More Letters to Radiance
A Resource to Share
I received my first issue of Radiance yesterday and I love it! Thanks for
the quick response to my subscription request. I am in the
telecommunications industry and put together an internal magazine and a web
site, so I know the work that goes into endeavors like yours. Great job! I
have plans to pass the magazine on to both of my sisters. My mother already
plans to read Radiance over the weekend.
You asked how I came across Radiance. I am a thirty-seven-year-old woman
attending the University of Denver, The Womenís College. The class that I
am in right now is Gender Communication. When I had to give a speech on a
topic about women and communication, I chose discrimination against
overweight women and who or what feeds into that discrimination. When I
began my search for resources to support my speech I came across the web
site for NAAFA and their link to Radiance.
I was immediately impressed with your site,
and excited to see a magazine that hailed large women. For my next class, I
have to present an article on education, and I will be using an essay I read
in Radiance reprinted from George
magazineís book, 250 Ways to Make America Better.
Theresa J. Winslow
Taking a Chance with Dance!
I just got the Winter 2000 issue. Whew! Radiance always has something timely and
meaningful for me. Finding the magazine in my mailbox
has become red-letter day.
The Winter issueís feature on dance seemed
particularly serendipitous. A good friend insistently recommended that I get
Gabrielle Rothís book Sweating Your Prayers: Movement as Spiritual
Practice. Rothís presentation of dancing as a way to access oneís soul
sounded so wonderful, so possible. However, I came to the book with a lot of
resistance: Iím 240 pounds in a five-foot-three-inch body, and I was
raised in a restrictive fundamentalist religion that forbade dancing. So,
here I was, a fat, forty-five-year-old woman who had never learned to dance
and didnít have an ounce of rhythm. I was even embarrassed to dance alone
in my own house.
arrived, filled with inspiring stories of women my size or larger who
decided to take a chance with dance. I realized that it didnít matter that
I didnít know how to dance and that it didnít matter that I had no
rhythm: I could simply move to the music and not worry about form. I
realized that while dancing alone in my house I was my only audience and my
only critic. I decided to silence the critic in me and focus on being an
appreciative audience. (Would you look at that woman? She can shake her
stuff!) The next step for me will be to find a dance class and learn to
dance just for fun! What a concept.
So, once again, Radiance
has helped me find the courage to push back my (mostly self-imposed)
boundaries. Thank you.
As someone who has been an avid dance
enthusiast for the past forty years (and whoís been plus size for the past
twenty-five years), let me say, Three cheers and star-studded halos to you
and your staff and contributors for the Winter 2000 edition! Thank you,
thank you, and thanks again. Itís terrific! Iím the type of person who
enjoys all types of music and rhythms. I tap, I square dance, I merengue, I
do flamenco, and I do ballet. And I can sing and dance like a ďBroadway
babeĒ (which Iíve been called!).
When I discovered modern interpretive dance,
it became my favorite form of exercise. Some injuries to my ankles, tendons,
and knees have slowed me down a bit, but I havenít stopped dancing yet.
Dance is so invigorating, so rejuvenating: it makes you feel that you can
fly and soar above all of lifeís stresses. Itís fabulous!
Since coming to the Virgin Islands fifteen
years ago, Iíve been attempting to form a plus-size dance troupe. My
primary obstacle comes from large women and teenage girls whoíve been made
to feel embarrassed about their size. Please keep encouraging women with
Joanne (Jazzy Jojo) Saunders
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
For All of Us
Hello Alice, and all the great people that
make Radiance happen, I am not new to Radiance.
Throughout the years I have subscribed to or regularly purchased
the magazine. I have also held subscriptions to magazines for average-sized
women. Radiance is the best. It is the
best because it has the most honest look and feel. You mean it when you say
ďfor all sizes of large.Ē You represent diversity
and your magazine makes me feel better about myself.
San Leandro, CA
How Worthy We Are
Thank you for sending my copy of Radiance so promptly. It arrived just when I
really needed it. Yesterday was my motherís birthday, the first one since
her death. I have many issues which I am currently resolving in therapy
about our relationship, and many of them crashed down on me yesterday. I
spent a large part of the day gathering up my courage to do what my
therapist told me I would certainly have to do to resolve all this. I wrote
a long letter to my mother, saying all the things I wanted to tell her while
she was alive and never did, because I was too kind and gentle and, being
raised without self-esteem, somehow believed it was better for me to hurt
than for anyone else to do so.
Mother was a fat woman who always hated
herself. She bought the media image of beauty and died at age eighty-five
still thinking she should be thin. I am working hard to accept, love, and
celebrate my large body, to enjoy and express my beauty and sexuality, both
as a fat woman and as a woman with mild cerebral palsy. The joy, radiance,
and positive reinforcement of Radiance
is a big help. The beauty of your women is a beauty with which I can
identify. I have a lot of work still ahead of me, and all support is needed
and gratefully acknowledged. I am tired of being unhappy and feeling as if I
am not good enough or pretty enough. In order to live fully and love others
truly, I need to love me first, a challenge in this
media-dominated world of ours.
I have the extra challenge of having, quite
ironically, fallen in love with a man who is everything I always found
attractive and the kind of man society, the kids in school, and my abusive
parents said that I could never have. Ken is smart, funny, hardworking,
successful, warm, tender, caring, and unconditionally accepting. He is also
tall, lean, athletic, and absolutely gorgeous, with graying black hair and
brown eyes. And he loves me. It still amazes me, but it shouldnít. I am a
good person, a smart, funny, warm, talented, gentle, open, and naive person
with an amazing capacity for love.
With all that is going on in my life, the
images in Radiance are an important
source of support and encouragementóa reminder that I am fine as I am,
that I can be loved and happy just as I am.
Thanks for all you do and have done these
fifteen years to help real women know how special, beautiful, and worthy we
are. Your messages are needed.
Patsy L. Nevins
A Voice for Women
Each day in the life of a plus-size woman
presents new challenges, new opportunities, and new adventures. Your
magazine, and others like it, give us the weapons to fight negativity,
abuse, and mean-spirited conceptions. Thanks for being a voice for the women
who sometimes forget to speak up for themselves.
Kellee J. Hatton
I have been looking around the various areas
of your web site and canít believe my eyes! I have never seen pictures of
women like these before. If the magazine really has women like this on its
pages, Iím hooked!
I have been a reader of Mode for a while now,
and have been disappointed to see such thin girls on the pages. As the
months go by, they seem to get thinner and thinner. The pictures are
beautiful, but they still leave me feeling hurt. I see a goal that seems far
from my reach.
When I saw your images, I was so shocked that
I spilled my morning coffee. The women I saw were beautiful and really real!
Looking at them didnít leave me feeling less than, but proud to be one of
! Keep up the good work. And I hope your magazine starts getting the
publicity that Mode is getting. Itís time to get out of the ďOkay, how
about twenty pounds more ďModeĒ of thinking and step up to Radiance!
Thanks so much for making my day!
Angela in Ohio
Iím five-feet-nine-inches, 240 pounds, and work out
three days a week at the local pool. When I first decided to take a swimming
class I was bashful about being seen in my swimsuit, but the class is for
senior citizens, and I felt comfortable on the first day. No one there seems
to care what the other person looks like.
I have been heavy since I was twelve. Iíve been to a
diet clinic twice to lose sixty or seventy pounds. The weight always came
back with a vengeance within a year. Now I have learned to accept myself. I
am happily married, with two children. Iím a great cook and a happy
person, and, at age forty-five, I donít give a care what other people
think! My kids love to bring their friends home for a real meal instead of
the nuke-and-go their parents regularly feed them.
See, world: there are some fat, normally adjusted people
out there who accept themselves for what they are! I value the fact that I
am a productive, loving person. If my size offends someone, tough. Good luck
I canít say enough about how wonderful I think your
magazine is. Besides all of the fashion and beauty advice, stories, and
information on products for the full-figured woman, the message I appreciate
most from your magazine is that body size and shape is largely hereditary.
For years I struggled with body image (and am probably still struggling to a
degree). I have ranged in size from a 10/12 (living on carrot sticks and dry
tuna) to an 18/20 to my current size of 14/16. When I start to feel bad
about my size, all I have to do is look around at my family. The women in my
family are very fleshy and round (with a few exceptions: the ones who think
that living means carrot sticks and dry tuna!). Similarly, the men are
broad-backed, barrel-chested types.
Your magazine always seems to arrive just in the nick of
timeóusually when Iím thinking about trying some new ďsuper
fat-blasting dietĒ or considering adding more time to my already daily
exercise routine. Thank you for helping me to realize that I am beautiful
and that I deserve to look and feel my best, no matter what the tag inside
my clothing says or what the number on the scale registers.
Christine Lassy Mason
Get Real, World!
At forty, after four children and twenty years of
marriage, I decided that I deserved to go after my dream. I returned to
college and this spring will graduate with a business degree. I hope to get
into law school. When I was in high school I was a cheerleader and was voted
class beauty. After four children, Iím now heavier. Iím four feet,
eleven inches, and weigh 240 pounds. It has taken me many years to feel
positive about myself again, and I need the continued support from magazines
like yours. It really gets to me when companies such as Lane Bryant have
catalogs with small women modeling their clothes. Isnít it time the world
got real? I love positive things for all women. Thank you for your efforts.
Adoption for All
I have been a Radiance
reader on and off since 1985! I was given my first Radiance
by a sales associate at a clothing store in Oakland, California. I have,
through the years, enjoyed the very positive, reassuring voice of your
publication. For a long time I lacked the confidence that I had anything to
offer. I had some challenges and made some changes in my life. Now Iím
involved in a wonderful open adoption program in Pleasant Hill, California,
that I canít say enough about. I actually facilitate information and
orientation sessions for prospective adoptive parents! I want to first thank
you for being a role model for all women, especially professional women of
size, like myself.
What I want to share with you and your readers is that the
Independent Adoption Center is a nonprofit organization that does not place
unreasonable restrictions on adoptive families. Our adoptive families
represent all ages, sizes, and ethnicities, and those who are married,
single, lesbian, and gay. And most of our adoptions happen within two
years! When my best friend wanted to adopt in 1982, she was told by
several agencies that she would have to lose weight (she weighed 175 pounds
and was five-feet-nine-inches tall), and the wait for her baby would have
been seven to ten years. She was devastated. I donít want anyone to ever
experience that kind of discrimination. I would love to e-mail or share more
about our program with you and your readers. Please have people contact me
at my e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at
my business phone, 800-877-6736, extension 47.
Thanks for being there,
Dare to Believe Youíre Beautiful
Alice, youíre beautiful. I read an interview with you on
your Internet home page and found my way to your magazine and my own
subscription. The only regret I have is that I didnít find you sooner.
When I was younger I was terrified of large people who
were happy with themselves. I thought that if I dared to accept myself as I
was (and am) I would be copping out, giving up on this ďideal meĒ that
everyone else seemed to think I needed to be. I harbored fantasies about how
wonderful my life would be when I became that mythic thin person, along with
anger toward those I suspected would treat me better simply because my
appearance was acceptable to them. I desired their approval, yet knew at the
same time that my wish was hollow and superficial.
I feel some of the very old, broken places of my heart
healing when I read your articles, and the anger and hurt from clearly
remembered cruelty is being tempered by the realization that I have a right
to be happy now, not after I have nearly killed myself to make myself
acceptable to people whose hearts are hard and small. When people say I am
beautiful, I will dare to believe them! I hope you know how much that means.
Balance in the Universe
Hereís a story for you! I was in a Togoís the other
night, and a woman of generous proportions, not unlike my own lovely self,
was ordering a sandwich to go. The guy in line behind her but ahead of me
started mooing. I tapped him on the shoulder, made eye contact with him, and
said very sweetly in a ďkindergarten teacherĒ voice, ďThatís a very
good moo-cow! Can you do a horsie?Ē I never would have said a thing if my
husband werenít standing right there. The guy turned red. One of these
days my smart-assery is sure to get me a face full of knuckles. But until
then, Iíll work tirelessly to maintain balance in the universe!
On the Path
A quick note to say that your site and your magazine have
been inspirational for me. Until I started reading your articles and essays,
I was filled with self-loathing because of my lifelong battle with weight.
At the ripe old age of forty-nine, I have finally started to accept myself
as I am. I have a long way to go, but I feel that I am firmly on the path of
self-respect. Thank you for being there.
I was surfing the web this morning and came across your
site. How wonderful! Throughout my childhood my family told me that if I
were thin Iíd be loved more, Iíd be more popular, and so on. These ideas
carried on into a marriage with the same abusive language: ďIf you really
loved me, you would lose weight.Ē Iím now fifty-four years old. I have
been single for twenty years, raising children and trying to take care of
me. It has been just in the last couple of years that I have begun to like
myself the way I amóa rough battle, as we women of size all know. How
great to find your web site and see the love and encouragement! I plan on
subscribing to your magazine. Thanks for being there for us.
Wagging Tails and Sloppy Kisses
I just received my first issue of Radiance
today and have read it from cover to cover. As I finished reading one of the
best magazines I have seen in years, I started to cry. No, not just because
of your magazine, but because of a lot more.
I started a pet-sitting business less than three years
ago, in part because I wanted to work with animals, but also to leave a job
where I always felt uncomfortable being fat. When a much thinner woman got a
promotion over me, when Iíd had more time on the job and was more
qualified, that was the last straw.
With pet sitting, I donít have to face job interviews. I
donít have to deal with any more ďdo-goodersĒ who slip me Jenny Craig
coupons or diet recipes. As a pet sitter, I am always welcome at each and
every job, each and every day. I am always greeted with wagging tails and
sloppy kisses, and no one ever tells me to lose weight.
I bowed out of society as much as I was able, because I
felt so bad about myself. I didnít know that there was such a thing as
accepting yourself no matter what your size, and doing whatever you wanted
to do no matter what anyone else thought. I only knew I hated my size, and
felt sure that everyone else in the world felt the same way about fat.
Shoot, I had even gotten a divorce, something else I was sure had to do with
I didnít discover your magazine, or your on-line
presence, or anything else in this wonderful world of acceptance until a
friend gave me Camryn Manheimís book to read [Wake Up, Iím Fat!
Broadway Books, 1999]. I expected the same old story about how she made it
big, but was I in for a surprise! The very day I found her mention of your
magazine, I subscribed.
I am a fat woman fast approaching forty, and I finally
feel I may be getting the tools I need to figure out that I really am okay
and may even find out that I can do whatever I want to do.
In the meantime, I will be rereading your magazine,
starting tonight. Iím going to devour every single word until I can quote
all the positive messages by heart. Then Iím going to let them sink inside
until I finally believe in themóand in me. Then weíll see where I end
up! From now on, I am a faithful subscriber!
A Healthy Belly
Dear Alice and the Radiance Staff,
I just received my third issue of Radiance.
Iíve never before written a fan letter, but I am just bowled over. All I
can say is, Thank God! I eagerly await each issue and try to make it last.
My only complaint is that you are not a weekly. (Who am I kidding? A daily!)
I love how you face being fat head-on. Magazines like Mode seem to just want
to ignore that we are, in fact, different. Looking nice is important to our
often fragile egos, but clothes in larger sizes do not a revolution make!
Iím glad that I have Radiance
there to tell me that other fat people with belly creases are active,
adventurous, and sexual. You are unique and wonderful. When I saw your cover
girl for the Summer issue I cried, because sheís my size. She is
beautiful, not hiding or ashamed, as I have been all my life. I risked my
life having forty thousand dollarsí worth of weight loss surgery
(ultimately unsuccessful). I wish I had known about you then; I like to
think I would have been smart enough to let love and acceptance overcome the
desperate, awful soul sickness that led me to such an extreme act. Thank
you, thank you, thank you.
P.S. Iíd love to have a pen pal.
Soakiní with Radiance!
What better way to start out the New Year 2000 than with a
renewal to Radiance magazine! I would
like to thank you for the incredible work you do on this publication. It is
obvious that, in addition to being a very classy magazine, it is also a
labor of love.
I always look forward to receiving the latest issue. I
usually make a cup of tea and take a long bubble bath with my current issue.
Best of luck this New Year.
A Mixture of Feelings
First, congratulations on your latest excellent issue,
I am writing from EDENóEating Difficulties Education
Network in New Zealand. We have received your magazine for years and are
Personally, when I first started my journey of size
acceptance, I would devour your magazine, often with mixed feelings of
exhilaration, joy, sadness, rage, and then hope. Your magazine did not make
me angry. I just felt mad and sad that I hadnít had the size-positive
messages, imagery, and poetry published in Radiance
when I was a fat child or teen. So thank you for your efforts.
I also want you to know that we direct readers to your web
site for more inspiration.
A Labor of Love
I received my copy of the Winter 2000 issue, and it is (as
usual) wonderfulóbeautiful, inspiring, informative. I am especially
thrilled to see all the articles and poetry about dancing (including mine,
of course)! Over the years that I have read Radiance,
I have become more and more committed to the magazine and all it stands for,
so writing for Radiance was an exciting
labor of love for me. I will continue to spread the word about Radiance and body acceptance whenever I can. I
commend you for sticking with it all these years: it must have been a
struggle, personally and financially. All of us readers are eternally
grateful to you!
Thank you, too, for being brave enough to share your
experience of depression and how you are working to ease it. Depression is
such a widespread problem and needs to be talked about more. Again, you have
led the way.
Love and Partnership
I love Radiance! It
inspires me, and when I need an ego boost I know that I can turn to your
magazine and get the boost I need. I would like to see more articles on
being single and how to go about finding and meeting Mr. Right.
Editorís Note: Your
wish is our command! This Spring issue includes stories of love and
partnership. Our readers have been sending in answers to the question, How
did you meet Mr. or Ms. Right? Or how do you live happily as a single
person? Anyone with a (short) tale to tell or advice to share is invited to
Look for more on finding love and living single in an upcoming issue of Radiance.
Hurray, hurray for Radiance
and the way it empowers us! Thank you for the article ďSurviving Summer: Donít Sweat
ItĒ in the Summer 1999 issue. I have suffered chronically from skin
rashes, and I noticed many of my large girlfriends did, too, but no one ever
talked about it. Thank you for your frank, open handling of the subject. Itís
one less bit of shame, one less bit of embarrassment, one more positive step
for health and confidence.
been my support network, my group therapy, the tent pole of my
consciousness-raising work for many years. I recommend it to all of my
friends who are struggling with self-esteem and weight. Articles like this
and many others have given me the power to dare to live in pride and
happiness and health. As they say, living well is the best revengeóand I
am certainly enjoying my revenge to the fullest.
Seeking Womenís Health Information
I really enjoy Radiance ,
and find it to be an excellent alternative to the corporate-driven messages
of magazines like Mode, where every article seems to be an advertisement for
some product, and women over size 16 are still very marginalized.
I noticed in your Summer 1999 issue that one reader
mentioned in a letter that her weight has caused her to stop menstruating
and that she has to take drugs to compensate for this. I would like to
suggest that weight-linked menstrual complications would make an excellent
subject for a Radiance article. I have
found your reporting on medical and health issues to be very helpful, and I
know that many fat women have experienced menstrual problems for which they
cannot obtain useful or objective medical advice. It is true that body fat
can cause hormonal changes which can affect the menstrual cycle. As we all
know, most doctors just recommend weight loss as a treatment. In my
experience, doctors either try to frighten fat patients with dire warnings
or ignore their complaints altogether. I am twenty-seven years old and do
not want to take hormone pills for the rest of my life, as I fear there may
be health consequences. I would really like to read some unbiased
information on weight, the reproductive system, and the menstrual cycle, and
some advice that does not prioritize weight loss.
Out of Her Shell
Iíve been a subscriber for a few years now, and I find
your magazine to be inspirational. Prejudice against large people is
sanctioned in this society, and I have been subjected to it on several
occasions. Your magazine has given me the strength to come out of my shell,
just a few baby steps at a time. I even swim now. I am proud to say that I
subscribe to Radiance . Keep up your
very important work. I wish you all future success with the magazine.
Get Tired of the Fight
Thank you so much for all the hard work and the wonderful
magazine. I read every issue cover to cover. The letter from NKS in your
Summer 1999 issue really moved me. She really touched on a lot of important
issues, and I, too, am tired of all the problems.
I get tired of doctors not taking health problems
seriously. I hate people assuming I eat an entire cake for breakfast, or
that Iím stupid or lazy. NKS mentioned that it seems to her that people
are in denial about what they eat. Very possibly. Eating is labeled a
weakness, a dirty sin in this society, especially if you are big.
NKS should have no problem attracting nice men, but the
fact is many men are programmed that fat is comical or sad and a comment on
social stature. I know there are people out there who arenít shallow and
will appreciate a goddess, but sometimes finding them is next to impossible.
We as fat activists try hard to educate. But there is a
long way to go. Just because I have finally accepted my size does not mean
my coworkers and others have. And that affects my everyday life. Being a
woman of size is difficult, and we often have to work extra hard to get
noticed. But itís our lives to cherish or to throw away. No, NKS, you and
I wonít ever be like our thin sisters, but maybe we really kick butt in
other ways. And everyone has their problems. Itís just hard to remember
Alice, your good attitude is fantastic. Itís great to
read Radiance and not feel like a
freak. But sometimes I do just want to cry. Ever consider a ďrant and raveĒ
On-line Empathy Training
What a beautiful magazine! A friend told me about your web
site, and I went to it right away. I am in the middle, I guess you would
say, between plus and ďregularĒ sizes, and I would recommend your
magazine to people of all sizes. Itís very educational for all people. Itís
on-line empathy training! Thank you for such a valuable resource.
Dear Radiance ,
I want to say thank you for the smile your web page
brought to my face. I only wish your magazine would have been published when
I was growing up. I would have stayed home less and enjoyed my youth more.
Thank you for reminding me that I donít have to apologize for my size.
Radiance magazine is
one of the most important supports in my life. Just the thought of all those
like-minded (and like-bodied) people out there keeps me going when Iím
finding it hard to cope in this thin-obsessed world. Thanks!
East Sussex, England