HomeReviewsInterviewsStoreABlogsOn Writing
Please don't hate me

Please don’t hate me

Friday, December 9, 2011
Posted in: Azteclady Speaks, random ramblings

For this rambling blog post courtesy of the mess that is my mind, prompted by SLWendy’s innocent statement about Adele (quote: “I don’t get Adele. At all.”) and the comment thread on RRRJessica’s post on zaftig* heroines.


Bear with me while I ramble a bit (then do have at me in the comments 😀 )

As a child I was a scrawny little thing, the youngest of five siblings. As far as I know, my three older brothers and I didn’t worry about weight or body image issues as teens or in our twenties–or thirties, for that matter. We’ve always been mostly active and eaten healthily enough, so until middle age truly and obviously settled in (belly pouches ahoy!), we just went along like usual.

You may have noticed that there’s a missing sibling in that account. My sister, the fourth born and only 13 months older than me, has struggled with her weight her entire life. As far as I can remember, she was always heavier than the rest of us, and over time she has developed a number of health issues as a direct result of her weight (diabetes to name one).

One  might think that, having such a close relative go through life struggling with weight, I would be very aware of weight-related discussions and issues. Not the case, I’m afraid. Occasionally something may catch my eye–such as the pictures from an Australian would-be beauty queen showed in this old Today video–and get me wondering, what debate? That woman is starving thin. But most of the time, I just don’t think about it.

In reading, specifically, I may snort when the author describes a 5’4″ character as weighing 120lbs and calls her ‘curvy’ or in some such way indicates she’s just on this side of being ‘heavy.’ I mean, really.  I’m 5’2″ and looked (and felt) on the thin side when (a long time ago) I weighed 120lbs. Yes, I know there are differences in bone density, muscle mass vs fat mass, etc, but this is not something I stop to ponder while reading a romance novel. I just snort and read on.

A noted exception was a novel–I cannot even remember title or author–where much is made about the heroine’s voice ‘blinding’ the hero to her physical imperfections, aka her weight. I imagine that the idea was to emphasize how smitten he was by her, but it felt to me there was more telling than showing. If memory serves, the hero spent a lot of time thinking about the heroine’s voice while she thought about how she couldn’t be attractive to anyone because of her weight. In the end, I finished it, but it’s one of the few books I never reread, and got rid off it so expediently I can’t, for the life of me, remember anything else about it. (Except, perhaps, she was called Lauren? Laurel? Laurie? Crap, now I’m going to obsess over it.)

Which brings me to…

The discussion at Jessica’s centers on a character from a novel I have not read (even though I have the book in the humongous TBR mountain range, courtesy of Holly from the Book Binge. Yes, I suck, sowwy ’bout that.) So I really have nothing to contribute there–but the pictures she posted, and some that were linked in the comments, got me thinking.

As I’ve mentioned here, I’ve been listening to Adele quite a bit lately. I love her voice and there are lines in her songs that resonate quite deeply with me. Beyond that, I really enjoy watching clips from her concerts on youtube. I may be just drinking the kool aid here, but it seems to me that

a) she truly enjoys singing for and with people,

b) she doesn’t much give a shit about her weight as an issue,

c) she’s aware and careful about her appearance without being obsessed with it, one way or the other, and

d) so far she hasn’t become conceited about her success (I love how her voice breaks at the end of her performance in this year’s iTunes festival, when she thanks the audience and promises to “be back in September” before walking out of the stage wiping her eyes dry).

The second and third points are, in my mind at least, related to Jessica’s post (while the first and last relate to Wendy’s)**

When I first heard her sing, courtesy of this post (thank you, Karen!), I didn’t notice her weight. Her voice, her expressions, her passion, drew me in. Since then, the occasional idiotic comment on a youtube clip will make me sigh and steam for a moment (calling this girl a cow? really? I mean, really????) because I think she’s gorgeous. And as far as I know (correct me if I’m wrong) her weight has not caused her any health problems.

Is she overweight? I think she’s heavier than she could be (and so am I, by a good 20lbs, thank you), but that she looks good, with a silhouette where breasts, waist and hips are well defined–does that make sense?

I don’t have any scientific or medical knowledge for this, but I’ve long believed that when extra weight is distributed in such a way it doesn’t impact a person’s health much. It may mean getting tired sooner than other people when walking long distances or climbing up stairs, but being thin doesn’t equal being fit, so all that is relative.

All this to say, I’d much rather authors didn’t focus too much of the story (or character development) on the heroine’s weight issues. I’m sure it can be done well, and I’m one who enjoys Peabody (In Death series) and her quips about exercise, diet, the size of her ass, etc. because they feel realistic (particularly when Dallas thinks that there’s nothing wrong with Peabody’s ass–this rings true to occasions when an acquaintance who seems physically okay to us complains about her weight).

Mostly, though? If your character has a healthy body, leave well enough alone, please.



* I hate that word. I don’t know why, but makes me think of obese women (health issues=not what I’m looking for in my romance reading).

** See how neatly I pretend to have a point here?


  • Nic
    December 10
    12:30 am

    I’m so with you on the whole 5’4″ 120 lbs and curvy! 120 lbs is near the low end of the healthy weight range for someone 5’4″! As somebody who’s always been nearer the high end of the healthy weight range for 5’4″, you can imagine how reading that made me feel when I was younger and more impressionable.

    Now I know that for my frame 130lbs would be the lowest I could ever go and still be fit (because muscle tone isn’t light), so I just snort and move on too.

    Oh yeah, and I think Adele is gorgeous too, I’m more worried for her lungs from smoking than anything else!


  • ME2
    December 12
    3:39 am

    My mom is 5’4″ and weighs 126 pounds. She is also 67 (well she will be in a week) and I assure you she is NOT fat.


  • All the fat/not fat talk. Who cares? The thing about Adele is she is completely, totally the REAL thing. Authentic, a fabulous voice, great passion in her work,great skill and great lyrics. And great music. Especially the Adele 21 album, which is astonishing in that every song is fabulous. You don’t see that much anymore, an album that carries a theme all the way through and every song amplifies/illuminates/blows you away. In the old days, they used to talk about Aretha like “how can she be so good, she’s fat?” Sorry. Being a creative genius is not about the bathroom scale. I think a lot of the music and entertainment industry people forget that; they come to believe the packaging IS the art. Then someone like Adele comes along and they just can’t cope with the fact that she doesn’t fit their idea of a diva.


  • Hello, Ms Rimmer!

    Adele is truly the real thing, isn’t she? I just read an old interview of her in the Guardian (well, about three years old at any rate), and I just adore this answer (bold mine):

    Q:When you came along, there was suddenly a group of young women writing teen-angsty tracks.

    A:Yeah. [But] mine were the teen-angsty ones – everyone else was over 20, whereas I was 18. We got lumped in together, but I don’t think we sound alike at all. We were trying to achieve the same things but we’re a gender, not a genre – not that I’m a big old feminist or nothing, but it’s just lazy.

    Yup, indeedy.


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment