CAC W5D3: Unreal

I would like to discuss clothing size, weight, and body types today after running across a discussion on “Letting it all hang out” (you know what I’m talking about) on the boards yesterday and reading the LA Times article that sparked the debate on the boards.

I’ve certainly felt the indirect pressure to stay under a certain size and recall being pretty bummed when I had to move up to juniors size 13/14 jeans at my heaviest point. (Yes, yes, I know that 5’6″ and 158 lbs in a size 13/14 juniors isn’t exactly huge, but it’s all relative. For an Asian gal, that was and is pretty darn fluffy.)

I remember wearing size 9/10 in juniors my freshman year of high school and settling into 11/12 by senior year and through college. I was actually all right with this because I used to make a lot of my own clothes and always knew my measurements down to the nearest half inch, so I knew I wasn’t ballooning out and that retail clothing sizes were arbitrary at best. I bought clothes that fit me and didn’t try to shoehorn my size 12 backside into size 6 jeans.

Mind you, it wasn’t usually my butt or hips that were the problem since American clothing seems to be designed for apple body types with huge waistlines relative to hip measurements. I have just always had large thigh measurements, regardless of whether I was fat or lean. Size 6 pants flat out would not make it over my legs, so I never achieved the full muffin top look that girls with skinny legs and soft, squishy tummies and hips sport all over downtown Orlando on Friday and Saturday nights these days.

Anyway, reading the LA Times article made me feel rather sorry for the young women all over the country who aren’t happy with their bodies, but are compelled by the dictates of fashion, peer pressure, and retail availability to wear clothing that neither fits nor flatters them.

Please don’t try to tell me that EVERY overweight girl in clothes 2-3 sizes too small is just expressing her individuality, body acceptance and self-confidence. Unless they are very delusional indeed, girls know when they don’t look good, and, for the most part, this knowledge does trouble them to some degree, even the nerdy geekettes who seem to have no particular interest in fashion or make-up.

I speak from experience here. 😉

That is not why I’ve brought all of this up, though. Having been on the overweight side of the house, I can certainly feel for the females struggling to find flattering off-the-rack clothing, but now that I’ve been on the physically-fit end of things for a couple of years, I have a minor bone to pick.

Here are the kind of comments that I read all the time in women’s articles and forums targeted at a general female audience:

  • “Manufacturers need to start paying attention to the needs of REAL women.”
  • “REAL bodies aren’t shaped like that.” (Referring to a fashion model, movie star, or fitness model/athlete.)
  • “REAL women have curves.” (NOT referring to the sort of curves built with muscle, by the way.)
  • “Stores need to stock more fashionable clothes in sizes for REAL women/teens.” (Read as: larger than 14)

I’m not saying that the women who write these things don’t have a valid point about the need for more clothing options for today’s bigger body types and non-standard shapes, but I resent the use of the word “real” in these statements. It implies that anyone who doesn’t have the typical pillowy modern female body type is somehow faking, cheating, buying, or otherwise employing some sort of extraordinary measures to achieve a stock size physique.

I work to keep myself in shape and the creep of excess flab in check, but I don’t consider the things I do to maintain my physical condition out of the scope of any normal, healthy adult. I lift weights three or four times a week, do reasonable quantities of cardio at least that many times and eat healthy, balanced meals six times a day. I drink water almost exclusively (and like it, too, so there), conscientiously take my multivitamin and calcium pills daily, and avoid junk foods in my everyday diet.

The key point here is that *I* do these things. *I* put in the effort. No magic pill or surgeon’s knife got me where I am physically today, and as you can tell from my brief clothing size history, I am definitely not a natural Tiny Asian Girl ectomorph who stays thin without effort.

As a result of my *own* work, I DO look good in off-the-rack clothes and current styles. I DO have the general hourglass/X shape that is supposedly so uncommon. I DO have curves, only they tend to be firm and not lumpy.

Yet according to the cries of the multitudes, this sort of fit body type is not REAL. Since when has the word “real” been exclusively defined as overweight and pugnaciously indignant about the unfairness of it all?

When I read statements and comments like the above now, I mentally substitute the word “AVERAGE” for “REAL,” because those writers have it all wrong in their heads.

The truth is that average bodies are formed by inertia, apathy, and inaction. Real bodies are built muscle by muscle out of the basic materials we ALL possess through hours of sweat, discipline, and will.

What is more real, the numbness and sluggishness you feel after downing a 32 oz. Coke and Burger King meal in the middle of a day where the most strenuous thing you do is walk from your car to your office, or the total connection of your mind and body as it gathers its last stores of energy to push out the final rep of three sets of 30 barbell squats or the pumping of your blood through your legs and the rush of air in and out of your lungs as you sprint the last quarter mile of a 5k run?

If the general public doesn’t agree with my opinion and insists that “real” does equal “average” now, I will just keep on being unreal.


1. 1/3 c. oatmeal, 3 T. raisins, 1 whole egg, 3 egg whites
2. 1 banana, 1/2 scoop whey, 1/2 c. light soy milk
3. 4 oz. chicken breast, 1/3 c. (dry) oatmeal, 1 c. Mandarin veggie mix
4. 1 unsalted rice cake, 1/2 T. all-natural peanut butter, 1 scoop whey
5. 4 oz. chicken breast, 3 c. Romaine salad, 2 T. Kraft Free Zesty Italian dressing, 2 corn tortillas
6. 1 c. light soy milk, 1 scoop whey

Water: 16 cups

Supplements: multivitamin, calcium 600+D, EAS l-glutamine, Instone Pre-Workout Intensity

Calories: 1453 calories (44.7% carb/37.4% pro/20.1% fat)


* Shoulders/Rear Delts/Abs (60 min)
* Walk (4 mph / 25 min)
* YF Physical Challenge (15 min)
* YF Flexibility (15 min)

Calories burned: 588 calories

DEFICIT: -800 cal (Target: -632 cal/day)


9 thoughts on “CAC W5D3: Unreal

  1. WOW! I usually don’t respond to most of the things I read on the internet, but this time it hit too close to home! ALL I HAVE TO SAY IS RIGHT ON!!
    I’ve struggled with weight for a long time and thanks to Tom Venuto’s book and my sister’s motivation (its contagious) I’ve been able to work my way down to an acceptable size (still under construction).
    Clothes have always been an issue with me since I have the typical hispanic body (overly sized hips):neutral: nothing ever fits just right (legs with respect to hips and waist ratio).
    America is becoming a society full of lazy people that instead of working hard for what they have, they look for the fast and easy solution.
    By the way! You look great! You are doing an excellent job! You have a mini fan club at our house (my sister and I) :claplow:

  2. I think the other part in all of this is that women’s bodies vary so drastically (like the reference to the hip/waist ratio) in comparison to men, that even if we all were a healthy weight it would STILL be a complete pain in the butt to find clothing. Women are like finger prints, all so very different – big waist, small waist, big thighs small thighs, and everything in between on every part of their body.

    Men tend to follow a pretty generic blue print.

    Then you throw weight gain into all those varying aspects of women, and if just makes the problem even MORE complicated, because we ALSO don’t seem to gain in any predictable fashion comparitively. Men do.

    I agree, that only having fashions that embarass the larger population either by being inapropriate or OUT of fashion isn’t ok. But I also believe that taking personal responsibility for the aspects we CAN change should absolutely be undertaken. And hey, if we all did that, maybe the clothing designers could actually focus on the different variances in a womanly body, instead of giving up altogether and designing for those built like a hangar.

    but you are right, taking responisbility for our bodies doesn’t make us any less REAL. And that most certainly is an insult.

  3. Heh, I’m generally a size 8 and it’s been awhile since I actually bought any new clothes. It’s been a good 2 or 3 years since I bought any jeans. I tend to like them to fit just below my belly button but not so low I’ve got to wax 🙂

    I went shopping this past weekend and nearly came home in tears. Even when I was an unhealthy 115lbs (at 5’7″) I have a bubble butt, and now trying to fit into any size 8 that was even a mid-rise didn’t even make it over the bottom half of my ass! Same for 10’s. Now, granted, I’ve let it slip some and I know it, but we’re talking half moon. How can something fit over my hips that easily, but not even cover my backside?

    I’m not sure of my point here, except to say that I agree with you that people need to take care of themselves and sto take a good look at themselves and I think I do. I’ve cut out fast food for myself and the kids as an option except for maybe once per week and I’ve eliminated during the week dinners out and for the most part, weekends too for the whole family. And maybe I’m just a prude who doesn’t want to show off half her ass, but think there has to be a happy medium between mom jeans that come up to just under my boobs and low rise jeans that have no room for a butt. In the meantime, I’ll be working on my lunges in case they don’t.

  4. Coraly – Congratulations on your progress! It sounds like you are developing all the right habits to maintain a healthy weight if you are following BFFM. I love Tom Venuto because he doesn’t try to softpedal around the truth when it comes to fat loss–he gives you the facts, tells you what you need to do, and then it’s up to you to follow through.

    Kyra – Agreed on the point that women aren’t as standard in shape as men, regardless of whether they are overweight or fit. That is why men’s dress uniforms in the Army have patch pockets on the chest that allow them to easily measure and figure out where they need to place their medals and awards, while women’s Class A dress jackets just have a dart. We had to put on our jackets and have someone else pin our bars onto the chest area using a combination of ruler and estimation because of the variations in chest shape and um, amplitude. 🙂

    However, I believe that if almost any woman took up weights, cardio, and a reasonable diet, she would eventually approach the so-called “ideal” body type regardless of what her natural unconditioned shape was at the beginning.

    Colleen – The current selection of jeans really doesn’t flatter many people at all. My issue is that jeans that fit my waist are too small through the legs and hips, but ones that fit my legs and hips gape open like garbage bags at the lower waist. I’ve had good luck with some AG and Paper, Denim & Cloth jeans my sister gave me. They are pricier brands, but if you try them on in the store and write down the style and size, you can find good deals on eBay.

    We had a good discussion about and many suggestions for jeans to fit a non-flat booty at a gardening forum I visit. Your favorite jeans discussion at Maybe you can get some recommendations from there, too. 🙂

  5. I can’t comment on whether “real” is an insult… I just don’t have the right plumbing. I do however think that some of the backlash comes from the way images depicted in advertising and magazines are “enhanced or corrected.” In that sense, the majority of women have a legitimate beef with those advertisers and publishers.

    I won’t begin to speak for my gender, but the fact remains we men are simple creatures: our definition of “real woman” has little to do with the mysterious sizing of your clothes. Most times were just thrilled you let us on to the playground. :biggrin:

    But when you get to the heart of the matter, a real woman is genuine in spirit and mind. The trick is for more of you of the fairer sex to believe it, too.

  6. Maggie-
    I have to preface this remark by saying that I really enjoy your blog (one of the few I try to visit every day) and have a tremendous amount of admiration and respect for you and all of your hard work. You truly deserve a lot of credit.

    That said, I have to take issue with this post. I think your premise is faulty and don’t see the logic behind the statement that:

    “I resent the use of the word “real” in these statements. It implies that anyone who doesn’t have the typical pillowy modern female body type is somehow faking, cheating, buying, or otherwise employing some sort of extraordinary measures to achieve a stock size physique”

    I don’t think it implies that at all. I think that what these people are trying to express is that they are underrepresented in both apparel selection and images of the female body in the media (which you noted yourself). Their frustration is understandable. They make up the majority of the female population in this country (in 2000, 62% of American women aged 20-74 were overweight) and yet they are invisible in eyes of clothing manufacturers and the media elite. Quite a pickle indeed!

    But beyond that, their use of the word “real” doesn’t really have anything to do with you. The definition of “real” deals with what actually exists–you and they obviously both exist. Yet the majority of images/clothing sizes acknowlege your existence but not theirs. Just because one group is acknowledged does not mean that another has to creep back into the shadows–there is room for everyone. And we should welcome their efforts to get themselves noticed–not deride them.

    Due to your hard work and unflagging determination, you have managed to extricate yourself from that 62 percent. And I admire that, I really do–it is quite a feat. But I think perhaps a little compassion and empathy are in order for those who perhaps haven’t quite found their way yet.

    -RB, your friendly neighborhood devil’s advocate 🙂

  7. I have to say that it’s not the clothing manufacturers problem that the greater percent of the population is overweight. I don’t see why they should encourage anyone to stay fluffy, which is how I see it if they did make all these clothes to fit the larger people.

    How many of us have been inspired to fit into those ‘special’ jeans that we love so much? Instead of feeling punished by the lack of fashions, couldn’t it be possible to feel motivated to lose some of the fluff, to get to a HEALTHY weight/height proportion??

    I think the key word isn’t REAL, but HEALTHY.

    Maggie, you are a such an inspiration!!! :claphigh:

  8. LOL your writing is entertaining. I myself have always had a problem with pants that will fit my waist but not my legs and vise verse. I was always upset when I had to choose a size 6 or 8 dress (with flare) over the 10 that was to big at the top. Thank you for making mention to this article and subject.


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