Archive for the 'weight' Category

my skinny friend and the women who judge her

A version of this piece is up on HuffPost

When I was really skinny, people were always telling me about it.

“You’re so skinny!”

Just in case I’d forgotten.

Sometimes they said it like a compliment. As though if you peeled those words back the words underneath would say “you’re so beautiful.”

Sometimes they said it like they were sort of pissed off at me. Like, who did I think I was, being skinny like that? Just who the hell did I even think I was?

Sometimes they said it and then they said, “You need to eat something. I’m worried.” And looked all worried.

(me, at 16 or 17, not particularly wanting to be thin at all, and wearing annoyingly large pants that would in a few years be too tight to pull past my thighs)

I learned that I was skinny through other girls and women constantly pointing it out. Until I was told what I looked like for the thousandth or so time, I actually hadn’t given my weight any thought. Because I was, what? Thirteen? And homeschooled. And had already decided that I was probably a perfect goddess and had moved on to other things, like practicing piano and cutting the perfect slingshot from a branch and trying to sew just one, please god just ONE, awesome golden elfin gown.

And then it turned out that I was skinny. Which was probably due mostly to my metabolism and partly to the fact that my parents cooked vegetables from my mom’s garden and chicken (always chicken! Unless it was, please, please no, fish. Ugh) for dinner.

It turned out that I was skinny. But more to the point, it turned out that being skinny was important. It said something meaningful about me.

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Kate on August 26th 2012 in beauty, body, weight

ballerina vs fat

I am watching a documentary about ballerinas.

It’s a hard life. A nineteen-year-old with dramatic cheekbones flits across the screen, all swift, clean lines and blade thin limbs. She practices all day long, every day, to be here, preparing to dance the lead in Swan Lake. She doesn’t smile, even afterwards, in an interview with the filmmaker. She is intensely disciplined and she looks so fragile, so cold, that I want someone to wrap her in a quilt.

Like so many little girls, before we learn to be more original and that our necks aren’t nearly long enough, I wanted to be a ballerina.

“But why?” Bear asks me, when I tell him.

I don’t know. I think it had something to do with the outfits. I think it had something to do with the fact that dolls are often ballerina dolls, and people always give you ballet themed things as a little girl. As a little girl, I liked lots of things– especially trains, whales, and ballet. So at least I kept it diverse. And I knew, I always knew, that I was the worst in my ballet class. Utterly unflexible, bigger than everyone else, with perpetually snarled hair and stick-out underwear.

(these girls would probably have refused to talk to me in class. Or be seen with me after. source)

But I choose the ballet documentary because there is still something there. Look how incredibly slender and graceful they are! I want, watching them, to immediately stop eating. To never eat carbs again. For a moment, it seems more important to be that slender than to be anything else. This is the human body pared down to its essentials. Every movement is a work of art, vivid, exposed, exact. They are so beautiful. Everything they wear looks good, even tutus. 

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Kate on July 24th 2012 in beauty, body, weight

the little girl who thought she wasn’t pretty

This is a guest post. When I read it, it sort of hit me over the head.  Thank you, Bethany.  


Recently, I was sitting by the pool with my best friend’s six year old daughter, who happens to be significantly overweight for her age.  There are several medical and genetic explanations for this, but I wasn’t thinking about any of those things when she looked at me and said, quite simply, “I’m not pretty because I have a fat belly.”

In that moment, we were the same.  The twenty six year old woman and the six year old girl were exactly the same, living with an all encompassing inadequacy.

This should never be the case.  I should be both wiser and more jaded.  She should be oblivious and happier.  At this point in my life, I should be full of sassy body positive quotes and affirmations.  And at this point in her life, she shouldn’t even need them.

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Kate on July 18th 2012 in body, guest post, weight

the ice cream sundae challenge

I had this crazy dream last night. In it, I was eating an ice cream sundae. Let me just tell you about this for a second:

It was in a fluted plastic cup. At the bottom were melted heaps of chocolate and vanilla ice cream, buried under a thick layer of hot fudge, which was studded with brownie chunks. Fluffy piles of whipped cream hid cool, slick slices of strawberry and banana.

Someone else was holding the sundae. I don’t know who, but I was probably not supposed to be taking so much of it. And I kept spooning enormous bites into my mouth. It was heaven. Cool and creamy and sweet and textured.

I kept having more. Another bite, another bite. I was trying to eat quickly, glancing furtively around. I wanted so much more, but I was trying to hide what I was doing.

And the whole time, I was thinking, “This is so bad for me. I wonder how many calories are in this thing? I shouldn’t be eating this. This is all sugar. Sugar kills. I am basically killing myself right now. I am doing to gain so much weight if I keep eating like this. I need to stop.”

In my dream, I was embarrassed and guilty. For eating an ice cream sundae that didn’t actually exist.


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Kate on June 13th 2012 in body, family, food, weight

The things that freak me out when I think about myself in a bikini

(I’m not sure how many times I will have to write about bikinis before I am done. It might be a hundred. It might be more. For that, I’m sorry in advance.)

I don’t want to write about bikinis. I want to write about the amazing blue cheese dressing I made (with buttermilk! For some reason, I think buttermilk is the coolest thing ever), and the pizza I found myself absentmindedly dipping in it until I’d eaten a whole piece like that.

I want to write about little victories and subtle triumphs. But there’s a bikini in the back of my mind, its strings tangling in my thoughts, its sliver of a bottom giving my brain a wedgie.

The thing is, I keep lying. Because I’m embarrassed.

The thing is, in the middle of June, Bear and I are going on a trip with my family. My parents won the trip, to a beautiful house in the Virgin Islands, in a synagogue raffle.  My brothers and their girlfriends are coming, too. I can’t wait. I am imagining the ocean and that sudden sense of eternity that engulfs you when you look at it. You have to look away, because it’s too big.

Also, I will be wearing a bikini, I’m assuming. Since I have never found a one-piece that was a match for my long torso. Since I am young and sexy and perfectly capable of wearing a bikini.

I  hope.

(it’s waiting...)

I haven’t worn one in a long time. I pretend to myself that that’s the real issue here. The elapsed time. I’m just uncomfortable because it’s been a while. But that’s not the whole truth. I haven’t worn a bikini since I gained weight. Since I gained enough weight to bring me above my heaviest ever weight.

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Kate on May 25th 2012 in beauty, body, weight

you big softy

Bear snuggled against me, wrapping his arms around me. “I love how soft you are,” he said.

This is one of two compliments I get from him on a daily basis. The other is, “I love how warm you are.”

I know they are serious compliments because of the tone.

I used to make fun of him. “So, basically, you love the fact that I’m not dead?” I’d say, when he talked about my warmth. “That makes me feel so special. I’m so unique!”

When he said, “You’re so soft…” I’d feel uncomfortable for a hint of a second. “Softer now than I used to be,” I’d say, wondering if maybe he was thinking that too. I’d make a poorly structured joke about my thighs.

It has not been easy for me to be soft. To get soft, and to admit how soft I already was.


I remember, in college, this guy I was dating kept saying, “You definitely work out,” in this admiring way, looking my body up and down.

“Nope!” I said, proud.

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Kate on May 24th 2012 in beauty, body, exercise, life, weight, work

black women and fat and a photo of a girl wearing someone else’s face

It is not totally rare that I am moved to tears, but this time it was for a good reason.

I was standing in a sleek little gallery on the Lower East Side, music beating in the background, as I looked at an enormous photograph of a little black girl holding the image of a white model’s face over her own. The colors were vivid, almost intense, but simple. The girls skinny legs and arms jutted. She was sitting, clutching the other face against her own. It had been torn from a magazine. It was a makeup ad. The girl was a Ugandan orphan. I wanted to peek under her mask and see her real face, but she wouldn’t let me.

The photographer was Gloria Baker Feinstein. She was in the city for her exhibit. She’s spent a lot of time in Uganda, and she established a non-profit for some of the amazing orphaned children she met and grew close to there (their art was also on display at the gallery). She also took a bunch of pictures of women eating cake, after reading this blog. And they are amazing.*

But anyway—I met Gloria in person for the first time, and she was wearing a leather jacket and being unassuming and quietly awesome and badass, and her photos made me cry.

And then that one, the one of the girl holding the pale face up to cover her own, dark one, made me suddenly think of this Op-Ed I read in the New York Times the other day. One that keeps bothering me. One that I don’t know how to talk about because it is by a black woman, talking about black women, and I am a pale, Jewish woman who is probably not fit to comment.

But I can’t help it. I’m commenting.

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Kate on May 10th 2012 in beauty, being different, body, exercise, food, weight