt, I love the Pixies, and could listen to them any time of day. If I ever hear them on the radio, it always makes me happy.

  57. closetpuritan Avatar

    I don’t usually listen to music while I’m out, but I’ve always thought “It’s Time” from Evil Dead: The Musical would make a good power song:

  58. Beth Stephens Avatar
    Beth Stephens

    I have fibromyalgia, which is an invisible disability; and am overweight. But otherwise healthy, & I do not hesitate to call out the rudeness of anyone who rudely tells me I don’t “look sick” or how much better off i’d be IF. Presumption, assumption, and lack of empathy = cruelty beyond compare, IMHO!

    Re music…and invisiblity: as the adult child of a Narcissitic parent, I know the feeling from an emtional standpoint, too. Counting Crows are a fave of mine; the live version of “Have You Seen Me Lately?” From VH1 Live @ 10Spot is lovely….
    “…you know, I thought someone would notice, I thought someone would say something if I was missing. Well, have you seen me?”

  59. Jennifer Fischetto Avatar

    I’ve lurked on your site for a while now. I’ve always enjoyed your posts. I read this one last night. I dislike activity, always have. It was something everyone told me to do to lose weight–not to be healthy–so it still have negative thoughts and feelings associated with it. I am, however, noticing how creaky (love that term) I am feeling now that I’m getting older.

    It’s been a while since I’ve gone out for a walk. Summer is gross here, and I detest sweating. This morning, I woke up to a sore back and creaky elbows (I type or am on the computer most of the every day). I woke my daughter and we set out to walk. During the trek, I didn’t hate it as much as usual.

    It wasn’t so much the “act of rebellion” that attracted me to your post, although it makes me smile. Instead, I paid attention to how the sweat formed on my forehead and chose not to hate it. I wanted to feel the burn in my lungs, but it’s too warm. After, we sat on our front steps and I explained this post to my daughter. She smiled too.

    So, thank you, Michelle. Your words got me to do the thing I hate most and not quite hate it. ;)

    1. Michelle Avatar

      What you did, by paying attention to the physical sensations of moving and choosing to interpret them in a different light, is a really big deal. Once I learned to interpret the feelings of being out of breath and sweaty and my heart working harder as enjoyable, good, exciting things, it really made me see the entire thing in a slightly new light. I’m certainly not an athlete now or a dedicated exerciser, but I am far more likely to feel restless and think, “I need a walk,” than just continue to ignore it, or shrink away from the idea out of fear of getting sweaty and out of breath.

      I kind of like being sweaty and out of breath.

  60. Kristin Avatar

    You are lovely. Keep on enjoying walking and fresh air and obscene music. The people who take it upon themselves to judge you are the ones with the problem. Fuck them and their dogs.

  61. Kit Avatar

    If I go for a run then this is the main playlist I listen to:

    Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger – Daft Punk
    Do it like a Dude – Jessie J
    Down in Mississippi up to no good – Sugarland
    Fighter – Christina Aguilera
    Hollaback Girl – Gwen Stefani
    I still believe – Frank Turner
    I’m your man – Wham
    Raise your glass – Pink
    Lose yourself – Eminem
    Paradise City – Guns & Roses
    The Rockafella Skank – Fatboy Slim
    So What – Pink
    Starships – Nicki Minaj
    We’re not going to take it – Twisted Sister
    The best damn thing – Avril Lavigne
    One foot before the other – Frank Turner
    Nest Egg – The Phoenix Foundation
    1 2 3 4 – Feist
    The Paper Trench – Admiral Fallow
    One by One – The Black Seeds

    PS if you want fck you music you can’t go much past Ani DiFranco’s Dilate – one of my favourite albums ever!

  62. Callista Avatar

    I find it especially cruel that swimming is one of the sports most culturally forbidden to fat people. Carrying a lot of weight is hard on many people’s joints, and swimming is one of the activities that’s easiest on your joints. If we lived in an unprejudiced world, we’d find lots of bigger people in the pool all the time. As it is, you can hardly even find swimsuits that fit. To increase the irony, I’m pretty sure some people aren’t getting enough exercise precisely because they have joint problems and swimming is the best possible exercise for them, but they’re “too big” by some arbitrary standard to be “allowed” to swim.

    You know what else annoys me about who’s “allowed” to do what activity? Bicycle seats. You ever tried to sit on one of those tiny little bicycle seats made for skinny people? It’s uncomfortable. I get a sore butt every time I ride my bike. I love it, but until me and my college-student funding can afford a better seat, I can’t go more than ten-ish miles. And don’t even get me started on the requirement to wear those awful skintight clothes if you’re a “serious” cyclist. I like comfort, thank-you-very-much, and I’m not racing, so why should I be worried about wind resistance?

    Why is it that some of the same people who say “Fat people should exercise more!” are also saying, “Ewww! I don’t want to see *that*!” when they see a fat person exercising?

    Far as I’m concerned, I’m going out and moving my big butt as much as I damn well please, and if they don’t like it, THEY can stay inside where I won’t have to see them.

    1. Michelle Avatar


      And to answer your question, my belief is that it’s because people don’t actually WANT fat people to exercise. Exercise can be enjoyable, can make you stronger, and can make your life better. People who hate fat people wouldn’t want us to enjoy any of those things. They just want to be able to scapegoat someone, and whining about the fact that we don’t exercise more (while simultaneously making it as socially difficult as possible to exercise) serves that purpose well. That’s why I feel sort of like exercising publicly is an act of rebellion. Despite all their protests to the contrary, people don’t WANT me to exercise – they want me to stop being fat at them.

    2. Elodie Avatar

      Back when I was a skinny little 11-year old who rode her bike everywhere, bicycle seats made me seriously uncomfortable. I actually find them less uncomfortable now that I have more of my own padding. I think the person who invents a comfortable bicycle seat will get very, very rich.

      1. Kit Avatar

        If you bike regularly the sore bum thing wears off after about 6 weeks (by regularly I mean 5 days a week). I was about 82 kgs give or take when I started biking. I was very unfit and the sore bum thing did nothing to help me. It’s what stopped me getting on a bike for years, but I just kept on with it and it changed. I now regularly bike to and from work and go out on long rides on the weekends. It helped that I found a bike seat from an older bike and when I got a new bike I just tranferred the seat. Love biking a lot!

        1. Michelle Avatar

          This gives me great hope. I also belong to the sore-butted people of the world.

          1. Linda Strout Avatar
            Linda Strout

            I got a bicycle trainer so I could work up my biking skills in the privacy of my own home. It’s a device that let’s you put your bike into it to act as a stationary bike, then take your bike back off when you want to take it on the road. Granted, it’s about $300 bucks for the kind I got (I did research to find a good one), and I haven’t used it lately due to circumstance, but I do enjoy it when I do use it, and if I can only handle ten minutes, so what?

          2. Acmac Avatar

            Yeah, the soreness definitely wears off, in my experience. I actually develop a pair of subcutaneous groinbutt callouses after about three weeks of ~30 min/day.

          3. littlem Avatar

            I have read mysterious things about both padded seats and padded shorts improving sore-butt shenanigans.

            (Of course, neither of those things have yet to get me to spin class, as I carry a great amount of weight below the waist. I just keep taking harder Pilates classes — butt still gets sore, but at least it’s not also chafey. Sorry if TMI.)

  63. Annie Avatar

    I don’t know what your beliefs consist of, but I believe we are children of God and we have infinite worth. I find that when I care more about what God thinks of me than what another person thinks about me, I am much more happy, and I focus less on things that don’t really matter (the number on the scale, the size of my clothes, my hairstyle, or my income). God’s opinion has far more value than even my own. I hope you feel His love for you, because you deserve it.

    1. Callista Avatar

      If you want to be theologically picky, you can remove that “…because you deserve it”. God doesn’t love people because we “deserve” it. He just loves us. That’s it. No prerequisites. God loves humans, and we come in a wide range of sizes. And the only thing he really wants us to do is to love him and love each other–all the rest of theology falls into place once you have that straight. And there’s no size requirement on love-your-neighbor, either.

      Makes it even sadder when people use God as an excuse to hate each other, doesn’t it?

  64. Danielle Avatar

    Hey. Do you have any posts on eating in private?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      I wrote one about emotional eating…maybe that’s close?

      I should put up a categories widget on the sidebar. I keep forgetting it’s not there.

  65. Indigo Avatar

    I understand. I have similar feelings when I leave the house or go to the gym.

    I wrote something about an interaction I had with a woman after a Zumba class

  66. Pauline Avatar

    I hated going to the swimming pool, because of all these looks I got. Then I discovered people were swimming in the river about 500 m from my home. Now, in summer I swim in the river as often as I can. Because of the strong currents you need to be a good swimmer , so the people who dare to go in there take it serious and have no time for bullying, body-shaming or else.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      As much as I love river swimming (and lake swimming and swimming hole swimming), I’m sorry you have to go to a more dangerous spot to enjoy yourself just because people are jerks.

  67. […] some posts by people who have been fat-shamed while exercising, see here, here, here, here, here, and here. (I didn’t find as many of these as I thought I would; […]

  68. Morgaine Fey Avatar

    Loud music: Skinny Puppy. SO good to walk to. Deadmau5 if you can stand the silly spelling. Just found you and cannot wait to read more. These are the types of posts I need to read. I have the “my body, my enemy” mind frame, but I am slowly picking it apart!


  69. Pauline Avatar

    Thank you. I think you’re beautiful.

  70. Linda Strout Avatar
    Linda Strout

    More of my nattering.

    I’ve been thinking about body image lately: my own, my friends and society.

    My own because I really would like to accept they way I look. Right now I’m trying to accept the fact that I have a big tummy and with my narrow hips makes me the dreaded apple shape. I still struggle with the idea I might be attractive the way I am.

    My friends because I’ve noticed how often my friends hate their own bodies, whether they are overweight or normal weight, they don’t want to be seen naked, despite having men in their lives who care for them and want to be having (or already are having) passionate sex with them.

    Society’s because I went to a burlesque show last week and one of the first things I thought about the first performer was ‘huh, she’s kind of fat’ and was immediately mad at myself for thinking that and I realized society had programmed that into me. Yes, this woman had visible cellulite and some rolls of flesh here and there, but she was strong and talented. She did a fun, fast dance/striptease and looked great doing it. Only one performer really fit society’s image of young, thin, and beautiful. The rest were varied, but beautiful in their own way. They all were clearly having fun, loved themselves and were comfortable performing.

    I’ve been wondering how far back this image thing goes. Is it back to when images of women became more common as printing presses became more widely used for advertising? Farther back?

    Even in the Little House on the Prairie books, there is a scene where a teenage Laura describes herself as ’round and dumpy’ and wishes she were tall and willowy.

    Will I ever get passed this accursed obsession with how I look? Will society?

    1. Michelle Avatar

      All good questions.

      You would probably really enjoy Roberta Seid’s book Never Too Thin – it is a really good historical/sociological overview of how our current body ideal came to be – – it’s out of print but totally worth getting a used copy.

      See also: Not Safe For Work, so don’t click if that’s where you are! Naked ladies! –

      1. Linda Strout Avatar
        Linda Strout


      2. Allan Avatar

        I’d also recommend trying to find some of the current research on personal preferences, as it seems the trend for males at least is to prefer partners that are at least slightly padded ie no protruding bones (my connection has been seriously playing up for the last 6 hours or I’d try to find the data to link but it’s been a continuing blip on Australian news for the last couple of years).
        There’s definitely starting to be a shift if only because men are are growing aware of the fact that bony partners can make for uncomfortable companions if you’re into physical contact. However speaking from experience it’s often hard to get the people to believe they’re fine as they are.

        I’m finding also the fashion industry is slower to wake up, and thus those who are frequently the most fashion conscious, ie the teens, and early 20s. That said there’s a few fashion houses coming forward with more normal sized attire and openly promoting healthy eating rather than diets (what happens behind their doors I’m not so sure on), even getting to see the odd ad for larger bodied women to go on the catwalk for smaller shows now as well. So keep the faith, the ones who drive the image now are slowly getting there.

        1. Michelle Avatar

          Okay, so…………………………………….Allan, I appreciate that you are commenting here and trying to be encouraging. I really do. But at the same time, you are somehow managing to 1) reduce women to their bodies based on men’s sexual preferences, and 2) be fairly insulting to “bony” women.

          Women come in all shapes and sizes, and they are all real women. Men (and people of any gender who are sexually attracted to women) find a range of different body types attractive, and that is all fine. Yes, it is problematic when only ONE body type is ever represented in the media and held up as an ideal that we should all strive to reach, when it is impossible for most people to meet that ideal by choice. I certainly hope that the fashion industry continues to evolve into making clothing for people of all sizes.

          It is hard, indeed, to get people to accept themselves as they are when they have a huge media-industrial-fashion-health complex working against them. But basically I’m not too interested in research showing that men find larger women attractive, not because that doesn’t happen, but because it’s beside the point of what I’m doing here. My body doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of being attractive to men, and I try not to care too much about whether men find me attractive. For one thing, I’m married to someone who apparently likes me just fine, but the larger point is that I care about whether I am treated equal to other people, not whether dudes find me hot.

          1. Allan Avatar

            Really I was not trying to, I was trying to point out there is a shift in perception occurring behind the scenes. And while it’s not going to fix all the problem and it’s very narrow in focus now, it should eventually lead to more generalised improvements and hopefully getting through to more people it’s ok to be what you are and for others to be too.

            However you can bet it won’t fix everything, there’ll always be some hold outs that think it’s their way or no way. And I’m sorry if I have come off this way myself in what I’ve said. I’ll try to double check what I’ve written if I comment again so I don’t put my size 13 straight back into my mouth unintentionally. I’m not sure what’s going on, but I’m not liking the way I’ve been coming across either.

          2. Michelle Avatar

            Thanks, and I really appreciate your willingness to hear what I said.

  71. Rachel Avatar

    I know you are getting deluged with new commenters just now, but I still wanted to let you know something. I work in a public library in Scotland and we have a depressingly large and expanding section of ‘hate yourself thin!’ or ‘make these complicated recipes every day and become HAPPY!’ typed diet books. I have taken, when I get the chance, to pencilling your website address onto the date labels. It won’t change the world, but it makes me a little less ragey, and maybe someone will get to find out it doesn’t have to be like that.

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Wow, that’s actually the best compliment I’ve ever received. Thank you!

      1. Rachel Avatar

        eeeeee, I Did A Good Thing! (well. Started. There’s a lot of books on that there shelf.) It’s 4 am here, I think I might actually manage to go sleep now. Connections come in strange ways.

    2. Rachel Avatar

      and I meant to say thanks too for never making me feel like I should get out of your internet space because I’m not strikingly big. There are all sorts of ways the body acceptance stuff can resonate: I get it that sometimes people need their blog/space to be pretty exclusive, but I like feeling there is room for me here.

      1. Michelle Avatar

        I’m pretty cool with anyone who isn’t promoting their diet or being a misogynist/racist/ableist/sizist jerk, fat or thin or in between. Subversive library workers are always especially welcome.

  72. […] Hollywood roles…but we still treat them like crap. -How going out in the world while fat can be an act of rebellion. -I showed my son a video of two men getting married and he didn’t even realize anything […]

  73. […] The Fat Nutritionist Share this:TwitterFacebookRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

  74. Cindy Avatar

    So I have a question (I am what the world would consider “overweight,” but I can still find clothes and swimsuits that fit) about how best to handle a situation. I was at the beach last summer with my kids – beautiful Presque Isle in PA, worth it if you ever have the chance to go there – and there was a very large woman playing in the water with her kids. My question is NOT about not being comfortable with her size. I was glad she felt confident enough to get out in the water and play, because so many women of her size don’t. My question is about the fact that she was basically falling out of her swimsuit, as in her nipples didn’t always stay covered. I get that she probably had one heck of a time finding something to fit her, but – well, I really don’t want my teenage boys seeing her breasts spilling out of her top. I don’t want them seeing anyone’s breasts spilling out of their top, no matter their size. I didn’t say anything to her. I just had my boys turn away. Was that the best way to handle it? Should I have told her that it wasn’t her fatness, but her semi-nakedness, that had us turning away? I don’t want to contribute to the whole “fat people shouldn’t go out in public” thing. Opinions from those who have been in that situation would be helpful.

    1. Allan Avatar

      The best approach is usually to be honest and upfront about the fact she’s popping out and that concerns you. Polite and discreet as well is the best way in general, it should help minimize embarrassment for her if she’s unaware. It’s often best to avoid commenting on anything else because it makes it sound like you have other issues with her.

      Admittedly it’s always a bit awkward and embarrassing for both parties to have to tell them something is showing that shouldn’t, and it’s hardly a situation unique to those of us in plus size clothes.

      1. Cindy Avatar

        She knew that things weren’t covered, as evidenced by the fact that she kept trying to readjust. That’s why I didn’t say anything. If I had honestly thought she didn’t know, I would have gently pointed it out. I’m just not sure if saying something like, “We’re not turning our backs because you’re fat!” would have been helpful or hurtful.

        1. Allan Avatar

          Yeah that would make it hard to be respectful and honest without hurt feelings. I honestly can’t see anything remotely resembling a win-win situation there given how easy it is to say something that’ll be taken personally in a scenario like that.

  75. Elizabeth Andersen Avatar
    Elizabeth Andersen

    Hi Michelle,

    First, I need to say, while I’ve never commented before, I LOVE your blog! It’s my favorite. :)

    Also, this post it pretty much exactly how I feel every time I go outside. In fact, I feel like I spend a lot of time trying to “atone” for not being beautiful. I realized recently that after they weigh me at doctor appointments, I automatically apologize for the number. I’m not going to do that this year. Actually, to get slightly off topic, I have been thinking about how to approach the inevitable, “you seem uncomfortable” statement that seems to happen every time I’m at the OB-GYN. I want to say something like this:

    “Well, I’m in a situation where I have to get naked, get covered by a giant paper towel (which inevitably rips), asked to lay on a strip of butcher paper, then get poked and prodded in my most personal areas, and am finally chided about how my body is unacceptable. What could possibly make me uncomfortable in this scenario?”

    To get back on topic, I’ve had to start telling myself not to be afraid to leave. That usually, no one says anything. That when people look at me it doesn’t matter. And, that while I am almost always the fattest person at the gym, nearly everyone there has body issues. Especially, that guy who makes the gorilla noises while he lifts weights.

    We’re nearly the same age (I turn 32 next month) so, you probably already either listen to this stuff already, or you hate it, but my favorite workout music is Red Hot Chili Peppers (especially Californication), Shakira, and Lady GaGa for cardio. I really like Bjork (particularly the song Come to Me from Debut) and Norah Jones for cool downs and stretching. I also like a lot of video game soundtracks for workouts, that music is designed to be slightly repetitve and upbeat. The Persona games (3 and 4 especially) have excellent soundtracks.

    And looking at this comment, I must say, “Hi, my name is Beth and I like run-on sentences and parentheses.” :P

    1. Michelle Avatar

      Thank you Beth!

      The gorilla noises thing made me laugh out loud.

      1. Elizabeth Andersen Avatar
        Elizabeth Andersen

        Seriously, you should HEAR this guy. My husband and I have to stifle laughter every time he’s there!

  76. Jenn Avatar

    This post reminded me a lot, of…well….me. It wasn’t really that long ago that the thought of going out alone freaked me out. I always figured that people were thinking, “Aww…look at that fat chick, nobody loves her enough to hang out with her at the (fill in the blank here)_____________” There were a few times that I was openly scorned just for leaving the house, was told (for my own good, right?) that I needed to lose weight, or glared at just for walking down the street, as if people thought that because I was fat I didn’t have the right to go out in public, or perhaps even live. I knew that because of the actions of others, and possibly the imagined actions of some, I will admit, I had a horrible self esteem. Actually, I still struggle with it, though it isn’t quite as bad. Anyway, I got tired of constantly feeling like Frankenstein, chased by the pitchfork weilding townspeople everytime I left the house. As I started really doing research on self esteem and making a plan to fix myself (regardless of whether I lost weight or not, I wanted to be happy with me) I started to actually feel sorry for the people that did openly scorn me. It didn’t take me long, through general observation as well as reading many articles from published psychologists, to realize that most people who openly cut you are hurting inside. People generally hurt other people because they’re hurting. The whole process of tearing somebody down is actually, to them, the process of building themselves up. It’s really sad when you think about it. Rude ass people try to make your day go bad so that theirs can get better? Sounds a bit psychotic to me, and something worth my pity. Those are generally the same people that bash someone for being gay or for being a different race or religion, political party or ethnic group. I am finally starting to feel comfortable inside my own skin, and to the bashers who try to make excuses for why they feel the need to act like an asshole (It’s for your own good, right?) I have to say that I only have room for one asshole in my life, and it’s attached to my body!

    Btw….I love your postings and find them very inspiring. You’ve been a huge part of me finding comfort inside my own skin. Thank you!! :)

  77. Jackie Avatar

    I wore a bathing suit for the first time in years this summer. I am forty pounds over-weight for my frame. I started in my backyard in the kiddie pool. I had fun swimming and I felt proud of myself for staying in my body during the experience. When I went overseas for vacation, I swam in a public pool. I suppose that I was one of the heaviest women there, but I told myself that I was just like everyone else enjoying the time with their kids. Then I went to visit my parents at the beach…I wore my bathing suit, but my mother kept telling me that I looked fine while comparing me to other heavy sunbathers. My father took my picture while I was wearing my bathing suit– even when I asked him not to. This is where I started to get a little bit nuts. I didn’t know how to remove the picture from his camera. I kept trying when they weren’t looking and I couldn’t do it. It bothered me. I over ate for two days, then I stopped myself. I decided that I had to let those pictures go. I’m trying to live in this body, even though I don’t want to. I can ignore my body most of the time, but if I am ignoring it, then I am not loving it. I need to love my body to get better. Thank you. I appreciate you taking the time to help others.

  78. Inkdancer Avatar

    Having been laughed out of gyms and dance classes, I feel you here.

    I was the only girl who needed an XXL tutu, and as much as I love ballet, they simply don’t make those. I stopped dancing because it was not a culture that embraced my size.

    It is wonderful to be able to come here and have someone remind me Do what you love, because you deserve to be happy. It is wonderful to know that maybe someone one day could watch me dance and think “she is beautiful,” rather than “she’s a hippo in a tutu.”

    And for the record, I think you are beautiful inside and out.

    1. Natalie ._c- Avatar

      About ballet. Or any professional dance, for that matter. Dancing is one of the MOST dysmorphic endeavors there are. How many aspiring ballerinas are anorexic or bulimic, do you suppose? The pressure to be thin in the dance field will definitely impact those who are vulnerable.

      Years ago, I worked on a local volunteer fundraising show, and one of the dancing girls was large. Not so large that she couldn’t do a GREAT job on the dance line, but I heard one of the men saying “That girl should never have been allowed to dance!”. How offensive!!!

      There is a LOT to be done in our culture (and the effects of which have spread all over the world) to counteract the bias and discrimination against large people. And I’m really sorry you couldn’t get a tutu.

    2. M Dubz Avatar
      M Dubz

      I am so sorry you had that experience. I’m a fellow fatass dancer (modern and swing dancing) and I totally feel you about ballet, but I’ve also been lucky enough to find studios with dancers from a wide variety of ages and body types. I hope you’ve been able to find another dance style or studio where you can feel confident about your body shape.