"Instead of bemoaning her stomach, Hahn should be asking why she feels the need to starve herself into a pair of jeans." Readers react to Kate Hahn's essay about battling her belly. Plus: An Ayelet Waldman fan tells readers to "lighten up."

By Salon Staff
Published June 28, 2005 6:05PM (EDT)

[Read "I Hate My Gut," by Kate Hahn.]

It sounds like Kate Hahn's first problem is that she has had far too many insensitive people around her who have called attention to a part of her body about which she is clearly self-conscious. The sheer audacity and lack of tact really is astonishing.

But I think Ms. Hahn's second problem is her apparent discomfort with her own sense of style. Does she know how lucky she is? Does she know how few people have a true sense of style? Most of us flock like sheep to the store to buy whatever Lucky magazine tells us. Having real style means you know what looks great on you, you add your own flair to the combination, and damn the torpedoes. Style is a lot more than showing off as much skin as possible.

And as for fashion trends -- well, look at what's in vogue now. Prairie skirts. Flouncy tops. High-waisted pants. Sounds to me like Daniella is out of style.

-- Karen Lee Silberberg

Thank goodness Salon is bringing us the breaking story of how much it sucks to be a woman with a real body in today's society. I'm sure this topic would never have occurred to your readers without Hahn's hard-hitting take on low-rise jeans.

Actually, I'm more surprised that Salon would run a piece that is so self-servingly whiny without addressing the true questions at the intersection of fashion and femininity. Instead of bemoaning her stomach, maybe Hahn should be asking why she, along with thousands of her female counterparts, feels the need to starve herself into a pair of jeans. Let's get down to the issues, people, or we'll forever condemn ourselves to running around in circles with only fluff like this to sustain us.

-- Erin M. Blakemore

Low-rise jeans do not look awful merely on those of us (like Ms. Hahn and myself) who are blessed with curvaceous, uterus-protecting tummies. As a high school teacher, I see every day how unflattering they are to all but the most anorexic teenage abdomens. When a 16-year-old, size 4 ballet dancer appears to have a beer gut, there's a problem.

-- Kelli Griffis

Ms. Hahn may hate her gut, but let me assure her that most (heterosexual) men out there love it. Even though the fashion industry (which you may have noticed has a permanent dearth of straight guys) prefers stick women with no curves -- which suit the need to drape clothes nicely without having to account for all the shapes that women come in -- most guys love curves, including the girl tummy. Girl tummies (which the majority of women have, thank God) are just one more thing to love. So, go back to fashions that make you happy, Ms. Hahn, and leave your tummy alone. It's there for a very good reason.

-- Tim Hanson

For every informative article on Salon about issues as varied as penguins and Richard Dawkins, there seem to be five times as many of a much less substantial nature.

Quoting the author: "I'm a beauty writer and fashion geek, so seeing Daniella's abs for the first time was akin to a geologist's initial sighting of the Grand Canyon."

As a reader, I understand that hyperbole is a valuable literary device, but as a scientist, I'm sick to my stomach. A two-page diary entry on someone's love-hate relationship with their body is two pages too many. (Really? Today's models represent an impossible physical standard? What an original assertion!)

"Leisure" and "popular interest" pieces as bland as this make me embarrassed to be a liberal. Salon, you're breaking my heart! I want to resubscribe! Really, I do!

-- Dave Shapiro

Maybe instead of starving yourself, you should starve the beast that has spawned so many pathetic trends that make you feel bad. I have a friend who puts on "pixie punky" clothing sales with items we have donated; this allows me to completely bypass the corporate model of owning five new pairs of sweatshop-manufactured self-esteem destructors. I wear clothes that fit me, not an idea of what a "woman" should look like. Fashion trends are designed to weaken you, to make you eat 800 calories instead of the 2,000 that your body and mind require to create and be empowered. Why not make patterns from your own measurements? And really, aren't we all tired of that silly model 'tude?

-- Suzanne Aldrich

I'm sure Miss Hahn is already receiving buckets of mail criticizing her for affirming for many people that self-hatred is A-OK and even something to aspire to. So I won't repeat what others have probably said even better than I ever could.

Instead I'll point out that low-rise jeans are a savior for some of us, belly or no belly. I am a plus-size lady with a short torso and a seriously bodacious bottom ... normal jeans have to be humongous on my waist to fit over my butt and then they gape up top right under my breasts .... that short torso. Low-rise jeans hug and flatter my curves. You don't have to wear a shirt where your belly hangs out from here to next week -- in fact. I'm not comfortable doing so -- but to anyone who is, more power to them for embracing, not hating, their curves. Show off those Botticelli bellies, ladies!

We simply aren't all born to look like Daniella. She is a gorgeous lady who probably works out four hours a day and also has fabulous genes to help her strut her stuff in her fabulous jeans. Good for her! But if we all looked like her? What a boring world this would be.

-- JoAnna

Let me get this straight: You engaged in a seriously unhealthy diet in order to look good in jeans. Have you never heard of abdominal exercises? For all your knowledge, are you so ignorant of such things as Pilates, ballet and yoga? And didn't it even occur to you that Daniella's belly was wearing makeup?

This article does nothing to advance anyone's understanding of the complex love-hate relationship most women have with their bodies. I am angry at the time I wasted reading it.

-- Alison Aske

[Read "A Woman Needs a Repairman," by Ayelet Waldman] and the "letters"in response.]

Oh, for crying out loud, people! Has every single person in this world lost their sense of humor? The story I related about the "we hire people" comment -- said by my sister, mind you, not myself -- was clearly tongue-in-cheek, clearly exploiting a stereotype. Or so I thought. Except, apparently, there is no such thing as a sense of humor anymore. Do I need to start using emoticons?

I'm tempted here to put in a whole paragraph about my and my Jewish husband's bona fides regarding home repair. But that would imply that there is a reason to do so. You do your own fix-it jobs? You go, Jewish boy/girl. But while you're doing it, you might want to twiddle with the setting on your internal humor thermostat. I think it's set a little low.

And, oy. Give me some credit for knowing to whom I'm speaking. This is a liberal-leaning Web journal/magazine/newspaper/lifeline: I think it's safe to assume that when I respond to a column written here, I'm not writing to a neo-Nazi organization. And so, as far as I'm concerned, the next person who wants to give me an earful about how I'm perpetuating stereotypes and inciting prejudice can come and kiss my daughter-of-a-Holocaust-survivor butt.

-- Lori Oliwenstein

Salon Staff

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