Even More Letters to
Ed Note: In the Fall
1997 issue, we printed a few letters from readers who wanted to be pen
pals. Since then, we have re-thought this service, and have decided that
due to concern for privacy issues, we will not print your physical
addresses in Letters to Radiance.
If you want to be listed as a pen pal, weíll need either an e-mail
address or a post office box. Thanks!
Iíd like to subscribe to Radiance
. I read about it in When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies by Jane
Hirschmann and Carol Munter. After checking out your Web site this
morning, I have determined that this is definitely the kind of magazine
I want to read!
I was amazed (and thrilled!) to discover that there
is a magazine out there especially for those of us who donít have the
culturally defined "ideal" body, a magazine that doesnít
constantly preach the diet gospel or tell me that I am unacceptable
because Iím not shaped like a starving supermodel or the half-naked
babes on Bay Watch. Itís wonderful to find a place where I can
see and read about other large women without cultural propaganda
encouraging me to conform, lose weight, and hate my body.
I am anxiously awaiting my first issue and will be
ordering available back issues as soon as I can.
Although I have just discovered your magazine, I feel
as though I know you as "friends" after reading just one
issue. I found out about Radiance
from an article in the Columbus Dispatch, which also led me to
group therapy for a binge eating disorder. I found your magazine at
Borders Books and brought it to show the group. Iíve discovered that
there are quite a few magazines for large women, but, in my opinion,
yours is definitely the best! Therefore, Iím enclosing my check for a
subscription and back issues.
Iíve found a new way of thinking about body sizes.
Your magazine is just right for reinforcing that mindset on an ongoing
basis. I am finding that, when I fill my head with positive messages and
images, I donít seem to need to fill my mouth quite as often!
Thank you, and keep up the good work.
Fat and Pregnant
I have been a subscriber for three years now. It is so wonderful to
read and enjoy a publication that is so inspiring. I have wept and
laughed with the words I have read. I am like all of those other women
who have written in to say that they read your magazine from cover to
cover almost immediately.
I try to savor it, but I find that I cannot hold
myself back! It is so refreshing to feel empowered. I donít have to
feel "bossy" or "overbearing" just because I feel
confident enough to stand up for myself. I have a history of trying to
"disappear" into the surroundings. I have worn subdued colors
and have kept my mouth shut. Through the influence of Radiance,
Iím able to have people, including myself, look at me.
My husband and I have been married for two years,nd
we want to have children. I am a supersize woman, and I would appreciate
any information about being pregnant and fat. I am looking into the
concerns regarding folic acid and obese mothers. Can a supersize woman
have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby? Is this realistic? I have
to face my doctor with these questions in the near future. Thankfully,
he is supportive and not fatphobic. You have my permission to publish my
e-mail address with this letter,so that anyone who has some input can
Thank you, Radiance,
and keep up the excellent and wonderful work.
Michelle E. Molash
Ed. Note: There is a on-line news
group called "Big Moms" that is worth checking out. To get
Childhood Memories and Health Alarms
Iíve been a regular subscriber to Radiance
for about two years. What a help and a joy it is for me.
As a child, I was mocked and jeered at by the
"regular-size" kids at my school and in my neighborhood whenever
I participated in physical activities like kickball, softball,
relay races, and so on, because my size slowed me down and made me less
agile. Of course, I was chosen last and with great reluctance when the
game required that sides be chosen.
Repeated humiliation and emotional rejection scarred
me deeply, so that I learned to stay away from doing anything that would
draw attention to myselfóprimarily running, jumping, or playing active
gamesówhenever I could possibly avoid it.
On a positive note, I have always loved to sing, and
perform regularly in the region where I live with my husband, having
conquered my general fear of being in the public eye.
However, to this day, I instinctively fear doing any
activity outsideóit really petrifies me. I know that there is little
chance of harassment now, but I still feel there are invisible, mocking
eyes all around me. Too, I dislike the feelings associated with exerciseósweat
on my skin, breathing heavily, being flushed. It seems unbeautiful,
emphasizing and advertising my lack of fitness; my lack of worthiness to
I need help now, because of my knees. I hear them
popping and they lock up sometimes. I fear the jointsí disintegration,
but Iím repulsed by the activity I need to do for healing. Help! I
really have to deal with my fears now.
I donít really expect you personally to reach out
and do something, but I think this is probably a serious issue that
faces a lot of heavy people. Please pay some attention to this problem
in future issues of Radiance.
It might be soon enough to help me heal my knees.
A second note from
Becky: A friend of mine has been letting me use her
pool on Fridays after work, and I awarded myself a new bathing suit and
webbed gloves for the occasion. I havenít had the kind of knee
difficulty or pain I wrote about to you previously, but Iím still
aware of the need to strengthen my muscles in those areas. Iíve been
walking here and there whenever I can.
(Ed. note: We will make an
effort to increase our coverage of health concerns from people of size
in future issues.)
Found Your Web Page!
I read an article about your magazine a few years ago, in the
Press Telegram, in Long Beach, California. I cut out the article and
carried it and an addressed envelope around, intending to subscribe but
never actually getting around to it.
Now I found your Web page! Iím reminded of why I
was so impressed with your magazine the first time I heard of it. So,
without any further delay, hereís my check for a subscription.
Iím not an extra large woman, but an extra large man, and Iím
writing to tell you how much Iím enjoying your on-line magazine. To be
honest, Iím not really sure how I got linked to Radiance
in the first place, but now that Iíve found you Iím having a great
time of discovery.
Originally, the interview with Rosie
OíDonnell pulled me in. I just adore her spirit and genuine
friendliness and Iím happy to report that I gained some wonderful
insight to her true character while reading Gloria Cahillís piece.
(Nice work Ms. Cahill!)
Iíve continued to admire Rosie reach time I hear of
something else sheís done for someone else, but Iíd never really
read any articles about her and certainly hadnít read any interviews
Moreover, I was so taken by a few of the things Rosie
said to Gloria, that I thought I might explore some more of what Radiance
was about. Then I found another interview with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola
Estťs, yet another woman I have great admiration and respect for, but
knew very little about her personally. (My wife is a Dr. Estťs devotee
and I came to her work through my wifeís readings.)
I read her interview and moved onto other articles
and Iíve bookmarked your site to come back to again and again. My
biggest surprise has been that even though your content is certainly
geared toward empowering women who have struggled with body image most
of their lives, as a forty-five-year-old man, I have also found your
magazine both interesting and empowering as well. Thank you!
(Ed. note: With each new
issue of Radiance,we update our Web site
and add new information, artwork, and photos, and make more articles and
interviews available to read. Visit our site [often!] at http://www.radiancemagazine.com.
A Kid in a Candy Store!
I walked into Barnes & Noble on Friday night, and of course I
went to the section of magazines which I call my section. The section
for us big women, where there are so few publications to choose from. I
was thumbing through the new BBW magazine, and I happened upon Mode
(which I wasnít really impressed with), and then lo and behold I saw Radiance
. Oh, man! I was like a kid in a candy store!
I quickly went and got a cup of coffee, and I was
off! I sat there and just looked at the pictures at first; I was in
heaven. These folks looked like me! Big, bold, and luscious! In all
seriousness, I could identify with these women. I am supersize, and you
actually had supersize women in the magazine. Yee haw! You also had
great articles and a fashion section with swimwear photos to die for.
My hatís off to you, Alice. Radiance
is wonderful. Thank you so much.
Diversity Education for Kids
It has again been made abundantly clear to us that there is a real
need for a well-designed size acceptance and tolerance program for
We feel that this effort would be best incorporated
into a broader diversity education package; one for both students and
educators (teachers, school nurses, administrators, and so on). Social
attitudes are formed very early in life, and in the absence of any other
information, children (as well as their families) adopt the systemic
biases of our culture as it exists, instead of how it should exist.
Our lovely, chunky ten-year-old daughter (she has her
motherís genes) came home the other day and wrote out her will and
attached a suicide note. She is very dramatic as well as intelligent,
enthusiastic, and empathetic. Needless to say, weíve tried to teach
her our size-accepting philosophy (Doug has been active in NAAFA for
almost twenty years), but the bombardment she receives isnít being
"filtered" through any other supportive source.
Naturally, we called the school and arranged to meet
with a "core team" of her teacher, the nurse, the
psychologist, and several others. We proceeded to list our daughterís
(many) strengths, her background (including our "peculiar"
take on size issues), the "problems," and a plan. First, we
were disappointed that few on the team really knew our daughter (her
teacher came late), and then the first question they asked was,
"Has she been seen by a nutritionist?"
The insensitivity of her tormentors (the latest
incident involved a classmate calling her a "school bus" when
she wore a yellow shirt) and the possibility of bias in the schoolís
health curriculum were barely mentioned, except by us! The staff took
the issues seriously but responded with skepticism, especially to the
notion that dieting doesnít work and that people can be both fat and
healthy. They also admitted that they had no official diversity program
or training and that any efforts in this area were left to the
discretion of the individual teacher.
We saw this opportunity our daughter had unwittingly
presented us with as a chance to help her in a lasting way. Now we need
your help. Weíve reassured our daughter of her value and our love. Her
teacher is reinforcing this in the classroom, but what comes next? What
about all the other children facing such onslaughts every school day
without the support our daughter has? We want to help put a project
together for students, teachers, parents, and educators.
Letís get this going now.
Dianne and Doug Zimmer
is exactly the kind of situation that has prompted the Radiance
Kids Project. Call, write, or e-mail us with your ideas, contacts,
and expertise. We need your involvement and contributions as we work to
implement size-diversity and size-esteem programs for kids, parents, and
others who work with our youth.)
Been Through It All
From one Alice to another,
Iíve been reading this "rad mag" for more than ten years.
I have evolved, of course. You wouldnít believe my journeyónarcotics
addiction, invasive tissue disease with daily pain, arrests, therapy for
mental illness, lots of counseling (good, bad, indifferent, and finally
wonderful!), recovery from childhood abuse, back to school, back to
work, development of a career in computers, marriage, divorce, and more.
Sometimes when I look in the mirror, I see a fat
woman. More often, I am examining my feelings so that I may affect them
positively. Although I suffer from depression and disabling disease, I
am strong enough that I can change how I feel. I now have a life. I have
recently discovered a spiritual side to myself that is life giving.
You told me, Radiance,
over and over, that I am a real person. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
And now a word for your newer readers: Itís your love for others that
makes you whole. But first, love yourself. Itís not only possible, itís
Love to you, Alice. Filling up and spilling over.
Not Even for God
Iím a recent subscriber to Radiance
and I truly love it. It always seems to come at the right time.
Right now, itís 10:30 p.m. and Iím watching
Primetime Live. The topic is the new diet pills. When will this
insanity stop? It took me a long time to stop beating myself up over my
size and the food I eat. It seems that everywhere I turn, someone says
they have a miracle cure for being fat.
If one thing truly makes me mad, itís the rise in
the use of God to sell diet plans. My mother has one of the tapes! On
the cover of the cassette it says, "How to weigh what God wants you
to weigh based on his plan." I have read the Bible, and nowhere
does it say that being fat is a sin. I could swear that God loves me
just the way and size that I am. If I am to understand what this tape is
saying, I will be going to hell for being fat. Well, if being fat will
send me to hell, so be it. I will not change my size for anyone but me.
I am starting to enjoy my life without dieting.
Thank you for providing a magazine that encourages
women to be whole people, whatever their size.
Menlo Park, CA
P.S.óAlice, I am doing an exercise to find out
what I admire about certain people. Youíll be on my list, followed by
the word determined.
(Ed. note: Thanks,
Singiní Loud íní
Hello from Missouri! Thank you for the opportunity to express
ourselves and sing loud and proud of our size blessings. I am an avid
reader of Radiance . Iím
a twenty-three-year-old BBW from Kansas City. Iíve been large and in
charge all my life, but along the way Iíve had the same struggles as
my plus-size sisters. Iíve heard all the catch phrases from
well-meaning people about how pretty Iíd be if I would just lose
weight. I went through all the yo-yo dieting, eating nothing at all,
exercising like crazy, and just plain bingeing.
Finally, I quit it all. I just stopped, looked in the
mirror, and decided that I wasnít going to die to be thin. My world
became full. I found inner peace and a resolution to work on myself.
There was nothing wrong with me, I was just fat. Did you hear me? I said
I was fat and I was okay! I was no longer going to accept the mold
society had put me in.
So Iím doing it my way. I sing loud, I dance hard.
I fooled around and fell in loveówith myself and two months ago, with
my husband! Some of your readers may think, Well, she is young; of
course she can be sexy and sassy, but not me. Stop! I have been crunched
into seats too small, felt the stares at restaurants when I have ordered
more than a salad, and have had people (complete strangers) come up to
me with unsolicited and usually cruel "good advice." And I
took it. I let the demons of Madison Avenue rule my thinking.
But no more. I am ready to share the world with my
plus-size sisters as well as my average-size sisters. Part of this
letter is a message: whether I am a size 2 or a size 42 is my business,
not societyís. The other part of this letter is a howdy! I want to say
hi to all my sisters in size in the world! I have a desire to bring us
to the forefront, and Iíd like to start getting to know my sisters. Iím
getting involved in organizations to help bring people of all sizes
together. We large people deserve to be recognized, and magazines such
as Radiance and others are
paving the way. We are not a force to be sold to the diet industry or
criticized into therapy. We are a force to be reckoned with and
respected. To all my sister-friends at Radiance
and across the world, a big hug and lots of love from the Midwest!
Kansas City, MO
A Matter of Perspective
You made my day when I opened my stack of back issues and found the
post-it with "Enjoy" written on it.
You may find it curious that I am reading your
magazine (with great relish), as I am only a size 12. Three years ago,
at five feet, ten inches, I was model thin at size 6Ė8. "----
happened." First, I lost my best friend, my mom, within two days of
my husband being downsized from his job of twenty-three years. Two days
after her funeral I found a breast lump and had to have surgery. It was
just a cyst, but my life fell apart to clinical depression and instant
menopause (I was forty-eight). I had a doctor who put me on so many
tranquilizers, sleeping pills, antidepressants that I became a zombie. I
have just gotten rid of the last pill this month. I have also sent to a
consignment shop all my size 6 and 8 clothes and bought all new size 12ís.
I donít care to look like a model any more for a number of reasons,
mainly because of my health and all that time I spent thinking and
worrying about my body and my weight. Quite frankly, what years I have
left are going to be used in a much better and more satisfying way!
A combination of medications and menopause made me
gain weight. After going over my meager diet, my doctor says there is
absolutely nothing I can cut out. It seems I semi-starved myself for
years to stay thin and young-looking. No one ever guessed that I was
over forty. But guess what? Now they think I am even younger. The loose
skin on my neck, arms, and derriere has filled out. Everyone keeps
telling me I looked greatóeven better than beforeóbut I couldnít
see it at first. I was overtaken by a state of panic. It has taken a lot
of reading (magazines such as yours, Emmeís new book, Carol Johnsonís
book, and several others on self-esteem and health) to realize that I
look good and healthy. I have had to change my entire way of thinking
and looking at myself. I look at the beautiful women in your magazine,
and they are radiant. Yes, radiant. And after all these years of the
dark night of the soul, I know my mom would want me to move on and be
radiant, too, and proud of this body that she herself gave to me.
Thank you. Please remember that almost all women have
a body-size problem. Your magazine can help all of us. One of my very
best friends is plus-sized and she is gorgeous. And a famous author. She
has been, and continues to be, my role model. She is also the best
friend a person could have. She has seen me through dark days when I
didnít care whether I lived or died. And now she rejoices with me that
I am well and off medication, and laughs at me for feeling big. It is
all a matter of perspective, everything is relative. To me, I felt big,
and that made me feel a failure. Thank God, I know now that every day is
a new beginning. I finally am finding some genuine self-esteem, not the
kind that comes from looking like an underfed model.
I am a musician, an artist, a writer, have two
gorgeous daughters about to get their Ph.Ds from Vanderbilt and Notre
Dame, and a husband of thirty years. Am I not blessed? Sometimes we just
donít see what is before our very eyes.
Love to you, for being so thoughtful as to put that
little note on my first magazine.
Proud As I Am
How exciting to receive your Fall 1997 issue (the
first of my new subscription!) and see an article on my favorite
designer, April Cornell. It is wonderful to see recognition for a
Canadian designer as well. I have worn the designerís olive velvet
skirt to several cultural events, like the ballet and the opera. It was
my first time to either of these events, and it improved my confidence
to be wearing beautiful clothes. The April Too plus-size line is the
first Iíve seen that really expresses my personality as a BBW with a
penchant for Victorian-style clothing.
I also enjoyed your Big News column. Iíve been
waiting for information on actress Camryn Manheimís role in The
Practice. I think she is a great actress who plays a BBW with realism.
She has a complex personality, unlike many large-size characters
portrayed on TV who have only one-dimensional lives.
I canít begin to express my appreciation for your
magazine. Obtaining a subscription was a big step for me in my size
acceptance. No longer will I put off living my life "until I reach
my goal weight." No longer will I listen to weight-loss
"experts" who tell me to visualize myself at my
"ideal" weight. Now I will visualize myself as I amóproud to
be me at a size 24, wearing glorious clothes, and actively doing all the
things Iíve put off my whole life. Thank you so much.
Drumheller, Alberta, Canada
Life with Father
When my mother died twenty years ago, I felt I barely
knew my father. Yes, he had been the faithful (sole) provider throughout
my traditional 1950s upbringing. But most of the time, I just did my
best to stay out of his often angry way.
Dad was a child of the Depression, when it was
practically a sin to be fat. Being fat meant you had plenty of money for
food, something lots of families lacked in that dismal tims. In the past
I have tended to use this to excuse my fatherís negative attitude and
comments to me about my weight.
Not long ago I helped my father find his
half-brother, whom he had not seen in more than thirty years. At lunch
at my uncleís homeóonly my second time I had ever met him and his
wifeómy Dad remarked, "Yeah, Ritaís fat. She should lose some
of that weight." To me, this was a first-rate betrayal in front of
a virtual stranger.
Later on as we drove home, I told my father how
severely hurt I felt by his comments. My father responded by minimizing
my hurt and anger, telling me "thatís enough," trying to
shame me into just letting the matter drop. That was the moment I
realized, Yes, Dad, that is enoughóenough from you after all these
years I have tried to be the dutiful daughter. In that moment I
empowered myself to never again let my fatherís comments about my
weight go by without confronting him. From that moment, I have refused
to let his comments about my weight stand unchallenged.
There is no "happy ending" here. My father
feels the way he feels about fat; that hasnít changed. But what has
changed is my own ability to speak up for myself with my father, to love
him and to be grateful for the one parent who is still in my life, but
to never allow that love and gratitude for Dad to stop me from speaking
up for Rita.
Circle of Support
So do you ever get tired of people telling you
and all the staffers at Radiance
how great you are and how much you mean to us? I sure hope not.
The road to self-love is long and winding and every
now and then it goes through a dark forest. Mine came the other day when
a casual acquaintance approached me about purchasing Herbal Life
products. He allowed that he was "shocked" at how much weight
Iíd gained since he last saw me. What he doesnít know is that when
he knew me two years ago I was at an unnaturally thin weight maintained
by what horrific practices I donít even want to say.
I stood up for myself and said politely, "No,
thanks. You know, at this point in my life I donít think dieting is
the answer to my problems. Iím spending energy on my insides instead
of my outsides."
I was glad for what I said, but all the things I didnít
say started to nag at me:
So you seem to think thereís a problem with my
weight? Well, I donít.
How dare you examine and pass judgment on my
And as long as weíre at it, how dare you, a
person with whom I barely have a passing acquaintance, presume to
discuss something as private as my body with me.
So,f drinking a milk shake would make me thin and
keep me thin, donít you think Iíd have done it by now?
Where have you been? If youíre going to sell
this crap, youíd better be prepared to answer to what even
mainstream doctors are starting to sayóthat dietís donít work.
The real problem here is that you seem to have a
problem with my weight, so why donít you just drink the blankety-blank
But of course, I didnít say any of that. Iíve
always been a good girl, and Iím getting pretty darn tired of her.
Under the cloud of all the stuff Iíve never said but wanted to, the
forest got darker and darker and the thorny vines started growing over
the path, and it was getting ugly in there.
magazine to the rescue! I got out my precious dog-eared back issues and
every size-positive piece of literature in my house. I read a little
every day, and it was like being surrounded by a circle of big, warm,
soft sisters and mothers, hugging me and gently reminding me that Iím
okay, better than okay. Slowly, I made it through the forest and am
pleased to say that the sun is shining and itís a fine day.
Thank you for creating such a fine publication.
You have dared to be frank and do it with finesse.
After a lifetime of being a large woman, I have
stopped apologizing. I am very healthy in spite of my supersize frame.
As I near age forty, I have finally pitched my diet books. I eat a
healthy diet and I feel good!
I am the same size as my mother, and her mother. I
refuse to subject myself any longer to the ignorance of the rest of the
world. I do admit that I have lost 170 pounds this yearó170 pounds
worth of an abusive husband! I also just completed a very intensive
paralegal program (which I put to use to handle my divorce without an
I found your magazine while I was in Washington,
D.C., for an interview. Radiance
was an inspiration to me and reinforced my outlook. I am so much more
than just another pretty face. In my own quiet way, I have proven to
those around me that I am a worthwhile person. I am finally
rediscovering myself. I am strong, despite my gentleness. I was created
by the same supreme being as everyone else. My body is a temple, a
vessel of godliness, just like those of my thinner sisters. I no longer
hurt at the stupidity of less enlightened souls. After all, when I am
snubbed or criticized, I know that my 350-pound body is just fine. The
critics are the ones missing out, and frankly, missing what is important
in life: to love and accept the good in one another.
My spirit has taken flight. I only needed to change
my attitude and follow my heart.
With a Steady Hand
In June of 1997 there was a small notice in one
of the Sunday supplements about an upcoming article on fen-phen It said
that the author was looking for people who had taken these drugs and had
good or bad experiences to share.
Since I had taken these drugs for nine months
beginning in May of 1995, I decided to respond. I sent a postcard with a
short list of the negative side effects I had experiencedótrembling,
short temper, agitation, sleeplessnessóand noted that while I had lost
40 pounds, I had regained the weight, and more, after I quit. I got a
call from the writer and was asked why I quit the drugs.
I told her about the day when I really lost it, when
I responded very sharply (read bitchy) to a simple question from a
coworker. After this interaction, I found myself shaking. It wasnít a
mild tremble. Over the past few months I had gotten used to the constant
shaking of my hands and had virtually given up the fine needlework I
enjoyed. This was an all-body shake. I had also gotten used to not
needing much sleep, not an entirely negative side effect since I was too
jittery to feel tired (and lots of housework can be done at midnight!).
I explained to the writer that I had gotten a clear view of what the
drugs were doing to me, and I didnít like what I saw.
At the time I first stopped the drugs, I still did
not throw the pills away. Not yet. Somewhere in the back of my brain I
was thinking, "Maybe it will wear off. Maybe after a couple of
weeks I can start taking them again. Of course I want to lose weight, itís
the right thing to do." But after a few weeks, when my own patient,
friendly nature had returned, when I again had the patience and motor
control to sew the tiny doll clothes I like to work on, I did not start
taking the drugs again. I found a new appreciation of myself and my
life, just the way it was, even though the weight was slowly coming
back. I bought and made new clothes, adjusted my attitude, and got on
with my abundant life. But I still kept those bottles of pills.
And then one day, months later, Radiance
arrived, and as usual, I began to devour it from cover to cover. I came
to the Big News column and found a list of side effects for the drugs I
had stopped taking and, as I read the list, I was nearly ill. And
definitely scared. Brain damage jumped off the page. I went back and
read that paragraph again. Then I got up and found every pill bottle and
dumped them all in the trash.
It was a few months after this that the notice I
described above appeared in the Sunday magazine. I knew people who had
good responses to the drug would respond. Who wouldnít want to let the
world know they were "succeeding," at least by societyís
standards? I wondered how many negative responses they would get, and
decided to make sure they got at least one. Two weeks later the writer
called and asked permission to use my name in the article, and I said
A short time after the article appeared, a local talk
show decided to do a segment on the negative side effects of diet drugs
and called me to participate. I enjoyed doing the show. The hosts were
obviously professionals, and knew exactly how to put guests at ease and
prepare them for the interviews. But I was nervous anyway. In fact,
after agreeing to do the show, I got out all my past issues of Radiance
and combed them for information on Phen/Fen and other nasty diet drugs.
I even wrote index cards so I could review all the information I had
gleaned; I wanted to take advantage of any opportunity to further inform
the world that diet drugs are very risky. I hadnít written note cards
I didnít really get a change to further world
education. Just a few words added to other peopleís descriptions of
how such drugs affected them. Maybe someone who saw the program will
hesitate if their doctor offers them these drugs, maybe someone wonít
ask for them. Iíll never know. But I do know that I did something: I
threw a few more drops of truth into the bucket of antidiet/and diet
drug information. And I know that the only way to combat the oceans of
skinny-is-good propaganda is by raising our hands and saying that it isnít
true. And now, when I raise my hand, it doesnít shake.
Thank you, Radiance,
for your Big News column. Thank you for being there as I gave up dieting
and increased my appreciation for myself the way I am. Thank you for
every pro-size article and interview you do, and for every advertisement
for wonderful clothing and accessories you print. Thank you for every
notice of size-friendly services and professionals, for the stories
about artists like Dari Walker, Dan May, and Joyce Mudd, and the ways to
buy their art. Thank you for your t-shirts that get the message
"out there" (all entendres intended!). Thank you for giving me
a glimpse of how other large women live their large lives. Thank you,
Alice, for answering the phones, for writing editorials, for organizing
trips, and for printing the pictures.
Whatís Wrong with the Word Fat?
I placed a personal ad at a Web site and used the
headline "Fat Christian Chick." It seems that my using the
word fat upset a number of people. One person responded with, "Fat
is an ugly word; be nicer to yourself." She signed herself
Why is fat an ugly word? I believe itís because of
overzealous conditioning in our society. I have had friends who barf up
their food and take pills to have loose stools: this keeps them slim.
Many might call them "healthy and trim." I call them
"sickly and dying." I am talking only bout those people who
abuse their bodies to stay thin, not people who are actually healthy and
treat their bodies like the temples of God that they are.
I am fat and I am a very proud and confident young
lady. Why should I be ashamed of being fat and call myself
"pleasantly plump," watering it down to get people to like me
and accept me, when I already like myself? I think itís interesting to
read an ad like mine.
Another person didnít like my using the word chick.
I say, who says a chick cannot be a lady? Chick is the female equivalent
of dude, is it not? I am a lady, and I am also a chick. I feel young and
Yet another person said, "If youíre a
Christian, then you should love yourself just like Christ loves
you." Now, where did I write the words "I do not love
myself"? This reader assumed I donít like myself because I wrote
the word fat? On the contrary, I love myself enough to accept myself as
the big, beautiful woman I am.
Loved the Winter Issue
The Winter 1998
issue of Radiance is the
best ever! I have subscribed for about eight years, have bought back
issues, and have occasionally written for Radiance
. The thrill I felt when I first read Radiance
is still with me.
Iíve shared Radiance
with lovers, relatives, friends, and coworkers, in hopes that they would
have enough self-esteem to subscribe, to treat themselves to the faith
and facts that nurture celebration of oneself. In keeping with that
sentiment, enclosed is my renewal for another two years and another
check for a T-shirt.
I loved the history of the Fat
Underground in the Winter issue and the photos of these pioneering
sheros. Itís courageous to be the first to challenge any ism,
to develop and support facts contrary to biases so ingrained as to be
accepted as incontrovertible scientific-medical "reality."
Thanks also for the excerpts from Losing
It by Laura Fraser. Iím going to buy the book and use it. It was
also cool to have the perspective of a book review in the same issue.
And tell Alison Luterman to write a book! Her style pulled me along as
if she were giving me a ride in a little red wagon. I want to read more
of "Letís Eat Greece!"
The scuba diving
article by Viktoria Tinberg was perfect. Scuba diving is my dream. My
first snorkeling foray in Mexico was so exciting that I would snorkel
every day if I could! But I have been afraid to take a diving class
because of my shape and size, and because of declining physical strength
as I age. Tinberg inspired me to take my fifty-one-year-old self and all
my wobbling sags to a scuba class.
Along those lines, thanks to Pamela Kay Polvi for her
story of approaching a gym to start
regular workouts (Fall 1996 issue). Iím gonna do that, too.
The wonderful paintings in Winter by Sandra Bierman
were terrific. Biermanís personal story was fascinating, and your
telling of it was beautiful.
I love William J. Fabreyís newsy updates in his Big
News column every issue, too.
In radiant fat sisterhood,
I love the Winter 1998 issue! I
have been a lifelong dieter. At age eleven, my mom called me fat and
made me wear a girdle. At age twelve, I lived on water and popcorn for a
week. During my twenties, the boys I dated commented on my weight if I
got above 135 pounds. I started exercising profusely and eating just
enough to get myself through the day as a special education teacher. I
had gotten so thin, my students would pick on me because, as they put
it, I didnít have the fanny or chest to get a man. By age
thirty, I had dropped below 130 pounds from drinking coffee and existing
on diet popcorn cakes.
When I went home for a visit, my father once yelled
at me because I put a whole banana in the blender for a mixed drink: he
said I would get fat. I refused to go to my high school reunion because
I had put on some weight after starting a certain medication. At age
forty, I was a size 22 and joined a support group called Wonderful Women
of Size, a nondieting, like-yourself-as-you-are group. Now Iím finally
at a place where I can eat real food and order iced tea with sugar. I
have more confidence than before, and I see and accept myself as I am. Iím
a freer person.
shows me real women, powerful women, beautiful women, cerebral women.
The Grandness of Nature
I want to thank you for a super magazine. I
especially enjoyed the article about artist Sandra Bierman, "Painting
It Large." Ms. Biermanís Earth mothers are exquisite, and it
is wonderful to see large womenís bodies honored in such a way: soft,
nurturing, beautiful. I love nature. Often when I look around, I almost
cry with intense pleasure. At these times, at the beauty and grandness
of the land, I feel that I am the Earth mother herself, reaching out my
arms, gathering all life to my great bosom.
Again, I want to thank you, Alice, for the support
and encouragement that you give me in every issue of Radiance
óto be myself and live life to its fullest. I would enjoy hearing from
other Earth mothers. My email address follows.
Big and Bountiful,
Fall River, MA
Brave and Buoyant!
I just received my Radiance
magazine and was quickly drawn to the scuba
diving article by Viktoria Tinberg (Winter 1998 issue). Thank you!
Thank you! Thank you! She shared all the feelings and experiences that Iíve
had with regard to body size and the ocean! I love the ocean and all the
marine life in it. I was certified as a scuba diver in my teens, but
only made a handful of dives. I always felt like a whale in my wet suit.
Iíve always had body image problems, and my fear of being teased by
others has kept me from enjoying my passion for the ocean. What a waste
for someone born and raised in southern California!
Recently, I won a best speaker award at a technical
conference. They send the winner to Sydney, Australia, to speak at a
conference there. As I was preparing for the trip, I thought about my
dream of snorkeling or scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I was
bound and determined to do it, no matter how I felt about being in a
bathing suit. So, thanks to mail order, I found a suit that fit, and
after the conference, I took two weeks and traveled around Australia,
ending my journey in Cairns, the jumping-off point to the Great Barrier
I checked out several options for reef tours and
decided to go first class all the way. The first day, I went out on a
350-passenger hydrofoil-type boat. I had no trouble getting around the
boat or even the restrooms. However, I am a diabetic and have neuropathy
in my feet. I wasnít in excellent shape, so I decided not to scuba
dive. But I snorkeled for about three hours the first day! It was
incredible: absolute serenity. The ocean burst with color: the corals,
the fish, the anemones, the sea cucumbers, and all the different types
of sea stars. The water was an amazing 82 degrees. I was in heaven. I am
so grateful that I was willing to put on the bathing suit and, as the
jingle says, Just Do It!
The next day, I went out on a 100-foot Brigantine
wooden sailing ship and went to another part of the reef. I snorkeled
some more. I was the first one out of the ship and the last one back on!
When Tinberg talked about ladders in her article, it reminded me of how
surprised I was (as was the crew) when I easily crawled over the side of
the ship and down the ladder into the dinghy, and then back up on the
return trip. Even the "normal-sized folks" had some trouble
with the ladder.
All in all, my time at the reef was a life-changing
experience. It taught me that I am much more capable than I used to give
myself credit for. And the reaction of the people on the boats was never
negative or demeaning. In fact, I became friendly with some Cairns
locals and keep in touch with them. I joined a gym and have begun to
work out a number of times a week. Maybe itís time to plan a trip to
Cancķn for the spring! The health club offers scuba lessons. Hmm, now
thereís a thought!
A Couple of Concerns
I feel compelled to write to you and let you know how much I enjoy Radiance.
Recently, I stopped by Barnes & Noble to buy my husband a little
reading material and took a peek at the magazines. To my delight, Radiance
was there. I found myself reading every word, twice! I have not read the
magazine in years (shame on me), and it is so nice to get reacquainted
I especially enjoyed the article on scuba
diving and am now investigating the possibility for myself!
Hereís my question. In a future issue, would you
address relationships with regard to big beautiful women and their
mates? I ask this for selfish reasons. In just a few days, my husband
and I will be celebrating our sixth wedding anniversary. Because I am
fat and he is thin, we suffer discrimination, and I would love to hear
how other couples handle various situations. I do not have any specifics
in mind, but some general categories might be travel, social outings,
family gatherings, children and schools, and other activities where one
might encounter prejudice. For the most part, I believe we handle these
situations well. However, othersí experiences could prove to assist us
or at least give us the validation that we are not alone.
Again, let me commend you on this awesome magazine.
readers to write a letter to Radiance
or a personal essay on your experiences in relationships. Thanks,
SK, for bringing up this important topic.
Do It Now!
I feel like Iím writing to an old friend. I read Radiance
with pleasure before I touch my other mail. Please renew my
I share my copy of Radiance
with others in my large womenís swim group. We meet on Saturday
mornings for an hour, and then we all go for breakfast. We have been
swimming together for fourteen years. The group is an offshoot of Large
as Life, a group started by psychologist Kate Partridge with the theme,
"Do what you want now. Donít put off doing what you dream of
until you lose weight."
Our acceptance of ourselves has been interesting to
observe. I have since joined the Master Swim, an competitive adult swim
group, and I appear on deck and swim, seldom thinking about my size,
only about how well I will do in the meet. I accept myself, and
therefore others do the same. The guilt and fear are not there; it is a
New Westminster, BC
Fat-Friendly in Montana
Hello! First, let me tell you what a relief it is to
receive your magazine! I discovered your Web site by accident and was
enthralled with the idea of a magazine for large-size people. I sent off
my check and have just received my third copy.
For so long Iíve maintained the "jolly"
image, being the one person whom people can count on at work and in
private. Yet those same people who enjoy me at work make no attempt to
know me in private. My self-esteem is smarting but improving daily. I
really would love to meet a kind, lovely single man with a sense of
humor and wicked passion. But for the time being, I live in Montana.
While this is an exquisitely beautiful state, men who admire large women
are few and far between. Heck, I moved here in April, and Iím still
looking to meet nice, fat-friendly people!
I would also really appreciate your devoting some
time to a problem that concerns me: I would like your magazineís and
your readersí assistance on the subject of small breasts. I am a
supersize woman, shaped like a pear, and am unable to fill a B-cup bra
on a water-retaining day! My clothes donít fit me correctly because
most large-sized clothing is designed for well-endowed women. Forget
finding a sexy, much less well-fitting, bra or sexy lingerie. I canít
wear any V-neck sweaters or tops because the V extends to my bra and
accentuates my lack of cleavage. I have been unable to find a company
that makes custom-fit lingerie or clothing for us. Iíd appreciate some
input from your readers.
Thanks again for a wonderful magazine!
I am a size 22Ė24 woman. I have never been one to
care what magazines tell me about fashion, though I have had teasing
about my size from childhood through today. Of course, the taunts have
hurt, and some of them stay with me as emotional scars. I have learned,
however, that I can put them aside.
The usual fashion magazines have always had
extra-thin models who showed nothing that I would care to display on my
body. Nor have these models shown how clothing would look on my body. So
I have always worn what I wanted and ignored or fought back when taunted
by anyone. But I have always felt badly for young girls, many of whom
feel horrible that they arenít a size 2. I know that teasing,
especially about size issues, can have dangerous consequences for some
children. I have wished that these young girls had places to see variety
in style and size. Radiance
does this. I thank you on behalf of those young girls, and on behalf of
the multitudes of large women, including myself.
A. L. Livingston
San Angelo, TX
Turned Off by Womenís Magazines
For the past five or six years, I havenít read "womenís"
magazines. They really turn me off. The main idea behind most of the
articles is that none of us women measure up. We can never be good
enough because we are disorganized, too fat, too old, or too sick.
Fortunately, these magazines tell us, there is help.
We can devote our lives to the quest for improvement, a two-step
process. First we need to follow the instructions provided in each issue
for everything from making our hips look smaller to making our eyes look
bigger. Then we have to buy the products the magazines advertise, be
they better bras, laxatives, glass cleaners, or mascaras.
Such magazines regularly resort to scare tactics to
make us behave. If you arenít a good little girl, everything could
fall apart. Your children could drop out. Your skin could break out.
Your husband could walk out. Your butt could hang out. Better behave and
sit like a lady, taking up as little space as possible.
what did I see when I looked through my first issue? Bust loose. Be
yourself. Stop watching your weight and starting watching whales and
polar bears. You show us women who live their lives as works of art, who
arenít anxiously on the lookout for the next improvement or product or
gimmick. The women in Radiance
celebrate who they are, here and now. They donít take marching orders
from anyone but themselves.
I realize that size acceptance is an important
message in your magazine. But every woman, whatever her size, can
benefit from the role models you offer and the mindset you exemplify.
In closing, thank you for catching us women doing
something right and for supporting our doing it!
Ms. Lee Pelham Cotton
Locust Hill, VA
Just a little note to wish you and the wonderful Radiance
staff my congratulations on your thirteen years in print! I have
recently received my third issue of this incredible magazine, and I canít
wait to read every word! Since getting Radiance,
I feel so much better about being a fat woman with "such a pretty
face"! Now I know (or have I always known?) that thereís nothing
wrong with the rest of me.
I love all of the clothing ads: you mean thereís
life beyond Lane Bryant?! My girlfriends bother me until I loan them my
copy of Radiance . Itís
not just for large women; itís a magazine for all women who are tired
of the popular womenís rag fluff. How many times can Cosmopolitan
run articles on how to please your man? Big yawn. Well, enough of a
Jersey girlís ramblings. Radiance
is wonderful. Enough said.