Diets are mean!

"Diets are mean"

I'm sure the diet acceptance crowd is sething right now at such an awful sentiment. How dare I call diets mean! What an awful lack of compassion for people trying to better themselves! Bad me!

No, not me. Well, okay, I do think diets are mean, but I don't think I've had occassion to say that. No, I read that on bus stop billboard.

"Live or Diet"

Saw that one on a Taxi-top. Agree with it, too. Its a good distillation of the options available to fat people.

"People don't fail. Diets do."

Right on! The failure of diets is always turned into personal failures which just perpetuates fat hatred and turns fat people themselves into eager advocates of fat hatred.

"Stop Dieting. Start Living"

Saw that one on a website. Some fat liberation group taking a long-await defiant stand against dieting? Gosh, no.

Its Weight Watchers.

See, "diet" tests poorly. I guess something about them never working has harmed the "diet" brand. That doesn't deter Weight Watchers, though. They were one of the first diets to insist that it isn't a diet. "No, no. We're not a diet! Diet's don't work, after all. We're... a lifestyle choice! A whole new way of living! Gosh, no, we're not a diet."

Not coincidentally, this all started around the time fat acceptance first started agitating back in the 70's. It freaked out the diet industry much more than it did the rest of society. While the Fat Underground was struggling for any acknowledgement from their progressive peers, Big Diet saw the movement turning into the feminist movement or civil rights or the also burgoning gay rights movement. While those groups all had powerful cultural opposition, fat acceptance had a somewhat different foe. Oh, sure, there was cultural opposition, too, but fat lib also had to deal with a wealthy industry whose financial interests demanded that fat acceptance be suppressed. While products existed that fed off other forms of bigotry, they weren't really centralized in one industry like Big Diet. This was a product which existed by promoting fat hatred and they had a powerful monetary motive to silence the young fat liberation movement. So they did so in the most insiduous and effective way possible.

They stole our voice. They co-opted our vocabulary, repurposed our slogans. The failure of diets was no longer a call to advocacy, but a sales pitch for repackaged diets. Before fat acceptance could be heard, our message had become synonymous with the industry we needed to stand against. It was an awful blow, and in many ways fat acceptance still hasn't recovered. While it is bigger in numbers, its message has suffered. Its never been able to reclaim opposition to diets from the diet industry itself. Its never been able to assert itself over the marketing might of an industry who rightly sees us as its biggest threat. Fat acceptance can't by bus-stop billboards. It can't buy taxi-tops. No civil rights advocacy can, really. Not on this scale. But Weight Watchers can. So it uses it to dilute our message and confuse it with their corporate brand. Here are a few more of their co-opted fat liberation used to promote fat hatred...

"If Diets Work Why Do We Need a New One Every 5 Minutes"

I don't know, WW. Maybe we should ask the thousands (millions?) of Weight Watcher drop-outs? (That ought to be a song)

"Expecting a Sleep Deprived Mother to Go on a Diet is Cruel But Not Unusual"

Yes. Its cruel for mothers to be forced into Weight Watchers and its ilk to meet physical expectations that are sadly all too common in our culture.

"Diets Take Away the Things that We Love"

Yes. It takes away joy, self-acceptance, comfort in ones body. It replaces it with a constant focus on maintaining expectations, doing whatever is necessary to attain an arbitrary physical goal. It takes away our friends, our mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. It takes away ourselves. Diets aren't bad because it takes away food. They are bad, because it takes away OURSELVES.

"DI*T is a four letter word"

Really reaching back to the 70's on this one. Another four letter word? Lying F*CK.

Weight Watchers does this because discontent with diets is a powerful force in our society. Playing against diets sells for them, because it is a message which resonates with so many people. Fat Acceptance shouldn't give up, though. This IS a powerful and important message that people need to hear and at some level want to hear. The solution isn't to play nice with diets. For goodness sake, even Weight Watchers gets that.

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