Unsolicited Comments About My Body

I went to “Dancing with the Stars” last night, enjoying the fabulous five remaining couples and relieved I didn’t have to do the instant dance! I can’t tell you how much my hole still puckers when they play that weird pulsating music and announce the names right before each couple dances. The involuntary DWTS farthold never leaves you, however I was prepared for that. What I was unprepared for was the tidal wave of compliments and comments and generalized insanity about what I perceive to be my (relatively) unchanged body. Of course, I think I look great now, but I thought I looked great before. I am sure I am insane, but I am the type of person who receives and answers a compliment with a pang of suffering at having not heard the praise before. I don’t take in the sweet words, I only remember the times when they were not forthcoming. I live in the lack.

It’s true, I have changed the way I have been eating and exercising, trying to stay in my body as much as possible, after having abandoned it time and time again for almost an entire lifetime, but I am not trying to lose weight, I am just trying to lose the feeling of being unconscious, trying to jump into my skin out of the ether every day, plunge into the depth of being. I feel that I deserve this, I owe myself the time and commitment it takes to be healthy. I am so sad and angry at my young self, because I was such a beautiful kid and I never appreciated it because I was convinced I was fat. Now I look back and see that I wasted so much time hating my body, when it was really truly lovely.

If you are a young person and you feel frustrated with the way you look, I beg you to look again. I can tell already, you are beautiful. Your life is just beginning. Don’t let this time go by without enjoying it. Don’t listen to the bullshit that people say. It’s just awful. I listened to the media and the dumb indignities and insensitive comments people made rather than looking at myself with my own eyes. So much weird stuff would stay in my brain – the numerous times people asked me if I was pregnant/with child/when I was due/if I had a thyroid problem/if I had ever considered bariatric surgery (seriously). Also – there was so much unsolicited weight loss advice! Bitch I don’t care! Don’t tell me what you do unless I ask you to tell me.

Now I am getting less of this type of criticism and more questions and jaw dropping reactions to the way I am looking now. Why are people so bowled over? What I would love to hear are your stories about body transformations, and how people in your life react to it. How do you react to it? I am overall kind of resentful, like why is it better now, why couldn’t you say nice things to me before? I am not a different person, I am not even that different a size, what is it that makes me so acceptable now? I am still as bad at holding in a fart now as I was then.

52 Comments. Add To The Mix…

  1. I’ve gained 40 pounds in the last decade, in my 30’s, and you would not believe how that has ironically diminished me in the eyes of so many old friends.

    I don’t feel changed at all, except healthwise, and that would be the only reason I do anything about it. I just stopped caring what people think after I turned 35.


  2. Thank you for posting this. I can relate to self-loathing of one’s body; never accepting the way I am. Yo-yo weight, year after year. I get lots of compliments and fawning when my weight is down and become nearly invisible when my weight is up. What is the difference? I am the same person, with or without the extra weight.

  3. I get a lot of comments about how good I look lately. How every time they see me I have lost a few more pounds. How healthy I look. I just smile and thank them. I don’t tell them it’s cancer.

  4. I’m right on board with you and your sorrow for your younger self. I just hit my 25th high school reunion, so there’s been a fair amount of looking back at the yearbooks, and GOD, I was such a cute little baby dyke. I had great arms and awesome shoulders and the best smile in the world, and I wasn’t fat at all — I was solid, and looked like I was solid muscle. Why did everyone tell me I was fat? Why did I believe I was fat? Now that I AM a fat butch, no one generally tells me so (though I get the dirty looks on the subway/bus from time to time). Maybe I’m too scary! 🙂

    You’re gorgeous, Margaret, and always have been, and always will be.

  5. Margaret Cho…..you always seem to say what i am thinking. It gives me strength to find the voice that is inside me. Thank you, you lovely Lovely Lady.

  6. I used to be a chubby child. I turned into a overweight teen and then and really overweight adult.

    2 years ago, I went to a weight loss group with my Mum and over the next year I lost 189lbs. Whilst the health benefits were great what was not so great was having to hear everyone’s opinion. People who fro years had remained quiet whilst I was overweight were telling me not to lose anymore. I even had one person tell me I couldn’t go under 154lbs as that is waht they weighed.

    I knew I was losing weight and I was proud of the achievement; more for my health than out of a sense of how I looked. What still remains difficult to deal with is having the same conversation again and again.

    All I say now is thanks when receiving a compliment, followed by I don’t really want to talk about it… it’s just the way I am now.

  7. I hear you Ms. lady!~ I’ve gained weight and lost it/ kept it and now facing another operation due to cancer. I am at the weight I don’t want to be. BUT I am trying and will continue to do so.
    For me at my age (43) now it’s all about maintaining my health and well being. I am glad to hear that you feel the same way.
    Keep the faith . XOXOXOX

  8. Always loved you and will always love you. You have an extremely sexy mind and attitude and now I am even more drawn to you but not only because of pictures but your actively positive statements. I am hoping this isn’t some canned talk that one of your flunkies wrote (sorry understudies 😛 no offense meant really ) and you approved but no matter you’re still beautiful and hilarious and thought provoking. I’m just glad I could be on the planet the same time as you and not have to be all, wished I would have been alive when she was around… hope you’re coming to the DFW area sometime would love to see your show live take care sizza! What is this ASSMASTER? still cracks me up…

  9. I hate my body and the life I live trapped in it. I spend AS MUCH time possible trying to feel unconscious. I used to be on Junk… Now that I have 4 years clean, I put on 85 pounds! I can’t stand it and I know I am going to die, its just a matter of when. I can’t fall asleep because I’m frightened I wont awake. Oh, ain’t life f’king grand?! Trapped in a fat woman’s body since a kid!

  10. It’s so heartening reading this. Thank you Margaret for sharing this. I’ve gained about 25 lbs since I turned 29 about 3 years ago. Since then I’ve felt so downtrodden, like I quite literally hate myself sometimes. I must admit, I never felt this way before, it’s quite a change. Coming from an Asian family, when I was thin I was given advice on how to fill out, now that I’m more… shall we say voluptuous, I’m chided by how big I’ve gotten there seems to be no middle ground.

    Of course my friends and cousins tell me I’m fine, but either deep down I know I’m not or the years of being called fat has really sunk in and no amount of pep talks can shake it from my system. I wish to be healthier and hopefully I will start on it soon. I want to be able to love myself as unconditionally as you. I guess even as I’m getting older, I am still learning a lot more about myself now than I did when I was younger.

  11. Perhaps people around you then, or in general didn’t say the good things because they’re so stuck into bullshit ways of thinking how things (never) need(ed) to be.. and I think, you get all this great feedback now because you’ve realised yourself and came out on top after facing everything. Showed everyone who you are and changed their perception. It’s their fault for not recognising your potential and beauty, and it’s a damn shame you had to suffer for it. I think you’re doing great, and your stand ups and spoken word have helped me get through my own depressions.
    (I put this here because I’m not sure if facebook replies are seen as easily.)

  12. When I was a kid and into my teens I was over weight. It wasn’t till freshman yr of highschool where I noticed that if you were fat, you couldn’t be part of the cool kids. In less then 6 months of went from 250lbs to 135lbs.

    I had succeeded in being part of the in-crowd but not without a price. I developed an eating disorder and was clinically anorexic by the time I was a junior in high school.

    It wasn’t until I was 24 that I was fully recovered from being anorexic. I started to eat healthier and workout regularly. And people around me were extactic to see the healthy transformation.

    Now that I am 30, I am at 250 lbs just like I was at 14yrs old, people give me compliments instead of criticism. And I don’t know what the difference. Is from then and now, but they seem to like it. Im not fat, just a little fluffy. And honestly, I love it!

  13. You put into words so much of what I’ve experienced I’m amazed I didn’t write this myself. Especially within the gay community if you’re not gorgeous you are ostracized from the community. After a decade of rejection I stopped eating. Now as gay men come running with their dicks out I can’t help but wonder, “what was so different about me a year ago, two, five?” Would you have noticed the true me underneath my perceived “ugliness” then? I am resentful every time I get a compliment; I too live in the lack.

  14. You’ve lifted me from the depths. It’s been a while since I laughed that loud or that long. True story:
    A couple of months back, I was stuck in the depths, each day more dismal than the last, I thought about going back on anti-depressants (I took myself off anti-depressants after 10 years on them. The withdrawals were hard to describe and horrible to experience). I thought about a lot of other things too.
    I was a mess, all weepy, no energy, eating was becoming more that sustenance (I was very fluffy most of my life, now not so much). Something inside said, you need to laugh, you need to laugh a lot. I love women, So I decided to listen to you. Thank the powers that be, you were and are hilarious. I hooted, stomped, and guffawed my way through every video I could find of you. My heart is full.
    Keep keeping it real. May the happiness I feel come back to you 1000 fold. Kaye Barlow

  15. Hey first of all, you have always looked great to me Marg….and in reply to the above….I have struggled with weight all my life, lost 80 lbs on Jenny Craig when I was younger, then some of MY friends literally did not recognize me. I very disconcerting feeling. I gained it all back and then some. I get tired of skinny people always trying to push me into their mold why crying ‘must be healthy’….what about anorexia? what about all those skinny people eating disorders…. anyway, my girls and I decided to start exercising at the beginning of summer, we swam in the pool twice a day and used Calenetics exercise tapes….it is a stretching routine…..it was surprising, how stretching kicks your butt….we didn’t want to diet or weigh in…..so we just took measurements at the beginning of summer and we were all 25 – 35 inches smaller by the end of summer…I was astounded! I have always hated exercise and wasn’t up for a lot of jumping around….I was amazed at the increase in energy too… so I guess I reluctantly give in to the whole ‘exercise’ thing….but it has been a great summer, lots of fun and clothes fit better too…..not thin yet by a long shot, but happy in my skin…. my point? Find the type of routine or combo that works for you….and live it. Don’t diet it. And don’t let your friends dictate your life. Good luck and Hey Margaret, I LOVE YOU.

  16. I was always the really fat (shunned) unpopular girl when I was young, and then I spent the summer of my 14th year starving myself so that people in my school would LIKE me. They didn’t really end up liking me much more than before, but I discovered that I was now sexually appealing so I fucked my way through high school and ended up believing that a hot body was the answer. WRONG. A hot body will not answer the problems that live inside of us. That thought is shallow and so distressing and I fell for it. It took me well into my late 30’s before I realized the ignorance/naivety that I had embraced for so long. I somehow confused looking good with being good, and having a hot body with being a together person. Being good can only come from within when a person feels good about themselves – no matter what the outside package looks like. I think our society confuses those ideas often, especially for girls. Margaret, your gift of humor is incredible. I could give a rats ass what your body looks like…….if you are comfortable then whatever it looks like is fine. I wish there was some way to teach this to the youth.

  17. I think personal reactions to those types of comments depend a lot on the reasons behind your transformation. I gained/lost 100 pounds in the span of about 8 years. While I was gaining, I felt like crap. I ate like crap. I didn’t care about myself. I was a zombie. When I final got up the motivation to lose it, the personal (emotional) transformation came along with the physical one. When people comment on what they see on the outside, I think it’s because they aren’t privy to what’s going on on the inside (even though often, one is a reflection of the other).

    Margaret: I think you have made a wonderful mental transformation as to how you “fit” into your body and that comes through outwardly as well. Not only in your weight, but in how you carry yourself and how you feel in your own skin. Don’t resent people for seeing that! Just try and be encouraging to others that haven’t made that happy transformation yet.

  18. I have almost always been thin. from size 0 (why the hell is there a size 0?!) up to a 6 & possibly pushing an 8. and always in petites. meanwhile I always had a great rack. even in my teens & early 20’s when I had no hips I had the kind of boobs people pay for. & I always hated bras. & my wonder tits never sagged.

    well now I’m 40 & have a 7 month old. one of the toughest things I had to deal with was how my breasts have changed. talk about bodacious tatas. when I was prego I gained a bunch of weight (guessing about 45lbs… not a big scale fan) & my chest was ridiculous. so I started loosing the weight & feeling my breasts against by body freaked me out like nothing else. I worked my ass off through pain & latch issues to successfully breastfeed my baby & I love it. he has never had anything but human milk no matter how much I had to pump. I am proud of my awesome breasts & of me for persevering. but I still hate that they will never be perky again.
    my chest does not define me but I hate feeling the skin to skin contact of my boobs against my ribs. & the sweat.
    I am working on embracing the change.

  19. I am one of those people who has always been a little overweight. To this day I remember my babysitter’s asshole husband telling me at the age of 8 that I had a beer belly. I wasn’t a lazy kid, but I was never skinny.

    A few years ago just after I graduated college I was unemployed and had some really horrible family stuff going on, needless to say I probably lost some weight (I don’t weight myself like ever so I don’t know for sure). I would go back to my college campus to use the computers to job hunt and always got comments on how I lost weight. It annoyed me. I hadn’t lost weight, maybe I was dressing better all the time.

    It pisses me off more than anything that we live in a world obessed with a woman’s image. If a man puts on a few pounds, no one says anything. But if a woman does, or loses a few, everyone and their dog has to sky-write it.

  20. So true – I was taunted when young about being ‘fat’…so I always have struggled with my weight. Why do we let other’s opinions of us, from such an early early age, define us?

    After yo-yoing up and down for years, on a 4-5 year cycle, about 3 years ago I started to get “HEALTHY”. I did a local diet plan, started riding my bike to work, even started doing things like raw foods and detox. I felt great. I got all the compliments I missed all those years. It was food for the ‘short-lived’ ego. Because I was still the same person….

    Last year I had a terrible accident, almost died, almost lost my leg. I have gained back all the weight, I am often unable to exercise, let alone walk.

    Now I stand out not because of my size, but I am a relatively young person who walks with a significant limp and a cane. Just another reason to get stared at…like so many.

    BUT, although I know the HEALTH part of me wants a comeback, I am more comfortable in my body….or rather, I am more comfortable in my BEING….which has little to do with my body.

    Thanks for expressing what so many of us know….and struggle with…the hurt of ignoring our bodies, and the hurt of wanting compliments.

    And for every person who has ever judge another….on size, shape, color, “normal” this or that….look inside yourself now….

  21. Hi Margaret,

    My name is Beth, and I am recently fat.

    I was a chubby child but opted for anorexia by the time high school hit. I danced between too thin and 5+ over for years to come, and finally arrived at a comfortable and healthy existence in my 20’s, which was supported by making healthy choices when it came to food and exercise. It had been a 15 year ride with ups and downs but none as big as this recent one.

    I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April and had my thyroid along with 57 lymph nodes removed. After my treatments, I was told the weight would rise but eventually, come back down. I am now 28 lbs. over my normal weight and no amount of diet and exercise has triggered my metabolism to start working again. The doctors have preached patience but the rest of the arena has been cruel with the responses, when I sought help.

    While asking the blood draw technician what I could do to improve my veins for the draws (bad veins) he responded, “Join a gym.” A little taken back, I explained that I did work out, the missing thyroid wasn’t helping, in a joking way (humor has always been my defense mechanism). And he said, “Well, do you really work out or just socialize?” I left in tears…not because it was true but because that is what he thought…REALLY, I am the same person, I try to treat my body like a shrine, and unfortunately, I’m just rockin a size 10 versus a size 4 or 6 because of a health issue. I can still spin for an hour plus and everyone treats me like I am eating a case of Pringles each day.

    The following week was a really low point…I called in fat to an event. Yes, I had nothing to wear (have already bought bigger clothes which are now tight and have no more funds to buy more), and instead of showing up to be judged/ridiculed and feel awful, I called in fat. I realize now, that it has impacted my life in ways that I am now missing out on LIVING…because people see me differently. But I am still the same me.

    I can only imagine that so many people, unhappy with their bodies, have closed the doors to life, have closed the windows of opportunities, all because of the words of others. That has made me mad…and I hope, for all, that you find a peace within your body that allows you to carry it through life with a smile…and a fart if you so need…


  22. 2 years ago, I lost 70 pounds. Suddenly all the guy friends I’d had for years came out of the woodwork. They never tried anything before that. Before I lost weight, I knew they thought I was a pretty fat girl. When I lost the weight nearly all of them tried to get me into bed. It was ridiculous.

    I ended up dating a new person and we’re still together. All the weight is back on and now I feel like he’s disappointed with what he has, even if he denies it.

  23. i can relate, m. when i was young and skinny, i hid behind huge clothes, because if i wore something that fit, i was being leered at. or there were the people who still pointed at a curve at my waist or my butt and said i still needed to lose…i was 95lbs!

    now, after 3 kids, in my mid 40s, i’m still a small size but i feel like a blubber butt. the self-loathing isn’t as bad as it once was, but i don’t feel sexy after having this last kid over 40. my spouse and i are trying to get ourselves to a place where we’re both happy with our own bodies, cause both of us are still pretty happy with each other’s.

    but the bottom line is all about you feeling good in your own skin, and generally, though my belly and butt are rounder than i’d like, i really am happy in my own skin, more so the healthier i get. it’s not about the rest of the world anymore.

  24. I hear that,
    I lost a GRIP of weight last year and truthfully I’ve never been more self conscience in my life. When I was at my lowest weight I got tons of compliments, some were bordering on all out praise like I accomplished some great thing. I never gotten this kind of attention for any other accomplishment in my life. It makes me feel like nothing else matters except my weight. it really takes the wind out of my sails, now every time I gain a pound I feel like a minor failure and every time I lose a pound I feel like i should be losing more and that I’m a failure for not doing more about my weight. I never got to be comfortable with being 30 pounds thinner as I feel like the world expects me to lose 30 more and I’ve never gotten past that point.
    It all comes down to where a loved one told me “Well you look normal now.”
    What did I look like before? I lost a few pounds not an extra set of arms or a tail or something. Like I was some sort of Mutant Swamp Creature before and now I’m allowed to be around human beings?
    It’s super frustrating!

  25. I’m 38 and a mom of 3… at one point, I weighted 200 lbs. All my family could say was, “Damn girl, ya look like a House”. Really?!? I would NEVER say, something like that to Anyone, I cared for!!! Now, I weigh around 118 lbs., caused mostly to an intestinal issue, hurts to eat sometimes, so I avoid food. Everyone around me now, give me constant compliments on my body… only thing they never realize, it really isn’t “my doing”. Either way, I’ve been TRULY comfortable in my skin, for a few years now, no matter “their” opinions on the “situation” BUT ultimately, personal “comfort” levels have a ton to do with your Age & Gender… cause when I was 24(5’7″) & 125 lbs… I thought, I was a “COW”. Now I realize, I was/am Super Sexy!! 😉

    Society/Media/Fashion does “that” to Girls starting @ Birth… So, I do my Best to “deprogram”, EVERY Young Woman I know, Trying ALWAYS to help her see, the Beauty of her Heart, Soul & Body… Because the “soulless masses” will NEVER “look” that deep, they are too worried about how much $$, they can “trick” out of ya OR how “Superior” they can make themselves feel, by “belittling” someone. When it was “THEM”, that made “us” insecure, in the First place!!!!

    Margret, I have ALWAYS “loved” you, no matter your “look”, it was Undoubtedly, your SOUL that has “shined through”, in my eyes!!!! Thank you for Sharing, Such a Lovely “Treasure” with our “confused” lil’ world!!

  26. I used to be a pro photographer & some people would hate the way they look in a portrait ! I would say you will love this portrait in 10 year plus , you will be showing it to people and saying look how good I look back then .Personally I look great in pics and like shit in public a true story! You have always looked great keep on going strong..

  27. You’ve always been attractive, you just do all that exacting physical comedy all the time, people probably weren’t prepared to see you in a relatively serious context.

  28. I’m like Oprah with managing my weight. My weight has been up and down all my life.

    I believe that ho9w you feel on the inside really reflects how you look on the outside. For me I’ve always been more confident and felt better when I was taking care of my body. No matter where I was at there where the same shapes and sizes that I found attractive.

    What is wrong with me when I’m not taking care of myself is I’m more self-conscious and I’m not able to really enjoy the moment because I’m stuck worrying about not doing what I should have been doing all along, or I start comparing myself to those people that are getting all the attention for working hard to look great and I start to feel sorry for myself.

    I want the rewards without any effort. So I just spend alot of my time on another level, so I don’t have to worry about it and I can eat a whole large pizza and lots of icecream. And I think to myself..Well if they don’t like me it’s because they’re shallow people. Nobody fucking said anything. I did…

  29. “…but I am not trying to lose weight, I am just trying to lose the feeling of being unconscious, trying to jump into my skin out of the ether every day, plunge into the depth of being.”


  30. After the birth of my first child, I lost a huge amount of weight very quickly in the most irresponsible way possible – by starving myself and exercising almost every day. I was completely high on the positive appraisal of everyone around me, and (sadly) felt I’d achieved my life’s dream – to be slim. Since the age of 7 I had been comparing myself unfavourably to my cousins and other girls my age.

    For the first time in my life, people were opening jealous of me, and vicious. I was bullied by grown women, unhappy with their own bodies and surprised that I’d become a vibrant, energetic person, so much less needy. Not being a jealous type (just deeply unhappy with myself and wishing I could be a better Me, not someone else) I didn’t really understand their motivation, and of course believed the criticism was aimed at my personality, not my body…

    The weight loss didn’t last. Every time a few kilos crept on, I stopped eating again, but after 2 years that stopped working. I have ousted those people from my life who wanted me to be fat and needy, and also those who only praised me when I was slim. It must be much harder when you’re in the public eye to avoid becoming prey to others’ opinions of the way you look. Unless you are as fabulous as Margaret Cho, that is! Thank you for opening this discussion, and for being you.

  31. This was beautifully written. I was a skinny, active, athletic tomboy when I was a kid. All of a sudden when I hit puberty I started gaining weight. Not a lot, but enough that I got comments from everyone. I thought I was fat, the biggest, most unattractive person ever. My mother, meaning well, told me that I needed to lose weight because I’d never get hired for a job, never have a boyfriend (she was right on that one lol), etc. My father told me he was concerned, but always told me I was beautiful. I never realized at the time that I was clinically depressed. I just thought I had become lazy. I had no energy, I didn’t want to play sports, I didn’t want to go outside. I didn’t want anyone to see me. Deep down I think I was also reacting physically and emotionally to the fact that I was gay, which was not a possibility in a conservative Irish Catholic family like mine. So the years went by and I slowly gained weight, mainly because I figured I was already fat so why bother?

    A few years ago I looked back at high school pictures of myself and saw a baby butch who wasn’t even 20 lbs overweight. What a waste. All these years my opinions of my body had snowballed until I really was fat. I’ve tried diets, lifestyle changes but nothing has worked for very long. Coming out to myself, my friends and my family helped my self esteem quite a bit and helped my weight a little bit. Realizing that a confident, funny, intelligent person can be attractive has helped me to find plently of women to date. It’s never quite enough, though, because I’m not blind. I notice the looks I get, and have seen the way that people assume I must be ignorant. Even when they know I have a great profession, went to an Ivy league school, I’m often still not viewed as good enough.

    A few years ago I was feeling healthier than I had in decades. I was losing weight and the comments I was getting about my weight loss were uncomfortable. Then I was hit with a major medical problem then had me housebound and out of work for over a year. My parents died, I didn’t have any money and all of the self esteem I had gained through my career was washed away. I’m currently in the process of rising from the ashes, so to speak, and rebuilding myself. I am at the heaviest I’ve ever been. But I know who my real friends are, and I know who I am. I never had that before. I also know that I am a survivor.

    When people see me now and tell me “hey, you look great, you must be losing weight” I now tell them that I haven’t lost any weight and they must remember me as being fatter than I really am. I don’t do it to be mean, I do it to put it back on them– why should I feel uncomfortable because you chose to make an unsolicited comment about my weight, thinking it would be a compliment?

    Margaret, your grandfather was right. You have always been beautiful.

  32. Your blog posts about body image are so wise, I really appreciate them. Have you read Geneen Roth’s book entitled Women Food God, by any chance? Just curious because Geneen and you are role models of mine, and you both have the same exact views on how to live happy, fulfilled lives.

    As for me, I’ve been struggling with weight since I hit puberty. I felt ashamed of my body and disturbed by the comments on my breasts and butt I got from people, especially older men. I was sexually molested by an older relative at 12 and since then I just haven’t felt easy with the concept of sex. I’m unable to enjoy it, even if it’s with somebody I like.

    My weight fluctuated for years, I’ve gained and lost the same 25 pounds about a dozen times. My mother is obese and depressed and distrustful of everyone. She never had a job, all she does is watch TV and talk to herself about how much she hates everything. She lives in her own world, is totally unreachable.
    It’s been a huge struggle growing up with an unstable parent; I never had support. Whenever I wanted to do something, my mother would tell me it was a stupid idea, and that my goal in life should be to find a rich man to marry and have kids and be a housewife.
    Sometimes I just lost the will to do my own thing, I felt too afraid and temporarily gave in. These were the times I stuffed my face with chocolate.
    I’ve never been very fat, the most I’ve ever been is 160 pounds. But whenever I eat a cupcake or any kind of junk food in view of my mother, she freaks out and hurls insults at me, calling me fat and lazy and useless, and tells me nobody will ever want me if I am fat.
    The worst insults I’ve ever gotten in my life were all from my mom. She always finds some reason to insult me. She has actually said to me that I ruined her life and she regretted I was born and that if I hadn’t been such a horrible student, my dad wouldn’t have died when I was 16.
    Even when I was at slim 110 pounds, she insulted me on my hairstyle, my clothes, my skin, the music I liked. EVERYTHING is wrong. Her opinion is the only one that matters. My ideas are stupid. I should be her puppet, I should let her live through me.

    Very messy. But I’m grown up now. There’s a lot of hurt in my childhood, but I never gave up my dreams and the weight issue never got out of hand thankfully. I’ve always had a strong sense of self. I’m glad to be who I am.

  33. I’m with ya, Sister. I recently lost a bit of weight and people keep sayin, “Wow, you really look good. Wow…You look so good NOW.”

    So what are you saying? I was a freaking dog before?? Well, fuck you. I was hot then, and I’m hot now bitches.

  34. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you so much for this thought-provoking post. There’s so much good stuff, I hardly know where to begin. Obviously, it hits a nerve for many of us.

    I’ve been tall and lanky most of my life, then got pregnant in the middle of my mid-life metabolism slowdown. I enjoyed having extra curves except for the rude remarks some people would make to me, calling me tubby, etc. They thought they were being funny. It took away from the pleasure of watching my body transform.

    After my daughter was born, I didn’t shrink back to my old size quickly like some of the younger girls might. In fact, I got heavier (I was nursing for a couple of years too). I hated having people ask me when I was due. The hardest comments have been from my SIL. She’s obsessed with her weight, and my niece’s weight. She’s made numerous oblique but very hurtful comments about my weight. I realized it was more about her, but it still infuriated me that she was acting as if I were LESS than because I had some weight on me. How dare she judge me when she has plenty of crap she could clean up in her own life? It was a shock to realize that she didn’t appear to know me at all for the real person I was regardless of my weight.

    I’ve been exercising more, eating better, feeling better and better, and I’ve slowly shrunk to within ten pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight. I like the state of my new curves, but I still steel myself for comments. I think it’s because they feel so shallow. It’s as if the more enthusiastically complimentary they are now, the worse they thought of me before. But I like me.

    I really fight to keep my self esteem up when I’m judged by my superficial appearance. One thing I do is to not let myself be drawn in to the commentary. I say “Thanks” and nod my head to convey, Yup, I know I look good. Then I act *very* disinterested in any speculation about how my weight is doing. (I practice a distracted “hmmm?”) If I don’t participate in the judging dynamic or react in a shamed or bashful way, I can cut them off and starve that conversation to a standstill.

    You’ve always had a strong persona, Margaret. I remember you impersonating a jock/redneck (what if men got a period), and I was in awe of how, through your body language, you transformed yourself into that completely different personality, and then another, and another, all different. It was jaw-dropping impressive. Maybe people are now seeing you embody *your* true beautiful self, and they say Wow! because it IS an awesome sight!

  35. Mizzz Thang–

    I began the sick diet cycle when I shouldn’t have had a thought about weird body issue stuff; when I was twelve I put myself on Atkins (what kind of kid puts themselves on Atkins??!)– and stuck to it for about three years. I wasn’t a normal kid, or at least I didn’t know other kids like myself so I felt constantly isolated and weird. I would run extra laps in gym class because I was concerned about my weight. Over the summer I went on three month long “cleanse diets” and cut out everything fun– no sugar, no starch, no nothing. I dropped below 94 pounds and still felt heavy. This was all before highschool even began.

    I made myself into a waif-ish little target, and made myself vulnerable to an older male teacher of mine with kids already out of college who had fantasies about me being his ‘living muse’ and encouraged me to keep getting smaller and smaller, tighter and tighter so that I would fulfill his bizarre appetite. When he was fired for using a child, I felt relieved. And I ate. And ate. And felt good about eating, until the next year of school. I got myself onto the yo-yo diet fast track, alternating between hearty school lunches on enchiladas and pizza, to my fast periods of water with lemon. I would work out to the brink of exhaustion or I would eat until my stomach felt like it would rip open. I invested my after school job money on clothes that I could ‘thin into’. I look back on pictures of myself and want to go back in time and show this young me how beautiful I was. I want to go back in time and tell her to keep watching Edward D. Wood movies and writing short stories and run for president of the French club! Paint on your shirts, have fun! Don’t fight the battle of the bulge, you look fine!

    I moved to Austin when I turned 18 and graduated high school, threw away my scholarships, and started on the eating fast track. I added drugs, drinking and more abusive relationships to the mix. I couldn’t stop and tell myself that I was fine the way I was. And I should have. I didn’t go to college because I had built the credentials to work on a statewide political campaign. I had the courage to follow my dreams. I needed to stop and check on me, but I wouldn’t allow myself to do that. I moved around and did every diet known to (wo)man kind– If I wasn’t on the Mediterranean diet I was on the Fruit Juice Cleanse. As soon as I got hungry, I smoked my cigarettes. When I got stoned and watched Bill Hicks I would eat the shit out of cereal. Then I would eat burgers. Oops. I’d have to guilt myself for the next week for being a human. I’ve done it all from Vegan to High Protein. I wasn’t just dieting, I was trying to silence my insides. I was trying to control everything, and I was failing miserably. I didn’t want to protect my inner self– I stand up for the rights of others but I wouldn’t do it for myself. I wouldn’t allow someone to treat another the way I treated myself.

    And then something wonderful happened. I heard a great voice of reason yelling “Fuck it!”. I decided to quit dieting and quit overeating. I decided that I would do nothing until I felt moved to do so. I decided to learn how to cook French food, and while I was at it, send myself to college to learn French. I sold my thin clothes and bought some fun outfits that made me happy. I decided that instead of hurting myself I would advocate for others. I wouldn’t hate myself, no matter how tempted I felt. I would read instead. I learned to crochet. I don’t exercise now, but I have instead began to hike and bike, fish and kayak. I am more fit than I was when I was a slave to the exercise bike and treadmill. I go and have German food and Mexican food and Pastry– and I have discovered a love for great cuisine… And I realized that smoking is mostly exploitive, so I quit!

    And you know what? I don’t know if I have gained or lost weight. Sometimes I feel scarred and I want to run to the scale, or cower from it. Sometimes I feel ugly and I remind myself of all of my blessings– I have all of my digits, my hair and my teeth, my good health, my heart and hands that can help. I am sad that beautiful women are made to feel ugly in this society. It makes me mad, too. I watched you on American Girl when I was little, and as an adult I have read your books and watched your standup and derived STRENGTH. You have been my role model, and this is the first letter I have ever written to a celebrity. (In such a public way, ha ha).

    You know what they say, “Our Booties, Ourselves”. It is a paradox, isn’t it? Women have such a rough go at it when it comes to image, but it is mostly girls doing it to each other. I hope that someday we will all be sisters again, and everyone will quiet down about size! I want to see a day where no girl is subjected to anorexia, bulimia, plastic surgery, genital mutilation, servitude, forced prostitution, etc. Or stupid diets.

    I once heard a great quote: “A woman should never weight less than her I.Q.” I agree, but I also encourage health and happiness.
    A part of that health is becoming balanced in her body, seeing the goddess she is.

    You are beautiful, though. And beauty can be so disarming.

  36. I’ve lost around 50 pounds (selling your car, moving to a developing nation and starting a righteous eating plan does wonders for a girl) and re-taught myself how to eat to nurture myself and fill my tummy. I returned home for a wedding after being away for three years and my bestest most beloved friends received me with hugs and the kindest complements- \You were beautiful before, but now you are healthy, and we love you for it!\

    MY GOD! What the hell else do you want in life? They said all the right things, they gave me the love they had always given me. It was perfect.

    I also suffer from not being in my body, the right here right now, but that changes second. I bring myself back, and nudge myself in. I am taking belly dancing and my teacher is good about making me look at myself in the mirror (I hate to look at myself in the mirror) but she is gentle and lovely and says to do it little by little so I don’t freak myself out. When I make comments about hating my body she chides that there is enough hate in the world aimed at me, I need to quit hating and start loving my body. Easier said than done, but you know. It’s an ongoing process.

    It’s a good lesson and I learn a little more every day. You have most certainly helped me on my journey, inspired me.

    You’re beautiful inside and out, and you can take that to the bank.

  37. I have lost 70 pounds and kept it off by becoming a dancer (and weighing myself every morning which sucks but it works).

    Bellydancing, ballet, jazz, hip hop.
    I am a dance whore.
    My body is not perfect and neither is my self-image, but I have cultivated a love for this imperfect body since it can dance at any weight.

    I know what it is to inhabit a large body and in my heart I am one of you, one of those who has to turn sideways to get on a bus or breathes hard just to climb up the stairs.

    When I was pregnant, people talked shit about my body, too–its shape and size.
    At times I wondered whether to offer up the date and time of when I had sex–people are so damn nosy.
    Being overweight, losing weight, being pregnant makes people think they have the right to invade your privacy for some reason.

    I try hard not to comment on people’s bodies or weight losses or gains because I REMEMBER how it felt and I can still feel it now.

    I am blessed enough to be with the same person who loved me and found my body sexy 70 pounds heavier and who still finds it sexy now.
    Everyone deserves to be loved like that.

    I am perplexed by men who hit on me now because I AM THE SAME PERSON I ALWAYS WAS.

    I guess it makes me suspicious of people who find me attractive based on my appearance.
    And that’s sort of sad.
    It’s hard to receive a compliment.
    But I can work on that, too.

    Thanks for opening up this topic, Ms. Cho.
    All the best to you.

  38. I’ve never been overtly over weight, but I certainly haven’t ever been “skinny” either. I’ve always been self-conscious about my body and would try to lose weight through diet and exercise, but was never really successful.

    Then I was working at a stressful job with a terrible boss and demanding clients. I got so stressed out that I was crying in the bathroom a lot and completely lost my appetite, I could barely eat half a bowlful of cereal without my stomach going into knots.

    Before my appetite loss, I was fairly active, running 2-3 times a week, lifting weights twice a week and cycling to and from work daily. However, when my appetite vanished, I didn’t have the energy to do most activities, I continued to bike, but stopped running and weight lifting.

    3 months later, I lost 30 pounds and went down 3 pant sizes. The weight seemed to just evaporate off of me. My face went gaunt and my skin lost its rosy complexion. I started receiving compliments from so many people, telling me I looked great and that I “must be doing something right”. I was upset by the compliments because I knew this weight loss did not come from a healthy place. I would tell people that I wasn’t doing anything right, that I lost weight because I was experiencing crazy amounts of stress.

    However, the compliments had an affect on me. I started to enjoy the way I looked and I continued to “diet” to see if I could look “better”. I’ve never felt so unhealthy, unhappy and unenergetic in my life. I was an emotional wreck, I had difficulty concentrating and I was irritable. After seeing my doctor about this issue, I decided to make a life change, I quit my job and started working in a more relaxed environment.

    Three years later, I’m really happy, eating well and exercising again. I’ve gained back a pant size and about 15-20 pounds and trying to be satisfied with it. However, there is always this nagging voice telling me I could shrink in size again, all I have to be is miserable. I’m still working to shut that voice up!

  39. I’m chubby. I was slightly less before, and have been more before, too. So goes all of life, and honestly…. Who the fuck cares? I like having tits and ass. I like looking like a Reubens. But I refuse to sit around like so many of you above and obsess over numbers. On my deathbed, I don’t want to think so much of my mental energies were devoted to how I looked. All looks fade or change or distort. It’s how it goes, get over it for christ’s sake. I want to devote those energies to reading a shit ton of books, talking to people, discussing, loving, and none of those are dependent on if I look like a Victoria’s Secret model. NONE.

  40. Hey Margaret:
    I went to a small high school in a very small town, and encountered many small minds. A size-11 girl with glasses, wide, “puffy” lips and not enough money for fashionable clothes was apparently prime fodder for “fat” comments and ridicule. I had no self-esteem, would walk with my eyes on the ground below in order to avoid making eye contact with people and risk more teasing, and would date the guys who were “desperate” enough to go out with me.

    Then I went to college, met people who were adult enough to not consider body weight and fashion a factor in liking someone and started to realize that I wasn’t a complete loser. Over the past 13 years, I’ve decided to surround myself with people who affirm me and give me honest criticism when I need it. I’m educated, happy, confident and running the advertising department of my local newspaper, about to marry the most amazing man I’ve ever known, and the funniest thing of all is that I’m heftier now than I was then (about a 14). But my “puffy” lips are now “sensuous”, and I’ve started wearing clothes that accentuate my curves. And everytime I run into someone I went to high school with, (especially the guys), they can’t stop talking about how “amazing” I look! It’s kind of awesome.

    Anyway, Margaret, I just wanted to say thank you for being an influential factor in this, as I’ve been a fan of yours for as long as you’ve been around. 😀

  41. It’s so true. I started blues dancing (slow, messy form of partner dance, almost like swing but sexier) about a year and a half ago, and that was when I first became conscious that my body was fun, being in it was fun, and that knowledge helped my self esteem immensely. The simple act of moving makes me feel better about myself, regardless of my weight, because the human body is such a powerful instrument. I slacked off on the blues dance, but I did take a theatre movement class over the summer, and I am intermittently taking butoh classes now, as well as yoga, AND I bike occasionally. If I slack off on these things, it is amazing how quickly the low self-esteem comes back!

    None of this seems to change how people see me, regardless of whether they like my body or not, but just moving in a way that I like, that interests and entertains me, that astounds me, makes me feel like a better, more beautiful person. *This* is what gym classes in school need to do!

  42. I am just now reading through your blog after watching the great song you made with Ani.

    I blog about body image and am a fat activist and what you’ve said hits on so many points I and my comrades talk about all the time. The fantasy of being thin (a GREAT piece of writing by Kate Harding) is so embedded in our culture that when people lose weight, even if they’re sick, they’re treated as if they’re a better person.

    And being in your body, that’s something I’m learning about after discovering Health At Every Size a few years ago. I’m fat, I’ve been fat since I was diagnosed with a health condition over 13 years ago, and I’ve been too afraid to exercise because I’ve been abused when out walking on the street (yeh, how counter intuitive?) So I’ve reclaimed the gym, pushed the muscleheads away from the mirror and started doing gym stuff again.

    I haven’t lost weight, and it’s likely I never will, but finding movement I enjoy and paying attention to my relationship with food (I went vegetarian over a year ago) has helped me so much.

    Thanks for this post Margaret. You’re great.

  43. I’m quoting some of what you say in a college essay about successful women in the entertainment industry that are real sized (you know, not the painfully thin girls y’all are surrounded by) I quote your Fuck It Diet sketch.

    I want to put it on the web — see if you like it — would you be interested? I’m tech-stupid tho so I don’t know how I’d do that.

    I know you are probably busy and can’t answer this – but just in case…my name is Jordan Fox em: jrdnfox@gmail.com


  44. I just realized: I don’t want you to tell me how to post it, but if you want to READ it. You know, since you’re a big star and have oodles of time. 😉

  45. and one last thing – I’m a queer chic – the name is sort of adrog. (oh – and the last post I was kidding – I mean: who has time these days?)

  46. As a kid, I always thought I was fat. Even when I was 10, I would look in the mirror and I didn’t like what I saw. I hated sports (mostly because I sucked at them). Kids at school teased me about my weight too. Looking back, I wasn’t even overweight.
    My freshman year of high school I joined my school’s rowing team and I started to slim down. Now my mom calls me “skinny boy” and things like that.
    But I still have insecurities. I worry about every little detail of my body. I wish I didn’t, but I do.
    All teens struggle with this, I know, but I think that Gay culture has a lot to do with it. The ideal male body is forced down our throats everywhere we look. Everything can feel so shallow, and I’ve fallen into that trap.
    I know some people might think “skinny bitch don’t even talk about weight you don’t know nothin,” but everyone deals with it.
    Self-acceptance is a lifelong process, and we all deal with it. This article made me feel better about it, though.

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