January 13, 2008:

My comments—“No, you certainly can’t say that you’ll lose weight if you stop eating fast food, get more exercise, and eat more vegetables. It’s true, of course, but you’re not allowed to say it.”—were meant to be read in the context of Ms. English’s admissions about her eating and exercise habits, not yours, Kate, or those of all overweight people everywhere. For the tiresome ol’ record: I do solemnly swear that I believe people come in all different shapes and sizes, and that not everyone can or should be a size 0, and further I believe that people can be healthy, relatively speaking, and large, and I believe that big people are attractive—to people who are attracted to big people.

But you know what, Kate? There’s a difference between big or heavy or stocky and morbidly fucking obese. Ms. English weighs 392 pounds. That is unhealthy and unsustainable. Her health risks are legion. And by her own admission, Ms. English is making “easier choices,” i.e., fast food, no exercise, and she has a poor diet. And if Ms. English—a 400 pound woman—stops eating drive-through garbage, starts exercising, and eats a few more vegetables, she’s going to lose weight. Period. Is she going to be a size 0? Probably not, Kate, but I don’t think she needs to be a size 0, and I never said that she or you or anyone else had to be a size 0. Ms. English will, however, if she can resist the drive-through and get off her ass, be lighter and healthier than she is today.

And anyone whose eating and exercise habits are similar to Ms. English’s eating and exercise habits is going to lose weight and keep it off if he or she knocks off the fast food and gets a little more exercise—not as a temporary measure, not as a diet, but as a permanent lifestyle change. If you’ve already done that, Kate, and you’re still big, maybe you are at your body’s naturally “set weight” or whatever it’s called. But Ms. English, at 400 pounds, has a weight problem, and a potentially life-threatening one.

Of course, if Ms. English is content at 400 pounds, and wants to assume the health risks that come with morbid obesity, and isn’t interested in making changes to her eating and exercise habits, that’s her absolute right. She shouldn’t be mocked or discriminated against or poked with sticks. But the rest of the world doesn’t have to pretend that eating and exercise habits don’t have an impact on weight just to make Ms. English feel better about the unhealthy choices she’s making now.