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The Fatter, the Better | Manolo for the Big Girl

The Fatter, the Better

Our internet friend April alerted us to an interesting article, about a new finding that the more overweight a woman is, the less likely she is to be clinically depressed:

 The findings match the results of a survey in the UK, which found that three in five women over size 14 were happy and secure in their relationships and life in general.

In the two-part research, the team looked at Body Mass Index (BMI), a measure that takes into account both weight and height, and compared it with mood in a group of young women.

They found that the higher the BMI and body size, the lower the number of symptoms of depression, anxiety and negative mood. In fact, the most depressed were all thin, while the largest were the least miserable.

For explanations, the psychologists turned to biochemical research that suggested the possibility of a link between oestrogen and mood, and the brain chemical, serotonin, the target of widely used antidepressant drugs.

They say very potent oestrogens are primarily found in fatty tissues, suggesting that women with higher body weight may have higher levels.

The science of the study is not what is important to Francesca, it is these lines:

three in five women over size 14 were happy and secure in their relationships and life in general . . . . the most depressed were all thin, while the largest were the least miserable.

The next time someone suggests women are, or become fat, to hide emotional problems, you can stick this article in their faces.

We are at least as likely, if not more so, to be happy, productive, relatively-issue-free as our skinny sisters.

The only problem inherent in being fat, as far as Francesca can see, is if the fatness is related to health problems. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Your doctor can tell you whether you’ve got anything bad going on which would be helped by eating healthier and excercising more.

If not? If your fatness is purely an aesthetic issue? Then the only problem is this society, which tells us, every day, that if we are fat we should be feeling sad.

We don’t.

16 Responses to “The Fatter, the Better”

  1. Plumcake October 29, 2007 at 3:21 pm #

    yeah, yeah you TELL ’em!

    Fat and Happy indeed.

  2. Twistie October 29, 2007 at 3:44 pm #

    While I was miserable at my largest size, I can guarantee it wasn’t my waistline that was the source of the depression. I do think it wound up being a symptom, but it was not a cause by any means. It was more a case of I was depressed, so I stopped taking care of myself, and that’s what led to my most extreme weight. Once the depression got nudged a bit aside, I started taking better care of myself, my eating habits improved, I started getting some exercise, and my body started finding its way back to a size it is healthy at.

    And having been with Mr. Twistie from size eight to size 26 and every size in between, I can tell you for certain that a large dress size and a stable romantic relationship are absolutely not incompatible. He’s proud of the way I’ve taken control and found my happiness, but I know without a doubt that if I’d continued to gain weight instead of losing it, he would still think I was beautiful, would still love me, and would absolutely stay with me.

    Right now, I feel awesome. I’ve done what I needed to make me happy. If the padding helps balance out the chemical aspect of the emotional system, then more power to it, say I!

  3. Cat October 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm #

    I’m sure Mark will be along any minute now to insist that this study is a sham and big girls are all really unhappy. :)

  4. Plumcake October 29, 2007 at 4:42 pm #

    No, he won’t. Mark is not part of this community.

  5. Cat October 29, 2007 at 5:01 pm #

    Excellent!!

  6. Zaftig October 29, 2007 at 8:35 pm #

    Hello…. not to rain on the parade or anyhing, but you do realise a British 14 is the same as a US 10, which isn’t overweight (I’d be pleased to consistently fit into a 10!). So, this size used for the research isn’t REALLY overweight.. pleasantly zaftig perhaps, but not overweight…

  7. Francesca October 30, 2007 at 7:00 am #

    Zaftig-

    It’s still significant.

    The next size after American 10 is 12, and many Americans consider that to be “ginormous” because they only have a vague idea that their favorite actresses wear a size 4. They don’t realize that a woman who wears a 12 or a 14 might be perfectly proportional in every way, no lumpy-squishies AT ALL. (And a woman who wears a 16 or 18 or 28 or 36 might have some lumpy-squishies, or a lot of lumpy-squishies, but it doesn’t indicate anything about her work ethic, her happiness, her feelings of sexuality, etc etc)

    I know of men who refuse to go on blind dates with any woman who wears more than a size 4. I’m 100 percent positive that they only have a theoretical idea of what size 6 really LOOKS LIKE.

    The BMI project is so important!

  8. Cat October 30, 2007 at 10:17 am #

    “I know of men who refuse to go on blind dates with any woman who wears more than a size 4.”

    You’ve got to be kidding me. Holy crap! I would invite any such “men” to kiss my size 2 butt.

  9. class-factotum October 30, 2007 at 11:24 am #

    Perhaps the reason many unnaturally thin women (as opposed to those who were just born with those genes) are depressed is because they are hungry.

    I get very cranky every time I try to cut my caloric consumption in the interests of getting trim. When you’re hungry, that’s all you can think about. That, and the greater philosophical issue of why I am fighting nature and doing something that makes me feel so crummy?

  10. Tachina October 30, 2007 at 1:56 pm #

    I’m with c-f on this one. I think the message is that we’re literally shaped by the things we love to do. Someone who’s skinny because she gets great pleasure from sports is going to be happy. Someone (me) who gets great pleasure from a spicy cream sauce and an extra martini is going to be happy with some extra padding. The problem comes when we deny ourselves these things, and expect to be happy with the results. It shouldn’t suprise anyone that people who refuse to do the things that make them happy, aren’t happy.

  11. TRUE October 30, 2007 at 2:30 pm #

    “I get very cranky every time I try to cut my caloric consumption in the interests of getting trim.”

    Me too–once I was on Optifast for six months and nearly lost my job because I was so distracted. And I shudder to think of what a see-you-next-Tuesday I was to my boyfriend. I can cut calories, but it has to be really, really gradual, and I still wind up being obsessed with what I can and can’t eat.

  12. Zaftig October 30, 2007 at 3:29 pm #

    Oh, I’m with you on the significance, Francesca, I just wanted to point that out. I’m a US 14, and blessed with a (relatively!) flat stomach and small waist, and not too bad lumpy squishies so I pretty much wear what the hell I want and feel great doing it! The guys seem to like it, and I can eat baklava often enough to keep me in a good mood. The point of all this rambling is to agree with everyone else – deprivation makes you cranky as hell…I work too hard not to treat myself whenever i feel like it. And sometimes that treat is a Caesar salad, sometimes its a shopping trip and sometimes its a fudgsicle!

  13. Tk November 1, 2007 at 5:41 pm #

    Another point – eating disorders and unhappiness go hand-in-hand. Not that you can’t be a larger woman with an eating disorder, but in general, women and men who suffer from EDs tend to be slender. So that’s a whole other population that are affecting the research.

    And again, a US10/UK14 is hardly “heavy”, but it is where UK manufactures start to force you into “plus size” there, and the selection is… not good. I’ve lived in the UK as a UK6 and a UK12/14 and I felt like a frigging blimp walking around TopShop looking at the tags at my later weight.

  14. JK November 3, 2007 at 1:25 pm #

    Haha, my mom is convinced that all Hollywood marriages end because everyone is starving, and it’s really hard to be pleasant and thoughtful to someone you are no longer trying to impress because all you had for lunch was a plate of broccoli.

  15. elayne November 5, 2007 at 4:02 pm #

    Okay, here I go, devil’s advocate-ing… while I agree with the overall tone of all y’all’s comments, and (as a “big girl”) very much appreciate the positive tone of this blog, here was my thought upon reading the excerpt of the article:

    The researchers suspect that the link is between (o)estrogen and serotonin, and say that very potent oestrogens are primarily found in fatty tissues, suggesting that women with higher body weight may have higher levels, correct?

    So in true “which came first” fashion, I have to wonder if the skinny girls were miserable for whatever reason, ate their way to temporary comfort (a bowl of ice cream is better than therapy, IMO, and works quicker than Prozac), became overweight, and THEN the (o)estrogens did whatever they do with the serotonin and helped maintain the happiness.

    In other words, I don’t think the concept of “emotional eating” and the results of this study are necessarily mutually exclusive. They could even be complementary, the one supporting the other.

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