Frances Kuffel

PASSING FOR THIN, EATING ICE CREAM WITH MY DOG and LOVE SICK

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January 12, 2010

Tags: Marie Claire, True/Slant, misinterpretation, ANGRY FAT GIRLS, fat phobia, interview, BALANING ACT, LX NEW YORK, PASSING FOR THIN, fault, responsibility, willingness

I'm flying to Florida for a minute on Thursday to tape an interview with BALANCING ACT on the Lifetime Network, then borrowing a friend's living room to tape an interview with LX New York on Friday morning. This means that each day this week I have to do some spiff-thing. Hair yesterday. Face today. Manicure tomorrow. I hate having my nails done. They are more responsibility than I am capable of.

I seem to gotten back into my life however, which feels good. Finally put my suitcase away, as well as rain boots, which I won't need until March. Small things but proactive because they're one-offs. I don't have to do them again.

What doesn't feel good is the profile that came out in Marie Claire yesterday. I should have known I was in trouble when my interviewer said the title of the book embarrassed her so much that she folded the cover of the galley back when she read in on the train.

I come away from this tiny piece (and they insisted on exclusivity, meaning no other magazine with a little more listening power will get the chance to file THEIR tiny profile) looking like I take no responsibility for my weight, that I'm skipping thuddingly through life chanting, "It's not my problem! It's not my fault!"

What I said, what I say in the book and every chance I get, is that it is not my fault but it IS my choice and my responsibility. I can seek treatment and I've been stubborn about it. I know what works for me and I haven't done it. THAT is my fault.

But not according to MARIE CLAIRE.

I got a better shot at saying this in a Q&A with True/Slant (see link to your right) It slightly ameliorates the humiliation of MARIE CLAIRE except that readers can write back.

This is the first reaction, a really crap way to start the day: "Maybe, you have a health issue? Or maybe, get your fatty assy and get busy sweetie.. lol."

Now to be fair, other people took umbrage at this reaction but so did I -- and I HAVE to, this time. I've stayed out of fat-phobia trolldom because I know what a trap it is. Fat Person responds logically; phobic responds sarcastically, meanly, smugly. But right now, whether I like it or not, I am one of the representatives to the Congress of Body Issues.

It's also good to engage for publicity reasons, which I feel chagrined to admit. & it's a blood-sucking use of time.

I don't think I've had one interview yet in which the interviewer had either A) gotten the facts straight, or B) read the book. And there is one huge point I can't let anyone get away with concerning me. In PASSING FOR THIN, I wrote that obesity "is not my fault. But it is my responsibility."

Interviewers zero in on half that statement and, in the case of ANGRY FAT GIRLS, they do so at the cost of listening to the science of biology, brain chemistry, addiction, and chemistry. I wanted to find out what made me and other women relapse and some of the answers are found in science.

What makes us recover, however, is found in our willingness to take steps.

Golly I wish I had that willingness today.

Comments

  1. January 12, 2010 3:31 PM EST
    I read - and loved - the book.
    - Katie
  2. January 12, 2010 3:41 PM EST
    Thank you!
    - Frances Kuffel
  3. January 12, 2010 10:29 PM EST
    You must must must (and probably already have) read Barbara Kingsolver's wryly humorous essay about her first book tour. It's in the anthology "High Tide in Tucson" from awhile back. I *know* you will relate, Frances!
    - Anne
  4. January 12, 2010 11:01 PM EST
    I haven't but will look for it.

    The net is a place where people wear their claws in the protection of made-up names. It smarts sometimes. Worse, it proliferates wrong information about a book I worked hard on.
    - Frances Kuffel
  5. January 15, 2010 1:53 PM EST
    I read the profile in Marie Claire and I was surprised by it, especially since I had read "Passing for Thin." So I decided to check out your blog and once it again, it doesn't surprise me that the media has manipulated and misrepresented the facts. But guess what - it made me visit your blog! So I guess even bad publicity is good. Good luck with the book sales!
    - go
  6. January 15, 2010 1:59 PM EST
    I'm about 25% through AFG according to my Kindle, and I am terrified of even finishing this book. Why? Because I am 100lbs down from my almost 300lb high of a year ago, and with 50lbs left to loose, you've already got me convinced that I'm going to gain it all back! I'd like to think that i am stronger than that, but your words really make me think twice. I'm following WW online and workout regularly and what I've been doing has been successful and doesn't feel like deprivation. All the changes I have made have felt very positive and long overdue. Maybe I have it going for me that I wasn't overweight as a child. I had always stayed, effortlessly within a 10lb "safe zone." I didn't start gaining regularly until my mid 20's - but from then on I essentially gained 10lbs a year for the next 14 years. And then I woke up one day and realized that I was fat, unhealthy and unhappy about it. I signed up for WW that day, dusted off my YMCA membership card and started back down the road toward health. I have an enormously supportive husband (who has always been fit) and friends who have been nothing but encouraging. Despite the fears this book have brought to light, I'm going to finish it - both the book and this journey I've mapped out for myself, but I must admit to the book scaring the sh*t out of me so far!
    - LDNY
  7. January 15, 2010 5:36 PM EST
    Oh, my dear! I have a few words of advice and they concern what happens after you are finished losing weight. The first is to give yourself t-i-m-e. The three of us who were overweight as children missed so much -- & not just the prom. We missed out on break-ups and really experiencing conflict or learning that we really didn't like someone we were forced to spend time with...& how to resolve those things. I want AFG to provide a map, if you will, of some of the trip falls, to be food for thought about what readers are up against and what they need to foster in their own characters to deal with the new challenge of being thin.

    & I'm sure you can do it.
    - Frances Kuffel
  8. March 6, 2010 3:16 PM EST
    Late to the blog, and this post in particular, so I hope it gets seen ...

    I read Passing for Thin when I was most of the way through my own enormous mid-life, for-the-first-time, significant weight loss. I loved it, it spoke to me, it was inspiring. I won't go into a lot of detail about that here.

    I was at my monthly pedicure, picking out a mag to read while in the chair. I never read women's magazines except when getting my toes or hair done. I picked Marie Claire fairly randomly. And there I learned that you had written another book, that you had regained, and I was gobsmacked for a lot of reasons. First, I was eager to read anything else you might write about this topic; second, I had regained, too, and just hadn't been able to put the brakes on. So, tho' you may not have liked the interview -- and I understand why -- it lead me to buy your new book, which I just finished. Again, I won't go into detail here, but I've been making an effort to reapply the brakes the last couple of weeks, and I again find wisdom and comfort and inspiration in your words.
    - TLF
  9. June 15, 2010 6:24 PM EDT
    Hi Frances - I just read Passing for Thin and Angry Fat Girls back-to-back. The feelings I have on your work are varied and often confusing, but one thing has emerged above all else. I am LUCKY, insanely lucky. I have been overweight or obese my entire life (I'm 34 now - a size 24/26) but I have never been alone with my fat like you describe in your books. I have a wide (literally and metaphorically) circle of fat women friends who have become an integral part of my social life over the last decade or so, but even before that - I had a rich, full life (including sex life). The way you write...it often seems as if you are saying "you cannot have a real life and be 300 pounds" at the same time that you attempting to debunk that same myth. I'm 307 lbs today and have never been under 250 in my entire adult life - I'm 5'9", and I'm also in a fantastic relationship and the healthiest and happiest I have been in years. I wish you had what I did in my early 20's - a circle of amazing, loving, kind, sexy, passionate, hot, focused fat women who struggled, yes, but also celebrated together. I think that has made all the difference. With your work we are at least talking about "fat girls" now in a way modern society abhors, but I hope to God your new book has some more inspiring messages in it. Peace and health...
    - Diane

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