Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere

So!  I finally read Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby.  I know, I know, I'm so behind.  But, in my defense, I read it twice!

Let me cop to something right off the bat.  I love Marianne and Kate.  And I have for many years.  I think they're both bad ass and have changed the face of fat acceptance forever.  But that doesn't really influence how I feel about the book.  Honestly, if I didn't like it, I just wouldn't have brought it up at all!  But this is me bringing it up!  Because I loved it!  More than that, it blew me away.

I've read a lot of fat/self acceptance books in my time.  A lot.  And – with a few exceptions – I, of course, agree and nod and feel understood and supported.  But Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere was different.

It made me mad.  It made me want to scream and fight and demand respect – from others and from myself. 

Now, let me give you some excerpts.  Because I can't describe how awesome this book is so I'll let Kate and Marianne's words speak for themselves.

“Did you ever notice that the very same magazines that tell you each and every month how to lose weight, burn more calories, flight the flab! - not to mention how to do your own smoky eye makeup, fix your hair like a celebrity, and engage in complicated pubic hair topiary – will turn right around and tell you to love your body?  And then, adding insult to injury, tell you that confidence is the sexiest thing in the world?”


On Health at Every Size (HAES):
“It's about listening to your body and focusing on feeling as good as you possibly can.  It's about learning to appreciate all the things your body can do and taking care of yourself, rather than trying to change what you look like.  It's about being kind to yourself and working within your own limitations – which might include a genetic predisposition to fatness, a disability, or a chronic disease.

The word health being part of the name of this philosophy seems to trip a lot of people up, because our cultural image of a “healthy” person is an able-bodies, disease-free gym bunny who lives on tofu and sprouts.  You don't have to be that person to practice HAES – it's all about working with, not against, the body and appetites you've got.”

On food neutrality:
“We're so conditioned to believe not only that broccoli is good for us and ice cream is not, but that broccoli will make us better people, and ice cream will make us worse.  You're going to have to remind yourself over and over that this is bullshit.”

On dating while fat:
“Here's the plain truth: Nobody's less attractive that people who can't stop obsessing about how unattractive they are.”

Marianne and Kate are quick to stress that self-acceptance is a long, slow process.  And it's that way for everyone.  You've spent your entire life being taught to hate yourself, this isn't going to change overnight.  Also, know that you're going to have bad days.  Even the most self-assured person has days when they hate everything about themselves.  So don't beat yourself up even more when you experience those.

As I said, Lessons from the Fat-o-Sphere is amazing.  It made me feel recognized and empowered.  And I hope it does the same for you.


  1. It's like you're trying to get people to buy from Amazon so you can get paid. Or you are worried about ad revenue. Come back to real posting, please? It feels like a giant ad here lately.

    1. Ugh, I'm really sorry. I've been meaning to review this book for quite awhile. But, yeah, I totally know what you're saying. I've just been struggling a lot lately with what to write about. But I promise to try harder - I don't want to lose how much this blog has meant to me. And I don't want to make you feel like I'm trying to force you all to buy shit. I promise more real content!!

    2. Thanks for answering my comment. I did not mean to sound bitchy. I have been a big fan of your blog for years, and love your writing. Just keep you in there, too, because that's what people care about most.

    3. You didn't sound bitchy, I promise! And, hell, even if you did...I deserved it! Thank you, that means so much to me. I'm going to try so much harder because writing has done so much for me. I think I'm just having my first real bout of writer's block. Gah! But thank you for sticking with me!

  2. Hi Heidi. Thanks for your review of Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere. I was a big fan of Kate Harding's blog Shapely Prose; that was actually how I found your blog.

    Remembering your lovely tribute to Mr. Rogers, I thought you might be interested in this video clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzXaFbxDcM. It's a beautiful remix of Mr. Rogers wisdom set to music.