The CFCF was outing Roth because she recently got the cops called on for a stunt where she tried to destroy an ice cream sundae table at a YMCA party.
Yeah. Seriously. She tried to destroy ice cream toppings at a party. We don't know about this thanks to sluthing into police reports or embarassing coverage in the local news. We know because Ms. Roth issued a damn press release bragging about her attempt to vandalize an ice cream table at a YMCA party.
This is the kind of person the media turns to when discussing fat issues. This is the kind of person who gets copious media time while fat activists are never seen. This is what our media regards as an expert on "obesity". You want to laugh at her until you realize how horribly depressing that all is.
Michelle posted this in my comments this morning but I didn't have a chance to bask in the insanity until this evening. I don't even know what to say to this. American Idol is no fat friendly show. From the first season the producers were always hostile towards fat contestants. They let them on, sure, but they had to be that much better to earn their spot. We kept hearing how American didn't want fat pop stars, didn't even want vaguely not waifish pop stars.
What happened? The logic of the entertainment industry was proven completely wrong. Don't worry, though. They haven't let that change their approach in any other respect. Just there is one place where we can be reminded that America is apparently not as inately fat hostile as we might have assumed. Time and time again, singers who didn't look the part got deep into the competition. Sure, after they were embraced by the entertainment industry they inevitably were swept up into countless diet schemes, plans, and promotions. Being honest, they all probably would have been doing that no matter what, but it kept feeling like Hollywood was being very pandering to them. Like, "Sure, you've proven that people like your singer, but you're going to go nowhere unless you drop 50lbs." This year, all 3 top women were non-thin to one degree or another. This includes the winner, Jordin Sparks, a 17-year old who had actually done some plus-size modeling.
You might thing a whopping 3 not-thin people on television for a couple months wouldn't be a big deal to the forces of fat hatred. I mean, they still dominate our culture and media, after all. What's the big deal about 3 women who'll be relentlessly pressured to lose weight for the remainder of their professional careers? Ah, but, if there is one thing we should all now about the anti-crowd is that they will accept nothing but total and complete domination. One sorta-plus-size young woman winning a singing contest simply cannot be tolerated. They clearly watch Idol, seething with rage at some fatty being allowed to pursue her dreams. How dare she! Doesn't she know there are hardworking thin people who could be on stage?
Of course, its not about aesthetics. They are always careful to keep up their pretense. No, no, its about an "epidemic". Won't someone please think of the children! Quick, hide the plus-size teen before anyone sees her and gets any ideas about thinking they are normal! Its an EPIDEMIC! Besides, she can't work that fat. Everyone knows that you can't work in the entertainment industry and be that awful to look out. Wait! I mean unhealthy to look at. Not about aesthetics. We swear! She looks like unhealth. That's the problem. Damn fatty.
The spokesperson trotted out to deliver this line mostly overplayed her hand. Heck, even Neil Cavuto was incredulous. She's named MeMe Roth. I first thought that spelling was someone making fun of her (Me! Me!), but that is indeed exactly how she spells her name. The Rotund noted that she represents National Action Against Obesity. I normally would never link to "the enemy" but its all almost too insane for words. You just have to go peruse and learn about how evil the Girl Scouts are and of her "boycott" against REDBOOK Magazine for its reckless employment of a size 14 woman. You can also enjoy a glimpse into Roth's profoundly anti-woman agenda as she saves most of her bitterness for women who don't stay skinny for their husbands. Just read her insights:
“Most women I know commit fraud on their wedding days--they weigh-in for the walk down the aisle with no expectation of maintaining that weight year after year,”
“Somewhere between the wedding reception and delivery room, many women abandon their brains, body and libido.”
“It’s wrong to be fat. It’s easy, but it’s wrong.”
“Dump your friends who plan to grow fatter with every year. Surround yourself with those who aspire to greater things.”
"I see staying fit as an obligation to my self and my family."
"Back in the 80s when I was Van Halen’s 'number one fan,' I did get the chance to meet the band. Eddie Van Halen made me promise I’d never get fat. He said I looked like something out of Playboy. Talk about making a girl swoon."
What can you even say? But this woman gets to talk on cable news, time and time again, just because she has asserted herself as an expert. Her credentials? Apparently fitting into her wedding dress. That's what we are facing in the media. To viciously attack fat people, you need only be thin. To defend fat people, even being a doctor won't qualify you to disagree with "common sense".
We learn today that the FDA was aware of a grave health risk with the diabetes drug Avandia last August but declined to issue any public warning until the study showing those risks was recently published. The study suggests that the drug may be responsible for heart attacks in "tens of thousands of people" and surely many deaths. Now, maybe this didn't warrent taking the drug off the market. I don't have the knowledge to comment on that. But this was information with potentially fatal consequences which patients and doctors should have been made available as soon as possible. The FDA claimed that they were reviewing the study themselves, but I cannot help but notice how their hesitent response here contrasts with the fast-tracking that is routinely done with diet drugs that yield marginal results at best. When it comes to drugging fat people so they might lose a couple pounds, time is of a virtue. When it comes to informing fat patients of deadly complications of drugs, suddenly patience is the priority.
In the meantime, I was tipped off to this New York Times article on size diversity in dance. I'm fortunate enough to enjoy the regular shows of the Big Moves dance company here in Boston, and some of their New York company are featured in Bolero NYC which is discussed in the article. The article offers an interesting perspective on issues of size among professional dancers. Check it out.
One interesting thing to note is the way the author talks around the issue at hand. I'm not faulting the writer, but its a good demonstration of how people will call fat people everything but fat. The only time the word "fat" appears is in a quote of a dancer describing themselves. I'd like to see writers actually use the word fat when discussing fat issues instead of trotting out every other word in the thesaurus. Its a way the language of our society margnializes fat people into an "other" only to be talked about it special terms and tortured turns of phrase.
The real confusion, though, came from my own little institutional memory clouding the issue. Kate Harding and my girlfriend both pointed out that I seemed to be coming down against people who are coming around to fat acceptance. This really wasn't my point. I was talking about the parade of individuals who actively what to remake fat acceptance in their image and shame and condemn anyone who has the audacity to believe in fat acceptance. Sometimes they organize, but often they pop up on their own. Functionally, they are critics of fat acceptance who want the movement's message to be silenced. They aren't on a different step on the journey to fat acceptance. They want to destroy it.
Now, this is something I've seen a lot of on fat-related forums and communities. These are people who want fat acceptance to be a movement of the lowest common denmonator. These aren't people who are exploring fat acceptance but still unsure. These are people who have considered what fat acceptance has to offer and their response is to work to silence the voices of those who promote it. When I'm angry and ranting, this is what I'm talking about. As I mentioned in the earlier comment thread, there is a difference between being halfway there and only going halfway. My concern is with the latter group who have reached their destination and have resolved themselves to attack, belittle, and discredit fat acceptance.
Body acceptance comes gradually for most. There is no magic bullet. I'd consider myself as advantaged as they come on this issue given that I believed in and advocated for fat acceptance before I was fat, but that didn't mean I just accepted the changes my body went through as I reached adulthood. I knew not to diet, but I didn't like my body. I really hated it at first. But I was able to change the way I saw myself and learn to apply what I believed in the abstract to my own specific experience.
I don't expect 100% self-acceptance, 100% of the time from anyone. I know its not something I can do myself, so how could I possibly expect it from someone else? But you can accept that you will have moments of doubt and self-hatred without accepting the self-hate. If you feel that you need to lose weight, you've accepted the self-hate. That's not body acceptance. Its not size acceptance. Its not fat acceptance. All of those terms are just different ways of expressing the same thing. I won't accept some nuanced redefinition that promotes one individual's self-hatred. I don't feel its right to accept anyone's body hatred. Some people want fat acceptance to make exceptions. They say they believe, they just want a dispensation to hate themselves. To think that their bodies are wrong and need to be changed. To think that their bodies can be changed. Fat acceptance cannot be in the practice of offering their own version of papal indulgences. For it to mean something, well, it needs to be something.
Fat acceptance needs to have its doors open to talk to people who aren't there yet, but we can't let those people redecorate while they are inside. I'm not pretending these are always easy distinctions to make. This is more of a perspective than a set of rules, but I still think its important to try to keep that perspective. At some point we all have to speak up for what fat acceptance is and stand up when others try to "tweak" fat acceptance to remove the acceptance bit. Fat acceptance cannot be all things to all people and that's a good thing. If people are going to be engage to continue past halfway, fat acceptance has to stand for something. Not everyone is going to be there yet, and that's fine. But I want them to come the whole way. I know the power of fat acceptance and how profoundly positive it can be in a person's life. I can't force acceptance on anyone, but you can't tell me I should just give up, either. I can't do that. I can't say that anyone's self-rejection is good. They make their choices, but I make mine. And I know that fat acceptance is worth fighting for, and its worth waiting for.
I know I'm not the most eloquent spokesperson. I'm a disorganized thinker and I suck at self-editing. I'm more passionate than I am persuasive. I get this. I get that I'm not the best person to reach out. I'm not here to pretend to do that. Don't mistake me, though. I know that we need to engage people who aren't all the way there. I don't hate those people and I have no animosity towards them. I do believe we need to engage them because I want to see them go the whole way. But I know we can't do that by telling them that half-way is far enough. I'm not saying attack them or insult them or harass them. But don't let them think that self-hatred is okay. That a different kind of fat loathing is good enough. They have to know that there is more. They have to know that they can escape the self-loathing. They have to know that there is another way. Engage them. Please! Just don't let affirm half-way acceptance as a goal. Its a step, but we have to believe that everyone can take the next step. And the step after that. Its okay if they aren't there now, but fat acceptance needs to be there when they are ready. To be there, fat acceptance can't bend to become whatever anyone thinks it should be. It can't make qualifications or exceptions. It needs to mean something. I hope it still can.
Remember that particularly clueless right-wing acquaintance of yours? The one who believes that anybody in America can become rich, because he thinks about poverty in a completely unscientific, anecdotal way, which allows him to treat the exceptional case as typical? The one who can’t seem to understand the simplest structural arguments about the nature of social inequality?
The next time you see some fat people and get disgusted by their failure to “take care of themselves,” think about your clueless friend.
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.
While there continues to be no indication that fat people have an inner thin person, thin people apparently can have an inner fat person as fat sometimes collects around people's organs. While this is a valuable thing to be aware of, it is yet another example of shame reporting over something we may not be able to do anything about (much like the fussing over apples vs. pears as if people could choose their body type). And of course the conclusion is to bring everyone into the weight hysteria fat people are subjected to. Because its worked so well at ridding the world of us fatties.
The most hilarious thing is that the article blames secret fat on focusing on diet rather than excercise but then suggests that just diet could be a solution. Do they even have any idea what they are talking about?
(Edit: I'm not linking to anything because this isn't directed at anyone in specific; just something I feel like I keep coming across for years)
I want to scream that every time I see some supposedly body issue enlightened blogger reveal that they are dieting. You want a diet? No one is stopping you. But if you diet, you have nothing to say about fat acceptance. That's not about ideological purity anymore than asking that people who claim to be Democrats actually be Democrats. I don't even care if what you say seems positive. Because you can talk a good game all you want, but if you diet you are rejecting fat acceptance and everything it means. All the talk will be just talk.
I always think about linking to other blogs but I never know if the author is going to reveal that they really don't mean any of what they are saying. I never know if they are going to start putting up fences about who is an acceptable fat person and who isn't. I never know if they are going to posting some weight loss scheme and acting like this doesn't contradict all the fat positive stuff.
It does contradict. You cannot reconcile fat acceptance with fat hatred. You cannot accept yourself as you are and be trying to lose weight. You cannot advocate for body acceptance and withhold it from yourself. And that fact that so many people try to take this position just shows the lack of respect they have for fat acceptance. Because we are contantly expect to put away our beliefs and put our our feelings whenever anyone wants to lose weight. WE are the ones who keep getting told to keep quiet while more important people talk. We keep getting told to shut up. We are the ones who are supposed to compramise, to repress our identities. I'm sick of it. This seems to only happen to fat activists. Its disrespect and we're told we have to just take it.
I don't want to take it. I want my beliefs to be respected. That means having allies who don't talk out of both sides of their mouth. Who don't express solidarity in one breath and completely bury us in the next. There is no such thing as enlightened fat hatred or enlightened dieting. Stigmatizing fat people is wrong. Its not kinda wrong. Its wrong. Dieters constantly expect fat activists to shut up about dieting in front of them. They act like its impolite or mean. All the while they keep pushing the notion of fat people as gluttonous monsters even if they count themselves as one. Well, I'm not playing nice. Fat acceptance should have its own voice. And if you don't believe in, you shouldn't be trying to subvert it by adding your own voice. Show some respect and let fat acceptance have its own space. I don't care if you believe 50%, used to believe, or may one day believe. Fat acceptance is struggling to be heard at all, and it won't help to have people in the chorus who won't sing in tune.
People who do believe in fat acceptance need to stand up for fat acceptance and stand up to people who wnat to twist and subvert it. You can be friends with people trying to lose weight and believe in fat acceptance. Come on, it would be impossible to only associate with people who believe in fat acceptance. You don't have to shout down people who are dieting. I don't. I don't go to weight loss sites to berate the people there. They have a right to their space. We have a right to ours. Just because a dieter claims to care about fat acceptance is no reason for us to give them deference. Fat Acceptance sites shouldn't be linking to weight loss sites. That should have been obvious, but it happens all of the time. I'm sick of finding what looks like a good blog with good insights and then see a link to a diet blog. Diet blogs aren't fat acceptance. They have nothing to offer fat acceptance. I don't care if some dieters don't like fat bigotry, either. That's not enough. We cannot allow advocates of fat stigmatization to set the terms and limits of our community. We cannot become a movement of the lowest common denominator. We should stand for something. We should challenge people to think different. If we limit ourselves to what everyone can agree to, we'll accomplish nothing. We need to have the courage to believe differently.
That's my rant for the day. Like anyone will give a damn.
Fat acceptance has spent too long playing to the delicate sensibilities of our critics. We must stop allowing those who scorn fat acceptance to set the limits of our expression. This blog is about reclaiming fat acceptance, reclaiming fat activism, and reclaiming fat liberation.
If you hate me or hate fat acceptance, save your bandwidth and go elsewhere. I just don't care. I've heard every tired and repetative complaint or sarcastic dismissal. I'm done suffering fools. Post here, and expect your post to be deleted.
If you really want to learn, then by all means stay and read. If you're angry like me, then stand up and speak out. Hope you enjoy your stay.
So how did I celebrate? I had a late breakfast. I went for a lovely hike in the Middlesex Fells. I came back and had a light snack and later had dinner and dessert. Just another day for me. Now that's a way to celebrate.