“Stop empowering fat people.” Wait, WHAT?


Seriously, that is the title of the op-ed piece that’s been spewed across the front page Australia’s biggest news website,, and printed in the Herald Sun.


Now, I’m kind of pissed off, so this blog isn’t going to be all tra-la-la citing studies and the like.


It’s a visceral fucking reaction to the idea that fat people are empowered. Um, NO. In fact, I would go so far as to say EPIC NAH. Because we aren’t empowered. We’re fucking marginalised.


Let’s dig a little deeper, shall we?


First, some standard skinny-bashing:


Indeed, this month’s Fashion Week In Melbourne abandoned the usual stick insects for some models who were size 14-18


Can’t have thin women feeling good about themselves, nope.


Let’s be honest.


Oh, this ought to be good.

While these women might make us feel better about our bulging butts and guts, the truth is, few women over a size 14 are in a healthy weight range.


So feeling good about yourself is unhealthy? I’m just going to time out for a second here, and point out that your mental health is so important, and so often pushed aside in favour of the more visible physical health. Healthy self-esteem is incredibly good for you.


As for the horseshit about being over a size 14 and OMG OBESE, I shall direct you to Kate Harding’s BMI Project. See what underweight, normal, overweight and obese really look like. It might surprise you.


Most of the women on catwalks are freaks of nature and it is only right that the pendulum is swinging towards more achievable bodies.


So if you’re skinny, you’re a freak, but if you’re a size 14, you’re OMGOBESE?! Narrow standards of beauty indeed.


But there is a limit. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but some of the women being embraced as positive role models and ambassadors for larger people are obese and should lose weight for health reasons.


Oh heehee, I know it’s not PC! UR SO EDGY BB.


Except, you’re not, because you’re espousing a view that is the norm. THE NORM.


And of course, it’s not because people are ew yuck gross fat. It’s just for their health. Of course. Because by looking at someone you totally can guess every aspect of all their health issues. Great! No more going to the doctor – just email them a photograph and they can diagnose you like that?


Also, hey, Susie O’Brien? You’re not an MD. SO SHUT UP. (Come on, if she was an MD, she’d have mentioned it. Just sayin’).


Okay I need to point something out here:


And, reflecting the expanding girth of many Australians, more and more retailers, such as Myer, Sportsgirl and even Ed Hardy, are jumping on the bandwagon, and offering larger sizes.


Sportsgirl goes to a SIZE SIXTEEN. That’s one size above the national average, and is considered a missy size. And last time I was in a Sportsgirl (admittedly a long time ago, because it’s overpriced Supre-esque cack, in my humble opinion), the size sixteens are not generous. At all.


Yes, larger teens deserve to be able to wear fashionable clothes, like everyone else. But the discourse of self-empowerment surrounding the move is stopping us asking why so many young people are size 16 or more in the first place.


No, it’s not. Fat teens can wear fat clothes while you pontificate about losing weight. It’s not an either/or situation, people.


And this is nearly making me cry: a discourse of self-empowerment.


Why, why, why do people want others to feel bad about themselves? How is it productive? How is it helpful? Whether it’s being fat, skinny, or any other trope, why is being different so offensive?


Sure, such moves reflect the reality of a rapidly growing population, but they also serve to normalise a size that is not healthy for most young people.


And back to the diagnosing entire swathes of people based on how they look.

Ooh, cognitive dissonance time:


In recent weeks the debate has been spurred on by the larger thighs and flabby tummy of 20-year-old model Lizzie Miller in Glamour magazine in the US.

Readers in the millions embraced the image of the gorgeous, naked young woman letting it all hang out for the cameras. But at 180cm and 76kg, she’s hardly plus-sized.


Okay, so she’s got large thighs, and heaven forbid, a flabby tummy.


But suddenly she’s not plus-sized? WELL GEE, WHO’D HAVE THOUGHT. Whose side are you on, anyway, Susie?

Losing weight is hard work. It takes sacrifice and effort. As a mother of three in my late 30s with a new gym membership, I know this first-hand.


The tiniest violin in the world, bb. And maybe an *emotear*. Seriously, you have post-pregnancy weight? Maybe it’s just because you gestated three new human beings inside you. That’s pretty awesome, and tends to change your body shape. Yeah.  And as for sacrifice – well, yeah, if you mean sacrificing your mental health, probably your physical health once you gain it back (because why would we have a diet industry if we could all lose weight and keep it off?), and hell, any interesting kind of food.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but food’s pretty awesome.


It’s much easier to accept the pro-fat manifesto than hit the treadmill.


Just, no. If it was easier to be pro-fat, we’d have taken over by now.

Let’s face it, Australians – like Americans – do not need any encouragement or permission from role models in the media to put on weight.


Thanks for fighting the good fight against positivity and healthy self-esteem in the media, Susie! Fortunately for you, size-acceptance is still a significant minority in terms of media coverage, so not to worry there. A nice underhanded anti-American slight too – very smooth.


Alarmingly, a new Australian study of more than 30,000 people shows obese and morbidly obese men are less depressed and less suicidal than those of a normal weight.


You know why Susie? You really want to know why? C’mere, I’ll tell you a secret.




FAT PEOPLE EAT. People who don’t eat or diet tend to (anecdotally, this is my experience) feel like absolute shit because they are hungry all the fucking time. It messes with you.


But it’s time to get real – fat people may be happier but they’re also digging their graves with a fork, and we’re all paying for it.


Well, you should be happier that we’re killing ourselves! Because then you’ll get to stop paying for us! (As stupid as that concept is, because we have semi-socialised healthcare here).


And we get to the crux of the article. Underneath all the ‘but it’s for your health’ hand-waving, Susie O’Brien just thinks fat people cost too much. And are ugly.


Look, if you don’t want to give us nice clothes to wear, that’s fine. Just get us a clause to go around naked.


Source: (careful of the comments, they tend to represent the lowest common denominator.)

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  • definatalie

    I propose a protest.
    Australian people should go naked if retailers bow to Ms Susie O'Brien's request to pull plus size clothing from stores. That's right. NAKED AND FAT AND EVERYWHERE.

    I would so do it.

    Fuck you Susie O'Brien and your edginess. We should start a record of Australia's bigoted and fatphobic journalists.

  • sharnee

    Holy hell that was well written! CHEERS!
    Oh the dribbly shite that appears on those news websites makes me so mad that I have to step back and take a few deep breaths before realising that some people are just stupid and that that's just the way things are sometimes and there's nothing I can do to change it. URGH. And then I go back to my own life and it really is a happier place without all that faux-journalism bullshit like you've correctly illustrated here! Oh and I'm glad you mentioned the comments too because …. well, they're just disgusting. Like horribly, terribly disgusting. If I had such hateful thoughts about other humans like some of those commenters do then, well, I would be highly ashamed to be their mothers. It makes me wonder if people really do have horrible horrible ugly souls and really, constantly, think that way….. OR if the morons of society just come out of the woodwork to comment on articles? Either way, I'd rather be five hundred times fatter than I already am than be that goddamn hateful. Shame on them.

  • 1Sonya1

    I am totally going to walk around naked now, seeing as this attention seeker gussied up in the guise of “but your heeeeeeeeeealth” has told me that I don't deserve clothes to fit my body and I should be ashamed of myself. Fuck that noise.

  • VivZilla!


  • Godless Heathen

    Isn't an Australian 14 like a US size 12? In what universe is that fat?

    Someone should send Susie O'Brien to Shape of a Mother if she's got so much angst over her “post baby” body. Childbirth changes you, aging changes you, you are under no obligation to be a (gag) “yummy mummy”. Seriously, women should feel more empowered to tell the world “I just created life with this body, so I think it's pretty amazing just the way it is!”

  • Zoe


    But that bigoted and fatphobic journalist list would probably be, sadly, incredibly long. :[

  • Zoe

    You're welcome! I am still really fucking angry about it, but I can't face the commenters – it's just not worth the mental anguish. And I honestly think some people are that hateful, they just tend to keep it to themselves in real life.

  • Zoe


  • Zoe

    :D ! Hope you enjoyed it.

  • Zoe

    An AU 14 is a US 10-12, depending on the brand and make, and whether it's a straight or a missy size – but I agree, in what universe is that fat? Most Australian chain brands go to a 16, and many go to a 14, so is she implying that straight-sized people are now fat? Well, according to the BMI, I suppose some are, but still – my brain, it is exploded.

    I meant to link to Shape of a Mother, actually – that's what I was thinking of when I mentioned birthing three children. It's pretty heavy stuff for a body to go through.

  • 1Sonya1


  • goblinpaladin

    Wait, what? 14 isn't fat. 14 isn't CLOSE to fat. People who are size 14 shouldn't even be part of the fat-acceptance movement except as supporters because that isn't fat. Or chunky. Or flabby. Or whatever the hell else insulting terms are used for people who aren't skinny. Size 14 is… I don't want to say 'normal' here because uh what there is no such thing as normal, but it's not at the thin parts of any bell curve. (I'll be here all week, tip your waitresses, etc, etc.)

    Everything else you said as well, obvs.

  • lois55

    I've always been a fan of plus-size models! There's a great site with many images of plus-size models here:

    They're all gorgeous.

    The site's forum also has thought-provoking discussions about body image and the media.

  • BigLiberty

    Thank you for this post. I heard about this article earlier this morning and it made me a bit livid.

    My main reaction to it was:

    I don't need your encouragement or want your permission in order to inhabit my body. No one should have to ASK SOMEONE ELSE'S PERMISSION to live in their OWN body. Regardless of who is paying for what, there is something called basic individual rights, and the number one basic right is the right to body autonomy. Yeah, that same right which grants you the freedom to walk down a public street and not have someone cavort up to you with a drill and poke random holes in your body (insert your own bizarre example here)!

    The day I have to change my behavior because someone is paying for me is the day I'm no longer free. It's a very basic set of definitions. Someone pays for you = someone owns you = someone else determines what you can/cannot do/look like/etc. To convince a population that they are paying for the lives of fatties gives that population the sense that they have the right to tell the fatties what to do/look like/etc.

    It's all just marketing, of course. Fatties aren't really eating up more than their “fair share” of public goods — by any calculation. If you use the calculation of the fatphobic propagandists, all fatties are dead at 45 which means the most expensive part of anyone's healthcare life, old age, is completely avoided. So they save money. If you use the calculation of sane, careful thinkers, fat people cost about the same as non-fat people.

    The culture of hate — which ignores all reason when it comes to the deviant group they so love to publicly humiliate in order to make themselves feel more superior — is being represented very well by Susie O'Brien. Rather than be edgy and honest, as she claims, she is lamely parroting misinformation in a yawningly unoriginal dishonest manner. Don't get me wrong, she's still doing plenty of damage. Because, Susie O'Brien, it's not the plus-size models walking down the runway which are going to doom your country, it's people like you, who call themselves journalists, and reach millions of people with the words that will place a decided spin on whatever you're reporting, like a bad aftertaste. You have the power of the ear of the public, and it is your solemn duty to report honestly. You are the dangerous one. By being a lazy, uncritical, biased self-loathing twit you do little except spread lazy, uncritical thinking, bias, and self-loathing.

  • badu

    I have to tell 'Dr' Miz SO'B (which incidentally also stands for 'standard operational bullshit'), that even if everything she said about the purported health prognosies of fatties was true. Dieting doesn't bloody work. Therefore 'encouraging' people to change lifestyle and other euphemism for dieting, is going to be as effective as encouraging them to buy red shooz and click their heels together to bring about the noble sacred state of thinness.

    How about doing some research before honouring us with your butt wiping whitterings, you doozy hack.

  • nitrojane

    This is just… it saddens me greatly that people always have to crush others to make themselves feel better. EVERYONE should get to feel empowered, not just the people whose body type happens to look a certain way. Some of my fat friends eat NOTHING, for fear of judgement. Ass though they don't deserve to do what they want, because society says it's bad.

    I know the Herald Sun isn't exactly up there with high quality newspapers, but these atrocious opinion pieces need to be nipped in the bud. I'm going to be complaining tomorrow to the newspaper.

  • aCaitlin

    Alarmingly, a new Australian study of more than 30,000 people shows obese and morbidly obese men are less depressed and less suicidal than those of a normal weight.

    Well that's the sentence that made me go HOLD THE FUCK ON WHAT?

    It's ALARMING that fewer fat people kill themselves? ALARMING? Because we should all be dead? Because we deserve to live less than thinner people? Because any person being so utterly miserable that they cannot see any other way out but death is great as long as their BMI is over 25?


  • aCaitlin

    Acutally, if Australian size 14 is US 10-12 then it's UK size 14-16, which in my experience puts one squarely in the “overweight” BMI category — I was “obese” as a size 16. That means that an Aus size 14 woman “counts” as fat medically, and will experience almost every single person in the mainstream media (see: THIS ARTICLE), a whole bunch of flawed studies, and the medical profession, not to mention friends, relatives and strangers implying/telling her she's fat every damn day and that she's therefore lazy, stupid, unattractive, going to die soon etc etc etc.

    You do not get to deny that experience, even if it is not the same as those who are fatter will experience. It is still fat-based discrimination and it still causes a fucking lot of pain.

    And you absolutely do not get to tell anyone whether they “should be part of the fat acceptance movement except as supporters” based on whether YOU think they're fat “enough” (whatever that is). The whole POINT of the obesity “epidemic” is that it is comprised of people most people would think “aren't fat” (see: the BMI project, linked upthread). If you have a problem with that, fight the lies. Don't deny the pain and experience of those who have ALSO suffered because of them.

  • Bigmacbrisbane

    1 “few women over a size 14 are in a healthy weight range.”

    “So feeling good about yourself is unhealthy? I'm just going to time out for a second here, and point out that your mental health is so important, and so often pushed aside in favour of the more visible physical health. Healthy self-esteem is incredibly good for you.

    She wasn't implying anything about mental health, she is talking about weight range, and it's true what she states more people above size 14 probably aren't in a healthy weight range.

    “As for the horseshit about being over a size 14 and OMG OBESE, I shall direct you to Kate Harding's BMI Project. See what underweight, normal, overweight and obese really look like. It might surprise you.”

    You realize BMI system is complete bullshit and shouldn't be used as a reference for health, You average guy that works out at the gym and has muscle and sicks pack most men would die for, are considered obese due to them weighing so much because muscle weigh more than fat, so don't use a BMI system to say whats healthy and whats not, Instead one should look at fitness levels and what one eats, as well as measurements.

    “But there is a limit. I know it's not fashionable to say this, but some of the women being embraced as positive role models and ambassadors for larger people are obese and should lose weight for health reasons.

    Oh heehee, I know it's not PC! UR SO EDGY BB.

    Except, you're not, because you're espousing a view that is the norm. THE NORM.”

    Why are you so quick to say that what she is saying is wrong? At the end of the day it's important for people to lose weight and be in a healthy weight range for obviously healthy reasons…

    “FAT PEOPLE EAT. People who don't eat or diet tend to (anecdotally, this is my experience) feel like absolute shit because they are hungry all the fucking time. It messes with you.”

    Thats a lie, I'm dieting at the moment, And I'm feeling more full then what I was when I wasn't dieting. You just need to find more filling healthier options…

    This blog is stupid why am I even writing on this?

  • definatalie

    Health incorporates physical and mental well-being, and cutting one off to spite the other will do no good. One pledge all doctors take is “first do no harm”. I'm not sure if you'll make the connection, so here it is – Ignoring mental health to satisfy some kind of arbitrary norm will not benefit any body.

    I'm not entirely sure what your point is, as you agree the BMI is a terrible indicator of health. This is basically why so many people are disagreeing with the op-ed “author”. Are you saying that there's a line in the sand between healthy and unhealthy but you don't know where it is, but by golly you don't wanna be caught on the other side? This is the arbitrary norm I reference in the first paragraph.

    If you can't grasp your argument, let alone support it, you are right. You probably shouldn't be here.

  • Bigmacbrisbane

    I agree with some points but no others, On a whole I don't understand how people can be pro-fat… Looking bloated and eating a lot doesn't really to me look good or is very healthy thing to do for anyone… I'm confused maybe I need sleep

  • definatalie

    Pro-fat lends itself to fetishising the fat body, and this blog is part of the fat acceptance movement – consider it a “fat people exist, stop fucking ignoring us” blog. Fat acceptance isn't about making everyone fat – it's actually about changing bigoted attitudes towards people of size. Personally, I have come to accept, love and utilise my body much more since becoming active in the fat acceptance movement. I've looked after myself a hell of a lot better since accepting my body. Some people are just meant to be fat, and it's totally possible to be fat, healthy and active.

    There's a lot of bias in your language that needs addressing. I'm not sure I want to be the person who does that, but you should mind your value judgments on bodies first and foremost. I'm not bloated, I'm fat. If you're not ok with that, why should I give a shit? Also, who are you to tell me that I'm eating too much? You have absolutely no right to question another person on their eating habits, for all you know a fat person might have an eating disorder or any other matter of sensitive issues that at the end of the day – aren't your business.

    You, like Susie O'Brien, have no right to question another person on their body. Look after yourself, first and foremost. Diets do not work. Neither does shaming people into losing weight. A system that motivates by shame and degradation will never work.

  • Samantha Nicola

    Well spoken!

  • GoldenBookwyrm

    If somebody organized this in a place I could get to- medical issues with driving here- I would SO attend. Naked fat people! All over the place! (I would, however, wear shoes of some sort.) Carrying signs that say “This is what happens when stores don't carry plus sizes!” “Fat people need clothes too!” “I'd rather go naked than wear a polyester tarp!” And if we got arrested for indecency? Fine by me, that means more media coverage.

    Hmm, looks like I need some catchier, shorter slogans up there. Anyone have ideas?

  • emilylzbth

    Hahaha. That would be so awesome. That idea made me smile.

  • JLopezCostume

    I have a pretty good diet and count calories and such because I do like being in control of that, and I work out a lot. However, I have a disorder that makes losing weight very hard. Instead of be miserable about that fact, I've just accepted it. I do want to wear the clothes I want to wear despite that fact. I really hope a lot of people write in to the paper about this personal opinion being passed off as journalism.

  • Moe

    For some reason there is this absurd believe that if fat people don't feel bad about themselves they won't have a desire to try and take care of themselves and lose weight.

  • Tiara the Merch Girl

    I'm an Aussie 14. Whenever I go back to Malaysia I'm tossed into the XX+L (sometimes even XL is too small!!) category. Hell yes I'm going to be part of the fat acceptance movement.

  • goblinpaladin

    What? That makes no sense whatsoever. 14 doesn't even vaguely resemble overweight!

    I wouldn't deny that experience, if I knew it was there. I thought Article Writer McWankerson was pulling shit out her arse.

  • Kelle

    “What? That makes no sense whatsoever. 14 doesn't even vaguely resemble overweight!”

    That's kind of the whole point. A size 14 woman, unless really short, might look a bit chubby at best, but is probably in the “overweight” or possibly “obese” categories of the Official BMI-U-R-FATT charts. And thus these normal-looking, maybe-a-little-chubby people are the people are The Obesity Epidemic. The great majority of “obese” people have a BMI of under 35. The “obesity epidemic” is made up almost entirely of people who would never or rarely be pegged as “fat”. Certainly nothing like the Headless Fatties used to illustrate obesity scare stories. Check out this post for more:

  • Zoe

    Oh, B! When I was a size fourteen, a long while ago, I was still medically overweight.

    I'm happy you're fighting the good fight – but like aCaitlin said upthread, you can't deny someone their fat experience. It's can be compared to (although is not the same) as saying a trans woman doesn't experience misogyny because she's not really a woman.

    The cultural standards of fatness for women are much, much slimmer (pun intended) for women than they are for men. My experience is that if you wear over an AU 10-12, you're culturall fat, if not medically fat.

  • goblinpaladin

    Well, yeah. For real. I'm not tryin' to deny anyone a fat experience- I just didn't think they HAD one.

    That is so fucked up. Size 14 ain't fat. I KNOW BECAUSE OF MY LEARNINGS

  • goblinpaladin

    Point well taken.

    (it's not fat)

  • sharnee

    OMG YOU'RE SO RIGHT! What the fuck was she saying there?

  • majicke

    Same here. I wasn't really paying much attention to this article until that line and then it was WTF!??

  • Jasie VanGesen

    This. Every word of it. Especially that first paragraph.

  • sizeoftheocean

    Hang on…is S O'B a wannabe-fat? It's kinda sounding like jealousy to me: fat people get pretty clothes, validation, encouragement, self-empowerment, everyone else pays for their health care, they don't have to commit to the hard work and sacrifice required to get thin, and – gosh darn it! – they're happier! NO FAIR! I WANNA BE FAT TOO!!!

  • Meowser

    So what is it she objects to, anyway? That we're headed to an early grave, or that it's not early enough to suit her? I'm still boggling that she thinks it's “alarming” that we're not killing ourselves in greater numbers. Ever hear of psych-med weight gain, Susie? Too bad for you that I decided to take the evil zombie drugs of death that made me OMG OBESE, instead of just letting myself slip away into nothingness while I could still leave a pretty enough corpse for you. (And psst — if you would like it better if I died as soon as possible, preferably by my own hand, you don't give a rat's ass about my “health.”)

  • kikiromantik

    its not about being PRO-FAT. its about being PRO-ACCEPTANCE.

  • Mulberry

    How would you know whether someone over a size 14 is in a healthy weight range? Healthy weights vary by individual. If we go by BMI, the best part of it to be in healthwise (for a population, not specific individuals) is 25-30.
    If you feel better on your diet, and if you have so much control over your weight, why would you even bother to fatten up in the first place? Unlike those who maintain a naturally high weight, It just makes you look weak for having put it on, when you know how fat people are treated, and you have a choice in the matter.
    It may be that eating a lot and being sedentary isn't good for most people, but people of all sizes are known to do that. Conversely, many fat people live a healthy lifestyle. Only a supremely lazyass person would judge a person's character by their weight.
    I am neither pro-fat nor pro-thin.

  • chennpug

    I'm pretty sure the point she was trying to make there was, “Oh noes, the fatties are no longer choosing to eat lead over food! They're no longer ashamed of their love-handles and doubting their self-worth enough to starve themselves!! If I don't shame them some more, WE WILL ALL DIE IN FIRE AND BACON GREASE!”

  • singlesolitarythings

    A perfect rant! I love it. YOu are a clever girl.

    I'm one of those skinny bitches who grew up skinny – and I'm still pretty skinny. so I appreciate your defending my type as well. I hate that tripe about how skinny women aren't REAL or whatever nonsense the counter-media spews.

    Listen, we all have our issues. And approaching 40 – I'm still thin, but I still have to buy off the Jr's rack (U.S. equivilent for teenager clothing – in case that doesn't translate.) I know – it doesn't sound like a problem — but if you have to wear Jrs, you CAN't have a tummy at all! Because if you have to go up to grown-up women sizing… it's too boxy – I look like I'm drowning,,, and even the arm pits don't fit! It's ridiculous.

    But – I am with you – let's just find the beauty in every size – shall we? Wouldn't that be a lovely world to live in?

    You're beautiful. And you … and you and you!!

  • Bob

    “So feeling good about yourself is unhealthy?”

    no, being terribly overweight is unhealthy. i thought that bit was obvious.

  • Rondell

    if you’re overweight you need to fix it, being overweight is unhealthy, there are many health problems linked to obesity like Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease  

  • Taylor Frink

    As a man, may I point out something here:
    The reason why men’s magazines, such as; FHM, Maxim, GQ, Esquire etc., tend to have people like Megan Fox and Hayden Panatierre on their covers has nothing to do with the fact that they get their tits out or whatever reason you care to attribute to this factor. However, the reason we don’t have magazines, adverts and television programmes using overweight people to push a product is because people don’t want to see it.

    You say that mental health is REALLY good for you, but surely you’d mentally feel a million times better if people turned their heads to look at you in awe and you could “comfortably” fit into “that little black dress”… surely? Well, I can assure you that after I lost weight (which is achievable for anyone, by the way…) I felt physically AND mentally healthier, built my self-esteem and confidence out of the calories and cholesterol I was draining from my body.

    So, in theory… if you spent more time on the treadmill, and less on the internet supping your full-fat caramel frappuccino, scoffing down doughnuts and feeding into the Global Fat-Fuck Empowerment Program, then maybe, JUST MAYBE, we could eradicate obesity (which you all had recognised as a disease).

    Cancer is a disease… you want that too?

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