thinking about fat-talk and fun-house-mirrors

Monday, April 29, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 11.16.40 AM
i have come to believe that writer’s block is not so much an absence of ideas as it is a tremendously strong desire to take a nap, all. the. time.
when the desire to sleep is greater than the desire to write–to say something–that’s writer’s block.
perhaps it is that the act of writing or thinking or forming words is the very thing that overwhelms and exhausts. sometimes it’s just harder. sometimes it just costs more.
it’s sunday night and i’m exhausted as i’ve ever been, but i promised myself i’d get something out. so if what follows is nonsense, well, just know i’ve been wanting a nap for a good few months now…

i can’t fit into a size large skirt at zara.

i know because i tried one on on wednesday.

i was out with my girlfriend Joy and we’d just had lunch and were discussing the date i had that evening and what i’d be wearing and she was saying i should show off my figure and maybe wear some heels. and i was lamenting the fact she didn’t think converse appropriate and did i really need to wear my bangs down? and as all this was happening we were wandering in and out of stores, running errands, browsing in that way that’s mostly a side-eye-sort-of-thing when we happened upon a mini skirt in zara. it was feminine and structured–the right balance of sexy and sweet.

and so we both declared it totally date-night-appropriate.

but when i tried it on it was tight in that way that is unforgiving and unkind and totally unwearable. and it was a size large.

i ended up wearing jeans and wedges and white lace top with a blazer. and i felt totally great.

and so that was that.

but there’s this nagging thought: i’m so very close to the body i’ve always wanted–a body that is slim and healthy and very, very normal–and i can’t find into a size large skirt at zara. and so what. the. hell, you know?

i read an article in cosmopolitan (the esteemed woman’s journal) a few months back about how the three worst words a woman can say to a man are such: i feel fat. and i’m gonna level with you. i read that and though: genius. that is genius. spot on.

the reasoning being that (1) men like to feel like problem solvers. men do not like to feel helpless. and those three words speak to a  problem that they just can’t solve  (2) it plants this sort of thought in their head that you may in fact be fat or with less than perfect thighs or breasts or whatever it is you lambasted with your unkind words and (3) it gets the men feeling self-concious and insecure about their own bodies (and if there is anything i’ve learned after dating a good many men over a good few years now–men might just be more insecure than women, so it’s best not to encourage that).

number two is something i’ve spent quite a bit of time thinking about over the last few years. when we say i feel fat, that’s fat talk. and fat talk is insidious and destructive. the one thing that i’d encourage anyone who wants to drastically and subversively change their life for the better to do is eliminate fat talk. that’s it. don’t engage in fat talk, don’t encourage it, and if you can, call others on it: hey, that’s fat talk, enough of that. or don’t speak that way–this is me looking out for you. fat talk is absolutely everywhere. and one of the things i began to notice is that when my best girlfriends would talk about having gained weight or their unhappiness with this-or-that-body-part–as soon as they called my attention to it, they planted an idea and i would then see what they were talking about. oh yes, there’s that extra weight.  let me make this very clear: i did not see it, until they pointed it out to me. and even then who knows if i actually saw it or i just thought i saw it. and these are women i love and adore.

such is the power of suggestion. 

the most salient point of the article, i thought, was the suggestion that very often the bits and parts of our body we dislike the most, men absolutely adore. and if they’ve spent all night loving and caring for those bits and parts and we wake up and rip them to shreds–it makes men feel as if they’re staring into a fun house mirror. makes them feel as if they can’t trust their own eyes. because that thing–the body–they think so beautiful we’ve just laid to waste with a few unkind words.

i am, for the most part, really proud of my body. but i am even more proud of how i got to this body. i never count calories. i eat full-fat everything. i mostly order the hamburger. and when i say i have as many lattes as i want over the course of a day, i actually mean that. i have them with full fat milk and a little bit of coconut oil. yes! i add coconut oil! i can imagine diet experts addicts the country over shaking their heads: extra fat, extra calories. but coconut oil is incredibly good for us–it helps with cholesterol levels and nutrient absorption, it aides in the reduction of belly fat, is an anti-inflammatory.

i was out with a guy a few months back and somehow the discussion turned to weight loss and we each described how we’d once been bigger and he said to me, but don’t you miss those times when you just way overindulge–those times when there is absolutely no restraint?  nope, i said. because if i feel the need to eat that way, i do. i refuse to live my life as if a sort of vigilance must be kept. because how exhausting. how utterly exhausting. (and i’m having a hard enough time not crawling into bed at any given moment).

and so here i am with a body i quite like (with very little belly fat–thank you coconut oil) and i can’t fit into a size large skirt at zara. and a sort of fun house mirror erupts before me.

and i’m not sure what to do about it today other than walk away. and say, that’s not today’s worry. that uncertainty, that question, that distorted image will not govern me right now. i’ll simply recognize that something’s a bit askew and walk away.

i want to spend some time this week talking a bit more about food and health than i usually do. and i’m going to work on organizing a left-side-tab for this category (so be on the lookout for that–and many thanks to the kind reader who brought the need for that to my attention).



  • Bee

    Thank you for this great post. While reading I could only think “Exactly!”

    And also: screw Zara, their sizing sometimes makes no sense at all

    • Meg Fee

      Bee, they definitely have changed their fit models in the last year (year and half maybe) and now i find their clothes (particularly the tops) much, much harder to wear (always too tight in the shoulders, and a circus tent around the middle)

      • Bee

        Yeah, I recognize that

        And then sometimes I fit miraculously into an M or even S?

        It makes trips to the fitting room quite an emotional challenge sometimes…

      • Aaron

        I can really relate to your post! A couple of years ago I decided it was time to lose some weight, and I ended up losing 20 pounds, the healthy way. I always left room to indulge, and even now I refuse to restrict myself. Obviously I’m sensible and I have to monitor myself for “emotional eating” (the reason I needed to lose the 20 in the first place) but I haven’t had any issues maintaining the weight loss, and mostly eating what I want! Clothing on the other hand is another story….I still find it discouraging and a little strange that an average sized woman in America can’t fit into a large in many stores! Could it really be a large if I’m only a size 10/12 and I can’t get into it?!? I will also echo your sentiments about the shoulders of the Zara tops…I hate feeling sewn in! Haha.

  • aboleyn

    Dear Meg,

    I’m looking forward to read more about your opinion on food & health. I myself struggled with an ED two years ago, or that time it started & though I have gained a healthy amount of weight back, I still haven’t figured out, how I want to live. But just like you, I’m doing my best & your attitude already inspired me. Thanks for that. :)

    p.s. you have enviably pretty lips!!

  • Ju

    Great post. Can’t wait for your next posts (on health). Your blog always makes me think. And think. Keep up the good work. You’re a great example on how to get healthy. And thank you for your openness about it. Such an inspiration. Ju

  • Emily Alleman

    Lovely, Meg.

    I just wrote a post about beauty on my blog. It’s interesting how beauty is always on the brain. Oh, to be human!

  • Melissa

    Thank you for this post! It was such a refreshing reminder to be confident in all we, as women, do.
    P.S. I tend to wear a small and a large is a bit tight for me at Zara as well! It is not you :)

  • Amanda Perry

    What a positive and refreshing outlook on this idea. I am inspired to no longer engage in “fat talk”! I try my best to ignore the size on the tags because they are so inconsistent. If it fits and looks good thats all thats important! Thank you for sharing this post!

  • Tara M.

    I struggle with these thoughts every single day. Every day. If I’m being honest, I hate my body and I get so mad at myself when I walk into a store and can’t fit into even their largest sizes. It makes me completely hate myself. It’s so unhealthy to think that way, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself out of it.

  • Alexa

    Reminds me of Sugar’s Column #64:

    Stop worrying about whether you’re fat. You’re not fat. Or rather, you’re sometimes a little bit fat, but who gives a shit? There is nothing more boring and fruitless than a woman lamenting the fact that her stomach is round. Feed yourself. Literally. The sort of people worthy of your love will love you more for this.


  • leah

    i love reading your posts about body image. while i have reached my pre-pregnancy weight i am still working on getting used to my new post-partum shape and focusing on being healthy.

    last week i was thinking about just how beautiful different body shapes are – the ones with large hips or wide shoulders, thin and straight, or curvy with petite shoulders and wrists… some of the women i find most stunning don’t have very model-esque bodies…. and i think what makes them sexy is how they seem to look so comfortable in their own body, like they are really enjoying it. i think enjoyment is the key.

  • kim

    thank you for this article. fat talk is so hard to avoid. but i hope i can be better and more aware of when it happens. also, i had no idea about the coconut oil! how does it actually taste in the latte? i suppose i’ll have to try.

  • Jay

    This just proves how off the sizes can be somtimes! Recently I purchased a blue blouse, which I loved so much I wanted in in white too. However, for the exact same blouse in white I had to go up a size. Size doesn’t really matter though (no pun intended), we just can’t keep beating ourselves up over this simple matter :-) Anyways, you are truly wonderful and the way you came to feel better about yourself and your body is nothing but inspirational!

  • Lo

    love, love your post. i love the way you can organize thoughts into the most beautiful words. every woman should read this. thank you!! xoxo.

  • eileen ragan | leaner by the lake

    For a very long time, I thought that my worth was how far from or close to I was from the cusp of retail clothing sizes : read 10, 12, L, etc. It’s so dangerous and scary and easy to think that something is critically wrong with us and our bodies if we don’t fit into what Zara decided was a size L skirt. I know how dangerous it is, because I’ve lived my entire life that way until quite recently.

    Since you mentioned that you’re interested in discussing this subject more, I thought I’d share an essay I wrote on Swimsuit Season that deals with my personal relationship with swimwear, summer, and the need to foster a positive body image for myself.

    Looking forward to reading more on this! Open ears and eyes over here :)

  • sarah

    Let it go girl, cause Zara sizes make no sense whatsoever. The body part of a shirt will be one size for an adult woman, but the arms would be barely fit a child. Keep your chin up!

  • Dillan

    I just stumbled by your blog recently, and all your posts seem to really hit home with me. This one in particular- I feel constantly bothered not by my size, but by how clothing sizes fit (or more like, do not fit) It is refreshing to know, and hear, that in fact these things do NOT matter, and that no one else notices even a fraction bit that I do. Thank you for the positive words and reassurance- a great start to my week!

  • Carina

    You have such informative posts!

    Carina xx

  • Angela

    Meg, this post has me beaming with pride and happiness for you. This is exactly what I’m striving for. To be honest (what else would I be?) I’m going to print out this blog post (and maybe a few others) to give to my therapist to read (she’s not tech savvy enough to open emailed links hehe). I’ve been trying to really listen to my body and not count calories, not worry about having a cookie with dinner, and not hating on my body, or any bodies, around my friends, my boyfriend, and myself. It’s been hard. I’ve gained a few pounds. But I find myself craving more salads, more hummus, and maybe a fresh hand baked apple pie with no sugar added. I want these words and feelings that you’ve expressed here to be my soul. And maybe it won’t happen this month or even this year but I feel better about this goal knowing you’ve lived it, loved it, and have emerged beautiful and glowing. You are wonderful.

    On the size note I am so sick of them but can’t think of any other way to describe sizes. By each dimension? As you have to check online what size the chest and waist and length is anyway? Do away with the letters of S, M, L, and those Xs? I found myself this weekend purchasing XL maxi skirts so they came to floor and were looser and comfier on the waist and then forcing myself to believe a L fit on top, even though it was too large, because it was the last of its kind and color and it was on clearance and so perfect. The world of clothing is a strange place. Just hold things up and look in the mirror, get fitted at each store, and remember how beautiful and healthy you are and feel.

    Love, love, love,

  • lms

    as someone that works in design and development for a retail brand, i want you all to know, this happened because a fit pattern is probably off! seriously. its not you ladies, its the skirt! if a size you normally wear doesn’t fit, don’t feel bad about it. its just a little technical design gone awry. now don’t you feel better?!

  • Mary

    That was excellent. And, you for the forthcoming side tab. ;-)
    I’m looking forward to the rest of the week’s posts. You’re the best, Meg.

  • Mary

    This was excellent. And, thanks for the forthcoming side-bar tab. ;-)
    I’m looking forward to this week’s posts. You’re the best, Meg.

  • Mary

    Oops… yeah, technical issues, clearly.

  • amanda

    i have an athletic body that although is slender can be very fickle with certain clothes. i have broad shoulders and for christmas i received a coat from zara in a size large and it was incredibly tight and uncomfortable. i’m pretty sure zara is a clothing store for the non-existant-sized-woman and i have been ever so badly wanting to tell them to re-do a fitting chart. :) so although the first place we go to, to address the problem, is our bodies – we need to address the types and brands of clothes we wear too :) because what is a normal size anyway?

  • Christina Gibson

    thank you for this.

  • Julie


    Your are so very encouraging and this post served as a reminder I really needed today. I read this much earlier in the day and I’ve gone back and reread several times. I just can’t shake it and don’t want to. Thank you.

  • becca

    thanks for these words, and so many good thoughts.
    it’s nice to not pretend that this isn’t a issue for us. or that we don’t think about it. we do. we’re human.

    but I feel as you do. I used to be a wee bit smaller than I am now- smaller, and completely preoccupied with food and calories and health and how I appeared. and now I am perfectly healthy and still quite smallish but a thousand times more joyful about eating and being a well-functioning person.

    there’s a world of difference between caring for your body and trying to cram your body into a silly mold.

    looking forward to more of these posts!

    • Mary

      “and now I am perfectly healthy and still quite smallish but a thousand times more joyful about eating and being a well-functioning person.”

      Yes yes yes.

  • Rachel Wilson

    Thank you for sharing this. We all struggle with this battle. My opinion literally changes from day to day. Sometimes I think, wow look at this strong body– this is a healthy body. Yet other times I think, wouldn’t I be prettier if I didn’t put on muscle quite so much (WTF is that thinking? Where did I get the idea that muscle is less beautiful?)

    please keep sharing,
    a girl who still eats non-fat and sugar-free… how lame.

  • Hannah Schaefer

    I just stood and cheered, for you and me and how far we’ve come. You summed it up just right, that you like your body and you like how you got there. Amen friend.

  • Erinn

    You are such an inspiration. I admire your honesty, self confidence, and truly inspirational posts! You make girls like me have a new outlook on the way we perceive our bodies. I just want to say that you are one of my role models and someone I aspire to be in the future!

  • Christina

    I’ve only stopped by to say what everyone else has already said – Zara’s sizes are crazy! I go in being stubborn and adamant that I will pick up ‘my’ size – the ‘correct’ size and end up not buying anything, because really you just need to look at the clothes you want to try on, and buy the one that fits. Sometimes I wish labels and sizes didn’t exist – wouldn’t that be so much easier?! Anyway, you look 100% fabulous in all of your photographs – you have a lovely figure, and I love your style x

  • ritika

    thank you for this post. thanks a lot. especially after yesterday. i wore jeans to work. and every time i went to the restroom, the love-handles made me cringe. so promising to never wear jeans again… until i lost the said handles, i went to shop for maxi skirts. the trial room – do they have the most unforgiving mirrors or what? i need this.

  • belle

    this is so perfect, you hit the nail on the head everytime!

  • Vera

    The sizes at Zara are horrible and not correct. Don’t take it personal. It’s French ;-).

  • Julia

    Dude. Eff Zara. I’m pretty sure they use some sort of alien species as their fit models. I’ve stopped going in there because every time I’ve tried on a skirt or dress it is so short you can practically see my lady goods. And I’m only 5’7″.

    Good on you, Meg, for being so open about your body and your path to acceptance of it! We ALL struggle and stumble down this path at some time or another.

  • kat

    meg – very, very proud of you. it’s a hard thing to walk out of the dressing room with our chins held high, no? and – this fat talk of which you speak. i don’t know if it is because i’m expecting [b''h] or what, but now i hear it everywhere. i have to say some of the worst culprits are pregnant women, and i say that with love, because it doesn’t make me angry. it simply makes me so very, very sad.

  • Rebecca

    This was beautifully written and I know you were talking about zara just to bring up a topic and discuss it so I don’t want to take away from that but I did want to let you know if it was that specific store that brought it all up I was wearing all zara the other day (a blouse and skirt suit separates made to go together!!) and I was wearing a size 2 in the skirt, the blazer was a 6 and the blouse was a 4. I’m so petite I’m not quite 100 lbs and I was wearing a 6 in there…?! I know that doesn’t help in the long run with everything but I hope it helps a little when you’re in that store and those thoughts come up.

  • Alice

    I used to work in Zara, and my god their sizing makes NO sense. I think it’s designed to make women feel so insecure that they just buy ANYTHING to make themselves feel better. Gah. I think it’s so true that men love the bits we don’t like- at first, I just couldn’t comprehend how my ex loved my legs and bum, but for some reason he did- and actually, it made me like them a lot more. xx

  • Ashley Kosher


    I have been curious about Coconut Oil and using it. Do you have a kind that you like more than others? recommendations? Would love to try it out! Thanks!!

    Great post per usual! Cheers!

  • Ashley Kosher


    I have been curious about Coconut Oil and using it. Do you have a kind that you like more than others? recommendations? Would love to try it out! Thanks!!

    Great post per usual! Cheers!

  • Annie

    Meg, I love all of the beautiful things about this. Your honesty is like the green grass that is just starting to show in these parts – so very welcome! But your words about writer’s block? They gave shape to what has been lurking in the shadows of my mind. I linked up and quoted you over on my spot. Hope you don’t mind!
    Thank you for keeping it real. For reals.

  • Ms George

    In Zara I asked a shop attendant if a top came in extra large. “no, that is the biggest size”. I was crushed. I’m not even big! People (ie friends/family/society) consider me slim. And I can’t even fit into a large in Zara? Have vowed to avoid the place. It’s not worth feeling bad. How do my friends who are bigger than me cope with sizing like that?!

  • laura jane


    I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this post. I have been doing the whole “internal fat talk” for about 2 weeks straight after eating a dessert one night, and from then on it has been downhill. Everyday I wonder, am I ever going to stop thinking about my body, stop hating it, stop thinking about food, etc.? I JUST WANT TO ENJOY LIFE! thank you for your inspiration. with the help of others, we will all get through this somehow.

  • Coffee & Coconut Oil | 877MyJuicer Blog

    [...] to junk food. (Psst, McDonald’s iced coffee is ridiculously good.) So when I started hearing whispers around the internet about adding a spoonful of coconut oil to coffees and lattes, I was intrigued. Coconut oil is sweet [...]

Leave a Comment: