ETA: To those who are coming her from Candye Kane’s blog:

Dr. Sheila Addison is awesome. She wrote this as a guest post, as it clearly states in the title of the piece. I am The Rotund and I posted her piece because many female performers do lie about their weight and it is a seriously troubling issue and I thought the post would garner a lot of interesting discussion, which it did. I suggest you read the many comments here, discussing it.

That said, this is not going to turn into a “pile on Dr. Sheila” party. I moderate comments really strictly to preserve an atmosphere where we can actually discuss stuff. I have no problem with someone challenging Dr. Sheila about her post. I AM amused that Candye Kane took such issue with Sheila not coming to her but then did not comment here herself. That seems like a double standard to me.

In any event, I have sent a message to Candye Kane via MySpace, published her comment when the one here got trapped in the spam filter. Hopefully, she’ll make it back over here and we can all discuss this some more.

This guest post from Dr. Sheila Addison addresses what I think is a really important issue: People need to stop lying about their weight. For real and serious, people. Get over the number and stop letting it compromise your integrity.

I am mad at Candye Kane.

I have been asked to perform in a benefit for her, because she has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and gone through a Whipple procedure recently. Great cause, for sure.

I haven’t been familiar with her music, but in listening to her back catalogue to try to pick out a song, I notice she has a lot of pieces (“Big Fat Mamas are Back in Style,” “You Need a Great Big Woman”) that reference her big size. (“Everybody Needs Love” is a great
size-acceptance anthem.) Some of them are borderline BBW/chubby-chaser-esque which makes me cringe, but I bet she sells them like hell in her live shows.

But I’m mad at her. Because one of her anthems is “200 Pounds of Fun.” And I’ll be damned if she’s 200 pounds.

What bugs me about this is that I’ve seen the same kind of numbers game go on in big-girl porn – I’ve seen shoots with women who were labeled 150 or 170 pounds who were more like 250, maybe even 300 if they were an ounce. It hacks me off that even in allegedly size-positive territory (setting aside my feelings about the BBW fetishization thing, it is at
least an arena where women of size are supposed to be appreciated), there is this relentless effort to slim women’s weights down. And the kickback is that a) people have no idea what weights look like, and b) the belief that women who weigh 160 or 170 pounds are “pigs”
(warning: super-triggering article about “hogging”). The result is that the popular perception of anything above what, 130? 140 pounds? Is Fatty Fatty Two By Four.

I weigh 200 pounds at 5’1. Candye Kane does not weigh 200 pounds and come just a head shorter than 6’6 Penn Jillette. But because of ongoing public deception about big women’s weights, I’ve not only Shocked and Amazed My Friends, I’ve been accused of being deceiving when I’ve posted personal ads. If I call myself “curvy,” people seem to expect a size 10 with boobs. If I say I’m 200 pounds, they expect me to be a 48H bra with 60-inch hips. If I say I’m a size 16/18, well no one knows what that looks like because even our clothing manufacturers can’t decide. And forget about using the dread word “fat” in a personal because it only brings out the fetishists, and they don’t want me any more than I want them.

I’m tired of the lying about our weight. I’m tired of the assumption that 200 pounds is the OMG Serious Death Fat (I am still smarting from my doctor’s “well you CAN’T get to 200 pounds!!!!” comment a couple of years ago when I weighed in at 195, one of the last times I allowed my weight to be taken at a doctor’s office). We don’t know what weight looks like, we really really
don’t
. And as we in the Size Acceptance and Health at Every Size world know, there is no number, be it 200 or 300 or any other number of pounds, that makes a person worthy or not, sexy or not, healthy or not, valuable or not. If you are going to debunk the idea of Size = Gross, why stop with 200 pounds?

Candye: you are an awesome women who has, apparently, made a career out of demanding respect and love for fat bodies. Why does your song say that you are 200 pounds when you’re not? I could sing that song for the benefit but no one would believe me, because I look like a wannabe next to you.

As it turns out my teaching schedule won’t allow me to take part in the benefit, but Bay Area folks may still want to check it out as there will be plenty of fat and fat-positive performers there. And Candye is a terrific singer who deserves all the help she can get.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/onceupon/2593035526/sizes/o/


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81 Comments

  1. Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    How do you know that Candye Kane doesn’t weigh 200 pounds? Ther’es a message in her music and it embraces us fat people. I look forward to supporting Candye’s causes and musics if she weights 120 pounds or 500. She’s showed love and awareness to some many of us fat people.

  2. Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sheila/aka Dr. Shimmy,
    I am really hurt that you posted this blog about Candye. If you had any questions about her size, all you had to do is ask me. (For those of you that don’t know, I am producing this benefit for Candye). I would have given you information about her weight if that is what concerns you so much.
    But, because you were not able to reach out, and instead make an inflammatory and very public blog about this woman that I care for and love so deeply because of her positive messages, then I will not be looking for you to appear in any of my future productions. I expect professionalism, integrity and class from my performers. This is embarrassing and very hurtful.
    I have been marginalized by the fat community and society because of my size. I am a size 16 at 5’2″. I weigh 170 at my heaviest. Some don’t want me to appear as a Plus Size model because I’m too “skinny”, others don’t want me performing burlesque, etc. because I’m too “fat”.
    Candye is right in her response to you that no one should be judged by their size, which is what I thought were the messages of “size acceptance” and “body love”.
    It saddens and hurts me deeply to find out via the online world that you are against me and Candye.
    You have my telephone number, my email address, my MySpace address – why did you feel the need to express your concern like this?

  3. Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

    I have NEVER gotten the feeling that Candye lies or even sugar-coats things, though her delivery is honey-sweet.

    Numbers nothwithstanding, what I get from her is that at any size, women are sexy and juicy and desirable.

    Ease up a little, huh?

  4. TR
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    To those who are coming her from Candye Kane’s blog:

    Dr. Sheila Addison is awesome. She wrote this as a guest post, as it clearly states in the title of the piece. I am The Rotund and I posted her piece because many female performers do lie about their weight and it is a seriously troubling issue and I thought the post would garner a lot of interesting discussion, which it did. I suggest you read the many comments here, discussing it.

    That said, this is not going to turn into a “pile on Dr. Sheila” party. I moderate comments really strictly to preserve an atmosphere where we can actually discuss stuff. I have no problem with someone challenging Dr. Sheila about her post. I AM amused that Candye Kane took such issue with Sheila not coming to her but then did not comment here herself. That seems like a double standard to me.

    In any event, I have sent a message to Candye Kane via MySpace, where she originally published her comment. Hopefully, she’ll make it back over here and we can all discuss this some more.

  5. christine
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Hi to all,
    I have read both sides. I did read Candye’s response before Dr Sheilsa’s as until now, I had never of Dr. Sheila. I do know Candye Kane tho. And have known and loved her for over ten wonderful years! Barely ever missing a concert when she is in town. And I can tell you Dr. Sheila, when Candye first wrote the song 200 lbs of fun…she barely tipped the scales at 200. What has always amazed me the most about Candye is her complete unabashed in your face honesty. I can remember many many concerts where Candye would finish singing her 200 lbs of fun song then tell the audience with a big grin her real weight. She never held anything back from her fans and has always shown us her great big loving heart. Candye has nothing to hide. She is one of the most sincere and honest people you will ever meet. When she feels she has made a mistake or said or done something which has unintentionally hurt another, she is the first to openly aplogize. She has always demanded absolute honesty from herself! I have held back my anger at what you wrote on your blog Dr. Sheila, because its not fun to be attacked. But you owe Candye Kane a great big public apology. 200 pounds of apologys! And not only to her, but to the thousands of her fans whom you have also insulted by calling Candye a liar…..shame on you Dr. Sheila. Before you pass such quick judgement on anyone in the future…try getting the facts!
    Christine in California

    in fact, I’m sure I even have video somewhere of Candye singing her 200 pound song then adding the extra pounds in!! I’ll check my archives.

  6. Posted June 22, 2008 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    Wow, Dr. Sheila, I can’t even express how little use I have for your post.

    Candye has responded with an excess of kindness, above, but I want you to know — from me — that your baseless and cruel attack (on a fat freedom fighter who is facing cancer!?!) does nothing to fight fat hatred, it’s just in-fighting.

    I’m a highly visible fat person. I state my weight openly and happily all the time. I only ever talk about the weight I am right now. I never make comparisons to what I weighed 10 years ago or 10 minutes ago, because that kind of thinking is where fat hate lives.

    I have seen Candye perform for years and she is heroic in spreading a fat pride message. Candy Kane is a fat pride hero.

    I have the highest possible respect for Candye Kane’s weight politics, for her humane expression of human sexuality and sexual freedom, for her feminism, and for her approach to the music industry. I can think of no popular musician who does more for fat pride. No one.

    I have seen Candye Kane step up in support of Big Burlesque founder Heather MacAllister, both in graciously mentoring her as a performer over the years and in generously supporting Heather when she faced cancer.

    I don’t like to imagine that any highly visible fat freedom fighter deserves to be publicly attacked by people in fat pride community when we are, in good conscience, doing our best to advance the goal of ending weight prejudice and discrimination. But Candye Kane??? She’s like, an ultimate fat pride ambassador.

    When I have a significant disagreement with someone in fat pride community because I find that person is speaking or acting in a way that could, in my view, undermine the goal of ending weight prejudice and discrimination, I speak directly to that person…IN PRIVATE! I choose this approach because I imagine there are already more than enough people and institutions attacking us all the time. (Remember, the weight loss industry? The stomach thieves? The FDA, CDC, WHO, etc.?) And I don’t want to give them any help. I speak my criticisms directly to the person concerned with all sorts of passion and often (not always) they take my concerns to heart. I imagine we can all do that for each other. If you ever catch me in a misstep, I hope you’ll let me know right away!

    What I hope you won’t do is, well, precisely what you’ve done here.

  7. Elusis
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

    In response to Candye’s comment that was emailed and published here, I want to say a few things.

    First and foremost, I’m genuinly sorry to have upset you personally, Candye. That’s wasn’t the purpose of my post, but if it was the result, you have my heartfelt apology.

    Second, I want to emphasize that in my post, I attempted (whether or not I succeeded) to communicate that I think you have a lot of amazing size-positive anthems. I tried to say that I think you’re a great performer, and that you deserve support in this difficult time, and that people should come to your benefit.

    Third, I didn’t write you for two reasons. The first was that I read through your recent blog entries and it seemed apparent to me that your primary concern right now, as it should be, is with taking care of yourself. You have body changes of all kinds going on that are about your health and recovery, and I would imagine that an inquiry from a total stranger would not be useful. And the second was that you are a public figure. I don’t think anyone in the fatosphere wrote to Carnie Wilson recently when lots of people blogged about her weight regain and surgery “failure.”

    Fourth, the post was less about you personally than about a phenomenon which I think the many comments validate, which is public confusion, obfuscation, and disingenuousness about weight that comes from individuals, authors, editors, publishers, photographers, from all directions really. From driver’s licenses to the “little white lies” that women tell each other to BBW porn, when we publically hear weights, we are hearing falsehood more often than truth.

    And fifth, the thing I didn’t share in the initial post is the instant gut reaction I had to hearing the song, which was this: I froze, my stomach knotted up, and my hands went numb, and then I cried my eyes out. Why? Because I could sing that song and yet no one would believe it describes me, and people would continue to make OMFG 200 POUNDS jokes in my presence like they do right now, which hurts like hell even as I tell them “you have no idea what 200 pounds looks like” or “you know when you talk about that you’re talking about me, right?” or “I’m in perfect health and a dancer and a strong graceful woman and that’s what I weigh.” There is something about that song that, heard through my ears living my experience of my 200-pound female body, seems to exoticize and “other” that number, and that doesn’t fit with your public image of exuberant fatness, and that made me feel alienated and alone in my body. And that sucked.

    I heard that song and felt like a freak because maybe it would be better if I were tall and exuberant and 200 pounds and all of it fun, but I’m not. No one believes I’m what they mean when they say “obesity epidemic,” but I did endure the horrified look in my doctor’s eyes when she said “well you just CAN’T get to 200 pounds!” when I weighed 195 and was dancing four days a week with two different troupes and was in perfect health. I endure the shame I can see in my parents’ eyes when I point out to them that they have a 200-pound daughter who is smart and beautiful and shouldn’t the latter matter more than the former?

    Somehow, putting the number on yourself didn’t demystify fatness for me and my experience, it felt to me like something analgous to what critical race theory calles “racial mystification” where racial identity and specific experiences of difference are literally whitewashed or are run together until they are so general as to mean nothing. It felt like it mystified fat bodies, my fat body, further.

    And that is what prompted me to start that blog post the way I did, and to attempt to make the larger point (no pun intended) that numbers can do more harm than good, that weight is still so misunderstood and misapprehended and made the butt of crude assumptions and jokes, and that undoing what is done is a complicated, problematic, and even painful undertaking that, nonetheless, needs to happen.

    Again, I’m sorry to have hurt you, Candye. I do unequivocally believe that you’re a great performer and that the benefit is a great cause and will be a wonderful show. But I also stand by my post, and by the chord it obviously struck in the readers here at The Rotund. And I stand by the feelings the song provoked in me. I’m not interested in getting into a war of emotion with friends or fans, but I’m willing to discuss the issues at stake here.

  8. TR
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Marilyn, Sheila is composing her own reply but, as I did when replying to your email to me, I’d just like to point out that public figures ARE open to public criticism. I remember you publicly speaking about Hanne Blank’s public dieting and taking her to task for that. Sheila was wrong about Candye’s weight but she wasn’t wrong to post about it and her emotional response to that particular song.

    People say mean things about me in my role as a writer here all the time. It sucks, absolutely, but by putting myself forward, I run the risk that people aren’t going to like me – in fact, that people are going to think I am a hugely disgusting destroyer of heath and aesthetics. That is the downside to being a public person.

  9. TR
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    Also, FYI for anyone else commenting – I am heading to bed and so comments will not be approved/rejected until I wake up in the morning! I am not silencing you – though I am currently rejecting rants and comments from people who have not read Sheila’s post and/or the comments that have come before – I am just sleeping! I am down with discussion but not flaming, y’all!

    Sleep tight!

  10. Posted June 22, 2008 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    The problem with numbers is not that people lie about them. The problem is that they do not look the same on any two people and, in fact, can look very different on one person.

    220 pounds looked very different on me when I was active than it did when I was inactive, likely due to changes in my muscle to fat ratio.

    In response to anybody who thinks that 300 pounds is “lifted by a crane” heavy, I am 5’3″ and weigh well over 300 lbs now. I can walk for several miles unassisted. My belly does not hang to my knees. I can reach all of my body parts unassisted and am quite clean. When I did sprain my ankle on a broken sidewalk, the two paramedics who came to my aid were able to lift me into the ambulance and had the good grace to not make any negative comments to me about my size/weight.

    There are people of all weights who have problems with mobility and cleanliness. Such problems have more to do with a person’s flexibility, agility, stamina, and strength, then with that person’s size.

    I do not feel compelled to offer the exact number of my weight because it is nobody’s business. Knowing what 300+ lbs looks like on me will not help someone know what it looks like on someone else because other people do not have my bone structure, muscle mass, and distribution of adipose tissue. The exact number of my weight does not contain any more information about me than how much pull gravity has on my mass.

    It is counterproductive for us to quibble over numbers as if they mean something more than that simply because mainstream culture would have us believe that they do. It’s far more productive for us to support each other in our endeavors to show our culture that such misinformation cannot stop us from living joyful and interesting lives.

  11. Diana in California
    Posted June 22, 2008 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I have had the privilege of knowing Candye Kane for just a year, but in that time I have grown to love and admire her for her strength of character along with her big overflowing generous heart. Everything about Candye exudes total and complete honesty and authenticity. In fact, although I have personally known her only a year, it feels much longer because as Christine mentioned above, she holds nothing back from her fans. To read all of her blogs is to truly know her because she is so open and honest in all of her writings–always as she even admits, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She has always been completely honest about her true weight in all of her shows that I have seen and in live performances does add into 200 Lbs of Fun additional lyrics to bring it to whatever her weight is at the time. I don’t believe Candye Kane could lie if her life depended upon it—her big generous heart just wouldn’t let her.

  12. Posted June 22, 2008 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Okay, hold up. I’ve read the post, I’ve read Kandye’s response. But really, my comment is addressed to Ms. Wann.

    When we (as humans, forget what size any of us are) start playing this game of who/what is appropriate to criticize, and who/what is untouchable, you are on a very slippery slope.

    People do not get a free pass on criticism, and they certainly do not get a free pass on public criticism when what they’re being criticized about is a *public* and not private matter.

    I don’t care if they’re white, black, brown, polkatot, fat, thin, tall, short or any other adjective.

    Being fat (or any other adjective) *does. not. give. you. a. free. pass.* When you take away the right to criticize appropriately, you create a very toxic culture where people believe that they are Victims, Never to be Questioned.

    This is counterproductive, at *best*. At worst, it is the worst kind of condescension- the kind where you coddle people instead of making them strong. You lie and whisper instead of being up-front and honest. You make people believe they are *weak and victimized* instead of strong and able to defend their own positions. And no one needs that.

    It is NOT a horrible thing to say “I am angry at this person, for this public reason.” I don’t care if they’re on your side or not. Being a fat activist, or any other kind of activist, or even NO kind of activist, does not *exempt* one from having people disagree with them, being angry with them, or saying so about a *public matter*, in public. And do say that’s not okay does *EVERYONE*, but most specifically, the people you *agree with*, a dis-service.

  13. Posted June 22, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    She has always been completely honest about her true weight in all of her shows that I have seen and in live performances does add into 200 Lbs of Fun additional lyrics to bring it to whatever her weight is at the time.

    This is awesome to hear! But it’s ironic (almost as ironic as making public blog comments to complain about people complaining about people in public) that this means that Candye would agree with everything Sheila wrote in this post except the title. I understand that Candye is going through a difficult time and of course I wish her the best — she’s an icon and a great performer. But I wish that her immediate response hadn’t been personal offense and anger, because I think that she and Sheila are really fundamentally saying the same thing. Getting angry and lashing out (and here I’m talking about Candye’s response, not Sheila’s post; Sheila’s only negative word directed at Candye is “mad,” while Candye busts out “rude,” “irresponsible,” “judgmental,” “shallow,” etc.) just obscures that fact. Candye herself said that she and Sheila are on the same side but that Sheila is too steeped in negativity to see that. Again, ironic.

    Anyway, Diana, I’m really glad you pointed that out. It doesn’t change my feelings about this post, which I think makes excellent and important points even if the jumping-off point turns out to have been chosen in error. But it makes me like Candye even more — exactly because she’s embodying the very points Sheila was talking about. Candye, I’m hoping that after you get over the initial hurt you see that Sheila was mistaken, not malicious, and that the point holds. And that you already agreed with it.

  14. Krissy
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    This is ridiculous.

    The important point that Dr Sheila was making is that we don’t know what real weight is because people have lied for so long. Just like what Gloria Steinham said about not knowing what 50 really looks like on a woman because they have been lying about it for so long. This is a good point and I agree that we all need to tell the truth.

    However, pinning so much on Candye Kane is just over dramatic. It wasn’t needed. Her song could be about anyone, why does it even have to be about her? Why does it have to be true? It is a song! I think the song issue was a convenient intro to the actual meat of the essay, but Dr Sheila became hyperblolic and unfotunatly dereailed the real point of her post and needlessly attacked someone.

    It is a good lesson to learn, folks. We are all in this together, lets act like it.

  15. Posted June 23, 2008 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    hello, I posted my original blog here twice. for some reason, it wouldnt post so I posted it on myspace and sent out an all points bulletin searching for dr. sheila to address the blog. anyway, as you know, dr.sheila wrote me back an eloquent apology and I accept her apology. I think her point has been made that people do lie about their weight, age, etc. I didnt appreciate being made the poster child for lying, but if it opens up dialogue and makes us all realize that we are all on the same side, than its all worth the emotionally charged responses. Lets all focus our energies on loving ourselves, healing ourselves and uniting with each other for the common good. we are all on the same side as outsiders and we need to keep our strength in numbers. xo

    candye

  16. Posted June 23, 2008 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Whoah.

    I’ll be honest: I had never even heard of Candye Kane until this post (what can I say? I’m a baby-FA), and while I addressed Ms. Kane in my original response (waaaaaaay up towards the top), I didn’t fail to notice that Dr. Sheila was simply using Ms. Kane as an example, a springboard to get to what she really wanted to say. Which wasn’t so much about Ms. Kane herself as it was about society in general, and how even thin people tend to lie about their weight.

    I think most – if not all – of us would be willing to concede that if the song was written so long ago, then Dr. Sheila would be mistaken in calling it lying about her weight. But it doesn’t change the main message of the post: don’t lie about your weight. Regardless of who you are and how much you weigh.

    Ms. Kane and friends: I, for one, apologize if you felt I was “jumping on the bandwagon” and attacking you personally. I don’t think that was the point of Dr. Sheila’s post and it certainly wasn’t the point of my response. I can, however, understand – especially under the circumstances – how you might have felt that way initially.

    This hurling of accusations doesn’t help anyone,though. It only serves to detract from the point that Dr. Sheila wanted to make, which wasn’t about one person in particular but about society (mostly women) in general.

  17. horrorbiz
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    I don’t think that allowing folks to express their feelings — just as Sheila did — is a “jump on Dr. Sheila” party. She may be awesome, but she struck a chord with many people, including those that never, ever heard of Candye before. Let us tell her how she made us feel. As a professional writer myself, I understand how scary it can be to put yourself into writing and hope that your audience will get it. I also understand the responsibilities that come along with my role, and that my audience will interpret and process the writing based on their own experiences. The point of Sheila’s article? Absolutely fine. Her method of delivering said point? Pretty terrible, and pretty callous.

  18. Posted June 23, 2008 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    Candye is classy. Good luck in your recovery, Candye!

    For what it’s worth, I never read the post as making you the “poster child for lying” — just as an example for how it’s actually becoming impossible to be honest in a public context, because people won’t believe you. I think Sheila’s contention was that if you had written the song when you weighed 250 pounds and titled it “250 pounds of fun,” people would experience cognitive dissonance because they thought that 250 pounds meant you were tremendously fat. Likewise, if someone who weighs 200 pounds performed the song, the response might be “no way do you weigh 200 pounds.” So the issue is not about you being a liar, but about the fact that the obfuscation about people’s real weights makes honesty confusing and even counterproductive.

  19. Posted June 23, 2008 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I once had a choice to lie about my weight for a piece in the NY Times. It was hard not to because it was something so historically automatic but it’s important to speak the truth so we all can a true picture of what the variety of numbers looks like.

    Dr. Sheila I understand the point you were trying to make using Candye’s song as a springboard but damn did it come off like a firestorm of accusations and vitriol. Why so much venom for someone who is a generous performer, a fierce activist and a person who is in the process of healing. I’m not saying the question shouldn’t be posted and the discussion is so important but must it be a take down? I find this style of dialogue to be completely divisive and distracting from the subject.

    People who seem like they’re up on a pedestal are still people. We are the ones who put them up there, and we give them no slack before we try to rip them down. Interesting power play, huh?

    Words have power. Think about how you would want someone to address you in this situation.

    and for the record i weight 218 lbs and am 5’3″ (i do lie about my height)

  20. Erin
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    It seems to me the difference on what the post meant depends on which post you read first. I also think a lot of people skimmed the comments where people were talking about the importance of the number and how that really sucks(And it does suck)

    Also noticing she posted the BMI Project and a Height/Weight visual chart… the whole premise of the post was “Please everyone stop lying”

    We don’t see Candye’s weight anywhere, except hear about it in that song: People draw the conclusion Candye = 200 LBS now…

  21. Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    As TR points out, I also criticize public figures in public. (Usually, it’s wankers like Kelly Brownell, not members of fat pride community.) My focus is on using my words and my actions to create the effect that I want…most often, the effect that I want is to end weight-based prejudice and discrimination.

    So. Here’s my non-censoring point: Consider the likely effect of criticisms delivered by various means and in various styles!

    When you publicly criticize a highly visible community member for something they didn’t even do, what effect does that really have? I can imagine a whole list of negative effects that particular use of words can have, as Deb mentions above. The post here didn’t involve me directly, but it makes me feel less connected to parts of fat pride community, wondering when it will be my turn to face baseless, vehement criticism.

    As an alternative, when I have taken my criticisms directly to community members, alerting them to ways that I think their words or actions are counterproductive to ending weight prejudice and discrimination (and assuming we share that goal) — most often they can see my point and adjust what they’re saying or doing so it creates the effect they want. If they don’t choose to change, there’s at least mutual knowledge about a significant difference in our politics or methods. And yes, sometimes I go public with a statement of disagreement, because I want my voice on record.

    One of the criticisms that I’ve heard made about blogs as a new genre (not just the fatosphere) is that content gets pushed in negative, argumentative directions to attract attention. I don’t imagine that’s the method or purpose here, I imagine the purpose here is to end weight prejudice and discrimination. To that end…hooray!

  22. Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The problem with pedastels is that the people on them have nowhere to go but down.

    I’ve seen a photographic height/weight chart thingie, found another woman who’s my same height/weight (5’7″, 235 lbs), and she and i look NOTHING alike. So who’s to say What 200 Pounds Really Looks Like, Anyways?

  23. TR
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    Marilyn, just as an aside, blogs and blogging are not nearly as new as you always seem to think. Nor does being newer than in-person activism make them any less important or effective. Blogging opens up possibilities to reach a VERY wide-reaching audience and that is part of its power.

    It’s also derided by people who don’t understand it. I think blogging is used a LOT to question power and authority and that is where the idea that it is used for garnering attention and shock value is coming from. There ARE blogs that exist solely to shock, but they are pretty blatant in their aims.

    The thing is, unless you a) know Candye personally or b) have been to one of her live shows, there is no way to know that she shares her weight if it differs from the 200 pounds mentioned in 200 Pounds of Fun. So Dr. Sheila’s reaction is probably not unique among newcomers to Candye’s work. I think it is AWESOME that Candye is so forthright in person but we don’t all have the benefit of seeing her live, you know? I think it might be useful – and I mentioned this to her – to mention that somewhere on her site, even a single sentence acknowledging it so that this sort of thing doesn’t keep anyone else from appreciating Candye’s body of work.

  24. Daisy Dial
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Candye Kane is one of the most awesome people I know, kind, loving, generous & extremely entertaining. I love her!

    Rather Candye is 200, or 300, or 400 pounds, she has more kindness in her pinkie, than most people I know.

    Why can’t we all live by the phrase in one of Jewels songs: “in the end, only kindness matters”, this world would be a much happier place.

  25. Posted June 23, 2008 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I think of blogs as new in comparison to, say, novels, which were a new genre a few hundred years ago. (And also were used to speak truth to power.)

    I am thoroughly delighted at how the fatosphere reaches all sorts of people who wouldn’t otherwise encounter the concept of celebrating weight diversity.

    I’m also aware that anonymous communication via any medium means some people may feel free to speak more negatively or harshly than they would if they were addressing the same person in person.

    I use computer-based communication a lot. I also am lucky to be able to participate in a lot of in-person fat pride community gatherings and cultural events and just plain old hanging out with the rad fatties.

    From my own experience, there’s a level of feeling and believing and embodying fat pride concepts that I could never have felt if I hadn’t spoken and acted on my beliefs in person. Likewise, there’s a level of understanding of these issues that I could never have reached if I hadn’t typed millions of words about them, too. I really, really don’t think it’s a zero-sum situation or that we need choose. I hope people take the opportunity to enjoy in-person as well as online fat pride community. If you don’t have any handy, try making some. It can be a total hoot.

  26. Elusis
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    Candye – thank you for accepting my apology to you, and for engaging in a dialogue here.

    In mulling this over last night, it occurred to me that I would very much like to hear from you, in your words, about your journey with that song. I thought to myself “wouldn’t it be awesome if there was an essay or FAQ or blog on your site that addressed your feelings about how numbers work for and against us, how bodies change both with health and with illness, and how much emphasis and obfuscation is put on women’s bodies thanks to all these numbers?” I think it is a very political song, and of particular importance in your catalog, because of your choice to use an in-your-face number. I personally appreciate it when artists will take the time to share some of their thoughts around particularly provocative work.

    Obviously that is just my wish, but I think it would be powerful, and meaningful to both your fans and casual admirers. If it’s something you have desire and energy to do at some point, I’d eagerly read it and undoubtedly applaud afterwards.

    Regardless, thanks for having a conversation here.

  27. Elusis
    Posted June 23, 2008 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    And in a separate comment from my last response to Candye, let me say this.

    I unequivocally reject calls for “unity” or “keeping a united front” or declaring certain individuals or groups “hands off.” It didn’t work on me during the Hillary Clinton campaign (and in fact just pissed me off because a feminism that cannot tolerate and embrace dissent and difficult dialogue is not my feminism at all) and it doesn’t work on me in the Size Acceptance world either.

    I don’t play the game of “let’s pretend we all agree all the time” because all that does is silence and marginalize people. And I don’t play the “some people are off-limits” game. Marilyn, I think you are talking out of both sides of your mouth. I didn’t see you coming in her to tell us “leave Carnie Wilson alone!!!!” nor did you have any qualms about criticizing Hanne, or The Rotund and Kate Harding when you didn’t like what they said about NAAFA, or me for that matter, in a public fashion. So it seems to me like there’s a “good fatty/bad fatty” dichotomy going on here, only instead of “good fatty who is fat through no fault of her own/bad fatty who is lazy and eats donuts,” the difference is “good fatty who plays along and puts on a positive face of The Movement/bad fatty who airs dirty laundry in public or disagrees with Our Fearless Leaders.”

    Public criticism of visible people is exactly what keeps movements accountable, honest, and critically engaged. When you’re in the center of a movement, like you are in Size Acceptance, or like white upper-middle-class women were and are in certain brands of feminism, having a tacit agreement that We Don’t Call Each Other Out In Public may feel totally awesome and supportive. But to the people on the margins of those groups, who maybe aren’t sure whether a particular group is going to acknowledge them, appreciate their experiences and needs, and hold itself accountable? That kind of no-talk pact feels dangerous and marginalizing.

    That is the conversation that came up again and again during the Democratic primary when women of color tried to tell some of the vocal Hillary supporters “criticizing Hillary does not make me a bad woman or a bad feminist, and if you’re going to tell me it does, then don’t turn around and act surprised when I don’t want to jump on your bandwagon.” I am personally uninterested in signing some kind of confidentiality pact in order to be part of a movement, and am not going to play anyone’s reindeer games of that stripe either.

  28. Posted June 23, 2008 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

    hi everybody.

    i have really enjoyed reading all these posts. If you had asked me that yesterday, I dont think I would have said so, but healthy dialogue is good and productive. it still hurt me that dr. sheila didnt write me an email personally and ask me how much i weighed when i wrote my song 200 pounds of fun. I am pretty easy to find by googling my name and I always write back to my emails, even if it takes me awhile. sheila could have written to me and used my name in her blog title in a friendly comment rather than an angry comment. she could have included me in the discussion instead of using me as starter wood for the ensuing fire. she was asked to play my cancer benefit. she knew how to find me, had she wished to do so.

    There is something that seems inherently wrong about attacking a cancer patient and thats probably why many of my friends have jumped into the fray. Sheila did say i was lying. it wasnt just sheila being angry. it went a step further than anger by assuming that I was lying and elaborating on it. anyway, its all okay. i forgive, i forgive, i forgive.

    I had pancreatic cancer. I has surgery two months ago. I thought i was going to die! I am alive and this blog woke me up and made me really mad. I got my fire back for a minute. That felt good because I know that I am getting better if I can stay up late and write a long response. So, really, I should thank you sheila and marianne for reminding me about issues i care about. i am grateful for the energy surge it gave me to defend myself and my 200 pound honor.

    I wrote a blog once called “why I hate ann coulter and you should too.” It wasnt the nicest blog. I bet ann coulter does have a heart somewhere in there, and that there are people who love her and would rush to her defense. Im not proud that I chose that mean spirited headline for my blog even though it was about ann coulter, whose politics and right wing opines are well known and polar opposite to my own. I guess even though I am a public personality, its still a bit ironic to be attacked by someone who is on the same side. I mean, arent there others who are more deserving of this negative attention and ire? Remember ricki lake and how she lost weight and continually did interviews where she denounced herself as disgusting when she was fat? she said she never wanted to have sex when she was fat, and now that shes thin, shes a sexual dynamo. Why wouldnt she be a better target for dr. sheilas anger? and hey, shes not fighting cancer right now, so that makes her even less sympathetic. How about valerie bertinelli? she didnt look too fat when she became a jenny craig spokesperson. Maybe Dr. Sheila would be better served being angry at her.

    at any rate, I am learning a lot from reading everyones opinions here. This is the first time I have ever been told that 200 pounds of fun made someone cry. I have to admit, that has never occurred to me. This song is a celebration of size. Drag queens perform it. Fat girls perform it. I chose the number 200 because thats where I was at. Everyone always said 200 pounds like it was the end of the line. I wanted to claim the 200 pounds, celebrate it, wallow in it. Thats what I did in the song.

    anyway, i like the idea of writing a blog about the song and how I came to write it. thanks for that suggestion elusis. I am pretty busy now doing a project for special needs people here in the netherlands and then have two consecutive USA tours and the world congress for people with disabilities in south africa. I dont have a whole lot of time or energy right now. I am still healing every day. But I will try and write at least a short blog on this subject at a future date.

    On another note, even though I was brought to this page because I was maligned, I feel good knowing that there are so many smart young people joining in the discussion. I hope we can all be friends or at least realize that we all share a common enemy and its not each other.

    200 lbs of fun again,

    candye kane

  29. Angela
    Posted June 24, 2008 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    I remember when I was in karate class and one of the guys (6’2”, 180 pounds) was trying to figure out his advantage over me height and weightwise. He said something about how he had almost a foot on me (I’m 5’3”) and then guessed my weight at 120! I was at the time 160. And this guy lacks tact – he certainly wasn’t trying to flatter me. He probably just figured 5’8” and 120 pounds is “normal” and I’m short and a little chubby so I probably still weigh a buck twenty.

    I take driver licenses as part of my job. It seems like 137 is the magic number – higher than that is fat, lower than that is okay. And… I have to admit, my license says 135. I’m 182ish. I put 135 when I first got my license (even then it was a bit of a lie, I was more like 145?) and when I got it renewed I wasn’t secure enough to say “I weigh lots more now”

  30. SheBear
    Posted June 27, 2008 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    What an interesting discussion! I’ve never heard of Candye Kane before, but quick googling tells me she’s quite a beautiful artist! Prayers to you for continued healing.

    What Google doesn’t seem to want to help me with is finding the lyrics for the song in question! LOL! Anyone care to point this total newbie in the right direction to satisfy my curiosity? :)

    Blessings,

    SheBear

  31. Posted September 6, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Is it possible that Ms. Kane was simply using a number that most people consider “fat” and worked well with the lyrics.

    I think when most people hear “200 pound woman” they think “fat” – to that end the song itself works even if you never see her and only hear her music.

    I understand what you’re saying about people concealing their real weights and it does deserve some attention, but I’m not sure this song was supposed to be an exact representation of her weight – maybe it was just supposed to be more “universal” fat girl.

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