Monday, 7 July 2008


I've been clothes shopping at Evans again. And what a pleasant experience it is! In the old days, it used to be known as 'Evans the Outsize shop' and used to sell horrifically unfashionable clothes in bigger sizes. At some point it had a revamp and ditched the 'outsize' tag. The clothes are attractive and fashionable and go up to size 32. And that's not all:

- It's not too expensive (most of the trousers are around £15 and they have frequent sales)

- The sales assistant are big enough to wear the clothes they sell.

- They don't act as if you're going to steal things if you try clothes on - you can walk in and out of the changing rooms freely without being accosted and having the clothes counted.

- The clothes seem to be designed for bigger women rather than just sized up.

- The accessories they sell are also designed for bigger women - wider boots, longer necklaces, bigger stockings, etc.

My only gripe is that they don't seem to design clothes specifically for my type of figure (curvy hourglass). The bras are for people with big chests, rather than with small chests and big breasts. But it's the same in most shops, and I usually can't get my bra size in normal shops anyway.

It's a joy shopping there, and one of the perks of being bigger. So I had mixed feelings when I learned that there is now so much demand for Evans clothes that they now go down to a size 14. Slimmer people can now shop in Evans. As well as just about everywhere else, of course.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Old friends, and undercover knowledge

I was thinking about an old friend of mine yesterday, and wondering if it might be nice to get in touch again.

And then I remembered. Back when we were close friends she was always making disparaging comments about people who she thought were too fat. And that included anybody from about my size upwards. (My size at the time, I mean, which was a US size 6 to 8, looking at the charts). She was about the same dress size as me, but taller and proportionately slimmer.

Now maybe her view on size has changed - after all, lots of my views have changed. But if it hasn't... I realised that if I met up with her, she would feel repulsed when she looked at me. If I'd met her first when I was fat, I would never have known that because she wouldn't have made those comments to me if I was fat. But I've heard those comments, and even though I'm sure she wouldn't make them now, I'd know how she really felt. I realised that if we met up, it wouldn't be as equals. She would be seeing me with revulsion and pity, and I don't need that.

And this is where I feel like I've been a spy working undercover for most of my life. As I wasn't fat, I got to hear people's true feelings about fatness, and it wasn't pretty. If I'd been fat all my life, then no doubt I'd have suffered the usual jibes from unpleasant people. We know there are cruel people out there who are quite blatant about their prejudices. But having been on the 'inside' all these years, I can tell you that there are lots of perfectly nice people, people whom I would count as friends, and whose opinions I generally respected, who have similar prejudices and see obesity as a moral failing. I know they won't tell me that to my face, now that I'm fat, but I know that's what they think, because they told me so when I was slim.

I won't be getting in touch with my friend just yet, because I'm not ready to deal with the disapproval that she'll be trying to hide when she meets me.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Obesity 'may be largely genetic'. And the 23% that isn't genetic....?

On the news this morning*, we were told that obesity may be largely genetic.

There was some discussion about this today at work. I got the feeling (and I'm paraphrasing, probably unfairly here) that the general view was that the 'news' was a bad thing, because it might stop people dieting. I did mention that dieting didn't work anyway.

Apparently 'differences in body mass index and waist size were 77% governed by genes'. The rest of the BBC piece seems to go on to assume that the other 23% is governed by eating behaviour. Maybe it is. But the article didn't really say that - it only said that 77% was governed by genes. Some of the remaining 23% may be governed by prenatal factors, for instance, or breastfeeding, or childhood illness - who knows? Prenatal factors are particularly interesting. For instance, here's an article about the relationship between IUGR (slow growth in the womb) and adult obesity (babies with IUGR carried more fat as adults). Here's one about dieting during pregnancy (foetal undernutrition seems to lead to later obesity). There are loads of articles out there on this subject. Prenatal effects have to account for some of that 23% that isn't genetic.

So the BBC piece doesn't really tell us how much 'lifestyle' contributes to obesity - only that it's somewhere between 0 - 23%. As factors other than genetics are likely to contribute, it doesn't seem likely that lifestyle is responsible for the full 23%. This is hugely important, I think, and helps to explain why diets don't work.

We went out for lunch today, a rare event. Most people ate a fair bit, because most of them are starting diets next week. I ate a fair bit myself, and so was full up when the time came to order a desert. I was the only one who didn't have desert, but I felt under so much pressure to have one, oddly. It's very rare that I have desert anyway, as I don't have a very sweet tooth. I gave in, in the end, and had a taste of somebody else's desert. I don't know what all this meant, as I'm still getting used to being a fat person. I was by far the biggest person there, and yet I was the one who ate the least. The others seemed to really want me to eat more - why? Because they thought I secretly wanted to eat more but was too embarrassed to have any because I'm fat? They've seen me eat plenty of food on other occasions, though, so why would they think I'm ashamed of my appetite? Didn't they believe that I just wasn't hungry? Did they just want to include me in the group? Was my size irrelevant? I'd be really grateful for comments on this - why would people try to persuade a fat person to eat more, while at the same time showing that they disapprove of fatness (by talking about dieting)?

*It took me so long to post that I now mean yesterday morning.

Monday, 4 February 2008

Join the club

Recently at work, it seems as if everybody but me has been dieting. That's not unusual, of course. Get a bunch of women together, and eventually the talk seems to come round to weight, who's eating what, what everybody should be eating or shouldn't be eating, etc.

Often these conversations take place among slim or average women, and I used to worry about what to say if there was a genuinely fat person there. Sometimes I'd just say I was happy about my weight. But that didn't feel right, because that would seem to suggest that I thought my body was better than the fat person's body. By accepting my body, I would be rejecting theirs. So stupidly, sometimes, I'd find myself flailing about trying to say things which is included us both - which would be something along the lines of implying that I was fatter than I actually thought I was. And then, I'd cringe, and wonder why on earth I'd said that? Didn't that just make things worse, because if I thought I was fat, then I must be thinking that she was 'summin else' (in the words of Marjorie from Fat Fighters of Little Britain fame)?

I'm in an interesting situation now, because for the first time, I'm the fat person. I'm much fatter than anybody that I work with. And all of them (apart from one, I think), think they're too fat and are trying to lose weight. I'm pleased to find that it doesn't bother me as much as you would think. I meet those implied insults with a wry smile. But lets not forget that they are implied insults. If my slim colleagues are insisting that they are unacceptably fat, then they're implying that I am even more unacceptably fat. And yet, they don't seem to see it as an insult. I even wonder if they're trying to include me, like I used to do with fatter friends. They don't want to make the division of 'you fat, me not', so they include themselves in being overweight. But then they genuinely are unhappy with their bodies, because they do want to lose weight. So they really must see me as humungously ginormous.

I now find that them saying they are happy with their bodies would be less of a rejection of mine than their current unhappiness with their bodies. Oh, one of them is a lot happier, because she's lost weight and gone down a dress size. Her fat dress size, needless to say, was smaller then my current size dress.

And now, I'm the one saying that I'm happy(ish - I still have some work to do) with my weight, and I'm by far the biggest. I'm the only one not dieting, and yet, judging from their assessments of their own bodies, my colleagues think I desparately need to. And now I do feel that people watch what I eat. I know they do, because I've seen people watch what other fat people eat, before I was fat. And I know they probably think that the reason for me being fat is that I eat far too much. And then I feel - well, guilty isn't the right word, but kind of embarrassed that I'm not on a diet when everybody thinks I should be.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Application to join the fatosphere

I wasn't born fat. Quite the opposite. I wasn't a fat child, or a fat teenager, or, for most of my adulthood, a fat adult. In fact, I've spent around 40 years not being fat.

Lucky old me. For all those years I haven't had to endure the misery that I've heard about other fat people going through - the taunts at school, the worried parents, the diets, the disapproving doctors, the employment discrimination, etc. And even though I've recently got bigger, I've gone past the point where I will have to experience some of these things - being picked for games as a fat person, finding school uniform that fits as a fat person, starting dating as a fat person, etc.

And lucky old me in another way - although I didn't join the team due to my size, I embraced fat activism many years ago. And, metaphorically at least, I embraced fat people - I didn't find fat repulsive on myself or others.

That's not to say that I was completely accepting of my fat. I have had mixed feelings (which I'll elaborate later) and also have tried unsuccessfully to lose weight (more about that later too). But I do think I have had an easier time than most of you. Now that my size has altered enough for me to become a member rather than just cheering from the sidelines, I'd like to join you please.