Teefury Thinks Adult Women Should Have Children’s Bodies

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If you’re like me, a fat lady who loves nerdy t-shirts, you’ve long since resigned yourself to a lifesize of oddly fitting mens shirts. The sleeves hang close to your elbows, shoulder hem falling a good two inches past your actual shoulder. Not to mention that the body of the shirt makes it look like we’re wearing a shopping bag down the length of our torsos. Lady sized shirts are cut to better flatter a woman’s form. Everything from the slightly longer curves of the torso to the cap sleeves to the cut of the neckline is made to look just a tad bit cleaner. Because unlike your standard t-shirt, they’re made for a woman’s body instead of a man’s. They just never come in freaking sizes you can actually wear if you happen to be much larger than a women’s size 12.

I still remember in the foolish days of my youth ordering a ladies 2XL from Threadless. I wore a men’s XL and figured a 2XL should be a good enough guess given it was a little more tailored and womens sizes tend to run smaller. Boldly I ordered three shirts, and not only did none of them fit, I gave them to my roommate who wore a standard medium shirt and they fit her perfectly. So I gave up and spent many long years frumping around in men’s shirts. I’m sure there are plenty of women out there who can rock the regular t-shirt, but I’m sure not one of them.

Teefury is like the geek tee mecca. Cheap, creative designs that highlight nerdery in all its glorious walks of life. For a long time I ordered many a mens style shirt, but I never wore the as anything other than a night shirt. I just didn’t like how they looked on me. I went back on the site earlier this year and noticed they now carried a 3XL. A quick web search revealed that they had decided to alter the size of their 2XL and add a 3XL for women.

For customers who have previously ordered women’s 2XL, that size has now changed and we’ve also added a 3XL size. Our goal with the changes is to offer a more complete range of women’s sizes, providing great fitting tees to as many women as possible.

But I was still hesitant. I’d been lied to by women’s sizing before, and even though I only wear an XL in men’s sizes, I wasn’t fully convinced that a 3XL would be large enough. But this past month I finally took the plunge, and I was both right and wrong. The shirt fit me, just barely, but the discrepency between the men’s sizing and the women’s sizing is comedically depressing.

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On the bottom you have a Teefury shirt in a men’s XL, washed in irresponsibly warm water many times and shrunk as small as it could possibly be shrunk. On top you have my newly arrived tee, unwashed and in a women’s XXXL. That’s right, you’re looking at what Teefury thinks a woman who’s three X’s above large should look like. And before anyone tries to chime in with “they’re at the mercy of vendors who don’t provide plus sized cropped women’s sizes,” I’m gonna go ahead and call bullshit. Popular online t-shirt vendor Zazzle somehow manages to summon that unicorn, providing (gasp!) shirts cut for women that are actually sized the way normal plus sized clothing is.

teefury size chart 7-9-14So here we have the sizing chart directly from Teefury’s website. Do me a favor and check out the differences between the widths between the women’s and youth sizes. It’s cool, I’ll wait.

Notice a pattern? Maybe that they’re all only a quarter of an inch off in most places, and a whopping three quarters of an inch off in the XL category? Apparently Teefury thinks fully grown adult women should only be one fourth of an inch wider than children. This is actually a pretty prevalent issue when it comes to women and body image; there are all kinds of signs that we’re sent telling us we are supposed to eternally look like pre-teens. We’re supposed to shave off all our body hair, we’re definitely not supposed to talk about anything related to sex or puberty, and aside from an increase in boob size we’re expected to keep our bodies looking exactly the same as they were when we crawled out of the cesspool that is middle school.

And Teefury’s contributing to this message. What they are essentially saying is that even with breasts a woman should be about the same size as a child, that fully grown adult woman should be able to wear the same clothes as the children she bore. They’re saying that a woman that’s a size 3XL — that’s four sizes above medium, which is supposed to be the “normal,” middling size — should still be substantially smaller than a man who’s only two sizes above the same marker. Just for kicks and curiosity, here’s what Teefury thinks the size difference between a man and a woman should be at an XL.

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As if infantalizing women wasn’t enough, here’s a quick insult to injury for you. Despite each involving substantially less fabric, these “extra extra extra large” sizes? All come with an up charge. So I get to pay a bonus $2 for a shirt with substantially less material than the men’s XL, which as you can see has no additional charges.

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“It’s okay for men to be extra large, but women better not get any bigger than a men’s small* or we’re gonna make ‘em pay a fee.” -Teefury, probably

So what’s to be done? I doubt Teefury’s interested in anything we have to say on the subject; as long as their sales keep up I’m sure they don’t feel like they have any obligation as to the kind of message they’re putting out there. I think it’s pretty crappy that they’re carrying the torch of “women should have the bodies of children,” but I think it’s even crappier that this is the norm for the industry. I wish more companies, especially relatively large ones, would step up and speak out against making women feel even worse about their bodies than we already tend to on average. Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath.

*According to their own chart a woman’s XL, the last free size, is 18.75″ across. A men’s small is 18″, and their medium is 20″. Cringingly, their youth’s XL ties for the closest size at 18″ wide as well.

OotD: Los Angeles’s Fabric District!

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Dress: ModCloth; $47.99 (3X)
Cardigan: ModCloth; $20.99 (3X)
Belt: Forever XXI; $5.80 (1X/2X)
Tights: Target; $10 (1X)
Shoes: ModCloth; $29.99 (41)
Bag: Kate Spade; Gifted
Necklace: ModCloth; $7.99

Total: $122.76

So obviously, this outfit went a little above my usual standard of “less than $100,” but I kind of wanted to get a little fancy for it. One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is that almost anything I want to do or find is an option. So with the sudden desire to hand-sew things, me and a friend hiked it down to LA’s fabric district on a sunny Saturday morning. She was kind enough to bring her camera along and snap some photos. And yes, we totally scored on fabric and then gorged ourselves on delicious, delicious bulgogi. Even though I really miss a lot of Texas foods (I mourn kolaches almost daily) it is pretty neat having relatively quick and easy access to just about any cuisine you’d like.

As for the outfit, I absolutely adore this cat-print dress. As a certifiable cat lady I was way excited to see it go on sale and had to snatch it up immediately. It’s a little bag-like around the waist, but a quick cheap belt fixed that up right quick. I hate listening to fashion rules so I instantly paired it with black, from the belt to the tights, because fuck the police that’s why. But more seriously, I was actually educated on why this was an old fashion rule that no longer applies:

Back when the color rules were made, navy blue had a serious green tone to it.  There are two black dye processes, one red, and one green.  So you can imagine that you might get some clashing going on between various items.  But today’s navy is a deep cobalt blue, which makes it a whole lot safer when it comes to mixing.

So pair away that navy and black guilt-free! If you had any guilt about doing it before, anyway. Which you shouldn’t, because wear what you want, man.

I managed to get almost everything when they went on sale, which is the way to do ModCloth. A lot of their stuff can get pricey, so I tend to add the things I want to my Wishlist and wait for the stuff to go on sale. I’m in love with their cardigans, so I’m quietly stalking them to see when they go on sale. I just picked up the peacock yesterday at 20% off! Originally they only had your standard “super boring bland blah neutral” colors in plus sizes with a really large selection in “regulars,” but they’ve been expanding their options in a pleasantly surprising yet terrible for my wallet rate. I can’t even keep up! One thing they are great at though is carrying really cute, really fashionable clothing in plus sizes that are clearly designed by someone who knows how plus sizes work. They aren’t just a larger cut of the same dress, they’re actually fashioned differently. In several of the dress options now you’ll see that they actually have image clips for both the XS – L size dresses then an image of the 1X – 4X dresses.

Word of warning, though, that they tend to operate on a kind of juniors scale. As someone that’s usually a pretty firm 18/20 I find myself picking up a 3X and that fitting pretty well. But, as always, your mileage may vary. The comments are pretty accurate, and you can helpfully see images uploaded by other ModCloth shoppers to get an idea of how each will fit on you.

OotD, 2014 Style!

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I’ve had this dress for awhile. I love this dress. But between the lace shoulders that always seem to show off a bra strap, the short dress length, the ruffles I’m always too lazy to iron out and the overall “puffiness” of the thing I don’t wear it as often as I’d like.

But I really enjoyed the way this came together, especially given that I threw it on fuzzily at about 6:30 AM while muttering “cold, cold” to myself over and over. We may not be getting a snowocalypse here in Los Angeles, but stepping out of the shower wet and naked into air that’s stupidly cold due to my forgetting to turn on the heater when it’s 45 degrees out is a decidedly un-fun experience.

On to the deets!

Dress: ASOS Curve; $35.19 (20 US)
Necklace: Gifted
Leggings: Lane Bryant; $26.95 (C/D)
Boots: Avenue; $20 (8.5 W)
Belt: Forever 21; $8.95

Total: $91.09

Oh, and did I mention the best part about this dress?

It has actual pockets!

Unpopular Fat Opinion: I’m Okay With People Who Diet

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Consider this preemptive, would-be commenters.

Consider this preemptive, would-be commenters.

I’ve been writing about fat acceptance for about a year and a half here now, and it’s been a pretty awesome experience. Sure, I get the occasional crappy and hateful comment, but it’s nothing I haven’t heard a thousand times before and I have pretty thick skin when it comes to strangers lobbing verbal hand grenades at me. A person who doesn’t know me who I will never in reality encounter anonymously calling me a lard-laden fatty? Quick, someone fetch me the smellin’ salts!

What I have gotten that I actually do care about are cautiously-worded questions from friends of mine insofar as various activities that they’re involved with that seemingly run counter-intuitive to what I blog about. For example, I write a lot about rejecting diet culture. How do I feel about people on diets? I’m very vocal when it comes to not accepting the criticisms from traditionally “thin” people in regards to fat bodies. Do I hate thin people in general? I complain a lot about not being able to find cute, colorful clothes that don’t look like sad sacks to hide my body with. Do I think fat people are obligated to do this? How do I feel about people who would rather wear black baggy clothes that hide as much of their body as possible?

Seriously, this is not the face of someone who's going to judge you for your wardrobe preferences.

Seriously, this is not the face of someone who’s going to judge you for your wardrobe choices.

So let me be clear: what I advocate for first and foremost is always, always bodily autonomy. You have the right to do whatever you want to your body at any time for any reason, and my only caveat to this ever is if what you’re doing to your body starts impacting others – actually impacting others – in negative ways. For example, I fully support an individual’s right to smoke cigarettes. I also fully support laws that ban this in public enclosed spaces because I’d rather not get bronchitis as an end result of the choice you’ve made for your body. I have friends who smoke and I never ever complain about them doing this in their home or their cars. That’s their private space that I’ve chosen to enter; it would be super inappropriate for me to demand that they alter their private space to suit my individual needs. But I do get cranky when someone demands the “right” to smoke in a place I can’t possibly escape, like a subway or an airplane. I’ve gotta share your air, man. It’s not like I can crack a window here.

Because you see, smoking is a thing that actually affects other people as an unfortunate byproduct of the action of smoking itself. You know what doesn’t actually impact the lives of other people? Fat bodies existing in public! Just because you can’t jerk off to me later doesn’t mean you have the right to demand I lose weight to fit your interpretation of what lady bodies should look like. I’m not calling for a ban on “tribal” tattoos (what kind of “tribe” did it come from, exactly?) or that Asian script inked on your forearm that you really hope means “Peace & Tranquility.” If I can deal, so can you.

But what about people who diet? Who get weight loss surgery or go on extreme medical programs? People who were fat that are working really, really hard not to be? This is a slightly stickier area that requires a little more untangling.

Generally, there are two reasons people diet. The first is to improve their health. They may not always have the right definition of health in mind; they may be basing it on a BMI chart taped to a scale they popped a quarter into at a mall that lit up bright red and told them they were obese, for example, but the goal here is to “get fit.” The second, and more common, is vanity. They just don’t wanna look like a fat person anymore so they’ve decided to work on shedding the pounds.

There are about a thousand really valid reasons for a person to do the first. Weight and size can absolutely negatively impact your life. Anyone shocked to hear me say that? You shouldn’t be. While I will maintain forever that fat and one’s weight in and of itself isn’t indicative in any way of an individual’s health, it can definitely exacerbate something you’re already dealing with. If you have bad knees and you’re able to safely lessen the amount of weight they need to bear every day, by all means do so. The trouble isn’t with people wanting to lose weight to improve their health, it’s with people assuming that fat people have to lose weight for their health. That you cannot possibly be both fat and healthy, even athletic. A fat body is no more indicative of health than a thin body is, and in that vein a fat person working to lose weight for the sake of their health should receive no more shame or praise than anyone else doing the same.  (Which, by the way, is why it’s also a dick move to compliment someone on weight loss, especially if you have no idea why or how they lost it.)

The second reason gets hairier. Boy howdy, do we as a culture hate the word vanity. It’s such a bad, nasty word. Vanity. People who are stuck up and self-centered care about vanity. Fake people care about vanity. Which is hilarious given how incredibly necessary we’ve made it in almost every single sphere of our lives. We’re supposed to be natural and love our bodies and reject all changes to it for fear of being called artificial, but also if you don’t have a thin body with well groomed hair and a face full of makeup (but not too much, wouldn’t want to look like one of those girls!) you’re probably not going to get the job you just interviewed for. Vanity is something we all have and are too ashamed to readily admit to in polite company. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it.

Seriously. There’s nothing wrong with vanity, absolutely nothing wrong with doing something to your body to make you like it more. I regularly post photos of myself on this blog in pretty dresses with a face full of make-up and carefully chosen accessories because I’m vain as fuck. I love being pretty, and when we start policing what people are and aren’t allowed to do to themselves in the name of Prettydom, well. That way lay dragons.

It’s completely understandable why us fat folks get cranky at people who diet for vanity, though. I mean, we’ve gone our whole lives having people rub this shit in our faces. Talking about their diets and how many calories are in their salads while looking meaningfully over at you and your cheeseburger and fries. Ads on television that show sad, dull photos of people with bodies like ours standing next to brightly lit smiling photos of people “after” this amazing pill/nutritional program/surgery/hypnotherapy. We deal with this crap all the time, and I think raging against the machine a little after we finally pull ourselves out of a pit of self-loathing and despair is a pretty natural reaction.

But man, we’ve really gotta be careful with that. Just like we don’t want people to police our bodies, it’s really super hypocritical for us to do the same thing to other people. Because when you parse it down, that’s what fat activism should be about. We should be about allowing people to keep their bodies however they’d like to keep them without shame or judgment, and that applies to people who lose weight too. This is a thing they’ve chosen to do to their bodies, and they don’t need any more of an excuse than we do.  “I like my body this way and want to keep It like this” should be more than enough.

Now, what we should have absolutely zero tolerance for is people on diets telling us that we should be on diets too. Anyone who comes up to you and says, “Well hello, my fat friend! I couldn’t help but notice that you’re still fat, and if you will take note of my fine physique you will note that I am no longer. Allow me to impart upon you the mystical knowledge that will free you from your bodily prison and release the thin person held captive inside!” is a jerk. Get rid of them, tell them off, whatever you feel comfortable doing because that person sucks gigantic monkey balls. Evangelical dieters are the worst and I can’t stand them either.  Never put up with anyone who tries to make you feel bad for how you look, or with someone that uses the words “fat” and “ugly” interchangeably. Friends don’t shame other friends bodies or try to change them to make them “better” (which invariably seems to mean “look like me”).

But can you see how that needs to cut both ways? We all have vanity; we all do things to make ourselves look a certain way that makes us happy. Does it make me sad that people feel like they can’t be fat and pretty? Absolutely. It sucks, and that’s part of why I write this blog in the first place. It’s sad as hell that the concept of being unapologetically fat is revolutionary, let alone the idea that one can be both fat and attractive. It also makes me sad when people bleach their natural red hair blonde, but you know what? Not my body, not my call.

And yes, there is a lot more going on behind a fat person feeling ugly as fat and a redhead wanting to look like Paris Hilton – I still have mega problems with diet culture and the way our society views fat as inherently negative. I still have mega problems with the way it can very closely mirror or outright become an eating disorder, something that you’ll never be diagnosed with in a fat body because if you tell someone you skipped a few meals you’re more likely to be congratulated than censured. In my perfect world gaining, losing or maintaining weight wouldn’t be seen as necessarily negative or positive; just another thing you’re doing to your body because you feel like doing it.

But folks, if we’re going to fight for the right of a person to be allowed to maintain their body in whatever shape they like, we have to actually do that thing. Whether we’re fat because we just are naturally, because something’s up medically, or just because we unapologetically love food, fuck you very much, is both completely valid/okay and absolutely no one’s business. And so long as your dieting friend/coworker/family member isn’t going around insisting – or “covertly” implying – that fat is disgusting and everyone who has it should get on a treadmill immediately, how and why they keep their bodies isn’t any of yours either. Always fight any narrative that tells you to feel crappy about being happy with how you keep your body, and prepare to take it squarely on the chin if you try to turn that around on someone else.

So My Body Is A Disease, And Why The AMA Can Suck It

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Recently the AMA made a decision that’s likely to have long-reaching effects for fat folks everywhere. Going against the advice of it’s own committee, it’s done what it’s been a’hankerin’ to for years– it finally declared obesity to be a disease.

STOP LOOKING HAPPY. DON'T YOU KNOW YOU'RE DYING?!

STOP LOOKING HAPPY. DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE DYING?!

The War on Obesity (or more accurately described, the War on Fat People) has been the favorite toy mouse batted around by the media, corporations and politicians when they want to look like they’re trying to help people while simultaneously managing to still be assholes. They get to sit in judgment over a group of people who are lesser than them and, through a variety of methods, try to cure these helpless fatties. And by cure fatties I mean make them look like Stepford Wife copies of themselves. Because let’s be real – none of these people actually care about the health of fat people, including the AMA. But I’ll get to that in a second.

So we have this war on obesity, which is so terrifying that we’re forced to show seas of headless sagging waistlines on television, comparing fat bodies to things like terrorism, cancer, and tons of sources (funded by pharmaceutical companies and weight loss programs) will tell you that being obese is the actual worst thing ever. It’s killing everyone, and if these lardasses would just get off their butts and go jogging instead of shoveling Twinkies (RIP) into their mouths the entire crisis would be over. Obesity is a terrifying epidemic, despite the fact that for the twelfth year in a row the number of obese people hasn’t shown any significant increase.

Of course, this is overlooking the fact that several studies from totally disreputable sources like the American Heart Association have also uncovered what was coined as the “obesity paradox.”

While many may be incredulous, the largest body of evidence has found that fatness is not a risk factor for heart disease or premature death, even controlling for the effects of smoking. Ancel Keys and colleagues confirmed this nearly half a century ago upon examining 16 prospective studies in seven countries, as well as actual angiographic and autopsy examinations of 23,000 sets of coronary arteries which found no relationship between body fatness and the degree or progression of atherosclerotic build-up. And the most careful studies ever since have continued to support these findings.

True story. Being fat in and of itself is not in any way an indicator that you’re at a higher risk of heart disease. And fun fact, Ancel Keys? The inventor of the Body Mass Index scale, which was then sold as a way to determine someone’s health more cheaply and more quickly despite the fact that the formula he used was never intended to be used to determine health at all.

Which begs the question: why wouldn’t you have heard about these studies that seem to prove that obesity is not, in fact, the epidemic we think it is? That it is not in fact causing heart disease and cancer? That in fact, even more studies point to obesity as a symptom of other diseases rather than the cause of them? Why wouldn’t these claims, at the very least, be taken into consideration? Why aren’t they even a part of this global conversation we’re having about everyone’s bodies totally being our business? How many sentences can I get away with putting into one paragraph that all end with question marks?

Let’s start with the obvious: it’s been proven that doctors have an obvious bias against fat people. They don’t like looking at them, don’t like treating them, for reasons that have zero to do with their health. That is, we have a generation of doctors that have diagnosed you as soon as you walk in the door. No matter what you’ve walked in for, your doctor is going to push down their glasses and make a condescending remark about how you really need to lose some weight. I’ve personally had doctors tell me this right after telling me I have a perfect bill of health. The bottom line is if you’re fat, you have a really good chance of being treated like shit by your doctor no matter what your actual health is simply because doctors think fat people are icky. And the AMA is, of course, a community of doctors.

I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed that a lot of things make more sense when you start to follow the money, and in this I have to admire the brilliance of the so-called obesity crisis. Here you have a system that tells you that there’s an obesity crisis — something we’ve already acknowledged is contested at the very least by contradictory studies and findings that would seem to warrant that we do a little more research first — and the solution is all of these great weight loss programs. Pills, clubs, weight loss surgeries. And odds are good that your friendly doctor is going to recommend you go to one of their affiliates, or take a pill whose name you’ll find on the pen he’s jotting down your prescription with. They’re creating the problem they’re also getting paid to cure. They, along with the drug companies and programs like Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers, make more money with every obese client they diagnose as sick.

And the awesome thing about this “disease” is that it’s entirely your fault that you have it. Rather than do what we would for any other product that repeatedly failed to work the way dieting does long-term for the vast majority of it’s participants, we’re convinced that we have these mammoth bodies because we just aren’t trying hard enough to shake off our outer blubberous layers. And rather than have trained health professionals who examine our bodies and determine whether or not we’re ill in the first place, we have doctors with a bias against fat people who literally profit the longer they think we need to be cured. Doctors who don’t believe us when we tell them we’re active, give them a detailed accounting of what we eat, insisting that the only reason we’re fat is because we’re just so goddamn lazy.

These are the people who are running the AMA.

So! Against the advice of their own committee who sort of went “Uhh, but you guys don’t have any way to classify this except BMI that doesn’t really work,” the AMA in their infinite wisdom has declared obesity a disease. Let’s take a minute to look at the actual definition of a disease, as described in the Medical Dictionary of the US Library of Medicine and National Institute of Health:

A disease is an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions, is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms, and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors.

We can take this piece by piece. First we have this:

A disease is an impairment of the normal state of the living animal or plant body or one of its parts that interrupts or modifies the performance of the vital functions,

Plenty of people are naturally fat. It’s how they’re born, it’s how they live, it’s how they die. Even most anti-fat folks agree, though they’ll state that these folks are in the minority. And considering that fat in and of itself doesn’t physically impair a person’s ability to do anything (did you know that fat people perform in the Olympics?), it can hardly be described as an impairment.

is typically manifested by distinguishing signs and symptoms,

This is where some more of that “war on obesity” brilliance comes in– the only distinguishing sign or symptom of obesity is obesity itself. It’s like me deciding that being a redhead makes you fat and using the fact that I’m fat and a redhead as proof. In order for it to be a disease it has to have symptoms that aren’t the disease itself, which obesity totally can’t do. No disease can be conclusively linked to obesity– the opposite is true, in fact. Most studies show obesity as a symptom of various diseases, such as diabetes and poly-cystic ovarian syndrome even though the medical association would have you believe it’s the other way around.

and is a response to environmental factors (as malnutrition, industrial hazards, or climate), to specific infective agents (as worms, bacteria, or viruses), to inherent defects of the organism (as genetic anomalies), or to combinations of these factors.

Look, another thing that isn’t true about obesity! Are you sensing a trend? Fun fact: you cannot get infected with fatness. You cannot go vacationing in South America, drink the water, and come back with a case of Fat. Just like there aren’t any symptoms of obesity there aren’t any specific causes of obesity, at least none that have been defined or identified. Tons of theories, no actual proof. And for all the money being thrown into the black hole that is the mega weight loss industry you’d think they’d have found one by now.

Obesity isn’t a disease, except now it is because the AMA said so. The AMA who has been in the pockets of big pharmaceutics companies for a long time now. Would you be surprised to hear that this announcement comes alongside the news that two new weight-loss drugs have been released?

Two new obesity drugs — Qsymia from Vivus, and Belviq from Arena Pharmaceuticals and Eisai — have entered the market in the last year.

Qsymia has not sold well for a variety of reasons, including poor reimbursement and distribution restrictions imposed because of concerns that the drug can cause birth defects. Those restrictions are now being relaxed. Belviq went on sale only about a week ago, so it is too early to tell how it is doing.

To hell with birth defects, you’ll be thin! And that’s what’s important. It’s hard to sexually objectify someone who’s a fatty, after all, and that’s what our medical and weight loss communities are about. How hot are you? Are you hot enough for a bikini? Do you have a summer bod yet? Have you earned the right to wear shorts and a sleeveless top this vacation season?

Because really, let’s take this down another level. Let’s talk about how even if all of the above wasn’t true — even if obesity is the worst thing to happen to us and is terrorism and cancer and bringing your children to an 11:00 PM showing of an R rated movie all in one — can we collectively agree that calling my body a disease is a dick move? You can’t separate obesity from fat bodies; we’ve already covered that it’s the only symptom for this newly minted disease in the first place.

This is also bound to cause a whole slew of problems for fat people who already have eating disorders in the first place. And no, I don’t mean the ones where they binge eat. Fat folks often end up with eating disorders because we’re praised for having them even moreso than skinny people are. How many times have you heard a coworker praise themselves or someone else for skipping a meal? How many commercials do you see on TV of thin, pretty women opting to have a meal-replacement shake instead of actual food? No one cares why or how healthily we lose the weight, all they care about is the actual losing part. There are dozens and dozens of stories where people had actual life-threatening conditions in which sudden and rapid weight loss was a symptom and instead of being alarmed and going to a doctor, they proudly announced to the world that they’d lost twenty pounds in the last two weeks. Your body rapidly dropping weight is dangerous as hell, but look what pops up into Google if you try to look it up:

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So what we’re now collectively deciding is that certain bodies are inherently, by virtue of their size and no other criteria whatsoever, sick.

Let that sink in.

Sickness is now determined solely on how you look. If you look too big to be healthy by a society that bases it’s definition of “healthy weight” on Victoria’s Secret models and weigh in accordingly, you’re now diseased.

I’ve said it a thousand times and I’ll say it again: this war on obesity and all these concerned people who are just looking out for our health don’t actually give a shit. If it was our health they were looking out for they’d be screening everyone, since we really don’t know what causes cancer, diabetes, heart disease. We don’t even know if there is one determinable cause or if it’s just a horrible genetic crap shoot. But fat people look gross, so now we’ve been given the honorary title of Walking Diseases.

All you need to do is look around to know that obesity is an enormous problem in this country.

Good to know that medical degrees come with invulnerability from prejudices and the ability to diagnose a disease at a glance. Or, you know. That doctors just hate fat people.

 

* A quick edit to say I am definitely not trying to stigmatize diseases or people with diseases either, though in my re-read I can absolutely see how it comes across that way. Having a disease sucks, and no one with a disease deserves crappy treatment here. What I should have made clearer in this article is that I’m against us categorizing body types specifically as diseases– the process of looking at someone and deciding that they must be sick/unhealthy was already a thing, and the AMA just made it official. It’s no better than deciding that because someone doesn’t look disabled that they must not be, which is also a really shitty judgment to make. So please, definitely don’t use this to make people with diseases feel crappier about themselves. And I deeply apologize to anyone I may have made feel that way with the way I worded this article.

Outfit of the Day, And Why Fashion Magazines Can Bite Me

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Outfit of the day! Haven’t done one of these in awhile. Lack of laundry-doing forced me out of my usual lazy “grab a dress put it on stumble into shoes OFF TO WORK!” routine, and I kinda liked how it turned out.

Blazer: SimplyBe Colored Blazer; $39 (Size 20)
Top: Lane Bryant Sequin Tank, $10 (Size 18/20)
Skirt: Torrid The Pencil Skirt, $25 (snagged this on a BOGO for half off!); (Size 20)
Shoes: Avenue Heather Floral Pumps; $15 (Size 9W)
Necklace: Forever 21; $1.50
Earrings: Target; $7.99

Total: $98.49

My favorite part is the part that I almost didn’t do, the green blazer. It was early, dark, and I was tired and thought I’d grabbed my black blazer. We can’t wear sleeveless tops at work (which this is) so not wearing the blazer wasn’t an option. It wasn’t until I spied it in the elevator at the office that I decided I really liked it! So whee!

I also almost didn’t buy this top. I picked it up last year when Lane Bryant was shoving all their spring colors onto the sale racks for the summer because sparkles and sequence usually aren’t my thing.  But hey, $10 for a nice work shirt, why not?

And pencil skirts. Let me tell you about my history with pencil skirts. I hated them for so long because they always showed my bulges in front; not just showed them but PRONOUNCED them. They hugged my legs weird, and I could never quite figure out how to wear them properly. Then one day someone waved a magic wand over me and I just magically stopped giving a fuck about my visible stomach rolls (invisible here because of picture quality only) and embraced the pencil skirt. And let me tell you how many compliments I get when I wear these suckers now, not to mention how incredibly awesome it makes me feel.

Being a fat girl means we’re told our whole lives not to wear things that show off our bodies. No sleeveless tops no shorts no tight clothes. I still remember one of the first times I went out in public in a sleeveless shirt and what a big deal it felt like. And now nice it felt! I lived in Houston at the time and it was hot as hell; it felt so nice to be able to be just as cool as everyone else without feeling obligated to cover up.

Tight pencil skirts are my new sleeveless tops. Boldly going where my wardrobe has never gone before. And I love it. Fuck you beauty magazines, this fatty looks amazing in body-hugging fabrics.

I May Be Fat – But You Don’t Have To Be

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Boy, do words suck. We’re taught from an early age that hitting people is wrong, that no, we shouldn’t punch little Timmy in the face just because he lifted up our skirts. So we learn to assault people with words instead. Cutting remarks and insults like “doo-doo head” and “poopy-face.” The worst of the absolute worst. And as we grow older some of us revert back to hitting, but the majority of us stick to our words. I know I did, especially now that I’m a pacifist. They’re just words, right? What harm could words possibly do?

From xkcd.com.

Way, way wrong. Words can stay with us forever. We may forget the time Timmy and Billy teamed up to push us over in the sandbox, but them pouring sand over our head while saying our curly hair was dumb looking could give us a complex that involves decades of hair-straightening. Most of us have something someone said to us in the past, something that may haven’t meant a thing to the person who actually said it. Something that may not have even been accusatory, just a passing comment that completely destroyed our confidence and self-image. Words have this fantastic power to strip us down naked, with or without our consent, and sit with us forever slowly eroding our self confidence.

As grown-ups, we’re more careful with the words we use. We understand that they have the power to evoke painful memories, so generally we’re careful about which ones we use to describe people. Since I started this blog I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the word fat. How to use it, when to use it. Being a fat ally can be pretty tough, not just because it remains one of the only socially acceptable forms of bigotry but because it’s so hard to figure out how to even address people. People of size? Plus sized? BBW? Curvy? Husky? Fat. All of these words are words someone in the community will loathe with a burning passion. I personally hate the term BBW. I’ve come to see it associated more often than not with the objectification of fat bodies for pleasure — like people who browse through the fat activism tags on Tumblr to pull photos for their own personal spank banks. But a lot of people feel empowered by that term; for a rare moment they’ve stumbled into a culture that thinks their bodies are beautiful. And that’s completely okay. I don’t have to embrace the same descriptor that they have. Of all the words available, I actually prefer the word fat. And I’ll tell you why.

You can’t control what words other people use. As a fat person, I know people are going to call me fat. The media is going to call my body fat. Every time someone talks about counting calories they’re going to talk about making sure they don’t become fat. Fat is a word that will be in my face all day every day and it’s not going to be something I can avoid — so I’ve chosen to embrace it. Turn it into something empowering. Now when I hear someone refer to the word fat in the negative (“I am going to get so fat eating this!” “I look super fat right now” “Watch out or you’ll get fat!”) I get to step in and point out that not everyone thinks of the word as a bad thing. I get to point out that the word is actually just a descriptor, and historically it wasn’t even an insult.

It also gives me a measure of control over a word that tortured me forever. The dreaded F word, the thing you saw in your friends eyes as they cast you sympathetic glances when your high school required that you wear something sleeveless. By taking on the word I’ve removed it’s negative powers over me and turned them into something I’m proud to take ownership of.

Where you have to be careful though is in assuming that this is the case for everyone. I’ve had a couple of well-meaning fat ally friends chipperly refer to another woman they don’t know as fat, and it makes me wince a little. Especially if that friend isn’t fat themselves. For a lot of people, having a thin person call them fat can be understandably triggering. It’s important to remember that just because I — or any other fat person you might know — embrace the word, you shouldn’t go fllinging it around at people you don’t know. You might seriously wreck someone’s day, and no one wants that.

So what’s a kid to do? You want to be supporting, you want to be an ally, you want to join us in breaking the shackles of body policing bondage, but you have no idea how to tread these murky waters. Here are some quick tips:

  1. When in doubt, play it safe. Wait to see how this person refers to themselves before venturing any descriptors for yourself.
  2. Don’t help them with alternate words. Do NOT say anything along the lines of “Oh, you’re not fat, you’re just curvy!” because sentences like these assume that being fat is bad in the first place. Vilifying bodies is a big no-no.
  3. Analyze your own levels of internal body shaming. Before you talk to anyone else, make sure you know yourself. And man, almost every person on this planet has a degree of body-shaming mentality; it’s forced into us from the time we can walk. It’s just the way things are, which explains why you think that way — but it doesn’t excuse it. For example, if you walk up to a fat person and your first thought is “Oh Cheesus, I better think of a way to describe them that isn’t insulting,” you may be wrestling with a degree of inner fat judgment.
  4. Be excellent to each other. In general the thing about body positivity is the positivity part. Making someone feel crappy for what they eat and what they wear and how they do their hair is the opposite of all of that. Absolutely offer to help someone if they seem to be struggling with their self esteem, just don’t do it with plattitudes. If I have a friend who’s upset about the number of calories they’re eating because they think the’re a big fat hideous hose-beast, I first tell them that this is not in fact true, and beyond that I remind them that it’s their body. If they want to eat, eat! Food is not your enemy, and treating it as such is just asking for a bad time. That way lay dragons, and possibly future eating disorders.

What matters is making people happy and being happy, and a lot of people seem to think being thinner is the quick trip to instant happiness. Newsflash: if you hate your body now, even if you are able to shed off the pounds permanently odds are good you’re just going to find something else to hate. So love yourself, man. (Though it’s also cool if you don’t. Don’t hate yourself for not loving yourself either.) Because you’re pretty awesome.

Return of FATshion: The Reckoning

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So I kind of fell off the face of the earth with these for awhile; life got kind of crazy! I packed up me and all my earthly possessions and in a journey that could most likely be successfully converted into an ironic indie dramedy relocated from Houston, Texas to Los Angeles, California at the end of January. My life since then has largely consisted of adjusting to working out of a new office, learning how to navigate a city that has mountains in the middle of it’s roads, and learning that skin moisturizer actually has a purpose for a larger group than I’d originally imagined.

I love it here; the weather is gorgeous, huge sprawling cities have always carried a large amount of appeal for me, but boy howdy if you want to feel fashionably inadequate this is absolutely the scene for it. No matter how awesome you think you look, you’re going to run into a flock of well-groomed and potentially surgically altered individuals who so precisely mold to the standardized image of fashionably beautiful that it can be difficult for anyone to feel more than passably attractive. Hollywood has certainly made it’s Jimmy Choo-shaped footprint on this city’s ego.

But I refuse to let myself slump! Instead I’ve decided to leverage local culture in a different way entirely; fat bodies are often seen as the opposite of all things visually desirable, and the fashion industry is certainly no exception. The favorite images of the public when it comes to us fine individuals consists largely of headless shots of us sagging sadly in a t-shirt and pair of sweatpants, donning a moomoo, or in some form or fashion hiding our blubberous mass from the public eye; something largely encouraged by any of those helpful tips that teach you how to make sure you can either trick people into thinking your fat isn’t there or make it so you blend in completely invisibly so no one would notice you in a crowd. Because fat is the absolute worst thing your body could be, as fashion tells us on a regular basis.

Fuck that, man.

I’m going to dress in the exact same fashions I see everyone else wearing. I’m going to make myself look awesome. And one thing I’ve noticed is people are so unused to fat folks with confidence that me just dressing like a normal person would can often be revolutionary. I’ll be wearing a completely normal dress and belt combo and have people stop me to compliment what I’m wearing. It was after a few subway rides with strangers that I unearthed that particular societal gem of secrecy; folks are so used to your average fat lady hiding herself from the public eye that defying this perception in and of itself is not only fantastic for body politics, but very fashion forward.

So I’m gonna start this thing up again. I may not do it every Tuesday now, but I’ll aim to do one at least every other week to get the ball rolling again. Here’s to fatshion!

 

Dress: ASOS Curve; $36.83 (20)
Belt: Forever XXI; $8.50 (2X/3X)
Shoes: SimplyBe; $36.00 (9E)
Necklace: Buffalo Exchange; $10.00
Earrings: Earthbound Trading Company; $5.50

Total: $96.83

Judge Not Lest Ye Be A Hypocrite

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One of the things in life I’ve had the biggest problem with has been criticism.

Sometimes criticism can be good; if I’m about to make a blog post and a friend points out that I used “your” instead of “you’re” (I shudder at the thought), or points out that my argument isn’t flowing correctly, or that a conclusion I reached is incorrect (and here’s the source that backs me up, mind. You wouldn’t believe the kind of hate-spam a blog like this gets on a regular basis) – this is the kind of criticism I’m grateful for. Often times improving requires a degree of criticism, after all. If I’m trying to improve my vocal range I’m not going to look for a friend who’s going to nod and smile and say I’m doing everything perfectly; I want someone who’s going to chastise me for not practicing enough. If I’m trying to accomplish a specific thing, criticism is important.

And really, that’s what I think most criticism comes down to. We believe someone is failing to accomplish something they are attempting. Most often when it comes to strangers in public, since we have very little else to judge them on, it’s appearance.

We’re critical of someone for having the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong body, or Cheesus forbid the wrong clothes on the wrong body. Since moving to Los Angeles and taking the subway to and from work every day I’ve gotten to hear a lot of different things about a lot of different people and it’s pretty disturbing. Not even so much because of what they said, but because I recognized some of my own thoughts mixed in and was immediately smacked with the reality that it’s absolutely none of my business. Who the fuck cares if she’s got a muffin top? Why does it matter if this stranger, whose space I will be sharing for a grand total of twenty minutes of my life, has shoes that I would never pair with those pants? Why do I care what kind of glasses they’re wearing?

Because subconsciously I assume they are trying to achieve something specific—public acceptability, and naturally that public acceptability would be through the filter of whatever I deem it to be, being queen of the world and all.

It doesn’t even have to be verbal; in fact, a lot of our policing behavior (things we do and say to encourage people to conform to whatever everyone else is doing) is communicated through body language. Because strangers are scary and confrontation is even scarier, nine times out of ten you’re just going to slide them a look and hope they get it. Or make a little scoffing noise and scoot over.  I’ve absolutely done this, and it’s hypocritical as fuck of me. Because as a fat person this is something I deal with on a daily basis, and it’s been the cause of some of my deepest dips in depression.

Recently a photographer named Haley Morris-Cafiero did a project called Wait Watchers. She took photos of herself doing everyday things to capture moments when people were staring at her body in critical ways. This happens people with fat bodies all the time. People telling us with their eyes that our bodies are wrong, that they aren’t conforming correctly. Insinuating that something is wrong with you and you need to fix it, and we’re going to encourage that fixing by ensuring you’re publicly shamed whenever you go outdoors.

Looking through the photos in this particular project drew a kind of visceral reaction from me. I immediately tried to rationalize a lot of the stares in the same way I do when I’m on the receiving end of them. “They’re probably looking at someone else,” “I bet they just happened to turn in my general direction,” “Just because they’re laughing behind me doesn’t mean they’re laughing at me.” And sometimes that’s true. Every time I hear a woman laugh behind me and turn and catch her covering her mouth and staring at me isn’t an instance where she’s decided to mock my body. But enough of them are for me to seriously consider it. While the above may be rational explanations for almost any other sort of body walking around the streets of your city of choice, for me they’re like a fervent prayer. A sliver of hopeful denial that I refuse to let go of to keep myself sane and together.

Not all the time, of course. The fat acceptance community has done a lot to rebuild my confidence over the years, and I’m comfortable with myself and the way I present myself to the world. But that just makes it all the worse when these errant thoughts enter my head, when I give someone a look-over and inch away. When I make a degrading comment about someone else’s body or appearance even in a generalized kind of way. “I can’t believe anyone would wear aviator glasses. What kind of loser does that?” It’s not that far a cry from “What kind of lazy fuck lets themselves get fat? It’s your body, why can’t you control it?” True, one is a choice and one is just your body, but all kinds of things go behind choices, don’t they? What if they inherited that pair and they can’t afford another one? What if they belonged to someone important to them? What if they just fucking like aviator glasses? Why isn’t that okay? Why do I feel the need to pass some sort of judgment over them for looking unacceptable in public?

Putting down one group of people to uplift yourself or your own is never okay. “I may be fat, but I’m not that kind of fat!” is an asshole thing to do or think, just like any other kind of comparison that inherently makes someone else feel like shit for the way they look. It’s just not cool. So I’m just not going to anymore. Social conditioning is hard to work out of the system and I’m sure this’ll take me awhile, but being judgmental and critical of other people for how they look or dress or act or sound in public is just a dick move. It’s a part of us as a society deciding how people are and are not allowed to exist in public spaces, the exact thing I rally against people doing to fat bodies.

And I encourage anyone who has one of those internal judgmental thoughts to at least think over it before you say and do anything about it. Why are you having that thought? Why does it matter? Will this serve any purpose aside from making someone else feel like shit about themselves? If the answer to the last question is yes, then you should probably keep that thought to yourself. Your side-comment, glance or quiet snort of amusement may be nothing more than an aside in your day, but you have no idea how long you’re going to ruin someone else’s with it.

NHS Sends Fat Folks To Bed Without Dessert – Unless You Exercise

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So one of the big gripes I get about fat folks is that we’re just so darn lazy. All we do is lay around on the couch and eat cheeseburgers and this is why we’re fat (despite the fact that plenty of thin or “average” people manage to do this very thing without magically turning into narwhals overnight — it’s probably witchcraft). I hear people complain about how their tax dollars are going to supporting my unhealthy lifestyle and that’s why my health is their business, demonstrating not only that they’re fat-hating bigots but that they have absolutely no clue how it is their tax dollars actually work.

As Americans we get laughed at a lot by foreign nations, especially when it comes to issues like health care and how we magically think a national healthcare system that’s worked for every economically equivalent nation that’s used it won’t work for us because we’re special. And as much as I hate to add fuel to the fire, there is apparently one major downside to a system where the government and individual tax dollars are directly contributing to health care.

They get to try to pass hideously discriminatory legislation.

Aaah, a beheaded fat person. You can tell this is going to be a really positive and uplifting article.

Obese and other unhealthy people could be monitored to check whether they are taking exercise and have their benefits cut if they fail to do so under proposals published on Thursday by a Conservative-run council and a local government thinktank.

Excellent! Were this to pass, if you fit into the “obese” section of the super accurate and always reliable BMI chart you may be denied your health benefits unless you agree to jump through some government hoops first. How fucking dehumanizing is that? If you’re 5’5 and over 180lbs, you don’t get healthcare unless your government-issued smart card scans and shows that you’ve done your homework and brushed your teeth. Despite the fact that you’re actually paying into this healthcare pool out of your tax dollars too (FAT PEOPLE MAKE MONEY ITS TRUE!!!), you can’t use it because we don’t like how big your belly is.

Or because obesity is a strain on their health system, they say. Let’s really break this down.

One, obesity isn’t a strain on the healthcare system. The war on obesity certainly is. Oh, sure, you’ll see plenty of articles about how terrifying obesity is and the impact it’s having on our healthcare system– it’s worse than smoking, the NHS must take action to stop the spread of this vicious plague on humanity, etc etc. I could literally sit here and link these all day because when you google obesity and healthcare about a zillion of articles just like this pop up. And they all have one thing in common: all of them talk about obesity like a disease. Not a single one says why we should be combating obesity, they just list it out there like it’s cancer. Well of course you understand that being fat is bad, no further explanation needed! Never mind that there’s actually no correlation between being fat and unhealthy (and in fact being fat can help reduce your risk of things like heart disease and diabetes — is your mind blown yet?), we all know that the words overweight and obese equate with “needs to be fixed.”

We don’t think twice about it, or about the procedures in place to “correct” our fatness. Weight loss surgery is often touted as the savior of our fat bellies. Weight loss surgery, which involves mutilating our internal organs often irreversibly. Weight loss surgery which causes one in fifty deaths within a month of the procedure. Most weight loss surgery sites will tell you that death is a risk, but helpfully add on YOU’LL DIE ANYWAY IF YOU DON”T HAVE IT SO WHY NOT!! These sites don’t describe what about obesity is a cost-raiser or specifically dangerous because nothing about obesity is. Some conditions that can occur at the same time as obesity do, but obesity doesn’t kill people. Just because some fat people have high cholesterol doesn’t mean fat causes high cholesterol. That’s lazy science. It’s the same logic people use to say video games and television cause violence because people who have done violence watch them. Not a single one of these articles breaks down how it is obesity is causing our health care risks to rise because they can’t. And the more and more research we actually do into obesity the more we’re confirming that very fact, a fact that would be devastating to the weight loss industry if it got out. Mysteriously these reports aren’t making it to major news reports sponsored by Jenny Craig.

Obesity isn’t a health risk. High blood pressure is a health risk. Clogged arteries are a health risk. A family history of heart disease is a health risk. Health risks are health risks. This concept shouldn’t be hard to grasp, but we’ve been smashed over the head with how obesity is right up there with drug use as one of the worst things you can do to your body (because obesity is totally something you do to your body) that it really, really is. We automatically equivocate fat bodies with poor health when we have absolutely no evidence to back it up.

And two, a good chunk of the people supported by NHS are lower income (man, everything “strains” the NHS, doesn’t it? If only there weren’t so many sick people). People who don’t have access to private healthcare and rely on government programs to get them by when they’re ill use systems like NHS to get them by, and in case you haven’t heard eating healthy is really really expensive. The fact is it’s cheaper to buy bulk potatoes and pasta than it is fresh fruits and vegetables. When you’re poor you look to stock up on things that won’t go bad to eliminate waste, so you end up with a lot of carbohydrates and canned products chalk full of sodium and preservatives which can lead to all kinds of health troubles if it becomes a lifstyle; a necessity for an unfortunate number of people.

So let’s look at this scenario. You’ve been laid off, but you’re looking for work. You’re in a fortunate position to collect unemployment and have access to healthcare (many people in this position don’t), but you also happen to be fat. Now you go to the doctor for your annual checkup, and suddenly you’re told you’re at risk of losing your health benefits. Something you didn’t even know they could do– they’re your health benefits, aren’t they? But there’s an easy remedy, your doctor says. He’ll prescribe you some exercise at a local gym and tell you to cut down on the carbohydrates and bulk up on lean meats and vegetables. On unemployment in the UK you make about $90 a week. You probably have a cell phone so you can get calls back about jobs, and you have to pay for transportation to get around town. So assuming you don’t have any other expenses at all, that leaves you with about $260 to spend each month. $65 a week, and living on $65 a week is a lot harder than it sounds. Try to add up what you’ve spent this week in groceries, toiletries, gas money, car payments, pet food, and all those little sundry items we have to pay money for to make our lives go on smoothly. It all adds up pretty fast. And eating cheap is one of the major cost-cutters of those on a tight budget. I can’t change how much gas or my bus fare costs, but I can eat butter noodles for a couple of weeks and survive.

Maybe if the NHS wants to cut costs it should focus on making better food options available to those with lower incomes. Maybe it should focus on the actual issues contributing to health instead of assuming obesity is a catch-all for everything that’s wrong with our bodies. And maybe we should stop pretending that fat people aren’t real people and are instead headless, faceless bodies that need to be corralled and treated like animals, as the jovial “carrot and stick” analogy offered in the original article indicates. We must have a thin person sitting on our shoulders, dangling a carrot in front of our noses to herd us into the direction of proper health– the stick end being the threat to cut our access to any health services.

But of course the carrot isn’t going to tempt us from our heathenistic cake-eating ways; everyone knows us fat folks don’t eat vegetables. Maybe if it was bacon.

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