Tag Archives: plus size health

MNSFW: 7 Reasons that the plus size industry has nothing to do with political correctness

A recent editorial over at the India Times by Namrata Zakaria suggests – well, dismisses, really –  that the North American movement for plus size clothing availability is a matter of “political correctness.”

“Interestingly, questioning plus-sizes in fashion is largely an American phenomenon. Most of Europe sees fat as a matter of poor health, not of political correctness. According to an article by Ellie Krupnick in the Huffington Post, over a third of Americans qualify as obese. More American women wear Size 16 than Size 2, but you’ll barely find that in a high-street store. “

The implications of this comment are too easy to pick apart.

1.It’s just one more unreasoning attack on US Americans. While I must acknowledge my country has done some hideous things in the name of achieving power, we are not willfully being fat at the rest of the world.1 It seems a lot of these international writers believe so – and don’t pause to recognize that the idea of someone being fat at you is fucking crazy.

2. Actually, it’s definitely not a “stupid Americans who ate the world and got themselves fat” problem. While Body Mass Index is a worthless measure of a person’s health – a heavily muscled 300 pounds is a far cry from a flaccid 300 pounds – it does indicate that BMI worldwide has risen. Yes, even in nations famous for their ongoing famines.

3. This is my anecdotal contribution: the United Kingdom in the past two years has shown far more progress and given far more national and international publicity to its plus size bloggers and clothing designers than the United States has. Why do I say this? Almost every single plus size news roundup on Fat Chic for the past two years has featured multiple articles focusing on the plus size fashion industry in Britain. So don’t give me that “it’s an American thing” crap Zakaria. Do your research, you lazy ass.

4. North Americans do consider obesity a matter of poor health and most still see it as a voluntary condition. This is because publicity is given to the findings in research studies funded by diet companies and not to the studies conducted by neutral organizations.  Check out that last link: it mentions a CDC obesity study that was discredited. We are being fed a load of misinformation – and the misinformation seems to be hypnotizing mutliple nations into believing we are all fat, lardy, miserable, unloved-by-God or humanity individuals.

5. There is as far as Google and a check through my library absolutely no research substantiating the widespread belief that obesity is in any way or at any time a voluntary condition. So the “stupid Americans” did not choose to get fat – it snuck up on them because of other circumstances either metabolic or external. It makes about as much sense as choosing to be gay – why on earth would someone make a choice to make his or her own life more difficult? Again, the idea that that fat person in front you made the active and conscious choice to overeat his/her way out of his/her pants is fucking crazy. The person thinking that fat is voluntary is crazy. The obese person has other problems, such as being surrounded by people who have a pathology about bodies that aren’t their own. Oddly, educating obese people about calories etc. does not seem to result in a mass BMI drop. This is not because of mass stupidity – but it may be because we still are working from the wrong information.

6. Somehow, according to Zakaria, because we are fat, we don’t deserve clothing. We don’t deserve choices. We have someohow harmed the world with our fatness – in other words, because this guy is crazypants – we should just cease to be. No, really, only a crazy person would propose NOT helping multiple world economies by taking up money being waved at them by a population that has gone unconcerned. Or perhaps Zakaria just really wants to see naked fat women running amok throughout the world? I’d be please to join a stampede. My wearing clothing at all is a much negotiated public courtesy.

7. There are plenty of fat women in India. I’ve seen them. Some dress in east Indian clothing, others in western fare. These are women that have some serious style – and they do it despite being surrounded by crazy assholes like Zakaria.

Let me be clear: there is an estimated 20-30% of obese people that are metabolically healthy. That means there’s nothing wrong- they’re just fat.  For the remaining 70-80% the picture is a lot muddier – because obesity does not have a single overarching cause. That’s right, you can eat the right foods, exercise the right amount and still be fat. Because God/evolution is about seeing what happens, not about making life perfect or being particularly fair, evidently. There are a lot of factors involved – too many for you to ever be justified in seeing a fat person and thinking that it’s their moral inferiority that got them there. Because assuming fatness, or anything other than a person’s actions, is a signal of moral superiority or failure is… you got it… FUCKING CRAZY!!!

  1. Call us on the stuff we actually do – there’s no shortage of that. Fat is not exclusive to us so that does NOT fall on that list. []

Body bullying: it is a daily reality

This blog could easily be my own daily tale of survival as a larger person, as a larger female, as a female who has dared to have and enjoy sex in her life. But mostly I just want to talk about clothes, because what Fat Chic does is already pretty challenging to the minority that benefits from the status quo just by existing. Still, I can’t say that I don’t have strong feelings when I read the tales of other self-acceptance bloggers or see another news clip about a girl that commits suicide thanks to slut-shaming and body-shaming.  I do.  I also see how it has become more complicated, more insidious – and when women speak out about these behaviors there’s a rush to silence them on the subject, usually by the sort of trolls I typically delete really early in the game.

Rebecca Golden wrote about her own experiences with childhood bullying in 2010. It’s stayed with me.

English: this is my own version of what bullyi...
English: this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For years, the protocol for the fat kids that faced bullying was just to take it. In my own case, most teachers just stood aside and watched while other children said horrific things to me, even interfering with my ability to learn anything during class. The first time a teacher made a move on my behalf, I was a sophomore in high school. I was just as stunned as the girl that got sent to the office for screaming at me unprovoked. She had assumed that no one would intervene. She had been obnoxious and vented her wounds on me many times in the past while the teachers stood by as though nothing happened. To her mind, it was specifically OK to bully me because the teachers and admin at my school behaved as though harassing me specifically, repeatedly, and daily was allowed. Most teachers just let people yell at me,  make obscene statements to me, some even ignored physical bullying of me. Only one other teacher after that ever intervened when someone bullied me in class; when I tried to explain to my parents that I was objectively bullied more than almost any other child in that school,  my mother dismissed what I said with, “Oh, all teenagers think they’re different.”

On some level, I suspect, people thought and think that the fat deserved to be bullied – because they had “done something” to get fat.  This is treated as some sort of crime against society – even though few are harmed by the size of a body, and offense is not the same thing as harm. In my case, I think my family exacerbated the problem. My parents were explicitly unpopular with the teachers in my school system and I strongly suspect that I was also being punished for some crap my parents had done, because my teachers did not have the maturity to compartmentalize obnoxious parent from child who just wants to graduate without broken bones.

We all deal with our wounds in different ways. In my case, I started a blog about plus size clothing. My life is marked by taking the things that are considered “bad” or “disadvantaged” about me and finding a way to make them something that benefits me. I got through the time of zero support from family or community by keeping my future firmly placed in my mind – a future where I had choices.  I was completely aware throughout my childhood that I didn’t have any choice about where I went to school, where I lived, or how I was treated. It would be enough to convince some kids that suicide is the only out, the only choice left. In my case, I had the future where my own choices lived – where who I lived with and what treatment I tolerated were entirely up to me. It’s the future that probably saved my life, just by not knowing what was out there.

 

 

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Plus Size News Roundup 11/5/12

Kate Upton 2012
Kate Upton on cover of November 2012 Vogue Italia
  • Gina Carbone expresses her disgust with those who dismiss plus size fashion shows. Then the Daily Mail picked it up.
  • Lady Gaga commented on how Adele is bigger than her, while wondering why Adele isn’t picked on. Then she expressed admiration for Adele’s confidence. First of all, Adele IS picked on. Second of all, comparing yourself to another woman is how a lot of this stuff gets so weird and psychologically violent. Find a way to deal with yourself without dragging a person outside your body into the conversation. If someone is outside your body trying to drag you into the conversation, a few handy responses:
  • What’s wrong with you?
  • How dare you?
  • So what, you want your oxygen back?
  • You owe me an explanation for why you think making invasive inquiries about my body is acceptable.
  • Beth Ditto has released a memoir, including discussion about living in a fat body.
  • Kate Upton made the cover of Vogue Italia.
  • A UK children’s clothing shop has started stocking trousers with 44-46 inch waists.
  • Another Tracy Turnblad caved to Hollywood pressure.
  • A plus-size lap dancer (not clear if she’s plus or not, but is apparently treated like she’s plus) explains why she does it.
Lisa Riley 2012
Lisa Riley on Strictly Come Dancing

 

  • Lisa Riley is a new contestant on Strictly Come Dancing. I’ve done ballroom dance, too – it’s totally possible to for plus-size women to rock it as well as their straight size counterparts!

Business of Plus

Plus Size Health Roundup

Plus Size News Roundup 10/21/12

CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowl...
CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley at Barack Obama Rally at the Toyota Center, Houston, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plus Size Culture

  • Karolin Wolter has been a plus size model, then told she’s too thin, then told she’s a plus size.
  • Robin Lawley speaks up about the practice of asking girls to lose weight – and why designers and agents need to stop doing that.
  • A Canadian reporter writes about the “skinny jean debate” as though plus size women in fact do not know how to put on a pair of pants, zip them, and then figure out what to wear on top. Reminder: fat does not equal stupid. Also, invoking Victoria Beckham to fatshionistas requires dark robes, sulfur, and a lot of black eyeliner.
  • Plus Size Tall has a great piece on sewing and DIY for the plus size set, including a little bit about pattern adjustment.
  • Plus Awesome: Read how this plus size college student took on her own body issues – and found a way of working it out.
  • Apparently some geniuses at this haunted house thought that harassing visitors about their weight, perceived sexuality or other appearance factors was a great way to add to the scare. It was a horror show, by the sounds of it – just not as these guys intended.
  • Fat shaming presidential debate moderator Candy Crowley is evidently a popular thing to do. That’s crap you pull when you want to avoid admitting your not competent to deal with the actual campaign issues. She’s still smarter than you, remember that.
  • Follow this with these points made by Ariel Meadow Stallings about the crappy way liberals are behaving online. It’s really not just liberals, I’m pretty sure that title is mere click-bait, but in terms of the behavior … she’s got a point. This is part of why I delete all comments on Fat Chic prefaced with “Um” or “Uh.” It’s been my experience that people who begin Internet commentary with such statements generally don’t have anything valid to say and are complaining that their perception has been challenged. My job, my very karmic reason for being, is to CHALLENGE PERCEPTIONS.

Business of Plus Size

  • Zhong Yun is stepping in to serve the plus size market in China – according to this article more than 1.3 billion Chinese citizens qualify as plus size.
  • Plus size UK retailer N Brown, owner of brands such as Simply Be, is looking to enter the US plus size market. Given the disappearance of Silhouettes, the drastic rollback of Spiegel’s, the disappearance of Avenue to online only … come on over!
  • Lane Bryant has moved out of malls and into strip malls, where the stores perform better. Interesting – there must be some sociological/psychological explanation for that based on not having to walk past all the other stores that don’t serve you.
  • Marks and Spencer’s real women campaign was directed at the sort of women who can afford regular surgeries. Those actually existing women do look a bit like mannequins. If they’d like to scale back, tell management and marketing to read Fight Club – and then aim for customers who would not buy the soap.

Plus Size Health

This is a collection of health news and related links for plus-size women. Please bear in mind that many, even most of such studies are the following

    1)Funded by corporations that make a great deal of money from the diet industry. 2)Inconclusive. 3)Find correlation, yes, but not causation. A triangle may be prone to cancer, but a square also being a geometric shape does NOT mean it is also prone to cancer. 4)Exaggerated and panic-inducing. The “obesity epidemic” exists in part because people never previously considered “obese” have been re-classified under an arbitrary definition of “fat.”

For more insight and understanding into this, please read Junkfood Science from the beginning.

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Plus Size Health Roundup 10/2/12

Hypertension in America
Hypertension in America (Photo credit: GEEKSTATS)

This is a collection of health news and related links for plus-size women. Please bear in mind that many, even most of such studies are the following

    1)Funded by corporations that make a great deal of money from the diet industry. 2)Inconclusive. 3)Find correlation, yes, but not causation. A triangle may be prone to cancer, but a square also being a geometric shape does NOT mean it is also prone to cancer. 4)Exaggerated and panic-inducing. The “obesity epidemic” exists in part because people never previously considered “obese” have been re-classified under an arbitrary definition of “fat.”

For more insight and understanding into this, please read Junkfood Science from the beginning.

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  • There is research positing that obese children have faulty taste buds.  The idea that obesity has a single cause sounds pretty faulty to me.
  • African American children with a higher BMI are 16% more likely to have high blood pressure than Caucasian children.  We have a tendency to treat any percentage quoted like it’s 70% or higher – if it’s a concern, get it checked out, definitely – but don’t react like it’s virtually guaranteed.
  • Also concerning: African Americans are less likely to stick with the DASH diet, designed for high blood pressure.  (Or the sample group studied was less likely to lie about cheating on a diet?) It seems that training people in getting to know their spice cabinets would make all these diets more bearable for everyone.
  • More on blood pressure: a mix of rice bran and sesame oil (about 1.25 ounces a day – very small amount) actually dropped blood pressure in hypertensive adults studied in New Delhi, India.
  • More evidence suggests a strong link between soda and obesity. The problem isn’t soda – the problem is that we put sugar, both corn syrup and cane, in everything. People go into addiction withdrawal when they cut it out of their diets, which is a good sign we do need to stop using the refined stuff.
  • Dairy probably doesn’t contribute to weight loss.
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Plus Size Health Roundup: 9/17/12

English: Obese man early 20th century
English: Obese man early 20th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is a collection of health news and related links for plus-size women. Please bear in mind that many, even most of such studies are the following

    1)Funded by corporations that make a great deal of money from the diet industry. 2)Inconclusive. 3)Find correlation, yes, but not causation. A triangle may be prone to cancer, but a square also being a geometric shape does NOT mean it is also prone to cancer. 4)Exaggerated and panic-inducing. The “obesity epidemic” exists in part because people never previously considered “obese” have been re-classified under an arbitrary definition of “fat.”

For more insight and understanding into this, please read Junkfood Science from the beginning.

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  • It’s possible to be obese and heart healthy. Best to read for the details.
  • Right now the theory for why IVF doesn’t work well on obese women is poor egg quality. If you’re using IVF, there’s already a fertility problem, so I don’t think obesity alone can explain the problem with the process.
  • A study of 13,000 children found that the teenagers classified as obese consumed less calories than their normal weight peers. “Don’t assume that a child who’s overweight is overeating. Obesity isn’t just a simple matter of eating more”
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vintage flapper

Shapewear: not always a good thing

1920 vintage shapewear - from Joan Thewlis on flickr

Tight pants syndrome” as it turns out is quite real. It comes from something especially encouraged with plus size women: shapewear.

I’ve heard more than one woman speak on the benefits of women in shapewear.  It builds confidence! It improves the line of the dress! PANTYLINES ARE EVIL AND TELL THE WORLD YOU WEAR PANTIES, OMG!

There are scores of blogs where introducing a woman to her Spanx soulmate is something of a mission, and on the rare occasions I let a shop assistant at Lane Bryant anywhere near my person, they bring up shapewear as they are trained to push them like nylon flapjacks.

Shapewear, like many things involving the body, I leave to personal choice: I can’t know a person’s physical situation. Perhaps it’s necessary for unknown reasons. But my philosophy is usually that if I need shapewear to fit into it, I probably shouldn’t be wearing it. I have tried it with recent outfits – my self confidence wavers a lot, especially when I have to look at picture after picture of myself, like I’ve started to do for Fat Chic. I dress more by feel than by look – I like to wear what feels right, and I look in the mirror long enough to make sure the emotional impact sits properly before I go on my way. But a few items I’ve tried have left me feeling a bit … loose in the bad way – and so I have hoisted myself into gear that might come in handy if I need to hang like a cartoon character over the Grand Canyon.

I know I have that belly. It’s a big, impolite, unapologetic, hard to design around belly. The rest of my lower torso is polite, shapely, somewhat muscled, attractive fat  – without my belly you might think I really was just “pretty and big” until you see those smartass flops of fat rolling off the arms I refuse to hide behind sleeves. But then there’s my belly. Shoving that belly into shapewear has NOT made the belly roll disappear – all it’s done is added physical discomfort to my emotional discomfort.

As it turns out, that physical discomfort can also lead to serious health problems. There’s this nerve that runs from the abdomen to the outer thigh called the femoral cutaneous nerve – and repeatedly squishing it is BAD. Very bad. Very Very bad. Yet that’s exactly what we do when we wear control top hose (note, there are tradeoffs with hose, especially for people with poor circulation and/or who are pregnant), too tight jeans, ANY girdle, Spanx, or other “pinch it in” object, or too-tight belts. We all know by now that wearing super high heels constantly is pretty much a trip to the wheelchair later in life, but we don the shapewear to promote the illusion of health. This danger comes from our assumption that thinness = health and fatness = not health, when a person’s size really isn’t an accurate indicator of the function of the organs beneath.

Yet that illusion is not just that – just assuming that illusion over and over can endanger us on a neurological level. And for WHAT?  If you have a large body, someone’s already offended – and someone’s already thrilled. Those outside viewers are NOT the people that have to live with you and IN your body for the rest of your life – that’s just you. The artistic aspects of life as a fashionista/fatshionista  pair undeniably with the emotional aspects. Girdles, house, spanx – they all really do represent repression. I admit I am occasionally repressed – but on a long term level, when your nerves are damaged from the actual physical act of repression? This is one area where we could start using more judgment, better tape measures, and simply give in and buy clothing that actually fits.

Apparently, the girdle makers of the 1950s expected us to be done with all this shapewear by now – though critics of the theory answered, “50 years from now, women will still come in all shapes and sizes.”

 

Ref:

“HEALTH JOURNAL: Tight Ties, Killer Heels: Clothes Make the Trendsetter Victims” by Melinda Beck. Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2012

Plus Size Health Roundup 9/10/12

This is a collection of health news and related links for plus-size women. Please bear in mind that many, even most of such studies are the following

    1)Funded by corporations that make a great deal of money from the diet industry. 2)Inconclusive. 3)Find correlation, yes, but not causation. A triangle may be prone to cancer, but a square also being a geometric shape does NOT mean it is also prone to cancer. 4)Exaggerated and panic-inducing. The “obesity epidemic” exists in part because people never previously considered “obese” have been re-classified under an arbitrary definition of “fat.”

For more insight and understanding into this, please read Junkfood Science from the beginning.

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English: Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) range
English: Rhesus Macaque (Macaca mulatta) range (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It appears that cancers dependent on estrogen are more likely to kill overweight women.

Over 50? Don’t hit the couch, you’re not out of the game yet –  people over 50 years old suffer from fewer chronic diseases.

This study about calorie restriction is about rhesus monkeys, not humans.

Women over 50 who successfully lost weight cut out the sugar, ate at home, didn’t eat the fried food – and increased their fruit and veggie intake. While anti-diet, I have made the decision to cut sugar. The first three days off it are hell, but after that, I feel a lot better in general. In other news, I’m starting a campaign to beg Starbuck’s to make sugar free pumpkin spice lattes available.

 

 

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Plus Size Health Roundup 9/4/12

This is a collection of health news and related links for plus-size women. Please bear in mind that many, even most of such studies are the following

    1)Funded by corporations that make a great deal of money from the diet industry. 2)Inconclusive. 3)Find correlation, yes, but not causation. A triangle may be prone to cancer, but a square also being a geometric shape does NOT mean it is also prone to cancer. 4)Exaggerated and panic-inducing. The “obesity epidemic” exists in part because people never previously considered “obese” have been re-classified under an arbitrary definition of “fat.”

For more insight and understanding into this, please read Junkfood Science from the beginning.

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Exercise
Exercise (Photo credit: sanchom)
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I can’t believe I have to say this in this day and age

Health
image by David Souza http://www.401kcalculator.org/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/68751915@N05/6629088361

Humans don’t like it when their assumptions get rattled. If they handled it with aplomb, Galileo would not have been locked in a tower, the Inquisition wouldn’t have happened, and the 99 Theses would have been received with an invitation to discuss it over coffee. But that’s just not what happens. In other circles, there’s been a lot of “bad fattie, no doughnut!” talk that highlights how many people have drank the diet-industry Kool-Aid and are taking it for fact. The vast majority of studies concluding obesity is a death sentence are actively funded by the diet industry – and reported under the name of the university where the diet company hired its researchers. It’s a dirty practice. It also makes people of “normal” weight feel very superior. They LIKE feeling superior. They are NOT liking finding out that they’re wrong, and most are SHOCKED that the fat people are no longer hanging their heads and saying “I know, I know,” but are instead saying, quite justifiably, “IT’S MY BODY, I’m NOT harming you or “burdening the healthcare system”, FUCK OFF!”

So it is with the overarching assumption that people of size are automatically unhealthy. Some are – that’s undeniable. Some are not – and there’s incontrovertible proof of that, too.

Let’s begin with this simple quiz:

True of False: ALL BODIES ARE THE SAME.

The answer is false. While all carbon-based life forms have the same base needs, evolution makes DNA configure in many different ways in different people. Consequently, one person may need more protein, another more salt, another ridiculous amounts of exercise.

NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY. NOT ALL THIN PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY. NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE HEALTHY. NOT ALL FAT PEOPLE ARE UNHEALTHY.

As much as I find thinspiration blogs alarming, they are often honest in that their fear of fatness comes not from a desire for health, but from a desire to satisfy an aesthetic they did not define themselves. This aesthetic is taken by most people as an indicator of “health” when in fact that is NOT the information a person’s body relays. It’s the people that use the “fat is AUTOMATICALLY UNHEALTHY” people that are the ones that disturb me – especially since the ones that most want to “say something,” don’t feel the need to comment on a thinner person’s sudden strange need to scarf down nothing but burger and fries for months on end, usually dismissing that behavior as a “great metabolism” with a semi-conscious assumption that that person’s not going to bear any consequences for his/her choices. When that person later gets gall or kidney stones (a direct consequence of poor diet choices) because s/he is thin or develops gout, it’s generally just chalked up to “bad luck,” whereas a larger person immediately gets the lecture ABOUT the diet choices.

True or False: BMI IS AN ACCURATE MEASURE OF HEALTH AND FITNESS.

The answer is, incontrovertibly, FALSE. BMI is nothing more than a formula that measures weight against height. It does not take into account diet, fitness plans, blood pressure, muscle mass (the thing that makes BMI highly problematic, especially for athletes – especially women athletes,) lifestyle choices, or even lifestyle non-choices such as co-morbidities (multiple diseases) that can throw off a person’s digestive and hormonal system.

True or False: AN INACTIVE THIN PERSON IS HEALTHIER THAN AN ACTIVE FAT PERSON.

FALSE. One way or the other, our organs need the massage that exercise gives.

True or False: A FAT PERSON IS MORE LIKELY TO DIE THAN A THIN PERSON.

FALSE, and TRUE. A larger person is 20% more likely to die of UNTREATED cardiac issues/diabetes. This is a failure on the part of the healthcare system as it is to treat plus-size patients with dignity, and also a failure of plus-size people to go deal with the healthcare system that treats them like dirt.

However, a fat person is also MUCH more likely to survive cardiac surgery of any type – by a whopping 17%. The larger person also often recovers faster, too. The key word to consider is “untreated.” Lots of us fat people avoid doctors because the majority of doctors will ignore ALL other health complaints and focus solely on BMI – despite most knowing themselves that BMI is not accurate. The closest I’ve come to getting around those assumptions is going to one who specializes in sports medicine. He knows I have a football player in my genes, so he looks at my lab stats first.

Also, A LOW BMI DOES NOT MAKE YOU IMMUNE TO HEART DISEASE AND DIABETES. Being thin alone is NOT preventative medicine, and there are many, many cases of committed healthy people of all weights who STILL develop these diseases.

There IS a systemic problem with the American lifestyle that touches ALL weight classes. There is also a class system based on weight. Most people in the US need to walk more, need to reinvent the vegetable, and need to find time to integrate these choices into their lives. I still contend that the American corporate system as it typically operates actually steals the time necessary to make the most of the healthy choices they can – to exercise and eat properly takes time, habit, and a willingness to re-learn.

Sometimes a byproduct of those choices is weight loss. Sometimes, however, the weight stays on despite the efforts towards health. THAT you can’t possibly know by looking at someone. You can’t know that by seeing them eat one slice of pizza, or seeing them eat one saintly salad. Until you’re with a person on a regular basis, YOU SIMPLY DO NOT KNOW. Are you lecturing your thin person for the organ-damaging crap s/he eats, or are you simply envying his/her metabolism?

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