real women, size 12-14

I got an email from one of those extremely popular TV shows that no one I know actually watches. I was trying to feed myself with one hand and spooning sweet potato into the baby’s mouth with the other. The email had come up on my phone and I thumbed over it messily, unable to resist.

Would I be interested in coming on the show, the email asked, to talk about my experience as a real woman?

I was interested! Yes! I will talk about being a woman on national television! It’s a powerful, sometimes difficult, confusing, meaningful experience! For me, personally, there is this big question about yoga—is it possible to go through life as a modern woman without doing it at all?

But wait. There was a little more.

They were looking specifically for someone size 12-14, who isn’t comfortable with her appearance. This, succinctly, was the working definition of “real woman.”

115210

(source)

So, how about it? The emailer was obviously in a hurry, but she was friendly.

Eden banged on the table. MORE. Seriously, cow, what’s the hold-up? (She refers to me as her cow, you know, with her eyes, even when I’m not actively giving milk. It’s a pesky habit.)

I laughed at my phone and gave her more. Then, immediately, without thinking, I wrote back. And then I thought for a minute.

I am generally a proponent of the “we all know what was meant” school of thought. I think maybe this is an underrepresented group on the internet—generally I pretend I’m not a member, in order to avoid being unnecessarily yelled at. Political correctness in language has become so nit-pickingly obsessive that it can sound a lot like a desperate effort to make up for the wanton callousness of the in-person world. Some pieces have so many disclaimers, you can hardly find the subject text. (“I fully recognize my own privilege, in its every complex, subtle, tiny iteration: to begin, I am sighted, so I am able to clearly make out these letters that form the words I am typing, which gives me a significant advantage in life over people who suffer from a range of ocular differences that affect the way that they perceive and are able to interact with the visual world. Of course, not everyone will understand this as an ‘advantage,’ per se, and to even use this sort of judgment-laden language reveals my own implicit biases…”)

I also totally appreciate how tempting it can be, as a relatively smart person who reads a lot, to quibble over semantics. You feel like you’re accomplishing something, doing nerdy battle against the forces of ignorance and oversimplification and raising the red pen of equality. I spot a typo in the New York Times, sometimes, and a small, smug smile seizes my lips and I shake my head disapprovingly. “Ha! Gotcha!” The writer assumes that everyone is male—I roll my eyes and resist the urge to leave a pithy, biting comment. I AM NOT A MAN, thanks very much. (I need to maybe work on my biting comments, anyway).

So when you say “real woman”, giant TV show, I know what you’re talking about.

 

 

You’re talking about someone who doesn’t look like the photoshopped, glistening-limbed, ultra-thin, poreless–skinned, preternaturally bright-eyed, perky-boobed visions of femininity we’re all constantly presented with to the point of tear leaking saturation. Real women are the rest of us. The underrepresented majority of us. The ones who will never be arranged, mostly naked, on a billboard. We are only supposed to feel bad about this, I think, because we are expected to have been convinced, simultaneously, that this sort of thing is synonymous with female success. Look at the timeless, classic arrangement: rich, famous man dates/marries abnormally gorgeous young woman. Often a model or someone has “done a little modeling” (which is maybe even cooler). These things, we’ve learned, are equivalent: a man is powerful in the world through his social and financial achievements, a woman through the chance and strict maintenance of her physical composition, her surfaces, extending only as deep as her “bone structure.” Even though this type of success is complicated by how poorly so many professional beauties are treated and how expendable and brief most careers based on a girl/woman’s appearance are, we’re taught to be jealous.

We are the lucky ones, their heavy-lidded eyes seem to suggest from the glossy ad pages that outnumber the quick content in every women’s magazine. Real women are not so fortunate. We are the 99%.

And we are a size 12- 14, apparently.

PROM-006 - The spaceship Prometheus makes its way to a distant planet.

(source)

Maybe this is the clothing size range of the average American woman these days? I remember once hearing that 12 was the average size and that number has been sitting around in my head ever since, taking up space I could definitely use for something better.

I don’t think the person who emailed me meant it this way, but it seems totally possible that the TV show did: if you are a size 12-14, you are probably feeling pretty sad on some level, about your body. You are also fit to represent all of the women who feel left behind by the cruel whims of fashion, by virtue of being approximately the size they probably are too. Woe unto the women who exceed a size 14! (Unless a separate email went out to a different group?) And the women who are smaller than a size 12—how triumphant they must be feeling! (Unless they will also be represented, being sad, too, because they are still not perfect or thin enough.)

Actually, I don’t want to pick at the TV show and the email. They are simply pointing out something that’s already everywhere. They only exist because of something much more pressing- this tendency to divide women along the line of our sizes. The practice of pretending a compliment by calling some of us “real.” The fact that “thinner” has come to mean “more attractive”, generally speaking, and the effort to address that through ostensibly supporting the ones who don’t cut it by defining them as more authentic, if not actually better.

No, no, we’re reassured, SOME people think “real” women are even better! It’s just the big, bad beauty-media-machine, churning out images of impossible-looking fantasy girls faster than the speed of light—THEY are the ones we’re fighting against. The people who tell us these things mean well (I have been one of them, and I definitely know I mean well!), but I can’t help noticing that “real woman” is beginning to sound a little like an accusation. Like a failing. You’re the gritty, honest item. You’re the slums. You’re the cold, pimply truth. And there’s no mistaking it: being a “real” woman is all about what you look like. Our appearances, even when they can’t lead to that kind of success we’re all supposed to want most, are still the first thing. They are the tag hanging off us that shows which section of the store we belong in. We literally are our clothing size.

spaceship-wallpaper-3

(source)

The email isn’t original in its accidental offensiveness—it’s earnestly piggybacking off the unavoidable idea that we must be sad, when we are real. Real=sad, now. Of course it does, because “real” is the opposite of “stunningly beautiful.” And stunningly beautiful is the constant, often unspoken desire.

The TV show is, I think, trying to help. There will be a special, I’m guessing, about how damaging the media’s portrayal of beauty can be. About how much pressure women are under to look a certain way. Real issues for real people. I write about them a lot, too. I think these are really important topics. They’ve become increasingly popular topics. Which is opening up new, interesting issues.

Because this is happening, I think it’s also important to look at what it means to call someone a “real woman” right now, today, in this environment. What are we saying about women? About what matters? About the way we are expected to already feel? About the way we’re supposed to feel about other women, who look different from us? Despite my best efforts to sit tight in the “we all know what was meant” camp, I can’t help but write this piece. This is me giving in. This is me standing up. Or at least standing up halfway from my seat, sweet potato smeared everywhere.

“The thing is,” I wrote back, “I just don’t feel that bad about the way I look. But if you ever want to talk to a real woman, a new mom, who is feeling better and better about herself, let me know!”

I was surprised when I got the response, “Will do, thanks!”

It was really very nice of her.

Still, I kind of doubt I’ll ever appear on national TV to discuss the topic of being a real woman of my particular size (which is not, by the way, 12-14, so I am automatically disqualified anyway), life, happiness, challenges. But if I ever do, I hope I remember to point out that, while we’re getting into semantics, absolutely every woman is “real.” Even the models on the billboards. Even the women who aren’t actually on billboards but look similar to the ones who are. And being among the 99% of women who don’t look like that doesn’t have to mean automatic self-hatred or even mild self-dislike. Some of us real women love ourselves, size 12 and up bodies and all. Size whatever we happen to be bodies and all. Some of us love our bodies FOR instead of despite their deviations from the standard pretty line. Some of us are just not paying a ton of attention to exactly how our bodies fit or don’t fit into the random mold we’re always shown. But if we do care, and if we do care terribly, painfully, as we too often do, then we all need to address this issue not by continuing to divide women up into groups based on how we look but by emphasizing how much more than our appearances we are and always have been. That’s what’s real, people.

spaceships-vehicles_00412627

(I couldn’t think of ANY photos that made sense for this piece, so I just went with spaceships. Since I like to look at them. source)

*  *  *

Unroast: Today I love the way I look in yellow. I remember people always saying that yellow is a really hard color to wear, that very few people can “get away” with yellow. Isn’t it funny to wear a color defiantly? As though it matters at all.

35 Comments »

Kate on April 23rd 2014 in beauty, body, feminism, perfection, weight

35 Responses to “real women, size 12-14”

  1. Emily responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    http://ow.ly/w5iYK

    Size 14 is the average women’s clothing size.

  2. San D responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Actually I think the 12-14 crowd slips between the cracks of “self acceptability”. Not fat, not morbidly obese, not too thin, not thin enough. Fashion designers design for the smaller frame, so the 12-14 crowd gets lumped in with the “rest”, which makes it impossible to find something less dowdy, like mom jeans. As for the tv show interviewing “real women”, they are looking for controversy wherever they can get it. Even if you didn’t feel bad about your body, by the time you left the stage you would have to start unroasting immediately.

  3. Lisa responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    What I wouldn’t give to be a size 12 or 14. Sigh. The media is SO clueless.

  4. Pamela responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:17 pm #

    “Political correctness in language has become so nit-pickingly obsessive that it can sound a lot like a desperate effort to make up for the wanton callousness of the in-person world.”

    I don’t think it’s an effort to make up for wanton callousness, it’s an effort to counteract it and make a difference, however small. Words matter. The false “real woman” construct has at least as much of an impact on young women’s self esteem as billboard-sized images of women’s bodies plastered around town. Which of course you get, since you wrote about it in this post. In this case you felt strongly enough to “quibble over semantics,” because this is personal to you. Other writers feel the need to be PC about other issues, you know?

    I think being as PC as possible serves a purpose. It’s a way to be kind. I admire people who take the time to recognize their privilege and choose their words carefully so as not to harm other people, whether those people are impressionable young women or the visually impaired.

  5. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:26 pm #

    @Pamela
    Well defended! I think this is the best argument for trying to be as PC as possible. Words do matter. And there are obviously levels of this. I think as a writer, though, I can’t help but leaning in the direction of keeping it clean (even if I don’t always do it myself!). And I also find that trying really hard to think of absolutely everyone’s perspective can prevent people from just talking, and sharing their OWN perspective. It’s OK to come from different places, without having to explain the hell out of them. It’s also, I think, OK to not think about your own various privileges every single time you want to talk about something. In general, it’s important to try to have some awareness about how you fit into the world, but applying lots of disclaimers doesn’t necessarily serve that purpose. Sometimes, it seems, they actually feel like covering your butt so you don’t have to think very much at all.

    I think this topic is really interesting. Was wondering if someone would chime in in favor of being PC (I honestly felt pretty awkward even mentioning how I don’t always love it!).

  6. Pamela responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:41 pm #

    @Kate Yeah, there’s definitely a line. And I think you can demonstrate caring about other people’s perspectives without using any disclaimers, by choosing words that are inclusive and not basing your arguments on false premises and assumptions to begin with. Generally, I think people who try extra hard to be PC have the right idea in mind, but there are definitely those who don’t really understand the point!

  7. Michelle responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:44 pm #

    Interesting blog post. I’m curious why you felt the need to note you are NOT a size 12-14? It came off as sounding like you are distancing yourself from size 12-14 women. Since you post pictures of your body, it is evident that you are smaller than size 12-14, so why did you need to point it out? It seems like you want people to know that you are not only above the “real women” in terms of your security in how you look, but also that you are unlike those women in size, too. In a way you are framing yourself as being superior to the “real women size 12-14″ because you don’t fit in to that category. Similar to how those models on the billboards feel superior to women who are not ultra thin and stunning.

  8. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:45 pm #

    @Pamela
    Fair enough!
    Yes– I agree. There’s a way to talk about things sensitively and concisely. There’s also room to understand that privilege exists in a gazillion different forms without having to explicitly acknowledge them. I think smart people who write on social issues are often able to give the impression, without having to get into it too much, that they are not out to step on anyone while telling their stories or commenting on problems.

  9. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:52 pm #

    @Michelle
    Wow. This reaction surprises me!! I mentioned it because I thought it was funny and odd that the TV show people just assumed I was between these very particular sizes. As though maybe that’s the only reason I’d be writing about this? I don’t know. It just struck me as weird.

    I am absolutely not framing myself as superior to larger women! To do that I’d have to have decided that thinness is the most critical measure of worthiness, which is something I don’t believe. It’s interesting that you assume that I would think that– this is exactly the sort of thinking I want to combat. The assumption that bigger is worse, “real,” different in some unfortunate way. The assumption that we should evaluate and separate women based on anything physical. But maybe you haven’t read very much of my writing?

  10. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 3:56 pm #

    @Michelle
    Also, do you think models on billboards really feel superior to other women? Maybe some do. But what a depressing system: that if you weigh a few lbs less you get to judge the person a few pounds heavier and feel superior. If you weigh many lbs less, you get to feel commensurately superior to the women who weigh that much more. I bet some people feel this way, and that seems really sad and dangerous and wasteful to me. And also like it requires a lot of energy that I, for one, don’t really have to spare.

  11. Kate responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 4:16 pm #

    @Michelle
    OY. I have one last thing to say! (Your comment really aggravated me)
    I guess I just automatically identify as a woman who isn’t in the ranks of the obviously gorgeous, standardly appealing, fits all the rules of beauty. i’ve written about this a lot. But to rehash quickly: There are a lot of ways that the world judges women and finds our appearances lacking. Weight is only one category. So when I see people dividing women up into the “real” and the “hot,” I identify automatically on the “real” end of things.

  12. Erin Lee responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 7:45 pm #

    @Kate & @Michelle, my knee jerk reaction to the whole “I’m not a size 12-14″ quote was also as if you were distancing yourself from that group, and then I realized who I’m reading. DUH. And then my mind went to what yours (Kate’s) was, that the TV show ASSUMED you were in that range because of your writing/blog/views. Anyone who reads more than two blog posts of yours would know that’s not what you meant. I think it’s just that, unfortunately, knee-jerk reactions tend to be negative in context (in general)… especially when it comes to weight-talk.
    Good post. Every woman is real.

  13. mel responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    When I was a teenager I was somewhere between size 5& 7, and then within the space of a year… Bam! Size 12! I was so shocked that suddenly none of my clothes fit and I didn’t even notice any change happening.

    I guess size 12 feels a little bit like walking a fine line. Self acceptance vs sadness runs about 50-50. In my head I am still a size 5, but occasionally I’ll get a photo of myself or I’ll bump my hips into somebody and it feels like I’m trapped in a stranger’s body. Feels pretty strange.

    I’m blessed with so many other fun attributes that I really couldn’t be bothered with weight issues. I’m also highly aware of my own mortality and I generally dislike working hard to achieve something that’s just going to turn to dust in the end…

  14. Cindy responded on 23 Apr 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    Hi Kate! Another great piece – and I love the spaceships! I think it fits (I’ve also been watching a lot of Doctor Who lately). The definitions of realness are so frustratingly narrow that we’ve begun to use them like weapons – how dare you be proud of your size-2ness! REAL women have curves! (or, you know, they aren’t super curvy. Or they were, but had a mastectomy. Or any other number of things that can make a real body)

    My #1 New Year’s resolution was to give up hate-reading (aka reading things that I knew would make my blood boil, to excess, because of the outrage). I’ve been doing well, and I’m happier for it. That doesn’t mean that I’ve escaped all things that are upsetting, but I’m monitoring my reactions. Your blog is always thought-provoking and so generally uplifting that it provides me with what I need – thoughtful commentary on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the miraculous (hi Eden!) that gives me pause, but no rage.

    I may be a woman who has maintained a 6-8 dress size (am I less real, mainstream media?), but it took 8 months of therapy to help me not hate my body. I don’t always love it, but I no longer loathe myself when my pants get a little tight (thanks, half-price Easter candy!). It’s not an easy road for any of us, but I’d love it if we could just be “women” in all of our varieties. Thanks for being a sweet, thoughtful voice in all of this. I look forward to every post.

  15. Chanel responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 12:38 am #

    Gosh, I’ve been reading your blog for the last couples months, and I just wanted to comment that I absolutely adore your writing and posts. You’re optimistic and positive without being pollyanna-like or fake, and unpretentiously insightful.

    Luckily, I don’t usually stress over my weight so much, at least anymore. And it was because of wrestling (I’m a high school senior) that I really stopped caring so much about my weight and size. It’s funny, because wrestlers has a reputation of being obsessive about weight, but the sport really teaches you that you can strong and powerful and awesome at any size. You can be “real” and awesome at any size or weight.
    Unfortunately after I got into wrestling, my parents would bug me about my size and said that I was too big and muscular and my mom was like, “You have to get down to 130 pounds!” and I would think,”The only time I’ve been down to 130 pounds was when I was dehydrated and eating around 700-800 calories /less/ than I was supposed to…”
    A fixation on thinness is particularly embedded in Asian cultures and it can be toxic. Voices like yours are an absolute breath of fresh air.

  16. Katy responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 5:02 am #

    Awesome post. Awesome response to the tv show.

    I still worry about my weight sometimes, and then I read a post like this and it refreshes my thinking. Love it!

  17. Krystina responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 10:11 am #

    @ Chanel, good for you! It’s hard to be satisfied with your body when you’re in high school AND you’re a wrestler! I would love to be more muscular! Keep on being you dear.

  18. lisa responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 12:39 pm #

    This whole post would have been so more powerful if you had just left out the I am not a size 12 -14. It was jarring and seemed to undermine the rest of the post.

  19. Cait responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    “I also totally appreciate how tempting it can be, as a relatively smart person who reads a lot, to quibble over semantics.”

    I know this post was about so much more than that, but that line really spoke to me. I do that, all the time. My boyfriend is not PC, in the slightest, and it took me a long time to recognize the difference between a lack of PC-ness and cruelty/ignorance/other bad things. He is the kindest man I’ve ever met, and I keep my mouth shut a whole lot more now, because I try to recognize my knee-jerk impulse to wave my education around in the air like an obnoxious flag, correcting and quibbling over the slightest thing.

    Also I’m surprised by all the reactions to your “I’m not a size 12-14″ statement. Seems like a lot of people missed the point.

  20. Pamela responded on 24 Apr 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    I just wanted to add that I think I understand why people were stung by your line stating that you’re not a 12-14. Even though you of course didn’t intend to distance yourself from people size 12 and over, and in fact the conclusion of your post is that women shouldn’t be divided into categories, in actuality you are already separate from the 12-14 group because you have thin privilege. Your regular readers know you don’t believe a woman’s worth is related to her size, but the rest of the world does believe that and it has real and terrible effects and brings about experiences that are specific to being “plus-sized.” So even though you didn’t mean to emphasize your privilege, that’s how it came off. The heft of the world’s messed up value system trumped your intentions.

    I’s a bit loaded to write about how people who are bigger than you might feel about themselves. I think that being a big size is something you have to experience to understand. Ideally, no one would be sad about her weight, and the categories would dissolve and everyone would be in the same boat. But in reality many people are sad for a good reason – they experience discrimination and even hatred related to the size of their bodies. I guess I’m just saying that the categories suck, but they exist, and trying to act like they don’t erases people’s experiences/identities.

    I know this discussion has gotten a little heated, but it’s pretty interesting. I always appreciate your excellent writing for making me think.

  21. Cheryl responded on 25 Apr 2014 at 10:40 am #

    Gee, I was relieved you finally addressed your own size since in the back of my mind I kept thinking, “she doesn’t look like a size 12.” I was beginning to think you wouldn’t address it at all to make a point that you are so not identified/attached to your appearance you can’t even remember nor care to think of your size. Which would have been odd because in reality we purchase clothes and wear clothing with a range of numbers on them.

    Ladies, size is size, just that. Your perceptions color those numbers. Kate, I see you don’t like being projected upon. When you’re stating a fact, you’re hardly distancing yourself nor drawing yourself closer. You brought it up because it was an actual factor in the conversation. Even if you wanted to be on the show it wouldn’t be possible as you are not in the range of sizes they request.

    Done.

  22. Kate responded on 25 Apr 2014 at 11:34 am #

    @Pamela
    Oh, these categories definitely exist and definitely suck.And I had hoped that would show up in my writing. We should never blame women for already feeing bad. It’s a frustrating pattern. I wrote this piece a while back about how it’s fair to feel disappointed about your appearance: http://www.eatthedamncake.com/2012/11/30/its-fair-to-be-disappointed-by-how-you-look/
    I am a big proponent of never blaming women. That’s too easy. It’s not that simple.

    I don’t think I can speak for every woman, certainly, that would be crazy. But I do think commonalities exist and are really important to recognize. Every form of discrimination or hurt or feeling unseen is different, and they’re also all similar on some level. In general, I want to argue for standing together against ALL forms of discrimination against women, whether or not they apply directly to me at this exact moment. Some of them do, so I can start there. This piece is supposed to be about commonalities– it’s interesting that divisions are showing up. But I would’ve felt really strange writing it without at least mentioning that I’m not a size 12-14, because otherwise it would’ve seemed like I was pretending that I was. Not that I think these numbers necessarily have to mean SO MUCH and not that I think that they should never mean anything. I was trying to make sure I was upfront, just in case. Interesting that this is the part that can feel offensive to some people- I was caught off guard. But thanks for talking about it! I don’t claim to understand everything ever and I appreciate you taking the time to break some of this down for me from your perspective. It’s enlightening and helpful.

  23. Kate responded on 25 Apr 2014 at 11:35 am #

    @Cheryl
    Yup. Exactly.

  24. Kate responded on 25 Apr 2014 at 11:36 am #

    @Cait
    My brothers are like this too! I used to get offended all the time. Then I look at the way they act in the world– they are kind and inclusive and warm and funny. I realized I was getting it wrong. It’s interesting, isn’t it?

  25. anon responded on 25 Apr 2014 at 9:00 pm #

    Wow. It’s like the people who had negative comments have NEVER READ KATE BEFORE. The things you accuse her of shocked me. Of ALL people I would never expect this blogger to be on the receiving end of these kinds of comments. You show a complete lack of understanding about what her entire blog is about.
    I know when you blog you are open to any comments, and I think Kate is a strong woman capable of taking whatever is written here. I don’t feel I have to defend her, I really don’t.
    I’m simply adding these thoughts because with all the negativity and expectations about women and their bodies — and not just in our society at large; often between women themselves, which is so incredibly sad — I read Kate for the refreshing way she never, ever succumbs to that. Her entire platform rails against it.
    Carry on, Kate. You’re fabulous.

  26. BlueSaved responded on 26 Apr 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I love that people are trying to say what dress size is average when every manufacturer’s size 12-14 is different from the last. I’m a large frame who has to buy from a range of four different dress sizes depending on the brand, and sometimes depending on different articles of clothes within the same brand. And all of the cool stuff usually doesn’t come in my range of sizes… Thank God for Lane Bryant, Torrid and Old Navy. Finding a decent, plain shirt and jeans is an hours long endeavor anywhere else.

  27. JJ responded on 26 Apr 2014 at 8:49 am #

    I too loved the article right up until the part where you felt you had to clarify that you were not a size 12-14. I was so impressed! I read along, thinking wow, she really is one of the few women who does not feel it is important to claim her rightful place in the hierarchy of thinness (i.e., rightness). But then at the end I said oh, there it is. It would have been completely ordinary and expected, and I wouldn’t have commented if you hadn’t come so close and tantalized us with the possibility!

  28. Sarah responded on 26 Apr 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Hmm…I didn’t get the vibe at all that Kate was trying distance herself from size 12-14 women by clarifying that she was not in that size range. It seemed more like she was just pointing out the ludicrousness of the TV show looking only for women fitting in that very narrow size range, and of somehow assuming that she was in that size range just because she writes about body image — an assumption that turned out to be incorrect (plus, she didn’t even say whether she was larger or smaller, just that she wasn’t size 12-14).

    The spaceship picture made me laugh hysterically for some reason :D

  29. Cheryl responded on 26 Apr 2014 at 9:58 am #

    I run after my toddler, I eat dessert, I have thick roll of back fat. I’m also 37. Often I feel old, out of shape and tired.
    But I’m size 10.
    Now I know I should be heading straight to the nearest checkpoint to claim my place in the hierarchy of thinness! That’s amazing. It sounds like I get to be right all the time, too. Now, where do I sign up for this again? Or do I have to be a size 0-8? It’s unclear. But tantalizing.

    If my ego were wrapped up in the ever fluctuating (by brand), slowly increasing (I was a 6 then 8 now 10) number stamped on my clothes it would be so simple and easy. Hey, I’ll probably be a 12 eventually! (Then I guess I forfeit my membership in the Golden Skinnies.)

    Unfortunately there’s a human in that number and it’s not that simple.

  30. M responded on 27 Apr 2014 at 6:08 am #

    Exactly what @JJ said. Kate had to claim her rightful place in the hierarchy of body size. Not what I would have expected from her. Perhaps it’s your subconscious, Kate? I find it very difficult to read your compulsion to include that line in any other way. But it appears there is no consensus here.

  31. sara responded on 27 Apr 2014 at 7:36 am #

    Kate, I agree with everyone that says that you weren’t distancing yourself from a larger size. You were just stating a fact! To everyone who reacted negatively to that sentence, maybe you should give Kate the benefit of the doubt. It’s one thing to criticize someone who is looking at the issue in what you perceive to be the wrong way, it’s another to jump all over someone because you want to perceive that sentence in a certain way. Great article Kate.

  32. Amy responded on 28 Apr 2014 at 8:50 am #

    Kate, I have nothing to say about anything other than your unroast. I once knew a guy who was a musician and wrote a song about a girl. Like they do. It was about how he was in love with this girl and she was so unique. She was the only girl he’d ever met who looked good in yellow. I had not thought about that person or that song in a long time. So thanks, Kate! It made me smile.

  33. Wendy responded on 28 Apr 2014 at 10:38 am #

    I love your blog! I have one with a very small audience called Beauty Redefined. If you would be interested in writing a post as a guest author, I would love that. I think your message is really important.

  34. Kande responded on 30 Apr 2014 at 7:03 am #

    I have read Kate’s blog for quite awhile now, and I love every post – they are always so thought provoking! When I saw the title of this one, I was a bit surprised – as having seen the pictures of Kate on previous posts, I did not think she was size 12-14. But if Dove has taught us anything, it’s that women come in visually different shapes/physiques, yet can fit into the same clothing size. So I just assumed that was the case, or that since we never met maybe she hadn’t been but now was size 12-14?

    I then thought nothing more of it until I got to her disclaimer. And then I thought “Ohhhh Nelly!”. Not because I thought she was trying to be superior about her size, or dismissive of a larger size, or feeling insecure so wanting it stated “for the record” as would hate to be thought of as that size. I have read far too many of her blog posts to ever think that way. The reason I cringed was because I knew (and the comments verify) how quickly and easily that line would be misinterpreted.

    Here is the interesting part – does that not tie in nicely to the “PC” discussion? As it seems people are knee jerk reacting, taking quick offense, and wanting a scramble for a PC apology? I find that derailment quite fascinating, how that one simple line highlighted so effectively the trouble with walking that line. Especially in the writing world, where there is no context of visual and auditory cues, no quick conversational back-and-forths, no vocal nuances; if the conversation was “IRL” readers wouldn’t have the same forced opportunity to just read, sit, stew. Had Kate read this blog post as part of a large group discussion, her comment could have been quickly and easily clarified – especially with the in-person visual cue that she was obviously not size 12-14, so her saying “and uh, I don’t even fit their narrow parametres so obviously they don’t know me at all!” would have been very unlikely to in that context to be seen as offensive! Pointing out my implied phrasing of what she would have said IRL, being different than what she wrote is a valid point to – I talk completely differently from how I write. My opinions are the same but I use a lot more fillers, stumble more, am more animated, more sarcastic/joking – all the things which do not translate well into written word.

    Maybe that is the problem of the whole PC/non-PC. We are moving as a society rapidly away from “IRL” conversations, and while the benefit is being able to communicate with people all over the world and gleen access to multiple perspectives – while our perspectives widen, our communication skills are becoming dangerously narrow. After all, isn’t it said that 90%(or something close to that) of communication is non-verbal? Unfortunately our non-verbal communication is closer to 0% is when done solely through type (and TV or radio not that much better with all the forced edits!).

  35. anon responded on 30 Apr 2014 at 1:06 pm #

    I commented earlier but I really do have to come back and add something because I am so bothered by many of these comments.

    We live in a society where we are so often made to feel bad about ourselves, especially women. In my adult life I have been as high as 215 lbs and I have been as low as 120 lbs and at both of those weights and at every single pound in between I looked in the mirror and was disappointed by what I saw. Is this because I hate myself or I am filled with self-loathing? No. It’s because I have spent my entire life assaulted by commercials and movies and magazines and every other media outlet telling me that I have to be thin but I also have to have feminine curves but I also have to be toned and athletic and oh good god you can be skinny but you’ll still be gross if you have cellulite or too much body hair or skin tags or any number of other things deemed unacceptable in this air-brushed world.

    When I say “assaulted” I do not think that is hyperbolic. I have fought to find a way to love myself despite always feeling that my hair wasn’t right or my body wasn’t right or my clothes weren’t right or my thoughts weren’t right or I wasn’t fitting the ideal in some other way. We as a society create shame in women and make them feel like outsiders, like they’re all alone in whatever separates them from the ideal. (Did you see Kate’s previous post on weirdos?) This is epidemic in our society, and the older I get (and as I see it repeated in younger generations) the more it breaks my heart.

    But it’s bad enough when THEY do it (men or the media or whatever other powers that be). But when we women do it to each other? And especially someone like Kate, who devotes so much to fighting this epidemic? That really sucks. Shame on those who can’t separate the perpetrators from the fighters. I know how defensive a lot of us feel about our sizes but to say that Kate is “claiming her rightful place in the hierarchy of body size” is such a ridiculous bullshit thing to say about a woman who has always made her position so clear on these very issues. (Did you see her post before the last one, on what she wants for her daughter when she grows up?) Her entire blog has been fighting against what you are accusing her of.

    I can’t believe I have spent this much time writing this out, I don’t even know Kate, but I have to say that I’m really so damn sick of women doing this to each other.