As long as I'm ranting about the way the discussion of fat issues is constantly defined in ways to disadvantage fat acceptance, another pet peeve of mine is the expectation that everyone has to congratulate dieters. That politness requires us all to wish them well.
Why the hell should it? Look, I don't wish dieters ill nor do I advocate or approve of that mindset. I don't wish them anything. Withholding my congratulations isn't an act or rudeness. Its intellectual honesty. I believe that dieting has failed fat people. I know that weight loss doesn't make people happier. It doesn't make people healthier. Heck, it doesn't even make them weight loss nearly all of the time. Why should I feel happy about that? Why should I have to support that?
Weight loss promoters don't need my support. They demand it as a means of undercutting my position. As a means of setting boundries of discussion which advantage their position. They might frame it in deeply subjectivist terms: I'll support you if you support me. But this misses the point. Basically, they are suggesting a freeze. They'll tolerate our acceptance if we support their weight stigmatization. This is an easy demand to make when you represent the status quo. Giving in does nothing to help fat acceptance.
I know it feels hard to not applaud weight loss. We are conditioned to see weight loss as an accomplishment. Something achieved. It seems rude not to join in. But its not. Its your right. Just as its anyone's right to attempt weight loss, its your right to have formed your own opinions about weight loss. You don't need to abandon that because someone else wants to lose weight. If you did need to do that, then why bother forming the opinion in the first place.
Contrary to many fat acceptance critics, any fat activist has to encounter people who want to lose weight every day of our lives. They are our friends, our family, perhaps even our loved ones. But we don't have to play along with the implications of approving of weight loss. We can opt-out. Don't berate them for wanting to lose weight. Don't feel like berating them. I understand why people want to lose weight, why they think its the answer. I don't hate people for buying into the system. But I can't buy in. I cannot approve. So I opt-out. I neither condemn nor congratulate. Its a fair and honest response.
The problem is that those who want the congratulations, who want acknowledgement for their achievements, often won't accept that. Opting out isn't an option. They insist that any failure to see their actions as praiseworthy is a slight, an attack. It isn't, though. And I urge people to resist that redefinition. It isn't fair to us and it isn't fair to our beliefs. We should stand for what we believe in. Opt-out of the diet praise. Its your right.