Fategories

meowser-48.jpg posted by meowser

When I was a baby second-wave feminist, way back in the days when Gloria Steinem was a household name (yep, that long ago), I used to muse aloud about why, if women were over half the U.S. population, that women had such a hard time earning basic legal and social rights for themselves. (You know, piddly things like making the doctor tell you you have cancer instead of telling your husband or father and letting him decide whether you’re strong enough to handle it, which in 1970 terms he’d probably decide you aren’t. Yes, it really was like that, kids.) The answer, as you probably know if you’ve studied feminism for more than five minutes, was that too many women not only thought they didn’t deserve such rights, but were convinced it would be bad for them to have them. After all, they were just women — how could they possibly be trusted to know what was best for them, let alone actually act on their own behalf?

So it is these days with fatties. Supposedly, we represent a majority of people in developed nations, and even a fair percentage of people in developing nations. So why, then, don’t we rule, or at least get a seat at the rulership table?

Obviously, it’s because there are some situations where the majority doesn’t rule, or even have much of a say in how things are set up, because they’ve been sold on the illusion that their presence in the non-ruling-class is temporary, or would be if only they did all the “right” things — and that once they’re in the ruling class, they get to stay there forever. Even these days, with the U.S. economy in the crapper and upward mobility more infrequent here than ever, at least a third of Americans believe they will be “wealthy” one day, while only 2 percent believe themselves to be “wealthy” right now. Anyone else besides me think that if a similar study was done about weight, that almost all the fat people would say they believe they will be thin-‘n’-healthy one day, although a shockingly tiny percentage of people actually do manage to lose 50 or 75 or 100 pounds or more from diet and exercise alone and go permanently from fat to thin in the process? And when I say “shockingly tiny,” I mean shockingly tiny enough that almost anyone who actually manages to do this can get themselves a book deal, even if they can’t write.

But just try telling most fatties that they have about as much of a chance of that happening as they do of someday belonging to a yacht club. Just try telling one, at random, right now. I’ll wait. Didn’t like it much, did they? After all, they know that someone, somewhere, has done it. And once they gave up cheesecake for a month and lost five pounds, so nyaah on you and your negativity. They’re going to be thin, dammit, and you can’t stop them!

Well, here’s what I always tell people in that situation: If you are meant to be a substantially smaller size than you are (or were), there’s not a damn thing I could possibly do to stop you. Nor do I even want to try. I mean, that sounds like work, and you know what a lazybutt I am. Yeah, like here in the ‘Sphere, we regularly take calorie, fat-gram, and carb count surveys of our members and readers, and if you’re not eating as much as we think you should, off you go! No. Not happening ever.

I just want everyone to understand that not everyone has the same shot at permanent thinness, at least not the kind that is associated with the kind of vim and vigor that people typically pursue thinness for. (Yeah, if you made me eat cardboard pudding and do hard labor all day for a year, you might be able to get some weight off me. And if I strapped you to a bed and gave you hyperalimentation for a year, maybe we could do a clothes swap — maybe. What’s your point?) That’s how I came up with my “fategories” theory — specifically, that there are four basic categories of people in the world when it comes to weight. To wit:

Category 1 is people who can get and/or stay thin through no effort whatsoever; in fact, they would have a very hard time not being thin, if ever called upon to do so.

Category 2 is people who can get and/or stay thin with a token effort — that is, doing so doesn’t take over their entire life. (Although they might not be able to get quite as thin as they think they should be, if their body ideal hovers somewhere below a BMI of 20.)

Category 3 is people who can get and/or stay thin (or even anywhere close to it) only by devoting their entire lives forever to the cause.

And Category 4 is people who won’t be able to get and/or stay thin (or anywhere close) no matter what they do.

I am pretty well convinced that (despite Category 3’s and 4’s being anything but freak occurrences) it’s Category 2’s who run things in most of the world, because they believe they represent nearly every human body, to the point where an awful lot of Category 3’s and 4’s, and even a fair number of 1’s, mistakenly believe they are 2’s. An easy mistake to make, given all the 300-decibel hype. (Although many people do move up in category with age, very few people move down unless they become very ill.) The Category 2’s who make the most noise (along with those who loudly claim to be 3’s but are probably 2’s, like She Whose Name Must Not Be Typed In Its Entirety) pooh-pooh any possible existence of Category 4’s, and state that 3’s, if they exist at all, must simply accept that their lives will be ruled forever by their cockamamie diet plans. Hungry? Tired? Sore? Constipated? In four-alarm physical pain from your workouts? Have to give up decadent sedentary activities like sitting in classrooms or writing a novel? Can’t concentrate on reading books on a treadmill? Tough shit. You shouldn’t have asked to be born, then.

As for me, knowing everything I know about my body, I’m quite certain that I am a category 4. But really, even if I was category 3 (I know damn well I’m not a 1 or a 2), what right does anyone have to demand that I devote every ounce of time, energy, and money I have to obtaining and maintaining a more socially acceptable body? Seriously. What right does anyone have to expect that I will do absolutely nothing else with my life than try with all my might to force my weight down? It’s really not reasonable to demand that from people, any more than it’s reasonable to demand that they climb a mountain to get to work every day. If you want to climb a mountain to get to work, and you can, knock yourself out. But really, it’s a lot to ask of people.

And yeah, even in a society that was less “obesogenic” (gag me) those categories would probably hold, for the most part, provided there was nothing truly catastrophic like world famine. Maybe a few 3’s would instead be 2’s, maybe a few 4’s would become 3’s. (If anyone comes up with a less fattening antidepressant that actually does squat for serotonin, give them my number.) Maybe some 2’s who could be convinced (along with their parents and doctors) that dieting when you’re 8 years old is an Officially Bad Idea wouldn’t become 3’s and 4’s.

But it’s just as true that in a less “obesogenic” society, it would take less in the way of “extra” weight to make one an outcast (or “unhealthy,” same diff). Don’t think for half an atomic second that if they somehow managed to get everyone’s BMI under 30, that 25 wouldn’t become the new 30, and 20 the new 25. I mean, if we lived on Planet Walter Willett, my partner, who’d be hard-pressed to get his BMI much over 21, would be getting stern warnings from his doctor that he was putting too many naughty things in his mouth and he’d be a big old pillowbutt before he knew it. It sounds hilarious, but 30 years ago, if you’d told me that the high-rent health-yups would today be equating eating a bowl of spaghetti with shooting heroin, I’d have been laughing then too. I laugh not now.

The categories get trickier still when you realize that a lot of us fatties could lose a substantial amount of weight, even 50 or 75 or 100 pounds or more, and not even approach a socially acceptable (“healthy”) weight. Can you imagine losing 75 pounds, actually keeping all of them off, and being told that that’s not good enough? Meet my ex-husband, then. Thanks to certain longstanding health issues having been addressed for him, he’s quite a bit thinner than his peak weight, but nowhere near thin. Tell him he should be doing more to get his weight down, and he’ll give you the Boob Pistol of Disdain (yes, his boobs are still big enough). Category 3? Category 4? Say I, there’s no material difference between the two, if you understand that volunteering to give up your life for thinness is not an option. That doesn’t mean nobody will ever want to do it, mind you — just that people shouldn’t even be reaching for that as any kind of prescription to give to you. You get to decide whether it would be best for you to sit down and write a novel, go jogging, or blob out and watch TV, or whatever kazillion other activities (or inactivities) there are to do in the world. You do. You can be trusted. No matter what they say.

45 Responses to “Fategories”

  1. lilacsigil Says:

    My immediate family contains each of these categories. My brother and his wife are in 1 – they’ve spent most of their lives underweight, and (not coincidentally) are fat allies. My dad is in category 2 – fairly thin and small, and active. My mum and youngest brother are category 3 – she spends her whole life obsessing over her weight (and everyone else’s!) and is thin; my brother has been thinner when engaging in a lot of physical activity, but prefers to be fat. I’m category 4 – even when I was at my absolute fittest, cycling 10-15km a day, I was still technically “obese” (but boy was I muscly as well as fat!) Then I got thyroid cancer and depression, so now I’m fatter and less active.

    I suspect that my brother and his wife, despite having thin privilege, understand the concept of their bodies being public property, of being told they don’t do X or must not do Y, and being bullied for their size. My dad, in category 2, isn’t particularly bothered either way, though he thinks everyone should be active because he enjoys sport so much (and he’s 63). My mother? Now has osteoporosis and keeps getting sick (she’s also an asthmatic), and *still won’t eat*. I would like to trust her, like I trust my other family members and am trying to trust myself, but she has so absorbed the message that fat is evil and instant death that I don’t trust her to look after herself.

  2. caitlan Says:

    you’ve missed my category- thin (I’ve just looked up my bmi and it’s 22.4) without trying but could probably gain weight. I think that because I get thinner every summer and thicker every winter so if I lived somewhere too cold to go out and play (not strenuously, just going about by bicycle or at the beach) I expect I would just perpetually gain. Probably there are lots more than four categories that people are experiencing, but I do think it is an interesting framing, the difference between 2 and 3.

  3. lilacsigil Says:

    @Caitlin – that sounds like category 2.

  4. Patsy Nevins Says:

    And no one ‘perpetually gains’, aside from perhaps a TINY percentage of people with serious medical issues who are shown to us as examples of ‘the obesity epidemic’ to warn us what we ALL can become if we don’t ‘watch ourselves’ closely. It simply isn’t true. Your body might be a bit thinner if you exercise a lot, a bit heavier if you exercise less, but you will not ‘perpetually gain weight’, since you are not built that way & do not have the metabolic issues to do so. I am somewhere between a 3 & a 4, but more solidly a 4 as I age, & believe me, while I have experienced some weight gain with aging & menopause, & as a lifelong active person, have experienced MAYBE 10-15 pounds in variation depending on exercise levels, I have not dieted for years, will not diet, eat whatever I want, & I do NOT ‘perpetually gain” weight, despite being naturally & genetically a fat person.

    • errihu Says:

      Actually, that’s not quite right, Patsy. Weight gain over time is part of the normal aging process, unless people take active steps against it (and are genetically ABLE to prevent it). Our metabolisms slow down as we age. HOW MUCH weight is gained by the individual (or could be gained by the individual) varies. The POSSIBLE pound range per year (IE the minimum and maximum) is most likely genetically determined, although the actual weight gain is a factor of genetics, environment, and lifestyle (most likely in that order, as research is beginning to find). “Average” weight gain per year is something like 2-5 lbs a year until you start to hit the senior years, then it starts to creep backwards. Yeah, most people lose weight once they start reaching ‘senior’. It’s not a good thing, either. Having weight to lose when you’re a senior means you’re less likely to die (IE, you live longer).

  5. Trabb's Boy Says:

    Sorry Patsy, I’m a perpetual gainer — roughly five pounds a year since I turned 22. I’ve doubled my weight since those days when I was a skinny little thing. It’s clearly very uncommon, though, and I’ve only come across one other person in the fatosphere in this situation. And it’s certainly not due to a change in diet. Some years there was something I could point to (like quitting smoking), but mostly not.

    I would slightly rephrase category 2 to people like Caitlin, who have a range of weight depending on their intake and activity. It’s not that they can get thin with a small amount of effort, it’s that they can get to the lower end of their range fairly easily. People in this category don’t view the range as a permanent, settled thing and fear they are someone like me, only due to diet and exercise habits.

    Very interesting post, meowser, as always.

    • Alyce Says:

      I know I am weeks late, but I am also a perpetual gainer. I occasionally gain a large amount in a short period, but more often I am on a slow steady incline. No change in appetite, calories consumed, or exercise precipitates the changes.

  6. noceleryplease Says:

    As someone who would considers herself a “2.5” – thin, and it takes very significant, but not life-sucking, soul-destroying effort to maintain – I would seriously tell anyone who wanted me to INCREASE the amount of effort I have to put out to maintain my current size/weight to go straight to hell.

    There’s only so much I am willing to do and anyone who told me I had to do more can stick it.

    Of course, I come at this from a POV that tells anyone that wants to tell me to do ANYTHING to stick it, so I am prone to that kind of attitude.

    Also – I enjoy sports and fitness right now. But one day, when I decide to retire from sports, I will surely gain some weight. I am already pre-planning my “suck it” speech.

  7. Lori Says:

    Interesting! I’m not sure what category I’d be. My body is very resistant to both weight loss and weight gain, beyond maybe the same 15-pound range I’ve varied between since I was maybe 18 or 19. The only thing that seems to affect my weight significantly is if I’m taking Zoloft or not: when I’m on it, that 15-pound range is about 20 pounds above what it is when I’m off of it (meaning that, for me, when I’m off of Zoloft, my weight tends to hover around the middle of the “overweight” range, when I’m on it, it hovers around the “overweight”/”obese” border). But, on or off of it, my body seems very resistant to moving out of a relatively small weight range.

    So, as it is, I don’t think I could ever diet myself thin, but I don’t think I could ever eat myself very large, either. I can get to the bottom of my 15-pound range pretty easily by being very active and eating less, and I can get to the top of my range pretty easily if I’m more sedentary and eating more, but then my loss or gain stops.

    I think I’m one of those people who has a very well-defined set point. I’ve only seriously dieted maybe twice in my life, and I didn’t have a huge loss or regain either time, so I wonder if that’s partly why.

  8. Patsy Nevins Says:

    Well, I weigh 60-70 pounds more than I did when I was 22 & MOST people are going to weigh more at 60 than they did at 22, but I am from a family of naturally fat people & some of the weight gain has been aging & menopause, some childbearing, breastfeeding, all those life events & cycles, & some has been in response to dieting &/or compulsive exercise, which only took 10-15 pounds off even if I worked out for 4 hours daily for 4 years & resulted in gains of between 20-35 pounds every time I cut back to normal exercise levels. I was going to be somewhat fat anyway, but I might have been a few pounds less so had I not spent so much time fighting it.

    What I really meant is that ALMOST no one…aside from a tiny percentage with some metabolic disturbance of some kind…KEEPS gaining the way that the fat haters want us to believe. For instance, the majority of fat people weigh under 300 pounds & only a tiny percentage ever reach 400 pounds or more. And these people they splash across tabloids & keeping re-running programs on TLC about are extremely rare & have some serious problems most of us do not. However, the fat haters want us to believe that, unless we strictly control ourselves, eat very little, & exercise a great deal, we will ALL continue to keep growing to 600, 700, 800 pounds or more, die young, & be buried in a piano case. For at least 99% of us, that simply is not true.

    • Lori Says:

      Patsy, this is why I’ve never understood this idea that all fat people overeat. Many if not most fat people do maintain a stable weight. By definition, then, they aren’t “overeating,” since they are eating the amount needed to maintain their weight. They’re eating exactly the right amount for their body.

      But, yeah, there are a lot of voices out there trying to convince us that the only thing keeping us from eating ourselves immobile is food restriction and excessive exercise, regardless of whether there’s any evidence for it. I just find it funny how many people honestly seem to think that the reason people get to 500 pounds is by eating themselves there. All it took was donuts. I don’t know anybody, thin or fat, whose experience bears that logic out.

      • Meowser Says:

        Lori, Deb Burgard said something interesting about the “overeating” thing once, that the definition of it in most people’s minds is basically a tautology. Why are people fat? Because they overeat. What’s overeating? Any amount of food that keeps you fat. Yep. Tautology.

        Most people won’t be as impolitic about it as She Whose Full Name Must Never Be Typed and say women should never eat more than 1300 calories a day unless they’re running marathons, because it would just sound…tacky. Only people who make their living from tackiness would go that far, but that doesn’t mean a lot of people aren’t secretly thinking it.

    • Caitlan Says:

      oh, I guess I didn’t really mean perpetually. That seems unlikely, to gain 15 pounds every 4-5 months for the rest of my life. I just meant up until an unknowable/undefined higher point that might take years to get to.

  9. Meowser Says:

    …and for those for whom it is true, they don’t deserve to be treated like circus freaks (or cautionary tales) on teevee. I mean, for gods’ sake, even if some of those folks do binge eat, the media ought to quit nudging people in the ribs about it.

  10. Miriam Heddy Says:

    This is a brilliant post and would be a great 101 post to introduce the idea of FA to people because of that mountain analogy, and because of the concept of those categories.

    My husband is a Category 1. I’m a Category 3. And we’ve been together for over twenty years now, which has, I think, helped me to keep my balance in the midst of the moral panic that says I must be a 2 or I’m lying.

    Feminism’s helped out a lot as well, and I like how you situated this argument within that context of internalized oppression.

    Seriously, this is a brilliant philosophical argument for why FA matters.

  11. Piffle Says:

    I think I’m a catagory two, who much prefers books and video games to exercise and so is edging from being an inbetweenie to being unequivocally fat as I age. Still, I’m comfortable where I am, and I get very cranky when lacking food. Dieting isn’t worth it, though I do like exercise when I think to do it.

  12. Tiana Says:

    Clearly there are people who can’t easily be placed in one of those categories, especially if health problems play a part, but other than that these are great. I don’t know if there should be a fifth category, if one of them needs to be adjusted or if said people are simply exceptions … depends on how many there are, I suppose.

    For the record, I’m someone who used to be in category 1 for a long time and then suddenly shifted to either 2, 3 or 4 if you take out the “anywhere close” since I’m still relatively close to thin. I have no idea which of the three it is since I ironically discovered FA before gaining the weight and therefore never tried to lose it, so who knows if I would succeed and how much effort it would take.

  13. Fantine Says:

    Very interesting post. I think you’re right–the people in Category 2 are the ones that rule the world.

    My husband says he was very thin and wiry up until his late 20s. That’s when he started working at a gym and doing the things that bodybuilders do, and gained a lot of muscle. He started to soften in his 30s. By the time I met him in his 40s, he was in Category 3.

    I am definitely a 4. I can restrict to under 1,000 calories a day for weeks at a time and not lose an ounce, but after restricting that way, the moment I start eating normally I gain several pounds. (I don’t do that anymore, but that is the cycle I went through hundreds of times between the ages of 12 and 27.) I suspect that if I had never dieted, I would be in category 3. All the same, when I nourish myself properly, my weight is high but very stable (plus or minus 5 pounds depending on my monthly cycle).

    • living400lbs Says:

      I suspect that if I had never dieted, I would be in category 3.

      Me too.

    • errihu Says:

      The 2s run the world indeed. These are the people who can drop five pounds in a few months by cutting out the cookie or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Because it’s that easy for them, they assume it is the case for the rest of us. The corollary to that assumption is that 3s and 4s got this way because we ate the cookie and took the elevator. Both are bullshit. I’m a 3. For me to lose weight would probably require upwards of 3-4 hours a day of moderate to intense exercise, regardless of caloric intake. That’s a part time job. I don’t have that kind of time. I resent the 2s and their assumption that all it would take is to “get a little more exercise and eat less”. I don’t feel like driving myself like an ox at the yoke for the rest of my life just to fit in with someone’s imposed beauty standard.

  14. deeleigh Says:

    Great post, Meowzer. I’ve always been a 3, but it’s possible that if I tried to push the envelope too much (enough to become thin), I’d become a 4. It’s happened to relatives of mine.

  15. wriggles Says:

    It’s fascinating to read your take on this.
    If you look closely, 1 and 4 are exactly the same, except 1 is thin, 4 is fat. They are both metabolically stable.

    What you seem to be describing in 2 and 3 is the way that an individuals resistance to calorie reduction is sometimes varied or incomplete. It’s the incompleteness and it’s variety that allows them to resist weight gain whether that’s with a huge amount of effort or virtually none possibly depends more on their personality than anything else.

    It depends how reductive or simple you want to make it, but I suppose I’m saying that there are basically two categories, those who’s metabolism is more responsive/ reactive and those who’s metabolism is more stable/ self contained.

    I’d say mine is more the stable kind. I happen to be hugely resistant to dieting, to the extent that it produces symptoms that are so outlandish and intolerable, that no amount of effort or devotion could overcome them.

    For instance, imagine plunging into clinical depression the moment you decide to go on a diet. Or by gently resisting the urge to eat and that developing into hallucinations, or a form of catatonia.

    Remember this study.

    I don’t think it’s got anything to do with me being fat though, I’m sure there are thin people who would/ be are the same, if they checked.

  16. Leslie Says:

    I have good friend who is somewhere between a 2 and a 3. She has an anxiety disorder and combats that with exercise. She gets up at 5 a.m. runs five miles, then does some sort of class at the gym or lifts weights every night.

    By my calculations, she invests two hours a day to working out, another 11 hours a day to working and driving to and from her office. She is trying to eat healthier, so she cooks dinner. There goes another hour. She usually has a meeting every night, which leaves her ONE HOUR of free time a day which she doesn’t really have because she has a child.

    She believes if I would just do this too, I would be thin. I have to admit that if I invested two hours a day to very strenuous exercise every day, plus was running all over town, I would lose some weight, but I would never been thin or even normal.

    What it really comes down to is the question of “at what price”? Even if I was able to magically achieve thinness, which I know I can’t, what benefit would I have with only one hour of free time a day? Seriously? Her social life is her exercising, she spends most of her free time hiking, biking or running — including the weekends. Even though I don’t like climbing mountains, I should learn to like it.

    What it really comes down to is that she wants me to be as OBSESSED with working out as she is — I guess to validate her decisions.

    I think the analogy about climbing a mountain to get to work is a good one. It’s like the people who talk about no fat people being in concentration camps. Yes, I am sure if all of us were locked up and given no food whatsoever and worked like slaves, we’d all be beautifully emaciated. BUT AT WHAT COST?

    That is what society is really saying. We are unwilling to do whatever it takes, no matter how damaging, no matter how much time it takes, no matter how ridiculous in order to be thin.

    And honestly, they are right.

    I am not willing to do “whatever it takes” if it means having only one hour a day of free time, WLS, climbing a mountain to get to work or living like a concentration camp inmate.

    • meowser Says:

      Yes, I am sure if all of us were locked up and given no food whatsoever and worked like slaves, we’d all be beautifully emaciated.

      …if we didn’t die of organ failure first.

    • living400lbs Says:

      I know someone who does aerobics for a few hours or hikes for a few hours to calm herself down so she can sit still and write. Considering she’s a novelist, this is important to her.

      Yes, this affects her weight a bit. But it’s at least as much “managing the hyperactive disorder” as “getting enough exercise to stay at current weight”.

      • Rosa Says:

        This is how my kid is, and how I was as a child (everything changed when I hit puberty) – *if* we get an hour or two of running-around time for him, he can sit still at the dinner table and go calmly to bed. If not, he RUNS IN CIRCLES while talking or eating and jumps on the bed long past his supposed bed time. We spent two years obsessively feeding him the most calorie-dense foods we could get into him and inched him from “deathly underweight/are you abusing that child” to “on the very low end of normal for age”.

  17. Meems Says:

    This is a fascinating post. I’ve never really thought about categories like this, but I think the general idea is in line with my experiences. My dad and brother are both definitely in category 1, my best friend in category 2, mom is between 2 and 3, and I’m between 3 and 4. I think I was more like a 2 or 3 in high school, but as I’ve gotten older (and I’m only in my mid 20s now), my body has become far more resistant to weight loss.

  18. lilacsigil Says:

    It’s like the people who talk about no fat people being in concentration camps.

    One notable asshat in Australia, whose name I won’t mention, said this to Magda Szubanski, a fat comedian who terrified fat haters by going on a diet, losing a moderate amount of weight – and stopped while she was still fat, saying she’d reached her goal. Her father, a Polish freedom fighter, had in fact been taken to a concentration camp, though he escaped on the way. I hope that this puts at least a brief stop to this nasty meme, at least in Australia.

  19. Leslie Says:

    The whole concentration camp thing. . . it bothered me for a long time until I figured out what they were saying.

    I had said that losing weight for me was impossible, and I was met with, “How come you don’t see fat people in concentration camps?” (Probably because they die, but let’s go with it for a moment.)

    What critics are really saying is that losing weight isn’t completely impossible, like if you got terminal cancer, or some other life threatening disease, you WOULD lose weight.

    What they are really saying, I think, is that you should do whatever it takes to lose weight, no matter how unbelievably stupid or painful it is. If it means literally starving yourself — you should do that. Here’s the kicker, because starving to death or getting cancer is preferable to being fat, in their eyes.

    My father had always been overweight all of his adult life. Not tremendously fat, probably just borderline “obese.” He was extremely physically fit up until the end, he played tennis every single day.

    My father got cancer and the big indication that something was amiss is that he lost 18 pounds in a couple of weeks. He came to visit me (I think he realized something was very wrong), and my mother kept GUSHING about how much weight he had lost, like it was the greatest thing in the world.

    I noticed he didn’t eat his dinner and I asked him what was going on. He said he just didn’t have much of an appetite any more. I knew then that it was something bad. He was diagnosed about a week later.

    Now, to my mother, losing weight was such an awesome, wonderful, terrific thing, you would think my father had found the cure for the common cold. It never occurred to her that rapid weight loss like that was a sign of a terminal illness.

    My father died three months later. Yeah, and his corpse was down to about 180 pounds, the thinnest I had ever seen him in his adult life.

    • living400lbs Says:

      My condolences on losing your father…

      A relative was diagnosed with diabetes last month. She’d lost 50lbs since Thanksgiving and was thrilled! to! be! losing! weight! so! easily! … until she couldn’t catch her breath, her husband called 911, and the paramedics tested her blood and got her to the emergency room.

      [sarcasm] But of course weight loss is always a sign of health. [/sarcasm]

      • wellroundedtype2 Says:

        I doubt you’ll see this, but I just want to add that when people are diagnosed with diabetes and receive proper treatment, their weight often does go (back) up — but it’s a sign of a return to normal functioning. Most (good) endocrinologists know this.

    • Carmel Says:

      My father, after fighting cancer for 11 months, lost a tremendous amount of weight. Everyone in my family battles weight and we are always losing the battle. We knew dad was losing his fight with cancer when he began winning his battle of the bulge. I still remember him joking with us, though, saying “Well, at least I will get to die skinny, eh?”

  20. Caitlan Says:

    Patsy- oh, I guess I didn’t really mean perpetually. I just meant up until an unknowable/undefined higher point that might take years to get to.

    Trabb’s Boy- it’s not a fear, for me, it is just that I slowly gain weight for 4 months straight every year so I don’t know whether it would stabilize at some point or not.

  21. Wendy Says:

    I like how your categories help to explain why we can’t just all get along, at least when it comes to judging other people when it comes to weight. For those who aren’t very challenged when it comes to maintaining a lower weight, the fact that it could be different for other people just doesn’t make sense at all-it must be they are morally superior!
    Although I’ve made the choice to lose weight, I completely empathize with those who don’t want to go to that effort-hell, I didn’t for many years, and that was ok.
    And I refuse to make the effort to get to the weight my doctor recommends. Yep, I’m one of those who lost over a hundred lbs and it still isn’t good enough for my doctor!

  22. Becky Says:

    I’m a 3 – when I eat less and excercise more I do lose weight. But then I get hungry. And I end up eating more and gaining the weight back. I don’t think being a 3 rather than a 4 makes any practical difference to my life, because I’m not capable of spending the rest of my life ignoring that hunger.

  23. Things to Read « Living ~400lbs Says:

    [...] at Fatfu on fatergories: [N]ot everyone has the same shot at permanent thinness, at least not the kind that is associated [...]

  24. Rosa Says:

    I think i’m a 3 but I’ve never really tried to lose weight. I might be a perennial gainer, too – about 5-10 pounds a year since I was in my mid-20s with a brief fall due to difficult pregnancy.

    There should be a category for “is thin but can’t get any thinner despite constant dieting and/or exercise” – I know a couple of those folks, including my son’s grandma who basically lives on coffee with saccharine in it.

    • Meowser Says:

      Rosa, I think those people are still 2’s; I mentioned in my criteria that even 2’s might not be able to get as thin as they think they should be, but they’re still thin.

  25. sanabituranima Says:

    I was born a 1, became a 3/4 because of meds, and due to med changes, I am now a 2. (Basically, I’m one one medication which has a side-effect of weight gain and another which has the side-effect of weight loss.)

    I have never been happy with my body. I feel like I ought to have the body I had as a type 1, but wih the boobs and bottom I had as a type 3/4 stuck onto it. That is unnatural. I feel at my least ugly now, but still ugly.

    • Simone Says:

      Major sympathy there. I’m either a 2 or a 3, depending on where you want to draw the line. One of the hardest realizations I’ve ever had is that, while I can get myself to a “healthy” weight with a reasonable amount of effort, it is all but impossible for me to have the body shape I had when I was a skinny teenager. And that’s really, really okay.

  26. Patty Says:

    Great post, very thought provoking. I don’t think I actually fit in any of those categories though.

  27. wellroundedtype2 Says:

    I’m just reading this now…
    and it’s good.
    Really good.

    I hate the circular definition of “if you are fat you must be eating too much.” I don’t go around telling 1s that they must not be eating enough. There’s this adorable couple in their 20s that I’ve been hanging around with lately from time to time, both are tall and slender and at as much as they need, mostly but not strictly vegetarian, and who on earth would I be to tell they they needed to eat meat in order to gain weight! And, as 1s, they aren’t judgemental about size overall.

    I’ve realized that I really do love feeding people. I like it when people come to my house hungry and leave having eaten as much as they want to (or as little). I find this to be a deeply nurturing thing. I also want to bake and make candy and soup and salads and sandwiches and everything yummy with other people and for other people — what an expression of community! (Meowser knows that people who come to my house get fed.)

  28. Better Happy Than…Uh, Happy? « fat fu Says:

    [...] Comments Better Happy Than… on And Now I Am Deathfat…wellroundedtype2 on Fatergorieswellroundedtype2 on [...]


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