I’ve had several friends and co-workers over the years who would probably nod in affirmation while reading Abby’s response, and rail in frustration at Ragen’s post here. After all, body fat is one of the few socially acceptable ways we can outwardly judge a person at a glance. We keep limiting all the other options, so ignorant people need *somewhere* to channel their disappointment at the existence of those they deem unfit or unacceptable.
So egregious was this “Dear Abby” column that over 500 readers contacted me to ask me to write about it. I think it’s a helpful example of everything that is wrong with the way that we talk about weight, health, self-esteem, and body image. Here are the original letter and answer, then I’ll break them down bit by bit:
DEAR ABBY: I’m a 24-year-old plus-sized woman (60 or 70 pounds overweight), but very comfortable in my own skin. When swimming in public, I wear a one-piece bathing suit because it doesn’t attract a lot of attention. When I’m home, I have a bikini top and shorts I prefer to wear. This is because I don’t like being covered up like it was in the 1950s, and I feel good when my curves are properly accentuated.
When I go back to see my family and swim, I wear a bikini top…
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