15 March 2010

Donna Simpson attempts to become the world's fattest woman

Whilst hands are raised in horror, I'm coming out to say that I support Donna Simpson in her quest to become the world's fattest woman. Need to know more? A news story about her is currently zipping across the wires, get ready to encounter her on a talk show near you soon.

It's questionable whether or not becoming the world's fattest woman is really her intention; it could be the Daily Mail's journalistic spin on running a random stereotype-filled story about a superfat woman on the eve of bikini season – always a crowd pleaser; or it could be part of Simpson's own marketing spiel for her website. Maybe it's all her anonymous husband's idea.

(I'm uncomfortable with the way that Simpson's daughter is being used in the photographs, perhaps to denote that she is a 'good mother,' a necessary defence against her likely demonising. Hopefully her daughter is finding the attention interesting, exciting and illuminating).

But supposing, against all odds, the headline is a genuine reflection of her true intent. The photographs accompanying the Daily Mail article show her sitting on a tatty settee, and shopping in a supermarket. Her circumstances look modest. It makes me wonder if becoming the world's fattest woman is a shorthand for making something of your life when you have very little. When you have very little, your body is something that you can use to make something. You can sell sex, you can fight, you can be in a freak show, you can sell parts of it. Simpson lives in a country that venerates individual enterprise, and here she is with a business getting people to pay to watch her eat; she's an entrepreneur of the body.

It's perplexing that such a body project should be presented within a set of ideas about fat. I suspect I speak for many when I say that I'm not interested in becoming the fattest woman in the world myself: I don't like eating massive amounts of food, I have no fat fetishist constituency to please, I try to maintain my health as far as I can, I have other skills that garner capital. Simpson is clearly ahead of the rest of us, operating in a rarified realm, yet her story is being used as a proxy for all fat people. The stereotypes in the news report reflect cultural anxieties about over-consumption, junk food, idleness, disability, 'the children', and whose tax £££$$$€€€ will pay for this!? She's apparently a symbol for us all, when few of us are in her league.

In seeking to become the world's fattest woman Simpson reminds me that bodies have no rules and that we can do what we like with them. Bodies are our connection to freedom (which might explain why they are so heavily policed). Even when one's rights have been eroded to nothing, one can hunger strike. I don't think Simpson's gaining project is about rights, but I do think it's about pushing the limits of human embodiment and probably about making some money. The celebrated French artist-philosopher Orlan does this through surgeries and gets exhibitions and monographs written about her. Simpson's body project is vernacular, so she gets trashed, but both unsettle notions of what constitutes a proper body. I think it's good to challenge propriety, even when it's work that I wouldn’t undertake, I think such challenges are heroic, I respect the pioneers that undertake them.

What would make this project really zip would be a collaboration of some kind with other superfat women. It's thrilling to read that Simpson rejected weight loss surgery, for example, and surely there are other similar accounts out there, proving that WLS dos not have to be default if you're very fat. Bring on the superfat visibility, be the authors and advocates of and for your own lives. And where's the current world's fattest woman? Surely she deserves a comment.


Anonymous said...

I don't see how this is any different from wanting to become the world's thinnest woman. Both involve feeding your body in a way that is not natural for it in an attempt to manipulate your physical appearance. I would posit that both are unhealthy and that people who do these things to themselves are in need of counseling.

Charlotte Cooper said...

I tend to respond to anonymous comments with more snark than I would do towards people who leave their names here.

That said: who are you to decide what's natural? What's healthy? What's pathological?

wriggles said...

I have to agree, dieting is dieting whether it's weight loss or weight gain the same underlying principle remains, making someone's weight the most important thing about them, rather than who they are.

Whether you override you needs to starve or feed your body into submission, it comes to the same thing, lack of self nuture.

It's all essentially dehumanising. And I'm not too sure about classist arguments about what is acceptable for working class women due to lack of options.

Whatever decision people feel forced to make because of poverty, romanticising that is the indulgence of dilentantes who wouldn't dream of ascribing the same standard to their own precious lives.

richie79 said...

I think you may be right in saying that reaching 1000lb probably isn't Donna Simpson's primary goal, or at least wasn't to start with. I suspect she started out as a naturally fat person who (as happens initially with some FA advocates) started out by reacting against a society which hates fat people and venerates extreme thinness by pursuing its opposite. Whilst I would never condemn someone's lifestyle of choices, especially not based on what is likely to be a 70% fictional article in a notorious hate rag, I can't claim that I 'support' her either as I don't think she's making her own decisions entirely free from influence here. Her hubby seems to be less of an FA than a feeder (as if we genuine FAs didn't already have enough suspicion to deal with, without being misrepresented by the meeja); in addition she has a contingent of online 'fans' who despite funding her aren't concerned with her as a person or for that matter as anything but a paysite 'girl' from whose image they derive their own satisfaction - that funding is entirely conditional on the size of her body. It's a dynamic I saw played out in my Dimensions days, and one that should perhaps spark more concern for her psychological wellbeing than her physical health (fat chance of that, in a world obsessed with the superficial exterior).

Moreover, I'm also uncomfortable about the involvement of her daughter (every bit as uncomfortable, in fact, as I am about Michelle Obama's daughters being wheeled out in support of her own crusade against fat people). Ultimately whatever else people may say about Donna Simpson, she must have some strength of character to not only resist the pressure for all fat people to get WLS but to willingly present herself to the frothing critique of the world's rabidly fatphobic press and its readers. However her daughter may not have that strength and certainly lacks much by way of agency in the whole thing. As you state it may be a strategy to avoid people saying 'I'll bet her daughter is obese too - child abuse!' but the appalling comments on that article suggest it hasn't deflected much of the criticism.

Ultimately however it's her body and therefore her business, and they can't even use the NHS as a stick with which to beat her as she's based in the US and is highly unlikely to qualify for insurance (so if she DOES have underlying health problems, size-related or otherwise, they're unlikely to be treated - way to go insurance-based healthcare!)

Whilst on the topic of the Daily Fail, did you notice this story in which Sir Liam Donaldson recommends that all British schoolchildren be subjected to annual Army-style 'bleep tests' which will be used in conjunction with the frankly evil National Child Measuring Program to measure fitness levels and send warning letters home to parents (and social services, no doubt). Woe betide anyone who's the sort of kid (like me) who preferred spending lunchtimes in the school library with a good book than engaged in the ultimately pointless activity of getting all hot and nasty chasing a ball about. Nu Labour sez 'one size fits all' (so long as that size isn't an XXL...) Scary stuff.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Thanks wriggles.

I don't think dieting is dieting, weight loss and weight gain are different, one is socially sanctioned, the other is a fetish. Actually, both can be fetishes too, I think, but in different ways.

I don't think lack of self-nurture is a good enough explanation for what is going on here.

Wriggles, I think you have called me names before, classist and dilettante are new though. And yeah, it's dehumanising.

wonderful woman said...

Hmmm that's interesting. I don't get 'romanticism' from charlotte's post at all. In fact I think what she's doing is the opposite of romanticising.

To me, what Donna's project does is raise questions about choice and agency -and that always tends to make people hugely uncomfortable. This confronts the ideas that fat people 'do it to themselves' or what is often in opposition to this, that fat is 'natural'. These simplistic angles can never describe the complexities of our bodies. They just reduce the arguments too easily to right and wrong, good and bad, often blame and shame and ultimately as always being out of control of one's own body. What happens when it is chosen and we are in control?

This to me is a fascinating question and that it pushes raw nerves and makes people uncomfortable, it's only more so.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Hi Richie, thanks for this.

You're right about the ambiguity, who knows what's going on, or what decisions are being made.

I don't think she's making her own decisions entirely free from influence here.
Do any of us ever make decisions free from influence? I get what you're saying about her body being her income, and that having a bearing on things. I still think her project of being the fattest is legitimate.

Also, Sir Liam Donaldson, oh god...

Charlotte Cooper said...

Hi Richie, thanks for this.

You're right about the ambiguity, who knows what's going on, or what decisions are being made.

>I don't think she's making her own decisions entirely free from influence here.
Do any of us ever make decisions free from influence? I get what you're saying about her body being her income, and that having a bearing on things. I still think her project of being the fattest is legitimate.

Also, Sir Liam Donaldson, oh god...

Anonymous said...

as long as she pays for her own health care costs and provides for her spawn after she is no longer able, she can have at it. Then again she already has a "mobility scooter" which likely was subsidized by the public writ large.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Fuck off and die, cowardly anonymous troll.

Tom said...

That a person would _aspire_ to the absurdly unhealthy weight of one thousand pounds is truly horrifying, and reactions of discomfort are appropriate.

Rather than being a self-confident, goal-oriented pioneer, I think it's more likely that she has given up on losing enough weight to be healthy (for, while we can embrace a spectrum of body sizes and shapes, it is doubtless that 600 pounds is an unhealthy weight), and this is her coping strategy. Like, if her attempts to lose weight all end in failure, she'll make sure she succeeds by choosing the opposite goal, even if that means destroying her body. It's a way to feel in control, to see the pounds go up and feel like she's winning.

I would disagree that her story utilizes stereotypes of overweight people. These are not assumptions or generalizations: they are the actual details of her story. She eats as much as possible, selecting unhealthy food almost exclusively, and she moves as little as possible. Real elements of her life, not stereotypes.

A person could also aspire to be the rudest, meanest jerk on the planet and devote his entire life to that. I would find such a goal equally admirable as Ms. Simpson's.

wriggles said...

Wriggles, I think you have called me names before, classist and dilettante are new though. And yeah, it's dehumanising.

If you are going to make an accusation, "you think" doesn't quite cut it, make sure.

And you put the cap on your own head presumably you felt that it fitted.

So pointing out the low standards you ascribe to this woman is dehumanising to your precious soul is it?

Which is the point I was making, you hold yourself to a very high standard indeed, whilst counting others very low. I don't agree with that.

I hope saying it that way spares the most important thing, your sensitive little fee fee's.

Anonymous said...

"Fuck off and die" is not a cogent counterpoint. Like it or not, we all have a social responsibility to not cause unnecessary burdens to others. If she can somehow make enough off her website to pay for the inevitable costs of immobility, the likely emotional damage to her daughter (kids are mean, and they notice what parents are like), and her share of the community sewerage costs (she's going to be producing bodily waste at 6x the rate of a 'normal' woman), then go to town.

Anonymous said...

wow, forget I said anything. Troll? I found your site on a google search, found the conversation to be interested and added a point. Sorry that you find it offensive. Enjoy your anger.

ryan said...

"or it could be part of Simpson's own marketing spiel for her website"

I challenge you to find her website url. You won't find it. I don't know what that says about the original story, but take that as you will.

Miriam Heddy said...

One of the things that's interesting about her project is the ways it points to the arbitrary distinctions people make in what body modification they accept when the person doing it is motivated by money.

Fashion models regularly starve themselves--sometimes for years (and sometimes to the point of death) but, though there's some faint echoes of concern about that, there's no mass movement to ban the practice, nor are there boycotts of the brands that hire these models. And actors like Renee Zellweger, Robert DeNiro, and George Clooney and others purposefully undergo major bodily changes for roles and are lauded for it. Their body is seen as part of their "instrument" and nobody ever talks about the effects of their jobs on their families.

At one time, actors were classified as prostitutes because they sold their bodies as public spectacles.

One could argue that modern day actors and models are all in need of counseling because they are emotionally needy, desirous of applause, and are so desperate to sell themselves that they're willing to change their bodies in unnatural ways.

And even as Donna Simpson is being pathologized for wanting to get fatter, people are arguing that Gabby Sidibe needs to lose weight if she wants to work in Hollywood.

Hypocrisy abounds.

Anonymous said...

Donna is not only hurting herself, but increasing the costs of insurance premiums, and choosing to become fully dependent on other people for her lifestyle (food, finances, medical, etc.). She's making a choice to become dependent on calories & others. This is similar to, or no different than, drug & alcohol addictions. She creating hand-cuffs and a cave to live within.

I don't know the full story; the only way this is fair to her family and others, is if she is rich enough to pay for her own medical costs, cancel any insurance benefits (e.g. disability, medical, life, etc.), and any entitlements she's eligible for that she's currently receiving that should wouldn't be receiving if she choses a healthier lifestyle. You can be a 6-year old to know this is unhealthy; you don't need to be a doctor or specialist to know that 1000lbs, and eating 12000 calories daily is unhealthy.

Charlotte, don't even bother responding to my post, or other anonymous posts; you've clearly made your position about the way you feel the need to be snarky towards anonymous postings. I don't see any trolling here, but this article isn't a debate on anonymous comments, or ones' feelings towards them. Just add an "Anonymous" button to your website (http://www.charlottecooper.net/) to discuss your issues about privacy and/or anonymous comments. Anyone else, feel free to comment.

JennyRose said...

I think the attraction to thin women is a fetish. It is just so common that it has been normalized so it does not have the "stigma*" of a fetish.

I have an ED and have been in treatment for several years. One thing that is often told to anorexics and bulimics is that we should speak with our voices, not our bodies. To be clear, I am not saying she has an ED and I don't think that is the point here anyway.

I have no problem with the idea of fetishes but there is a general societal disapproval of it, or at least the term as a descriptor.

Chris Gregory said...

I'm with Charlotte. How is Donna Simpson's ambition any more crazy or stupid or risky than the world of professional or high-end amateur sports? People put in much more effort to achieve even stupider goals. Did you watch the Winter Olympics? Did you know someone DIED? How is that admirable, if Donna Simpson's goal is shameful?

Most of societies' goals (accruing vast amounts of capital, being on TV) are profoundly pointless and stupid, but they're familiar goals and accepted as valid pursuits. If Donna's come up with a novel way to make the most of her talents, she should be free to pursue her goal. You don't have to approve, but you should be tolerant.

Alexandra said...

She reminds me of the woman from the Claude Tardat novel, 'Sweet Death'.

I believe that people should be able to do whatever they please with their bodies, but I take issue with her producing offspring at the weight that she was.
There are significant health risks that impact the child if the mother is overweight during pregnancy.



Mothers who abuse drugs,smoke,under eat,drink alcohol, etc, during their pregnancies are immediately vilified, but the risks of being overweight during pregnancy are just as significant.
I think that it's a mothers prerogative to be as healthy as possible during pregnancy, because you are sharing your body with another human being who has not asked to be conceived, but may have to bear the disabilities or health issues that result from the gestation period, for the rest of their lives.
Incidentally, it would be interesting to learn more about her background from a psychological point of view.
Her mother (who died during her childhood) equated food with love, whilst her new stepmother attempted to put her on a diet. Now her support system consists of a partner who encourages and enables her lifestyle, where many people in that same situation would encourage her to be healthy (because at her weight, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be healthy) so that they can live a longer and more fulfilling life. I wonder if she chose her partner, in part for the enabling role that he would play in her life..
I think your parents attitude to food greatly impacts on your eating habits later in life.
When I was a child, my mother was constantly on a diet, and from the age of about 11, I would join her on various dieting reigemes, to win approval, and prove that I was 'grownup'
When I started living with my partner, he was shocked at my eating habits, which I assumed were normal (eating slimfast for 2 out of 3 meals, not eating carbs,etc)
She may think she's made an independent choice to live her life that way, but I doubt that.

wonderful woman said...

It's interesting that people who spout on about the costs to healthcare/society when it comes to fatness never seem to consider the costs to healthcare that dieting may induce. And let's not forget about WLS and the ongoing health side effects of that 'cure'. When it comes down to economics and fat the marriage between drug companies, diet companies, governments and Big Pharma is obscene and well documented. However because - as Charlotte says - dieting is socially sanctioned and seen as what fatties should 'do' to 'cure themselves' it's rarely problematised... Oh unless it leads to ED and women becoming too thin. Thinness is a double edged sword and women are seen as victims of it. Us fatties do it to ourselves and so should be held accountable to the 'costs'.

I think there's a dodgy slope to talk about attraction to body types and shapes and sizes as fetishism. I am not arguing that being turned on by someone eating/getting fatter or thinner isn't a fetish but attraction to fat people or thin people isn't automatically a fetish. I'm not wishing to suggest that fetishisms are an 'issue' - far from it. But I do think there's often a knee jerk reaction to view attraction as fetishism when it comes to body size instead of it being part of the wider complexities of why we may fancy someone. It's as if there couldn't possibly be any other reason to fancy someone of a particular size than for it to be a kink. And it's the same as blanketly labelling someone as disordered or mentally ill without actually knowing the full story or the people involved at all.

I also take offence at some of the language used to describe Donna and her family. It's as if she's an animal - 'Producing offspring'? On the Telegraph comments there was references to 'spawning' and such... Fucking hell... I mean think about it for christ's sake. But then it's ok to dehumanise fatties isn't it? We're just out of control horrendous pigs/whales/hippos etc etc etc...

Anonymous said...

I know some people can be obsessed with being very thin, to an unhealthy extent.
But as a health care professional, that's not the main point of this situation. Being excessively overweight or excessively thin are BOTH unhealthy.
The word 'diet' has a negative rap, and I agree that 'diets' (when it's used temporarily) usually don't work.
But the word 'diet' also means a routine way of eating that can be lifelong, and adopting a healthy diet is better for overall health.
It's not about being 'thin', but being a healthy weight range.
Not everyone is meant to be a size 2, but that doesn't mean that people should make excuses why they can't be an average healthy weight for their height.
It may be very difficult for some (I have a couple obese family members)but it's possible to choose healthy eating habits. Even if not everyone can be thin, a person doesn't have to be obese IF they try to eat healthy and at least have some form of regular activity.

This woman trying to eat to gain more weight on purpose is just being very irresponsible with her health, and is a ticking time bomb. Most people don't live long when they are morbidly obese, or they often develop many health problems that are usually life threatening, diabetes, hypertension, etc. etc.

I heard her say on TV that she's NOT worried about the health effects of gaining so much weight. She's just very ignorant of the amount of stress she's already putting on her heart, joints, lungs, as she is so overweight already. All that excess fat in the stomach also releases excess toxins. She may not feel the effects now (though she is not that active and can't be, but doesn't seem to bother her) but she's still relatively young. Doesn't mean she can't have a sudden heart attack in the near future, or develop diabetes, which has a host of problems.

I don't care about what's fashionable or considered ideal for bodies. But as a health care pro, I care about what the effects of unhealthy diets do to a person's health.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone that's mailing her gift certificates for MacDonalds, are also sending money to her insurance companies, and others that will eventually need to lift her out of her apartment with a crain . Her health plan currently expects an increase of $33k/yr just in cost increases, when (probability extremely high) she develops diabetes. Add specialists for heart & weight complications, including assistants for her weight-based disabilities, limitations, and human-rights issues.

There's a big difference between choosing to live overweight, or even be obese and make an effort to eat healthy, natural foods. Choosing to eat to 1000lbs is a destructive goal to herself, and a huge cost to those she becomes dependent on. Anyone - find me a doctor (homeopath or medicine doctor or nutritionist) that disagrees, and I'd love to read their arguments, proofs and/or evidence that choosing to gain wait to the point of obesity is not destructive.

I agree for freedom; we are free to live our lives in any such way we want, as long as we aren't intentially causing harm or difficulties on anyone else. What happens if she makes it to 1000lbs? Is she prioritizing being a parent, or potentially putting them in jeopardy?

I agree, the Western Culture strongly influences the way women "should" look, which causes Anorexia - the most addictive condition to get over.

I just don't get what this mother is trying to prove; how she's demonstrating any responsibility financially; how she's teaching her children how to live without being dependent on others.

Sure, she's providing entertainment online to people that like to watch her body move with little clothing (call it what you want), but what is she really teaching by eating herself to 1000lbs? Its not breaking any records. Why not prove or show that you can be obese at 400lbs, and be independent & maintain healthy lifestyle choices at a realistic obese weight. 1000lbs is just like proving i can drink poison. both end in death. junk food is slow death; poison is faster death; obesity is somewhere in between.

Bruce Sawatsky

Anonymous said...

@wonderful_woman, I second your disgust with Alexandra's reference to "producing offspring."

I think it's no accident that, when issues of bodily autonomy come up, particularly in the context of a woman's bodily autonomy, the uterus becomes the site of concern trolling.

And I would respond to that at length, but at the moment all I can do is name it as deeply problematic to not question the very science that privileges the comfort of admittedly fatphobic medical professionals over fat women (who are, overwhelmingly, both seen as asexual, given little help with fertility issues, and, when pregnant, are routed to high risk C-sections rather than being allowed to birth naturally).

I should also note that Melissa, at Shakesville, has a good post on bodily autonomy and health here:

Anonymous said...

It's questionable whether or not becoming the world's fattest woman is really her intention; it could be the Daily Mail's journalistic spin on running a random stereotype-filled story about a superfat woman on the eve of bikini season – always a crowd pleaser; or it could be part of Simpson's own marketing spiel for her website.

Quite true. I also wouldn't be surprised if she exaggerates what she eats just a wee bit. (See also "straight" porn stars talking about how they were DDs before surgery ;)

The Honkey said...

I have no problem with someone choosing to do this provided that she's willing to forego her access to medical care. No doctor is going to support this ridiculous idea. It almost seems like the last ditch effort of someone who has given up on life. She knows she'll never be thin or at least reasonably fit so as a means of giving up, she aspires to go the other way entirely. It's a defeatist mentality taken to the extreme. It'd be like being HIV positive and rather than doing your best to make a healthy lifestyle change, to go out of your way to share as many needles as possible while simultaneously taking it up the hoop unprotected from as many AIDS infected people as possible on your quest to be infected with every known strain to man. Both journeys in irresponsibility will ultimately end up in premature death.

Kerri said...

The philosophic legacy of the British Poor Law Act (1601) and the Poor Law Amendment Act (1834) - embued with notions of the worthy and unworthy poor - are with us still in the puffed-up moral outrage that, as ever is in these enlightened days (as in days past), is clothed in the guise of 'educated concern' as evinced in here the posts by Anonymous/Bruce and others on many fat-related blogs.

How we do still seek to control and 'correct' the behaviour of these misguided, lazy, drunken, fat and "ignorant" poor people! Poor babies - for their own good we must show them, always, the error of their ways.

We in Australia or the US did not escape having our accepted, normative views, shaped by the values underlying the 'worthy and unworthy poor' worldview conveyed in these Acts and before. As a consequence we may feel secure in espousing these assumptive views as being somehow intrinsic human values when the reality is that someone(s) must have the power to judge who it is who are worthy to be cast our benevolent, collective pittance.

Implicit in these values is the acceptance of the 'rightness' of this very real power imbalance. For evidence of the seldom challenged assumptions within the ongoing worthy/unworthy dialogue we need look no further than your posts.

That the poor (and I'm not saying Donna Simpson is poor - I don't know anything about her economic situation)are still being judged for their moral behaviour using standards more limiting of personal freedom than for those not poor is evident when you say that "the only way this [her intentional weight gain] is fair to her family and others, is if she is rich enough to pay for her own medical costs...". So for you, if a person is rich s/he is free to gain weight, if not rich then s/he is not free to do so without negative sanction and judgement.

You say many times that insurance premiums will be increased by her actions yet you do not question the your implicit assumption that only those rich enough to pay for insurance should receive good health care and therefore imply that those umemployed or unable to afford healthcare insurance should have have their access curbed accordingly. I would suggest your premiums also pay for those engaging in extreme sports and sports in general, car drivers, the elderly, those with respiratory disease who 'opt' to live in smog-ridden cities, insurance executives' lifestyles etc on and on.

Most of your 'concern' as voiced in your posts is for your wallet - and while you are entitled to voice that concern, you could have done so without the morality guise that comes along with such an unquestioned acceptance of the ethos of individualistic capitalism. And yes, my own post strongly speaks of my own worldview as do all of our posts.

In general, my own opinion about intentional weight gain is that our bodies, as adults, are ours to do with as we please (given ideal parity of choice). Of course the situation of an individual person's life is more complex than that statement conveys, but without knowing Donna Simpson I cannot comment more.

Even if I did know her her body would still be her business. And that - I believe - IS an intrinsic value.

Alexandra said...

I didn't use the term 'producing offspring' to belittle Donna Simpson, or her child.
The first part of my argument was based on medical evidence and theory, hence use of medical terms 'producing offspring' rather than 'having a child' and 'gestation period' rather than 'during pregnancy'
Like it or not, humans ARE just animals, and we do 'produce offspring'
If I was talking about a friend or person I knew, I would use the term 'had a baby'
But if I was discussing a patient, or debating on a medical point, then I would use the term 'offspring'
I don't personally see it as offensive, but if other people want to see it that way so they can sit around wailing 'everyone hates fat people'...that's fine.
Also, wonderful woman - you're the person who used the value laden terms 'pigs/whales/hippos etc'
I don't believe the term 'producing offspring' is species limited.

Miriam_heddy -
yes, unfortunate, overweight women do have more trouble conceiving than women who fall into the 'normal' weight range.
As such, the first 'line of attack' that would be suggested by ANY good doctor is that the woman attempt to lose weight, before other medical options are discussed.
I don't see how this is unreasonable or prejudiced - if a fertility expert saw a couple who both smoked heavily, he would recommend that they both stop smoking, as the chemicals in cigarettes lower sperm count and motility,etc.
So why shouldn't overweight women be advised that in order to conceive a baby, they may well need to lose weight, if this information is medically valid?
Similarly, overweight people are advised to lose weight before surgical procedures, due to possible complications with anesthetic. Is this also being 'fatist'?
And it's absolutely absurd to say that overweight women are punished by being 'made' to have C-sections.
They aren't 'made' to do any such thing, but rather advised that it may become necessary during labor, for both their health, and their childs health.
C-sections are never advised lightly, but unfortunately they are sometimes medically necessary.
If you want to be overweight,fine.
But you're being incredibly naive if you refuse to accept the medical implications.
I am a light smoker, and it would be absurd for me to walk around saying 'I enjoy smoking, and it's having no ill effect on my health whatsoever - it's the doctors who have a problem, not me'

Anonymous said...

What about the people she could very well possibly leave behind? This is suicide, its like someone shooting themself in the head and then having it published all over the internet and the tv, and having some people say they applaud them please!

Anonymous said...

A pathetic woman desperately craving attention. Hell of a mother, she'll be dead before she sees her daughter graduate high school.

Anonymous said...

This is ridiculous! Who is going to be saddled with raising her kids when she dies of a heart attack or becomes unable to care for herself.
Will the public be required to pay for her health care? How can she work and pay for her apparent gluttony? Or is that too our responsibility? These are the issues that ought to be factored into the discussion, rather than name calling.

rodger said...

I have a hard time with someone so damn selfish and self serving.
Under Obamacare, the hard working people who pay taxes and pay for their own health insurance will end up paying this fat hogs healthcare. Does that sound fair to you?
With any luck, this pig will have a coronary and put us out of her misery.

South Philly Italiana said...

This is nothing but a suicide attempt. She's just too cowardly to pull a trigger or down some pills, so she's doing in the slow way. Great mom, the kid should be taken away from her.

Anonymous said...

As a Registered Nurse, I am disgusted with this goal on so many levels. You may not think that she is hurting anyone but herself, but she will rack up more healthcare costs, and although her insurance may pay for it, this is why insurance premiums in general rise. Not to mention what her level of consumption does to the environment. Shame on her and shame on you for supporting her. How about trying to be a more considerate person and think of how everyone suffers.

And not to mention as a nurse in a hospital, it takes more manpower to "help" these people. Do you want us to risk our own health (orthopedic) to help maneuver someone who doesn't want to help herself??? Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

I think the woman is completely off her head and very selfish. I cannot say much for the boyfriend either who is pushing her on to do it. Pretty sad what people will do just to get attention. I feel sorry for her daughter having to live with a mother who apparently has a death wish (death by food)

Anonymous said...

This woman is clearly starving for some attention. As a nurse I would hate to be the one that is going to have to move this lady around and wipe her butt in a few months, when she cant move. How selfish is she, she has a daughter she should be thinking about. She really needs to be committed. What that child will have to go through for her mother to reach that ridiculous goal in uunimaginable.

Anonymous said...

Has she thought about the possibility of becoming ill from obesity related diseases and dying, leaving her beautiful little girl without a mommy?
That's leaves US, the taxpayers footing the her bills - medically and personally. Is food stamps paying for that case of potatoe chips?

Asmeen said...

I really would like to contact Donna Simpson and ask her about her mental condition. What kind of woman with children would be so selfish to be concern only about her-self in such a negative way? The reason I say negative is how will she interact with her children once she is 1000lbs? How does she interact with them now? I am sure the activity is very limited and just to get some fame...there are other ways to get fame Ms. Simpson, such as investing time and effort in your children so they may become the best they can be, not killing yourself with hambergers. Theres no way this woman gives a damn about her children, I saw some pictures of the "family" which consist of Donna, her son about 15 and daughter about 5 on MSN.com. Neither one of the childerens hair looked like it had ever been combed or wash and their clothes looked old and dirty. Why do people do neglect their children and think only of themselves, when she dies from obesity, then the children will not have a mother at all, even though they barely have one now. I will pray for the Simpsons. If I could contact Ms. Simpson personally I would, however, if she happens to read this or someone who can contact her happens to read this please let her know my message.

Jodie said...

I think it is ridiculous. Someones life span at that weight is very short. That is the difference in dieting to lose weight, and dieting to be morbidly obese. She has a precious little daughter whom she needs to be thinking of and setting an example.

Anonymous said...

Wow... she's fat, and she's going to die. I only feel bad for her daughter..she did not ask to be born into this "I give up on life so let's be the fattest ever" game.

Asmeen said...

Ms. Donna Simpson, if you happen to read this, please read it well. Do you give a damn about you health or you childrens health? Actually this goal you are so anxious to reach answers that question, NO. You can't, how are you going to interact with your children at 1000lbs? You can barely interact with them now, you have to sure a scooter just to get around because you cannot move more than 200 feet without it. I happen to see pictures of you and your children on MSN.com and it looks like neither you or your kids have had a good bath in years, uncombed hair and hand-me-down clothing. All you care about is you, and some fame...bet you are dreaming of making it on Opera aren't you? Well I hope you never see the day for this misconception of fame you call youself going for. If you want fame, invest in your children, this is their time now and they are beautiful, but all Donna wants to do is eat. Am I being harsh, yes I am because you need some sense knocked into you woman. You will probably die of obesity or be left completely diabled and your children will be the ones who suffer. I am praying for you and your family Ms. Simpson, I really hope you get some serious help with your self-esteem problems and turn to a higher power. If you would like some advice email me, I be glad to help.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the people who are posting about the health care issue. If this woman really wants to go for this goal and does achieve it, fine, this is a free country. Aside from that, I do not think that her health care bills should be covered by any state or federal assistance. This woman is chosing to put her health in jeopardy just so that she can get her 15 minutes of fame. That does not mean that the rest of us should have to pay for her SSI, diabetic supplies, coronary bypass surgeries and probably the inevitable gastric bypass surgery when she realizes that she can no longer "chase after her daughter" since she will not be able to stand up any more at 1000lbs. By the time she reaches her "goal weight" the hype and the spotlights will be gone until they have to remove a window to get her out of the house to go to the hospital.

Dr Sardone said...

When most overweight or obese people are struggling to lose body fat and become healthy, this female is deliberately gaining and destroying herself - but her story is all over the internet bringing her instant fame and maybe a TV reality show. The irony of it - I have been diligently trying to promote my book through advertising, TV appearances and writing articles and blogs, in order to help people lose-weight and become healthy, which in my mind is a worthy cause. Yet, this lady gains weight and instantly becomes known - only in America. Dr. Sardone, author of The Naked Truth: Overweight, Overwhelmed and Confused

Anonymous said...

You people do know that this is all just free publicity and exposure for her website, right? But in any event I applaud her effort. Gaining and being fat is a big societal F.U. in the face of fascist conformity. The fact that the diet industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise and people in the US are getting fatter by the year says something very interesting about of society. It says that many people are fed up with being told what is good for them, what they should eat, how they should live, what they should look like and how they should be raising their children. The hand-wringers, whiners, alarmists and do-gooders of this world need to just take a breath and stop feeding into the idea that people need to be controlled and saved from themselves.

Anonymous said...

Hey! I Know!! Why not try to acheive the 'target' of becoming the woman with the most bullets in your skull? You could make your world attempt on TV so we could all witness it! Howzat???

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Let her f#$%##g blow up.

Anonymous said...

donna simpson is a sick pig - not only physically but also mentally and so are you for defending this disgusting sub-human. I hope she dies of a heart attack before reaching her goal. Her children would be better off under the protective care of convicted child molestors.

Anonymous said...

hmmmmmmm, a path to suicide leaving children and family behind, somehow that doesn't seem "heroic" to me. Great thing to tell your friends, "yes, my mother died trying to be the world's fattest woman" Man, I just can't believe the morons out there.

tickleyou said...

I have an old saying, "Pigs is pigs"!

rhonda said...

i think its disgusting!! period.i think its a scam for attention for whatever reason..either money or getting doctors to take care of her illnesses including mental and others..the whole world is going crazy.she is one example of this.i feel sorry for her family.i do not feel sorry for her though.she is going to die at a very young age because of what she is doing to her body..come on....are you kidding me?

Anonymous said...

"who are you to decide what's natural? What's healthy? What's pathological?"

Ummm, I'm not morbidly obese and disgusting, that's who.

Who are you but a fat homosexual apologist... oh yeah... YOU'RE A CREDIBLE SOURCE OF KNOWLEDGE ABOUT HEALTH AND PATHOLOGY!

Leading by example no doubt.

Charlotte Cooper said...

"a fat homosexual apologist" hhahaaaaaaaaaaa!

wonderful woman said...

people tend to switch to dehumanising language when talking about fat people - that was my point. And if my listing the animals that fatties are often compared too (including myself as a fatty by writing 'we') wasn't read as sarcasm then that's really not my fucking problem.

zack stevens said...

okay... this is fucked up. why would you want to become so fat, and so unhealthy. shes setting a bad example for her daughter. i wonder how that little girl is gonna feel when her mom dies from a heart attack in about two years? that woman is a disgrace to all fat people who want to lose weight. me? i'll enjoy being skinny, cause im not f*cked in the head like that woman.

vicky said...

Both Cooper and Simpson are nut cases. No need to elaborate, it's obvious why.

Donna59 said...

I read this story, saw the picture of this woman with her daughter and felt sadness. With all the medical information we have in regards to obesity and it's negative affects on the body, how can one 'support' this woman. She will die a young woman and leave her daughter motherless. What a lofty goal!!

I live in the country of insurance-based healthcare and feel we have one of the best healthcare systems in the world. I certainly would not want my tax dollars going to support someone who is this self-destructive. However, if she asked for assistance there would be numerous offers to help this woman become more healthy. The overall goal should be her health not her appearance.

I am overweight, but taking steps to become more healthy. I have a son with serious medical issues(our healthcare system has saved his life more than once!). My goal is not to fit into a size 2, it is to become more healthy and hopefully extend my life so I can be here for him.

Dan W said...

I consider myself a fat activist. I support personal freedom and choice. However, I am uncomfortable in admitting that I struggle to understand/support Donna's decision.

I think my discomfort stems from what I see as the inevitable loss of freedom that she is journeying toward with her increasing weight (purely on a mechanical level of her frame being able to support that much weight). But then who I am to equate lack of physical mobility with a loss of freedom? The whole thing is doing my head in....

I guess this is more of a 'think out loud' post rather than pro/con either way. I see this as a hugely political act (i dont know if it is for her or not) but I cant help but wonder if she will be the loser?

PS I am not a fan of the repeated use of 'pig' as a descriptor... note the use of this term in the anonymous posts.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Hi Dan, thanks for this.

I think part of what makes the Simpson story powerful for me is that it makes me consider the limits of embodied freedom, and my support fro them.

Not what I think about her is going to make any difference to what she does.

But yeah, the whole thing is doing your head in, and everybody else here's too! It's clearly a powerful story that is really pushing people's buttons, so perhaps worth pursuing with further thought.

I'm sorry about the fatphobic comments. I've decided to publish everything that's come along, including the offensive stuff, and including things that attack me personally, because I think they offer a way in to thinking about why Simpson is such a contentious figure.

Anonymous said...

charllote, your writing all of this because your fat. why do you defend this woman? she is a disgusting waste of space. ( i feel bad for her husband too.)

Charlotte Cooper said...

Yeah, I am writing this because I'm fat.

I've said why I am defending Simpson in my post.

Victoria said...

Somebody contact child services and get those children into a safe place. Charge the mother with child abuse. This is the most irresponsible and ridiculous thing that I have ever heard of. For these kids to have to be subjected to this selfish womans obscene quest is unconscionable.

Anonymous said...

This does not send a positive message to the obesity problem our nation faces. Who pays for all this food and am I expected to provide health care for this abnormal (self inflicted) lifestyle?
Personally I do not care if she ingests so much of anything that she explodes as long as this person is responsible for any health and medical problems and I do not pay one red cent for her feeding.

Anonymous said...

It's way to get attention,15 minites of fame. unfortunately she going to find out the cost of all this going to be high. to her,her family and least important to society. may god watch over her!

Jessie said...

I am always amazed by the number of people that think fatness is a behavior. Think about it, people--would you say skin color is a behavior just because people can do a limited amount to change their skin color, some people have made drastic changes to their skin color, and societal norms and conditions often cause the average skin color of the population to vary?

Looking at that first anonymous comment, I'm also thinking about how people often seem to use "in need of counseling" as a dismissive statement, and even as a kind of punishment--"you're out of line, I'm going to (symbolically) send you to counseling." I'm not sure whether this is because they think the only people who need counseling are people with severe delusions & hallucinations, or whether they see counseling as a process where someone yells at you and whips you into conformity.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to be anoymous, I just dont see where to put my name (it is Kevin by the way)
I am impressed with the posts here, I think most all of them are well thought out and valid. I see and understand all points of view. I just dont agree with the view that it is her body and she can do what she wants. I believe every human has a feduciary (sp) responsibility to better the society around you. If she wants to be the best of something, she should find what she is good at, maybe psychology, or teaching or even driving a cab, and be the best at it. What she is doing is akin to the "balloon boy" story. There are people out there who think thier life is so unnaturally boring they are willing to do anything possible to gain attention.If you are just wasting your life, you are not being fair to the rest of society.

cmsep said...

In reading all of the comments left by different people I am overwhelmed. There is concern for her health, her children, people's wallets, how this affects society, and how it changes the comfortable "norm" that people are used to living in.

I am an overweight young woman. I have tried and tried to lose weight with no success. No I did not do this to myself! For those of you wanting to say "fat people are lazy and all they do is eat" I say look in the mirror and face the issues that are really bothering you. I am very active. I work at a school and teach and play with very energetic 4-6 year olds all day. I swim and work out (uncomfortably next to "twigs") at a gym 4 days a week. I try to eat healthy. But my weight will probably never be below 250 and that still makes me obese according to medical health charts that tell me I'm supposed to weigh half of that.

Society loves to judge people based on the way they look, talk, sound, walk, what they wear, what they drive, where they live, and their annual income. I see it as a way for someone to feel better about themselves and puff up their egos.

With all of that being said, I want to slap this woman. She is going to be taking away the very most important person in her childrens' lives away from them...their mom! I recently lost my mom less than 6 months ago. Everday day I envy people that still have their moms or were able to have them around until they got married and had kids and accomplished whatever other various milestones they had in their life. But at the same time I remind myself every day that there is someone out there that had their mom for less time than I did. It may be messed up that I have to think that way to get me through the day but how dare this woman take that precious time away from her children! I would give anything to have my mom around for 5 more minutes and she wants to go and steal that time away from them. If she still wants to do this when her daughter is old enough and out of the house then be my guest. Go ahead and go for the goal of slowly killing yourself. But please, please, please realize what you are taking away from your children this very second. Look out to the future for a moment and imagine what your children will be able to accomplish with their lives and ask yourself if you want to be there when they graduate from high school or if you just want to be a pile of ashes somewhere. You have a brain...start using it!!!!

spinsterwitch said...


These comments are amazing to me. Those of you who work in health care do not clearly work with chronic conditions much, do you, if you think that "most" people are motivated by their health in a sustained way. This is why there is are issues of "compliance" in so much of healthcare.

As for Donna - it is hard for me to see this in a fat acceptance light, but I know that where she fits in in her particular expression of body and self would probably be closer to BDSM. But I'm also aware that the BDSM community would not accept this easily either.

Still, here is what is my take. This is an adult woman who has made choices about her body and the control she has over it. These are still, to my knowledge, choices she has a right to make in this country. If she doesn't have the right, then we do need to start restricting other rights much more severely, like the right of people to carry guns ('cause guns kill more than obesity), or drive cars ('cause cars kill more than obesity), or go to war (since certainly more people have died in war every year since the beginning of our species, than ever will die of obesity....and we keep funding that).

As for her children: there is no evidence of neglect or abuse there. There are all sorts of parents who raise their children with far more destructive ideas, and somehow they don't get taken away from their families.

I'm going to get off my soap box now and go take a decongestant.

LottieP said...

Charlotte, bravo to you for leaving some of these hateful comments up here.

Donna's story makes me uncomfortable too but for me, the most important thing you're doing here is asking us to question our own reactions to it. And that's pretty valuable. Sadly many of your commenters seem consumed with confusion, fear and rage, but at least that can be seen for what it is.

For what it's worth, although I have my own concerns about Donna's story, I absolutely support what you are doing here.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Love to you LottieP.

Dan W said...

I raised this story at a family dinner.... Oh Jesus, did it cause a ruckus!

I have also been the target of the 'you are only doing/writing this because you are fat'. Um, no shit Sherlock?!

Alexandra said...

Wonderful woman -
and my point was that overweight people seem desperate to see prejudices where there are none.

I've been trying to think about how I'd feel about this story if there where no children involved..
I think it would still make me very uncomfortable - not necessarily the 'overweight' factor, but more how this lady is so irrevocably destroying herself, in a slow and self meditated process.
I think as humans, that kind of thing makes us uneasy, because we are programmed for survival.

Anonymous said...

I find it rather amusing how so many of the commenter’s are prattling on about how Donna Simpson is potentially costing them tax money. It’s really disconcerting how the stupid come crawling out of the wood work screaming at the mire mention of a fat person possibly requiring public assistance money; especially when we lose an estimated 60 BILLION a year in Medicaid costs to direct fraud alone. Talk about misplaced concern; it’s almost too ridiculous to address. I will never be able to reconcile the fact that most people cannot see the forest for the trees and only even lift there heads out of the sand when something that is gossip rag fodder passes for news worthy. Donna Simpson is not the problem, she is nothing more than a by-product of a society that is totally self absorbed and addicted to the sensational. Most of you people need a reality check and for Gods sake think and get informed before you open your mouths. The internet can be a wonderful place but it has also give the ignorant and blatantly stupid a voice and that is never a good thing.

rodger said...

Yep Im sure you can't see the difference. Must be the forest and the trees. Why don't you just send her YOUR money? Why don't YOU pay for her health insurance? Are YOU going to be there to comfort her kids when she dies from being obesity? I think not.

Anonymous said...

It's her choice, people. If she wants to, let her.