Lessons from the Fat-o-sphere

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Product Description

When it comes to body image, women can be theirown worst enemies, aided and abetted by societyand the media. But Harding and Kirby, the leadingbloggers in the ?fatosphere,? the online communityof the fat acceptance movement, have written a bookto help readers achieve admiration for?or at leasta truce with?their bodies. The authors believe in?health at every size??the idea that weight does notnecessarily determine well-being and that exerciseand eating healthfully are beneficial, regardless ofwhether they cause weight loss. They point to errorsin the media, misunderstood and ignored research, aswell as stories from real women around the world tounderscore their message. In the up-front and honeststyle that has become the trademark of their blogs,they share with readers twenty-seven ways to reframenotions of dieting and weight, including: acceptingthat diets don?t work, practicing intuitive eating,finding body-positive doctors, not judging otherwomen, and finding a hobby that has nothing to dowith one?s weight.

Customer Reviews:

  • Educational AND Enjoyable
    This delightful read is a great introduction to HAES and Fat Acceptance for people who are tired of hating themselves.

    Kate and Marianne have beyond amazing advice for women who hate their bodies, regardless of size, and especially for women who are plus sized. And it is delivered in a funny and personal manner. They do a great job of giving you advice and letting you know that you are not alone in your struggle with accepting your body.

    The book makes the basic case for their point of view, highlighting a few studies and also provides the reader many resources to go and look further if they want more information about the science. I think this is great because it allows the book to give great advice, without getting bogged down in hundreds of studies. (Snore.)

    All in all, a great read and a great resource. Truce Declared!
    ...more info
  • fun, funny AND with actual support!
    Kate Harding had previously opened my eyes with her scathingly funny blog, Shapely Prose. Yes, if you read SP and The Rotund (Marianne Kirby's blog) you won't find a lot that's new (except for the FANTASTIC appendices).

    But the book is very well-written and riotously funny. Kate and Marianne write with a joy and a turn of phrase that sticks with you. One of my favs: "so many sources encourage us to believe that inside every one of us is 'a thin person waiting to get out' -- and that thin person is so much cooler."

    When I first read that on Shapely Prose I shrieked out loud. Because that's EXACTLY how I had felt about my fat.

    I have only one criticism: I wish they had spent a bit more time on discrimination. I have been guilty myself of looking at my body and loathing it, and looking at others and making assumptions. No matter what my own weight is. And discrimination against anyone for their appearance is wrong. Period. ...more info
  • A great read
    This a pretty fantastic book. Other reviewers have done it much better justice than I can, but I really appreciated reading this. The two authors have had very dissimilar experiences with their bodies and acceptance, and I like reading their differing viewpoints. The guest articles are all fantastic and add another great dimension to the book.

    This book is NOT advocating that fat people happily live off of Twinkies and do no exercising and that the entire medical industry just exists to hate them. It's saying that fat people are, first and foremost, PEOPLE and that every single person is different, fat or thin. The book doesn't advocate an unhealthy lifestyle based on gluttony and sloth. It advocates loving yourself as you are and treating yourself right, by taking care of your body in whatever shape it is. Eat food that will nourish you and move your body in ways that make you happy. If you lose weight, that's great. If you don't lose weight, that's great too. Because in the end, you're treating your body the way it ought to be treated and it will respond in kind by being healthy, regardless of the size it is.

    I like this message a lot. There's so much shame directed at fat women (I can't speak for fat men, since I'm not one) and it's nice to be told, "look. It's not good to NOT take care of yourself, but quit listening to everyone telling you that you're living wrong!" It's not a message that fat women get very often and it's very much appreciated. It's important for every person to love, and be loved as, who they are, not for the number on their clothing label.

    So the book advocates living a healthy life for YOU, not for all the people who want you to be different than how you are. I like it. I think more people should look at health that way, instead of trying to fit people onto a grid. ...more info
  • An important read
    You cannot shame someone to better health. In this book, Kate and Marianne explore the science and culture of fat, and challenge the dialogue of shame that huffs "you must just eat less and exercise more and you'll be thin and healthy and acceptable," a prescription which has about the same efficacy for fat people as rubbing potatoes on warts does for wart removal.

    This cultural dialogue, besides being scientifically unsupportable, assumes that people of size have managed to miss the constant cultural barrage of jokes and fear and hatred about their bodies. Kate and Marianne address that constant cultural barrage and turn it on its tail. Time for fatties to stop justifying themselves and have the barrage answer some questions. Like "who the hell is this helping?"

    Of course, there are those who truly believe that those in body acceptance are willfully or subconsciously justifying their illicit love of curly fries, due to addiction, laziness, or random stupidity.

    Even if that were true (hint: it's prejudice not truth), EVEN IF - well. The culture's shame techniques have failed. Why not try something else for your health? Why not go for the life you want to be in the body you've got? ...more info
  • Great Read!
    This book was a great read. Everyone who still has daily battles with their body image or feels like they don't deserve X, Y, or Z because of their size needs to read this book. It's time for people to stop hating themselves for silly reasons and to just be happy....more info
  • I guess any blogger can get a publishing deal these days!
    This book is written by bloggers with no academic background in what they're writing about whatsoever. Most "facts" in this book are either just personal anecdotes or else are cherry-picked from whatever the bloggers could find that seemed to say that being fat isn't unhealthy. Authors of some of those studies even refuted the bloggers' interpretations, but that won't be mentioned in the book, obviously. The main author, Kate Harding, speaks for fat activism but actually weighs less than 200 lbs. She may be anecdotally free of obesity-related health problems, but I don't know how she can speak for 300-lb+ women for whom health issues are not even in the same league as her own. Furthermore, Kate Harding is a chain smoker; perhaps a smoker activism book claiming that lung cancer is only correlated with smoking (but never caused by it) will come from this woman next, to justify that lifestyle too?

    Things you can "learn" from this book:
    - Fat people do not eat more than thin people. Calories-in calories-out does not apply to fat people, who barely eat anything at all really.
    - Obesity causes no health problems! Obviously it's just all correlation. Nothing wrong with being fat no-siree.
    - Eating less to manage your weight is self-harm and self-hate
    - Doctors and medical scientists are bad bad bad bad and are always lying to you. The authors know way more about fat and health than anybody who went through years of medical school and clinical practice ever could. If they want to weigh you, get a new doctor!

    The book is pretty ridiculous. And, really, if you want to know what you'll find in this book, just find the free blog feed and it'll be all the same stuff over and over again. You'll thank yourself after reading the blogs for not buying this book!...more info
  • Like the Blogs
    I am a longtime reader of Kate Harding's and Marianne Kirby's blogs, and have come a long way towards fat acceptance. Kate and Marianne have written a book that is mostly for the beginner, but has a lot to tell and remind all of us. I will keep it on my bookshelf for those times when I start to forget the progress I've made.

    This book is well-written, funny, and occasionally crass (which I love!). The short chapters (many the length of blog posts) and the guest essays (including one called "Fat Hate Kills" which I read before on the Internet and which makes me cry every time) kept me going towards the end, and I finished it in two nights....more info
  • Well-written, funny, and insightful
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Not a ton of new information if you read Shapely Prose and The Rotund (the blogs of the two authors), but lots of good stuff.

    The basic premise is that diets don't work long-term for any but a tiny minority of people and that they create more health problems than they fix (if they fix any), and that the beating your self-esteem takes from continual weight obsession is not helpful. There are studies and statistics to back this up, and the authors encourage readers to check out their sources and come to their own conclusions. For me, it doesn't take much convincing. I've seen my weight drop or go up inexplicably, or stubbornly refuse to budge when I'm doing everything "right" based on whatever diet I'm doing at the time. And, hang around any dieting message board, and you will hear from people who are following the plan and not losing. People who are dieting talk a lot about tricks to keep yourself from plateauing--cut calories, but not too much, or give yourself a couple days where you eat "normally" to convince your body it's not starving, or bump up the calories a little but exercise like a fiend. It's a commonly accepted fact that when you try to lose weight, your body will fight you every step of the way. Which is part of why the subtitle is about "declaring a truce with your body." The point is to avoid fighting a war against yourself that you can't win and that will make you miserable.

    Another issue the writers point out about dieting is that having foods be forbidden just makes them more attractive, and having things that you are "supposed to" eat makes them less desirable. And it's the same with exercise.

    Now, this is where a lot of people get hung up. They see "Don't diet or try to lose weight" and they think that the writers are encouraging everyone to be sedentary and live on Twinkies. That's totally not it. Instead, they're encouraging a concept called "Health At Every Size" which is about doing healthy things for your body *regardless* of whether they change your weight. Doing them for their own sake, because they make you feel better. They talk about paying attention to how you feel when you eat--eat what you want when you want, stop when you're satisfied.

    When you start eating intuitively, you will probably eat a fair bit of "unhealthy" food. Though one of the things the authors talk about is that we have a really skewed idea of what's "healthy." You'd think from what you hear and read that eating ice cream is about equivalent to pouring battery acid down your throat. But it does have actual nutrients, like calcium. Even fat is a nutrient, one that's required for your body to process vitamins A, D, E, and K. Sometimes you crave "bad" things because they have nutrients that your body needs. So, instead of fighting your body, you give it what it wants. If you've dieted forever, the idea that you can eat whatever you want will, at first, involve cheeseburgers and donuts and everything you weren't allowed to touch before. But eventually, the novelty wears off. If you're allowed to have pizza for breakfast and a box of Twinkies for lunch, you might do it a couple times because you *can.* But you will probably feel like crap that day. Or start craving strawberries, or zucchini, or rice. Eventually, you end up eating a pretty balanced diet, because you're paying attention to your body, which will generally tell you what it needs. That's much better than denying it for as long as you can, then eating everything in sight because you're *starving.*

    One of the things they stress is to not get wrapped around the axle about doing intuitive eating "right." The main point of intuitive eating is throwing away all that OMG PANIC about having to eat the "right" foods. And freeing up the time and mental energy that goes into obsessing and counting calories to do more worthwhile things.

    The book advocates the same stance toward exercise as it does toward food. Rather than looking at exercise as something you "have to" do, find a form of movement that you enjoy. Maybe it's yoga, maybe it's swimming, maybe it's dance. But find something and do it. If you try something and don't like it, don't consider it a failure. Just try the next thing. It's kind of like dating. Maybe yoga isn't "the one," so you break it off with yoga and go give bellydance a call. And remember that you're doing this because it's fun and it feels good. If you miss a day, it's not something to beat yourself up over. And, if it's something you do for its own sake, when life gets in the way one week, you'll find yourself really looking forward to it.

    That's another principle that speaks to me. I like exercise. I love yoga, I love bellydance. Because the motion burns off stress and puts me in a calm state. And I like lifting weights---it makes me feel all buff and powerful. But I *hate* exercise for the purpose of weight loss. Once it becomes something that I "must" do to make my body an acceptable size, that just sucks the joy right out of it.

    The awesome thing about doing these things for their own sake is that you won't give up on them if they don't make the scale move. I've seen a lot of people give up on the healthy foods they were eating or the exercise they were getting because their weight plateaued. Which is a shame. This book encourages you to find more lasting and significant motivations for healthy behavior than the numbers on the scale. Personally, I find that I eat more veggies, exercise more, and generally take better care of myself following an HAES mindset than I did when I was dieting.

    Another key concept of the book is to be a critical consumer of media and to limit your exposure. Both authors noted that when they stopped watching much TV, their self-esteem shot up because they weren't continually comparing themselves to women whose job it is to be thin and conventionally beautiful. Women's magazines are even worse than TV because you can't Photoshop television. Nobody looks like a model, including models. And seeing that all the time creates a very skewed view of what you're "supposed to" look like. They also talk about critically reading and analyzing articles about weight and health. What does the study really show? Does the data support that? Does the headline match the article's content, or is it an exaggeration to draw attention? Oh, and who funded the study?

    Overall, I would definitely recommend this book. The writing style is awesome--funny and no-nonsense, very personable and easy to read. And there's a ton of resources--all the sources the book cites, as well as a bunch of other informative books, blogs, and articles....more info
  • Preaching to the converted.
    In fairness, I am obviously not the target audience for this book. I thought it was going to be something about - I don't know... self-esteem and accepting a realistic size, I guess. Instead we have two women who sound just as delusional about weight issues as any anorexic you might meet. There is no such thing as "healthy at any size" - there are extremes at both ends where size can make one extremely *unhealthy*.

    Having said that, there were one or two things about the book that had merit, and I thought the story about the mother who died from a blood clot because she was too afraid to go to a doctor was really sad and illustrated perfectly the point that fat people are abused and bullied daily, and this is not a good thing.

    Overall, the book was amateurish and poorly-written. I didn't know when I bought it that the authors run a Livejournal community, but I could have guessed by the sloppy writing, the constant, unnecessary swearing, the "freakin" this and "freakin" that, and the "humourous" sidenotes in parentheticals - this was exactly like reading a Livejournal post, not a book I had just shelled out $25 for.

    Oh, and the throw-it-across-the-room moment for me was when they said that if a doctor is blunt enough to tell you that you need to lose weight you should lodge a complaint about them. Right. ...more info
  • Challenge your assumptions
    I do wish I could buy enough copies to hand out at the office. So many people are on the gerbil wheel of dieting, self-loathing and body hatred that the rest of us have to struggle not to get sucked into the wake. This book won't convince the person who is completely invested in their hatred of fat people...nothing ever will. What it does do is refute the socially ingrained assumption that something so innocuous as fat can make you less of a human being. It challenges those who think their life would be perfect if they could just look like someone else. It hopefully convinces people to stop putting their lives on hold while they pursue the mythical ten, twenty or even a hundred pounds. Get off the gerbil wheel, live your lives, pursue health instead of thin (because the two are not the same!) and to heck with skinny pants. ...more info


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