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More Letters to Radiance

A Resource to Share

Dear Alice,

I received my first issue of Radiance yesterday and I love it! Thanks for the quick response to my subscription request. I am in the telecommunications industry and put together an internal magazine and a web site, so I know the work that goes into endeavors like yours. Great job! I have plans to pass the magazine on to both of my sisters. My mother already plans to read Radiance over the weekend.

You asked how I came across Radiance. I am a thirty-seven-year-old woman attending the University of Denver, The Womenís College. The class that I am in right now is Gender Communication. When I had to give a speech on a topic about women and communication, I chose discrimination against overweight women and who or what feeds into that discrimination. When I began my search for resources to support my speech I came across the web site for NAAFA and their link to Radiance.

I was immediately impressed with your site, and excited to see a magazine that hailed large women. For my next class, I have to present an article on education, and I will be using an essay I read in Radiance reprinted from George magazineís book, 250 Ways to Make America Better.

Theresa J. Winslow


Taking a Chance with Dance!

Dear Alice,

I just got the Winter 2000 issue. Whew! Radiance always has something timely and meaningful for me. Finding the magazine in my mailbox has become red-letter day.

The Winter issueís feature on dance seemed particularly serendipitous. A good friend insistently recommended that I get Gabrielle Rothís book Sweating Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual Practice. Rothís presentation of dancing as a way to access oneís soul sounded so wonderful, so possible. However, I came to the book with a lot of resistance: Iím 240 pounds in a five-foot-three-inch body, and I was raised in a restrictive fundamentalist religion that forbade dancing. So, here I was, a fat, forty-five-year-old woman who had never learned to dance and didnít have an ounce of rhythm. I was even embarrassed to dance alone in my own house.

Then Radiance arrived, filled with inspiring stories of women my size or larger who decided to take a chance with dance. I realized that it didnít matter that I didnít know how to dance and that it didnít matter that I had no rhythm: I could simply move to the music and not worry about form. I realized that while dancing alone in my house I was my only audience and my only critic. I decided to silence the critic in me and focus on being an appreciative audience. (Would you look at that woman? She can shake her stuff!) The next step for me will be to find a dance class and learn to dance just for fun! What a concept.

So, once again, Radiance has helped me find the courage to push back my (mostly self-imposed) boundaries. Thank you.

Sandi Emmerson
Franklin, MA


Dear Alice,

As someone who has been an avid dance enthusiast for the past forty years (and whoís been plus size for the past twenty-five years), let me say, Three cheers and star-studded halos to you and your staff and contributors for the Winter 2000 edition! Thank you, thank you, and thanks again. Itís terrific! Iím the type of person who enjoys all types of music and rhythms. I tap, I square dance, I merengue, I do flamenco, and I do ballet. And I can sing and dance like a ďBroadway babeĒ (which Iíve been called!).

When I discovered modern interpretive dance, it became my favorite form of exercise. Some injuries to my ankles, tendons, and knees have slowed me down a bit, but I havenít stopped dancing yet. Dance is so invigorating, so rejuvenating: it makes you feel that you can fly and soar above all of lifeís stresses. Itís fabulous!

Since coming to the Virgin Islands fifteen years ago, Iíve been attempting to form a plus-size dance troupe. My primary obstacle comes from large women and teenage girls whoíve been made to feel embarrassed about their size. Please keep encouraging women with your articles.

Joanne (Jazzy Jojo) Saunders
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands


For All of Us

Hello Alice, and all the great people that make Radiance happen, I am not new to Radiance. Throughout the years I have subscribed to or regularly purchased the magazine. I have also held subscriptions to magazines for average-sized women. Radiance is the best. It is the best because it has the most honest look and feel. You mean it when you say ďfor all sizes of large.Ē You represent diversity and your magazine makes me feel better about myself.

Thank you.

Sheryle Bernard
San Leandro, CA


How Worthy We Are

Hi, Alice,

Thank you for sending my copy of Radiance so promptly. It arrived just when I really needed it. Yesterday was my motherís birthday, the first one since her death. I have many issues which I am currently resolving in therapy about our relationship, and many of them crashed down on me yesterday. I spent a large part of the day gathering up my courage to do what my therapist told me I would certainly have to do to resolve all this. I wrote a long letter to my mother, saying all the things I wanted to tell her while she was alive and never did, because I was too kind and gentle and, being raised without self-esteem, somehow believed it was better for me to hurt than for anyone else to do so.

Mother was a fat woman who always hated herself. She bought the media image of beauty and died at age eighty-five still thinking she should be thin. I am working hard to accept, love, and celebrate my large body, to enjoy and express my beauty and sexuality, both as a fat woman and as a woman with mild cerebral palsy. The joy, radiance, and positive reinforcement of Radiance is a big help. The beauty of your women is a beauty with which I can identify. I have a lot of work still ahead of me, and all support is needed and gratefully acknowledged. I am tired of being unhappy and feeling as if I am not good enough or pretty enough. In order to live fully and love others truly, I need to love me first, a challenge in this media-dominated world of ours.

I have the extra challenge of having, quite ironically, fallen in love with a man who is everything I always found attractive and the kind of man society, the kids in school, and my abusive parents said that I could never have. Ken is smart, funny, hardworking, successful, warm, tender, caring, and unconditionally accepting. He is also tall, lean, athletic, and absolutely gorgeous, with graying black hair and brown eyes. And he loves me. It still amazes me, but it shouldnít. I am a good person, a smart, funny, warm, talented, gentle, open, and naive person with an amazing capacity for love.

With all that is going on in my life, the images in Radiance are an important source of support and encouragementóa reminder that I am fine as I am, that I can be loved and happy just as I am.

Thanks for all you do and have done these fifteen years to help real women know how special, beautiful, and worthy we are. Your messages are needed.

Patsy L. Nevins
Bangor, ME


A Voice for Women


Each day in the life of a plus-size woman presents new challenges, new opportunities, and new adventures. Your magazine, and others like it, give us the weapons to fight negativity, abuse, and mean-spirited conceptions. Thanks for being a voice for the women who sometimes forget to speak up for themselves.

Kellee J. Hatton
Bolivar, TN


Dear Radiance,

I have been looking around the various areas of your web site and canít believe my eyes! I have never seen pictures of women like these before. If the magazine really has women like this on its pages, Iím hooked!

I have been a reader of Mode for a while now, and have been disappointed to see such thin girls on the pages. As the months go by, they seem to get thinner and thinner. The pictures are beautiful, but they still leave me feeling hurt. I see a goal that seems far from my reach.

When I saw your images, I was so shocked that I spilled my morning coffee. The women I saw were beautiful and really real! Looking at them didnít leave me feeling less than, but proud to be one of ! Keep up the good work. And I hope your magazine starts getting the publicity that Mode is getting. Itís time to get out of the ďOkay, how about twenty pounds more ďModeĒ of thinking and step up to Radiance!

Thanks so much for making my day!

Angela in Ohio


Valuing Myself

Dear Radiance,

Iím five-feet-nine-inches, 240 pounds, and work out three days a week at the local pool. When I first decided to take a swimming class I was bashful about being seen in my swimsuit, but the class is for senior citizens, and I felt comfortable on the first day. No one there seems to care what the other person looks like.

I have been heavy since I was twelve. Iíve been to a diet clinic twice to lose sixty or seventy pounds. The weight always came back with a vengeance within a year. Now I have learned to accept myself. I am happily married, with two children. Iím a great cook and a happy person, and, at age forty-five, I donít give a care what other people think! My kids love to bring their friends home for a real meal instead of the nuke-and-go their parents regularly feed them.

See, world: there are some fat, normally adjusted people out there who accept themselves for what they are! I value the fact that I am a productive, loving person. If my size offends someone, tough. Good luck with Radiance.

Joyce Grimps
Albany, OR


Dear Radiance,

I canít say enough about how wonderful I think your magazine is. Besides all of the fashion and beauty advice, stories, and information on products for the full-figured woman, the message I appreciate most from your magazine is that body size and shape is largely hereditary. For years I struggled with body image (and am probably still struggling to a degree). I have ranged in size from a 10/12 (living on carrot sticks and dry tuna) to an 18/20 to my current size of 14/16. When I start to feel bad about my size, all I have to do is look around at my family. The women in my family are very fleshy and round (with a few exceptions: the ones who think that living means carrot sticks and dry tuna!). Similarly, the men are broad-backed, barrel-chested types.

Your magazine always seems to arrive just in the nick of timeóusually when Iím thinking about trying some new ďsuper fat-blasting dietĒ or considering adding more time to my already daily exercise routine. Thank you for helping me to realize that I am beautiful and that I deserve to look and feel my best, no matter what the tag inside my clothing says or what the number on the scale registers. 

God bless!

Christine Lassy Mason
Cheshire, CT

Get Real, World!

Dear Radiance,

At forty, after four children and twenty years of marriage, I decided that I deserved to go after my dream. I returned to college and this spring will graduate with a business degree. I hope to get into law school. When I was in high school I was a cheerleader and was voted class beauty. After four children, Iím now heavier. Iím four feet, eleven inches, and weigh 240 pounds. It has taken me many years to feel positive about myself again, and I need the continued support from magazines like yours. It really gets to me when companies such as Lane Bryant have catalogs with small women modeling their clothes. Isnít it time the world got real? I love positive things for all women. Thank you for your efforts.

Dellafay Chafin
Jacksonville, FL

Adoption for All

Dear Alice,

I have been a Radiance reader on and off since 1985! I was given my first Radiance by a sales associate at a clothing store in Oakland, California. I have, through the years, enjoyed the very positive, reassuring voice of your publication. For a long time I lacked the confidence that I had anything to offer. I had some challenges and made some changes in my life. Now Iím involved in a wonderful open adoption program in Pleasant Hill, California, that I canít say enough about. I actually facilitate information and orientation sessions for prospective adoptive parents! I want to first thank you for being a role model for all women, especially professional women of size, like myself.

What I want to share with you and your readers is that the Independent Adoption Center is a nonprofit organization that does not place unreasonable restrictions on adoptive families. Our adoptive families represent all ages, sizes, and ethnicities, and those who are married, single, lesbian, and gay. And most of our adoptions happen within two years!  When my best friend wanted to adopt in 1982, she was told by several agencies that she would have to lose weight (she weighed 175 pounds and was five-feet-nine-inches tall), and the wait for her baby would have been seven to ten years. She was devastated. I donít want anyone to ever experience that kind of discrimination. I would love to e-mail or share more about our program with you and your readers. Please have people contact me at my e-mail: ellenbre@adoptionhelp.org, or at my business phone, 800-877-6736, extension 47.

Thanks for being there,

Ellen Breshears
Concord, CA

Dare to Believe Youíre Beautiful

Dear Radiance,

Alice, youíre beautiful. I read an interview with you on your Internet home page and found my way to your magazine and my own subscription. The only regret I have is that I didnít find you sooner.

When I was younger I was terrified of large people who were happy with themselves. I thought that if I dared to accept myself as I was (and am) I would be copping out, giving up on this ďideal meĒ that everyone else seemed to think I needed to be. I harbored fantasies about how wonderful my life would be when I became that mythic thin person, along with anger toward those I suspected would treat me better simply because my appearance was acceptable to them. I desired their approval, yet knew at the same time that my wish was hollow and superficial.

I feel some of the very old, broken places of my heart healing when I read your articles, and the anger and hurt from clearly remembered cruelty is being tempered by the realization that I have a right to be happy now, not after I have nearly killed myself to make myself acceptable to people whose hearts are hard and small. When people say I am beautiful, I will dare to believe them! I hope you know how much that means.

Kimberly Robinson
Downingtown, PA

Balance in the Universe

Dear Alice,

Hereís a story for you! I was in a Togoís the other night, and a woman of generous proportions, not unlike my own lovely self, was ordering a sandwich to go. The guy in line behind her but ahead of me started mooing. I tapped him on the shoulder, made eye contact with him, and said very sweetly in a ďkindergarten teacherĒ voice, ďThatís a very good moo-cow! Can you do a horsie?Ē I never would have said a thing if my husband werenít standing right there. The guy turned red. One of these days my smart-assery is sure to get me a face full of knuckles. But until then, Iíll work tirelessly to maintain balance in the universe!

Brin-Marie McLaughlin

On the Path

Dear Alice,

A quick note to say that your site and your magazine have been inspirational for me. Until I started reading your articles and essays, I was filled with self-loathing because of my lifelong battle with weight. At the ripe old age of forty-nine, I have finally started to accept myself as I am. I have a long way to go, but I feel that I am firmly on the path of self-respect. Thank you for being there.

Anita Koller
Aberdeen, MD

Dear Radiance,

I was surfing the web this morning and came across your site. How wonderful! Throughout my childhood my family told me that if I were thin Iíd be loved more, Iíd be more popular, and so on. These ideas carried on into a marriage with the same abusive language: ďIf you really loved me, you would lose weight.Ē Iím now fifty-four years old. I have been single for twenty years, raising children and trying to take care of me. It has been just in the last couple of years that I have begun to like myself the way I amóa rough battle, as we women of size all know. How great to find your web site and see the love and encouragement! I plan on subscribing to your magazine. Thanks for being there for us.


Wagging Tails and Sloppy Kisses

Dear Alice,

I just received my first issue of Radiance today and have read it from cover to cover. As I finished reading one of the best magazines I have seen in years, I started to cry. No, not just because of your magazine, but because of a lot more.

I started a pet-sitting business less than three years ago, in part because I wanted to work with animals, but also to leave a job where I always felt uncomfortable being fat. When a much thinner woman got a promotion over me, when Iíd had more time on the job and was more qualified, that was the last straw.

With pet sitting, I donít have to face job interviews. I donít have to deal with any more ďdo-goodersĒ who slip me Jenny Craig coupons or diet recipes. As a pet sitter, I am always welcome at each and every job, each and every day. I am always greeted with wagging tails and sloppy kisses, and no one ever tells me to lose weight.

I bowed out of society as much as I was able, because I felt so bad about myself. I didnít know that there was such a thing as accepting yourself no matter what your size, and doing whatever you wanted to do no matter what anyone else thought. I only knew I hated my size, and felt sure that everyone else in the world felt the same way about fat. Shoot, I had even gotten a divorce, something else I was sure had to do with my size.

I didnít discover your magazine, or your on-line presence, or anything else in this wonderful world of acceptance until a friend gave me Camryn Manheimís book to read [Wake Up, Iím Fat! Broadway Books, 1999]. I expected the same old story about how she made it big, but was I in for a surprise! The very day I found her mention of your magazine, I subscribed.

I am a fat woman fast approaching forty, and I finally feel I may be getting the tools I need to figure out that I really am okay and may even find out that I can do whatever I want to do.

In the meantime, I will be rereading your magazine, starting tonight. Iím going to devour every single word until I can quote all the positive messages by heart. Then Iím going to let them sink inside until I finally believe in themóand in me. Then weíll see where I end up! From now on, I am a faithful subscriber!

Anita Hollos
Wichita, KS

A Healthy Belly

Dear Alice and the Radiance Staff,

I just received my third issue of Radiance. Iíve never before written a fan letter, but I am just bowled over. All I can say is, Thank God! I eagerly await each issue and try to make it last. My only complaint is that you are not a weekly. (Who am I kidding? A daily!) I love how you face being fat head-on. Magazines like Mode seem to just want to ignore that we are, in fact, different. Looking nice is important to our often fragile egos, but clothes in larger sizes do not a revolution make!

Iím glad that I have Radiance there to tell me that other fat people with belly creases are active, adventurous, and sexual. You are unique and wonderful. When I saw your cover girl for the Summer issue I cried, because sheís my size. She is beautiful, not hiding or ashamed, as I have been all my life. I risked my life having forty thousand dollarsí worth of weight loss surgery (ultimately unsuccessful). I wish I had known about you then; I like to think I would have been smart enough to let love and acceptance overcome the desperate, awful soul sickness that led me to such an extreme act. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

P.S. Iíd love to have a pen pal.

Dorette Roach

Soakiní with Radiance!

Hi, Alice,

What better way to start out the New Year 2000 than with a renewal to Radiance magazine! I would like to thank you for the incredible work you do on this publication. It is obvious that, in addition to being a very classy magazine, it is also a labor of love.

I always look forward to receiving the latest issue. I usually make a cup of tea and take a long bubble bath with my current issue. Best of luck this New Year.

Radiantly yours,

Maria Iarocci-Leibow
Phoenix, AZ

A Mixture of Feelings

Dear Alice,

First, congratulations on your latest excellent issue, Winter 2000!

I am writing from EDENóEating Difficulties Education Network in New Zealand. We have received your magazine for years and are never disappointed!

Personally, when I first started my journey of size acceptance, I would devour your magazine, often with mixed feelings of exhilaration, joy, sadness, rage, and then hope. Your magazine did not make me angry. I just felt mad and sad that I hadnít had the size-positive messages, imagery, and poetry published in Radiance when I was a fat child or teen. So thank you for your efforts.

I also want you to know that we direct readers to your web site for more inspiration.

Melissa Weenink-Smith
New Zealand

A Labor of Love

Dear Alice,

I received my copy of the Winter 2000 issue, and it is (as usual) wonderfulóbeautiful, inspiring, informative. I am especially thrilled to see all the articles and poetry about dancing (including mine, of course)! Over the years that I have read Radiance, I have become more and more committed to the magazine and all it stands for, so writing for Radiance was an exciting labor of love for me. I will continue to spread the word about Radiance and body acceptance whenever I can. I commend you for sticking with it all these years: it must have been a struggle, personally and financially. All of us readers are eternally grateful to you!

Thank you, too, for being brave enough to share your experience of depression and how you are working to ease it. Depression is such a widespread problem and needs to be talked about more. Again, you have led the way.

Anne Peek
Bloomington, MN

Love and Partnership

Dear Alice,

I love Radiance! It inspires me, and when I need an ego boost I know that I can turn to your magazine and get the boost I need. I would like to see more articles on being single and how to go about finding and meeting Mr. Right.

Regina Williams
Durham, NC

Editorís Note: Your wish is our command! This Spring issue includes stories of love and partnership. Our readers have been sending in answers to the question, How did you meet Mr. or Ms. Right? Or how do you live happily as a single person? Anyone with a (short) tale to tell or advice to share is invited to . Look for more on finding love and living single in an upcoming issue of Radiance.

Living Well

Dear Alice,

Hurray, hurray for Radiance and the way it empowers us! Thank you for the article ďSurviving Summer: Donít Sweat ItĒ in the Summer 1999 issue. I have suffered chronically from skin rashes, and I noticed many of my large girlfriends did, too, but no one ever talked about it. Thank you for your frank, open handling of the subject. Itís one less bit of shame, one less bit of embarrassment, one more positive step for health and confidence.

Radiance has been my support network, my group therapy, the tent pole of my consciousness-raising work for many years. I recommend it to all of my friends who are struggling with self-esteem and weight. Articles like this and many others have given me the power to dare to live in pride and happiness and health. As they say, living well is the best revengeóand I am certainly enjoying my revenge to the fullest.

Kathleen Randles
Normal, IL

Seeking Womenís Health Information

Dear Alice,

I really enjoy Radiance , and find it to be an excellent alternative to the corporate-driven messages of magazines like Mode, where every article seems to be an advertisement for some product, and women over size 16 are still very marginalized.

I noticed in your Summer 1999 issue that one reader mentioned in a letter that her weight has caused her to stop menstruating and that she has to take drugs to compensate for this. I would like to suggest that weight-linked menstrual complications would make an excellent subject for a Radiance article. I have found your reporting on medical and health issues to be very helpful, and I know that many fat women have experienced menstrual problems for which they cannot obtain useful or objective medical advice. It is true that body fat can cause hormonal changes which can affect the menstrual cycle. As we all know, most doctors just recommend weight loss as a treatment. In my experience, doctors either try to frighten fat patients with dire warnings or ignore their complaints altogether. I am twenty-seven years old and do not want to take hormone pills for the rest of my life, as I fear there may be health consequences. I would really like to read some unbiased information on weight, the reproductive system, and the menstrual cycle, and some advice that does not prioritize weight loss.

Kate Campbell
Toronto, Ontario

Out of Her Shell

Dear Alice,

Iíve been a subscriber for a few years now, and I find your magazine to be inspirational. Prejudice against large people is sanctioned in this society, and I have been subjected to it on several occasions. Your magazine has given me the strength to come out of my shell, just a few baby steps at a time. I even swim now. I am proud to say that I subscribe to Radiance . Keep up your very important work. I wish you all future success with the magazine.

Amanda Prazak
Houston, TX

Get Tired of the Fight

Dear Alice,

Thank you so much for all the hard work and the wonderful magazine. I read every issue cover to cover. The letter from NKS in your Summer 1999 issue really moved me. She really touched on a lot of important issues, and I, too, am tired of all the problems.

I get tired of doctors not taking health problems seriously. I hate people assuming I eat an entire cake for breakfast, or that Iím stupid or lazy. NKS mentioned that it seems to her that people are in denial about what they eat. Very possibly. Eating is labeled a weakness, a dirty sin in this society, especially if you are big.

NKS should have no problem attracting nice men, but the fact is many men are programmed that fat is comical or sad and a comment on social stature. I know there are people out there who arenít shallow and will appreciate a goddess, but sometimes finding them is next to impossible.

We as fat activists try hard to educate. But there is a long way to go. Just because I have finally accepted my size does not mean my coworkers and others have. And that affects my everyday life. Being a woman of size is difficult, and we often have to work extra hard to get noticed. But itís our lives to cherish or to throw away. No, NKS, you and I wonít ever be like our thin sisters, but maybe we really kick butt in other ways. And everyone has their problems. Itís just hard to remember that sometimes.

Alice, your good attitude is fantastic. Itís great to read Radiance  and not feel like a freak. But sometimes I do just want to cry. Ever consider a ďrant and raveĒ column?!

Laura Baxendale
On-line Empathy Training

Dear Alice,

What a beautiful magazine! A friend told me about your web site, and I went to it right away. I am in the middle, I guess you would say, between plus and ďregularĒ sizes, and I would recommend your magazine to people of all sizes. Itís very educational for all people. Itís on-line empathy training! Thank you for such a valuable resource.

Ramona Jane

Dear Radiance ,

I want to say thank you for the smile your web page brought to my face. I only wish your magazine would have been published when I was growing up. I would have stayed home less and enjoyed my youth more. Thank you for reminding me that I donít have to apologize for my size.

Kim Bloomfield
Columbus, OH
E-mail: KBloomfield@gateway.net

Dear Alice,

Radiance magazine is one of the most important supports in my life. Just the thought of all those like-minded (and like-bodied) people out there keeps me going when Iím finding it hard to cope in this thin-obsessed world. Thanks!

Liz Swinden
East Sussex, England
E-mail: liz@swinden.netlineuk.net

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