Category Archives: fat

Now blogging at

So, this blog had a happy ending. I met a guy, we fell in love, now we live together and everything is lovely. (No, seriously. It’ s been over a year and hot damn! Things are good.) There’s still stuff to say and I might occasionally drop in here, but for the most part I’ve moved on to another adventure: running.

I started running about a year ago and blogged a bit about it here. I ran my first 5k last March, did a 10k in October and in a haze of post-race endorphins signed up to train for a half marathon this April. A half marathon?! What was I thinking? Well, what I was thinking was this (and, lord, I have to remind myself of this over and over again, because EVERY DAY I want to quit. Every. Single. Day.): I don’t have a job right do (boo) and I’m kind of floundering. I thought it would be good to have a goal, a big challenge to overcome. My sister got her running start with Team in Training and had an awesome, life-changing experience (she met her boyfriend there, and a group of women who have become some of her closest friends, and now she runs half a dozen races a year). So I went for it.

Anyway, I’m blogging about it – in particular, about the experience of being a fat runner. Come check it out.

(You can also donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and help me meet my fundraising goal.)


Confessions of a REALLY fat runner

In the December 2, 2008 issue of Newsweek, on page 20, we’re treated to an essay titled “Confessions of a Fat Runner.”

I’m not sure what to make of it.

My first reaction was of great interest. Hey, I thought, I’m a fat runner! (Whee! I’m a runner! I’m not over that yet.) My interest quickly turned to confusion; the woman who is pictured is not at all fat. No, really. Not just not-fat in comparison to really-fat me – she’s Not Fat.  She’s posing a little weirdly, one leg crossed in front of the other as if she’s trying to hide her thighs or something – but she’s in running pants. You know, tight. She’s very obviously not fat.

She’s a size 14, apparently. This is how she describes herself:

“Most runners are ectomorphs: emaciated and square-jawed. Me, I’m an endomorph, posessed of a soft and thick body that looks as if it was stuffed to order at Build-A-Bear, not sculpted at an L.A. sports club. I look so unlike a runner that, when I first started jogging, passing motorists would pull over and ask if I needed a ride.”

Having read it a few times now, I don’t think there’s a clear point to the essay. Here are some possible conclusions you could draw from what she writes:

  1. Not all runners are thin.
  2. Running doesn’t make you thin.
  3. Running is a fat-friendly sport.
  4. Running is fun.

Ok. I mean, those are generally positive conclusions, and ones I pretty much agree with. (Not so sure about running being fat-friendly. I run by myself; my running is wildly fat-friendly. I’m all “Whoo! You look awesome, fatgirlonadate! Nice job! You are WORKIN’ those skintight bootcut running pants that were obviously intended for pre-teens.” But elsewhere?) She makes a nice point about how she’s run 10 miles a week for the past 20 years and hasn’t lost any weight, but she counters that with a wisecrack about how losing weight would require eating less ice cream, and gee whiz she’s just not willing to do that.

So there’s not much to the essay. But I’d love to hear from an actual fat runner – someone like me, a size 24, except maybe someone who’s been running for more than, oh, a month – in a magazine with an audience as large as Newsweek’s.  I’d love to see someone write about the struggle to find high-quality gear in plus sizes, or the conversations they have with folks whose minds are blown when they realize that the chick who’s eight sizes larger than them runs three miles a day, or what it’s like to run races when you’re twice the size of the other runners.

My experience has been superlative, so far. I found running gear that is working brilliantly (thanks Brooks! thanks Enell! thanks Moving Comfort!). I run through my quiet neighborhood and have received from folks I pass or who pass me only waves, smiles, and wry comments about their own failings (“Hey, I do what I can!” said an old, old man with a crooked smile that I jogged past on Thanksgiving). Every single person I’ve told about my running – and I tell everyone, working under the belief that if I tell people then I’ll be too embarrassed to quit – has been interested and supportive and not at all flabbergasted; three people have started running, or started running again, since I told them what I was doing.

I’m running my first race on March 22*. That’s a week after my thirtieth birthday, and my father might run it with me. Then, a few weeks later, I’m running the Cherry Blossom 5K in D.C., with my sister, who will just off a six-month layoff following a stress fracture she got in training for the Marine Corps marathon.

Wish me luck!

* Yeah, the website’s funky. It’s still showing the 2008 info.

quick comment: employer-based health programs

On December 14, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published an article about employer-based health and wellness programs.

The article didn’t spark any outrage. But the letters in response? Here’s an excerpt from one published today:

But the 400-pound gorilla in the room has evolved into a 400-pound coworker, and those are hard to ignore. Rather than being an invasion of civil liberties, these programs try to make the unduly burdensome costs of health care more fair for both the public and the companies that employ them.

And here’s one from Tuesday:

When the people complaining about this injustice wind up in an intensive care unit or hospice as a result of their own lifestyle choices, they are pirating resources from workers who take better care of themselves but wind up in these places anyhow.

There haven’t been any responses from the other side. So I wrote one, and sent it in today:

I thought I could hold my tongue regarding Maura Lerner’s December 14 story about employers punishing employees for “bad” health behavior. But I’ve been dismayed by the tone of the letters you’ve published in support of these programs.

Yesterday, Sam Boeser wrote: “… these programs try to make the unduly burdensome cost of health care more fair for both the public and the companies that employ them.”

If fairness (rather than an attempt to eliminate behavior society sees as deviant) were truly the issue, I would expect to see rewards for folks who go to church, own pets, and are married – all variables that lead to longer, healthier lives – and punishments for folks who increase their health risks by, say, working the night shift, drinking coffee or commuting by car.

Here’s hoping they publish it!

I have one question…


Why is the semi-formal lady so pissed off?

I mean, that’s a beautiful dress. Seriously. I tried it on the other day, at Fresh Ayer, and it’s just lovely. What’s the crabby face about?

pre-date jitters, part II: The Man

I got so hung up on the clothes angle that I neglected to say anything about the man in question. Riiight, the man. It’s not all about the clothes!

(But about the clothes: I succumbed. I went shopping, and bought new clothes, and feel much more comfortable in them. I went to this wonderful shop and will have more to say about it soon).

The man shall be known as A, until he earns the right to a not-so-clever nickname. He seems like a very pleasant fellow. He’s a liberal. He’s from around here and knows the place I’m living – before I even told him what it was called, he figured it out, which freaked me out a little bit. He skis. Our email exchanges have been goofy and friendly but hard to say much more about it until we get a better sense of each other in person.

We are getting together for coffee, in the late afternoon – my town is on his way home from work, so it’s easy for him to swing by. He seems like a pro at internet dating; he suggested something low-key and relatively short (anyone is tolerable for the time it takes to drink a latte; the same cannot be said for dinner). My schedule is surprisingly difficult – I’m on sabbatical, so you’d think it would be easy, right? – but we found a time quickly and here we go.

If his pictures are accurate, A is a little bit chubby. I hardly noticed this until, when I told him that I just started running, he said that he had lost 100 pounds when he was a runner a decade ago – and has since gained 50 of them back. He said this casually, easily, comfortably. Then he said (or rather, he wrote – this was via email): “Health/fitness is one of those things I’m going to be struggling with for the rest of my life.” That was it. No commentary about how much he hated his weight gain, or how he wished he was that slim again.

In response, I said: “As for struggling with health and fitness: tell me about it. (I mean, I can commiserate, although if you want to actually tell me about it I’d be quite interested). But I console myself with the reminder that it’s something that everyone struggles with – even folks who are naturally lithe aren’t doing themselves any good if they take their size as an indication of fitness.” A sneaky bit of Health at Every Size. He gave no response to this, in his next email. We’d moved on to other topics, for the most part.

So? I’m thinking this is good news. I’m thinking this is a guy who understands body issues, has been up and down in size himself and doesn’t seem too hard on himself about it. He knows my size, roughly – I haven’t told him, but I have a recent and honest photo on my page, although that’s another story because whenever I look good in a photo it seems like it isn’t really honest; how messed up is that? – and he seems unperturbed. I’m thinking he’s among the first men I’ve met with whom fat acceptance might be a natural topic, at some point, and I’m thinking that that sounds like a relief.

holy cow! (and: my first troll!)

What the heck happened? When I posted yesterday about The Most Honest Personal Ad You’ll Ever Read I didn’t expect such a huge outpouring from y’all. Did I get linked on Shapely Prose or something? The blog just hit a one-day high and it’s not even dinnertime.

So: Thank you! It’s been absolutely terrific to hear all your responses to Mr. Honesty. I wish I was half as witty as you!

And, as an extra treat, I present to you my first-ever troll! (I’d been wondering; how come I don’t get trolls? Back when I was writing regularly the blog got pretty decent traffic, but all the commenters were friendly. Why was I left out of the trolls’ paths?):

We are looking for thin women, not big fat hogs. There is nothing feminine about a big fat fatty. If we can’t get aroused because of your rolls of fat and blubber, we don’t want to waste our time or money on you!


The Most Honest Personal Ad You’ll Ever Read

So, I’m living here in Pennsylvania, I don’t know anyone outside my community and dating within the community is frowned upon (and anyway, the four guys in my age range – say, 26 to 40 or so – are: not single, not single, not single, not friendly). I check out the craigslist personals and hit upon an interesting prospect. He’s written one of those “This is the most honest personal ad you’ll ever read” ads (internet daters, you know the type, right?). Well, they’re a cliche, but I always fall for them – he’s willing to be vulnerable! I can tell him all the horrible things about me and get them out of the way and he’ll fall in love with me for my insouciant spirit!

I wrote back in kind, outlining all the things that one might find difficult about me – in a terribly charming way, of course. Here’s a sample of what I included:

  • I live in a Quaker community. That’s weird, right? But charming-weird, not freaky-weird. I’m exploring my soul! That’s a good thing!
  • I’m fat. ‘Nuff said.
  • I struggle with depression, had a breakdown in grad school, am better now. It’s made me more reflective, more thoughtful, more determined to live beautifully.
  • I’m an introvert and I have a hard time getting close to people.
  • Sarcasm goes right over my head. Like, seriously. I don’t know why this is. I’m a smart person. I make other people laugh. But I’m just so damned gullible; I’ll ask you if I can borrow a pen, you’ll say no, sarcastically, because DUH, of course I can borrow a pen, why would anyone say no to that? and I’ll walk away dejectedly. The upside to this is that I’m totally earnest, and I actually think that’s a good thing. I’m sincere.
  • I love politics but I’ve recently realized, much to my surprise, since I went to public policy grad school on the assumption that the opposite was true, that I don’t really like to debate politics. I mostly like chewing the fat with people who agree with me; I’m happier on a campaign than doing the compromise of policy work.
  • I snore.

Here’s what he writes back:

I have no issues with larger women.

Great! We’re off to a good start.

I don’t think we’d get along well. Number one, I never capitalize the word god, because I don’t believe there is only one. I am far from religious. You mentioned you love politics but have a problem talking to people who disagree with you. Well, a healthy debate is good for the soul. But if you’re too closed to see someone else’s side, or why they think the way they do, that’s unfortunate. I voted for Obama, and campaigned for his election. And I’m thrilled he won. Who did you vote for, McCain? Being from MN and living in Quakertown, do you have a problem with black people? I sure don’t.

Um, whoa! I guess I neglected to tell him that I’m a way-left liberal, that it’s Republicans that I don’t really want to talk politics with (sorry, Republicans! I still love you, but let’s talk about dinner or something else instead, ok?), that I worked for Obama organizing rural voters in Virginia, that the photo I sent him was from the spontaneous election-night party outside the White House after Obama was elected.

Oh, and? Maybe he should quick google Minnesota and Quakers before he makes racist assumptions about them; both are progressive, home to stereotypically do-gooder liberal folk. Minnesota, for example, has elected the only Muslim to serve in Congress. Quakers were among the first abolitionists.

Being introverted does not make one opposed to companionship or letting someone into our hearts. It simply means we enjoy time alone, and need it, to recharge. I don’t think the word introverted can accurately describe you, from your description of yourself.

Oh. I guess I’m wrong about myself. Thanks for showing me the light.

I understand depression, and have written a lot about it, but I am not depressed. I don’t think we have that area in common, either. I don’t let myself get down to the point of incapacity. I’m a firm believer in the motto whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

OK, now I’m mad. His turn of phrase – “I don’t let myself get down…” – pisses me off. As though all you needed to do to avoid depression was buck up, be a man. Feh.

Kind of odd that sarcasm goes right over your head, even 12 year olds can clearly get when someone’s being sarcastic.

Huh. Apparently I made him mad, too. Why else would be slip in this little jab? Why, actually, did he respond at all, since we were so obviously not meant to  be?

He closes with:

I’m sure you’re a cool person but you’re not what I’m looking for.

Now that’s just disingenuous. If I’m really racist, weak-hearted and stupid, I wouldn’t be a terrible cool person, would I?

Ah, no need to get in a huff. I should have known better, anyway. The “I’m so honest” type is right up there with the “Nice Guy” type – they’re insincerely swathing themselves in simplistic understandings of what they imagine women want. What do you want to bet that when he doesn’t get many responses he’ll chalk it up to the snobbery of women?

Bah! Who needs ’em, anyway? Maybe I’ll just stay tucked up in my community and forget about dating for a while longer.