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Three random observations

1) My front pooch no longer passes the pencil test. When I say “pooch” I’m referring to that front potbelly that in medical circles is called the panniculus. Panniculus would be a great name for a morbidly obese vampire. Or a band. When I say “pencil test I’m referring to that silly little game girls play to see if their boobs are big enough to require a bra. You stick a pencil horizontally under your breast and it doesn’t fall then you need to grab your mom and head to the lingerie section. I don’t typically stick pencils under my pannus (it’s easier to write with my hands), but I was pretty certain my pooch was no longer rubbing against my lower body. To confirm my hypothesis I grabbed the closest number two pencil, stuck it under my belly and indeed it clattered to the bathroom floor. Same thing happened when I stuck it under my boobs.

2) I no longer have any napkins. I used to grab handfuls of napkins at fast food restaurants to stuff in my car’s map pouch. I used them to clean up soda spills or wipe fog off of the windshield. I kept some in the office too to clean up the condensation that forms when I set my hot microwaved lunch onto my desk top. I almost never go out to eat anymore so I no longer have any napkins! What if I have to blow my nose in the middle of morning traffic? Shall I be reduced to picking boogers out of my nostrils with my pinkie while I hope the woman in the car next to me doesn’t notice? I think I might have to actually go to the store and buy napkins. Maybe I’ll just go to the restroom and steal some handfuls of paper towels instead.

3) Big Fat Deal recently reported that Beth Ditto, lead singer of the band “The Gossip” and also a fat acceptance advocate, posed on the cover of NME fat and naked (not safe for work, obviously, because of the naked and hopefully not because of the fat). Erin asked “Do you think it’s an empowering stand for size acceptance, or is this just objectification masquerading as empowerment?” I ask, why choose only one? Those are two great tastes that taste great together, but leave a nasty film on your tounge. An image of an unashamed, naked, fat girl can be empowering, but NME is still objectifying her and probably hoping to sell issues on the shock value alone. It’s like eating a chocolate covered ant. Mmmm, chocolate! Ew, ant!

The funny thing about Beth Ditto is that I had no idea she was fat. I heard her band’s single “Standing in the Way of Control” over a year ago, but never saw any images of the group. I’m a web developer, so I spend a lot of time at my computer at work listening to Internet radio, mostly WOXY. I have no idea what most of the musicians I listen to look like. They could be fat, skinny, ugly, gorgeous, or part of a singing duet of conjoined twins. It’s cool to be judging these musicians not on their looks but on whether I like their music or not. I certainly strive not to be prejudiced by how people look, but I’m human and I still judge whether I mean to or not.

The odd thing is that when I do finally see one of these musicians it’s like seeing a character I’ve only imagined in a book being played in a movie. Or it’s like meeting someone in real life that I’ve only known online. The image in my head is never going to quite match the real person. For instance, when I heard the deep voice of Patrick Wolf I assumed he’d have a stereotypically masculine body, but it turns out he looks like a 12-year-old glam rocker. Go figure. I don’t think I ever bothered to wonder what Beth Ditto looked like, but there sure isn’t any mystery around that question now. Is it weird that I don’t think she looks all that fat? Fat yes, but not scary fat. I mean, I was way fatter than she was. Perhaps my perception of what is fat will always be skewed by my own experience.

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Heather • June 4, 2007 at 9:43 am

I always thought the pencil test was to see if you were too saggy. It stays under my breast. :( But, my pooch doesn’t even think about holding it– so now I have a better pencil test experience!

You’re SO right on #3.


LadyT • June 4, 2007 at 10:33 am

clicked the link on 3 (even though i AM at work) and agree with you…she doesn’t seem that fat. i took my ‘before’ pictures this weekend…..front sides and back. yeah, i got more going on that she does…..so i think my perception of fat is different……seeing my big butt all the time skews my imagery, i guess…perhaps if i were skinny i would be more appalled. but i dont think her body looks that bad…i’m wondering if they airbrushed any stretch marks or what not…her skin seems quite clear. hmmmm…..


jaime • June 4, 2007 at 11:04 am

I had your same napkin problem. I stopped going out for lunch, and then promptly ran out of napkins at work. I had to actually go buy a box, because I am a messy eater and frozen meals tend to be very…. juicy.


PastaQueen • June 4, 2007 at 11:26 am

jaime – It makes me wonder what percentage of napkins are actually used at fast food restaurants and how many are taken to stock consumer’s pantries. Are fast food restaurants the secret napkin suppliers of America? I know banks put their pens on chains so they don’t become their customers’ office supply store. You can’t really do that with napkins though.


Sorcha • June 4, 2007 at 11:42 am

OMG! Panniculus the obese vampire! You’re a scream… no wonder you have a book contract.

Instead of the traditional line, would he say: “I vant to bite your chubby thighs?”


Debbie • June 4, 2007 at 12:49 pm

I saw the picture and I think that’s a lousy way to sell more issues. It’s pure exploitation and that’s sad.


Julie • June 4, 2007 at 12:52 pm

I was seriously cracking up (at work, bad lol) with the pencil falling from the boobs! Welcome to the little booby club!


spacedcowgirl • June 4, 2007 at 1:35 pm

I never thought to try the pencil test on my pannus. I think I could pass standing up… but sitting down, that’s another matter. I used to be pretty “flat-stomached” (in quotes because it still was by no means flat) for a 200-lb gal, but gaining and re-losing that last bunch of weight has left things a little less resilient. Oh well.

Congratulations on getting into the 170s as well! You’re so close to your goal!!


Jay Jacobs • June 4, 2007 at 1:55 pm

I love your story and I’d love to do an interview about your story and upcoming book release on our blog.


I love the title of your book!

My daughter is down 80LBS on her “weigh” to losing “1/2” of herself as well.

From 300LBS to 150LBS and she’s just about ready to release a line of “apirational” weight loss apparel she’s calling “mylbs”.

Love to chat, hope you’re interested.


creator of http://www.mypetfat.com


CCC • June 4, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Wow…I thought I was the only chick that did that with the napkins!

I had tons of ’em in my glove compartment–from Taco Bell, McDonald’s, BK, bla bla bla.

They came in handy no doubt…other day, my husband had an allergy attack in my car and when he opened my glove compartment for a napkin, there were none in there.

He was stunned. I was too actually…

LOL @ the pencil test….I’m not that brave yet :)


Bree • June 4, 2007 at 4:40 pm

May I ask when you are going to post progress pics stince you’re at 179?! Wow!!! Take care!


Donna • June 4, 2007 at 5:10 pm

Congrats on your continued success! You are an inspiration. I am new to reading weight-related blogs, and I am always surprised that other people actually share the same experiences as fat old me. Who would have thought that my lump of post C-section, weight-gain overhang had an actual name? It is slightly comforting to know that I’m just at Stage 1 but I’ll be happier if/when I can ever pass your pencil test.

What does a web developer do, exactly? What did you study in school to find your way to that career? Just curious – it sounds interesting.


BrightAngel • June 4, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Congratulations on your entry into the 170’s.


enr • June 4, 2007 at 6:37 pm

I think that is awesome that you hit the 170s. I’m with Bree though when do we get to see the pics (meaning tell your brother we are dying here!)? Found your site a couple of weeks ago and Ive been reading since. Great work. I started my own program in Jan 2004 and lost 105 lbs. in 15 months–then I rebounded gaining all of it back in 2005. Your blog has been inspiring to read and reminded me of the good times I had as well. Back to the plan!


Chris H • June 4, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Re the photo, no I don’t like it, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but to parade it on a magazine cover like that is just trying to shove it down our throats, it is in poor taste. Only MY opinion though! I always ‘judge’ how fat a person is by how I used to look, sad but true.


NicoleW • June 4, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Of course, I read this post and immediately grabbed the nearest pen and headed for the restroom to see if *my* belly pooch flunked the “pencil test”. It did! Hurray. The boobs are another matter … oh well.


Tetue • June 4, 2007 at 8:51 pm

Congrats on getting into 170s! Believe it or not, I just got off the treadmill where I spent part of the time thinking about what an inspiration you are, and that if *you* can do it, *I* can do it!

As for Ms. Ditto, there’s no way I would classify her as fat! I should be so fat! The funny thing is, my friend was just talking to me about her last week and I had this mental image of a superduper fat woman in my mind. Like *really* fat. I thought she looked pretty dang good, actually. I’m getting tired of seeing stick-thin photoshopped girls on the covers of magazines. Bring on the thick photoshopped girls! :)


Cindy • June 4, 2007 at 9:01 pm

Hi PQ,

Interesting post, as usual. The napkin thing really hit home. I’ve been having to buy boxes of tissues for well over a year now. The floor of my car is now strewn with nothing more than water bottles ~ lots of water bottles! It took me about 18 months to not constantly think of all directions by way of considering what fast food place was on the way. Even when I was always talking myself out of going, i was still having the thoughts. The first time I realized that I passed a place and didn’t think “Should I?” my heart jumped and I nearly cried, driving along in my car. Now I only have those thoughts occasionally. I guess I should remember that when I am having a bad day, thinking ike I haven’t really changed that much. Some changes were so slow and subtle that I’ve hardly realized they’ve happened…

As far as the pencil test goes…I have so much loose skin (things don’t snap back at 46 the way they might at 26!) that I fear I’d fail the test with my belly, boobs, upper arms and thighs. Any hints from other over-40’s about tightening up?


ann • June 4, 2007 at 9:11 pm

Wow! Sounds like you are less than twenty pounds of your goal – many, many congrats! This blog is inspirational.


PastaQueen • June 4, 2007 at 9:15 pm

Donna – A web developer means that I program interactive applications for the web (like my rotating progress photos) as well as design web sites. It’s a bit of math and bit of artistic creativity and I like the balance between the two disciplines.


s • June 4, 2007 at 9:27 pm

The June Elle with Jessica Biel on cover has an article (pg 180) on a 24 year old named Elina Baker who lost 80 lbs and needed a tummy tuck and boob job. They show her scrunching up all the loose skin in her hands.


f • June 4, 2007 at 9:33 pm

Holy shit — but she lost the 80 lbs in SIX MONTHS. That seems incredibly fast (forgot to mention).


s • June 4, 2007 at 10:16 pm

Panniculus the morbidly obese vampire.

You are too, too funny.


Thumper • June 4, 2007 at 10:33 pm

I am all for accepting people of any size, etc. But that doesn’t mean that Beth Ditto isn’t fat. She really actually is. As a person who has recently lost 80 pounds, and still has about 50 to go, I’m confortable with my assessment. Maybe she isn’t as fat as many of us are, or once were, but “fat” still exists. Its a definite line we cross before entering the world of “obese.” And Beth Ditto qualifies.


Kate • June 5, 2007 at 2:08 am

Since you’re hopefully going to be posting a new pic of you in your fabulous 170’s, I would like to pose a suggestion. Have you thought about posting all your pics from the blog together in the progress section, since you’ve also got your prettied up self in there as well? It’d be nice to see them all in one place as opposed to having to search for them through all the blog posts. :)


spacedcowgirl • June 5, 2007 at 2:32 am

I agree, Beth Ditto is totally fat and I doubt she’d shy away from the label. This is not to say that I don’t think she looks good, though. I like the photo. She has gorgeous skin and I could actually see her as a plus-size model.

I don’t find it too exploitative… the cover is on an alternative newsweekly and they tend to feature more edgy, provocative stuff anyway.


E • June 5, 2007 at 9:01 am

We all excoriate the media for false advertising by putting heavily airbrushed models on their covers (thinned legs, perfect skin, plumper lips), that I find it interesting that no one is mentioning how heavily airbrushed this pic of Beth Ditto is. This woman is one HOT mess in every other photo. Sure, she still chunky, but that doesn’t make the representation any more accurate. She is as touched up as any photo of Giselle, Tyra, etc, etc, but we’re ok with it because she’s still fat?

Here are some others- a bit more true to form:



Tammy • June 5, 2007 at 3:42 pm

An amazing post – I don’t want to try the pencil test, and I don’t have any napkins or even Dunkin Donut bags to toss my trash in so I’m a hurting unit in that department.

As for our perception – I always feel I am bigger than anyone I meet. Since every one appears smaller to me, I can get pretty screwed up thinking I’m bigger than I am. I’ve lost 15 pounds – My goal is 170 so I’m cheering loud for you on this end.

As for the magazine cover – confidence is another makes them even more attractive. That cover is Confident!

I always think people are younger than me too – so I suppose I feel older and heavier than most people around me… I’ve got to get a grip! Tam


Ellen • June 5, 2007 at 6:34 pm


Is it weird to say congrats on the pencil test?? I hope not :) I’m at the point I could hold not only a pencil, but an entire pencil case. I am working on enjoying the journey to the pencil test :) On that note, I wanted to say that your posts are awesome and always make me think and therefore I’ve tagged you for the Thinking Blogger Award! You rock :) For details on this meme, check out my recent blog post, here:





Duh • June 5, 2007 at 6:47 pm

I don’t mind if they airbrushed old Beth.

Just cause you’re fat doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get benefit of airbrushing!


Zanitta • June 5, 2007 at 7:13 pm

Congratulations on breaking the 170’s! That must have felt good!


...jus me • June 5, 2007 at 9:19 pm

Wow, it has been awhile since I have checked in on my favorite blogs. You are doing great! 179…Awesome!

Congrats on the loss of the napkins! And no more tummy hangover too! Way cool girl!

I remember when I first found your blog we weighed about the same…about 243! Now look at you at 179! I kinda regressed! Got down to 225 and somehow I am back to 250! Just started over again! Wish me luck!

I am very proud of you!


denwanai • June 5, 2007 at 9:29 pm

Thanks for the links for the music – enjoyed patrick wolf – another cute gay Brit. BTW, for all the mac users, how can we enjoy woxy? Enjoy your posts, per usual


Natalie • June 5, 2007 at 10:40 pm

Now that is power, when you can make dozens of women across the world grab the nearest pencil and stick it under their “boobs” & belly flab. But I have to say, that test is really depressing for me. From my experience of having 2 kids C-section & nursing them, I could carry writing tools in there for every occasion. But I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me & maybe my body will surprise me once I start losing more weight.


CherryDolphin • June 7, 2007 at 9:45 pm

Congrats on making it to the 170s!! That’s awesome :) I can’t wait until I am there… but I am actually looking at making it to the 270s any day now!


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

Disclaimer: I am not responsible for keyboards ruined by coffee spit-takes or forehead wrinkles caused by deep thought.

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