She was really beautiful. She was the coolest girl ever. She always knew what to say, and she said it casually, like she barely had to think first. I wanted to be just like her. I was 13, she was 15, and she was perfect to me.
My parents were very supportive. They thought I was smart and pretty and capable. And that is so important, like the concrete they pour into the husk of the foundation of a house when it’s just planks and sticks in the dirt. But the shape of the building, the furniture inside—I think that comes from other girls. That’s how you learn how to be a girl, after all, from the other ones around you. Keep reading »
“I understand the desire to make a child feel beautiful at any weight. I truly advocate for size acceptance. The culture of body image upsets me and has tortured me personally. I do think we should be able to be different sizes but I draw the line at when it starts affecting her health.”
– Dara-Lynn Weiss, who was ostracized after she published an article in Vogue all about putting her seven-year-old daughter Bea on a diet. Weiss has a new book out, titled The Heavy, which expands upon that article. Here, she attempts to explain why she put her child on a diet. Elsewhere in the NYMag.com interview, Weiss notes that she was afraid of giving her daughter a complex because of her own discomfort with food. But she also painstakingly explains that the Vogue photos were misleading, because they don’t show Bea’s midsection, and how fat she really is. UGH.
If nothing else, this interview — which focuses heavily on Weiss’s own body issues — sheds light on the vicious cycle of body image problems that mothers pass down to children. Will you give The Heavy a read? [NYMag.com]
I was looking seriously cute. My hair was behaving commendably, my face did not have anything obviously wrong with it, my belt was making my waist look seductive, and my new boots gave me a taller, lither look than I’m accustom to. Even my little boobs were cheerful and holding form in my bra, rather than sliding disobediently down, as is their evil habit.
“You look great!” said my husband, picking up on the whole thing. He snapped a photo on his phone. And another, and then a third.
“Hmm,” he said, “I can’t really get a good angle. Wait.” One more. “Okay,” he said, sounding satisfied. He showed me.
It was a little shocking, how wrong I’d been. My hair was stringy and frazzled at the same time. My face had aged 10 years. My waist was bulging around the belt, and my little stunted legs looked almost hilariously comical in their silly, trying-too-hard boots. Even in the “good” shot, I appeared to be lumbering off to terrorize a small village, possibly to capture a maiden or two and haul them off to my cave for supper. I’m not even going to get started on my boobs. Keep reading »
When I was in college studying in Italy, I got insanely, disgustingly skinny. My host mother fed us very little. I think she requested vegetarian students because she thought vegetarians ate less. Each night, she would stir a tablespoon of canned spaghetti sauce over a 1/2 portion of pasta, cigarette in hand, and when we were done eating (she never ate — she was the size of a mouse) she’d look at us with threatening eyes, shrug and say, “What else you want?”
I was just so happy to be there, so willing to assimilate into my new lifestyle, and always a little nervous about doing new things, that I was too timid to ask for more. After a while, I didn’t even realize I was hungry. And my stomach got smaller and smaller. I weighed about 120 pounds when I got there, a healthy amount for my 5’2″ frame. After a few months in Italy, since I didn’t have a scale, I can only guess I was down to about 90 pounds. It scares me to type that number out. So much. Keep reading »
Cuban dancer and choreographer Juan Miguel Mas used to belong to a traditional dance troupe, but he rarely made it on stage because of his weight. “I created a character for myself to play, Giant Baby, and that was the first and only time I was allowed on stage,” he says. “I needed more opportunities to perform.” In 1996, he’d decided he’d had enough, and created Danza Voluminosa, a dance troupe especially for people who didn’t fit the mold of traditional dancers. Mas’ goal wasn’t just to use larger people to recreate the same old dance moves; he wanted to “create an aesthetic starting from their bodies that were more soft, more wide.” Keep reading »
The other day, a girl emailed me:
“I’m worried that I’m not pretty enough to get a guy. I’m single, and want a serious relationship, but sometimes I think I can’t find one because I’m not prettier.”
I wanted to exclaim, “That’s ridiculous!” But instead I thought, Well, of course you’re worried.
When I was single, I reasoned that being hotter was always better because it would give me more options. The hotter I was, the more guys would be interested in me, and the more choice I’d have in the matter. So even if I thought I looked fine, it would’ve been better to look, well, even better. (And then there is no limit—you can always be hotter, somehow.) And when I thought that I looked significantly, depressingly less than fine, I was scared, because I felt as though I might miss out on something essential.
This is not irrational. It makes sense, when we think of women’s worth as being closely matched, at least initially, with their beauty. Keep reading »
This weekend I was wandering around one of my favorite stores when I spotted a sliver of blue plaid fabric peeking out from the crowded rack of dresses. Blue is my favorite color, and plaid is my favorite pattern, so I was immediately intrigued.
When I reached into the mass of hangers and pulled out the mysterious dress, there is a good chance I audibly gasped. It was lined in silk, with a cutout in the back, a sweetheart neckline, and a flowing hourglass shape. It was surprisingly formal, but the plaid fabric made it feel playful and fun. It was unique without trying too hard. It was, quite possibly, the most beautiful dress I’d ever seen. “I would pay $200 for a dress like this,” I thought, flipping over the price tag to reveal numerous crossed-out sale prices making their way toward a grand total of $39.97. I practically skipped to the dressing room. Keep reading »
I liked being Jewish. I just hated my face. I wanted desperately to like my face better. I’d spent too many years laughing with my hand over my nose because I thought it looked even bigger when my face was happy. Stupid, right? It’s amazing, in retrospect, the things we are tormented by.
When I was a little girl, I thought I’d grow up to look like a queen—exotic, powerful, with a strong, regal profile. Queen Thayet, in Tamora Pierce’s The Immortals series, had a hawk nose and she was the most beautiful woman in the world! Why not me? I had a hawk nose! I figured I would be decent at ruling a kingdom, too.
But then when I was 14 a girl told me I needed to get my face fixed. She said she had a friend whose daddy could do it because he was a rich plastic surgeon. She said that if I went to him he’d make me pretty.
The things kids say! Keep reading »
This piece was cross-posted with permission from FatNutritionist.com. It was originally published before Thanksgiving but we are crossposting it here with the rest of the holiday season in mind.
It’s true, Thanksgiving is a weirdly imperialist semi-genocidal sort of holiday, but hey, at least we can enjoy the tradition of getting together with family and eating a bunch of mashed potatoes!
Or can we?
If some people’s relatives had their way, the answer would be a resounding HAHA, SUCKER! Because certain people exist only to make your food-eating life as a fat person (or a whatever-sized person) miserable.
So, here’s the thing: whether or not you are fat, you are the only person who gets to decide what food goes in your mouth, what tastes good, and how much of it makes you feel full and satisfied. No matter how many busybodies and dietary conspiracy theorists get in your face, you are still the only one who can decide. Keep reading »
Last thing about Paris and then I’ll shut up. I promise. Topic du jour: dessert. My trip made me realize that, for me, it is essential to have dessert with every meal.
This is not based on anything scientific whatsoever, just one sugar lover’s humble opinion after indulging in dessert with every meal for an entire week. I’m not exaggerating for the sake of comedic effect. I really ate 21 desserts while I was on vacay. There were a few factors which contributed to my sugar spree: I was traveling with a food critic who took me to all the finest easting establishments, it’s the French way, and of course, because I was on vacation so I was cutting lose. Keep reading »