First, fellow blogstress Book Worm e-mails about yesterday’s post on the Economist?s articlerehashing that tired old canard, the “glass ceiling,” and the male chauvinists who supposedly keep it in place (see “Those who Live in Glass Ceilings,” Aug. 8). Worst of all, the number of women holding top management positions at Fortune 500 companies has actually inched upward over the last decade, but you wouldn’t know it from the feminista carpers, for whom the glass ceiling is always half-empty, not half-full. Here’s Book Worm:

“The ‘half empties’ you discuss seem extremely resistent to the notion that there is one stunning biological difference between men and women: the latter have children. Living in my pricey little enclave, every one of the women I know was a high-powered something or other before she had a baby. Having had a baby, the only ones who elected to continue working were the ones who couldn’t afford to stop. If you want to climb ever higher in the glass tower, you have to do something that men do — namely, stick around. As long as women obey the biological imperative to have children and nurture those children, the statistics for career advancement are going to favor the men.”

Right-o. Most corporate personnel cabinets these days are filled with the files of talented, cherished female employees who never came back from maternity leave–becaused they discovered a full-time job that they liked even better than the one they’d had. Many of these women do re-enter the work force downt he road when the kids are older, but they’re not gonna make CEO. So why aren’t they content with the mix of children and work that they freely chose? Well, most of them probably are, but you’d never guess that from the feminista carping. The feministas want the government to create an employment dream world in which men would be forced to take paternity leave and women would magically become corporate chiefs without putting in the necessary time.

And T.R. writes to say that she is “appalled” by our own Cathy Seipp’s take on the “fat self-esteem movement” on the IWF home page prompted by “Mo’nique’s Fat Chance,” the new Oxygen Network tubby-beauty contest (See “Fat-Pride Delusions,” Aug. 4, and mo’ on the topic on Cathy’s own blog, “Cathy’s World”) :

“The complete snide and disrespectful tone she uses is a disgusting testament to the ill-informed and ignorant approach that only a thin arrogant idiot would have.

“Not all fat people are will-powerless eating machines who are somehow inferior because they don’t fit neatly into an airline seat. Certainly there are those who do not eat sensibly at all times; however, I truly doubt that Ms. Seipp has spent every meal with a food-portion weight scale, properly dispensing out her 4oz of meat along side her celery sticks and rice cake.

“The fact is that many overweight people are predisposed due to genetic make-up. I was a heavy child, never understanding why my classmates did not struggle with the same issues I had. Some people are not thin merely because they are pinnacles of self discipline and take pride in their bodies; they are thin because they have never had to think about how many calories are in hamburger. They have naturally hyper-functioning metabolic systems, and because they have been thin, tend to choose hobbies and extracurricular activities that are more physical.

“Fat kids…much, they are surrounded by cruel children (likely Ms. Seipp was one) who discourage them and corrode their self esteem. The issue of obesity in our country is not as simple as the glib statements made in Catherine Seipp’s article. There are many unanswered questions, and it will take time for our society collectively to find solutions. I guarantee that attitudes of exclusivity like Ms. Seipp’s will not be a part of those solutions. Just as society has begun to move on tobacco consumption, acknowledging its addictive and carcinogenic side effects, obesity will get addressed.

“Mo’nique’s program was empowering, not because these women were overweight and flaunting it, because they weren’t ashamed. We are who we are, and we live in the bodies we are given. When self esteem increases, we are motivated to improve ourselves. The psychological aspects of this disease are the greatest obstacles because they are less tangible. Once society can gain a little more insight to the plight of fat people, then a more tolerant and accepting environment can be achieved. Empowering people is not the same as enabling, and I feel that the opposite of what Ms. Seipp is implying will happen. If we can stabilize the acceptable fashion image in our country, then the desire to reach unachievable standards will not exist. Young girls will get the message that they are beautiful in whatever size they are, and not perpetuate the growing problem of eating disorders in America.”

As someone who currently weighs 10–no, make that 11–pounds more than she’d like to, I hope I can respond with a fat dose of empathy, so to speak:

Sure, some people are genetically predisposed to be plump and others thin. But that doesn’t explain the fact that millions of Americans whose parents and grandparents were at best a little stocky are trundling about in plus-size warm-up suits. And this would be fine by me–I say go ahead and order the bacon-topped cheeseburger if it will make your day–but then don’t expect me (or, presumably Cathy, although I can’t speak for her) to “empower” you by calling your resultant supersize figure beautiful. And you seem to be making two contradictory arguments, T.R. On the one hand, you say that obesity is genetic, and on the other that it’s caused by our society’s intolerance toward fat people. (And if it were the latter, wouldn’t more people be striving to lose, rather than to gain weight, just as during the days of Jim Crow segregation, many black people strove to pass for white?) You can’t have it both ways.