Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Curse Of The MIM

i do not want to tell you how much time i spent, while sick, carefully and deliberately pointing out, piece by piece, why this post by this woman made me want to slap her upside her head.

let's just say it was a LOT of time.

but then i hit the wrong button and deleted -- completely -- my entire post. which i will attribute to my possibly calling her a skinny bitch. what with karma and all.

so i will simply highlight my points and sigh.

anyway, i wanted to announce to the world (or, sure, the 12 of you who are actually reading this) that the reason i believe her post caused such a SHITSTORM was because of the insidious nature of her weight-related prejudices.

don't get me wrong -- the concept of "false advertising" i think is a good one, and raises lots of interesting issues that i think most couples would benefit from discussing.

and also don't get me wrong -- my response isn't a knee-jerk one. i do NOT think that a spouse is "required" to accept you or find you attractive at any size under any circumstance.

my main concerns with this woman are:

  • she raises a very sensitive issue with seeming callousness and is then surprised when her commenters get angry. the problem is that she doesn't seem to KNOW she is being callous, so she seems surprised by her readers' responses.
  • she assumes that everyone puts the same value on appearance / has the same set of expectations re: appearance that she and her husband do.
  • she makes no mention of (nor does she seem to allow for) the fact that people change all the time, regardless of marital status.
  • she ignores the inherent issue of how wrong flat-out LYING to one's partner pre-marriage is.

mostly i don't think she makes a very good argument at all, because she makes some giant leaps in logic.

the real argument should be/actually is around the question:

what constitutes "false advertising" pre-marriage?

and i'm pretty sure the answers will vary significantly from couple to couple. also, i suspect that the only real issue arises when one member of a couple sees it differently than the other member of the couple.

so, given that that seems to be the crux of the argument, what pisses me off is the MIM chick saying crap like this, in theory to support the argument above:

"Of course he wouldn’t have the right to divorce me for such a thing. But he would have the right to tell me he noticed I had gained quite a bit of weight, and I didn’t appear to be doing anything about it, and then ask me if I was depressed.”
see what i mean about leaps in logic? and about the insidious prejudice?

subtext of the above:


weight gain + no visible attempts at weight loss = depression.


am i sensitive about this? you betcha. too? perhaps. but whatever. this post strikes at the heart of all weight-related prejudices, so i'm using it.

because she states, both outright and implicitly (read the whole of her post, please):

  • people who are overweight are unhappy
  • the reason people gain weight is unhappiness/depression
  • the reason people stay overweight is linked to unhappiness/depression
  • people who gain weight (and don't lose it) lack self-respect
  • her main concern with her spouse -- hypothetically -- becoming overweight (and remaining so) is because it would signify depression, and both weight-gain AND depression are physically unattractive
so look.

she could have left well enough alone, you know? she could have made her real point another way. for example, by asking something like:

q. if you are one weight before marriage and another weight -- another, considerably higher weight -- after marriage, is that fair to your spouse? or was that false advertising?

and then we could have debated the answer. something like:

a: well, that probably depends on a lot of things. how does your spouse feel about this? why did you gain the weight? are you okay with your appearance or are you uncomfortable? how do you feel? is your weight posing any significant health risks?


but she didn't. she went right ahead and assigned all sorts of values to weight gain -- lack of self-respect, lack of self-esteem, depression, lack of physical attractiveness -- without blinking an eye. (i won't even elaborate on her "depression isn't attractive" viewpoint.).

and then everyone and their sister got their knickers in a twist (myself included) because of it.

at least, that's my take.

what do you think?

77 comments:

  1. I read MIM's post after Whinger drew attention to it - didn't read the comments because I found the arguments "ridiculously simplistic"(blimey, did I just quote myself?) So I know what you mean Kristy. I don't know what she's studying but I fear she may subscribe to 'Popular Psychology'.

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  2. i basically stopped reading after her "i gained 5 pounds in 5 years and now i weigh 125" quote. i mean, what??!? i feel like i gain 5 pounds after eating, oh, a bag of pirate's booty (pi-rate's boo-tay pi-rate's boo-tay...).

    i don't know what this woman does with her days-- and perhaps she cures cancer regularly, but i'm guessing not. so whatever. if she wants to spend her time working on maintaining the weight of a college freshman, then holla atcha. some of us, however, are trying to save the world, and have no time for cardiovascular activity. pass the pirate's booty.

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  3. I sorta like her blog and I do not disagree with her.

    If there's a blogger to slap in the head it is Stephanie Klein, hands down.

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  4. I don't think you're being too sensitive about it...I had a similar reaction reading that article as well. The whole tie-in with depression and weight seemed to be quite a leap. They can be related, but it's not a necessary link by any means.

    I think she mentioned a psychology class, and frankly, it smacks of med students and phychology students who get a copy of the DSM-IV for class and start to diagnose themselves with every neurosis that they study each week.

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  5. I read the first entry in her blog, linked to "this woman" in your post first, and I liked it. And I read the post you object to second, and I wasn't immediately enraged. I've also read Whinger's reaction and all of her commenters reactions. And then I finally got to your post. I think she doesn't make much of a point in any direction, and definitely uses a very stupid example of weight gain to make her point, which appears to be about her inability to accept change without reaching for the prozac.

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  6. hey sue,

    yeah, i read this post of hers first, and it just struck a particular nerve with me. (uh, obviously.) i think she's a good writer and her snarkyness is kind of fun to read.

    but also kind of not. can't quite put my finger on it.

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  7. her biggest problem is the depression/weight-gain link. she doesn't take into account people like me who don't eat when depressed. food is not the coping mechanism she thinks it is. if i gain weight, i'm likely happy. it's when i lose weight that you gotta look out...

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  8. I think she’s a skinny bitch.

    Oh you wanted something thoughtful. I absolutely agree with your points. Also I think this:

    1. What kind of intimacy can a marriage have if your fist clue to a mental state as severe as depression is a physical change (that takes some time to come about)? Not that I agree with this assumption I’m just saying it sounds like she’s RATIONALIZING a certain shallowness

    2. Why not just cop to being shallow? I mean truly, I’m not judging, but if you can’t tolerate an overweight partner, discuss it before you walk down the aisle. If you don’t, THAT’S false advertising, cause the default is “for better or worse.”

    3. Sigh. Where to start. Weight gain can be a very complex mental and physical issue. It may or may not be related to depression in a given case. It may or may not impact a person’s self esteem. And it may or may not be something that one can do something about. I will probably get flamed for this but people’s bodies and metabolisms are as varied as the color of an individuals hair, skin, and eyes. One person can cut out a snack a day and lose twenty pounds in three months, others have to starve and overexercise to lose 5 pounds in the same period. We have differences, and our bodies change over time and due to things like childbirth and changing hormones. And the skinniness standards of American popular culture are unreasonable and very, very difficult to attain for anyone who has actually completed puberty. So the “why don’t they just do something about it” attitude really bugs me.

    I’m single. I weigh more than I did a few years ago. I’m a mom who has found that my child needs me more as a middle schooler than I could have understood when he was born. I used to work out three evenings a week. Now that time is devoted to helping him stay on top of his school work and also to teaching him life skills. I still stay in shape, but he’s a priority and if I have to give up a few workouts to be there for him it’s no contest. For a lot of reasons (reordered priorities and ageing) it has gotten harder for me to stay the size I was at twenty five. As a result I’ve had to face down my own shallowness and skewed sense of what’s valuable about me.

    It’s called growing up.

    And if I ever get married again, I hope it’s to someone who can grow with me.

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  9. I began to read the 1st post on her page, then decided not to waste my time and continued on with the post you called attention too. I was appalled at her arguements and frankly very dissappointed in her classmates' responses. It must'nt have been a very good psych class because the issue of "weight" is only a small part of eating disorders. The majority of it relies on stress and control and well... habit (for lack of another phrase).

    Why did none of her classmates bring up the fact that depression is linked with severe low weights as well. Lots of people who are depressed lose tons of weight instead of gain tons of weight.

    The way she commented in her class and on her blog suggest to me that she is not open to other ideas and other factual answers unless they follow her logic.

    To me, closed-mindedness is more unattractive than severe weight (plus or minus) problems.

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  10. I love when people assume that because I'm overweight I have no self-respect, no self-esteem and no willpower.
    If they only knew the real reason is because of a condition I have called PCOS. Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
    You see, it's a bit more difficult for me to lose weight because of this condition. I work out (when I can), I eat as well as my schedule allows (I work 2 jobs, so it's hard to have fully balanced meals all the time) and I take care of myself.
    I respect myself.
    I have great self esteem.
    I take pride in my appearance.

    It's the lack of self respect thing that kills me the most. I see people who are "fit" in the sloppiest clothing, hair is all a mess and dragging their feet around like they are zombies. To me that is a lack of self respect. Not taking pride in your appearance.

    I use quotes for fit because being thin doesn't necessarily mean being in shape. There are quite a few people out there who are at an acceptable body weight but have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, etc.

    Sorry, I got a little carried away there. This strikes a chord with me as well, just reading the R&R section on CL is enough for me to want to vomit sometimes.

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  11. I never said all overweight people are depressed. I never said all overweight people lack self-respect. I was talking about myself. For someone with MY history, it would not be far fetched to conclude that an excessive weight gain was an indication of depression. If I had depression, I would be suffering from lack of self-esteem -- lack of self-respect.

    I was not diagnosing all overweight people as being depressed. That would be completely abursd since it's not even logical.

    My post was a very SMALL sample of the MANY conversations my classmates and I had regarding eating disorders. To assume that all the caveats should be mentioned in such a small sample, I think is unreasonable. I was simply relaying one conversation about a percentage of the popluation, not the entire population.

    What people seemed to expect from my post is that their particular story about weight be included. That would be nearly impossible as there are 5 million reasons as to why people are overweight.

    Instead of assuming all kinds of things like I'm rationalizing "shallowness" or that I'm a gym rat and spend all my time exercising, you know, with ALL that spare time I have raising two kids and being in school, why don't you just ask me? But that's part of the problem with this forum. People can read one thing you've written and think they know EXACTLY what you're talking about. So instead of asking you for further clarification, they just call you names.

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  12. MIM,

    thank you for posting. having been on your end of the "what the fuck?" stick, i get what you're saying. however -- and this is a huge fucking however -- here's what i've learned: if you're going to stick your neck out, and pose some argument on a very public and popular webspace, AND go so far as to defend your argument, you are inviting the sort of criticism i've given. in fact, you literally asked for feedback. and so it was given.

    i rescinded my calling you names. i didn't post anything nasty on your space. i stuck as closely as possible to the issues i had with your specific entry and your specific arguments, and explicitly stated that i did so because it's a way to cite the sort of prejudices overweight people face.

    please understand that even if you personally see/feel that there were "leaps in logic," they were not so stated, and i am only working with your text. i do not hold anything against you, it is your post i have taken issue with.

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  13. First, I have to say that I don't find the post all that inflammatory. I've heard this point of view so many times that it just doesn't have much effect anymore. Skinny Chick thinks that fat is disgusting, knows that it isn't cool to admit that, so she covers it up by pretending that it isn't the fat that's disgusting-- no, it's the depression and lack of self respect that repels her.

    Whatever, Skinny Chick. You go with those insights!

    I think the most interesting thing about the post is the title, and the way it equates woman with products. But actually, marrying someone with long hair and then having them cut it later isn't false advertising. It would only be false advertising if she didn't, in fact, have long hair when they married-- say, if she was wearing a wig.

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  14. very interesting debate this has brought up. i like it!!

    i found myself surprisingly unoffended (inoffended? heh) by mim's original post, actually. but after reading k's insights and arguments, i got a bit more worked up.

    i ended my consideration of this debate with a closer scrutiny of mim's blog template. i found it very interesting that she ornaments her homepage with an image (ostensibly of herself) of a very slim woman, with lovely long hair, her oh-so-pert posterior center stage... holding the hand of her child.

    milf-wannabe much??

    but anyway, i spose we all fall short when we make inconsiderate, unfounded assumptions about "the other."

    so yeah, i say this: skinny bitches (and i say that with as much affection as jealousy), shut yer traps about shit you don't know shit about.

    while i'm overweight now, i've been thin for most of my life, and fuck yeah... if i looked as great from behind as the chick on mim's blog, i'd be posting it, too.

    i only hope that my experience in a heavier woman's body makes me a little more circumspect and respectful, should i ever get back to my college weight (or thereabouts.)

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  15. hi guys! (mejane & risey)

    i just want to state again -- i didn't find MIM's post inflammatory at all, and that was the reason i took issue with it. it was the off-handedness of her arguments that touched a nerve. because we were all just supposed to follow that A + B = C.

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  16. Hi. I don't know you but I like your blog very much.

    I read MIM's post and didn't think too much of it. When I just read how angry it made you, my first reaction was: huh, why?

    Then I realized: Oh my God, you are totally right!

    The reason that her leaps in logic escaped me is that I have gained 30 pounds this year (no baby) and am feeling depressed. In my particular body, these things seems to go hand in hand.

    My guess is they do with her as well.

    Now I am doing a retroactive inventory of anything I might ever have said to make the same leaps in logic for others. Which would have been ridiculous! Because, for example, lots of peopl eI know react to depression, etc., by losing weight.

    Also, as an aside, really: even if my (imaginary) spouse and I had had wholly discussed weight and appearance and decided it was super important, using my body to produce a child trumps his tastse in appearance every time. But that's not even the point.

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  17. I'm glad you opened this up for discussion over here. I have to say I'm with you on this one, K.

    Something that gets missed is that not everyone derives their self-respect from how physically attractive they are. The older and more secure I get with myself, the less I feel like I have to meet some outer expectation of what's attractive.

    Personally, I feel self-respect when my heart and mind are engaged, when I feel juicy and creative, when I feel like my intuition is leading me closer to where my capital L Life is. I feel self-respect when I'm doing things that require me to be brave in some way that I value.

    I quit smoking years ago and my (5 foot tall) pant size barreled from a 2/4/6 to a 10/12/14. But correspondingly, my hands stopped shaking and losing the emotional crutch of the cigarettes forced me to do some inner firming up, and I've never felt more happily solid and myself.

    I was on the small end of my big end (if that makes sense - out of my tiny smoking weight but not at my heaviest) when I met my husband. I'm 9 months pregnant right now and am a comparatively enormous slab of womanhood. I look forward to losing this baby weight not because I feel like I owe it to my husband, or because my self-respect hinges on it, but because I'M HARD TO MANEUVER at the moment. But I'm extremely conscious that my value as a person rests largely on what my heart's doing, and that's how my husband sees things, too.

    I think it's at the beginning of "Franny and Zooey" that JD Salinger has Buddy relate the old Chinese story of the king who sends a wise man out to look for a superior horse. The king asks for, I don't know, a brown mare, and the wise man brings back, let's say, a black...other sort of horse. But then the king realizes that the wise man has nailed it, because he's looked beyond the outer appearance to the inner essence, and brought back a really superb horse.

    Oh, lord. I'm rambling. Sorry. My point is just that this whole question hinges on what you define your core values to be, and whether weight falls under that jurisdiction at all.

    Phew.

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  18. The shame and secrecy associated with unhealthy attitudes towards body size can interrupt thought patterns and lead to obsessive concerns about food and weight. Regaining self control, restoring hope and recovering over all health is exciting and personal.

    Take nothing personally... it's a goal.

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  19. Hey all,

    14 years ago, when I was, in fact, 14, I was 5'8" and 180#. Size 14-16. Which in my high school, was tantamount to social suicide. It wasn't because I was depressed, it was because I had learned really unhealthy eating habits. My self-respect at that time was largely based on things like scoring 1400 on the SATs in 8th grade. I was a proud nerd (still kinda am).

    Freshman year in college, I'm 5'10" and 105#, having given up food, or induced illness when I "indulged". I was a size 2-4, in an abusive relationship, and incredibly depressed.

    I guess what I'm saying is, I've seen both sides of the coin. I'm happily in the middle now, and while attracting a mate is important to me, I've learned from my relationships that a 5'10" size 8 could be considered rail-thin, depending on what someone's preference is. Or someone could, and has, call me a heifer. And if someone's going to make assumptions about me based on my appearance, that's really their problem.

    Thanks for opening up the discussion!

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  20. I find it disturbing that she places so much emphasis on weight and appearance being the cornerstones of one's self-worth. Is that all she brings to her marriage.

    Yes, I wear makeup and try to look nice, and try to maintain my weight. But, my self-esteem, self-respect, and self-worth are based on my feelings of confidence, competence, intelligence, self-reliance and independence, not my appearance.

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  21. How well I take care of my body - in ALL ways, including making sure I do healthy things like eating good food, exercising, putting on clean clothes - is VERY related to my self-esteem.

    And my self-esteem is very related to how well I'm managing depression.

    I wouldn't want to be with a guy who didn't shower, ate nothing but trash, and didn't exercise. If you can't take care of yourself, how will we take care of each other?

    I don't see the gigantic leap in logic here. I think this is a knee-jerk "Don't hate on fat people!" reaction.

    I've been a Big Girl, and I know how it made me feel. I know it affected how much I *wanted* to work out, and it affected my interest in pretty clothes, and it affected how I interacted with other people (since my confidance was pretty well shot to hell.) I think depression and weight issues can become a big ugly cycle - depression makes me inert, and exercising helps alleviate depression (see the big study that hit the Washington Post about three weeks ago.)

    Now, I can agree with the idea that you CAN be eating healthy food, taking pride in your appearance, and exercising - and not be a size 2. But that's not what she's really discussing, now is it? If you're doing all that (as I am) you're not going to change much pre- or post-marriage.

    Taking care of yourself is a GOOD HABIT TO HAVE. If you have gained 40 lbs in a few months (ha, and aren't pregnant, or sick) you are not taking care of yourself.

    I used to have a boyfriend who would never go to the doctor. Strep throat, gaping wound, wouldn't do it. I lost a lot of interest in him real quick - if he couldn't/wouldn't take care of himself, how could I trust him to take care of ME if I was sick? If he didn't respect himself enough to fix a problem, what else was going on here?

    I also think this brings up a good topic about mothers who "let themselves go" after they have kids. I think it's all too common - physically AND mentally. Moms get so overwhelmed with caring for the kids, they forget to take care of themselves - and end up frazzled, anxious, and feeling out of control. It's kind of like how on an airplane they advise you to put your oxygen mask on FIRST, before you put one on the kids - you can't help a kid, or a family, if you're not getting what you need yourself.

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  22. I think that some women do unhealthful things to keep the weight down before they get married to attrack someone and then when they are safely married they can eat like a normal person. And bam they gain weight. So maybe some single women are more depressed and have less self-esteem than a chubby married woman. Then that is false advertising.
    This from a chubby married woman who loves her chubby guy!

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  23. I don't think she meant that if you are overweight you have no self-respect, no self-esteem and no willpower, and are depressed - I think that that's what it would mean to her and her husband. If your weight changes dramatically, there is a reason - it's a simple cause and effect relationship. Whatever that reason would be and whether you want to/can do anything about it or not, you should be able to discuss it with your spouse, who should be one of your best friends.

    My best friend LOSES tons of weight when depressed, and I don't see a problem in asking her if she is OK/depressed when that happens b.c I know that is a signal that she has the blues and I want her to know that I am there for her.

    I think everyone takes this post and makes it into what they want it to be.

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  24. The post was about physical appearance. Again, it's a HUGE leap in logic on the reader's part to assume that is ALL I think is related to self-esteem or ALL I bring to my marriage. I've known my husband for 24 years. We're best friends, but that is not what the post was about.

    And, K, I did ask for opinions. I don't need everyone to disagree with me. But when I start reading a post with the words "skinny bitch," which is ironic since I'm being insulted for my size, I am going to get a little defensive. Wouldn't you?

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  25. This is... interesting. I think the issue goes far beyond weight and depression and self esteem (and for the love of God- length of hair- if your marriage is at all influenced by the length of someone's hair... yikes), but into control issues. MIM said it herself- balding isn't "fair" to blame a man for, because he can't control it, weight "is" controllable.

    I don't happen to believe that entirely, but I understand why MIM needs to. It's obvious from her post that she values physical appearance quite highly and values herself in a large part on her appearance. That's not a bad thing. But it seems to be the case with weight that women are SO TERRIFED of getting fat that they have to believe they have control over it. MIM has to believe that if you just "work at it" everyone can be slim and perfect. That the only reasons to gain weight are depression, low self esteem, and disease, which I assume she is confident she'll never suffer from. That kind of attitude allows people to blame overweight people for being overweight while at the same time letting themselves feel superior because they haven't become fat.

    This is dangerous for several reasons. It ignores any science on metabolism or body types. It ignores the concept of different standards of beauty. It ignores the concept of making something else in this society more important than looks. Believeing that 1. Looks are critical, 2. Gaining weight is bad, and 3. Anyone can avoid gaining weight if they "work hard enough" creates a culture of disordered eating. Maybe "anyone" can work hard enough, but if that work involves cultivating an eating disorder or obsessing over something as self absorbed as your looks (and I say obsessing- not caring- everyone cares), than not only will I not judge someone for not doing it (even my spouse), but I would never subject myself to someone who would judge me for it.

    There is "false advertising" in relationships/marriage. Someone who does not want children (or does) and lies about it before the wedding. Someone who is not in love with the person they marry. Someone who lies or stretches the truth regarding religious beliefs or family obligations.

    The rest? Is just life. And that's what "for better or for worse" means, right?

    Sorry for the long comment!

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  26. Yeah. That post struck one hell of a nerve with me. I'm fat, and I don't like it. My boyfriend and I haven't had sex in months because of it, however his feelings on it aren't the reason I'm really making a huge effort to lose this weight - it's the way I feel. My self-respect is just fine, thank you very much. I just don't want to look like this anymore. However, I have enough bulimic friends to know the difference between wanting to lose and obsessing to lose. IMO a post like that just adds to the pain, like a secret little club all getting together to say "That's right, heavy is disgusting. Unless there's a medical reason, of course...But shhhh...don't let the fat people hear you!" And I agree with K, it was the offhanded automatic assumptions that made me shake my head. Yes MIM, not everyone's personal weight story could be told in that entry, but they could have been considered prior to hitting the "publish" button.

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  27. The above comment is making HUGE assumptions about what I believe. In fact, it's downright laughable. Based on ONE post, without knowing me, you're going to determine how highly I value myself in terms of physical appearance? Talk about a leap in logic. To me, that's just a convienent argument to write-off my point. It's a "holier-than-thou, see how un-shallow I am" personal attack clothed in "understanding."

    Being overweight can be attributed to a LOT of things: habits in eating and exercise, metabolism, other medical conditions. But you can't tell me that ALL overweight people are overweight due to JUST to metabolism and medical conditions. Is that really the reason for the obesity epidemic in this country? Metabolism and medical conditions are reason there were 400 obesity bills last year? Something tells me its a combination of these things AND habits.

    My mother has always had a weight problem. She will never be a size 8. That's not her bodytype. But when she's practicing good habits, she's a size 14. When she's not, she's a size 24.

    The above commemt seems to be making the additional assumption that I think all women need to be a size 2. Again, that is NOT what I said (hell, I'm not a size 2).

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  28. MIM,

    re: "skinny bitch" i can see why you'd be defensive, but pls. know that i was poking fun at myself for a. even using the term and b. then feeling guilty about it.


    Everyone Else,

    after i yammered on about implicit/explicit meanings, i think i wasn't very explicit about what my issue was (with the post, not the poster, i will reiterate -- and we can get into all sorts of lit.crit. theory on that point alone, but yawn).

    my point is that people (sadly, myself included) often think the worst of fat people: that they are lazy, that they can't help themselves, that they place less value on appearance than others, that they have low self-control, low self-esteem, low self-respect, low self-worth, that they are unhealthy, that they eat poorly, that they don't place value on exercise.

    these assumptions? they're just there. for a lot of people. think about it.

    we do not make these assumptions about thin people we see. i know plenty of thin people who eat far worse than i do, work out less frequently, have almost no concept of self-worth, yet are thin and dress well.

    and what is my point? erm. well, i'm overweight. am i happy about it? obviously not. am i doing something about it? sure, in my own good time. (maybe that makes the difference?) but is my self-esteem low? do i suffer from lack of self-worth? hahahahaha.

    now, no. MIM is not saying that ALL overweight people are depressed (etc.) but that if SHE were to gain a lot of weight, it would be an indicator of depression, low self-esteem, etc. so i understand that that's how it is for her. but there are definitely implications in that statement.

    "oh, i'm not saying ALL brunettes feel less sexy than blonds, i just think that if *I* were to dye MY hair dark, that's how i'd feel."

    see how that works? you can't quite put your finger on it, but you know it's there.

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  29. I think you know it's there because it's here:

    “Is it? Don’t you find people more attractive when they exhibit self-respect?” I asked.

    “Well, I suppose.”

    “And if a person who used to be thin became very overweight and did nothing about it, wouldn’t you feel like that person was losing their self-respect? Again, assuming they had no medical condition.”

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  30. K, I want to be sure I understand what you're saying. Would it fair to say that when people read things (like blog posts, for instance) they may feel like they are being spoken to directly? So even if I am talking about myself, you still may still think I'm talking about you? Or, maybe you it's not that you think I'm actually talking about you, but maybe you question whether or now you feel that way and maybe that line of questioning is what is uncomfortable?

    Am I making any sense? It would be a lot easier for me if we could discuss this instead of writing back and forth, so I apologize in advance if what I'm saying makes no sense.

    Regarding the above comment, I think Star's comment above puts that portion of the post into pespective. That portion is NOT meant to say that overweight people are unattractive or lack self-respect. Take out weight and substitute "bathing" or some other term. April also had a good point.

    Oh, and I totally get what you're saying about the "skinny bitch" thing.

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  31. The thing is, though, that gaining weight is not the same thing as not bathing, and the comparision is actually kind of offensive.

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  32. mim: The use of "skinny bitch" is meant to poke fun at the whole issue of women being judged for their size, i.e. the subtext that what is really going on is that we are all just envious of you. So we were really making fun of ourselves. It was a joke. And you really do need to develop a thicker skin.

    Star Firstbaseman:

    I'm going to cut you some slack because I assume that you are pretty young.

    But, jeez, could you be any more patronizing?

    No one said that it is ok to "let yourself go" when you have kids. This issue is what do you mean by "let yourself go?"

    I have been a competitive athlete my son's whole life. Two years ago I decided to stop racing because I felt he needed more of my time. I also introduced him to running and biking, we go a lot slower than my training pace, but we have a great time and I am introducing him to healthy behaviors. I still work out 3 or 4 days a week and am extremely healthy. BUT I am probably 15 pounds heavier than my racing weight. Have I let myself go?

    One of my best friends' weight ballooned when she went on anti-depressents to get control over feeling suicidal post partum. Has she let herself go?

    Another friend has found yoga a much more effective stress management tool than the hours of cardio she used to do, and beleives it helps her be more present for her family. She's gained weight too. Has she let herself go?


    Another friend is a gifted fitness instructor, she completely kicks my ass whenever we workout together, and she is 75 pounds overweight (resting pulse of 45). Has she let herself go?

    In other words, do you know anything about the lives of all those women who, in your judgment, "let themselves go?"

    Here's the point: some women take weight gain in stride, because other values are higher on their list than body size. If it's important to you, great, live your life and maintain your 20 something weight, but don't judge others for having different priorities. I'm pretty sure from the tone of your post that you don't have kids. And if you don't, you really have no idea of how the demands of motherhood can change you.

    And trust me, every mother I know understands that they owe it to their children to take car of themselves. But open your mind to the possibility that everyone's "oxygen mask" may come in a different form, and that not all are tied to maintaining a certain weight.

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  33. Wading in....and the water's chest-deep at this point.

    I see why you got offended, K, but I think MIM's use of weight-gain was only put out there as an example of how she and her husband might exhibit lack of self-respect and/or depression. In my house, weight-gain is indicative of a love of the TV and a hatred of exercise.

    I think we all have our indications of depression. Partner would have a right to be concerned if I stopped obsessing about cleaning the carpets as that would be a clear sign to her that I just didn't really care anymore.

    I may just be putting my own spin on this like everyone else, but that's the impression I got. And as we all know, it's HARD to get everything you want to say with EVERY exception in a blog post.

    If this is incoherent, I'm not surprised. I have SO many thoughts running around on this issue that I tend to get bogged down in weird details and false analogies.

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  34. muddy waters, indeed.

    MIM, i used your post because it -- taken by itself, for itself -- made links connecting weight gain and loss of self-respect.

    maybe this wasn't a great example, and i understand that there are about a million zillion permutations i could consider, but i'm just using the post as a guinea pig.

    maybe you don't, MIM, but lots and lots of people DO equate weight gain with loss of self-respect (loss of self-esteem, depression, etc.), and don't even realize it.

    just as lots and lots of people equate "gaining weight" with phrases like "letting yourself go" without question.

    and those of us who are used to being on this end of the "aww, you must be suffering from low self-esteem" opinion are sensitive to it. so i used this opportunity to say, "hey, wait a minute." and then get all uppity, use the term "skinny bitch" and the phrase "slap her upside her head."

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  35. " 'Well, isn’t one of the problems with depression low self-esteem? Don’t depressed people feel less self-respect? ' I asked."

    I wasn't offened until the above. I am a thin, very pretty girl who is intelligent, funny, and has a successful career. I know and believe all of these things about myself. I also have deeply held beliefs and morals and am proud of living up to my own principles, i.e. I have PLENTY of self-respect, thank you very much.

    I have also suffered from clinical depression since I was 14 (I am 28 now). Depression does not mean you have low self-esteem and no self-respect. Depression is a medical condition that some people suffer from for a short time and others for a very long time. Equating self-respect and depression is the same as asserting that someone must not have self-respect because they have cancer. It is a) false and b) enormously insulting.

    As far as the weight issue goes, didn't anyone learn in 6th grade science class the principle of "correlation does not show causation?" Just because you see that some depressed people put on weight doesn't prove that all depressed people are overweight OR that all overweight people are depressed.

    I see exactly what you mean about great leaps of logic here, Kristy. Geez.

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  36. d.a., I find it interesting that you prefer the skinny girl to Stephanie Klein, who regularly writes about her struggles with her own weight. Not that there isn't merit to your opinion, just interesting in the context of this particular debate.

    Anyway. I sort of see where this chick is coming from, although as you pointed out, K, her logic is faulty. If my (pretend) husband who is currently (pretend) drop dead gorgeous with a (pretend) washboard stomach suddenly grew into a 300 pound man, I would not stop loving him. That is because when you truly love someone, you love who they are inside. However, I would probably no longer be physically attracted to him, which would mean that the humping would probably cease, and no humping leads to a lack of emotional intimacy in a (pretend) marriage. You become (pretend) roommates instead of (pretend) lovers. No one signs on for that when they get (pretend) married. Of course, no one signs up for a lot of the things that go on between two people when they get (pretend) married.

    From real, personal experience, I can tell you this. Last year I quit smoking and gained 15 pounds, all on my ass and my gut. And some in my fat face and chin. Because I am shallow and vain and very concerned with my looks (as well as the state of the world, etc.) this made me lose my shit. I felt terrible about myself, insecure about my looks, my life and my relationship, and as a result everyone around me suffered - or all of my relationships suffered. However, in hindsight it is obvious to me that this wasn't caused by the weight but rather by my reaction to it. When I got my head together a bit, the weight came off. It isn't about that for everyone though. I think people tend to assign phsycological reasons for everything, when many are simply nature. Not everyone is meant to be a size 4 their entire lives, or ever. Married or not.

    P.S. - and you, my dear Kristy, are gorgeous. More pictures. With kitties!

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  37. Caroline - You are funny. LOVE your pretend life.

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  38. What about the original issue of "false advertising?" This is the point that upsets me. When my husband and I met and fell in love, I was fat and had short hair. 5 years later at our wedding, I had lost a ton of weight and grown my hair out long. Two months after the wedding I cut my hair off again (because DEAR LORD, I don't care WHAT your husband thinks, August in Texas? F**K that. G-D HOT!). And now, almost a year after our wedding, both of us have put on some weight. Not because we are depressed, but because we enjoy cooking together, and hell, we love cheese. And beer.
    My husband and I fell in love with each other. Not with what we looked like. Sure, of course, attraction is a huge part of why people get together. But in the end, when your old and gray, the love stays because of who that person is on the inside. Cliched, I know, but true. I will want to be with my husband no matter how much weight he gains or loses, how much hair falls out of his head, or if his nose falls off tomorrow.
    Now, if he marreid me and then turned around and said, "Oh by the way, I'm a Nazi," THAT would be false advertising. But false advertising with your appearance? That's bullshit. It's just our shell. Who cares.

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  39. Leigh - I think you need to reread what I wrote. My point was that no woman can take care of her kids adequately if she's completely given up taking care of herself.

    If you're hell bent on making this about some weird thing you have over your althleticism, have at it, but that's you.


    Amber - as someone who's also battled depression for a veryvery long time, I disagree with you about it not having anything to do with self-respect/self-esteem/self-worth. Someone who commits suicide (often preceded by a bout with depression!) ostentaniously does not have high self-worth/hope for the future/belief in their ability to maintain, make things better, see an improvement in their life.

    Is it their fault? No.

    Can depression often be helped by exercise? Yes. I'm not even going to argue this one; talk to your doctor about it. (Any doc worth his salt should be giving a pat little lecture about exercise, talk therapy, other options, etc. in addition to an Rx for antidepressants.)

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  40. Here's the thing.

    Men don't like fat girls. Or at least not many of them do.

    This is why I hate and distrust them when I am "thinner" and ignore them ignoring me when I'm "not thinner".

    I'm psychologically fit like that.

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  41. shari,

    my next(ish) post is actually going to be about that.

    about dating guys. guys who LIKE women who are "bigger." guys who DON'T. and the inherent fuckupedness that i have about those factors and the many variations therein.

    wheee! yay for psychologically fit! HAHAHAHA.

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  42. Many people had trouble with the "false advertising" portion of that post. While I don't think it's necessarily common for most people to intentionally deceive their prospective mates, I do think people can and do make decisions based on motivations which they may keep from their consciousness. Allowing these motivations into their consciousness would mean allowing them to be judged. So fine, you didn't grow your hair to attract a husband, some women do. Hell, one of friends who is a lesbian admitted doing this before she came out of the closet. But the hair can also be an analogy for other things. It is not uncommon for people to pretend to be someone they're not.

    But let's talk about "love conquers all" thing. First of all, love and physical attraction are not the same thing. They may be interwoven, but they are not the same. And to assume love should always supercede the other ignores people whose marriages are affected by physical changes. Is it fair to judge their marriages as superficial? I don't think so, we're not in it. The fact is sometimes we just don't know how we're going to feel or react to a situation until we experience it.

    I saw one comment on another blog that said, "Oh, and if my spouse is depressed I'm going to be less physically attracted to him? That's absurd!" Yet, the reality is that this CAN happen. It doesn't mean it will, but this is one way in which depression can affect a spouse. But it is only one of many. Again, one doesn't know how they're going to feel until they have the acutal experience. Making judgments about the "right" way negates the feelings of others.

    With respect to depression, Amerberance, I'm not sure what your exact diagnosis is, so I can't speak to that. "Clinical depression" can mean a lot of things. Perhaps while you've suffered from it, you're symptoms were mainly mild. I don't know. But people who are experiencing Major Depressive Episodes tend to say things like, "I feel worthless," or "I can't do anything right." That's what I was talking about.

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  43. Physical attraction and love can very much be the same thing. Lust and love are a different story, and while I might lust after some hottie that doesn't mean I am willing to commit my life to them based on that. If someones looks made me want to marry them, and then years later, they gained weight (even too much weight) and I have a problem with that, then I married someone for the entirely wrong reason. But, I have found someone who is entirely not my type physically. I wouldn't pick him out at a bar, and think "Hot Damn!" and I am pretty sure I wouldn't pursue him in anyway (growing my hair, and other useless flirting crap). I love this man with my whole heart, there isn't anyone kinder or more generous of spirit (that I have yet to meet)and because of that love, he is physically desirable and attractive. Would I think it was unfair to me that after we were married that he gained weight? No, thats ridiculous. As someone said above, its just a shell.

    "You know how someone's appearance can change the longer you know them? How a really attractive person, if you don't like them, can become more and more ugly; whereas someone you might not have even have noticed... that you wouldn't look at more than once, if you love them, can become the most beautiful thing you've ever seen. All you want to do is be near them." ~ The Truth about Cats and Dogs

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  44. Anyone up for a cocktail? Seems this would be a good time.

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  45. The quote you cite is true. That's why I suggest they are interwoven but not the same. And I certainly don't want my kids growing up thinking they are the same.

    So are you suggesting that if a spouse begins to find their partner less physically attractive, then that means they don't love that person? I don't think that's a fair assessment at all. Especially for the people who sent me emails admitting this happened. Especially for my neighbor who loves her husband dearly but doesn't feel as sexual towards him since he gained 60 lbs. Are you suggesting that her feelings somehow mean she only married him for his looks?

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  46. Quite the in depth discussion here, I’m a bit late but I guess I’ll pitch my $0.02. This is what happens when you ask “what do you think?” in regard to one’s personal feelings/views on weight or body image issues and all the other matters tied up in that. When I first read mim’s post my first reaction was not to be incensed. Did I think her argument was over simplified? Absolutely, it probably doesn’t apply to the majority of people. However, it makes sense to her and she is allowed to hold that opinion. It seems to ring true to her in her situation. I do see where it gets sticky in the subtext, what with the implication that fat people have low self esteem, are depressed, etc. But when I read the post I thought, this is a point of view from someone who’s never had a serious weight problem. She doesn’t know me and I don’t know her, and her line of thinking has nothing to do with me. There’s tons of prejudice towards fat people, hell it’s the only prejudice that some people think is still acceptable and deserved. But I’ve developed a thick skin, and I know that anyone who would judge me solely based on my weight/appearance without knowing me is shallow and not worth my time.

    For the record I’ve been overweight my entire life, have had issues with depression at times, but feel better about myself now than I ever have even though I’m still overweight. I’m taking steps to improve my health and taking care of myself and doing the best I can for those people most important to me, and that’s what matters, not my dress size.

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  47. if you like yourself just the way you are, maybe you'll like others just the way they are too?

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  48. Shan, I have seen you in person and you are lovely and adorable! You exude prettyness, I think people can tell you feel good and healthy, I know I could!

    K, sorry I missed you over the weekend, i must have caught some bug on the plane ride home from my vacation. I think it was le bird flu. I hope you had fun in lala land, though!

    and, on topic, I wish I were one of those people who could just "not snack and get some good exercise" and then I'd be skinny. Oh, if it were only that easy for me!! Seems I got the fat gene, the fat jeans and the "oh, screw it, I'll just have a wine dinner" inbreeding to go with it. I blame it on being from the deep-fried states.

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  49. Ummm, I'm not prejudiced towards "fat" people. If you think I am, then that's your interpretation. Keep in mind that there are other people who are overweight who didn't have that same interpretation.

    Pass the wine, please?

    And thank you all for discussing this will civility. K, you have some very nice readers.

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  50. hi laurie! i was just o'er yonder reading about your mad housekeeping skillz.

    i missed you over the weekend, but there will certainly be other opportunities. i was not feeling so well by sunday night, either.

    and you bring up a good point. [paraphrasing] wine is the perfect accessory to fat jeans. :)

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  51. Oh yay!
    Wine!
    Finally. Been standing over here with an empty glass for like...ever.

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  52. what's interesting to me about this discussion isn't so much MIMs ideas about what it must mean about someone when they put on weight -- but the concept of applying "false advertising" to marriage.

    I would think it obvious that no person stays exactly the same in appearance, nor do they stagnate at the point of marriage and never grow as a human again.

    I think the better marketing-related quote to use for marriage is "Caveat Emptor" .... and if you make traditional vows (the for better, for worse, in sickness & health, etc kind) when you get married, that is exactly what you're agreeing to.

    You can predict little in this life other than the fact that people WILL change, physically, mentally, emotionally, and if you go into marriage thinking your spouse is going to be the same person you married, 5, 10, or 30 years later, you are pretty much deceiving yourself.

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  53. Trying to stay afloat...

    Based on that single post by MIM, I can absolutely see why K got her knickers in a twist, as it were. I agree -- it absolutely seemed as though MIM was assigning values to weight gain, and very negative ones at that. My family has a long, long, LONG history with depression, and even reading it in the same sentence with "weight gain" and "attractiveness" got my blood boiling.

    So. Yeah. I got it. K's take on things made sense to me. Even if she didn't MEAN it that way, it definitely SEEMED as though MIM was applying her thoughts not to her own relationships, but to ALL relationships. I was ready to kick MIM'S skinny ass!!!

    Then... I kept reading. Not just that post... but MANY of MIM's blogs. And discovered that she's fun to read. The more I read... the more confused I became, in general.

    In order not to ramble on FOREVER, I'll just focus on one of the thousand thoughts I had: Appearances and marriage and being attracted to one's partner.

    Hm. At first, I was horrified by MIM'S mere suggestion that appearance can = attraction which in turn can affect a relationship. I ranted and raved (out loud... by myself in the car...) all the way home about what BULLSHIT that was. Fuck, if I want to come home tomorrow a bleached blonde (quite a departure from my mousey brown locks), or if I want to get my tongue pierced... who the hell is my husband to say I can't??? And if he doesn't like it, SCREW HIM. Our marriage is built on mutual respect and friendship and LOVE, damnit, not my appearance, you shallow bitch.

    Then, I thought about it some more, from the reverse perspective: If DH came home tomorrow with a mohawk, I'd be really put off. Not necessarily with the mohawk itself -- just that it was so different. I'd be shocked, and would have wanted him to discuss it with me. And I *might* even be less attracted to him. Not LOVE him less... but be less attracted, at least for the time being.

    So. That was quite the shocker, realizing that about myself. I can absolutely say with 100% certainty that DH and I never even THINK of each other's appearances when we list what we love about each other. It's just not even on our radar. And yet... it's obviously still important. Hm.

    Damn. I've rambled on WAY too much. In closing... I came to actually like MIM. I think she's got a great writing style, some refreshing views (after reading many of her other posts), and she seems like an interesting person. I don't think my DH and I approach our marriage from the same perspective as she and her DH do, but that's what makes the world go 'round. Do I wish that some of her posts hadn't seemed callous or attacking? And can I see why people got so worked up? Hell yes. But I still like her.

    I do agree with Serrephim (and others before her), though. Purposely presnting yourself in an untruthful manner before marriage is false advertising, and is not okay. But, the fact is, one of the most wonderful things about people is that they DO change... all the time. It's part of what makes us human, and what makes relationships simultaneously new and exciting, yet absurdly challenging. To think that someone will stay the same over the course of a marriage is incredibly shortsighted. People will look different, weigh different amounts, act different, and feel different over time. What makes a marriage strong is not trying to avoid those changes, nor making sure you don't "falsely advertise" in the first place... but facing those changes together, and working to still love one another - changes and all.

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  54. Ah, yes, but false advertising isn't about genuine change. Genuine change is important to one's personal and emotional growth. False advertising is about presenting yourself one way when you'd rather be another way. Please people, I'm not even sure how you can assume I'm against change. My whole life has been devoted to change.

    And, arabella, do you really think it fair or even a good analysis to judge someone's professional program based on ONE post? Cheap shot.

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  55. Can depression often be helped by exercise? Yes. I'm not even going to argue this one; talk to your doctor about it. (Any doc worth his salt should be giving a pat little lecture about exercise, talk therapy, other options, etc. in addition to an Rx for antidepressants.)

    Unfortunately, you are mistaken. Research has certainly shown that exercise can often help mild depression. However, it has not been shown to help MAJOR depression ("Major depression" is a clinical diagnosis).

    Of course, it's worth trying -- assuming the depressed person is able get out of bed (which is a big assumption), but there is no sound research to support the contention that exercise has a significant effect on alleviating Major depression.

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  56. My years of experience have taught me that when you've lost a loved one, coped directly with a seriously ill child, other relative or friend, suffered from a disease or disorder yourself, or had other major, life-altering experiences, you realize that dwelling negatively on yours or your spouse's weight gain is so unproductive and unimportant. When you're swimming as fast as you can to get through the depths, you quickly relinquish life in the shallow waters. Give me a 300 lb. spouse and if he's loving and supportive when the chips are down, I'll count my blessings every time.

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  57. Just a quick thought, tangentially related, based on my own marriage...

    My husband is not the man I married. And thank goodness for that.

    I mean, sure, TECHNICALLY he is. But he's changed in so many ways-- physically, emotionally, mentally-- that I can't even imagine comparing him today to the person he was on our wedding day, or even the person he was on the day we met. Furthermore, I *really* can't imagine wanting a relationship with the person he was the day we met, in high school, 13 years ago.

    My point is that people change. To expect a person to stay exactly as they were the day you got married, is unrealistic and cheats both people involved.

    I married him not just because of who he was in that moment, but because of what he wanted to become, and because of who I wanted to become, and because of what we wanted to become together.

    Of course, a lot of that has changed, too, but at the core is an understanding that people are constantly changing and that I really wanted to be there to see those changes firsthand.

    Did he falsely advertise himself when he was a music major and playing in a garage band and wearing his hair past his shoulders? Did I falsely advertise myself when I was an athlete who wanted to go to med school? I mean, my god, I'm an artist and haven't played sports in years and he's a philosophy professor who left his guitar in storage three moves ago... we aren't who we said we'd be, we don't look like we looked back then, but none of that matters.

    I'm tired and going to bed. Night, K and all you other people.

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  58. I forgot to add...

    I always wanted to be an artist, but I didn't tell him right away (as in, 8 years) because it seemed stupid and impossible and it didn't seem like something I should think about because it was so entirely not practical. And then one day, 2 years into our marriage, I came home and told him that I absolutely needed to quit my job (that I was very good at and being paid a rather decent amount of money to do) so that I could go to art school.

    And even though he knew some major things about himself and his goals (that I won't share here), he kept them from me for a long time into our marriage.

    In both cases, these were cause for shock, as you can imagine, but I would never, ever, say either of us falsely advertised ourselves to snare the other one.

    Ok, now I'm really going to bed.

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  59. What do I think? I think that MIM is right. It it true for some of the people overweight just as much as it's untrue for some of the other people who are overweight. There are many reasons for everything. What is your reason? That is hers and it is also mine.

    I am not a "skinny bitch," but I would love to get there soon. If I keep working on it I will be skinny and healthy again. I should have started a few years ago, but I was busy, depressed and just didn't do it.

    I feel bad that I put on the weight after my relationship started. He didn't meet me when I was this heavy. It does not seem like he cares at all, but I do. I love him and want to look good for him just as much as I want to look good for myself. Is that a bad thing? I might as well look good while I am in my 20's. I can't go back in time. How nice would it be for him to enjoy having a sexy skinny me by his side...for life.

    In the end I did not respect my body or myself (one and the same) by getting this way. Can you say that you respect your body if you are overweight...and there is something you can do about it? Is it respecting yourself to put you at risk for an early death or other problems? Yeah, no...I don't think that is respect for yourself. That is what I caught from her posts. Please prove me wrong.

    I did not think MIM was callous in her posts. I'm sure to others she sounded that way. That's the big problem with the Internet, you don't know what tone the other person is using. She may have been more harsh to some people who posted to her post, but they seemed harsh as well. Again, who knows. I don't know the tone they used either.

    I don't read the two blogs talked about here, I just found this one on another blog and then read MIM's blog. From an outsider it looks as though she is asking for opinions and a discussion on this topic that interested her from her class. People freaked out because she had an opinion and even then, most people were pretty nice on her comments and just gave their opinions.

    I was kind of disappointed, thought I was going to be reading a real "shit storm," but it really was pretty tame over there, just a few rude posts. But here it's like the whole thing has taken on a new life of it's own. She's now a "skinny bitch" when she never called anyone a "fat bitch."

    Now if she had said that "this is the way things are and there are no other reasons for anything" I might agree with you, but she never did and she kept saying she never said what people were saying she said. phew.

    Tiring isn't it?

    If this post came up last year when I was still making excuses for myself and just trying to accept my body for the way it was, I would have been pissed too, but not now. I know better for me. It might not be the same for you. Your body is different.

    But let me feel inspired by her post. I'm not a victim of myself anymore. I am going back to my normal body and no more size 18. I'm headed for size 12 again.

    One thing I am very pleased about is that when I got heavy, I never spoke ill of skinny women. Never hated them or what they had to say. There is enough shit we have to deal with as women...no scratch that...people and this opinion that is right for some of the people, is not that big of a deal.

    There are worse opinions about fat people out there. Totally untrue ones.

    "Skinny bitch." What are you, 12?

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  60. i have a lot more to say, but it's 12:10 a.m. and i just got home, so i'll simply say to "fatlady" above, because she seems to have entirely missed my point, re: "skinny bitch" --

    good lord. "skinny bitch" is a phrase used for false derision and with envious tones. (i believe MIM understands it as such.) additionally, please re-read the context in which the term was used, and understand that, despite false mockery of the first order, i *rescinded* the phrase because i couldn't justify using the term in earnest.

    so there.

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  61. Okay... maybe I'm being pedantic here, but yet again, I can't stop thinking about all of this!

    MIM, I wasn't trying to imply that you, personally, believed that change wasn't part of marriage. Rereading what I posted, I can see how it came across that way, but it wasn't my intent. Rather, I was making an observation in general that marriages and people change, and expecting them not to is naive and ultimately can lead to (much) more harm than good. It was not a statement about you and your marriage, however, and I'm sorry if you took it as such.

    You're absolutely right about false advertising. (I'd actually written MUCH more about that in my original post, but thought it was WAY too long, so I deleted it!) Purposely pretending to be someone you're not (or, as you said, "presenting yourself one way when you'd rather be another way") while in a relationship is sad and hurtful... to both parties. To the "advertisers" because it means that they don't feel that they can be themselves, which always backfires, and to the "buyers" who inevitably find out about the lying and feel deceived. I completely agree with you -- growing hair long if you much prefer it short, pretending to be into football if you can't stand contact sports, claiming to be a vegetarian when you're a card-carrying carnivore... all just to "impress" or "win" someone... not good.

    But I must disagree with you on the weight gain thing. I simply don't see it as false advertising if you are one weight before marriage and then gain (or lose) large amounts of weight AFTER marriage. For me, false advertising carries with it the knowing INTENT to deceive -- PURPOSELY being someone other than who you are. Gaining weight happens for SO many reasons, and I think it's unreasonable for a partner to "expect" their significant other to close to that weight (or not to grow gray or not to get wrinkles or cellulite) forever. To me, that's not false advertising... it's life!!

    Now, if the REASONS behind the weight gain specifically reflect a person reverting to their "real" self, then yes, I think that some false advertising is involved. For example, if I know that my boyfriend is a fitness nut, so I drag my sorry ass off the couch for the first time in years in order to "impress" him... But part of that is just normal relationship behavior, not lying. Of COURSE I'm going to want to be interested in my BF's activities. I'm going to go rock climbing if I'm terrified of heights, I'm going to walk in the 5K on Thanksgiving. Not to DECEIVE him, but because I LIKE him and I want to do the things that HE likes.

    It only becomes false advertising if, over time, my boyfriend believes, deep down, that I *am* a fitness nut when I'm NOT, rather than that I'm joining him because I love him. And then if he marries me, perhaps in part because I'm a fitness nut like him... and suddenly, after marriage, I "revert to my real self" and get off the bike and back on the couch... Yes, that's false advertising. And if I gain weight because of my suddenly and unexpectedly being true to who I "really am," then I can see how the weight gain would go along with the false advertising bit.

    But, in the vast majority of cases, I think that people gain weight not because they revert to their pre-marriage behavior, thus making it "unfair" to their spouses... but because that's just what happens . I don't see that as false advertising at all.

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  62. Em, actually I wasn't addressing your comment in my last comment but thanks for taking the time to comment on my comment (hee hee). (And actually your comment made me blush, so I couldn't address it directly!)

    Okay, I know what you mean about false advertising being intentionally deceptive. But I think people false advertise without meaning to. See, someone can tell themselves, "I'm staying fit for myself and only myself," and then once they're in a relationship, they just stop doing all those things that kept them fit. What's interesting is that the woman in my class who admitted to "plumping up" once in a relationship admitted doing this. She told me (and this wasn't in the post) that her pattern had been to "let herself go" because she was comfortable. She also said she'd never thought about from her partner's perspective. Then earlier this week, she told me she started exercising again (she's been in her current relationship for 2 years). Now, she's not just doing it for her patner, she's also doing it for herself, but looking at things from her partner's perspective has given her the motivation she needed. Anyway, this woman, I think, is an example of inadvertant false advertising.

    Does that make sense?

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  63. Hello MIM,
    I wasn't trying to be fair with my offhand comment. It was a quip (often referred to as a cheap shot in America).

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  64. hi em!! (and missy, too!) (miss you guys!!!)

    em: thanks for your super even-handed comments. i agree with you about MIM's other posts and her tone and everything -- she's a good read and has a fresh, snarky voice about something i've never otherwise heard snarkyness about (that being motherhood, etc.). so i just want to re-reiterate that i am/was using her specific post and specific text to point out the sorts of biases towards the overweight that exist in the subtlest of forms. i wasn't even addressing the false advertising element of it really at all.

    that said, i think you covered the false advertising bases very, very well. i agree that it's largely a matter of intent and intent to deceive.

    MIM: i think i understand what you're saying re: the woman in your class, and i am sure there are other women who operate similarly. however, more often than not, i think what happens (at least, in my case and in the case of a lot of my friends) is that i get comfortable without even KNOWING it. actually, both me AND my partner do. we don't consciously say, "hey, i think i'll gain weight now" but instead, meal by meal or day by day think, "oh, it's okay." and then it's 6 months and 15 lbs later...

    the real concern to me -- or i think the real issue in these situations -- is, at what point does it matter? what if my partner is fine with my weight gain and finds me just as attractive as ever? meaning, if i've gained weight and don't really mind it and my partner doesn't either, then i think it's a non-issue.

    if, however, my partner DOES have issues with it (etc.), i still don't think it's a matter of false advertising UNLESS his/her expectations for my remaining slim were something i encouraged. and even then, i think people change. i could profess while courting "i will NEVER be THAT heavy" and then, well, time and babies and life and whatever else later, maybe i COULD be. what then? i didn't intentionally lie. i didn't deceive. but priorities can change and, well.

    we've beaten this poor horse.

    but thank you, MIM, for the interesting fodder. :)

    (my next post is related)

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  65. oh, but also? just as a general rule as well? (not directed at you, MIM)

    why is it okay to throw around the term "letting yourself go" and have it be SYNONYMOUS with "gaining weight"?

    that's just another example of little leaps, little biases people carry around and don't even notice.

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  66. You hit the logic nail on the head, Em. MIM's assertion that gaining (or losing) weight after marriage means that there was "false advertising" before the marriage is a fundamental flaw in her argument.

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  67. I have always hated the term "letting yourself go", but the one I hate even more is "taking care of yourself". Aaaargh! Please, please, give us a post on that so I can bitch about it more.

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  68. K, you bring up two really good points.

    First, "at what point does it matter?" Well, I think that depends on the couple. But here's the thing, my husband would never tell me he feels less attractive towards me because he loves me too much and would never want to hurt me. I suspect that a lot of spouses feel that way. So, what I found most interesting is how many women who read my post said, "My husband had better NEVER tell me I was gaining weight, or he'd be out on his ear!" This attitude only reinforces spouses having to keep silent about what affects them. So, instead of openly discussing it in a supportive and loving way, people may behave differently, like not initiating sex as often. What's also interesting is that women want to hear, "I'd love you even if you were 500 lbs." But if our husband comes home with a mohawk, like Em suggested, well, they are going to hear about it! See, all I was really trying to say is that there is another perspective to consider other than, "my spouse better love me no matter what." If husbands aren't going to voice their real feelings anyway out of love for us, then shouldn't we maybe be considerate of them -- just as we expect them to be considerate of ourselves?

    Second, with respect to the issue of subtle biases -- well, this is a hard one. Some people saw my post as biased, and others (who are overweight) did not. I had my friend in OA read it, and she didn't think it was biased, but then again she's my friend so her perspective is biased. But she said something interesting -- she said she was glad she didn't have to feel anger towards thin people anymore. Her point was that if she had read it during her anger period, she would have seen all kinds of biases. But now that she's no longer angry, she didn't see them.

    Now, K, I am NOT suggesting that you are angry. I'm just using this example to illustrate that everything is subject to interpretation and that interpretation is going to be based on the person's subjective experience and emotional state. Thus, I think -- to a certain extent -- we all need to be responsible for our own interpretations. That doesn't mean that these biases don't exist at all. Of course they do. What I'm saying is that biases can be found even where they don't exist.

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  69. MIM,

    yes, of course. quoting Kissing Jessica Stein quoting Nin, "we do not see things as they are, we see things as we are." i am not angry with thin people, i am envious. i am clear about that, too, and well aware of my own biases.

    for the umpteenth time, i am using your post to indicate that many -- MANY -- people unwittingly make assumptions, have biases, take leaps, etc. about the overweight. your post seemed as good a post as any to point out when/how that can happen. and whether or not you were or are biased, frankly, isn't the point. it's that you jumped from one point to another, and many people went along with you, not needing or wanting further explanation. you touched a nerve for some reason in many of us, and not just because we are all "angry."

    i have many times owned up to my own biases, interpretations, and subjectivity. i have not seen you do the same.

    and for what it's worth, re: my husband would never tell me he feels less attractive towards me because he loves me too much and would never want to hurt me.

    this could probably be its own post, because i certainly feel worlds different. my husband/partner/boyfriend BETTER fucking tell me if he's feeling less attracted to me. i consider a change in his level of attraction to me very important, and not telling me -- especially if i ask -- seems to me like deceit. there are, of course, shades of gray, but i don't care how much the truth hurts. if my partner finds me less attractive, i damn well want to know and want to address it. i want to talk about it. i want to fix it. not just...what? guess? pre-empt?

    as in my post today, Ish and i spoke frankly about my size and his feelings about it from the get-go. it was a bit uncomfortable, but i wanted to know, and he didn't want to hide his feelings. the communication started open and so will remain.

    but i digress. maybe it will be another post...

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  70. Of coure *I* want to know how my husband feels -- that was my point. But my husband is also kind of quiet, so *I* may be the the one initating the conversation. There are probably SOME women who won't initiate this conversation. That was all I was saying.

    And with respect to my biases, I'm not really sure what you mean by you haven't seen me own up to them. If you're suggesting I have a bias against people who are overweight, and I haven't owned up to it -- well, it is not my bias to own.

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  71. Okay, K, this is the last you'll hear from me. I decided that the last part of my last comment was rude in tone and doesn't adequately address what you were saying.

    I think what you're saying is that I may have a bias because I am thin, thus I may unintentionally use language that may appear to prejudice people who are overweight. Okay, I need to own that. Admittedly, it's hard because no one likes to think that what they say is prejudiced.

    And, I should also add that I do think you are entitled to your interpretation, and I should not try to convince you otherwise.

    Thanks again for engaging me.

    Best,

    MIM

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  72. Sorry, MIM, i *genuinely* don't mean for this to be contentious. i was in the middle of responding when you posted what you just did, so thank you. that's what i was getting at, rather poorly.

    and i hope this isn't the last we see of you here. it's been an interesting subject, and i think your opinions and insights are interesting and help spark discussion.

    in any case, i'll certainly be seeing you over at your place.

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  73. Funnily enough, I had an ex bring up weight in a REAAAALY sensitive way (which is only funny because overall, he's the MOST ignorant, insensitive PRICK I have EVER encountered, but I NEVER questioned that he REALLY love(s?d?) me, hence he overcame prickishness for my benefit on several occasions, but I digress...) Anyway, the way he brought it up was SO cool, I never thought it meant he loved me any less, but just that he recognized that I OBVIOUSLY felt uncomfortable in my own skin and MY lack of confidence was making me feel less attractive, therefore I was more in my shell so so I felt less attractive, which WAS less attractive. This affected our life together (an seriously, I know it SOUNDS bad, but he was so uncharacteristically NOT an asshole during this process and I MUST give credit where due...)

    Anyway, I conceded that he was right, I did feel bad about myself, and that DID impact my feeling of sexiness, and that DID affect our sex life. So I decided to fix it. Oh my fucking God! WHAT A MISTAKE to let him in on that process. From then on (we lived together) any time I got up to go to the kitchen, it was “ARE YOU EATING AGAIN?!?!?!?!” No, ASSHOLE, I was going to wash the dishes from the fucking dinner that I MADE! Do you want to bitch at me for THAT??? It wasn’t me OR my weight OR my self-confidence that were making us want to kill each other. It was our fundamental incompatibility.

    I guess the point of this is that even the most well-intentioned discussion about weight with your partner in the world cannot save you from a relationship that is fundamentally broken. If you're not right for each other, 5 or 10 or 500 pounds ARE NOT the obstacle. It’s not false-advertising, it’s thinking a simple rattle in your car’s engine can be fixed with an oil change when really, the car has seen better days…

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  74. This is all pretty interesting, but there aren't a lot of comments from men. I think most people prefer thinner than fatter. I'm pretty giant right now, having always been heavy and having been accustomed to using food as a comfort and a reward.

    My wife and I split about 2 years ago (not due to weight--I'm the one who left). But the post-separation time was very hard, and I spent a lot of it eating too much and moving too little. Most women I've been interested in are clearly not into me mostly because of the weight. I've had at least two say the equivalent of, "if only."

    I don't know if there's a point to my comment here except to say that weight is a struggle for many people; most people would prefer to be thin; and the world could use some kindness.

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  75. I should have said "thinner to fatter."

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  76. I just read this post and all 75 comments.

    Throughout it all I was wondering if I would comment too. Or, if I did, what I would say.

    About half way through I figured my commment would be "Well, that's two hours of my life I'll never get back."

    At some point after that I started caring about what people were saying. If MIM isn't really coming back here I will miss her. I won't miss her enough to go over to her place, but still, I will miss her.

    I am not much of a blogger really and this stuff is just too heavy for me. When I read a blog I just want to be entertained.

    I don't believe we can change each other's minds about things by discussing them (did I just say that? That is SO stupid!) Okay, let me try to rephase that.

    After reading all 75 comments to this post and the original post and Whinger's post I don't think anyone here has changed their original opinions about anything.

    All I have seen is people explaining their original comments to help other people understand what they originally meant and then finally agreeing to disagree.

    My wife and I got married right out of high school. At that time I told her that if she ever got fat I would leave her. I was an asshole. What a childish immature thing that was for me to say.

    I have said a lot of stupid immature things over the years and for some reason she sees past my ignorance and loves me anyway.

    Several months ago I set up my Google Sidebar to run a sideshow of all the photos on my PC. I have really enjoyed watching our entire life together being replayed in photographs. Our honeymoon, our daughter's birth, our son's birth, our family vacations, our son's graduation from the film school, walking down the isle to give my daughter away, our anniversary trips as empty nesters... It makes excited to think about all the photos yet to be taken... our daughter's upcoming college graduation, the look on our son's face when he finally sells his first script, our upcoming 32nd wedding anniversary and our grandchilden yet to be born.

    As I glance at the photos that play in random order sometimes I am shocked at how much weight my wife and I have gained and lost over the years. I'm shocked because at the time I didn't see it and in my memories, it's not there.

    So what do I think about false advertising to catch a mate? I can't comprehend the concept.

    I'm not really much of a blogger so what the heck am I doing writing such a long comment?

    If you took the time to read this, I hope you were entertained.

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  77. Jerry: Once a "new" post has been added to K's blog, there usually aren't a lot of comments left for previous posts, but I wanted you to know that I did read your comment. I don't know that I was "entertained" by it, but I do think that you shared some interesting, thoughtful observations.

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