We are still here.

I wasn’t going to write about this heinous opinion piece by Susie O’Brien from Melbourne’s Herald Sun, mainly because I don’t like to engage with idiots. (You know, like those people who insist that all Muslims are terrorists. It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it, nothing will change their mind.) I don’t usually have the energy to go to war with such overwhelming stupidity.

Secondly, this opinion piece has been flogged to death by my fellow fat antipodeans who have stomped down practically every sentence Susie has written. But I just couldn’t help myself. Bitch made me mad.

I want to get this out of the way first:

[T]his month’s Fashion Week abandoned the usual stick insects for some models who were size 14-18. It was a breakthrough to see fashion shows using not just ridiculously skinny models that make thin women feel fat. But was it really a breakthrough for good health?

Lady, do not be dissing on BGM Models. Those ladies are complete hotty begotties and I will not hear a word against them. (Courtney Maxwell, call me?)

Now to wade our way through the idiocy:

[M]any need encouragement to lose weight instead of being told to feel good about being overweight.

As well as the runway shows in Australia there’s Drop Dead Diva, which follows the life of a larger lawyer who’s a skinny model reincarnated. And, reflecting the expanding girth of many Australians, more and more retailers, such as Myer, Sportsgirl and even Ed Hardy, are jumping on the bandwagon, and offering larger sizes.

Yes, larger teens deserve to be able to wear fashionable clothes, like everyone else. But the discourse of self-empowerment surrounding the move is stopping us asking why so many young people are size 16 or more in the first place. Sure, such moves reflect the reality of a rapidly growing population, but they also serve to normalise a size that is not healthy for most young people.

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30s with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand. It’s much easier to accept the pro-fat manifesto than hit the treadmill.

Sorry to tell you, Susie, but you are late to the party.

We have already been “encouraged” to lose weight. We’ve been “encouraged” (and patronised and teased and insulted) by our family or our friends or our partners or complete strangers or the media. Repeatedly. For years.

We have been ignored by designers and clothing stores for god knows how long and we have been treated as invisible by television shows and movies.

We have restricted our diets and we have run on the treadmills. We’ve poured out sweat and we’ve made our muscles ache.

Yet our fat still jiggles and we are still here.

In fact, Susie, we are more than just “here”. In spite of so much hatred – from others and from within – we have learnt to love ourselves and our bodies. We have developed fashion styles that’ll blow your mind and we have designed our own clothing ranges. We’ve become models (or model agents) because our bodies are just that spectacular. And we have created the Fatosphere – a growing corner of the internet that is of full of fat opinionated loud mouths who will shout you down every single time.

We are still here, Susie. You’ve got to do a lot better than that to get rid of us.


18 Responses to “We are still here.”

  1. 1 defixiones 10 September, 2009 at 12:19 am

    The Herald Sun gives me heartburn…

    What a stupid article. I’m a skinny girl from a family of fat women and they run rings around me. I’m the sick unfit one – I’m skinny because I’m sick. But hey at least I can wear those spiffy short skirts. Pfft.

    Sure there are conditions where you might need to lose weight to avoid trouble (diabetes, arthritis, reflux, heart trouble) but if you keep an eye on your insides and keep fit then it doesn’t really matter how much you weigh. In the end everything sags and goes flabby, you’re better off worrying about your inner health than your bum size.

    Media’s just freaking out because they make millions from posting weightloss ads and don’t want the fat girls to get too comfortable with themselves lest they lose buisness. It’s not about health at all, it’s all about $$$

  2. 2 Cyn 10 September, 2009 at 2:02 am

    I’m sort of sorry for that lady. I mean, she has obviously absorbed all the fat-hatred media and society has thrown against fat people, and now that she is struggling to fit on the standards said media and society used to (!?) encourage, she sees these bits of size acceptance as a new “fashion” that she will probably have to fight to “attain”. Or at least as something that makes her feel like her efforts have been worthless. Poor little soul.

  3. 3 anonymoose 10 September, 2009 at 3:53 am

    What I find annoying about her piece is the assumption that stick thin models are healthy. Do we talk about the models who collapse on the runway, the ones who die from heart attacks, the ones who are drug addicted, struggling with eating disorders and how we shouldn’t be encouraging their behavior? Noooooo not really. We look at the zaftig chick and assumed she is unhealthy.

  4. 4 Pretty Robotic 10 September, 2009 at 4:32 am

    thanks for posting your response to this! nevermind to all of that, we know what positivity is really about!

  5. 5 thepocketrocket 10 September, 2009 at 5:19 am

    Seriously. Has it not occured to her that the shaming of youg girls for not having perfect bodies is what leads them to the diet and binge cycle that makes them GAIN WEIGHT? That maybe if we treated people as human beings no matter what they look like, people might relax into a body weight that is right for them? Journos need to back off. I honesly believe the only people they are writing to are themselves and their colleagues – they just happen to believe the general public will feel the same way.


    • 6 Frances 10 September, 2009 at 8:56 am

      I knooowww! That was another reason I couldn’t write my response straightaway – I was so pissed that my post would’ve looked like this: “YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING RAHHHHHHH 9;AWFGH8PQRGUIPAWFG8P;”

  6. 8 Julie 10 September, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Hey Frances – When I saw O’Brien’s hideous piece I checked into your blog yesterday as I thought you may have a word or two to say. It must have just been before you posted this. I too had to sit for awhile before coughing up my own writing on it –


    but just could not stay silent. Great post.


    • 9 Frances 10 September, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      Oh, I had lots of words. Most of them were f-bombs and c-bombs, though, so I thought I should stay away from my keyboard for a while.

      Your post was fab. It really has been a never-ending parade of stupid this week, hasn’t it?

  7. 10 Emma 10 September, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    well I clearly should have done a blog spot myself, because I have just been spewing anger on Mia’s site lol… this article has had me fired up for days!!
    I am happy you said it all perfectly Frances, THANKYOU!

  8. 11 Jenny 10 September, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    Susie O’Brien is not referring to girls who are larger than normal thru no fault of their own (who have a healthy diet and exercise), she’s referring to the girls who are overweight because they don’t lead a healthy lifestyle and her concern is that those girls who are told they are beautiful “no matter what their weight is” are going to suffer, because they’ll have NO motivation to take on a healthier lifestyle. Being larger because you are they way naturally is one thing, but getting yourself that way because you eat the wrong foods and don’t keep physically active, is another. It’s the same with “skinny” girls. Many skinny girls are referred to as looking unhealthy because they’re very thin, but if they are that way naturally (and don’t assume that all skinny girls like to be skinny) that’s one thing, but if they’re that way because they’re NOT eating, that’s another. We simply have to refine how these messages are put across. People come in all shapes and sizes – but if they come in a larger size or a really small size due to their poor diet and lack of exercise/lack of healthy lifestyle, then they need to be motivated to correct it.

    • 12 Frances 10 September, 2009 at 8:51 pm

      Jenny, I think you’re wrong all over. I could write an essay on why, but because I’m too lazy to write an essay I’ll try to this brief.

      For starters, I disagree with your idea of Susie O’Brien’s intention. I honestly believe that she thinks all girls who are overweight got that way because they don’t lead a healthy lifestyle. Many skinny girls eat the wrong foods and don’t keep physically active, but I don’t see Susie O’Brien writing a vitriolic opinion piece about them.

      Secondly, you separate those who are fat ‘naturally’ and those who aren’t. How exactly will Susie/you know how someone came to be fat? When you look at a fat person you don’t know their diet, exercise habits, genetic make-up, dieting history (which can lead to sustained weight gain), medical issues… you know nothing about them.

      But beyond that, why is someone else’s health any of Susie’s/your business? If I avoid exercise like the plague and only eat what’s been in a deep fryer, how on earth are you affected?

      If shame (or “motivation”, as you call it) worked at keeping people thin, there would be no more fat people. Do you know what’s actually “NO motivation to take on a healthier lifestyle”? Feeling worthless. Feeling like there is something wrong with you. Feeling like you could be beautiful if only you were thin(ner).

      You have completely missed the point of my post. You say that we should be told to lose weight. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT FOR YEARS. Over and over and over again by so many people and yet fat people still exist. Susie O’Brien wrote that plus-size fashion and models normalise obesity. But It is only very recently that we’ve had any youth-oriented plus-size clothing at all and the City Chic runway show was the first time a plus-size brand had a spot at a mainstream fashion event. If pressuring us to lose weight and refusing to cater for our sizes didn’t work before, why would it work now?

      I don’t assume that all skinny girls like to be skinny. I’m not the one that’s been making assumptions about the diet and exercise habits of strangers.

      And finally, I am truly staggered that you think that a fat girl who loves herself is ‘suffering’.

  9. 13 Sew-Ann 12 September, 2009 at 4:53 am

    I think the health part of the argument is tossed in to get a leg up against those promoting self love regardless of dress size. They assume they can’t lose with that. But you would be pretty foolish to assume every woman 120 lbs is healthy. I would feel better if people would just keep it real and say they just don’t like looking at fat people than to say it’s about health. It can’t possibly be about health with all of the fattening foods out there that you can buy no matter your size.

  10. 14 KateF 25 September, 2009 at 10:23 am

    Frances, I friggin’ love you.

  11. 16 Victoria H 21 October, 2009 at 1:37 pm

    I just came upon this blog. Love it!

    I understand your point on this issue and agree. People should be represented and accepted regardless of height/size/weight/eye color etc. And regardless of the AMA’s overbearing lifestyle approval.

    I would also like to suggest a book for you and your readership that questions the “health” of weight loss (even though I do believe the issue addressed in the article isn’t about health but concealed self-loathing)… http://www.amazon.com/Losing-Americas-Obsession-Weight-Industry/dp/0525938915/ref=pd_sim_b_1

    Just thought you might enjoy.

  12. 17 Tina 2 January, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Hi everybody,

    I know, I am late for a reply, but I just found out about this adorable blog.

    I read Ms O’Briens article and it did leave a bad taste in my mouth. In my opinion nobody is encouraging anybody to put on weigt by showing plus size models and making clothes that look good on plus size women.

    So, maybe Ms O’Brien believes a teenager who cannot find nice clothes in her size will go home, repent and reform, exercise and diet? From personal experience I can tell you she won’t! She will buy a book and chocolate instead. (Nowadays at least you can find something sometimes, in the eighties things were even worse! And I was not even fat, I just had a womanly body – slim waist, ample hips and bosom – from age 14.)

    On the other hand, there is my mum: she is 73, overweight, has diabetes and high blood pressure. She should exercise and she wants to. She was a good swimmer all her life and would like to go to the local swimming pool, but she is too ashamed to show her body, which is not slim and young any more. She is too scared even to go and buy a new swim suit. If she (and others around her) could just accept, that a fat or old body has it’s own beauty…

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