Adventures in Reading — August 24 — August 30, 2015

ma2015_coverWhat did I read (and finish) this week? Look below to find out.

Poets & Writers (March/April 2015) – This issue is probably my favorite one of the year because it hosted so many diverse and different people. The articles were very lively and in-depth, and, unlike it other issues, nothing really dragged or seemed too long. I especially loved “A Profile of T. Geronimo Johnson” by Kevin Nance, “A Profile of Tracy K. Smith” by Renee H. Shea, “Going Hollywood: The Business of Film Adaptations” by Michael Taeckens, and “The Moment of Truth: Eleven Authors Share Stories of Life-Changing Retreats” by Kevin Larimer. So glad I read this, even if I came to it late.

Batgirl, Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside by Cameron Stewart (2015) – This is the first volume of Cameron Stewart and illustrator Babs Tarr’s new Batgirl run. It features Barbara (Babs) Gordan living and going to school in Burnside, coming up with her new persona, and dealing with being Burnside’s most Tweeted-about superhero. It’s a fun ride, but what really stands out are the illustrations, which are lively and gorgeous and really appeal to teen and twenty-something girls. Great fun.

The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2006) – This collection of essays has author Ayaan Hirsi Ali detailing exactly what is wrong with Islam, how it fosters terrorism, and generally why it’s bad. Ali paints with an extremely broad brush and writes in a rambling, fragmented manner. Honestly, I couldn’t finish the book. Ali jumped from anecdote to anecdote and gave no indication that she knew any one region or time period well. She just used examples to fuel her agenda. Would not recommend.

one_teacherOne Teacher in 10: LGBT Educators Share Their Stories edited by Kevin Jennings (2015) – In this newest edition, Kevin Jennings brings together the voices of a few dozen educators to talk about what it’s like being a queer teacher, where things went well, where they struggled, and what still remains to be done. I loved this book. The voices were so authentic and honest and conveyed a great deal of strength and power. I even teared up a few times. A couple of my favorite essays were “Being Gay and Brown in Private Schools” and “Finding a Way and Making One: Coming Out Brown, Feminist, and Queer.” Cannot recommend enough.

Hana-Kimi (For You in Full Bloom) by Hisaya Nakajo (1996 – 2004) ch. 112 – 138 – These chapters, while feeling both slow and forced, nonetheless present us with two of Mizuki’s biggest school highlights: 1) her and Sano telling each other that they love them and 2) someone unsupportive finding out about Mizuki’s gender. I’m not sure why several of the chapters were so unsatisfying, but by the 130s it starts to get better again. Still, I’m mostly waiting for the end now.

Ongoing manga series:

Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!/Soma’s Cooking Battles) by Yuto Tsukuda (2012 – ongoing) ch. 131 – This chapter shows the fall-out from the Soma-Terunori battle. It’s meant to humanize Terunori a bit, but I thought it fell flat.

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom) by Yusei Matsui (2012 – ongoing) ch. 150 and 151 – In these two chapters, the class tries to figure out how to go about saving Koro-sensei – only to learn they may have to go into space to do so. It’s fun and silly with great pacing. I love this manga.


Daily WTF: The South Carolina Stand with God Rally

Ted Cruz SpeechThis past weekend, approximately 10,000 people gathered in Columbia at the South Carolina State House to participate in a Stand with God/Pro-Family rally whose keynote speakers included pastors, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. The rally was in direct protest to the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation and was, because of several impassioned speeches, also a rallying cry for Christians to take back their country and stop its supposed moral degradation.

As I scrolled through the Tweets and news stories of this event, I experienced deep, visceral horror that made me cold and nauseous. I was especially disturbed by Governor Perry’s remarks, which called for “Christian soldiers” to march to Washington, D.C. and “turn over the tables of the money changers,” and likened him to Jesus Christ. I was further disturbed by Senator Cruz imploring pastors to “Stand up and preach!” as though they were not doing so constantly as a part of their jobs. And I was disturbed by the notion that people would think that our nation is a Christian nation in which only certain kinds of Christians are able to live in it with impunity.

While it would be easier to claim that we are a Christian nation and all our citizens have to be a certain type of Christian, it is neither reasonable nor accurate. Our Constitution guarantees that we can both worship what/how we choose and that it will not respect any one specific religion. Public organizations are not allowed to force people to take religious oaths to become employees, and separation of church and state is a fundamental and important part of our society. This separation ensures that people can believe what they want, that no one religion will gain an unfair advantage, and that we as a country can be welcoming to as many different people as possible. It helps create that melting pot that we are all so proud of being.

When I see rallies like this and such religiously dependent speeches from Presidential hopefuls, I genuinely do fear for my country. This rally tells me that there are thousands of people in this country who are so angry at other people having the same rights as them that they will take to the streets. This rally tells me that there are unscrupulous political leaders out there who will actually try to foment rebellion in order to get elected to office. And it tells me that thousands of people believe they have the right to dictate how others live.

I do not want to deny someone else their religion. Religion can be a wonderful thing. It can provide comfort in times of distress and structure and meaning in an otherwise chaotic life. That is wonderful. But this instrument of comfort should not be used as a weapon to deny others their comfort. It should not be wielded as a sword, hacking away at what other people need – religion, family, marriage, jobs, security – all because those people are different. Why is that so hard for people to understand?

* For a good article discussing the feelings behind the rally, click here.

An Open Letter to Kim Davis

*Note: Kim Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who stopped issuing marriage licenses after the June 26 Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the country. She has cited her Christian beliefs as the reason she cannot issue marriage licenses (specifically for same-sex couples) and considers having to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples a violation of her religious beliefs. She has been ordered by at least two federal courts to start issuing marriage licenses but still refuses and has kept the Rowan County clerk office closed on numerous occasions. She is now appealing to the Supreme Court.

Dear Ms. Davis,

I would like to tell you a story. Several months ago, a former co-worker asked me to interview a local nonprofit for a women’s empowerment and spiritual magazine that she was starting. I had worked with her before, and I loved her, mostly because of her compassion and energy but also for the guidance and support she had given me when we were both working in a negative work environment. I had written articles for her before and looked forward to contributing to her magazine again, not least because I would be paid for my work and I quite needed the money.

However, the night before the scheduled interview, I discovered that the nonprofit, an organization dedicated to bringing women out of abusive and addictive relationships and compelled by the Christian spirit, was also vehemently homophobic. If a woman had had a “homosexual lifestyle” before coming to the center, she would be instructed to renounce said lifestyle and relationships because that would be the only way she could find salvation and a place in the center. Unsurprisingly, many women did renounce that lifestyle, find God, and were embraced with open arms.

When I learned about this caveat, I was horrified. Not only do I not believe that homosexuality is either a sin or a choice, but I am a staunch supporter of the queer community. I also have a girlfriend of almost three years whom I love deeply. It would therefore not have been right for me to carry out this interview. I couldn’t support the organization and couldn’t condone their actions. I knew that if I tried to interview them, I wouldn’t do the organization or my friend’s magazine justice, and I couldn’t in good conscience carry out the interview. I had to excuse myself.

I called my friend and told her that I couldn’t do the interview. I wasn’t explicit in my reasoning because I didn’t feel comfortable being explicit. My friend may have guessed but had never been told of my same-sex relationship, and I didn’t want her to think I was objecting to the organization’s or her religion. She was gracious and told me that she would do the interview. I apologized several times and that was it.

I haven’t heard from my friend since then. It’s been almost six months, and she hasn’t called, texted, emailed, offered me another article, or responded to my overtures. Because of my moral objection, I lost a friend, a coworker, a writing venue, and money that I desperately needed. But I had not violated my conscious.

Like me, you need to make a hard choice. You need to decide which is more important: keeping your job or following your religious convictions. This is not an easy situation to be in, and it is much more complicated than my choice, which I only agonized over for a few minutes. There is so much at stake. You have over $80,000 a year, being able to take care of yourself and your family, millions of people scrutinizing your every move, millions of Christians and queer people depending on you, and your religion on the line. You have had strangers comment negatively on every aspect of your life from your marriages to your speech patterns to your appearance. Not only is your choice hard but so is your position.

Nevertheless, you must make a hard choice, and I’m afraid “keeping your job but continuing to deny same-sex couples marriage licenses” is not an option. As a civil servant, it is your responsibility to serve your community as the Constitution, your oath of office, and even the Bible would command you to do. You must, as a hazard of your job, become both more and less than you are. You must be the voice of our entire nation, and you must fairly and justly serve every citizen. This will mean that you will occasionally have to do things you find distasteful like giving same-sex couples marriage licenses. I’m sorry that you dislike that duty. I’m sorry that it makes you uncomfortable. I’m sorry that you think doing so will violate your religious convictions. But it is your job, and you need to serve your constituents fairly, even if you don’t approve of them. This is not just my opinion but part of the law, which states, “A public servant is guilty of official misconduct in the first degree when, with intent to… deprive another person of a benefit, knowingly… refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law.” Therefore, you must treat all citizens as equals under the law.

Unfortunately, if you are unable to do this, you must resign. I hope that you don’t have to. I understand that your job is quite well paid ($80,000 a year, I believe), which is almost twice as much as the median household income in your county. What an incredible boon that salary must be to you, your family, and your community. What an incredibly opportunity for you, especially given Appalachia’s myriad problems and general low income. It would be hard to have to leave that job, especially if you feel passionate about your work and your coworkers. So I hope you don’t have to. But what else can you do if you will not fulfill your duties? If you will not allow your county’s business to continue? If you will not serve your constituents faithfully and fairly? What is the point of you staying in position that you morally object to? Doing so wears on the soul.

If you cannot be objective in executing your office, I know there are other positions that would welcome you with open arms. There are many religious-based non-profits that need good, solid workers with your religious convictions. There are many religious-based private schools that need teachers and counselors with your religious convictions. There are even religious-based advocacy groups like your own counsel that would welcome another staunch Christian. There are so many places that would welcome, support, and encourage a person of such strong religious convictions. You have options, Ms. Davis, and you can find a job that better fits your viewpoint and moral needs. This job is not your only option. You have others.

Your constituents do not have another option. They live, work, and pay taxes in Rowan County. They should be able to visit their county clerk to marry in Rowan County. They only live in one county, they only pay taxes in one county, and they only have one county clerk: you.

Sometimes, we must make hard, terrible choices. These choices will have consequences, as all choices do. Nonetheless, we must make them. So you must decide: which is more important, keeping your current job or keeping your current religious convictions? Either decision will cost you, but you still must make one. You cannot keep denying people their constitutional right to marry. As the highest court in the land declared two months ago, every American citizen has the right to marry regardless of sexual orientation. You need to let them have this right.

I hope that you will make a decision soon. I hope that you will realize that your obstinacy and refusal to make a hard choice are hurting people – not just same-sex couples but straight couples, the average citizen, your entire county, and people all across the nation. I hope that you will take this moment to further your compassion for others and to learn what to means to serve others even at your expense. I think if you can do that others will see you as an example and a beacon of hope and love. I think they will follow you. I think that you can create change and betterment.

But first I need you to make a hard choice.


A Fellow Kentuckian

Rediscovering the Classics: The Graphic Canon

Picture copyright Seven Stories Press

Picture copyright Seven Stories Press

Despite knowing better, I repeatedly find myself thinking of comics as the purview of genre writing, usually superhero, but also magical girl, shounen, and fantasy. Perhaps it’s because comics have often been viewed as a “lesser” medium just like genre writing has, or perhaps it’s because that’s generally how we advertise comics. After all, they’re “supposed” to be more accessible, a way to reach out to kids to get them reading or as a link for adults who have trouble reading. Such goes the mainstream thinking, anyway.

However, I’ve never really been into genre writing. Until only a few years ago, I was reading mostly classics with the odd bit of humor thrown in (which makes perfect sense if you know how dumb, scatological, and innuendo-inundated Shakespeare is), and I had very little knowledge of modern writers. I liked my sequester, liked delving deeper and deeper into the classics and being able to tick off all those little boxes in “The 100 Books the BBC Doesn’t Think You’ll Ever Read,” liked the superiority of knowing I’d read Madame Bovary and Gone with the Wind, and honestly liked the dated writing. While reading classics exclusively may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I truly believe that anyone can find at least one classical novel, play, or poem that resonates – most of them are just good writing.

So when I chanced upon The Graphic Canon edited by Russ Kick, I was immediately hooked. The premise behind these three massive tomes is that various, well-known artists like Molly Crabapple, Gareth Hinds, and Will Eisner will illustrate a portion of a well-known classic like The Epic of Gilgamesh, The Tale of Genji, The Canterbury Tales, or Journey to the West. Some of the pieces are excerpts from larger works the artists have been creating while others are newly commissioned. Each piece offers a new perspective on these classic works and helps expand the readers’ understanding of, appreciation of, and interpretation of the work.

I’ve only gotten to read the first volume, From the Epic of Gilgamesh to Shakespeare to Dangerous Liaisons, but I’m already a convert. First off, the compilation is staggering with fairly wide breadth of pieces. In addition to the works I’ve already mentioned, there’s a poem by Rumi, a Native American folktale about Coyote, a letter on farting from Benjamin Franklin, a diary entry on sex and food by James Boswell, a reimagining of John Donne’s poem “The Flea,” and an illustrated entry on the Tao Te Ching (The first volume clocks in at over 500 pages.). Second, despite its girth, it is very accessible and easy to read with the artists doing their best to explain unfamiliar concepts and be clear in their illustrations and layout. Third, the caliber of the art is high, as one would expect from award-winning and decade-spanning veterans of the venerable sequential arts. I mean, just look at that picture from “The Visions of St. Teresa of Avila” – that’s gorgeous.

Picture copyright of Edie Fake

Picture copyright Edie Fake

One of its few flaws is that it often skews towards the stand-by of work by white, Western male creators with most of the entries coming from Europe. Russ Kick attempts to mix it up by adding Native American, Incan, Japanese, Chinese, and Middle Eastern pieces too, but he’s not as successful as he could be. A future edition should include more diversity (or, better yet, publish some supplementary volumes!).

Another problem is how quickly the book moves through time. This first volume spans at least 3500 years while the next two volumes won’t cover even 250. This volume really should have stopped no later than 1000 CE (if even that late) and covered more pieces that might not have been written down until very recently. It would have been a wonderful time to include tales from more non-Western cultures, especially Australian aboriginals and Polynesians, who weren’t represented at all. While I absolutely adore Western classics, I know where to find them and read them – I’m much less knowledgeable about non-Western works, especially those from oral traditions.

That being said, I still really loved this book and look forward to tracking down (and eventually buying) the next two volumes. This work filled a hole in comics that I hadn’t known existed and opened my eyes to yet another possibility of what comics can accomplish. Comics can be and indeed are so diverse, and there’s so much that they can do that simple writing can’t. They can help guide our imaginations while leaving us free to fill in the gaps. They can make it easier for people with dyslexia or learning disabilities to read. They can make works that previously seemed intimidating accessible, and they can modernize archaic stories, highlighting the humorous elements original audiences would have immediately seen and cluing modern audiences in on the fun.

Reading the first volume of The Graphic Canon reminded me of what comics can do and what I wanted to do with them. It encouraged me to go back to making comics, which I have shamefully neglected for several months. It inspired me to go and create my own interpretations of classics, especially those that don’t get enough love. Have you ever read Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well? It is his funniest, most feminist- friendly play, and no one reads it. I think it’s time it got turned into a comic.

Most of all, though, The Graphic Canon reminded me of why classics are classics. They reminded me that they’re fun and funny and, despite their elevated status, are still just pieces of media for someone to consume and enjoy. After years of intense study and research, I’d forgot that. I’m really glad that The Graphic Canon reminded me, and I’m excited to dust off a few titles that have been languishing on my shelves. Even the oldies need some love.

Adventures in Links — August 28, 2015 (Immigrants)

A few fun links to start your weekend off right. 🙂

Theme: Immigrants

As Presidential hopefuls traipse across this great nation trying to garner votes, immigration has once again become a hot topic. How many immigrants are there? What do they want? Are they evil? Should we be totally freaking out? Well, I have a few cool articles and videos for everyone to humanize immigrants because, surprisingly, they’re just like natural-born Americans! Who knew?

Our first link is the above video by AJ+, a global news community organization that highlights human struggles and achievements and marginalized stories. This video, “Immigration: Myth vs. Facts,” busts a few common immigration beliefs such as immigrants being linked to violent crimes and stealing “real Americans’” jobs. It’s a short, to-the-point video that’s easy to understand and well-documented.

Next we have an article from the July/August 2015 issue of Poets & Writers, “Rethinking Poetic Citizenship” by Momo Chang. Until reading this article, I hadn’t realized how many writing avenues were barred to undocumented immigrants, but I was pleased to see that poets Javier Zamora, Christopher Soto, and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo had started a petition to get contests to drop the US citizenship requirement – and that many venues were receptive!

Another great article, “The Telling Room” by Joshua Bodwell, comes from the March/April 2015 issue of Poets & Writers. The Telling Room is a Portland, Maine-based nonprofit that encourages kids to express their own voice and story through story-telling. Recently, they’ve begun to focus on immigrant and refugee voices, which have been very well-received. It is such a cool project.

However, if you’d actually like to see and hear an undocumented immigrant tell his story (and his take on Donald Trump’s outrageous and insulting remarks about Mexican immigrants), click here to learn about Ricardo Aca, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who works at the Trump Soho Building. Ricardo does a wonderful job of showing what he and his family want in life and how they regard America. It’s a great video.

Finally, I had to privilege of discovering this amazing Ted Talk by Anand Giridharadas entitled “A Tale of Two Americas. And the Mini-Mart Where They Collided.” This is more about two factions of America that collided shortly after September 11th: one, immigrant and hopeful, the other native and resigned. It is an incredibly powerful video that I can’t recommend enough. It really brought home what we as Americans need to do to preserve the American Dream and how our country has failed its own citizens. Please watch.

Daily WTF: The Caitlyn Jenner Halloween Costume

Photo property of Spirit Halloween

Photo property of Spirit Halloween

Recently, Spirit Halloween, home of the Sexy Indian costume, unveiled a new costume: the Unisex Call Me Caitlyn costume. Said costume comes with a curly blonde wig (which isn’t even the right hair color), white shorts, white padded top, and a sash that says “Call Me Caitlyn” just so everyone can know who you are. And it’s being modelled by a chubby guy with a good deal of body hair. Classy.

Almost instantly, the costume generated conflict within the queer, trans, and allied communities. A petition has already gone up calling for the removal of the costume. Addison Rose Vincent, the transfeminine genderqueer activist who initiated the petition, says that “To make a costume out of a marginalized identity reduces that person and community to a stereotype for privileged people to abuse.”

Some, including Spirit Halloween, disagree and can’t see why it matters. I admit to grappling with this issue myself, not because I didn’t think it was in poor taste and shouldn’t be a costume, but because I wanted to understand why this was so. After all, anyone could don a Richard Nixon plastic mask and go around rumbling, “I am not a crook!” with impunity, so why is a Caitlyn Jenner costume inappropriate?

The answer lies in how we as a society treat transgendered people. Transgendered people are still a marginalized and mistreated segment of society, forced to go through absurd hoops to change their legal identification, often denied jobs, homes, or loans because of their identity, and even killed because of their identity. They are forced from teaching jobs and subjected to absurd bathroom bills. People won’t respect their identification and say things like, “I don’t care what Bruce says. He is still and always will be a man,” which is completely disrespectful and completely disregards a person’s right to self-identify. Sexual abuse and suicide are very high among transgendered people, and we as a society still don’t understand that transitioning has very little to do with a person’s physical expression.

You can see this lack of understanding in how Spirit Halloween chose to market their product: with a man wearing it. That picture reinforces how many people see Caitlyn Jenner: as a man dressing like a woman. Perhaps if they’d modeled it with a woman there would be less controversy, but Spirit Halloween would still be called transgenderism a costume and downplaying what it means to be trans. The whole thing is just unnecessary.

In putting out this costume, Spirit Halloween was trying to be funny. I get that. They were also hoping to cache in on some of Caitlyn Jenner’s fame and get a sales boost. I also get that. And, to be fair, they put out this stupid costume in what was probably the most tasteful way they knew, remembering to call Caitlyn “she,” which is much better than most people who make fun of Caitlyn. But it still wasn’t appropriate. It wasn’t cool. And it shows a complete lack of understanding for what trans people go through, what Caitlyn Jenner goes through, and how selling and wearing this costume will affect the trans community. I would hope that most people understand it’s not right to wear transgenderism as a costume, but I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing a lot of these outfits come Halloween.

Daily WTF: Trying to Defund Planned Parenthood

ppol-pp-header-careFor the past several weeks, The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion organization without a single medical professional on their staff, has been releasing a series of fraudulent and inaccurate videos about the health organization Planned Parenthood. These gross, offensive, and completely untrue videos purport to show Planned Parenthood representatives misusing fetal material and generally being heartless, cruel human beings. Millions have seen the videos, and prominent politicians like Ted Cruz have even called for the organization’s defunding, prompting thousands of protests across the country.

I am not going to get into my personal stance on abortion or debate its morality. That can be a post for another day. What I am going to say is that defunding Planned Parenthood is asinine. Planned Parenthood is not an “abortion giant” or an “abortion mill” as some disreputable “news” sources and politicians will claim. Only 3% of its funds go towards providing abortions which, by the way, is completely legal in this country. Those funds are also not from government grants which means that no tax payer in this country is forced to pay for another person’s abortion. Furthermore, in case you missed the “Only 3% of its funds go towards providing abortions” bit, most of Planned Parenthood’s funding goes towards preventing unwanted pregnancies and abortions, which means encouraging people to use contraceptives and educating people about sex and pregnancy, and helping screen for, prevent, and treat diseases like cancer. In fact, Planned Parenthood prides itself on preventing abortions and unwanted pregnancies, averting approximately 216,000 abortions per year. It’s also one of the very few affordable clinics in the country with 79% of its patients at or below 150% of the poverty level. Finally, Planned Parenthood has repeatedly been investigated for wrongdoing, most recently by Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, South Dakota, and Pennsylvania, and they have never been found to violate their patients’ trust or the state or country’s laws.

Planned Parenthood is a health organization that serves the sick and poor of this country. They also happen to provide a somewhat controversial but completely legal service. If, as a person, you are offended by abortions, the answer is not to completely defund an organization that serves over 4.5 million people a year by preventing unwanted pregnancies, helping pregnant women get the care they need to carry a healthy baby to full term, and helping people diagnose and fight disease. The answer is to push for the criminalization of abortion. That is what you want. And if abortions were illegal, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t provide them. The only reason they do is because people need them, people want them, and they are legal. So stop believing a lying, manipulating organization and stop trying to destroy a consistently ethical and consistently helpful health organization because one of their many services makes you uncomfortable. Instead, educate yourself and realize that another person’s health and moral choices do not affect you in any way. And have a good day.

Daily WTF: Doctors Telling Women with PCOS to Lose Weight as Their Only Medical Treatment

Leaving the gym earlier this week, I chanced to hear a call-in show where a young man was trying to figure out the best birth control for his girlfriend. He, the radio personality, and the medical expert, a certain well-known Dr. Drew, were going through as many options as possible including IUDs, shots, condoms, and the morning after pill. Even though the young man went over his allotted time, the doctor and host allowed him to keep talking and kept dispensing advice for several more minutes.

The next call was from a young woman with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), which is a disorder that can often result in ovarian cysts, a slower metabolism, and health complications. She called because she was worried about her PCOS. Several months ago, it has worsened, resulting in her going from a fairly regular period to one every five months that was heavy, painful, and contained a great deal of uterine lining. She also gained 40 pounds in very short order, putting her up to 220 pounds (she was 5’10”).

The second the doctor heard about her weight, he immediately interrupted her to tell her to lose the weight and wouldn’t let her explain her diet or fitness regime. He just kept insisting that she lose the weight and pretty much promised that all of her problems would go away once she did so. Then he promptly hung up on her – without telling her where to go or what to do to lose weight or any other actual medical advice.

This exchange made me absolutely livid. First, it was incredibly rude of him to refuse to listen to her, especially since he had been constantly interrupting her, claiming she couldn’t know what was in her periods and being deliberately obtuse. Second, it was incredibly rude of him just to demand that she lose weight and refuse to listen to what her actual health was like. Third, losing weight is not how you “fix” PCOS. Yes, it can alleviate some symptoms, and people with PCOS really do need to watch their weight because of how easy it is for many of them to gain it (which can cause health problems down the line), but weight gain does not cause PCOS. And, if he had listened to her in the first place, he would have learned that she had extra cysts and abruptly irregular periods before she gained weight.

Let me reiterate this: weight gain does not cause PCOS. Doctors don’t know exactly what does, though there’s some chatter about insulin production having some correlation. If this is true, this is why weight management is important – weight gain can help make you insulin resistant, which might worsen your disorder (and cause other health complications). However, not every obese woman develops PCOS while thousands of skinny and physically fit women do. Weight gain is something someone with PCOS needs to watch because of health reasons. Losing weight will not “cure” you of PCOS.

Telling women that the “cure” for their PCOS is weight loss is completely irresponsible and can prevent women from seeking actual medical treatment. It can lead to them not going to the doctor and making them ignore increased cysts, pain, or discharge. It can lead to them ignoring prediabetic symptoms and messing up their metabolism for life. It can lead to them going on dangerous and life-threatening crash diets.

So if you are a health professional, do not tell a woman with PCOS just to lose weight. Yes, if she is overweight or obese recommend dietary changes and fitness plans. Help her come up with a plan for a healthier, more active life – but do that after you have actually learned about her medical and fitness history and after talking about real treatments for PCOS.  Because she is talking to you about her PCOS, not her weight, and if you won’t address that, you’re not doing a damn bit of good.