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Suck It, USTA!

I know, I know, two Suck It articles in two weeks. I don’t usually do that. This is not me becoming a crochety old lady (though in anticipation of my glorious half-century, I have already received an invitation to join AARP). No, this is a reflection of the sheer amount of painful stupid going on in the world right now.

But let me illustrate.

(Illustration via Sports Illustrated/CNN)

This is Taylor Townsend.

Taylor is sixteen years old. She’s also the top ranked Junior Tennis player in the world. Note that: in the world. We’re not talking best in a backwater elementary school better known for competitive teacher harassment or distance spitball championships. We’re talking top junior tennis player in the entire freaking world.

The Chicago native took singles and doubles junior titles at the Australian Open earlier this year, becoming the first American to do that since 1992. She finished well up in the rankings in both singles and doubles at the French Open. She’s on every tennis fan’s list of young players to watch. In fact, she’s on the verge of going pro and becoming a household name.

And how does the US Tennis Association reward this talented girl who is noted as not only a powerhouse player, but a hard worker and excellent positive role model for the sport?

If you guessed ‘gave her an award and recommended other aspiring tennis players take a chapter from her book’ you would be wrong. If you guessed ‘refused to pay for her travel to tournaments until she loses weight’ you would be sadly right.

Taylor’s mother, Sheila, paid for Taylor’s travel to the US Open.

So what prompted this move by the USTA?

Well, it seems that Taylor lost in the first qualifying  round for a professional tournament in Vancouver.

That’s right: she lost a game. One game. an important one, I’ll grant you, but if she wore a smaller size tennis dress, what would they have done? Maybe ramped up training a bit, but that would have been it at worst.

But they have decided that because the number one ranked junior champion in the world lost one game on one day that she has to lose weight and ramp up her training.

Patrick McEnroe, general manager of the USTA’s player development program assures us all that he is really just concerned about Taylor’s health and well-being.

But you know what? If that was true, dieting is the last thing he would be asking of a sixteen year old. The human body continues to grow and develop into the twenties. It’s rare for a girl of sixteen to have finished growing up, but even if she has, the body is still sorting itself out for a few years to come. On top of this, Taylor is involved in extreme competitive sports. She needs the energy and nutrition of hearty meals to do what she’s asking of her body.

Oh, and let’s not forget that every single long term study of weight loss accomplished in any way whatsoever has shown the same results: sure, the weight comes off at first and stays off for a while. But at the end of five years, no study – and we’re talking all the way back to the first one performed in the 1950′s – has shown less than a 92% failure rate (ie: every single pound comes back) and a very high rate of gaining more weight than was lost in the first place. The younger the dieter, the worse the chances of long-term weight loss success and the higher the chances of developing an eating disorder.

Add to that the stress of trying to fit into their narrow (literally!) concept of what healthy looks like means more emotional stress, which can lead to depression and a wide variety of physical ills.

Yes, it’s all about her health, isn’t it.

Oh look! There’s a pig nesting in my oak tree!

Let the best junior player in the world play at full strength, physically and mentally. That’s how you show concern for her health.

Suck It, FAA!

For years the entire air travel industry has gone out of its way to humiliate and gouge the fat community.

Each airline gets to set its own policy for whether or not they charge fat passengers for an extra seat. Most do, often selling us seats halfway across the plane which doesn’t make any sense if the problem is that our fat encroaches on others. At the same time, passengers with longer legs than can comfortably fit in the miniscule amount of legroom provided are not required to buy the seats in front of them, and passengers with unusually broad shoulders are not required to purchase an extra seat. Many of us arrive at the airport having double and triple checked that we do not need to double our airfare only to discover at the last minute that we will, indeed, have to pay for an extra seat to travel when there’s nothing we can but pay the extra money or miss traveling, whether to a dream vacation, an important business meeting, or Grandma’s funeral.

We’ve been publicly shamed, then for buying those extra seats and forced to give them up after they insisted we pay for them. Even being a celebrity isn’t enough to avoid the public shaming and cruelty. Filmmaker Kevin Smith was, after all, tossed off a Southwest flight for being too fat.

One of the few things we’ve had going for us in air travel is the seat belt extender. They are supposed to be provided free of charge to passengers who need them in order to buckle up safely. Of course, most flights don’t carry more than two or three, and flight attendants have been known to treat passing those out either as if clandestinely slipping contraband to criminals… and in a few cases, handing them over with so much fuss and so loudly that the person who needs it is further publicly humiliated for the simple desire to travel.

Many have chosen to avoid the possibility of a) not being able to get an extender because they’re all in use and b) the potential for being treated so pointedly as to be shamed for needing one, by carrying their own. This is yet another reason why air travel is less and less fair to the fat. We have to buy our own equipment. Still, if we want to get from Point A to Point B via air, we shell out anywhere from roughly $25.00 to over $100.00 for the chance to fly without having to ask for an extender from someone who may not have one, or may choose to offer it whilst making us the punchline of a remarkably tasteless joke.

But now the FAA has stepped in and is worried about the poor fatties. That’s right, for our safety, the FAA wants to ban us from bringing our own seat belt extenders. Nope, not even the ones that are advertised as ‘FAA approved’ and manufactured by the same companies that supply actual airlines with the precise same seat belt extenders.

Why? Because they haven’t been tested, you see, and they cannot possibly have been kept in proper shape. Therefore, they are a clear and present danger to ourselves and others.

You know what test is used to determine if the seat belt extenders the airlines use  are in proper working order and safe? It’s really pretty simple.

There’s the visual inspection to make sure the material isn’t frayed and the buckle is firmly attached, and there’s the test of the buckle itself, which consists of fastening and unfastening it three or four times in a row to make sure it catches properly and consistently, and can be easily released in case of emergency.

When I go to the airport, I’m used now to having everything checked and scanned. Any carry on luggage I have as well as my purse will be scanned to make sure I am carrying neither a bomb, a box cutter, nor an overlarge bottle of hand lotion. I am questioned about how carefully I have looked after my things. I put my metal items in the tray and am scanned myself. They inspect my shoes to make sure those aren’t incendiary devices. It’s not fun, but I’m willing to deal with that for safety’s sake. I’m not here for an argument on either side about the search and scanning of me and my stuff.

My point is, I’m already being inspected on site in order to travel. Since the test is so basic and so non-invasive, why not have someone inspect personally owned seat belt extenders before people board the plane? It actually takes less time than double checking that my sandals aren’t going to blow up, it requires no specialized equipment or training, and I would actually be grateful that something so basic to my comfort and safety got that kind of attention.

Or maybe, just maybe, each plane could be required to carry enough seat belt extenders that we don’t have to carry our own to travel. Maybe, just maybe, flight attendants could be trained to treat offering seat belt extenders just another part of the job, like offering pillows and blankets to passengers who need or want them. Maybe, just maybe, a single universal policy could be set for all airlines in the US that one passenger needs one seat, period.

Until that day, Suck it, FAA!

Suck It, Weight of Nations Authors

So I’m guessing that most of you have seen, read, or heard vicious rumors of various articles based on the study The Weight of Nations: an Estimation of Adult Human Biomass. You know, articles with titles like ‘Armaglutton’ and ‘Obesity Could Lead to the End of the Human Race.’

The thing is, the entire study is based on guesswork via estimation with a dash of delicious fear mongering on the side.

First, the authors assume that fat people eat more, use more, and are harder to move around than thin people. They also assume that height is not a factor that has any significant effect on BMI when it is actually one of the factors used in calculating BMI. Then they fill in the blanks in various statistics from various countries using rough guesstimates based on other countries’ statistics in those same areas.

Then they compare what the world would be like if every country had the same rough BMI distribution as Japan… and then if the distribution were like the US.

Guess what? If the average world BMI distribution resembles the USA more than Japan, there are more larger people… and that means we’re going to use up everything much, much faster than if we would all just turn Japanese and get smaller.

Of course this also ignores the fact that Japan has a far less ethnically diverse population than the US, and that different ethnic groups are more or less generally inclined to higher BMIs. It also ignores dozens of scientifically reputable studies that have entirely failed to show any predictable difference between what and how fat and thin people eat. It assumes that fat people are using up the fossil fuels faster than thin people. I know the plural of anecdote isn’t data, but I walk most places and I know a lot of other fat people who ride bikes, take public transport, or use really energy-efficient cars. Has anyone ever looked seriously into how many fat people don’t own or rarely use cars? Because if they did, then I missed the study. My guess, the one I am readily admitting I’m making a random stab in the dark about, is that fat people are using fossil fuels at a roughly equal rate overall as thin people.

I’m not even a scientist and I know that my guess is at best a hypothesis. I learned that big ol’ word in about fourth grade science when they taught me that guesstimates based on rounding up some things, rounding down others, and taking a stab in the dark do not add up to scientific conclusions.

Oh, and while we’re at it, suck it news organizations that took this study, calculated out the most dire possibilities that could be teased from the least substantiated aspects of it, and ran the results as hard news.

Because you know what isn’t news? The fact that someone else has a random theory that fat people are destroying the earth.

You Asked For It: Spanx

Good morning my live active cultures of love, how’s every little thing? What? Yes I did have yogurt for breakfast, cactus and prune flavored, thank you. Why do you ask?

We’re going to spend the rest of this week focusing on shapewear, and never fear, I still have a handful of corset recommendations, but several of you have asked me what I think about Spanx.

Spanx can just go ahead, do some breathing exercises, maybe stretch a little, purchase a crazy straw from the party supply store of their choice in any one of a variety of colors and suck it.


(none of these cartoons actually need shapewear)

I have never, EVER had a piece of shapewear from them that lasted more than one or two wearings, didn’t roll or otherwise backfire or have glaring flaws right out of the package. I gave up on their legwear ages ago after putting my hand through three pairs of their pantyhose, once on the first try.

Maybe they’re just made for women with only a little bit of pudge, or whose hourglass boom boom isn’t quite so pow. Maybe it’s because I’m the only person in America who has a torso longer than two inches. I don’t know, but I feel like I’m the only woman on the planet who doesn’t think these things are the best invention since sliced vodka.

Oh maybe it’s user error, you say.

HA and verily double ha! There are little baby angels who are rougher on their clothes than I am.

Heck, I painted my patio in Hermes and didn’t get a speck of Unicorno (apparently in Mexico, unicorns are fuchsia. In an unrelated note: there’s a lot of peyote in this country) on my entire outfit so it’s not like I’m running around with an angry jackal in my pants, laying waste to all hosiery within a 10 mile radius.

PLUS Spanx is ridiculously overpriced for the quality and what’s worse, most plus-size stores these days (please imagine me shaking a cane in geriatric wrath, you may also imagine me in a kaftan if you wish, but it’s not necessary to the visual) have either vastly reduced or completely eliminated their hosiery in favor of selling the Spanx line.

Sigh.

Remember about six million years ago, back at the dawn of the current century, where you could buy those amazing Lane Bryant opaque tights that looked great and lasted FOREVER and you didn’t mind spending $18 on one pair because you knew your knees would wear out before those tights did?

Gonesville. Replaced by ^%$# SPANX for the low low price of $30 – $40, which would be okay if they, as previously mentioned, didn’t suck so hard there are ostriches in Africa wondering what that breeze is and if maybe they couldn’t cut it out because it’s messing with their (the ostriches’ not the Spanxs’) feathers.

Sure you can get some novelty legwear and a basic entry-level black tight from the Lane Bryant home brand, but solid black is not the same as opaque black and one of my biggest pet peeves is a theoretically opaque tight that isn’t. Grr.

Honestly, for that manner of stretchy shapwear I’ve had far better luck at places like Ross and TJ Maxx.

For example: this past summer I bought an amazing high-waist pencil-skirt slimmer that has been a revelation and I KNOW I didn’t spend more than $10 for it. I’ve even worn it as a miniskirt under a long sweater and over a pair of my antediluvian but still functional LB opaque tights. Sadly I don’t have a brand for you (it’s seamless and I’ve rubbed the printed label right off) but if I find it again I’ll report back.

Izod –I know, right?– makes some surprisingly solid shapewear in plus sizes, all of which are higher quality than any of the Spanx I’ve experienced, and I’m pretty sure each piece I bought was $7.99.

There’s also some brand called Lady Princess that I’ve never seen anywhere other than Ross and Ross-esque stores.

I’m pretty sure they’re designed for drag queens (I think it’s the name) but I don’t care. I’ve had good luck with their more heavy-duty pieces.

As far as the major players go, I far prefer the Avenue Body line of shapewear to Lane Bryant’s Cacique (though I still prefer the LB bras) but neither of them really carry my watermelon since both brands tend to roll, fold, pill and lose their shape within a half dozen wearings.

So is there a brand of Spandex-not-steel shapewear you can find online and which I actually LIKE?

Yes, and stay tuned kiddios: I’ve got a Review Revue coming up tomorrow.

Suck It, Food Network!

Next thursday, January 26, Food Network is premiering a new show called Fat Chef. Is it the adventures of a chef who happens to be fat? No. It’s a new Biggest Loseresque fat-shaming extravaganza.

Each week we’ll see two fat working chefs who fear that they’re going to die because they’re fat and work around food. Said chefs are put through a sixteen-week course of diet, exercise, and exorcism of  their horrible food issues, whereupon we see them all much thinner, more active, and promising they’ll never be unhealthy fatsos again.

Read this blurb taken from the Food Network site:

For overweight chefs, working in the food industry is a double-edged sword. While indulging their love of food has brought them success, money and respect, it’s also killing them.

That’s right. Eating is killing them. Because they’re fat. And fat people are all automatically dying. Right now.

I saw an ad for the show on saturday while enjoying an episode of Chopped. One of the fat chefs admitted shamefully that she tastes her dishes. Well stop the damn presses for that one! Chef tastes dishes! Clearly that’s why she’s fat! Except that Giada DeLaurentiis does that, too.

See?

And Anthony Bourdain does it, too, as well as eating all kinds of indulgent foods while globe-trotting for the Travel Network and being a sometime guest judge on Top Chef.

In fact, chefs who don’t taste the food don’t stay in business long. No matter what the dish, no matter how many times you’ve made it, tasting remains an important part of cooking. This could well be the night when the dish needs more salt, or less tarragon, or it just isn’t working and you need to start over again from scratch.

At least five times a season on Top Chef you’ll see Tom Colicchio  fix a contestant with his laser beam eyes and ask incredulously: “Did you taste this?” He doesn’t tell the fat contestants that they get a pass because it might kill them to eat one tiny dab of food to see if it’s seasoned properly.

But no, the Food Network knows better! Fat chefs are chefs who have a toxic relationship to food and it’s killing them now! No exceptions! But thin chefs apparently all have perfectly healthy relationships with food and you can tell this by their – wait for it! – healthy weight.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… and again… and again until more people actually hear this: you cannot tell by looking at a person how they eat. You cannot tell by looking at whether a person is fat or thin what the state of their health may be. There is no such thing as a single ‘healthy weight’ that works for everyone. And you cannot shame people healthy.

So no, I have no intention of watching a show that takes people in a highly active line of work (Seriously, have you ever seen a professional kitchen during a busy service? It’s beyond any aerobic workout!) and tells them they’re eating too much, not moving enough, and have serious mental/emotional problems all based on the fact that they aren’t thin.

Suck it, Food Network!

Suck It, State of Georgia

If you’ve been anywhere on the Fat-o-Sphere lately, chances are you’ve heard about Georgia’s new ‘Strong 4 Life’ campaign against childhood obesity. Don’t even get me started on state programs that use numbers instead of the homonym words they represent. We don’t have the next five years.

Anyway.

The real thing that’s getting my knickers in a major and painful twist isn’t the revolting assault on correct grammar, it’s the fact that this campaign boils down to government sponsored bullying of children ‘for their own good.’

It consists mostly of black and white images and short videos of children talking about their experiences being fat. They talk about being bullied, having no friends, and generally being miserable. And that’s when the message  begins that it’s all their own fault. If only they ate their vegetables instead of deep fried Twinkies, if only they played baseball instead of video games, if only they really cared about themselves, they would be thin and happy and healthy.

What message does that send fat kids who love broccoli and run around outside already? That these things are worthless if they don’t make you thin.

What message does it send fat kids who do eat some sweets and really prefer television to soccer? That they’re lazy, unloveable slobs who don’t deserve to live if they don’t stop what they’re doing and get thin,

What message does it send thin kids who eat some sweets and prefer television? That fat kids must be the laziest slobs on the earth and that they, themselves, are perfectly healthy and therefore morally superior.

What message does it send thin kids who can’t get enough spinach and love spending time shooting hoops? That if they ever eat a slice of birthday cake or spend a couple hours reading they might become fat and disgusting, so they’d better never stop even for a minute. Oh, and if  they bully a fat kid, that’s extra anti-fat brownie points.

What message does it send to parents? That the only thing that matters about their children is whether or not they are thin. That they must bully, restrict, and terrorize their children for their own good.

This makes me want to put on my Fat Avenger Super Suit and go knock some heads together.

Luckily, someone else beat me to the punch. There’s a petition up on Change.org asking the state of Georgia to end this public policy disaster. Regan at Dances with Fat and Harriet Brown at Feed Me have both talked about this petition, but it will take more voices to make change happen.

Sure, you’re just one voice, but yours could be the one that tips the scales. Sign the petition, spread the word. Let’s think of the children.

Suck It, Special K!

Suck it, Special K!

Okay, I’m sure you can guess I’m not a fan. Frankly, I never have been. Special K has always, always been diet food and it always, always will be. If I thought it tasted good, that wouldn’t stop me from buying it, actually. My experience, however, has been that it tasted like cardboard, and I can get that flavor by eating actual cardboard if I want it. There’s always cardboard somewhere around Casa Twistie.

But I can ignore that. Really, I can. I don’t care if there’s food meandering about the universe not appealing to me. I am perfectly content to live in a world that includes asparagus, so long as nobody expects me to eat the stuff. I’m really a pretty live and let live kind of gal.

But what keeps making me want to hurl heavy things through my far-too-expensive-to-seriously-do-it television is their advertising.

Who could forget their ‘hilarious’ holiday commercials featuring perfectly ordinary sized women being mistaken for Santa by their small children and even – get this! – Santa’s freaking reindeer because they wore red while being larger than a size two?

Crappy times, crappy times.

Well now they’ve really gone and done it. They’ve co-opted HAES/FA to hawk diet food.

Here’s what happens in the commercial:

An attractive woman walks into a clothing store to buy jeans. Suddenly, instead of sizes, the tags all say things like ‘Size Sassy’ and ‘Size Radiant.’ The voiceover talks about how nice it would be to just forget about the number on the size tag and thought more about how we feel in our clothes. At this point, I was beginning to wonder if some FA angel like Marilyn Wann or Linda Bacon had bought air time to promote body diversity… except that everyone in the commercial is still thin and white.

And then comes the rest of the message: eat Special K, lose a dress size in two weeks. Feel better about yourself because you are thinner.

So what happens when somebody takes the Special K challenge and doesn’t lose weight? Even if they do, when do they get to stop losing and be satisfied with their bodies?

Look, I don’t care if you eat Special K, eggs and bacon, oatmeal, leftover pizza, or an entire batch of chocolate-glazed donuts for breakfast. I don’t care what the size label in your jeans (or any other article of clothing you wear) is. You should feel good about yourself for being a unique individual human being.

And you know what that doesn’t require? Losing weight.

Love you, take care of you, and ignore anyone who says you can only love you when there’s less of you to love.

Oh, and again, suck it, Special K!

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