And More Letters To Radiance
Plus Size and Kicking Hard
As a fat woman who has found great joy in karate and
the martial arts, I was thrilled by the martial arts
stories in your Winter 1999 issue. I was delighted with both the
story on tai chi by Luuna Kenney-Law, and the article on movement by
Carol Wiley (I own two of her martial arts books). I began studying
karate four and a half years ago, just before turning forty. I am now a
fifth kyu green belt, two tests away from brown belt and five from black
belt. I am constantly discovering that there are a lot of us powerful
fat martial artists out there. Keep on profiling us and weíll keep on
Cindy Jean Briggs
New Prom Memories
I just read your article "Off
to the Prom" and would like to say, Bravo! My daughter is
eighteen years old and a size 22. She was determined to go to her senior
prom. We searched shops from Oklahoma City to Dallas and everywhere in
between for a dress. If a shop had anything in her size, the dress was
usually hideous. No store we tried, no matter how large, had more than
two or three dresses above size 16. With every shop we tried, I saw my
daughter become more and more dejected. It almost broke my heart. We
ended up having a dress made for her. Thank goodness for a local
dressmaker who used a picture of a Jessica McClintock Cinderella-style
dress as inspiration to create a beautiful gown in my daughterís size.
The prom was a success, and now my daughter will have a lifetime of
memoriesómemories that never would have happened had we not
persevered. Your article was inspiring, as your magazine always is.
Thank you very much and keep up the good work!
Talking with Taunters
I just got off the phone with you about ordering a
bunch of your back issues. As I told you, a Weight Watchers friend of
mine gave me the Spring 1999 edition of
Radiance as a congratulatory gift
for losing one hundred pounds. Iím still a very big woman (363 pounds,
to be exact), and I still donít feel very healthy at this weight. I
was in an automobile accident in October that
changed my life drastically, and gave me an impetus to try to get some
of the excess off. I am not a diet fanatic, and I donít think diets
are for everyone, thatís for sure. Iíve lived a heavy life for a
long time, and may never be a thin person, but I will be healthier. I
work out in a warm-water pool six days a week for a minimum of two
hours, and feel so much better for it.
I appreciate the time you took to give me the names of
companies that custom make swimsuits. Bless you. I will certainly be
calling each of these, and I will keep you informed on my choices.
Thanks also for your willingness to send my niece
samples of your magazine. She, too, is a big, beautiful woman, and I
think your magazine will really lift her spirits. She lives in Podunk,
America, where clothes over size 16 are unheard of. She has to travel
four hours to the largest city near her to find clothes that fit. I know
she will make good use of the advertising in Radiance.
Itís so great that you show models in the magazine
who have a variety of looks and who are all sizes of largeóthat helps
us feel good about who we are, however much adipose we have. We are
special people, created in the image of God as human beings, and I truly
believe that the more we focus on the truth of our worth and educate the
ignorant people who think that fat means grotesque or stupid, the better
this world will become.
I am all for educating the insensitive medical
professional, the snickering kid at the mall, or the bad-mouthed adult.
Many times I have walked up to such a person and said, "Do you mind
if I talk with you for a minute? Has anyone ever said something to you
that you felt very hurt by? Where you felt totally misunderstood?"
I then offer to buy them a soda so we can talk, so they can get to know
the inner me. Some are too embarrassed and stutter themselves out of it.
Some take me up on it.
Once they know me, I think they are educated enough to
perhaps refrain the next time that the temptation to poke fun at someone
comes around. To this day, I have a few friendships that started that
way. Rather than slam the person for their ignorance or crudeness, I
find that taking the mature role is the most satisfying, and, hopefully,
life-changing for all involved.
I wish Radiance
the best of success in the coming years. I, for one, will be a faithful
subscriber. Thank you, Alice, for taking your personal time to chat with
me and to welcome me to the Radiance
PeggyAnn C. Poss
Theyíre Not Gettiní My Money
Thanks, thanks, and thanks for your great magazine! It
always makes my day to come home and see mail from the States, because I
know itís from Radiance! Words
cannot begin to express how important your magazine is for a lot of
people, people like myself who do not fit into the "average"
size population of the world. Luckily for me, in the Netherlands people
are also starting to realize that humans, specifically women, come in
all sizes. Still, being different is not an easy way to go through life.
You have to be strong every day. You have to be very good at whatever
you do in order for people to see past your appearance. And thatís
very sad to me. The slim industry is still doing great business and has
a lot of people still buying into their illusions. But who can blame
them? They will keep making millions until people get it! Well, I can
say that I do get it. The diet industry will not get any more money from
In spite of difficulties, life is great if you want it
to be. If you feel good about yourself, people will notice and
appreciate you for who you are and what you can doónot just for what
you look like. What you think you are, you will be.
Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Teachers Who Know the Score
My son is five-feet-four-inches tall and 230 pounds.
He has Aspergerís Syndrome (considered a high-functioning form of
autism). He has had the benefit of teachers who love kids, and who are
strict about social skills. Teasing in any mean way is absolutely not
allowed. He is now in middle school and has the same P.E. teacher that I
had in junior high more than twenty years ago.
She has the same philosophy now that she had then. To
her, oneís effort, behavior, and improvement in various skills are
what count. When I was her student in seventh grade, we had to be
weighed in P.E. class. The girls chattered until I was weighed; but when
I stepped up to that scale, you could have heard a pin drop. They
started to laugh, but the teacher immediately and sternly told them to
be quiet unless they wanted to flunk her class. If I remember correctly,
I got Bís in her class, and it was possible for the athletic ones to
flunk if they did not participate properly.
My son gets Aís and Bís in P.E. because he has had
teachers who want him to do his best, whatever that is for him. His
principal, for most of his elementary school, put social behavior and
self-esteem at the top of her priority list for students, and it has
made an incredible difference for my son. Now he says he wants to keep
his bigness! Imagine that!
Great Falls, MT
Not Just a Magazine
I am a new subscriber, and I want to tell you how
thrilled and impressed I am with what you are doing. You are a precious
source of support to me, and I am very lucky indeed to have discovered
you. As soon as I got my first issue, I ordered a fat stack of back
issues. I keep them on my nightstand and give myself a nightly dose of
is a way that I acknowledge to myself my desire to live large, a way to
consciously reject shame and the limitations others and I have placed on
me. Radiance is not just a magazine.
It is an attitude, a philosophy, a way of life. It is a gift. Thank you.
Dear Radiance staff,
Thank you for your prompt response to my inquiry about
plus-size apron patterns. Since we spoke, I have learned that both
Simplicity and Butterick will have apron patterns to size 32W by June
1999. See what a little bugging can do!?
Please note that Butterick also has come out with a
new cover-up pattern to size 32W. The pattern is designed to be a salon
coat that will double as a doctor visit or patient gown. I am proud to
say that I acted as an unpaid consultant and helped to design the
pattern. The pattern is designed to be completed in three hours, and has
no darts, zippers, or buttons. It can be made by a beginning dressmaker.
It is closed by ties and Velcro, so that one can wear it to X-ray. Also,
the sleeves are loose fitting, so that one can get a blood specimen
drawn from the antecubital area of the arm in comfort. There are a total
of three pockets, including one on the sleeve. I hope this gown will
help to decrease the stress levels of large persons during medical and
salon visits. The pattern may be dressed up or down so that it can be
The Butterick pattern number is 6041 for plus sizes.
There is a similar pattern (6042) for misses sizes, whatever they are!
Thanks for passing this on to your readers. We plus-size people need all
the support we can get!
Jacqueline Gibson Gazella
Riding the Rivers
Thank you for encouraging large women to live their
lives, no matter what their size. We deserve to experience active
For our fortieth birthdays, my best friend and I took
ten large women on a wonderful trip down the Colorado River with Sheri
Griffith Expeditions, Inc. They specialize in trips for women. We even
had women river guides, and they were very size friendly. The secret is
being brutally honest about your size and needs when you book your trip!
Their web site is www.griffithExp.com,
or you may call them at 801-259-8229.
Keep up the good work!
Iím always delighted to receive Radiance.
I just devoured the Summer issue and feel compelled to write my thanks
for the river rafting story. Reading about physical activities that are
enjoyed by large women is so mind opening and inspiring. Keep íem
coming. At six feet and 350 pounds, I enjoy living life large, but I am
always ready to add to the zest factor.
Also, please share with Nancy Summer, who penned the
informative article "Surviving Summer: Donít Sweat It!,"
that a terrific powder to use in place of plain talc is Zeasorb A-F
(anti-fungal). If you donít see it on the shelf, ask your pharmacist
to order it. (I have never seen it just on the shelf.) It is designed to
absorb much more moisture than other products and is more coarsely
textured (it doesnít fluff into the air as easily). A doctor
recommended it to me. Thanks again.
Judith E. Dacey, C.P.A.
Rejecting Ultrathin Ideal
Whether or not I can really be considered fat is
debatable. I am pretty much the epitome of the "average"
American woman as far as size goes. But everyoneópeers, doctors,
relatives, coworkersóhas been telling me I need to lose weight for as
long as I can remember. After twenty years of succumbing to the lies of
society, the medical industry, and the fashion magazines, I refuse to
see myself as abnormal, inferior, or in need of change.
Iím a size 12, sometimes a size 14. I matured early
(wore a bra at age ten) and have been "overweight" ever since.
My mother, two aunts, and grandmother are all plus-size and all
wonderful people who eat no more or less than the average person. Thus,
it appalls but does not surprise me that they all take some kind of diet
pill, either Xenical or Meridia. Weight, in my family and my life, has
been an obsession for as long as I can remember.
During my childhood, my unusual height and weight
earned me the nickname B.A., for my large behind. I excelled in ballet,
but quit in 1986 after one skinny girl patted my round tummy and
proclaimed, "Iíd rather die than be as fat as you!" I
thought high school would be different, but my freshman year, a group of
senior girls thought it would be fun to call me Magilla Gorilla and made
grotesque noises as I ate my lunch.
After graduating, I had to move back home and
contribute to the family income. All my friends seemed a million miles
away. Sensing my unhappiness, my mom, who at the time was 300-plus
pounds, loved to feed me, and I gained more weight.
It felt like everything was falling apart. People at
workónot high school students, but adultsórelished leaving Weight
Watchers pamphlets in my cubby or e-mailing me ads for weight-loss herbs
and the like. Sadly, it took a bout of serious depression and an attempt
at suicide to bring me to an important realization: I needed to take
control of my life a lot more than I needed to take control of my
And I did. I fulfilled my dream of doing computer
graphic design with a small company, in addition to working in youth
ministry. I also got my own apartment, dedicated my life to God, and
started to incorporate physical activity into my life. It was in my
period of self-determination that I met Teddy, the most wonderful man in
the world. He is warm, intelligent, loving, and handsome, and he accepts
me for exactly who I am.
There I was, pretty happy with who I was becoming. My
weight was no longer a central issue. Then Teddy took me to meet his
family, and his European grandmother suggested that I should "be
more slender." After seeing a picture of my family, she also asked
Teddy why all American women were so fat! Imagine! For Teddyís sake, I
ignored it at the time and put on a good show, but when we got home that
night, I demanded to know why he hadnít stood up for me and for my
family. More important: why hadnít I stood up for myself?
What I really wanted to know was this: Why did so many
people want me to change? What was so wrong with me, and with all the
other beautiful girls and women out there whose bodies donít look like
animated bamboo shoots?
I got angry at the weight-loss industry for exploiting
womenís most fragile emotions. I got angry at whoever makes up those
ridiculous height/weight charts and tells me I need to conform and be
slender. They need to get a clue and realize that my 180 pounds, which
includes muscle, bone, blood, and water as well as fat, are much
different than those of someone of a different build and activity level.
Our society must reject these feeble humanmade standards for the
wonderful, efficient, complex body God has created.
I got angry at anyone who made me think I was less of
a person because of my weight, and I got angry at myself for letting
their pathetic opinions bully me into quitting ballet or loathing my
reflection in the mirror. I got angry that I had not begun to love my
body, and myself, a lot sooner.
Now I think itís due time for me to move through
that anger to forgiveness and healthy self-love, wouldnít you say? I
do love my body: my face, my hair, my strong legs, my chest, my little
feet, my womanly roundness. It is part of the greater whole of who I am:
Lisa the artist, the passionate thinker, the loving friend, the faithful
servant of God, in whose image I was created. Writing this has helped me
to sort through some of those feelings. Thank you for listening!
South Orange, NJ
Dear old Radiance!
I always feel all soft and fuzzy when I think of Radiance;
itís like a family to me (my own arenít so accepting of fat people).
I received the Summer edition yesterday and have already read it front
to back. How wonderful to see so many beautiful fat women enjoying
themselves in your readersí "beach babes" photo spread!
After seeing this, Iíve contacted Love Your Peaches Clothing Company
for a catalog to be sent to me in Australia, as there is very little in
the way of fashion for fatties here.
I would like to comment on the woman (NKS, New York)
whose letter appeared in your summer issue. She wrote, "These tales
Iíve been reading in your magazine and in BBW for years about how so
many fat women eat normally have always struck me as an enormous
outpouring of denial." Personally, I love food; I enjoy it a lot,
and I guess I do eat when Iím sad or lonely, but so what? Iím a
thirty-six-year-old fat woman who lives by herself (by choice) with two
beautiful, fat, adoring pussycats, and Iím not going to waste anymore
of my life worrying about my weight or the fact that Iím not married
(two issues that seem to upset people). Anyway, I just wanted to say I
understood NKSís letter (as Iíve been there), and Iím glad Alice
and staff chose to publish it.
Thanks again for your wonderful magazine. I can
imagine the amount of work that must go into producing itóso many,
many thanks. By the way, the web site looks great. Cheers!
Tired of Feeling Bad
I recently discovered your magazine when I did a net
search on-line for the words "large women." Why? Because I had
gradually become aware that I was tired of feeling bad about my body,
and I wanted to find out what resources existed for women like myself.
Well, I discovered that there were lots of women out there who felt good
about themselves even if they didnít fit our societyís definition of
beautiful. These women dared to wear bathing suits and colorful clothes,
and they held their heads high. I was filled with admiration and envy.
Could I become one of them?
The beginning of the change for me came when I
accidentally saw my doctorís chart and saw the awful figure "204
pounds" (Iím five-feet-four-inches). I was in shock. In the past,
I had somehow managed to see my body as much thinner, but I couldnít
fool myself any longer. Iíd always struggled with weight. In high
school, I really hadnít been fat at all, but I was still not
acceptably thin to my peers. I never dated or joined in activities.
Twice I got down to "normal" weight: in my senior year of high
school and while living in Toronto, Canada. Both times I put the weight
back on. Now, at thirty-nine, Iíve maintained a weight at around 200
pounds for two years, and I am finally accepting the fact that I am not
going to diet, and I am likely not going to lose this weight, and this
is me, love it or not.
Oddly enough, I have suddenly stopped hating my body.
I donít know when this happened, but I think discovering the fat womenís
movement helped me a great deal. It also helps that my husband, tall and
thin, loves me just as I am. But it was the sisterhood of women that
gave me hope. All of a sudden, I can say, "Yes, Iím fat,"
and not feel horror. All of a sudden, I feel rebellious about our
cultureís narrow definition of beauty. For me to say "fat"
is a big breakthrough. But I havenít yet made the next step: to wear
shorts or bathing suits in public. For the first time, Iíve worn tank
tops and bared my arms and feel okay about that. I actually bought my
first skirt in years, a straight one that skims my legs and makes me
feel both stylish and attractive. One step at a time!
I have come to realize that Iím not very big
compared with many of the women you feature in your magazine. Iíve
learned that in some circles, I would be too "small" to
belong. There is a large-womenís swim here in the San Francisco Bay
Area, but Iím not sure Iíd qualify. You have to be at least 200
pounds. Would the other women resent me for being "on the
I assure you that I would adore the opportunity to
join that swimóbut I havenít had the nerve to wear a bathing suit in
public for years.
For those of us whoíve struggled with low
self-esteem all our lives, even 180 pounds can seem unacceptable. I hope
that the fat movement will realize that there are many types of people
who can benefit from the lessons they teach, whether those people weigh
175 pounds or 400 pounds.
One more thought among all those flowing so quickly
through my head: I am in a rather interesting occupation, given these
issues. I am the author of six romance novels for Bantam books, a major
New York publisher. While many smaller publishers are beginning to
feature fat heroines, New York isnít ready for this.
In the few mainstream romance novels featuring a fat
heroine, almost inevitably these heroines lose weight before they are
allowed to "win." As a writer, I have to ask myself, Am I
ready to imagine myself, a large woman, as the heroine of one of my
novels? Many romance readers and writers are large women. I wonder how
many prefer the fantasy of being thin by imagining themselves as the
slender heroineóand I wonder how many would like a heroine more like
I do write about characters who must overcome
obstacles before they can give themselves to love: heroines and heroes
who are "outcasts" in some way, women and men who have been
the object of either hatred or prejudice and have to learn to trust and
become part of society again. This may be my way of working through my
own feelings of being an outcast, someone who is different. One of my
heroines is badly scarred and was rejected because of this. Another is
the daughter of an alcoholic and was bounced from foster home to foster
home, so sheís shut herself off from people. In all these books, the
women learn to accept themselves and to reach out again. I do hope that
my stories and characters speak to all of us with old wounds, no matter
what our shape or size. I look forward to subscribing to Radiance.
I truly believe that people who have suffered prejudice and hurt from
others, and work past it, are those who develop the most compassion and
ability to love.
Incidentally, I also subscribe to Mode and saw the
comments by Bill Fabrey in the Summer issue of Radiance.
I think thereís both room and a need for acceptance of all sizes but I
also tend to think size 14 isnít very large! Itís been very
enlightening and nice to see truly large models in some of the catalogs
Iíve been receiving, and to observe how happy they are with
themselves. No apologies!
Thanks for giving me a chance to share my thoughts. I
hope to locate a group of large women in my area: I make killer
desserts, and would love to have people to share them with who wonít
moan and groan about calories! Iíll be subscribing to Radiance
as soon as my manuscript is off next week!
I turned to the article about Lynn McAfee right after
telling my best friend on the phone about how angry I feel about how a
lifetime of pressure to diet has ruined my body. At thirty-seven years
old and five-feet-eight, I weigh over 350 pounds and wear a size 36. As
a devotee of Hirschmann and Munterís Overcoming Overeating approach, I
know full well that dieting and frantic exercise are going to have no
positive effect on my appearance. I understand now how the years of
dieting and eating disorder I endured beginning prior to puberty have
given me the Venus of Willendorf shape I have today. Itís a shape I
clothe beautifully (thanks, Love Your Peaches!) and am working hard to
accept. But there are certains truths I face about myself that, so far,
the size-acceptance movement seems to sweep under the rug.
For example, as a fat woman with a top-notch
education, a successful career, good looks, brains, and charm, I find
that the kind of men who are my social equals look right through me (or
regard me, when they suspect my interest, as a joke, or with thinly
veiled contempt). When Iím told (as I often am) that "there are
men out there who like big women," I feel more and more that this
is an insensitive, condescending assurance. Yes, occasionally I
encounter those menóusually when one is accosting me leeringly on the
street. I donít know any other women my size whoíve had a date in
years either, let alone a relationship. My size renders me invisible to
the kind of men Iíd like to attract. I also live with considerable
physical discomfort: knee pain, foot pain, tiring easily when out
walking. Even after working out regularly at a gym for a year, these
problems havenít improved much. Due to my fat, I donít menstruate,
and have to take medication to bring on a period.
And I am a compulsive overeater, and always have been!
These tales Iíve been reading in your magazine and in BBW for years
about how so many fat women eat normally have always struck me as an
enormous outpouring of denial. Iíve never met a fat person who didnít
have an eating disorder that caused them to be fat. My own is a result
of my motherís incredible anxiety about my size and food intake from
birth: eating and food choices were never unremarkable in my life, and I
binged every chance I got, until a few years ago when I gave up the
dieting philosophy for good.
Today I know that thereís nothing I can do for
myself except work to accept and nurture my body as it is. Every prior
attempt Iíve made to get smaller has made me bigger than ever. But
even as I know this, in the back of my mind the urge to undertake some
radical food/exercise plan does the tango with a white-hot rage about
how my youth and beauty have been squandered and destroyed by my familyís,
and societyís, obsession with controlling my size. As McAfee says in
her article, the easier life I could
have had never was, and never will be. And unless some kind of miracle
happens, Iíll almost certainly spend the rest of my life single,
living with an absence that good friends and a good dog canít assuage.
Thereís a lot of bitterness in this letter, and I
know you prefer to publish positive outpourings. Iím very grateful for
your magazine, but I think itís important to take our heads out of the
sand. Acceptance is something I work for, and occasionally achieve, for
a few days or weeks at a stretch. But I can no longer kid myself that at
350+ pounds, Iím really just like my thinner sisters if only I think I
New York, NY
Size Positive in Kidsí Plays!
I just came home from a group of plays at my niece and
nephewís small elementary school, in Canyon, California (near
Oakland), in which all seventy-three of the school kids were included. I
was pleased at the intentional (unintentional?) fat-friendly emphasis.
In the play by kids in grades KĖ2, Winter with the
Animals (written by a male teacher), the kids and animals sang:
"Hurry, hurry, hurry, we must get fat and furry."
And the play by the third through fifth graders, the
East Indian story of Ramayana (they are studying world religions this
term), the "most beautifulÖfairest in the land" heroine,
kidnapped from her husband (who had to compete to win her hand) by an
evil king because she was
so beautiful, was a lovely, ten-year-old girlówho
was probably the chubbiest girl in the school.
True, their teacher, my good friend, who wrote the
play, is herself fat, so itís not that surprising that she didnít
have any negative bias about choosing this girl for the part (or perhaps
the kids themselves volunteered for each part: I didnít ask). But the
fact that the other kids in the play kept referring to this childówith
enthusiasm and in complete earnestnessówith such lines as, "Oh,
there she is, the most beautiful woman in the land: perhaps she will
consent to be my wife!" did my heart good! I know that often by
this age, kids are already fat-hatingósome even dieting.
Exuberant & Charged for a Fight
Hello! And Good Day to You!
I just felt a strong need to commend you and your
magazine. Mode and BBW feature smaller-sized BBWs (big beautiful women)
in their magazines. I was, and still am now, as I am composing this
letter, ecstatic to see a lady who is bigger than a size 14/16 in your
magazine. Heck, even bigger than a size 20! You made my day! You did not
depict her as raunchy. (That is the trend Iíve noticed lately: the
bigger you are, the more smut pictures you get.) I am a classy young
lady and take extreme pride in myself and my size. Whether Iím at a
size 18 or a size 24, I am me and I love me! Confidence is sexy, donít
Thank you again for your magazine. I will be going to
your web site and reading as much as I can to get up to date on all the
articles. I loved the Rosie OíDonnell and Camryn
Manheim interviews (both of the interviews you did with Camryn,
in fact!). Thank you for producing a wonderful product for women like
myself! You have helped make a young woman who was feeling quite low
about herself lately exuberant and charged for a fight!
I just picked up your Summer issue, and it is great,
as always. I've gotten support from your pages for more than seven years
now, and I thank you for it.
I want to respond to the article regarding upsetting
and embarrassing public situations where people have commented on
someone's size. With friends and family, I have little problem coming up
with something as a retort (whether it's bitchy or cold or simply
snobby). I do, however, have a problem with strangers. I'm working on
it, though. I suppose it comes from a combination of being polite to all
people and feeling as if I deserve it (even when I know damn well I
don't). Amazingly, these uncomfortable situations seem to happen on days
I'm already feeling sensitive about my weight. I think the confidence
shines through the rest of the time, discouraging would-be fat-bashing
One not-so-quick (I'm wordy) story for you: I had been
substitute teaching until recently. Normally, I don't have students make
comments about my weight in a voice I can hear. (I'm sure some of them
poke fun in private.) One day, I was waiting for the bell to ring so I
could start a seventh grade math class. I was sitting at the desk
looking over lesson plans while kids came in to take their seats. A boy
and girl directly in front of the desk were talking to each other in
voices just loud enough for me to hear, and taking discreet peeks at me.
I heard comments like "She's a sow." "No, she's a
cow." "A sow is a cow." And so on. I didn't know for sure
that they were discussing me, but I figured they shouldn't get away with
this line of discussion anyway. Finally, I said to them, "Look, a
sow is not a cow. It's a pig. If you're going to talk about people, at
least get out a dictionary and learn the words." I didn't hear
comments from them ever again. It may have gone right over their heads,
but I was able to get through the class without being too bothered by
their fat bigotry.
Good luck in your continuing support of fat people
Please renew my subscription for three years and use
the balance as a donation to your Radiance
kitty. Your magazine is a bright spot in the lives of many, not only
when it arrives in the mailbox, but as an understanding friend that sits
on the bookshelf where you can pick it up anytime for a reread.
I'd like to see a helpful hints sort of column in
which ideas could be exchanged. For example, how do you handle heavy
perspiration on warm days? And sharing names of products or vendors
would be helpful, too.
And every issue should list or repeat those
"comeback remarks" ("Rude
Remarks and Right on Rejoinders," Summer 1998 Radiance),
so that I'll remember them when I need them!
Ed. Note: Just
a reminder that our ads, as well as our fashion features, contain
information on many useful products and services!
As a dietitian working in size acceptance, non dieting
normalization of eating (if there is a problem, sometimes there isn't),
and body image/self esteem, I was extremely delighted with my first
issue of your magazine. (I found it through materials from NAAFA and
immediately subscribed.) Loved the snappy comebacks to the rude remarks!
I do have a response to some of those who shared comebacks, especially
The woman she encountered was not only rude, she was
also wrong and teaching her children tons of misinformation. A great
study to quote is that of Dr. Stunkard (recognized expert) in 1986
involving 5455 Danish adopted children. (Stunkard, M.D., Albert, J.,
Sorensen,T., et al: "An adoption study of human obesity." New
England Journal of Medicine 314 (1986): 193-197. It found a clear
correlation between the weight of the adoptees and their natural parents
and no correlation between the weights of adoptees and their adoptive
Most people, including health professionals, use their
own experience to judge others. (This was also supported by a study).
This is a common formula: "I'm this size, and I eat this much. This
person is that size so he/she must eat that much" method of
analyzing others. Common sense tells us we all have different hair
colors, eye colors, skin tones, cholesterol levels, body shape, and
talents. So why should we have the same body size? Unfortunately, as
they say, common sense isn't so common.
Weight is multifactorial. People need to know this.
For example, many genes are being evaluated regarding energy balance,
satiety, appetite regulation, and adipocyte differentiation. (Commuzie,
A.G. & Allison, D.B. "The search for human obesity genes."
Science 280 (1998): 1374-1377. Other factors can include chronic
dieting, emotional stress (some eat more, some eat less), and
It shouldn't be up to people of size to do all the
educating, but when we have an opportunity, why not take it?
Millicent Lasslo-Meeks, M.S,.R.D.
Enjoying My Curves!
I have always admired William Fabrey's column and his
writing style. His column in Radiance
is perhaps my favorite feature of the magazine, well, maybe the letters
to Alice, well, maybe his column.
Anyway, a paragraph in his Summer column really struck
a chord with me. He wrote, "One idea might be to not only accept
ourselves, but to take pleasure and joy in the beauty and diversity of
our curves and abundance." Yes! I found myself having advanced to
this stage just a little while ago when I admitted to myself that I
actually like the shape of my legs (most of the way up, anyway), and my
shoulders, and the curve down my side through the in and out of my waist
to my hip, and I felt kinda funny trying to find the words in my own
brain for this tactile self-liking. What do you call this?
Even skinny people often won't admit to liking their
own bodies, touching themselves in a nonerogenous, way and enjoying the
shape and feel. Why not? What's wrong with us? We seem to spend our
whole lives, and most of our social energy, trying to find someone else
to tell us we're okay and not believing it when we hear it. Why is it
acceptable for someone else to like our bodies but not us?
I admire the look of my legs from a certain angle and
bought some sexy espadrilles that tie up the ankle just to show off the
shape of my calves under a sundress. This is definitely a positive
action, different from a passive indifference. That previous
"stage" when we stopped bashing our images and stopped caring
what other people thought was a major triumph for most of us. Well, I
sort of care again, but now I think I might actually be attractive. At
least, I'm willing to walk out in a sundress.
I love the pictures of women in Radiance.
They're beautiful, all of them. By the way, I have always loved the look
of large men, since I was in high school. Every single date I have had
as an adult has been with a guy at least six feet tall and round in the
belly. I like thick, hairy chests, too. I don't know why I got
programmed differently from other women.
Love and respect, and keep up the good work as long as
it feels good!
Cedar Rapids, IA
Again I've received a copy of your wonderful Radiance
magazine. We don't have this kind of good magazine in my country! There
are some, but they are full of advertisements, and the articles are not
interesting, not really for large people.
Today I did something I'm very proud of, and it's
thanks to Radiance that I did this!
For the first time in my life I sent a protest letter to Chrysler, the
American car company. This company put an ad in our newspapers a few
weeks ago with an unflattering picture of a large woman lying on her
belly on the beach. The text said, "Your sister-in-law can finally
go with you for the holidays" because you have bought this new car,
a Chrysler Grand Voyager. The way the text was made, it felt to me very
humiliating. So I've written them a letter saying that I don't agree
with these types of advertisements. I'm waiting for their answer now.
Just to show you and the whole Radiance
staff that your super magazine gives strength and courage.
Diane Van Hoof
You women are wonderful! You help me to keep the
strength to argue with my doctor about stomach stapling.
Art as Reminder
Thank you for meeting with me last week and for
generously providing me with articles for my Women and Sexuality class.
I am so impressed with your magazine and have shared my enthusiasm with
Although my physical body is thin, I grew up in a
fatphobic family and culture, and internalized many negative body
thoughts. I am healing. Being at the Radiance
office the other day was transformative, to be surrounded by colorful,
creative images of full-figured women was an extraordinary and new
experience. I am inspired to bring some women-of-substance art into my
own living/work space to remind myself of the acceptance, compassion,
and beauty that is in all of us, regardless of size.
Thank you again and blessings to you. When I gave my
friend Mindy her gift subscription at her wedding shower, every woman in
the room oohed and aahed over the magazine, the clothes, the articles,
the political statements, and we were all inspired. Your work is
appreciated. You are appreciated.
Found Your Web Page!
When I found your web page, I cried. For the past
eighteen months, I have been 230 pounds. Prior to this, I was 132
pounds, and thought I was all that and a bag of chips!
Until a few months ago, all I felt for myself was
hatred. I thought I would never be happy again unless I was bony. I
couldn't understand how I'd given birth four times and never kept on an
ounce and now this was happening. I honestly felt like I just wanted to
die. Then I read Well Rounded: Eight Simple Steps for Changing Your
Life, Not Your Size by Catherine Lippencott (Simon & Schuster
Pocketbooks, 1997) and started seeing a good therapist. In addition, I
started walking a bit, getting out of my house, and dressing sexy again!
As I told a friend recently, a short time ago I was hurt because men
never whistled at me anymore. I thought it was my weight! Wrong! As soon
as I started feeling better about myself and realized I was a heck of a
lot sexier with curves, the men certainly noticed me again! In fact,
they like the extra 100 pounds!
I have never read an issue of your magazine, but I
look forward to it more than you know! Please tell me how I can purchase
a sample of the latest issue. If I love it as much as I think I will,
I'll march right out to my local stores and demand they carry it! Thank
I couldn't believe it when I found your magazine
on-line! A magazine for fat people! I am so excited! I couldn't believe
you'd been around for fourteen years and I'd never heard of you. The
very first Radiance I picked up was
your swimsuit issue! I love it!
I had often wondered why there weren't any two-piecers
for "us," and now I find out there are! I don't know why I
haven't heard about you before, but now that I have, you haven't heard
the last from me! Thanks so much for existing!
A Favorite Quote
In my latest issue of Radiance,
I saw that you were looking for favorite book recommendations. The best
book I ever read on loving myself and my physical body was a wonderful
book by Carolyn Hillman called Loving Your Looks: How to Stop
Criticizing and Start Appreciating Your Appearance (Simon &
Schuster/Fireside Books, 1996).
The book is crammed full of wonderful stuff! One of my
favorite quotes is on page 163:
Learning to love your body and your looks is not
about fooling yourself into believing that you meet some arbitrary
criteria of beauty. Rather, body love is about throwing these
standards away (they're artificial anyway), opening your heart to
yourself, and giving yourself acceptance, support, approval,
appreciation, tenderness, and caring.
The Wisdom of Kids
I recently had a wonderful discussion with my
six-year-old daughter that I want to share with you. While driving her
to camp one morning, she asked me if I wanted to be a child again.
"No," I told her, "I'm very happy now as a
"Why don't you want to be a kid again?" she
Suddenly my eyes misted up, and my chest tightened
with all the pain of my youth. I had a choice to make: tell her the
truth or avoid the question. "Babe, you know how Mommy is round and
soft and fat? Well, I was fat as a kid, too. A lot of the other kids
used to tease me and call me names like Bertha Butt and even
"Why, Mom? Why were the kids mean to you? You're
so nice!" My sensitive daughter was getting upset.
"Babe," I explained in a soft, calm voice
that was just the opposite of how I felt, "some people are mean to
other people who look different from themselves. They think that
different skin color, or eye shape, or body size makes the others bad or
less than themselves. This is called prejudice."
"But that's just dumb!" my daughter cried.
"What's on the outside doesn't matter. It's what people do that's
important, not what they look like." Such wisdom from a soon-to-be
first grader. What could I say?
"You're absolutely right," I told her.
I pulled into a parking spot at the camp and let my
daughter out of the car.
"Have fun today," I told her as I hugged her
good-bye. "And I love you very much."
readers, bodacious babes that we are, owe it to our children (outer and
inner) not to allow fat bashing. We have learned the hard way that we
are beautiful, no matter what number the scale says.
As I watched my daughter walk away, I was filled with
pride, at the remarkable girl that she is, and at the remarkable woman
she has made me.
Yeah, Lands' End!
Five "RADS" for the clothing company Lands'
End! I just got their catalog today, and not only are they carrying some
large sizes for women now (one or two RADS just for that!), but they
claim to design each size individually rather than just adding a couple
of inches to the sideways measurements, leaving the sleeves too tight or
the shoulders too broad (another RAD for the thought).
They also offer their women's trousers custom hemmed,
just as respectable men's clothiers have done for decades. Nobody
assumed that men were all the same shape, or should be.
Lands' End is treating their female and male customers
alike! Five RADS for this wonderful company, even though their clothing
is just beginning to get stylish. Their Web site is www.landsend.com.
Alice in Iowa
Wow! When I e-mailed you my change of address, I
didn't expect a reply from you, yourself! I read your letter at the
beginning of each issue of the magazine and am always touched by your
openness and eloquence. You seem to share so much of yourself with us,
your readers, even though you've never met us. Thanks so much for Radiance.
Sometimes it's the only positive message coming into my head from
outside to balance out all the ugly prejudice people spew at me about
the way I look.
Thanks, Alice, and continued success to you and to Radiance.
I'll always be a grateful reader!
Creating a New Mindset
I feel strongly that, as women, we put too much
pressure on ourselves to "be" (look like) what society
expects. We feel obligated to try to be something that we just might not
naturally be. We end up feeling like failures and chasing rainbows with
the hope of finding acceptance and love. Love and acceptance are not to
be found externally. They are the result of a lot of introspection,
spiritual sovereignty, and an independence from the opinions of others.
Our "pleasing" habits lead us to value the thoughts others
have about us more than the thoughts we hold of ourselves. We let others
determine how we feel about ourselves. What a scary, dependent, endless,
and fruitless struggle!
We need to let our love for ourselves, including our
bodies, flow from within. We can't please everyone, but we can please
ourselves. In the beginning of my journey to fat/self-acceptance, I
started out by really looking at the fact that I hated myself and my
body and that I was living with this mentality of, If only I could lose
weight or When I lose weight. . . . I truly thought that nobody could
love me the way I was. You know what? It was true. My resulting life was
an exact expression of my thoughts. No one did love me the way I was,
primarily myself. How perfectly the universe delivered exactly what I
expected my life to be!
I began examining my conditioned mind-set and began to
tear it to pieces. I had fifteen years of dieting behind me and knew
that dieting was no longer a choice. I started to challenge society's
ideas that women should and can look a certain way, and began to reject
the expectations of others. I started to treat myself the way that I
hoped a lover would: speaking very gently to myself, buying lots of
flowers and good books for myself, taking very good care of my heart and
soul, sticking up for myself, and learning to just be okay with the here
and now. I began to read magazines like Radiance
that celebrated who I was, not what I wasn't. I began a beautiful love
affair, with myself.
And along the way, I met the most amazing man. This, I
really feel, was an indirect benefit of my inner work. We have now been
together for over seven years. My weight has gone up a lot since we
first met, the result of not starving myself endlessly. He loved me then
and loves me now. This is a man who cuddles me for hours on end, adores
the parts of my body that I am not quite in love with yet, and is my
very best friend. He treats me like a queen, and, you know, I am one. I
am constantly marveling at his incredible sweetness, commitment,
sensitivity, and affectionate loyalty. It feels good and I am worth it.
Happiness does not exist outside ourselves. I would be
as happy alone as I am with my sweetie, though I would probably deeply
miss his companionship and support. I really mean to stress this point:
We have to be whole before we can share parts of ourselves with any
sanity and sovereignty. Our lives are an outward expression of inward
beliefs. Change your beliefs and your life will be the most amazing
demonstration of love.
Radiance, you have
been a very big part of my journey. It helps so much to be surrounded by
images, stories, and ideas that represent a life more similar to mine,
not a supermodel rainbow fantasy. Radiance
makes me feel like a beautiful and dignified goddess, a feeling that
affects every other area of my life.
After reading Jane Hirschmann'
interview in your Fall 1998 issue, I
feel that the following "letter to the editor" is in order.
I hate to disagree with one of my heroes, Jane
Hirschmann. It was her book, Overcoming Overeating, that opened
my eyes years ago, and gave me the tools to help so many others.
However, as someone who works in a health care system, with its rules
and regulations, I don't see that a mother would be able to have a
physician not weigh her child as part of the clinical evaluation.
Weighing children is important to measure growth and
development. If a child is gaining too little or too much weight, a
physician needs to be able to quantify this information. It is
significant to know how rapidly the weight is gained or lost, as well as
where on the growth chart a child fits. There are physical and emotional
reasons that can lead to weight gain or loss in children. Children who,
for example, are depressed because of family problems or have been
sexually abused often turn to food as a way of dealing with their
emotions. Weight loss may be indicative of poor food availability due to
the mother's drug use or perhaps a child is gaining weight due to being
upset about the mother's abusive boyfriend. Younger and younger children
are developing anorexia and bulimia as well as compulsive eating
behavior. Thyroid or hormonal disorders can affect weight, and fluid
retention that shows up as weight gain could warn of various, possibly
In this age of managed care and fifteen-minute office
visits, a physician may hardly know her patients, let alone remember
significant facts about height or weight that are not in the chart. In
addition to having adequate clinical data to make appropriate medical
decisions, he/she would certainly be open to lawsuits if a medical or
emotional problem was not identified because the doctor relied only on
the mother's ability to determine whether the child was gaining weight
appropriately. A mother who sees her child every day may not notice
weight gain or loss if it happens gradually.
All of the above assumes that you, as the mother of a
child who is healthy but larger than norm, are a good mother with your
child's best interest at heart. You may feel that you know what is best
for your child, and you may. But your physician cannot afford to take
As a "size-acceptance, non-diet/weight loss"
promoting dietitian working in an outpatient setting, I chose not to
weight my patients until my supervisor instructed me to. Our physicians
are required to obtain weights and heights on all patients. When I work
with the patients, I try to turn weight back into "just a
number" which can indicate, for example, improvement or worsening
of glucose control or excess salt intake causing fluid retention. To me,
it is not weight the patient that is the problem; it is what you do with
that number. If a physician and office staff handle weighing
appropriately, it does not have to be a bad situation. Many of my adult
patients were mercilessly humiliated as children by unknowing and
sometimes uncaring physicians or other office staff. Sadly, most
physicians still are not educated thoroughly about disordered eating,
body image, and self-esteem. Studies such as Stunkard, Albert, and
Sorenson's "An Adoption Study of Human Obesity" (New England
Journal of Medicine 314, pp. 193–197, 1986), can go a long way toward
educating your physician about, for instance, the role of genetics in
obesity. Other information can be obtained from NAAFA or the Council on
Size and Weight Discrimination.
Be your child's advocate. Insist that he or she is
weighed without it being announced or the mention of weight loss, and so
on. Educate your physician with evidence that diets don't work but in
fact cause disorders and weight gain. It could make a difference in the
lives of your child and of other children. If your child is naturally
big and healthy, teach her that there is nothing wrong with her and give
her the tools to defend herself against societal prejudice. If your
child is using food for emotional reasons, get help from a size-friendly
psychologist. But don't insist that your physician not weigh your child.
You are going to lose a potentially good physician with whom you might
have been able to otherwise build a good working relationship.
Certified Eating Disorders Specialist
Radiance Kids Project
I believe in destiny! A few weeks ago I was searching
and searching for resources concerning obesity in children. My
ten-year-old daughter (like her mom) is obese and has been subject to
horrendous ridicule from peers at school. We were at a loss as to how to
deal with it. During a recent trip to a local bookstore I glanced upon
your magazine, having been drawn to the cover. I had thought, up until
that time, that I was a subscriber to all of the large women's
magazines. Much to my delight, yours was one that I had not seen before.
After purchasing your magazine I devoured every line
and every article with my usual voracious appetite. I was ecstatic to
discover that your article "Working with
Fat Children in the Schools" by Michael Loewy, Fall 1998,
dealt with exactly the same issues I wanted to address. At a meeting
with my daughter's teacher, vice principal, principal, and counselors,
my husband and I presented a copy of the article for their perusal. I
truly believe that it made all of the difference in the world. They are
going to distribute the article to the entire staff in an attempt to
curtail the fat prejudice in the school.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I look forward to
your next issue.
Teresa A. D'Agostino
The last e-mail you sent to some of us on your online
mailing list about the Radiance
Kids Project reminded me of two customers who came into my store a
few years back. A young girl of eleven or twelve came in with her
mother. The girl's body was growing from girlhood to womanhood and she
probably weighed about 350 pounds. She wore very baggy clothing and
looked raggedy, as if she didn't care about herself and was trying to
avoid being noticed. Her mother was perhaps all of 100 pounds, very made
up, and well dressed. She did not spare the money on herself.
As the daughter began trying to find something that
fit her, the mother sat and critiqued her in every outfit. "It
clings," she would say, or, "You know that you won't wear
that," or "It pulls on your chest." I looked into their
eyes: In the daughter's I saw numb pain. In the mother's, an aloof
disgust. Still I'm sure that the mother believed she was doing right and
being loving and helpful.
So thank you, Radiance,
for your focus on children of size. Maybe one child's mother will read
some of your kids project articles and understand. As I tell my little
girl, "Stand tall! Stand proud!"
God bless and keep you,
Fat and Much More
I saw my first copy of Radiance
probably ten years ago, when I was waiting for an appointment with a
counselor. As a lifelong large woman who spent all her child and adult
years WEIGHTing to be thin to pursue the things I loved, you can imagine
my joy when I found your wonderful magazine! I couldn't wait until my
next counseling appointment to read the magazine again! I still wait
anxiously for Radiance to show up in
my mailbox! Today, I no longer let the ways of the world influence my
perception of myself adversely. I have a rich and full life, and your
magazine has helped me in my journey. Yes, I am fat, but I'm also so
very much more. Thank you.
San Rafael, CA
Making a Difference
I've been wanting to write and thank you. Yesterday I
returned from visiting my family. As always, my mother's attentions
focused almost entirely on my body size, and its supposed reflection of
my failings. Although the nagging is tiring, I am able now to respond to
many of her jibes by citing information I've gained from Radiance.
For this I thank you.
Even more so, thank you for the Winter issue that met
me in my mailbox when I came home! It never fails! When I need some
cheer and support the most, that's when Radiance
appears. Did you know that you're a fairy godmother?! You make a
I am a thirty-six-year old mother and college
administrator who has recently had the privilege of reading your
magazine. I admire and appreciate your gutsiness and flair. Bravo to
you, Radiance, for representing the
majority of vivacious women in this country. We are many and it should
be let known that we are beautiful, successful, talented, sexy, and
creative spirits who WILL be seen and heard. There is still much to be
done to represent the female majority in this country, but your magazine
is definitely a milestone. Keep up the excellent work and thank you!
Network of Support
I received the Winter
1999 issue. After going through the usual denial and ridicule that I
reserve for myself and all fat people, your magazine included, I picked
it up again and read the article about Lynn McAfee.
What struck me was how incredibly brave and determined she must be. I
know I would not have the courage to keep on representing large people's
problems like she does. I am quite amazed by her.
I'm not going to tell my whole story here. I'm only
going to say how lonely it is without any support network of my own. At
age forty, I am still denying the way I look and continue to hope for
that day when I can look like other people. I guess I'm just overwhelmed
by society's stereotype of large people. Thank you for your magazine.
Besides showing so many women they are not alone, you also show us that
we are loved and that we don't have to be unhappy. Thank you, thank you,
More Health Activism
The two articles in your Winter
1999 issue, Medical Activism and
Discovering the Truth (by and about health
activist Lynn McAfee), were among the best you have offered so far. This
is useful stuff, so much more helpful to me than just reading about fat
discrimination. Please, more articles like these.
To combat "Doctor Power," I think it would
be helpful for your readers to know that there are many very qualified,
advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs) serving as health care
providers. Usually ARNPs take more time and are alot more understanding
than MD's, who are more rushed for time. I have found that ARNPs
practice a "kinder and gentler" type of health care. I am a
five-foot-nine, 240 pound, gerontological nurse, and always ask to be
seen by the ARNP in my MD's office. I have also advised them both
"not to go there" when it comes to the subject of my weight!
Thanks again for the informative words of
Wendy Koana Stevens, RN, BSN
Pt. Townsend, WA