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30% Less | Manolo for the Big Girl

30% Less

When you watch a lot of daytime television, you see waaaaaaayyyyyy too many ads for diet pills, plots…er…plans, herbal suppliments, and, well, you get the idea. The televisions screams at all of us that we’re Fat! We’re Lazy! We’re Undisciplined! We’re going to Diiiiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeeee!

Yeah, right.

There’s one, however, that ticks me off more than all the others combined. Slimshots. I’m not going to link to their site because I wouldn’t want to encourage anyone to support this company.

What’s so horrible about this one in the midst of all the other companies telling us we’re ugly and inadequate all day long and through the night? It’s the angle their ads take. They ask us all what we could accomplish if only we ate 30% less food every day.


I don’t know about you, but if I ate 30% less food every day…I’d spend a lot of time fainting, snapping at my loved ones because I’m losing it from hunger, and being unable to focus mentally. Fat I may be, but I eat a pretty balanced diet and a pretty standard amount of food.

Worse, however, than the assumption that fat people are fat purely because we all eat too much (a ‘fact’ which has been disproved repeatedly), is the phrasing of that ad. It sounds to me like an invitation to anorexia. Most of the time, anorexia (article includes image not safe for work) isn’t so much about losing weight as it is about gaining control. Someone battling this horrible disease might well find this ad a serious trigger to her – or his – condition.

But in spite of all this, I did take one interesting thought away from it: what could we as individuals and as a nation accomplish if we spent 30% less time dieting and thinking about diets?

I know once I stopped worrying about dieting, I thought more about taking care of the people around me. I thought more about making art, music, and laughter in my home. Everybody relaxed more. Until that happened, I hadn’t realized how much time I was wasting on thinking about not eating food, or what it was doing to my personality.

Maybe if society as a whole spent 30% less time accusing fat people of causing global warming, we could spend that time looking at ways of fixing it. Perhaps if society spent 30% less time shaming people for being fat, more designers would make pretty clothes for us to wear. If society as a whole spent 30% less time assuming that fat people are driving up health insurance rates with their wilful insistance on being fat (read: unhealthy), perhaps more time could be spent finding a way to get basic health services to the uininsured…including this fat woman.

There are plenty of real problems in the world. How about we spend just 30% less time focused on something that really isn’t one?

36 Responses to “30% Less”

  1. Nomie June 8, 2008 at 12:00 pm #

    You can’t see it, but I’m giving you a standing ovation. I’ve been meaning to blog about this for ages. Every time I see the commercial and it asks what I could do if I ate 30% less, I say “Sweet FA – I’d be STARVING!”

  2. summer June 8, 2008 at 4:55 pm #

    Your idea about spending less time dieting reminds me of an article by Eve Ensler that I really admired. She was writing about how women waste so much time hating their bodies or fixing them and if we spent that time and energy on activism we could make a huge impact in the world. I am not a fan of Eve Ensler, per say, but I was really impressed with this article. Here is a quote of hers that sums it up.

    “I think what all of us have in common is that we’ve been taught and trained and programmed to focus on fixing and mutilating ourselves. That’s a core reason why women do not have power in the world. It’s this huge distractor. It’s gotten us off the path. The only way you can undo it is by looking at the insanity of the obsession of it.

    How do we, as a culture, stop buying in? I think activism is the cure — the more you focus on people who are really in need, the harder it is to hate your body. I think it’s a huge antidote.”

    I know for me dieting was keeping me from focusing on the things I really valued. I have so much more mental space now that I have given it up. And now I think how could I have lived that way for so long?

  3. goingtodie June 8, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    What amuses me about this “[group of people, usually fat people] ARE GOING TO DIE” mentality is that well… yes, they are going to die. So is whoever’s pointing the finger. People die. It’s not really that surprising.

    And I have no evidence to back this up, but I’ve heard that a disproportionate number of the founders of diets die pretty early in life.

  4. Annalucia June 8, 2008 at 6:36 pm #

    The excuse, of course, is that we are being nagged for our own good – to prevent us dying horrible premature deaths from heart attacks, diabetes, or whatever.

    The Annalucia is a Big Girl. She also has normal blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels and her bones and her heart are in very good shape. She does not have diabetes. She is active and in good health.

    So presumably the emphasis would then shift from “It’s for your health” to “But you look so, eeeeuuuwwww…” because the Annalucia is 56 years old and after five pregnancies, one hysterectomy and a certain amount of middle-aged spread, well, she is thicker around the middle than she used to be. She does not look like the supermodel, which perhaps is the real offense. She is in fact a SIZE 18! (There, she has said it out loud. She feels better now.)

    She has also been under a lot of stress lately. Business school, the death of her father and a bout of hospitalization of her own, well, even if she yearned to look like the Kate or the Gisele, this would hardly be the time to attempt it, would it?

  5. Twistie June 8, 2008 at 6:42 pm #

    Nomie, I’ve been yelling that at the TV for months. It didn’t seem to be working so I decided to write about it.

    Summer, I so agree. It’s like a lightswitch came on one day and now I realize how long I’d been living in the dark. There’s so much more time for things that matter…including making sure the food I eat is as delicious as possible, that my family is happy, that I’m making my voice heard for political causes I believe in, that I don’t allow my own creativity to shrivel up from lack of use. It’s amazing how freeing it is to just look in the mirror and accept who I am completely and without reservation.

    goingtodie, that is Truth with a capital Truth…er…the we’re all doing to die sometime of something part. I have no statistics on the question of whether inventing a diet is likely to lead to an early death. I wonder if Junk Food Science has ever looked into the matter.

  6. Twistie June 8, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

    The Annalucia does not have any need to look like the Kate or the Giselle to be entirely composed of superfantastic. Her health is far more important than such a trivial question as the measurement around her waist. She is healthy. She is glorious. She is the Annalucia. What more could anyone possibly ask?

  7. Never teh Bride June 8, 2008 at 9:25 pm #

    They ask us all what we could accomplish if only we ate 30% less food every day.

    They’re asking what I could accomplish? Nothing more or less than I accomplish now, I’m guessing. Food is not a moral issue, unless we’re talking about things like food insecurity! Eating 30% less would not make me a better, more talented, more capable person.

    You get it so right, Twistie, when you ask what we could accomplish if we stopped thinking do dang much about what we’re eating — and whether or not its baaaaaaad! Food can be fun and comforting and nourishing, but it should never be cited as a reason for personal success or personal failure. That’s just plain bunk.

  8. Jennie June 8, 2008 at 11:46 pm #

    Forgive me for this please!!! I just watched “Hairspray” and was feeling strange about liking Scientologist Travolta as a big girl icon. BTW, Great Big Girl Power Movie! Then I read this blog and was cheering!!! Then I paged down to add a comment and was hit with this ad…

    How I Lost 20 Pounds
    Amazing Chinese Weight Loss Secret. Seen On CNN, NBC, CBS & Fox News.
    http://www.Wu-YiSource.com

    This is a copy/paste from the “Sponsored Results” Index card thingy. Kind of like that damned back handed compliment “You’d be so sexy/pretty/gorgeous/etc… if you just lost XXX pounds.”

    I, like the Annalucia, am a size 16/18. It wasn’t planned. It happened for a myriad of reasons. Now I am tired of being dismissed for my weight, so as of today, I resolve to lose at least 30% of the people who make me feel bad about my body. I resolve to increase by at least 30% a list of positive things about myself. And I resolve to add a minimum of 30% diva attitude to my daily strut. Take that skinny bitches!!!

  9. the unfashionista June 9, 2008 at 6:54 am #

    What would I do if I ate 30% less food? Quite possibly starve myself into gaining weight because my body would start hoarding the food. Blindly cutting calories is no healthy way to lose weight.

  10. Toby Wollin June 9, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    Hmm, let’s see…what would/could I do if I somehow had 30% more time(because I don’t spend much time at all worrying about dieting or weight or any of that junk)? I would(and frankly, I admit this is a totally self-absorbed thing to do – I should be focusing outwardly to helping others)get my sewing room organized, set up my ‘dummy’ and design and sew myself some kick-ass clothes. I’ve had this stuff cut out and sitting around in a pile for so long it’s almost out of fashion now, but if I suddenly had an extra ten hours of free time a week, wow…I’d need to build a barn to hold all the closet space I’d need.

  11. Twistie June 9, 2008 at 10:06 am #

    Oh Toby Wollin, don’t you see how altruistic setting up your sewing room would be? Here’s how it works: you clean and organize the room, then you start sewing remarkably superfantastic clothes. This puts you in an empowered and more joyful mood. You wear those clothes out and about and iyou put a smile on the faces around you with your gorgeous wardrobe and your sunny smile of accomplishment. This makes someone else smile, stop to pet a cute doggy or take a chance and give cheerful greeting to someone else in the street. Tiny ripples of positivity spread in ways you couldn’t have imagined.

    Besides, when you have kick-ass clothes, how can you not go out and kick the asses of the world’s problems?

    Do it, Toby Wollin! It’s in the public interest for you to have the most glorious wardrobe you can imagine and create!

  12. Leah June 9, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    In Jr. High and High School I ate very little food:
    breakfast: 1 Diet Coke
    Lunch: 1 chocolate milk, 1 (either) fudge round or packet of Sour cream and onion chips
    Snack: 1 Mt. Dew, 1 (either) pkt of Skittles, Combos, Snickers Bar
    Dinner: 1 plate of whatever mom made (usually normal healthy food like stir-fry, grilled chicken & veggies, etc. – basically the only thing that kept me from getting ricketts).

    I now eat MUCH more food, but am 1)healthier, 2) trimmer (while my size is larger because I”m a woman and not a girl, I jiggle in only appealing ways now).

    So, the point is, 30% less of what? How much you eat is kinda important, but only in the context of WHAT you eat. What if I just ate 30% less vegitables per day? I don’t think that would be a good idea. Plus, what am I gonna do with the leftover 30% of food on my plate? Throw it away? Feed it to someone else so they can buy your diet plan? Should I buy a Hummer and burn my stash of Euros too?

  13. Bridey June 9, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    What would be jiggles of the “unappealing” variety, I wonder? Mine, I suppose.

  14. Twistie June 9, 2008 at 12:19 pm #

    Bridey, I think all we Big Girls have very appealing jiggles.

  15. Jessica June 9, 2008 at 12:54 pm #

    Wow, I’m trying to lose weight and I eat 1500 calories a day. Not just of crap food, but fruits, vegetables, all that. 30% less would be about 1000 calories, and the minimum anyone should eat a day is 1200… o_o

    That math sounds off to me.

  16. Dani June 9, 2008 at 12:54 pm #

    I like the “appealing jiggles” angle. Skinny girls are urged to buy padded bras, butt-lifting pants and padded underwear to make up for the curves they don’t have, just going to show you that it really is impossible to be the media’s idea of perfect no matter what size one is.

  17. Cristina June 9, 2008 at 3:30 pm #

    I’d be a fricken rhodes scholar if I hadn’t wasted so much time worrying about my “big” bum.

    You know what I hear all the time but it never sunk in until I met somebody like this? That beauty is more than what’s on the inside. A vibrant, happy personality (hard to have if you’re hungry) accounts for WAY more than a gorgeous outside and a sour face. I tell myself this everytime I act like a grouch because my butt jiggles or my nails are inadequate or my legs aren’t smooth. We all know somebody who’s beautiful due to personality and maybe average looks. Let’s aim for that.

  18. JDog June 9, 2008 at 3:37 pm #

    Twistie, you mention “the assumption that fat people are fat purely because we all eat too much (a ‘fact’ which has been disproved repeatedly)”. Can you clarify when / how this has been disproven? My understanding is: Food Intake minus Energy Consumption (via exercise / exertion and your basal metabolism) equals Weight Gain. Ergo, reducing food consumption by 30%, assuming the same level of energy consumption, should reduce your weight. Whether this is a desirable goal, given its impact on other areas of your life, is a separate matter. What are the dis-proofs you refer to?

    As an only occassional reader of your blog, I do find the tone of this post particularly militant (and off-putting). While in general I support your mission of encouraging women of all sizes to accept their bodies and themselves, the fact is, being overweight IS generally correlated with higher rates of disease and poor health outcomes. Perhaps you and other commenters here are physically active and physically fit, and therefore not prone to these problems, but that’s not true of all fat people. So, to assert that ALL big girls would be better off not worrying about their weight strikes me as irresponsible. And to assert that society is wrong to be concerned about obesity as a problem is similarly irresponsible.

  19. Bridey June 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm #

    JDog: If you’re really interested, please go here, and read this:

    http://www.junkfoodscience.blogspot.com/

    All of it, some of it, only the stuff on fatness and diets — it may very well change what you understand about why people become and remain fat.

  20. Elaine June 9, 2008 at 5:23 pm #

    I think one thing to remember about the headlines and news stories is that most stories, particularly the “boring” or non-controversial or heavily scientific ones, are boiled down into a few catch phrases and sound bites. Some intern somewhere might be further reducing a hundred page research study SUMMARY into their own interpretation – a 3-paragraph AP news release that is then further reduced into 30 seconds of talking points by the major news outlets.

  21. Jennie June 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm #

    @JDog I guess this is how I’m suppose to look.
    http://photobucket.com/images/thinspiration/
    Any extreme is unhealthy but we as a nation have celebrated the ultra thin. Girls at 12 and 13 are starving themselves because they are not a size 2. Some people have a genetic predisposition to more fat cell storage than others but we label those people obese. Yes, size 2, 3, 4, 5X is probably too large for the most part tho’ such a simplistic attitude (Hey! Fatty! Lose some poundage!) is not getting to the root of the problem whether it is physical or mental. Our superstars are those that are skeletal and obviously sick. Maybe we as a nation would be better off accepting a healthy standard instead of the unrealistic opinion that a size 10 is now a large or extra large. I’m willing to be less defensive if you are willing to admit that Kiera Knightly and the rest of her ilk have as much of an eating problem as I do.

  22. Bridey June 9, 2008 at 7:08 pm #

    Sorry to be so omnipresent on this thread, but I, at a size 3x or thereabouts, must object to being labeled “probably too large” and as having either a physical or mental “problem” on what is a purportedly size-positive website.

    Eating problems are real, and serious. I don’t have one. Nor am I likely to make any judgments, in the absence of compelling evidence, as to whether anybody else does.

    And any designation of a “healthy standard” is going to declare that certain people are unhealthy based on size alone. That is not progress.

    People come in all different sizes. Why is that so friggin’ difficult to understand?

  23. Jennie June 9, 2008 at 7:30 pm #

    Sorry Bridey, wasn’t trying to insult you….

  24. Karen June 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm #

    Being proud of your body–at any shape and size–is awesome. However, if someone wants to lose weight for ANY reason (personal or health), shouldn’t they be allowed? What if it’s under doctor’s orders? I don’t see how a product that helps them is so bad… if it works. Especially a product that isn’t parading skinny girls in front of our faces to make us feel bad. Now those are the commercials that tick ME off.

  25. JDog June 9, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    @Bridey: Thanks for the link. Some interesting articles and food for thought there, although I think junkfoodscience is a bit slanted in its reporting (for example, while I agree there are studies that show higher BMI translates into better medical outcomes in certain disease states, there are also studies that link weight gain or obesity with increased risk of type II diabetes — certainly a link I have seen repeated time and again in my own family).

    @Jennie: Absolutely, it’s better to be overweight than to be anorexic, and the media undoubtedly glorifies the overly-skinny. But just as the media is wrong to glorify the overly-skinny, it seems wrong to be so militantly pro-fat. As with most things in life, moderation is a better path than any extreme, and a single number (be it size or weight, or IQ or income) is an incomplete measure of any person’s health.

  26. Jennie June 9, 2008 at 10:58 pm #

    Extremely skinny or extremely fat. Both are, well, extreme. Each person needs to find the weight that is comfortable and healthy for them. (wish I could use bold or italics here!) Truth be told, I am 180 to 185, 5’5″. I am NOT comfortable. I find it difficult to rise from a squat without assistance from an item or a person. I have difficulties walking 2 or 3 miles. I hate doing the rocking/rising grunt to get up from a low chair. So in MY opinion I am unhealthy caused by sickness (cancer) and overweight. I am forcing myself to work on this. Not so I can get skinny but so I am not dependent on assistance. Society is not concerned about my health. Society is concerned about my size. When society is concerned about my HEALTH then maybe I’ll be more willing to listen.

  27. Twistie June 10, 2008 at 12:37 am #

    JDog, feel free to do more research into the matter yourself. There are plenty of reports that are discussed in the general media as saying unequivically that fat causes all manner of diseases, that when you look more closely actually show a very weak correlation, which is not the same thing as causality. You don’t have to limit yourself to Junk Food Science to learn the difference, either. When another major study is released and you hear about its findings, search further. Read more than one report about it. Read a complete discussion of its findings and not just the soundbites.

    Karen, nobody here said you’re not allowed to diet even if your doctor recommends it. If you really feel you need to, you go right ahead. I can’t stop you. I won’t even try to stop you. I have better things to do with my time than monitor your weight. I will, however, note that people go off diets and stop taking the suppliments (many of which are of dubious effectiveness in the first place), at which point more often than not, the weight comes back.

    I’d also remind you both that this is a body positive blog. Here at Big Girl, we value balanced meals and reasonable exercise. We also understand that weight is a far more complex question than ‘calories in vs calories out’. If it were that simple, nobody would have any use for diet pills and programs. Fat or thin, healthy or ill, we all have value, and here at Big Girl we celebrate that value. We do not chastise people for their inability – or even their unwillingness – to lose weight. We certainly don’t think it’s radical for writers of a plus-size blog to be okay with accepting plus-sized bodies.

  28. Gabrielle June 10, 2008 at 9:46 am #

    Thank you, Twistie, for this post. I’m a teen who wears a size 10/12, which is not, technically, “big.” But when my friends (weighing in at 120, 110, etc.) complain about being fat, it is disheartening. If they are “fat,” then what am I? A hippo? The funny thing is, I doubt they’d ever say or think that– but that’s the mentality.

    I’ve read this blog for several months now and what I’ve come to appreciate is how the bloggers here treat being bigger like being brunette. You just *are* fat, or plus-size, or whatever, the way your eyes are blue– so dress accordingly and do NOT treat yourself like crap just because “blonde” or skinny is in.

    Being healthy is also important to me– I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like meat and the saturated fats that come with it. And I guess I can understand people who don’t approve of size-positive sites because they say dieting is for health purposes. Many times, dieting IS for health purposes and then it is a *health thing* like taking pills. But for most Americans and the growing international dieting population, dieting is emotional and done because we are inadequate. It is this problem that, I think, Twistie and the rest of us are angry about.

  29. Nomie June 10, 2008 at 11:10 am #

    JDog, I fail to see how anyone here is being “militant.” We’re expressing our irritation at a frankly ridiculous ad for what is almost certainly an ineffective (and possibly dangerous) weight-loss aid. And I found Twistie’s post rather positive, focusing on what we can do and what potential a new mindset could provide.

    I’d also suggest that you read this link before you keep telling us that fat is going to doom us all: http://kateharding.net/but-dont-you-realize-fat-is-unhealthy/

  30. rabrab June 10, 2008 at 11:51 am #

    “Society is not concerned about my health. Society is concerned about my size. When society is concerned about my HEALTH then maybe I’ll be more willing to listen.”

    Hear, hear, Jennie!

    So often “health” is used as a club.

  31. bookgirl June 11, 2008 at 3:06 am #

    What I am curious about is why JDog is here to begin with? Doesn’t seem to be here for the fashion, humor and lifestyle for the big girl posts the rest of us are here for. If he/she is looking for health information, there are lots of better places to go than a fashion blog to find them.

    Seems to me that “troll” might be an appropriate moniker for this contributor….

  32. Leah June 11, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    I’m so glad to see a great discussion in the responses to this post. That’s what blogs, and hopefully the comments/forum section, is ideally about!
    I’m glad that more and more people are aware that the media sensationalizes things. Discussion of this nature is necessary to work through untruths fed into the general consciousness by news and media outlets whose only concern is getting a “hook” for their stories so they can sell more papers/subscriptions/ad space/etc.

  33. Annalucia June 11, 2008 at 12:47 pm #

    “Society is not concerned about my health. Society is concerned about my size. When society is concerned about my HEALTH then maybe I’ll be more willing to listen.”

    The Jennie, she nails it.

  34. Sarah June 14, 2008 at 6:14 am #

    Society, as a rule, needs to mind its own damn business.

    I am the only person who has the final say on what size I am. End of story.

  35. Haystacks July 1, 2008 at 6:59 pm #

    The one I Really hate is Alli. It is marketed on a mass scale in every Wallgreens in the country, but one things they fail to mention. It makes you poop in your pants. Really. So now according to our society being fat is so damn awful it is better to poop uncontrollably than to be fat.

    Kill the weight loss Pills, darlings, for they are the Devil.