Q&A: Hey Lesley, what’s with the cardigans? And many more.

By | February 18, 2010

Hey, did you know? I have this Formspring page! Where people ask me questions! In the past week or so I have talked about NAAFA (twice), the political leanings of the fatosphere, whether I plan on getting a puppy, and the possibility that I may be a Time Lord, amongst lots of other things. Do you have a question? Ask. It may take me a week to get to it, but I will answer.

Below: Why the cardigans? Are the geeky more attracted to fat girls? How can I draw boundaries with my doctor?

Q. Could you post some pictures of your eshakti dresses without the cardigans you always wear. I’m really curious what they look like not covered up (or at least a link to a picture of them)

A. I can try to remember, but it’s unlikely I will. Let me explain:

Firstly, I grew up in South Florida, and now live in Boston. Boston is constantly cold, or at least, it’s never warm. There are maybe four or five days out of every year that it’s warm enough that I don’t bring a cardigan with me during the day. Sometimes I don’t actually wear the cardigan all day long, like in August, but I always have one, because it never gets legitimately hot up here, even when the locals THINK it is. Also there is air conditioning, which often requires I adopt cardigan-based protection.

Secondly, this isn’t simply a matter of me being a cold-weather wimp — I actually handle the cold with aplomb, given a good scarf and coat — but I have a pretty rare (I’m told) allergy that causes me to break out in hives when exposed to too-cold air (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_urticaria). Air conditioning causes this reaction just as often as winter wind. Thus: cardigans.

Thirdly, layers are my jam, yo. It’s what I do. I rarely wear just a dress, without a cardigan, or a scarf, or some other dramatic accessory, because honestly, I think that’s mind-numbingly dull. If I wanted to just demonstrate the wearing of singular articles of clothing, I’d be a model. As it is, I’m far more interested in how to style various pieces, and what I can combine them with, and how far I can go with color or pattern-mixing, and so on.

Fourthly, I am happy to link to stock pictures of the dresses… when they exist. Items have a habit of vanishing off eShakti’s website like evaporating ghosts, however.

I do hope that clarifies the all-important cardigan issue.

Q. I have observed that “geeky” men tend to be more often attracted to (or more open about their attraction to) fat women than non-geeks. Do you agree, and what are your thoughts on this phenomenon?

A. I am inclined to think that the geeky are more likely to value personhood over appearance, for a variety of reasons. For one, many nerdy types have experienced what’s like to be teased or bullied for failing to fit in. A fat person — especially a fellow fat nerdy type — is more likely to “get” that, to share those experiences, which are often formative to say the very least.

For another, when you’ve got geeky and/or off-the-beaten-path interests, finding someone who shares those interests — who won’t laugh at your collection of Star Wars toys or comic books or your penchant for fan fiction — is much more of a challenge than finding someone you simply see as physically attractive in the most conventional way. Thus, I expect many geeks are willing to relax any adherence to cultural beauty standards in order to couple with someone who likes that they like.

There’s no denying that some geeky folks (just like non-geeky folks) are simply attracted to fat people, regardless of the personality and interests of the fat individual in question. And it’s true that often geekiness by its nature is about rejecting the mainstream, the culture of homogenized beauty standards included. But generally I don’t think an independent attraction to fat bodies is any more common in geek circles than it is anywhere else; arguably it’s just that geek society is more likely to look at who a person is, and find them attractive for that, rather than simply because they are fat, with little regard for who they are aside from a fat body.

My opinion only, but I entirely agree that the geeky seem to be far less likely to consider fatness a dealbreaker when seeking a mate, and in many cases are more likely to learn to find a fat person attractive, even if they’ve never been attracted to fat people before.

Q. Do you have any tips on dealing with doctors? Specifically, discussing ways to improve your health without them hitting you with a bunch of weight loss crap?

A. Medical advocacy is not my strongest suit; I have always suffered White Coat Terror, and thus doctors have often been my fat-activist kryptonite. I currently have a doctor I like, so it’s less bad than it’s been when I was seeing doctors who were horrible and dismissive and lazy, but still — I have this terror.

One of the best responses I’ve seen to a doctor recommending weight loss for everything is: “Okay, what if I were a thin person having this same exact problem or concern? What would be your suggestions then?” Arguing with a doctor about weight loss never works, and this is understandable, as doctors are typically working in an environment and a medical culture that is quickest to blame fat for everything from acne to tennis elbow. So rather than debate the merits of weight loss, better to deflect and ask for specific suggestions that would apply to a non-fat person, and if you’re fortunate you’ll get the information you’re seeking with a minimum of fuss.

The biggest thing about working with a doctor, for me, is to remember that the doctor is technically in my employ. I pay for his services; if I don’t like how he’s treating me, I am fully within my rights to ditch him and find someone else. If I have problems with a suggestion he’s made, I do my research and bring it back to him and ask him in light of the information I’ve gathered, why does he think I should still do X? Doctors are not the sole gatekeepers of health information; though they are, without doubt, the most well-educated people on the subject, these days you can do a fair amount of research yourself, if only so you’ll be equipped to ask more pointed and well-informed questions.

As a last resort, you can also simply tell your doctor you are not interested in weight loss at this time, and if you change your mind in the future, you will let her know; but until then, you do not require any information on the subject. If your doctor refuses to respect your feelings on this, and is unwilling to come to a compromise that works for both of you, it’s time to find a new doctor.

Comments are closed.