JK Rowling On Weight

I have a daughter. More than that I’m a woman. The emphasis on weight and body size in our culture can be so harmful. A friend of mine posted this elsewhere it’s from JK Rowling’s blog and it’s a great article and I thought I’d put it here too. Because I want us all to love ourselves.

For Girls Only, Probably

His bemusement at this everyday feature of female existence reminded me how strange and sick the ‘fat’ insult is. I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny? I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…

I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’

‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’

What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’ But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!

So the issue of size and women was (ha, ha) weighing on my mind as I flew home to Edinburgh the next day. Once up in the air, I opened a newspaper and my eyes fell, immediately, on an article about the pop star Pink.

Her latest single, ‘Stupid Girls’, is the antidote-anthem for everything I had been thinking about women and thinness. ‘Stupid Girls’ satirises the talking toothpicks held up to girls as role models: those celebrities whose greatest achievement is un-chipped nail polish, whose only aspiration seems to be getting photographed in a different outfit nine times a day, whose only function in the world appears to be supporting the trade in overpriced handbags and rat-sized dogs.

Maybe all this seems funny, or trivial, but it’s really not. It’s about what girls want to be, what they’re told they should be, and how they feel about who they are. I’ve got two daughters who will have to make their way in this skinny-obsessed world, and it worries me, because I don’t want them to be empty-headed, self-obsessed, emaciated clones; I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons. Let them never be Stupid Girls. Rant over.

5 comments to “JK Rowling On Weight”

  1. Lili
    April 7th, 2006 at 1:25 pm · Link

    It’s about buying into media hype and parroting phrases without thought to what the words mean. As a society we’re told what to purchase, how much, and when. We don’t think for ourselves. We want others to lead us as we brainlessly follow. That woman mentioned weight only because it was a ‘safe’ arms-length thing to mention. Had she mentioned books published she may have had to give some original thoughts. God forbid! We say ‘Good Morning’, when it really isn’t. We ask ‘How Are You?’ when we really couldn’t give a hairy rat’s ass how the person is. We parrot phrases without thought because they’re the phrases we’ve been taught to parrot without thought to be ‘correct.’ That woman didn’t care about Rowling’s weight. It was simply something to say. It’s something women always say because it’s safe. And really, most women like to hear it, regardless of how loudly they proclaim otherwise. I would ask, if such stress is placed on thinness, why is obesity an epidemic?

    I’m done now.

    Cheerio. 🙂

  2. Lauren Dane
    April 7th, 2006 at 1:31 pm · Link

    I disagree. The woman mentioned weight because the achievments of losing weight are more important than anything else in our culture. She WAS at a publishing event, an awards banquet even. And she’s JK Rowling, it’s not like you wouldn’t know that your friend who wrote the Harry Potter books hasn’t been up to other things.

    Another example – I saw family in October and all anyone could talk about was my weight loss. It was the hugest deal and the topic of every conversation. Now, I’d just sold four books last year, had a child the year before that – and yet, everyone was obsessed with my weight.

    And yes, it’s lovely to hear how pretty you look, but it’s not all I am and it’s not by any means, the most important thing I’ve achieved in my life.

    Obesity is an epidemic because people fill empty spots with food, they don’t have time to eat healthy in a world filled with convenience foods that are fast but high in calories and low in nutrition, they commute for hours a day and work at a desk.

  3. Diana Castilleja
    April 7th, 2006 at 8:48 pm · Link

    I would like to speak up on behalf of the “Fat” girls… BTW, Hi Lauren… 🙂 I’ve been overweight since I learned food tasted good. Yep, my whole life. And you know what? It took me years to understand how much of my problems were my own, how many were influenced from the outside, and how many were due to simple insecurity and yes, fear.

    Believe me, I’m built like a feminine line backer and can easily hide 50 lbs, but when I had my son and began to see a REALLY HUGE number looming in my future, I knew I had to do something about it.

    Control. No more outside influence. No more, “Who thinks what” interjection. If someone says I look better, I know it. If it’s said before anything else, yes it’s true, it’s a safe open PC (SEE THAT?) topic. I feel for JK. Someone who “knew” her should have respected her more than that, but most don’t. And it’s because we are “programmed” that way.

    So in truth, you are both right. And I hope JK has the willpower to help her daughters make the right choices, because now the choices are becoming deadly with their persuasion. Flesh is not bad. Curves are beautiful. I’d take a curvy woman over a bean pole any day. Come to think of it I like my men that way too…!!!!! 🙂 End Rant.. {{HUGS}}

  4. Meljprincess
    April 8th, 2006 at 6:17 am · Link

    Excellent article by JK Rowling!

  5. Lili
    April 8th, 2006 at 6:52 am · Link

    Well, you also must consider the whole diet industry; the diet books, fads and spas catering to regular people. Regular people who want to be beautiful people. Society is obsessed with looks, and weight is part of that obsession, and it comes down to people wanting to live a fantasy. They want what the beautiful people have. They read books about beautiful people and they watch movies with beautiful people. You can’t change it, and bitching about it only causes more ‘revolutionary’ diet books to show up. Ignore it. Shrug your shoulders, shake your head, walk away and don’t buy what’s being sold to you. Teach your own kids differently and hope they don’t buy either. There’s an enormous industry wrapped round losing weight; and there’s a growing industry wrapped round accepting one’s body as it is. Both industries thrive on publicity. Women need to put their money away and stop buying. Stop feeding the industry. Common sense.

    Because someone tells you that you look thinner is a petty thing to bitch about. There are bigger problems going in the world that need bitching about that don’t involve looks.