Short Cuts: Nothing is as it seems edition

By | June 30, 2011

Me and Savannah Dooley, making silly open-mouthed-smile faces, and dressed in a startlingly similar fashion, in printed dresses and cardigans.

Love at first sight, OMG.

First, let’s talk about me. Over on xoJane, I’ve written about dudes’ urge to take pictures of their junk, and a really annoying Yoplait commercial (talk about redundancy!), and storing stuff in my bra, and my ongoing sadness over the loss of Huge, and the disgusting misogynist and homophobic rant from a Southwest pilot. Also, on Gaga Stigmata I wrote an analysis of the video for “The Edge of Glory”, using its emphasis on individualism as a theme.

Oh, what’s that picture, you ask? It’s just me and Savannah Dooley, the giant awesome brain behind the aforementioned Huge. I got to have lunch with her and my new West Coast Mom Winnie Holzman while visiting Los Angeles earlier this month, and I am not overstating the matter when I say that they are two of the smartest and nicest people I have ever had the privilege to meet.

Commenter Medea has pointed out this fascinating NYT article about identifying the sex of spotted hyenas. Did you know that female spotted hyenas have erectile appendages that look — and function and even feel — just like a penis and testes? It’s true.

In contrast to a vast majority of mammals, including other hyena species, female spotted hyenas are substantially more aggressive than males, and they are also socially dominant over males. Females are roughly 10 percent larger than males, and this too is a pattern reversed from that seen in a vast majority of other mammals. In these and many other respects, spotted hyenas appear to violate many of the accepted “rules” of mammalian biology… In contrast to other female mammals, including female striped and brown hyenas, the female spotted hyena has no external vaginal opening. Instead, the female’s clitoris is greatly elongated to form a fully erectile “pseudopenis” that is nearly indistinguishable from the male’s phallus.

…Astonishingly, the female spotted hyena urinates, copulates and gives birth through her pseudopenis.

Nature is fascinating, y’all. Medea points out a commenter’s criticism over the use of the term “pseudopenis”, and I have to agree — it sure seems like a functional organ to me. More to the point, this is a wonderful example of how cultural ideology about sex and gender is forcibly applied even in circumstances that seem to defy everything we assume we know about these subjects. We can’t call it a “real” penis not because it doesn’t work like a “real” penis, but simply because it exists on a female animal, and females can’t have penises. It’s almost nonsensical, but it demonstrates how attached we are to our comfortable methods of classification, even when dealing with freaking hyenas.

In Stupid Medical Tricks news, commenter thirtiesgirl has brought us an article on a British study showing that they can “cure” type 2 diabetes by starving people for eight weeks. I mean, they can “cure” some of them, for three months at least, as the researchers only followed the results for that long.

Machiavellian medicine at its finest, folks. Any health issues caused by starvation are irrelevant, as are any long-term effects on metabolism. It is totally cool to abuse the bodies of fat people because obviously fat people can’t be trusted with their bodies in the first place.

There is a colonialism joke in here somewhere, but I’m too depressed to make it.

Diet Coke-heads, be sad: your beverage of choice apparently makes you fatter and may put you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. This is an interesting companion piece to another recent report showing that faux fats — like the anal-leakage-causing Olestra — also make people fatter.

The data didn’t say why diet sodas might play a role in weight gain, but previous research suggests it has to do with the disconnect between the taste of artificial sugars and their lack of calories. The brain is wired to expect a big load of calories when foods taste sweet or fatty. But because diet foods fail to deliver, it throws the brain out of whack. Studies in animals suggest that artificial sweetener consumption may lead to even more eating and weight gain, perhaps in part because it triggers the body to start storing more calories as fat.

To be clear: I am not into policing people’s food choices for any reason, not even their hypothetical health consequences. However, I do have a problem with diet foods, and my problem is that by buying and eating them, we participate in a culture that disdains good food eaten in self-determined portions, and support an industry that profits by its exploiting customers’ guilt and shame over what they eat and, by extension, how they look. That said, I’ve never been much of a soda-drinker or chip-eater, so it’s fairly easy for me to be principled on this front.

The recent exception to this is Mexican Coca-Cola, which is made with real sugar instead of gross high fructose corn syrup, and which I only just discovered on my last trip to Los Angeles earlier this month. I’ve since learned my local grocery store has them too. So right now I’m drinking like three or four of these a week, which feels deliciously self-indulgent.

Got any links I missed? Drop ’em in the comments.


Shiyiya on June 30, 2011 at 11:34 am.

The best part about that stupid horrible diabetes study is the sample size. Seriously, ELEVEN PEOPLE? And the fucking BBC thought this was worth reporting on? (My partner linked me an article about it from the Beeb the other day.) I haven’t taken statistics, but I’m pretty sure that’s too small to extrapolate STARVATION CURES DIABETES from, especially when it only worked on seven of them.


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 12:00 pm.



thirtiesgirl on July 1, 2011 at 1:18 am.

I hadn’t heard that. Seriously? They can claim it’s a study with ONLY 11 PEOPLE?!? What the hell?


Ruth on July 1, 2011 at 10:59 am.

yeup eleven people and a 3 month follow-up. Science at its best! Also.. isnt it dangerous to encourage random people to try extreme low-calorie diets with this kind of thing? It sounds like it would be incredibly triggering to someone who is both overweight and has a history of eating disorders.. Especially with diabetes thrown in there.
Responsible research dammit! It isnt that hard!
And european Coke is waaay nicer than american Coke- real sugar again. I drink rather too much of it but as vices go it could be worse.


Awlbiste on June 30, 2011 at 11:44 am.

I’ve found that, among people who drink soda, there is a serious Diet Coke fanaticism. Of course I drink a fair amount of soda myself (about 1 can a day) and every time someone tells me soda is bad for me and blahblah I kind of want to rip their head off.

I don’t like diet sodas because I feel like they masquerade as a “health food” and advertisements argue that people who drink them are being “good” and “better” than those non-diet soda drinkers. Soda isn’t particularly good for you, now let’s all make the decision about what we put into our bodies as adults, without silly ads telling us what foods make us good people. (Hint: no food. Food doesn’t make you good or bad. Food is neutral).


Reginator on June 30, 2011 at 12:01 pm.

What about us people that drink Diet Coke because we like the taste better? 🙁


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 12:03 pm.

Heh, I just mentioned that in a comment above. I think part of my problem is my inability to comprehend Diet Coke as tasting good! I admit that’s my own limited imagination working there.


Heidi on June 30, 2011 at 1:17 pm.

See, it’s not limited imagination in my case – for me, Diet Coke (and most artificial sweetener-containing products) just doesn’t taste good. It has a nasty, nasty aftertaste that makes me blech.

I like the occasional soda but diet ones are just icky. I’m glad they exist for people who need artificial sweeteners because of sugar issues, like diabetics, but I won’t drink them.


Tiferet on June 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm.

I like Splenda. I am a weirdo. I started using Splenda because I was having trouble with my teeth, not because I wanted to lose weight, but I am a freakazoid who likes the Splenda aftertaste. I like that I can drink or eat things with Splenda and my lips taste sweet for an hour. It has a sharp metallic sweetness that many people hate, but I kind of love it. So I love Diet Coke with Splenda more than is really healthy. Drinking anything made with HFCS has always tasted like swilling syrup to me, and then it makes me feel like shit, I don’t know why, but I do know that feeling like shit is a thing to avoid. Even aspartame Diet Coke tastes less awful than HFCS.

I also note that most of the anti-Diet Coke articles are pushing water. I am often envious of people who can swill plain water all day, not least because they win the get-to-feel-smug-about-your-beverage-choice sweepstakes, but when I drink loads of plain unadulterated water it goes through my kidneys really fast (which, I know, is probably the idea) and then I have to go to the loo every 15 or my bladder hurts, especially if it is cold–and really, I have other things to do with my life. (And yes, I saw a doctor for this, but the answer was “overactive bladder” and a drug with way more immediately annoying side-effects than tea or Diet Coke.)

My beverages of choice are diet coke or iced tea–but since I do not like crap tea with pre-added lemon because I hate lemon tea–diet coke is usually my only out of the house option. If I didn’t like it, life would suck a lot.

Sigh. I also like Propel. Or rather I used to. Now I can only find Propel Zero which I don’t like quite as much, and which is so perplexing. Propel only had 10 calories per 8 ounces. Really, those 10 calories were so awful that they had to be done away with? *sadface* I kind of think that you have to be a little eating-disordered to think that 30 calories in a beverage is a huge deal.

IDK. I do find I crave sweets more when I drink a lot of Diet Coke, but the main result of this has been that I put more fruit in my salads. I can’t quite figure out how that would be bad.

Sadly, I have to tell you, a lot of Mexican Coke and Pepsi DOES have corn syrup in it, it’s just not necessarily ALL corn syrup. It even says so on the labels–I live in California where Mexican Coke is everywhere. If you want a sugar-sweetened cola you’ve either got to go with Pepsi Throwback or wait until Passover–orthodox and some conservative Jews don’t use corn products during Passover, so there is Coke, usually with yellow caps, that’s made with sugar sold at that time.


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm.

I am METICULOUS about label-reading, which is probably a remnant of my dieting days. But yeah, I have been Mexicokes with corn syrup in them (albeit not HFCS) and I stay away unless it basically says “sugar, water, caramel coloring”. I hate the flavor of HFCS almost as much as I hate the flavor of artificial sweetener!


Gingembre on July 5, 2011 at 5:28 am.

I lurve Diet Coke. Hate the company, hate the acid erosion on my teeth, keep coming back to the taste. Ordinary sugary cola tastes really gross by comparison (am in the UK, no idea what they put in it here). Diet Coke is just sharper and more refreshing and…nicer.


Emerald on June 30, 2011 at 12:17 pm.

Yup, this is me – regular soda tastes TOO sweet to me. Unless it’s mixed with JD – I will drink regular cola with JD because that masks the sweetness a little, and because hubby doesn’t like the diet version, and it’s easier for us to share a can.

I saw that starvation thing, and I was like, WTF? I mean, even IF it ‘cured’ diabetes, how humane is it to put someone on 600 calories a day? And, if they do wider studies at any point, who’d like to bet that there will be people for whom this doesn’t work…and that they’ll then be blamed for not being able to stick to a very severe regime that nobody can possibly get all their necessary nutrients from? OTOH, I can imagine it being insanely popular with a lot of people who already believe being fat deserves punishment. Gahhh.


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm.

Haha, I’ve always thought diet soda tasted too sweet! It really does come down to personal preference.


Awlbiste on June 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm.

I don’t really have a problem with people who drink Diet Coke so much as the ways in which ads and such portray drinking it. I dislike the portrayal of diet sodas as something you drink because it means you’re “good.” “Drink Diet Soda X with lunch and you can ‘have’ a piece of cake later!” That kind of thing. Hopefully that made sense. 🙂


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm.



Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 12:04 pm.

I too am often astonished by Diet Coke drinkers’ love for the stuff. I think it tastes terrible, but to each their own, I guess.


Arwen on June 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm.

I’ve considered my Diet Coke addiction from all sorts of angles. When I first drank Diet Coke I hated it. I’d probably only had cola twice before, but I had liked the sugary stuff. At 9, the arrival of my first diet (my dad was on one), we all started drinking Fresca, which masks its aspartame pretty well. After a summer of Fresca, D.Coke tasted good, and I couldn’t drink sugary drinks anymore.

I used to be a smoker, and it was similar – tastes crap at first, love it after the chemicals set in. So off to investigate the chemicals involved…

The major chemical in aspartame – phenylalanine – is a precursor biologically to the chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. I don’t know if mainlining phenylalanine actually makes dopamine more bioavailable, but if it did, Diet Coke would be a mild antidepressant. (Wikipedia says people take the amino acid for that purpose.) As the joke goes – “seratonin and dopamine, the only two things you actually enjoy.”

So for showing the mechanism, I wished they’d shown their link – is there similar data with saccharine or stevia? First, it seems likely to me that people who are attempting to “control” their weight are more likely to look for calorie-less sugar substitutes. Right now, there seems to be a flurry of diet talk among my FB friends, and people are sharing Splenda & Stevia recipes like they were goin’ out of style. So, it wouldn’t surprise me if there is a correlation between weight and use of sugar substitutes running the other way, given that sugar substitutes are marketed to fatties.

My own family body type starts milkmaid and in our thirties get portly, and I see that everywhere – that many people who start curvy go through a broadening in their 30s. It doesn’t seem bizarre to me that people with some sense of their parents’ genetic destiny start dieting early and often, even if they are on an upward trend.

Further, if there IS a chemical change in people’s bloodstreams post diet-coke, maybe the dopamine action implicates aspartame but not splenda, or whatever.

Meh. It’s sad how little I trust any nutrition or health science anymore. I’m quite sure that having guzzled aspartame for this many years is bad for me, as I’m consuming a freakish chemical, but I also feel like they’ve screamed “IT’S MAKING YOU FAT!” so often, without acknowledging any real world variables besides, perhaps, poverty, that they might as well just sit around writing “Fat people are gross! Be unlike fat people! Shopping at Lane Bryant makes a person fat!”



Arwen on June 30, 2011 at 3:02 pm.

Ah, they DID have a link! It was saccharine, and rats, and the rats ate more after, and they’re positing because they’ve been taste-bud-confused into releasing more insulin.


schmemily on June 30, 2011 at 9:49 pm.

Wow, thanks for the badass analysis.

Re: diet sodas, I am at once compelled to drink them and aware that they’re sort of awful. But I’ve been drinking it pretty much my whole life; when my brother and I had the stomach flu, we got Diet Coke. I’m a little hooked on the burn, not to mention how a ridiculous quantity of it can propel me through a dreaded cleaning project.

I also like Mexican Coke, boutique sodas make with cane sugar, and making my own concoctions with seltzer, mint syrup, and lemon or lime. Sadly, I’m so broke I can only afford the latter these days, and it’s more of a hassle than picking up a two-liter at the corner store.


Emerald on July 1, 2011 at 3:15 am.

Re the stomach thing, I’ve been told by a couple of different doctors that flat Coke works well as a first port of call for nausea, and other people have vouched for it as well. Worked for me (except the time I’d been on Flagyl, and that’s a whole other heap of digestive misery). I was told it had to be the regular version, but if the diet version works, I guess it must be down to something other than the sweeteners.


Wendy on July 3, 2011 at 11:20 am.

When I was little, my parents bought coca cola syrup for my tummy aches. They got it at the pharmacy, but back in the day of soda shops the soda jerks would mix syrup & fizzy water to make soda. I have no recollection how well it worked, but I’m told that lots of people swore by it.


Nancy Lebovitz on June 30, 2011 at 12:34 pm.

I don’t have the better link handy, but the LA Times article seriously misrepresented the article which was closer to the scientists.

They were emphatic about “don’t try this at home”. They didn’t say “starve yourself”. They said they weren’t sure about the side effects of living on 600 calories/day for 2 months. They were clear that it was a preliminary study.

This doesn’t mean I think it was a brilliant idea– the risks of such severe underfeeding are probably higher than they estimate, and I wonder if they were monitoring hearts as well as pancreases.

I thought it was inevitable that people would try that diet at home, anyway, but the LATimes article makes the situation worse.


metermouse on June 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm.

I just had the hugest smile after seeing this pic of you and Savannah!! That’s so badass!
omg that Hyena article? uggh looks like a penis, functions like a penis, must be a PSEUDOPENIS. seriously? blehh

The diabetes article just pisses me straight off! I agree with Shiyiya that the group was entirely too small, and why were all of the people they chose to starve FAT?? Because the diabetes in thin people is caused by magic? Or maybe those people THOUGHT about eating too much, so they are just honorary fatties?? ugggh this article is the worst. I especially love (hate) the photo right at the beginning, of a big fat belly with the caption “Obesity is the leading cause of Type 2 diabetes”. Can they site a source for that claim? As far as I knew, from reading medical articles, so far doctors don’t actually know what is triggering diabetes. Apparently “common knowledge” is so abundant, there is no need to link it as a source.


Tiferet on June 30, 2011 at 1:34 pm.

Well, the development of insulin resistance is associated with obesity, but the causal relationship isn’t really provable. Metabolic syndrome, of which obesity can be a symptom, is strongly associated with certain kinds of diets, but it’s also equally strongly associated with stress, overwork, lack of sleep, where you live and your socioeconomic status. But admitting that stress, overwork, lack of sleep, unequal distribution of wealth and food deserts are a problem would mean we’d have to do the hard work of fixing that and corporations benefit from all those things, so it’s easier for the government to yell at people that they eat too much and that’s why they have diabetes.

Trufax: if you go to Google Fusion Tables/Maps and pull out public data on what areas are the “fattest” and what areas are the “least healthy” they do have a similarity, but if you then pull down the data on socioeconomic status and poverty, you quickly see that that correlates nicely with both. Nobody wants to talk about that one, but socioeconomic status is a far more potent predictor of your health status than how much you weigh or how much exercise you get. Stress causes inflammation and inflammation kills; inflammation is also looking more and more like a mediator of insulin resistance.

(I’m not a doctor. I work for doctors–preparing journal manuscripts and such–and I spend a lot of time searching Pubmed for things, and in the process of so doing, I also find and read articles that interest me.)


metermouse on June 30, 2011 at 2:01 pm.

word to that! ^^


Carol Gwenn on June 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm.

Re: the great diet soda controversy…am not much of a soda drinker (unless there’s Scotch involved & the soda’s plain), but when it comes to artificially sweetened-flavored-fatted-anything, I stick by something my mother always said about packaged food:”If you need a degree in chemistry to read the ingredient list, you don’t want to put that in your body”.


monica on June 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm.

What’s really knee-slappingly hilarious about the whole “diet food makes you fat” thing is that I was fed almost exclusively low-fat/fat-free snacks from the time I was six-ish, and switched to diet sodas when I was ten, as the result of my mother’s increasingly futile attempts to keep me from getting any chubbier. I ate SO MANY fat-free Jello pudding cups when the other kids were eating Oreos, I would say y’all have no idea but I’m sure some of you do. THE IRONY. It is killing me and all of my rolls.


Emily on June 30, 2011 at 1:58 pm.

I drink diet coke. All. the. time. It is not in order to lose weight or avoid sugar. In fact, I like to have a diet coke with a nice big piece of cake. I truly prefer diet to regular coke. I do not drink diet coke to be “good.” In fact, when I have in the past tried to be “good,” I cut out diet coke in favor of sparking water.

In other news, I prefer skim milk to whole. Again, not about the calories or fat. Admittedly, both of these preferences may be linked to my childhood, where we only had diet soda and skim milk in the house. So… maybe I got used to them. But to this day, when I try the full sugar/fat versions, I don’t like them. Although I sure do like sugar and fat in other forms.

I don’t think we should shame any foods or label them “bad,” even the “diet” ones. We should; however, continue to criticize the way foods are marketed, be they “diet” or otherwise.


Lesley on June 30, 2011 at 2:03 pm.

Yup, food is never inherently bad nor good. As I said, my problem is with the marketing of said products.


KellyK on June 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm.

I started drinking diet soda as a young teenager, and got to a point where I would never, *ever* drink regular soda. Now I will, though there’s sometimes still this weird mental block. I usually ignore it, though, and I’ve mostly given myself permission to drink whatever.

And yet, even with that permission, I start pretty much every day with a Coke Zero. I am not a fan of drinking plain water most of the time, but I also tend to be fairly thirsty normally. I can easily drink three or four sodas in an evening, and I doubt that much sugar on a regular basis is helpful, even if I don’t buy that “your body doesn’t have any idea how to account for drinks with OMG calories” line.

With the study, it did say they controlled for a lot of things, but was dieting one of them? Because restricting your calories, all by itself, can lead to weight gain, and drinking diet sodas goes along with dieting in general.


SA on June 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm.

Yes, this exactly. When someone posted this diet soda article to Facebook, I commented “I bet $1000 that the researchers didn’t control for the weight gain that we know is associated with attempts at weight-loss dieting, which I suspect is probably highly correlated with drinking diet soda.” Also, note the ages of the people involved – seniors in their 70s and 80s – and contemplate the fact that the article doesn’t talk at all about the protective effects of higher weight on older people, who have better outcomes from illness and surgery when their weight is higher.

I like Diet Coke/Coke Zero, and can’t stand sugar soda. I’m also tired of the “don’t put CHEMICALS IN YOUR BODY” meme, which gets couched in exactly the same terms as “don’t put CHOLESTEROL IN YOUR BODY” or “don’t put CARBS IN YOUR BODY” etc. etc. Moderation in all things, including moderation. I just bought a SodaStream to make my own fizzy water since my dependence on TJ’s fizzy lime water was piling up too many bottles but was also helping me to keep the diet soda habit down. But if I want something with my popcorn and a movie, or my pizza, or to mix with Jack Daniels, I’ll have diet Coke please.


Emily on June 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm.

Also, thanks for pointing out THIS in your article on the Yoplait ad: “Too often, the only measurable difference between a diet and an eating disorder is a certain number of pounds.”

I have read a lot of articles discussing that ad, and most of them focus at least briefly on the fact that the woman doing the disordered thinking is “ALREADY SLIM” (for example, see Huffington Post). See, that’s why it’s wrong for her to agonize about food! She doesn’t have to! But if you are ACTUALLY FAT… it’s a whole different story. /end rant In all seriousness, as I learn more about eating disorders, I am shocked to learn that the behabior described as part of the disorder is the exact same behavior that I have been encouraged to take part in since childhood, in the name of dieting and with the goal of becoming less fat. “Do whatever it takes!” I have heard that way too many times.

Oh, and I always store things in my bra!


SA on June 30, 2011 at 6:14 pm.

The new DSM revision may incorporate ‘atypical anorexia nervosa’ as a “condition of interest, though not yet a full diagnosis – to describe people who qualify for a diagnosis of anorexia in every way except the low body weight. I’m very pleased.


JessDR on June 30, 2011 at 4:18 pm.

THANK YOU for mentioning the diabetes article. I read that last Friday (which appeared in my-friend-the-biology-postdoc’s facebook feed with a comment of “cool”), and I got so mad.

I think Type 2 diabetes is so tightly linked in people’s minds with OMGOBESITY!!1!!1! that a lot of the same screwed-up assumptions get applied to it:
– the plural of anecdote is data
– if a result confirms your bias, you don’t have to look at confounding factors
– “do not harm” doesn’t apply to fat bodies

When I objected, my friend (correctly) pointed out that diabetes is a really nasty disease. But when was the last time you heard someone say “let’s see if starvation will cure epilepsy” or “let’s publish the results of this very small and very short-term study (which mentions dangerous behaviors) on asthma in the LA Times”?

Luckily, I got to talk it over with two other (particularly awesome) friends soon afterward. And one of them has a family history of thin diabetics and was previously in a relationship with an anorexic, and so was both informed and sympathetic.


Z. on July 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm.

Actually, they HAVE (and perhaps still do?) used starvation to treat epilepsy. I don’t know how popular a method it is/was, or how effective, either, but I’m pretty sure some folk touted a ketogenic or even a complete starvation diet as a great way to treat epilepsy.

That in no way detracts from your larger point, of course, but it’s interesting that we so often use a food approach as a way to treat disease or other health issues – “feed a cold, starve a fever,” or “eating anything other than completely organic everything during pregnancy will probs give your baby hideous defects,” or all of those supplements full of the flax seed this and the rare rainforest berry that which will ensure not only that you lose all unwanted fat, but also gain boundless energy and never get sick, because antioxidants!!!one!

I wonder how many other serious health issues (like Type 2 & epilepsy) we’ve tried it on over the years.


Jennifer on June 30, 2011 at 4:39 pm.

…Astonishingly, the female spotted hyena urinates, copulates and gives birth through her pseudopenis.
I’ve read that many first-time mothers die due to fatal tearing during birth. In my search of an actual percentage, I found an article at The Smithsonian with a passage I found interesting: “The most obvious advantage of “these bizarre structures,” as Holekamp calls them, is power over reproduction. Mating is impossible without full female cooperation.”


Nicole on June 30, 2011 at 6:13 pm.

You know, I was just lamenting this whole Diet Soda Is Bad thing because I happen to love diet soda of pretty much all varieties–root beer, fresca, coke, sprite… As a young adult, I didn’t like the taste of coffee but had a need for caffeine, so I developed a pretty solid addiction to Diet Pepsi. Since I’ve been back in the United States after several years overseas (where DP was much less available than Diet Coke), I’ve transferred my loyalty.

The thing is that I don’t have many “vices”–if you want to call them that. Don’t smoke, can’t drink alcohol due to medications and it just not agreeing with me, don’t do drugs…all I’ve ever “done” is diet soda. And since I grew up dieting, I’ve probably eaten/drunk some ghastly amount of artificial sweeteners which have apparently contributed to what I look like these days. As commenter Monica–who is apparently my twin–noted, IRONY!

I know I should just stop drinking it, but–to me, at least–it is just so good! Nothing gets my afternoon off to a good start better than a big ol’ fountain Diet Coke. *sigh*


LadyWhoKnows on July 1, 2011 at 2:22 am.

I read your blog all the time and comment sparingly, so please believe when I say I mean this with all respect.

I read your article on bra storage and as a cashier, can I just say you are welcome to keep whatever you want in your bra, but please don’t hand me sweaty money out of it. This has nothing to do with your sexuality. It has everything to do with the fact that cashiers are low-paid, stuck with an aweful job, and are have probably already dealt with ten complaining costumers before you set foot in the store. We don’t know if you have hep C or Aids or whatever else. Most of us don’t get our 10 minute breaks and can only wash our hands every four hours and our lines are too busy to stop and sanitize like we should. This means that your sweat is going onto my hands, then onto the next guy’s nectarine, and he probably isn’t going to wash it before he eats it in the car. Money is gross already and my fingers are black from it at the end of the night. It does touch people’s hands, but there’s no helping that.

Yes, there are worse things (a guy tried to hand me bloody money once), but I am always grateful if people try to make my day a little easier.


Lesley on July 2, 2011 at 5:40 pm.

I pretty much never carry cash, thus this is not something I’d do anyway.

However, I think it’s incredibly important to note that YOU CANNOT GET HIV OR HEPATITIS C FROM SWEAT. These diseases are transmitted by blood-to-blood contact, or by sexual contact. End of. It’s cool to be grossed out by a stranger’s sweat — I think most folks are! — but it is impossible to get these diseases from it.

Also I spent six long years working retail, so I know how that is.


tigi on July 6, 2011 at 10:42 am.

When I worked in retail (on and off for nearly 10 years through high school, college, and grad school) I would have much rather dealt with sweaty boob money than completely dickwaddish behavior from customers. I can just use Purell to wash off the sweat from my hands, but being treated poorly just because I worked in service was a kind of lousy feeling that was hard to get rid of and could make a whole day shitty.

Also, I worked in the lingerie department for two years. I couldn’t afford to be grossed out by sweaty boobs because, well, touchin’ boobs was my BUSINESS. So sweaty boob money doesn’t bother me. Also, I tend to store my keys and my ipod in my brassiere, since my current workplace attire often precludes the possession of pockets and I’d look silly hauling my purse around while doing the morning routines.


Katie on July 1, 2011 at 7:55 am.

Nicole- I love that you mentioned fountain diet soda! I have a diet cola problem, I’ll admit it, and it HAS to be from a fountain. I spend a pretty ridiculous amount of money on drive thru diet coke.


Jackie on July 2, 2011 at 4:15 pm.

re:trip to L.A. to meet mother and daughter dynamic duo–I am so jealous!!
Not only do I love Huge and My So Called Life, but also Once and Again was amazing.
Can’t wait to here what you all talked about.


Tamani on July 3, 2011 at 11:52 am.

I am not a Diet Coke (or any diet drink) drinker for two reasons:
1) Fake sugar tastes gross – I would rather have HFCS than that crap
2) Fake sugar also gives me horrible stomach aches and um, digestive problems of the Olestra kind.

In talking with various drs and such over the years, it seems that many people have a sensitivity to any and all fake sugars – some more than others and if you can taste the aftertaste, you are one of those people. The degree of this varies from person to person and I happen to be one of those people who have to avoid it. Lucky me!


Linda K on July 3, 2011 at 3:45 pm.

Hi! You don’t know me from Adam, but I’ve been in love with your coverage of Huge (and your blog in general) since you started posting about the show. As such, I have two things to say: 1) that is so cool that you met Savannah Dooley in person!, and 2) Have you heard about the movie Terri? It wasn’t on my radar at all until a day or two ago, but apparently it stars the actor who played Piznarski, and the New York Times has given it a pretty good review (which is how I learned of its existence), so now I’m tentatively excited to check it out, and I thought I should pass along the word if you didn’t already know about it.


Judy on July 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm.

“Obesity is the leading cause of Type 2 diabetes”–that is just a plain old lie. Genetics is crucial. To say that obesity causes Type 2 diabetes is, at best, like saying that having red hair causes sunburn. Dyeing your hair black does not prevent the burn.
I became Type 2 officially about 4 months ago, and in the first 3 months, through diet (the real kind) and medication, and a little exercise, brought one measurement reflecting blood sugar down from off-the-charts to normal. When I was diagnosed–when I was running very high blood sugars–it turned out I had already lost 15 lbs in the previous 4-5 months. So my weight was going down while my blood sugar was creeping past the crucial point which Also, I felt terrible and was depressed (a result of the high blood sugar, I think). I have kept on losing weight, but I keep coming back to this blog I think because losing a lot of weight is actually kind of scary. Maybe I am in denial but I keep insisting that controlling my blood sugar is causing me to lose weight, not the other way around.


Laura on July 6, 2011 at 11:30 am.

Um. I read this blog often and I usually agree with you on body-policing stuff. But I can’t agree with you on the dismissal of a potential cure for type-2 diabetes.

It’s not about fat people. It’s about sick people. The doctors aren’t equating ‘fat’ with ‘sick’, they are equating ‘diabetes type 2’ with ‘sick’. It’s explained in the article; through the harsh diet the fat on the pancreas can be removed, thus producing insuline again.

This is massive turning point, if it’s true. They didn’t ‘starve’ their patients because they were fat, they ‘starved’ them because their disease is directly related to storage of fat ON THEIR INTERNAL ORGANS (nothing to do with their image or aspect or looks), and the effect that their otherwise normal ingest of carbohydrates has on their PARTICULAR bodies which happen to have diabetes.

I have a friend with type-2 diabetes. I don’t care if he’s fat, he’s gorgeous either way. But if going on a crash diet (supervised by a doctor, NOT some idiotic dietician) means he’ll be cured and THEREFORE able to lead a normal life again (eating carbs again, etc, although under medical supervision), it would turn his life around.

In fact, it would mean he would be able to eat ice cream again without worrying about ending up in hospital.

Seriously, let’s not mix things up. I know most people hate fat, most people wrongly link fat to unhealthy lifestyles. We live in a horrible body-policing culture.

But diabetes is not a product of that culture, it’s a freaking disease. Unbelievable how easily dismissive everyone is being about this. As if things were always black and white.


Lesley on July 6, 2011 at 12:08 pm.

I’m guessing you didn’t read the article before commenting. I probably should have been more clear in my post why it is ridiculous to call this a “cure”: it studied eleven people and followed them for three months. That is hardly a large enough sample size to merit such an announcement, and three months is not a long enough follow-up to determine that people like your friend would be able to eat carbs again without consequences.

Point being: that ain’t a cure. It’s a ploy to grab headlines, with the expectation that people wouldn’t actually think critically about the parameters of this so-called study. And it succeeded.

Also? I know two people who “cured” themselves of type-2 diabetes, insofar as managing it without medication, but only through diet. Neither of them starved themselves.


Big Alice on July 7, 2011 at 12:21 am.

Hi Lesley. I don’t comment often (um, once?) because I’m not clever or funny or even always articulate. But I’m putting up a bat signal on this one.

I donate money to this group: because they’ve done some good things in Oregon. But recently they have started a “fight childhood obesity” campaign that is pushing all my rage buttons. Their point seems to be to get congress to drop subsidies for HFCS, hydrogenated fat, and other big agribusiness food chemicals. Which, honestly, I am all for. But their approach is mightily pissing me off?

I want to ask them why they aren’t framing this as a children (and adult) health issue: better, cheaper access to healthier foods. Instead it seems like a huge scare campaign. But I don’t know how to present this confronted with all their charts and studies and graphs.


Lesley on July 7, 2011 at 8:56 am.

I think you said it fine above: that’s a question you are within your rights to ask. You can even suggest that a focus on childhood obesity looks like they’re simply pandering to popular keywords — because unfortunately they probably are — and may even hurt the campaign’s credibility. They can “stand up” against these corporations WITHOUT isolating fat children as the ONLY ones that need attention on this issue. The problem with the focus on childhood obesity is that most of the research associated with the effects of poor access to food is being done only with fat kids; to pretend that these issues are not also going to affect the health and lives of non-fat kids is ridiculous.

This post was kinda rage-y on my part, but there’s a lot of productive conversation on how to be effectively critical on this subject in the comments, in case you haven’t looked there. Good luck!


Big Alice on July 12, 2011 at 2:23 pm.

Thank you Lesley!


The Well-Rounded Mama on July 8, 2011 at 4:31 pm.

I *love* the picture of you with Savannah Dooley! How cool is that?!?! Thanks for sharing it.

On other topics, am I the only person around who *doesn’t* drink soda, regular or diet? We had it occasionally growing up but not very much. I did drink it in my 20s but gave it up when I was pregnant and found I didn’t really miss it. I’d truly much rather have ice water most of the time.

Occasionally I miss a good A&W root beer and will have some, but other than that, I rarely have any and just don’t miss it. Giving up soda didn’t make a bit of difference in my weight or anything (not that I cared) but it’s really nice not to need or want it. Most of the people I know (fat or not) don’t drink a lot of soda, if any, so it’s strange to me to see all these people in the comments waxing poetic over their love of soda of whatever kind. Surely I’m not alone!


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