Fat America: Profiting off the Majority-Minority

Fat Wallet

A fundamental pillar of body diversity activism is the concept that fat people are a persecuted minority in this country. Statistically, people classified as “overweight” actually make up over two-thirds of the population. That means we can’t be considered as a minority, right?

Wrong.

This statistical discrepancy is used as fuel to discredit the body acceptance movement. What a cursory internet search reveals, however, is that this is a legitimate phenomenon called the “majority-minority”. In Texas, New Mexico, and California, for example, non-White Hispanics constitute a majority-minority, in that their population outnumbers that of other races in the same region. This majority-minority status does not negate the discrimination faced by the Hispanic population. Things like housing discrimination and hate crimes (which among immigrant populations are most likely higher than reported due to fear of deportation), are just as bad in these states compared to states where Hispanics are merely a minority-minority group.

Increased population, and thus visibility, is not a cure for discrimination. This is painfully apparent when looking at the treatment of fat people. Even though fat bodies, or at least bigger than “average” bodies (think about that statement for a second) are by far the numerically dominant group. Logically, businesses should be catering to us. Services should be catering to us. People who make waiting room seats, underpants, and cars should all be catering to our big butts. There are billions of dollars to be made here. A capitalist’s wet dream.

Instead, I hear arguments along the lines of, “just because you’ve let yourself get fat doesn’t mean you deserve special treatment”.

Is it special treatment when it directly caters toward the majority of people?

In fact, weight-loss is a huge money-making industry. It just doesn’t cater to us. It tricks us into THINKING it’s catering to us. In actuality, it’s taking advantage of us. Warning: dieting and weight shaming ahead.

From media empire charlatans …

… to the tech industry …

… to multi-level marketing schemes…

… to the pharmaceutical industry …

The diet industry is a $60 billion a year industry, and it works if your metric for “working” is making a shit ton of money reliably over time. What it doesn’t succeed in doing, however, is helping people lose weight and achieve that much sought-after “average”-ness. Most people regain the weight they lose. Businesses and corporations stand to gain by keeping your sad ass fat, and your fat ass sad. By treating the majority like a minority group, by keeping us feeling disenfranchised, lonely, ugly, and unloveable, corporations can keep us buying things that don’t work and things we don’t need. Fat Americans face discrimination on an economic level, with constant messages telling us we aren’t worth anything unless we change. That we don’t deserve to be treated well unless we stop being “lazy” and “exert some effort”. We are subjected to scare tactics, personal attacks, and public shame. “Average” and “thin” people are susceptible to these messages as well. People are pressured to utilize “willpower” to maintain their physique, to eat certain foods and take certain medicines so they don’t devolve into a dreaded fat person. This fuels societal stigma, and creates a body-type based class system where thin people benefit from fat people staying fat. People who stay “fit” because they “put down the cheeseburger” or “get off their ass”. They can feel superior. They can feel “better than”. They can feel right, as long as they keep taking their probiotics and count every calorie and exercise 90 minutes a day.

Show me a world where we aren’t profiting off telling people being fat is bad and you might just have a case against the overweight in this country being a true minority.

The Acceptance Gap: Friends

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.03.35 AM

Continued from The Acceptance Gap: Families

Definition of THE ACCEPTANCE GAP

When personal and familial duties coexist with a lack of understanding and acceptance of who someone is as a person. This results in someone putting up with being judged, derided, or demeaned in the name of keeping the peace and maintaining the relationship.

We have compiled vignettes submitted by readers. These are all genuine; nothing has been added except formatting.


Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?

– Abraham Lincoln

There is a saying something along the lines of “you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends”, and to a large extent it rings true. However, we as people are not static beings. We are dynamic. We change and evolve. We don’t stay in the same place, think the same things, and hold the same values for the entirety of our lives. We make friends, and unless we co-evolve in the same general direction, our friendships dry up, weaken, or dissolve altogether. Naturally, we don’t want to lose our allies and friends because they mean something to us. They validate us and our existence via their own existence. It’s natural to want to preserve and nurture friendships for that reason. How do we know when, how, and for how long we should try to sustain? What happens when we realize a friend who has been so devoted, so true, has views diametrically opposed to our own? When it comes to fat acceptance, there is no clear answer.

The breaking of ties:

My best friend, who was actually involved in the body acceptance movement decided to get cosmetic surgery… by which I mean weight loss surgery. I guess she didn’t understand or support fat acceptance or body positivity like I thought she did. In the end I decided that, for my own mental well being, I had to get away from that person.

Blindsided by personal truth:

One of my closest friends (a fat lady like me) seemed interested in all of my talk about fat acceptance and body positivity. We used to hang out a lot. The more I would talk about it, the less we hung out. We became distant. One day, she came to me and told me that all of my fat acceptance talk was making her feel worse about her body. She didn’t like to think of herself as fat. She wanted to diet and lose weight for “health reasons”. I decided to just remove fat acceptance talk from our interactions. I feel terrible thinking about not having her in my life.

Staying strong with a toxic roommate:

When I was in ED Treatment, I met several people who were to become very close friends of mine. One of them, is now my roommate. We had the same diagnosis and we went to all the same group sessions as well as the educational sessions together. I tried to encourage him to read some of the stuff I was reading…he didn’t want to, as he put it “I don’t want to spend any more of my time thinking about this “stuff”. I have seen first hand the kind of progress he has made…he’s gone from a sedentary, sleep deprived 27 year old man, to a 28 year old who is doing challenging (for anyone) hikes, splitting cords of wood and is now truly LIVING his life.

The other night he was upset and in a crappy mood. So I asked what was wrong. He had gotten on his scale and found out that he hasn’t lost any weight in 4 months. I told him that while I didn’t know what the scale said, I could see that his body HAS changed and that he is much more fit and active than he was 6 months ago. While telling him this he claimed he didn’t want to go into diet mode, but he was going to cut back on his snacking…I’ve already seen him reduce his food intake a few months back. He said he couldn’t stand his lack of progress and I explained all the progress I have seen him make. Then “I can’t be healthy at 400 pounds. I’m going to die an early death. My feet hurt, my knees hurt, my back hurts. I’m headed to an early grave.”

Here is a guy that has completely changed his life and just because the fucking scale hasn’t moved he’s going to die an early death? UGH I’m hoping that with age he will maybe gain more perspective…I know I wasn’t ready to accept myself or embrace HAES at 28…hell, I don’t even know if there WAS such a thing then…I’m 40 now. I’ve had people ask me if it’s triggering to live with him and it’s not…because the kinds of conversations like we had above strengthen my resolve and make me reflect on how much better live is now, than it was before I found HAES and FA.

When you can’t tell the differences between allies and enemies:

I can’t talk/vent about my spousal fights because people are incredibly judging of someone who says mean things to fat people (even if they believe personally that fatness is bad). They also are very judging of me for staying with him. My friends regularly encourage me to leave my husband, and a few times, to cheat on him. This is so hurtful to me and even though I express this gently to my friends I generally feel I can’t. It’s very isolating to not have anyone to talk to about our fights when I want to process and feel validated in my opinions without him being judged as a horrible person and me as stupid, weak, or something else negative for wanting to stay with him.

One of the key characteristics seen again and again regarding friends and fat acceptance is a propensity for judgmental thoughts. People feel judged by their friends for supporting fat acceptance. People feel judged by their friends for not understanding fat acceptance. People feel judged by their friends for not agreeing with the fat acceptance movement. People are judgmental of their own bodies. People judge themselves for judging others. There are a lot of shoulds, musts, and oughts when talking about civil rights and body autonomy. How much judgment should we take? How much is reasonable to give? Perhaps it’s variable. Perhaps there is a correlation between how much we want to preserve a relationship (fucks given) and the amount of judgmental sentiment polluting the relationship (toxic waste).

Screen Shot 2014-05-30 at 11.03.35 AMWhen you see the end coming, you feel it in the pit of your stomach. You think that maybe, if you hold on tight, you can ride it out. Once you hit the bottom of Shit-Splash Mountain, however, you’ll never get the stink out. It’ll always be there, lingering. The question is, can you learn to live with it?

Stay tuned for the final installment, The Acceptance Gap: Partners.

 

Burn the Underpants: What happens when those you love don’t understand fat acceptance?

underpants

A lot of us have come into conflict with others close to us who just don’t understand the fat acceptance and body positivity movements. Some of our loved ones openly disagree with the concepts involved. These conflicts can be damaging not only to our relationships with these people, but damaging to our psyche.

Ragen Chastain has spoke frequently about the “Underpants Rule”:

The Underpants Rule is simple: everyone is the boss of their own underpants so you get to choose for you and other people get to choose from them and it’s not your job to tell other people what to do. To illustrate, if you’re considering saying something that starts with

  • People should
  • Everyone ought to
  • What people need to do
  • We should all
  • Nobody should
  • You shouldn’t
  • blah blah things that have to do with underpants that aren’t yours blah blah

then there is a 99.9% chance that you are about to break The Underpants Rule.

This makes a lot of logical sense. We don’t want others to tell us how to live our lives, that we are doing the wrong thing, making wrong choices about our bodies. But then, by the same logic, it is not our place to tell others that they are living their lives wrong. This puts us into an uncomfortable position, one resigned to not actively engaging with those who disagree.

I don’t subscribe to the Underpants Rule, because I see the fat acceptance movement fundamentally as a civil rights issue, and as such I see the sort of passive resistance the Underpants Rule requires only promoting the visibility of the issue to a small degree. It does not actively challenge the damaging viewpoints and actions of others.

Chances are, there are many people, people close to you, who don’t agree with the fat acceptance movement. The Underpants Rule tells us to leave them and their beliefs alone. Let them change their own underpants over time. Unfortunately, some people have some awful, stinky underpants — underpants that are nearly impossible to be around. What if you love someone with horrible, shit-stained underpants who also hate your underpants?

There are two choices: stick around the stinky underpants and not acknowledge them, forever exposed to their aroma, or go find others with less offensive skivvies. Essentially, what is most important to us? Our objective (commitment to the movement), our self-respect (maintaining one’s feelings of self worth), or our relationship with the other person?

Because of the intimate nature of this issue, many people keep a lot of their emotions and struggles to themselves. It’s pain we all carry so as to not push our views and decisions on others. The Fat Word would like to offer an opportunity to share your stories of frustration, rejection, conflict, and pain, without fear of reprisal or hurting the feelings of others. Please take the time to fill out the form below. Write as much or as little as you’d like. We’ll be collecting submissions for a week or so, and then compiling the responses to feature them in a future article.

Reliably, Dr. Douchebag Keeps on Douching

While standing in line at Fred Meyer this weekend, I made the common mistake of looking around. As my eyes scanned the impulse magazine stand, I saw something that gave me the impulse to flip over my grocery cart and Fat-Hulk through the store terrorizing patrons and throwing bottles of Slim Fast into displays of Smart Ones with my +4 Fists of Douche-smiting.

Table Flip

Thankfully, I was able to restrain myself just enough to pull out my phone and snap a photo. Like HELL I was going to actually pay money for the damn thing. The clerk looked at me strangely, and I prefaced it with, “hold on just a sec, gotta take a picture of this offensive magazine”.

Dr. Douchebag

Ah, First for Women… confusing advertising with reporting and body shaming with empowerment since 1989, from the same media company bringing you other high-end publications like In Touch Weekly and Life & Style.

My regular readers already know my disdain for Dr. Oz. What a puzzling contrast between his Ivy League education/surgical expertise and the constant shilling of woo-woo pseudoscientific miracle “cures” with a strong bias against fat people. It’s good to know that there is something I can do about my “ugly fat”, so that I am left with only my non-ugly fat. Thanks to Dr. Oz and the fine reporting of First for Women, I know I am only part ugly.

My Ass is Not a Microaggression

bus seats

Due to unforeseen car trouble, I have been riding the bus all week to and from my various jobs. On the way home yesterday, I found myself a seat on the bench on the back of the bus next to a man dressed as a cowboy. I sat down in my seat, and he moved away. And then moved even further. He squashed himself next to the window so completely that I became concerned that I smelled unpleasant, or perhaps was covered in bees. My internal dialogue began thusly:

Do I smell bad? No, I always smell good and shower daily, plus I used antiperspirant/deodorant and also applied a little perfume this morning, so by now I should be a nice, mellow, average-person smell. Am I sticky? Do I have a booger hanging out of my nose? Am I breathing heavily from running for the bus? Do I look disheveled? Deranged? Dangerous? Did someone tattoo my face without my knowledge?

I eventually looked down and saw that my butt was extending past the boundaries (?) of my seat. Not a lot… but just enough that I was probably touching him when I sat down. Maybe he didn’t like to be that close to another person. Understandable. I don’t like people touching me without my permission. But isn’t there a social contract on a crowded bus? People touch people. It’s a BUS, not Business Class on a luxury airliner. Suddenly, I was flooded with feelings of inadequacy. I made him uncomfortable. I did this. I did it with my butt. It wasn’t until I got home that I remembered a response from a recent questionnaire that I did about Fat Acceptance, where I asked questions of people opposed to the movement. One of the questions I asked was, “Do you feel that others’ weight affects you directly, and if so, why?”

In certain understated ways, I actually consider the large bodies in public spaces to be “micro aggression” against people with smaller bodies. In my experience, large bodied individuals will not hesitate to let their body infringe on others’ personal space in public transit, while in a queue, or other spaces of modern urban environments. I consider these things “micro aggression” due to the unwillingness of large bodied peoples to not force their bodies on others. I am expected to move, or to get out of way in a lane even when I do not know anyone is there, I am expected to be accommodating at all times.

I hadn’t heard the term “micro-aggression” until I did the survey in question. What IS micro-aggression?

Basically, a micro-aggression is a socially acceptable put down that happens so frequently that it seems commonplace. The unifying trait of micro-aggressions is that the target is a member of a marginalized group. Ethnic minorities. Homosexuals. Religious minorities. Oh yeah, and fat people. 

The worst part of fat-centric micro-aggression is that those targeted aren’t seen as victims. Society is structured so that fat is seen as “less than” and that those targeted by such micro-aggressions are “asking for it” because they are perceived as having control of how their bodies appear.

“You look good. Have you lost weight?”

“You’re not fat! You’re curvy!”

“I feel so FAT today!”

“Ha! That mean girl from high school got fat!”

All of the above are examples of micro-aggressions, subtle put downs that seem harmless at first, but upon closer inspection show a very clear reflection of the status of fat people in modern society.

Let’s snap back to the bus ride. Maybe I AM in the Cowboy’s personal space. Why is it that I immediately feel guilty? I am trying to put him down? I am TRYING to invade his personal space because, hey, cowboys are used to cozying up to people? Does society view cowboys as flawed in some way? Is there a systemic, historical pattern of discrimination against bus cowboys? No?

Well, then don’t blame my ass.

My Skankles, My Rules

Skankles are what you get when you become a fat whore, be careful.

Fat whore. Slutty cow. Fat-ass scag. Skanky hambeast. Flabby cum dumpster. Hoochie heifer.

These pejoratives slide right off the tongue as if coated with bacon-flavored lube.

Every seasoned heckler and troll has an entire pocket dimension dedicated to these and similar slurs for use in the Comments Section of any given website. I am disappointed that such creative and nimble phraseology is so casually tossed about like so many croutons. The relationship between slut shaming and fat shaming is something much weightier; these slurs are just the top layer of a promiscuous, full-fat word lasagna.

Even if you are a kind, thoughtful, progressive person, you’ve heard these jabs. I’ve heard filth like this come out of the mouths of people I’ve actually considered friends at different points in my life. I’ve heard similar terms in movies and on TV. I’ve heard radio personalities speak in this way even more; the additional layer of anonymity lubes loose lips (see bacon reference above). No wonder this language is even more prevalent on the internet; the Troll Cloak of Parent’s Basement conceals all. I try to stay out of the dark corners and instead bask in the warm, nurturing light of sites like Pinterest. Did you know 80% of its users are female? Did you know that 20% of women internet-users in the U.S. use Pinterest? I’m safe there.

Except for the fact that when I searched Tumblr, Google, and Pinterest using the terms “fat slut” and “fat whore”, the site that produced most results was *AHEM*…

PINTEREST.

Notice how the majority of these images depict women disparaging one another. The kyriarchy of sizeism and sexism is not a concept perpetuated solely by men. It’s perpetuated by the acts and words of large portions of the population, by the media, by consumerism, and the ever-present just-world fallacy that people reap what they sow. Don’t want to be called a whore? Stop whoring around. Why are you surprised that people want to objectify you? You wear, like, zero clothes and obviously want all of the sex. In fact, there is no more sex because you took it all. Oh, and you fatty over there being all fat? You know people are going to call you fat because you did it to yourself! If you want people to stop calling you a manatee, then maybe you should put down the cheeseburger and go for a walk. Why should we change our behaviors when you are the ones making the poor decisions?

The above line of logic may be slightly exaggerated, but I think the message comes through. We are targets because we made decisions that lead us down the road to ridicule. The idea that there is something so wrong with our behaviors or even our very selves that justifies poor treatment and rejection is indicative of a larger societal problem, being that it’s okay to bully as long as the victim does something outside of society’s narrow definition of “rightness”.

When I point this problem out, some people meet me with knee-jerk reactionary statements like “I’m not like that! I’m just being funny. Can’t you take a joke?”

No. Sorry. I can’t take a joke like that. It devalues my body, which I love. It devalues my womanhood, by telling me that I can’t dress or act a certain way without opening myself to ridicule and intimidation. My body, and what I do with it, is not an area of concern for other people. My decisions are mine, and my body is mine, and I WILL defend those things in the same way I would defend my reproductive rights, or health decisions. The above image macros are filled with hate speech designed to devalue and demoralize people into conforming to unhealthy, unreasonable societal standards. It’s the language of the privileged, people who’ve never been shamed for being fat or judged as less than for how they dress. It’s language that has become common parlance casually slung for comedic effect.

The Fat Word was created in hopes of reclaiming these slurs, to take away power from those who would seek to deride us or make light of the indignities we’ve suffered in the name of cosmic justice. Go ahead. Call me a fat hoe, but you better be prepared because I am the phattest fat hoe to ever hoe someone’s row, and I am proud. My skankles, my rules.

Mindy Kaling challenges the Fat Sea Monster

fat sea monster

A reader and old friend of mine recently asked for my feedback on a clip from Jimmy Kimmel Live featuring Mindy Kaling. She was fresh from an interview with Vogue where she talked about not needing or wanting to be skinny. She and Jimmy discussed the article, and the feedback she’s received since.

She made a lot of good points, particularly regarding how it shouldn’t be weird for someone to want to be the size that they are, and in that way she really isn’t a role model. Her main point, however, was oftentimes people disguise criticism as compliment by praising her boldness for not feeling “like she needs to subscribe to the ideals of beauty”. She followed up with an echoic, comparative statement that initially sounded like she was putting them in their place: “It’s so refreshing that Mindy feels comfortable that she can let herself go and be a fat sea monster”. She then made sure to let the audience know that she works out and runs all the time, as a qualifier.

What Mindy is actually saying with all of this is that she has a normal body (whatever that means), and it shouldn’t be a big deal for others to accept it. It’s not like she’s huge, or weird, or lazy, or tentacled.

This video is a good example of a trend I am seeing where women are reclaiming their bodies as “normal” and saying size shouldn’t matter. Except if you are too big. Too big is bad. Also, don’t be too skinny. There is a new “normal” that doesn’t include the very fat or the very thin.

One of the last things Mindy said regarded courage. She mocked people for calling her courageous for wearing a mid-drift top. For some women, even wearing a sleeveless top is a panic-inducing premise. People are made to feel insecure about themselves on a daily basis to the point that it impacts how they dress themselves, and how they present themselves to the world. It does take courage to stand up to daily abuse, and it does take courage to look inside oneself and find the strength to love yourself inside and out. Mindy minimized this struggle so flippantly that I now share her irritation at her idolization.

The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part Three: F.A. Confidential

for your eyes

The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part Two: Too Fat, Didn’t Read, focused on the opinions of those who oppose Fat Acceptance, culled from +150 submissions I received based on a questionnaire written by supporters of Fat Acceptance. What happened when I provided a similar questionnaire to FA supporters, written by those who oppose their beliefs?

Firstly, I had trouble even finding people willing to write questions, let alone fill out the questionnaire. It took me days and days to get enough responses to create a reasonable analysis. Without a large enough focus group, it becomes difficult to write much more than possibly specious summative statements that may not accurately portray the movement as a whole. This lack of participation is probably rooted in the belief that by engaging in this activity, FA advocates are validating the opinions of people with whom they disagree. Thanks to a close group of supporters of varying backgrounds, I was able to generate enough questions to have a fairly well-rounded list.

  1. Why do so many in the FA/BA community try to pick apart scientific studies that prove that obesity is harmful to individuals?
  2. Where do you see the fat acceptance movement going in the next five years?
  3. What sorts of research (or even your own experience) would lead you to reconsider your beliefs?
  4. Why is “fat-shaming” considered worse than “thin-shaming”? Aren’t both considered insulting and demeaning someone by their body and therefore against the BA movement?
  5. Why do you perceive any attempt to address the underlying problems with fat in our society as a personal attack?
  6. Why shouldn’t doctors comment on a patient’s weight, especially in regards to medication potentially being less effective, or when it is exacerbating problems?
  7. Why do you choose to focus on accepting “fat” in our society rather than addressing the underlying social issues that have resulted in 60% of our society being overweight with a further 30% being obese?
  8. In your own words, why do you think that This is Thin Privilege and other similar sites are listed as self harm sites?
  9. Do you think telling people they have “thin privilege” is going to make them more sympathetic to your cause? What do you expect them to do with said privilege? Do you think there is a better way to get your message across than the privilege movement?
  10. The title “Fat Acceptance” is problematic because it puts the focus on the fat, and not the person. Isn’t it more important to accept the person, instead of the fat attached to them?

Just as before, I went through all of the answers, looking for redundancy based on specific key words. The answers featured in this article are representative of the majority of those who filled out the questionnaire.


Question One: Why do so many in the FA/BA community try to pick apart scientific studies that prove that obesity is harmful to individuals?

“If those who are hostile to us are actually concerned about our health, and if we [show] them how the stigma they place on us is more dangerous to our health than our fat, it can be good for reducing our chances of being discriminated against. Much of their hatred toward us is based on false information about how obesity works, how we become obese, and how obesity affects the body. By debunking the false information, we hope to take away their reasons for making negative value judgments about us.”

“BMI is used as the basis for many of these studies. BMI in itself is not meant for individuals but population groups and is based on white men.”

“Your very question hints at the answer: there is a pervasive misunderstanding about what scientific proof is. The gold standard of scientific proof are double blind, replicable studies which establish a causal link, in this instance, between obesity and harm. These studies simply do not exist. The research has many correlative studies, which definitely point the way to more research, but are not a basis for diagnostics and treatment. Therefore, assuming proof with correlations leads to guessing about obesity and health.”

It is clear that the fat acceptance movement views current scientific research as very flawed, and corollary in nature. There is further concern that these flawed conclusions are frequently used to denigrate fat people, and that by promoting more rigorous research a common ground might appear.


Question Two: Where do you see the fat acceptance movement going in the next five years?

“I see the FA/BA movement going similarly to the Gay rights movement. People will continue to bicker, many people will come to accept it and understand it, but there will still be many people who completely disagree regardless of what the science says.”

“Continuing the battle to try to overcome the brainwashing that most of us have been and are being subjected to tells us that one particular physical appearance and size is acceptable.”

“Hopefully it will become more popular, but right now there is a lot of backlash by people who think they can shame us and bully us into looking the way they prefer. Whenever fat acceptance is mentioned, someone inevitably asks “at what cost to our health?” and makes the argument that accepting a variety of body types will only increase obesity, even though research shows that fat-shaming and discrimination do not reduce obesity rates.”

“Hopefully toward PERSON acceptance!”

This paints a picture of a battle against brainwashing and discrimination, where healthism is used as a battering ram to break down the gates of personhood. These comments hint that a lighter touch might be appropriate. If victorious, what are our spoils of war? Acceptance of all bodies, regardless of type.


Question Three: What sorts of research (or even your own experience) would lead you to reconsider your beliefs?

“Research about health is … unlikely to change my mind, because even if it could be proven that obesity always caused poor health, and even if it could be proven that obesity was always the result of lifestyle choices that were certainly within every person’s control, each person would still have a right to make his/her own decisions regarding the health of his/her body.”

“Nothing would lead me to reconsider size acceptance and an end to discrimination.”

“My only “belief” in this matter is that fat people deserve the same level of respect and dignity as thin people, including such things as equal access to adequate health care, clothing options, employment opportunities, public transportation, and the like. To me the entire argument over whether or not it’s healthy to be fat is nothing more than an irrelevant distraction from the larger issue of how fat people are treated.”

“None. I have no reason to believe that my body is an enemy or causes anyone harm. My body is not an indication of my medical or health status. Self-love and acceptance was the key to losing weight, and that is only achieved when ignoring cultural bullying about being fat.”

Question three elicited strong, poignant emotions from nearly all responders. The bottom line? No research could convince them to view their bodies as anything other than something to be accepted and respected. No scientific evidence exists that warrant bullying and discrimination, both major perceived problems in Fat Acceptance communities.


Question Four: Why is “fat-shaming” considered worse than “thin-shaming”? Aren’t both considered insulting and demeaning someone by their body and therefore against the BA movement?

“All shaming is awful, but I think the reason some would give is that society does not go out of its way to insist that thin people ought not to exist. But society DOES try to keep fat people as invisible and made to feel unworthwhile as possible. This is a form of oppression.”

“Because thin people don’t have an entire social system telling them that they are less than, worthless, etc. Yes, it’s wrong to make fun of every body type. But fat-shaming comes attached to a society that hates fat people, denies fat people equal access and opportunities on a regular basis, and turn fat people into scapegoats for just about everything. When thin people are treated in the same way and thin-shaming is part of an overarching anti-thinness message in society, it will be the same as fat shaming.”

“Both are against the goals of the size acceptance movement, but in the same way that calling a white person a “cracker” isn’t on the same level as using a racist slur against a black person, insulting a member of the privileged class by pointing out that s/he is skinny is not as potent as calling someone fat, because it doesn’t have the power of the entire oppressive system behind it. Fat people are openly hated in ways thin people are not. We are shouted at, criticized, beaten, threatened, and treated as though we were inferior. Fat people face systemic oppression. We are more often denied jobs, romantic opportunities, and respect. Thin people are represented in positive ways on television, in movies, in magazines, and have a full range of opportunities … Thin people are constantly having their bodies validated by the surrounding culture.”

The fat shame/thin shame debate is a hill this blog frequently dies on. It seems my participants feel largely the same way. The two takeaways? Firstly, fat shaming and thin shaming (and all shaming) are terrible and antithetical to the body positivity movement, including Fat Acceptance. Secondly, there is a socio-power dynamic at play when someone is fat shamed that is not present when thin shaming occurs, as evidenced by our interactions with others, and in areas of media and consumerism.


Question Five: Why do you perceive any attempt to address the underlying problems with fat in our society as a personal attack?

“I am fat. I cannot separate myself from my phenotype. Attacking fat is attacking me.”

“Fat is not a problem, and by turning our bodies into a problem, you are essentially saying that we, the people who identify as fat, are something horrible that you hope to get rid of. You are saying that fat people only deserve respect if we are trying hard enough to become thin people, because really, only thin people are acceptable. The main problem with fat in our society is how it is being stigmatized. Discrimination is a much more serious problem than obesity, and the complications it adds to our lives are much more damaging for our health.”

“I think the premise of this question is immediately problematic because it assumes that “fat in our society” is a problem. Why are we even concerning ourselves with others’ bodies? It’s a matter that should be between them and their doctors. People feel attacked because the attacking is typically relentless, and when one has experienced it so frequently, one feels very defensive, because someone has just referred to our bodies as ‘a problem in our society’.”

This question makes clear a key dichotomy in the FA community: We do not suffer from obesity. We don’t have fat. We are fat, and when people talk about our bodies as inherently flawed and in need of fixing, how can it not be personal?


Question Six: Why shouldn’t doctors comment on a patient’s weight, especially in regards to medication potentially being less effective, or when it is exacerbating problems?

“I think that doctors most certainly have the right to discuss weight in this way. There are millions of reasons why people may be perceived as ‘fat’, but that shouldn’t preclude my ability to be treated for the non-weight related issues that I have. I was told by the medical system for 20 years that my joint pain was due to my fat.When I was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that causes joint pain I realized that I had been ‘fat-washed’ as a patient for decades, suffering needlessly. It is not always so clear that the weight is exacerbating problems if you aren’t willing to look at the patient as a whole being and not just a ‘fat’ being.”

When a doctor graduates and becomes a doctor, they take what’s called the Hippocratic Oath. The first part of that oath states that the doctor commits to doing no harm, first and foremost. Commenting on a patient’s weight can be harmful to that person’s psyche an it isn’t very helpful.

“Fat people *know* they are fat. Being condescending to a patient serves only to breed distrust. Doctors who treat their patients as whole organisms, instead of reducing them to something short of an ideal, will achieve much better patient compliance.”

Responders expressed concerned that they weren’t being looked at as a whole person by their health care professionals. This oversimplification is seen as discounting, with a strong negative stigma attached. This “fat washing” creates a hostile atmosphere where further critique emotionally damages the patient.


 Question Seven: Why do you choose to focus on accepting “fat” in our society rather than addressing the underlying social issues that have resulted in 60% of our society being overweight with a further 30% being obese?

Fat people have always existed and will always exist. Why should fat people have to change to gain the privileges society gives to thin people (e.g. clothing options, fair treatment in employment, seats that fit us on airplanes, the basic dignity of being treated in a humane fashion at all times or at least of being able to accept such treatment, etc.)? The answer to oppression and unfair treatment isn’t for the oppressed and unfairly treated to change. It’s for the oppression and unfairness to end.

For me, it isn’t about accepting “fat”. It’s about accepting my body as it is and loving it. My depression, anxiety, and negative feelings for my body all stem from the hatred and disgust I have been shown through other people my entire life. Loving and accepting my body as it is means that I can be free of all of my pain, my tears, my depression, my anxiety, and my fear that people won’t accept me as I am. Who wouldn’t want that feeling of love and peace for themselves and for everyone in the world? That’s why I focus on love.

First, let’s address the issue of obesity – the BMI is flawed. It was never intended for individual assessment but for use in studies of a mass population. It was developed at a time when people were several inches shorter, when deprivation and starvation were common and therefore the ‘base’ scores were founded in an underweight, unhealthy and underfed population. It was based on men – not women or children. Even so, there does seem to have been an increase in overweight people in our western culture … so what? Does that mean that overweight people don’t deserve to be treated as human beings with the same level of respect that thin people do? We are being brainwashed into believing that fat people should be treated with contempt because they are gluttons, pigs, unhealthy etc and are a burden on our health systems and our society in general.

Those polled did not like this question. Frequently, they questioned the statistics, taking issue with their relevance and accuracy. The take away, however, is that love (both inward and outward) is the driving force behind participating in the Fat Acceptance movement, and that everyone is deserving of it.


Question Eight: In your own words, why do you think that This is Thin Privilege and other similar sites are listed as self harm sites?

“I did not know they were.”

“I have no idea. I certainly don’t consider them to be self-harm sites. This Is Thin Privilege is a place where fat people go to share the difficulties they experience as fat people. I fail to see how that is self-harm in any way, unless you suddenly believe that acknowledging and sharing the realities of how someone is treated is somehow harmful to them.”

I’ve had no exposure to them, so I cannot comment.

Many of the responders were not familiar with This is Thin Privilege at all. The ones that were didn’t seem to know about it being listed as a self-harm site. I took it upon myself to research why TiTP was listed as a self-harm site, and all I could find was that Symantec, a company that makes computer protection software, has a blocker in place for TiTP. I could not find other similar sites blocked in this way.

Symantec

As far as I can tell, there was a campaign against the site comprised of people who oppose the Fat Acceptance movement, citing that promoting fat acceptance was tantamount to promoting a detrimental, self-harming lifestyle.


Question Nine: Do you think telling people they have “thin privilege” is going to make them more sympathetic to your cause? What do you expect them to do with said privilege? Do you think there is a better way to get your message across than the privilege movement?

“Stating someone has privilege is fact, not an attack or an insult. I have white privilege. I do not mind that people tell me I have white privilege, but because of that privilege, I am going to be ignorant of some things. As a good person, it’s my job to shut up and listen, to not speak over the oppressed group and then call out any racism I see. I keep my privilege in mind when I act and speak and it makes me a better person. I expect the same courtesy from my thin friends, none of them have an issue with it.”

“I would hope that for some people if they were told they had thin privilege it might make them ponder what that meant and look it up. I was in a situation where I had not heard of white privilege, but now I am aware of what it is and aware of the fact that I have it. This means that I can start to notice my own white privilege and where I see it in others, which allows me to try to address problems caused by it. I would hope that some people who become aware of their thin privilege would become allies. I have thin friends who understand their thin privilege and are amazing allies.”

Many answerers questioned whether the question writers had a solid grasp on what “privilege” was. They point to awareness of privilege as a transformative experience, showing the world through new eyes. They see the “thin privilege” movement as an invitation to become an ally.


Question Ten: The title “Fat Acceptance” is problematic because it puts the focus on the fat, and not the person. Isn’t it more important to accept the person, instead of the fat attached to them?

The term fat is the defining adjective that pertains to members of this group. Should we accept all people? Absolutely. Can this term still be an effective tool to use in working to promote acceptance? Yes.

I think the important thing is to take the negative association away from the word Fat.

“Fat Acceptance is important because we’re fat and that’s what needs to be accepted. What about Gay rights? Would you say it should be called “people” rights? No, that’s ridiculous because it erases what society has a problem with. I am a FAT person, it is not an insult, it is not something to be ashamed of. It is something I am that everyone else has a problem with. I accept it and I feel so much better about myself. I didn’t need to learn to accept myself as a person, I knew I was a person, I needed to accept myself as a fat person.

Answerers uniformly felt that being accepting of all people is important, but fat acceptance is a different, more specific issue that deserves attention all its own. Fatness is a visible attribute, and one that faces daily criticism and scorn.


Overall, these responses show genuine confusion and concern about the reasons why people oppose the fat acceptance movement. Responders spoke of feelings of fear, rejection, exclusion, discrimination, and displayed anger when posed questions invalidating or diminishing those emotions. Participants questioned the validity of scientific research, and emphasized that regardless of size or medical status, everyone deserves to be treated with kindness and respect.

Writing this series was an emotional journey for me. It grew from a desire to be more educated, and to promote awareness of the topic among those perhaps unfamiliar with Fat Acceptance and its opponents. I faced stonewalling and ridicule during the seemingly simple act of data collection. People on both sides diminished my cause and dismissed my efforts. Even those close to me told me I was wasting my time, or looking for negative attention. During the analysis stage, I read seemingly endless tales of degradation, denigration, abuse, and bigotry. I read stories about people fighting for their lives, and for the lives of those they love. I read about science, both legitimate and faulty. I respect and love science; I see it is a tool to help us understand the world around us. It saddens me when I see it used as a weapon in a fight about social justice.

This brings me to my final point. Why can’t we discuss? Why can’t we have an open dialogue? Why does it fall to me to force these opinions out into the open? Are we so hopeless that we think we can’t sway people? Change someone’s mind for the better? Can we really expect to create social change without the “social” part?

The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part 2: Too Fat, Didn’t Read

tfdr

As I learned in The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part 1: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Stonewalling, the mere idea that the opposing sides of the Fat Acceptance movement could have a productive, positive discussion was dismissed out of hand by most parties involved. Still, I persevered and compiled a list of questions written by those who support the Fat Acceptance movement geared toward those who oppose it, as well as a list of questions written by those who oppose FA to be answered by FA supporters. This article will focus on the first set of questions, those written by supporters of FA.

Procuring the questions, as stated in the previous article, proved to be challenging. Many people in the Fat Acceptance camp didn’t want to engage in the activity at all, claiming doing so would “legitimize the toxic viewpoints” of people who didn’t agree with FA principles. Through this blog and its Facebook presence, I was able to cull a relatively anti-inflammatory set of questions from readers and friends supportive of the FA movement.

  1. Do you feel that others’ weight affects you directly, and if so, why?
  2. Do you feel that people you consider to be overweight are unqualified for certain jobs? If so, why?
  3. What are your thoughts on the behavioral psychology research proving that lowering someone’s self esteem is much less effective at changing behavior than raising self esteem?
  4. Do you think that every action a stranger takes or body condition a stranger has, which affects the healthcare system similarly, should be commented on in the same way (e.g. smoking, being sleep deprived, having cancer)?
  5. Why do you think that someone else’s body size affects people on such a visceral, emotional level?
  6. Fill in the blank: Fat equals ____
  7. Why do you think America is experiencing an “obesity epidemic”?
  8. What should the role of government/health care providers/the media be in addressing the “obesity epidemic”?
  9. How do you feel about your body?
  10. What is the best way to motivate people to be healthy?

I posted a link to fill out this questionnaire on Reddit and immediately received responses. Overnight, I had reached over 100 submissions. By midday, I had to close the questionnaire because I had more responses than I could possibly analyze. The first comment on Reddit was fairly telling of the overall response to the questions:

reddit questionnaire comment

This reply demonstrates three key principles of the anti-FA movement:

  1. They believe that the Fat Acceptance movement, or at least part of it, ignores scientific evidence that shows that being fat is unhealthy.
  2. They believe being fat is a choice.
  3. They consider thin privilege and oppression models to be invalid.

Do the answers to the questionnaires mirror these principles?

I went through, question by question, looking for redundancy based on specific key words. The answers featured in this article are representative of the majority of those who filled out the questionnaire.


Question One: Do you feel that others’ weight affects you directly, and if so, why?

“In certain understated ways, I actually consider the large bodies in public spaces to be “micro aggression” against people with smaller bodies. In my experience, large bodied individuals will not hesitate to let their body infringe on others personal space in public transit, while in a queue, or other spaces of modern urban environments. I consider these things “micro aggression” due to the unwillingness of large bodied peoples to not force their bodies on others. I am expected to move, or to get out of way in a lane even when I do not know anyone is there, I am expected to be accommodating at all times.”

“Yes. Normalizing unhealthy weight ideas, disregarding science, and forcing me to see things I really don’t want to.”

“In Canada our healthcare is covered by taxes. People who have obesity related diseases are therefore a drain on this and are directing resources from diseases that can’t be so easily changed. I pay taxes, I pay for the obesity related diseases.”

“If I know that person, hell yeah it affects me.  My mom is slowly killing herself.  She won’t live to old age. How the fuck do you want me to feel?  And she’s not enjoying herself, either. Her joints hurt, she has breathing problems, she can’t find clothes in her size, medications don’t work properly at her weight, and when she needs a surgery she will be at a considerably higher risk of complications.  The FA movement would have me applaud her for this.  Well no.  Fuck that.  She’s my mom, and when she hurts herself she hurts me too.  You wouldn’t stand idly by while your friend committed suicide or spiraled into drug addiction, would you?”

This first question is very illuminative. A fat person is seen as a drain on society, and an abuser of resources and space. They are also seen as pitied individuals, whose choice to remain fat ignores science and the advice of health professionals, and that not taking action constitutes standing by and letting someone self-destruct.


Question Two: Do you feel that people you consider to be overweight are unqualified for certain jobs? If so, why?

“Yes. Anything involving a lot of physical activity or requiring attractiveness, e.g. model, demoing stuff, etc. In general, obesity is an indicator of other traits undesirable in an employee such as a lack of impulse control.”

“No, I don’t feel that just because someone is overweight or obese that they are automatically unqualified for a certain job. If you are physically and mentally able to do something then, by all means, do that thing.”

“Yes. There are many jobs that require strenuous physical activity. If you cannot pass the physical qualifications for that job you should not be hired, as simple as that. If you are unable to perform your job and you were, for example, a firefighter you would be putting other people’s lives at stake because of your weight/physical condition.”

“I … think that obese doctors, nurses, nutritionists, personal trainers, and the like, would suffer from a credibility problem if they are obese and may not be as qualified for their position, vis a vis giving advice on health and weight.”

There are two lines of reasoning emerging from this question. Firstly, it is assumed there is a level of fatness that would inhibit a person from physically doing a job. Secondly, there is stigma that would preclude a fat person from being a successful model, or credible health professional.


Question Three: What are your thoughts on the behavioral psychology research proving that lowering someone’s self esteem is much less effective at changing behavior than raising self esteem?

“This question makes a pretty big assumption that is flat out wrong. Most people against the FA movement aren’t trying to just go around hurting fat people’s feelings. Yes, sometimes there are some unfortunate truths and harsh realities but saying that obesity is unhealthy, that it takes hard work and discipline to drop the weight and that most people that large lack the willpower isn’t about being mean. It’s just the way it is. No one will make any changes if they have convinced themselves nothing is wrong and that they are perfect and enclose themselves in an echo chamber of like-minded people.”

“Completely irrelevant. It’s peoples’ choice what they put in their mouth.”

“I agree with the sentiment, and therefore think that we should be motivating overweight people to lose weight, instead of telling them that they’re simply ‘disgusting’ or a ‘waste of space’. Promoting healthy eating, ease of exercise and education is essential to reversing the obesity trend of today.”

“Effective at what, exactly? Accepting lower standards for yourself?”

“Very much agree with this; however, I don’t really see this movement advocating change, just advocating acceptance. Acceptance is a wonderful thing, and people should be accepted for who they are, but I think one should always work towards bettering oneself. Having a healthy self-perception is a thing to work towards, but I think the extreme to which this movement takes it leaves individuals less capable of dealing with real life stressors involving weight issues. While advocating for acceptance is noble, it will more than likely not change societies perception about weight as a whole, therefore if you build your platform on just accepting individuals for who they are you ultimately are setting them up for failure when they leave your bubble of protection.”

Question three allows us to see the crux of the anti-acceptance argument: fat people should want to lose weight. They struggle with problems like a lack of will power, discipline, and education, and by ignoring these problems while surrounding themselves by people who encourage them to love themselves for who they are, they are ignoring the reality that there is something fundamentally wrong with themselves that they should be trying to better.


Question Four: Do you think that every action a stranger takes or body condition a stranger has, which affects the healthcare system similarly, should be commented on in the same way (e.g. smoking, being sleep deprived, having cancer)?

“Obesity and smoking fall under the same category of being under the person’s control. Insomnia and cancer are out of a person’s control. So no, they should not be commented on in the same way.”

“I usually do not begrudge smokers for smoking, because most will readily admit that, yeah, they know it’s bad for them. So I, personally, comment on smokers pretty neutrally. There seem to be a lot of fat people, on the other hand, convinced that they are somehow fat without over-eating, or that they’re perfectly fit and healthy despite their weight, or that their various bodily ailments are not caused/exacerbated by their excess weight. We all know that that’s bullshit, and because (some) fat people say a lot of bullshit like that, I personally will comment on them with a fair bit more scorn.”

“The reason obesity is so widely commented on as a major issue in healthcare is because of its prevalence and visibility in everyday life. We can’t always tell when a person is a smoker or a drug addict, but we can immediately see when someone is overweight, so it seems like a prominent issue. Therefore, we see obesity as a bigger issue than many other health problems.”

“I’m not sure what this question is actually asking… but not getting enough sleep, smoking cigarettes, and being overweight are all unhealthy. The difference is that there are no advocacy groups encouraging people to smoke and not sleep.”

Question four raised the hackles of quite a few responders. Many responders became very irate at the comparison between being fat and having cancer, but I think that was the point of the question. How ARE they related? What are the similar threads? Responders point to the visibility of fatness as a major reason it is commented on frequently, and that it should be commented on negatively as a choice people make to be unhealthy.


Question Five: Why do you think that someone else’s body size affects people on such a visceral, emotional level?

“When it comes to fat people, it’s like passing a car wreck. It’s utterly fascinating, yet horrifying and disgusting. I mean you’re PUSHING THE HUMAN BODY TO LENGTHS IT IS NOT SUPPOSED REACH.”

“It goes against everything we know on a basic biological level. We aim to be the best option for procreation that we can be. That’s literally our goal. We need to be good enough that someone we find good enough returns the feelings and decides to have children with us. Morbidly obese people are the bottom of the barrel especially if they cannot provide financially or have poor social skills.”

“A team is only as strong as its weakest player. In this sense we are all judged as members of society. If the majority deems that you are not up to standard, you will face stigma.”

“First, outward appearance has been used to determine if an individual is sexually fit (as in genetically fit) for breeding … Being fat can, in some instances, be a massive indicator of mental health problems as well as physical health problems. Not always but when someone is obese one has to wonder how it happened, is it an addiction, is it a lack of self awareness, is this a reaction to an event?”

Here we start toeing into the waters of bigotry. Fat people don’t meet acceptable, biological standards for reproduction. One’s fatness is indicative of other issues, such as mental illness and addiction. Is that why fatness is stigmatized? We are flawed on a basic, genetic level?


 Question Six: Fill in the blank: Fat equals ____

“Gross. Squishy. Unhealthy. Ugly.”

“Do you mean fat as in extra adipose tissue or the idea of fat people? If you mean the latter, I see it as a resignation that life cannot be improved upon.”

“Reduced willpower.”

“Lack of discipline.”

“Lipids. For real, I know this question is baiting me. You’re expecting me to say “unhealthy”. It is less healthy than being fit. And we’re not going to get into the “fat athlete” myth.”

“Adipose tissue in the body formed when the body’s energy input exceeds it’s output. Also a descriptive term for someone who has a large volume of this tissue, resulting in negative physiological changes to body size and shape.”

This simple question actually opens a big window into the anti-FA argument. A large proportion of the answerers commented on how the question was loaded, and that it was just meant to illicit answers like “gross” or “lazy”. A larger proportion actually answered with responses like “gross” or “lazy”. Very few answers listed any sort of neutral or positive connotation, outside of dictionary definitions.


Question Seven: Why do you think America is experiencing an “obesity epidemic”?

“Our body is designed to crave fats and sugars, a necessity when there is not enough food. Our society now has too much food, and companies are preying on those designs and ease of access to market unhealthy food to an entire populace.”

“Lack of self control. The entitled “me” generation that can’t stand to hear the word “no” and the parents who didn’t say no often enough.”

“Poverty, lack of education, lack of intelligence.”

“Because people are overeating.”

“The nature of our food has changed (intensive farming, processing, GMOs, pesticides), the abundance of our food has increased, our food is engineered to encourage overeating, our daily activity levels have decreased, our stress levels have gone up, our environments are polluted, we’re too distracted, we put too much emphasis on competitive sports and not enough on activity, we don’t get out in nature enough, the ‘worst’ foods are the most affordable and the ‘best’ foods are more expensive, we don’t have walkable neighborhoods.”

I was surprised by the amount of blame most responders put on society itself. There was the token “BECAUSE HAMPLANETS CAN’T STOP EATING HURR HURR”, but mostly answers focused on specific, systemic problems rather than individual actions. No one questioned the term “epidemic”, though; it’s clear this focus group equates fatness with illness.


Question Eight: What should the role of government/health care providers/the media be in addressing the “obesity epidemic”?

“Education about how to eat properly would be helpful for K-12 students. They should learn about portion control, exactly what foods will lead to weight gain, what is a good any time food vs. what is a good sometimes food, how to be critical of the media and advertising, how to avoid common pitfalls like ruining the healthfulness of a salad by smothering it in ranch or eating more to keep your metabolism from slowing down.”

“Joining in with us healthier people to shame you about your terribly stupid decision-making.”

“Research obesity related issues, develop ways to reduce the problem, and inform the public of these ways.”

“The media is concerned with entertainment, so don’t go looking to them to fix any problems. Also consider the amount of self generated content that is overtaking traditional forms – breaking through people’s self constructed echo chambers will only get harder.”

“The government and health care providers should stop giving money to non-disabled fat people. As for the media, how about some healthy fat-shaming?”

I like this follow-up question; it’s the seasoning bringing out the flavor profile of the relatively benign responses from question seven. The obesity epidemic? It’s a systemic problem. The solution? A healthy portion of “education” with a side of fat shaming. Unfortunately, we keep ourselves from being educated through the creation of our own fat-accepting media.


Question Nine: How do you feel about your body?

“I am 400lbs and very unhappy with my body.  I am currently doing what I can to lose most of the weight.”

“I love my body. I am a healthy weight for my height, and after recently losing some weight (about 10 pounds) I have become more confident.”

“I feel great about my body.  I’ve lost 80 pounds with a healthy diet and exercise and know it is possible.  I’ve never been happier.”

“Unhappy. I’m morbidly obese. Two weeks ago I changed what I eat and began walking some evenings and I’m already down 8lb. Aim to lose 100lb.”

“I love my body. As should everyone.”

“Why should I accept it if it makes me unhappy?”

This question generated the greatest diversity of answers. One surprising thing is the number of answerers who identify as being fat and unhappy. They see the relinquishing of “fat logic” as the first step in a transformative journey toward non-fatness. It’s reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome; people repeatedly hammered by the rhetoric of one’s persecutors until they start to sympathize with the message.


Question Ten: What is the best way to motivate people to be healthy?

“The best way to motivate people, I’d say, is to make obesity illegal and arrest obese people on sight (barring those who can prove they have conditions that make weight loss impossible). Why I say this is because there are people in the world who believe they are healthy no matter what … With these kind of people, you cannot sway them to even think there is or will ever be anything unhealthy about them, and they will never do anything about their weight or general health.”

“I can say that the worst way is by making fun of people. Nobody should make fun of fat people, and I would never promote such a thing. But people should encourage fat people to exercise more and to eat better. They should be shown support.”

“Stop the fat acceptance movement. Once people stop believing that their doctors are shaming them and their family members are shaming them and start believing that people around them actually care about their health, they may realize they actually have a problem. If people are unwilling to get healthy, they need to shut their mouths. This is Darwinism in action. Adapt to the world around you or expect your bloodline to disappear.”

“Education.”

“Provide incentive and a conducive environment for health.”

“Have all obesity-related expenses come directly out of obese people’s pockets. This would include disability payments, knee braces, gastic bypass, ambulance calls for heat attacks and type II diabetes treatment.”

What a strange combination of positive reinforcement and punishment! The solutions involve education, denial of access to crucial services, access to incentives, removing support systems promoting fat acceptance, and criminalizing how someone looks. Can all these options exist simultaneously? Many answerers of this question strongly blame the Fat Acceptance movement for the problems faced by fat people, and many of them suggest penalizing fat people in some way just for being fat, but earlier, the “obesity epidemic” was blamed as a societal problem.


The responses to the survey paint a very clear picture of the anti-FA movement. The emphasis seems to be on promoting individual and public health, but the execution leaves something to be desired. The loathing (both outward and inward) is palpable. Guilt is seen as the primary, most effective motivator to make changes in one’s life, and that people should want to make that change regardless of how they feel about themselves. People filling out this questionnaire see fatness as a disease needing to be cured, and that any other viewpoints ignore science and are therefore invalid. Fat people who promote fat acceptance are seen as promoting disease and contributing to societal crisis, and therefore are treated with hostility and scorn.

Want to know what questions were asked of those supporting the Fat Acceptance movement? Want to know their answers? Stay tuned for The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part Three: F.A. Confidential.

The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part One: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Stonewalling

strangelove

This piece was originally supposed to be an examination of opinions. It began as nagging thoughts resulting from my Adventures on Reddit and an exchange on Facebook regarding something I wrote about a Jezebel article. Here are some comments from Reddit about my Reddit article:

fatlogicreddit Comments on Facebook about the Jezebel article:

jezscreenshot

Both of these encounters left a bad taste in my mouth. I know what I believe, and the science behind it. I am a science-based person by nature — I need proof of something before I hitch my wagon to it. Sociology, however, is an arena with much more flexible rules. I tend to be swayed by my own background in behavioral psychology, and for these reasons I am absolutely fascinated by the fat acceptance discussion. There are sizable groups of people out there that firmly believe in the Fat Acceptance movement as social justice advocating for equal rights and basic human decency, and those who see it as enabling/legitimizing a detrimental social problem/health epidemic. I wanted to know: How do these groups interact? How do they relate to one another, if at all. Why do they interact the way they do?

Throughout my adventures, I only saw groups of people together, all echoing the same ideology. I rarely saw them meeting and discussing. What would they do if they met? What would they say to one another? I went to the far corners of the internet, asking people on either end of the fat acceptance spectrum to generate questions for me to pose to people who may disagree. I wanted to take the questions and answers and compile them into one article so my readers could get a clear idea of the opinions and feelings surrounding the topic. What I ended up with looks far different from what I envisioned.

I entered a war zone. I emerged, scarred.

Here is what I asked for from the body acceptance crowd:

“I am writing an article trying to address both sides of the body acceptance issue without requiring any direct confrontation between those involved. My goal is to shape an academic discussion free of logical fallacies. I first need a list of questions from those supporting fat acceptance/body positivity that they would like to see answered by people who disagree with/oppose the body acceptance movement. Once I get the list of questions, I will pose them to people who disagree. I am doing the same procedure with anti-FA supporters, getting questions from them to have you answer. Once I have questions and answers from both sides, I will compile them in an article. I am looking for questions that are not loaded and as anti-inflammatory as possible so as to promote a clear and academic dialogue.”

I went into a sub forum on Reddit (that I knew to be critical of this blog’s message) and presented this:

“I am a body-positive blogger, whose work has been prominently featured in this subreddit. I am getting a lot of feedback. I am trying to organize it all in a fair way that addresses the issues I see coming up in the threads on this site and the comments I receive on my own site. I am asking for any /r/fatlogic Redditors to pose questions they would like to see answered by people I know in the body acceptance community. I am collecting questions from them currently that I plan on posing to members of this subreddit if everyone is amenable. Of course, everything will be anonymous. If you think there would be another subreddit that could also pose good questions, feel free to link them. I am attempting to write a well balanced presentation of both sides.”

Wherever I went, whenever I asked for questions, I felt attacked, regardless of who I was asking. Often, I was dismissed out of hand. I learned on Reddit that this is called getting my “SJW fee-fees hurt” (Social Justice Warrior feelings). The following examples come from both camps, some more transparent than others. Let’s see if you can guess which came from where:

“Yeah, I don’t have high hopes for this.”

“Might it be a fallacy to assume that you can get non-trite answers … ?”

“If people are convinced by junk science that their beliefs are correct, showing them real science proving otherwise isn’t going to change their minds.”

“I’m glad that there is a [group] like this, where we all know the truth about ‘fitness’.”

“You can take people who believe in junk science, pseudoscience, correlations, and their confirmation bias, show them actual facts that prove them wrong, and they will come up with 1001 reasons why they are still right and your facts are ‘wrong’.”

“I’m not sure [you understand] that “non-biased” means something different from ‘agrees with me’.”

“Not interested in playing this game. Goodbye.”

I found that I had to explain, repeatedly, that I wasn’t trying to set up a debate with a winner and a loser, but instead was just trying to show the argument in its entirety so that readers could walk away with an understanding of the issue. This took time. Lots of time. I found myself repeating it over and over. It felt like no one could grasp the concept that I wasn’t setting them up for failure. I needed to again and again make statements like this:

“I don’t care what the answers look like. I just want to show them.”

“It’s not a conversation. I do not think anyone is going to have their mind’s changed. I just want to show the perspectives.”

“I am simply looking for questions using clear, non-judgmental language in the interest of the clear exchange of information.”

“I am just interested in what the questions and responses are. I have no illusions that I will be changing anyone’s mind. I just think it’s worth looking at.”

“This isn’t a game of tennis. This is an article about how people PLAY tennis.”

So I guess you want to know, eh? How the game is played? It isn’t how you think.

Let’s start with my acquaintances over at Reddit. The problem with talking to a collective is that they all give different directions, make different requests, and protest vigorously when you don’t meet one of the many, contrary expectations they have. It’s like trying to please everyone, when everyone doubts your motives and suspects your competency for different reasons. This protest is done in the form of something called “down voting”.

Reddit Hates Me

As you can see, /r/fatlogic did not like me very much. I did receive some compliments from a few users regarding my patience and my ability to remain calm despite being in a clearly hostile environment. I started the thread asking for questions. A common theme, however, was the inflammatory, hostile nature of the questions. They were so inflammatory that I thought no one would be willing to even attempt to answer them. I started suggesting some alternate wording. In hindsight, I think it was a bad choice; aren’t I trying to show the argument how it currently exists?

Angry Reddit

One thing stood out to me, and bothered me greatly. I felt dismissed, like my endeavor wasn’t worthwhile, and that nothing good would come of it. When I mentioned it, I was essentially told that my impression was wrong. It went something like this:

Reddit Dismissal

I got the impression that they very much wanted their opinions heard, and they shared them openly — I received a great many questions to use for my article, ranging from somewhat neutral to extremely inflammatory. When I submitted questions for them to answer, I got over 150 responses.

What happened when I went to members of the Fat Acceptance community, with whom I identify, and whose message I try to promote through this blog? I was also dismissed, but in a different way. My attempts to reach out on Tumblr were completely rebuffed.

tumblr dismissal 3

tumblr dismissal 2

tumblr dismissal 1

I think I was perceived as sympathetic to a cause that is socially damaging and discriminatory, but as I stated earlier in this article, I was just trying to gather information. What information did I glean from Tumblr? Acknowledging the viewpoints of people that they have decided aren’t valid is an exercise in futility.

I was going to include the responses I received from the /r/BodyAcceptance subreddit, but they deleted my entire thread, presumably because Redditors from the /r/fatlogic subreddit were copying responses into their own thread for dissection. Still, what’s a better example of stonewalling than completely erasing any evidence of my questions and work?

I did eventually get a good number of questions from various fat-positive Facebook communities, as well as from my own readers and personal friends. What were the questions I got from either side? What happened when I asked for answers? What WERE the answers?

Stay tuned for the next installment, The Fat Acceptance Fight, Part 2: Too Fat, Didn’t Read.

 

 

What questions do you want to ask those opposed to the body positivity movement?

logical fallacies

I am writing an article trying to address both sides of the body acceptance issue without requiring any direct confrontation between those involved. My goal is to shape an academic discussion free of logical fallacies.

I first need a list of questions from those supporting fat acceptance/body positivity that they would like to see answered by people who disagree with/oppose the body acceptance movement. Once I get the list of questions, I will pose them to people who disagree. I am doing the same procedure with anti-FA supporters, getting questions from them to have you answer. Once I have questions and answers from both sides, I will compile them in an article.

I am looking for questions that are not loaded and as anti-inflammatory as possible so as to promote a clear and academic dialogue.

Your questions, when posed to others, will be completely anonymous.

 

Fat Tropes: Stupidity

fat stupid

“Fat” has a lot of negative connotations: lazy, gluttonous, slothful, helpless, ugly. One of the worst, most damaging associations is the idea that fat people are stupid. This stereotype is prolific throughout popular culture, reinforced under the guise of “humor” and “life lessons”.

Homer Simpson:

Homer Simpson is the quintessential stupid fat character. He makes decisions at a very base level, with food and drink serving as primary motivators:

This donut has purple in the middle, purple is a fruit.

He is uncultured:

Books are useless! I only ever read one book, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” and it gave me absolutely no insight on how to kill mockingbirds! Sure it taught me not to judge a man by the color of his skin…but what good does that do me?

He is ignorant of basic science and math facts:

The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side!

His diminished intellectual capacity is inextricably tied to his comedic value.

Augustus Gloop:

Augustus Gloop is a “gluttonous” boy motivated by the consumption of sweets and chocolate. In fact, he’s so wholly dull that eating is the only thing he cares about:

‘I just knew Augustus would find a Golden Ticket,’ his mother had told the newspapermen. ‘He eats so many bars of chocolate a day that it was almost impossible for him not to find one. Eating is his hobby, you know. That’s all he’s interested in.

He doesn’t listen to simple directions:

‘The grass you are standing on, my dear little ones, is made of a new kind of soft, minty sugar that I’ve just invented! I call it swudge! Try a blade! Please do! It’s delectable!’

Automatically, everybody bent down and picked one blade of grass — everybody, that is, except Augustus Gloop, who took a big handful.

In fact, he’s so singularly motivated that he’s likened to an animal:

Augustus was deaf to everything except the call of his enormous stomach. He was now lying full length on the ground with his head far out over the river, lapping up the chocolate like a dog.

These tropes are so pervasive that they are self-perpetuating. There are openly hostile individuals that claim fat people are stupid because they allow themselves to be fat despite purported “health risks” and “easy access” to diet and exercise products, though they only fan the flames of an already robust fire.

Labeling fat people as unintelligent is more symptomatic of a cultural problem then it is causal. The internet doesn’t help, serving as a opaque curtain behind which people can manufacture new examples of the same old hate, and the anonymity seemingly amplifies the aggressive nature of these memes.

The Counter-productivity of Craigslist Revenge: How Jezebel got it wrong

Jezebel recently featured a Craigslist “missed connection” where a woman read the riot act to a man for making another woman cry on the subway by calling her fat.

First, the ad-writer describes the initial interaction:

You got up right before the Stony Brook stop and said something in a low voice to the woman next to you. You exited the train and she burst into tears. I asked her what you said—-and in between sobs she goes, “he said ‘Have some respect for yourself and lose some weight’

This is classic thin privilege — someone concern-trolling a complete stranger, not knowing their history or a thing about them. The man clearly has no concept of what his comment actually meant. Shaming a total stranger under the guise of helping them? Despicable. Inexcusable. Disgusting. How does the woman respond? What is her logical, convincing argument to help coach the behavior of the Subway Concern Troll?

Here is the full Craigslist post:

Craigslist Revenge

She insults him. Not just his behavior and actions (“dog”, “miserable coward”) but his personality — something she can infer based only on the one transaction she observed on the train, combined with (drumroll please…) his appearance. Here is her analysis (emphasis added by TFW):

You: blond, slicked hair, hipsterish. You manage to be both tasteless and sanctimonious, and something tells me you brag about loving Bukowski even though you only made it 80 pages deep into Women. You definitely think you’re smarter than everyone, and you love reflective surfaces. You work in design/tech/oh wait, who cares, you don’t fucking matter. You treat women like garbage, but don’t worry—-we hate you. You have a stank on you, and a lot of us can smell it…truly a dookiestain made flesh. You don’t have an original thought under that stupid haircut. You are a straight up fucking bully, and you should be ashamed of yourself. Bullies are the absolute worst.

The thing is, part of you knows this, and you’re upset that no one treats you like the special snowflake you believe yourself to be. So you say horrible things to strangers in public to make yourself feel better. Stop being such a fucking bully and shitting on other humans just because your wounded-ego feels like taking a dump. No really, just fucking stop.

Any of my fellow feminist vigilantes who might be reading this: keep an eye out for a white dude, around age 30, who looks like a wacker version of Macklemore, if that’s possible. Make sure you remind him of his insignificance.

Notice the repeated references to his appearance, and what his appearance must mean. He dresses like a hipster, therefore he must be pretentious and full of himself. He must work in tech or design based on his haircut. He has no original thoughts, and is vain, and resentful of women for not appreciating him. But none of that really matters, because he himself is an irrelevant human being.

Someone making judgements about another person based on their appearance does not make it okay to tear into them based on their own appearance. It is not okay to use a haircut and one comment as a baseline for inferring the entire world view and personality of another person. Nor does it do anything to convince the man to understand his mistake. It doesn’t serve to educate, just alienate. It is no better than telling the woman on the subway to have respect for herself. He doesn’t know her. His behavior could be coming from a place of genuine (albeit prejudiced and misguided) concern. Do you think he’ll feel concern now? Probably not. He’ll be angry. Defensive. Resentful. And he’ll have no reason to feel otherwise.

Jezebel provides very shallow commentary:

How many Craigslist missed connections/personal ads include the word “dookiestain”? More than you’d think, I bet!

As is the case with anything on the internet, there’s always the chance that this isn’t real, but what is real anyway? Are you real? Am I real? PROBABLY NOT.

Anyway, see it as a win-win. If it’s fake, then some poor woman wasn’t verbally harassed on the train. If it’s real, then the person who wrote this just delivered a slam dunk ass whooping AND coined the phrase “like a wacker version of Macklemore.”

Thank goodness we now have the phrase “like a wacker version of Macklemore”. It’s so much better than genuine social change and respect for each other as human beings.

When Does “Fitspo” Become “Thinspo”?

thinspo

“Thinspo” stands for “thinspiration” and is a commonly tagged word on Tumblr, Pinterest, and other social media sites. Thinspiration posts are designed to promote the idea that thinness is desirable, and that it must be pursued relentlessly regardless of consequence. Thinspo has become a contentious tag in social media contexts, and several sites are banning content associating itself with the thinspo label.

YAY! Huzzah! Let’s get this unhealthy, body-hating term out of Internet-Land, far away from our sensitive ears!

Unfortunately, there are always work-arounds.

On Pinterest, what I would previously see tagged under “thinspo” I am now seeing tagged under a new term: “fitspo”.

Fitsperation.

Upon initial contemplation, I loved this idea. Let’s make it NOT about body type. Let’s shift the conversation over towards a healthy lifestyle! Activity! Movement! Self-love! However, if you search for “fitspo”, you will be disappointed.

Now, I consider myself somewhat of a Pinterest maven, and The Fat Word Pinterest board is a repository of such body-negativity propaganda.

Initial rage thoughts:

  • Losing weight should NOT be tantamount to addiction. The idea minimizes the struggle of actual addicts while promoting the idea that losing weight is something so desirable that once you start, you need an intervention to stop. If it is actually an addiction, it’s called anorexia. Or bulimia. Or disordered eating. Or activity disorder. Not exactly inspirational cat-poster stuff.
  • Speaking of fluffy cat -posters, Ryan Gosling might be a little miffed that his image is being used to make people feel bad about themselves.
  • Writing letters to your fat gives it agency. No longer do you view it as part of you, but an enemy to fight. In reality, you’re just fighting yourself.
  • Society wants you to think that “you’ll still be uglier than you want to be in a few months, but if you keep self-hatin’, soon you’ll be even LESS ugly than you are now!”
  • Hotness does not equal fitness, especially when it’s measured primarily against other women.
  • I wear skinny jeans. And mini-skirts. I have crop-tops and short shorts. I almost exclusively wear bikinis. I get cat-called. I have fun. I am a confident, happy, healthy, satisfied person.

I need a mental antacid.

There is another key term out in Social Media Land, called “fatspo” — fatspiration. Not that the “fat body type” is necessarily something to work towards or cultivate, but that we can be fat, fit, happy, and beautiful.

That’s more like it. That’s what inspiration is supposed to feel like.


UPDATE

We have been receiving a lot of feedback on this article. Check out our responses!

Power, Privilege, and Fatness: Why thin shaming isn’t on the level of fat shaming

body shame

Greetings, fellow naturally thin-ish people.

I’d say “thin people,” but most of us are a few years past the point that the angles on our face were perfect no matter what we ate, or our asses could stop traffic. If not? We soon will be. But I’m speaking, here, to the non-fat. The wee. The svelte. The thin. The fast-metabolismed. The genetic lottery winners.

You know who you are. We don’t count calories, we can spend entire days without thinking about our body sizes, and while we may feel like shit about how we look, we certainly aren’t told that it’s all our fault. That’s who we are. If not? Quietly leave. I’m not talking to you.

Are they gone?

Okay.

So hello, thinnish people.

I have some distressing news for all of us, and it comes straight from the fat horse’s mouth:

We don’t get to talk about thin shaming like it’s every bit as bad as fat shaming.

Yes, yes, I know the argument. “Isn’t making fun of anybody’s body just as bad as making fun of anybody else’s?”

No. Just, like, way no. All the no. There’s no more “no” left, because I just took it all.

Stick with me, here.

I rejected this idea for years, myself. I wanted, very badly, for all prejudicial language, and every minimization of a group of people to be analogous and equal. As a thin (not to mention white) male, I wanted very badly for any member of any minority groups’ criticism of me based on anything but my actions to be every bit as bad as every insult thrown at them for no reason. Every barb. Every discriminatory act. Every oblivious act. I wanted my resentment to be as justified as theirs. I wanted them hating on me for being white, or male, or thin– I wanted it to be just as unthinkable and obviously terrible as it would be for me to hate on them for being black, or female, or fat.

But dude, I say, hoping the colloquialism doesn’t alienate…

It way wasn’t.

I was just an asshole.

I have an analogy here that many haven’t considered. It’s obvious, which means I’m a bit of a hack. It’s simplistic, which means I’m not the academic I would love to be, but it is also accurate. When people say that shaming the thin for being thin as akin to shaming the fat for being fat, here is what they are saying:

“Whites are the new blacks.”

Ridiculous, right? But this is an argument that is currently being made. According to a recent survey performed by Harvard and Tufts sociologists, many white Americans believe that they are now the persecuted minority.

Speaking as a white man, we’re not. We absolutely aren’t. We couldn’t be less the new blacks were minstrel shows about white folks to suddenly become, y’know, a thing. I can picture it now:

“Did you file those reports, Johnson?”

“No, Thomas. I was busy getting STARBUCKS!”

<Dismissive song and dance>

<Laughter>

Almost sounds like the Big Bang Theory.

Here’s the thing: there’s no comparing the oppressed with the oppressor. Agents and targets of oppression, as they’re known among several frameworks of social theory, will never be the same thing.

And that doesn’t mean that anybody’s a bad person. Nobody’s suggesting that anybody should be shot for laughing at fat people. But, y’know, nobody was suggesting that many others should be shot for laughing at movie portrayals of House Mammies. And yes, I am comparing these things, and yes, I do believe they’re analogous. Not on the same level, sure, but the same act. The same superior dismissal. The same subjugation and disenfranchisement of a target group.

It’s unthinkable to act, consciously and publicly, as if those who are born different should be treated with malice, but it is still totally okay to treat the larger members of our country with constant disdain, and disrespect. The reason for this is the same reason you’d almost never hear somebody say “I’m fine with Mexicans so long as they’re not all up in my face with it,” but the same is said about gays on a fairly regular basis:

Choice.

Fatness, like sexuality, is seen by many as a matter of choice. And worse yet, while a gay man can’t make himself straight, nor should he, a fat person can make themselves thin, so that must mean thin is better, right? That fat means unhealthy, right? That every fat person is just lazy, right? They should be thin and healthy like us! Go health! Dog-whistles!

I eat like shit, never exercise, and spend all day sitting. My wife eats well, controls portions, exercises, and spends all day on her feet. I’m thin, she’s not. I’m considered height-weight proportionate. She’s not. Oh, and I’m at risk of heart disease. She’s not.

Bullshit it’s all choice, and the health argument is ridiculous. And I am here, in my pants that fit, gleefully doling out said ridicule.

Our differences in metabolism are ignored. People wrongly assume I’m the healthy one and she isn’t, and for this reason, she can be mocked and I can sit in my bubble of oppressive social agency, secure that I’m a part of dominant culture, body-size wise. It’s not okay to say “nigger,” or “bitch,” or “fag” offhandedly on, say, network television, but it is 100% okay to call somebody a fatass. Or tank-ass. Or lard-ass. Or bubble-gut, or even such subtle jabs as “she’s let herself go.”

So when somebody who is exposed to this every minute of every day lashes out and says, “yeah? Well FUCK thin people!” we don’t get to act as if this the same as somebody calling a bigger guy or gal a fatass, because we are told, every time we watch television, every time we see a film, every time we look at a billboard, and every time we see a fashion magazine: “You’re okay. You count. You matter.”

When a gay man says, “fuck straight people,” he is not oppressing, because he is not in power, culturally-speaking. He is not in the position to oppress. When a black man says, “fuck white people,” he is not oppressing white men, because his group is not the dominant group. When a woman says, “fuck men,” she is not oppressing men, because to oppress, your social group must be on top. That’s what oppression is. 

But when a fat person talks smack about the “rail thin,” or the “anorexic models,” or even something so naked as “those fucking thin people,” they are treated, just as their oppressed contemporaries are when they retaliate, as oppressors.

They’re not, dude. They’re way not.

They’re just being assholes.

It’s a very important distinction to make.

Fat people are a persecuted minority. If you don’t believe this, just take in all of your daily media with the idea in mind of how you’d feel if you had what I like to call The Big Gene; if your metabolism sucked, and no matter how healthy you were, you still just had some heft to ya’. Just pay attention for one day to how godawful you’d feel. Most of us don’t even have to reach too far for this, because we’re not models. We’re already facing it, just not on nearly the same level.

Nobody is suggesting that there has ever been a fat-person lynch mob. Nobody is suggesting that fat people are regularly murdered for declaring their love in public. Nobody is actually comparing the plight of the fat to the historical and contemporary plight of other minorities. Nobody who matters, anyway.

But, as always, there’s a “but.”

Fat people are consistently mocked on television and in movies. Magazines have whole issues devoted to “Worst Bathing Suit Bodies”. Fat people are told how they should (and shouldn’t) dress, how they should eat. They are judged much more critically, and much more frequently than non-fat people. They are targets, because they are at the weaker end of the power dynamic. That is what makes “fat bitch” a different insult than “skinny bitch” and why fat shaming is different than thin shaming. Neither is positive, and neither should be acceptable. But thin shaming doesn’t excuse fat shaming; if anything, it only continues to oppress an already oppressed minority.

So, y’know, try not to pile on by pretending to be a victim.

Don’t be an asshole.


UPDATE

We have been receiving a lot of feedback on this article. Check out our responses!

Why I Haven’t Written My First Fat Blog

Marianne

I’m too busy. It’s conference week. I’m working through some family stuff.

The truth is, I don’t like the word fat. When I saw the web site up, IT, FAT, had the ability to shock me. I found I didn’t want the word associated with me. It surprised me how strongly I felt. I was feeling uncomfortable with the political tone, the “right speak” that some of the articles had for me. I felt stifled explaining why. I LIKED what Jennifer Lawrence said. She’s not stupid. She knows laws won’t be changed. But calling people fat and remarking on evening wear based on how they fit is mean spirited and should be stopped. She’s annoyed that so many of her interviews are based on body image and frankly she seems bored and would rather talk about something else. I found the phrase used to introduce the piece, “I love you, now close your mouth” really condescending. Is there only one correct way to support body positivity? Are we going to say close your mouth if someone is approaching the topic from a different angle?

I live in my big body every day. I enjoy adorning my body with fashionable clothes. I get tattoos regularly and am comfortable with dropping trow or unbuttoning my shirt, as the occasion requires. I found exercise – dance classes that I enjoy. I didn’t always do these things.

I had a horrible break-up and in that period of reinventing, I found I put most of my joys “on hold”. When I lost more weight, I would get a tattoo. When I could fit in a leotard, I would find a class. I found I was doing nothing. I changed my no to yes and my later to now. This has stood me in good stead; all that saying “yes” has developed into a pretty positive attitude. I think that’s why Shiloh asked me to join this blog.

Yeah, I live with my fat, I dress to flatter my fat, I exercise to keep my fat healthy, but I don’t think about my fat daily and I found I don’t like to TALK ABOUT MY FAT! Well, hell, why would I be writing a blog? I have bright pink hair that I wear curled in a Marilyn bouffant everyday. I don’t go out without my eyeliner and fuchsia lipstick. My demeanor says, look at me! I’m definitely not a beige plus-size matron.  More importantly, my demeanor says, define me by something other than my weight. I’m saying it, I don’t know if people are hearing it.

The day the first Spanx article came out, I had just received a package of really sexy, really comfortable shape wear, real “date lingerie”, (I’m an online shopper extraordinaire.) Usually, I’d pop in to Shiloh, and show off my swag to the appropriate oohs and aahs. Now I find I’m editing myself, are Spanx not cool? Is shape wear not ok if I’m body positive? I LIKE shape wear. I don’t wear it because I feel bad, or I am trying to fit into a fashion mold. I want to wear a favorite piece of clothing that clings and I think looks better over a smooth layer. I’m not fooling myself into thinking I look significantly smaller.

I enjoy following haute couture. I subscribe to Vogue.  When I see a look or a trend works on a tall thin model, I either, as a consumer, decide that look is not for me and move on; or as a designer and seamstress, I change it and make it work for me. I don’t feel anger towards the industry that they idealize young, thin, tall models. I don’t feel old, fat, and short. I’m looking at the clothes, the drape of the fabric, the artful photography, and the lush surroundings. Do I celebrate when they use a big model? Sure, but I won’t like her ad or the clothes she is advertising any better, if the skinny model’s clothes are better designed or that spread is better photographed. I personally feel excited and inspired when the big September issue comes out. When on vacation in New York, I like visiting the big name boutiques. And you know, the sales clerks treat me with respect, even if I can only fit into the handbags and scarves. I don’t feel unwelcome. I’m a consumer; they are the product providers.

The last “fat issue” I want to touch on is weight loss. My size travels between 18 and 24. When I’m at my best, running up and down stairs, sleeping well, good skin tone, standing straight and proud; I am exercising regularly and I am eating less-processed, nutrient dense food. When I’m at a low point, I’m too busy to exercise and I’m eating junk. I could be PC and say that at my smaller size I just feel healthier and happier, but you know? I also think I look better. I want to be smaller. Is it ok to admit that? I like big, bountiful curves, rather than floppy, bulgy bulges. But I don’t want to wait to do anything until I slim down. I’ll continue to say “Yes, now!” instead of “Later.” I want to talk about healthy lifestyle choices on this blog without fat-shaming or skinny-shaming, and to exercise the option of not really caring about it at times.

I think I can add some badass fashion, food, and positivity articles to this blog. Does my viewpoint gel with you? I don’t know. Does my viewpoint sound modern, cool and politically correct? I don’t care. Will I research numerous articles and cite experts in the field? Uh, no, not even a little bit. I want to be the Do It Now Girl! Try something new! Have fun! Look fierce! Give yourself a break! Yes! Yes! Yes!

The “Biggest Loser” Can Never be a Winner, and it is Society’s Fault

The Biggest Loser is a game show where fat people compete to see who can lose the largest percentage of their body weight. Most recently, the grand prize winner for season 15 was a young woman by the name of Rachel Frederickson. She started the show weighing 260 lbs.

Rachel Frederickson before having the fat shamed off of her.

Through medically questionable dietary and fitness tactics, she was able to drop down to 105 lbs. Severe caloric restriction and six hours of strenuous exercise per day alone is enough to cause huge stresses on all of your body systems, the most vital being the heart. Ms. Frederickson, just like all of the contestants of The Biggest Loser, literally risked dropping dead of a heart attack to “win” this competition.

Whoa.

So, what happens when I look for articles on Ms. Frederickson?

“Biggest Loser” winner Rachel Frederickson reacts to weight-loss backlash

Biggest Loser Winner Rachel Frederickson Admits She May Have Gone Too Far

Biggest Loser Winner Rachel Frederickson Admits She Lost Too Much Weight Too Fast

So, let me get this right…

At first she was too fat. So fat that she needed to resort to drastic, unhealthy measures to lose weight. Then she lost weight. A lot of weight. Now, apparently, she’s TOO THIN. Really? Seriously?! The problem isn’t Ms. Frederickson’s fatness, or thinness. Apparently, nobody’s bodies are acceptable. We must pass judgement on EVERY PHYSICAL ATTRIBUTE of anyone who dares to step into the spotlight. What must this be doing to the self-esteem of someone who already suffered humiliation and ridicule for being on the opposite end of the spectrum?

HEADDESK