My Big Fat Greek Eviction

Via Feministe, I found out about an incident at DePauw college where the national officers of the Delta Zeta sorrority were concerned about a decline in membership at the school and responded by kicking out 23 women and driving another 6 to quit. Which would seem a much sharper decline than the one they were to fix. The interesting thing, though, is that the 23 women who were evicted included all of the fat women in the sorrority, not to mention all of the black, Korean, and Vietnamese members.

Now, I'm generally not a fan of sorrorities or fratnerities. I was happy my university banned Greek socieites as they generally seem ripe for promoting discrimination or elitist mindsets which frankly don't belong in higher education. But I'll admit some chapters can prove to be exceptions and the article suggests that this Delta Zeta chapter was doing just that, catering to students normally shut out from sorrorities by including a lot of women from math and science majors as well as disabled women. Unfortunetly, the national chapter was more interested in proving my apprehensions right. Its a feature, not a bug, I'm sure they'd say.

The community there has been fast to respond to the lookism that was openly evident from the sorrority's actions. While the article mentions some women withdrawing from classes as a result of the personal attacks directed at them, it seems that many are not standing for it and I applaud all of them. If the national officers of Delta Zeta are going to be so blunt about their priorities, the school should respond inkind. DePauw is an educational institution and it has no room for a club for pretty people. They should revoke Delta Zeta's authority to act as an official sorrority. Their purpose is clearly not the “enrichment of student life at DePauw,” but rather the promotion of a sexist, sizest mind-set for the purpose of affording extra privlages to the already privlaged. They've shown they have no purpose on campus. The school should respond accordingly.

Fat is not a choice. Neither is thin.

Fat oppression is nothing if not adept at adaptation. Fat hatred gets pitched in a shiny corporate packaging. It gets pitched as the ultimate in anti-corporate activism. Fat hatred is anti-poor, fat hatred is anti-rich. Fat Acceptance shows up, and fat hatred co-opts its vocabulary to promote a fundementally incompatable position. Fat hatred is a Conservative political principle. Fat hatred is a progressive political principle. Its always garbage, but its always presented with unflinching and self-righteous certainty.

As a progressive, though, I'm more intimately annoyed to see my political beliefs used to promote fat hatred. One that I've seen a lot is to co-opt language of the pro-choice movement and refit it to promote dieting, or at least to censor criticism of dieting. Dieting is a choice, so goes the exclaimation. The implication is extended to compare fat acceptance with the anti-abortion movement. Just as they want to keep women pregnant, fat acceptance wants to to keep women fat. We're trying to deny women their choice to be thin.

Bull shit.

Fat is not a choice. Neither is thin. Fat is NOTHING like abortion. I don't care how you fall on that issue. Fat isn't like it. At all. Dieting is not feminist empowerment over an oppressive pro-fat patriarchy.

Diet promoters are trying to kill two birds with one stone with this presentation. Firstly, the want to blunt the feminist arguements against body hatred by trying to make dieting into a feminist act. Secondly, it wants to continue to establish the notion that fat people have chosen to be fat. Thus, they are responsible for the discrimination and hatred directed to them. Further, any fat person can choose to be thin. This just isn't true.

Diets don't work. I don't care if they work for an small number of people. Presenting 1% success as "proof" of the effectiveness of dieting is absurd. Suggesting that a 1% success rates means you can't say that diets don't work is insane. Its using semantics to advantage the status quo. Its the kind of advantages the status quo always demands for itself and I'm not giving in. I'm not letting the status quo define how I can disagree with it. You can choose to diet, but you can't choose to be not fat. The minimal number of people who lose weight and keep it off even for a moderate amount of time have no secret. They have no cure. All they are is the exception to the rule. They are flukes. Either by being the fluke people who were fat unnaturally or by taking unnatural and debilitating steps to enforce a different weight upon an unwilling body. I've seen a dieting "success" up close and personnel and it was a lie. It was an eating disorder that was greeted with congratulations instead of intervention.

Dieting isn't really about choosing to be thin. That's a false promise. I don't care if dieters don't want to hear that. Its why it needs to be said. Its not because anyone wants them to stay fat out of malice. Its not about trying to impose my view of what your body should be. I'm not trying to impose anything. No one in fat acceptance could even pretend to have the power to impose our will upon anyone. That doesn't seem to stop the forces of fat hatred from suggesting otherwise, though. They act like we are terrorizing people into giving up their freedom of choice. At its worst, it accuses of denying people a quality of life by withholding medical treatment. In what world? In what world do a few people standing up against a multi-billion dollar industry have those powers? In what world does expressing a position against the status quo oppress ANYONE? Not this one. But that doesn't stop those who endorse fat bigotry. They claim for themselves immunity by hiding behind pro-choice language. They claim for themselves immunity by professing the sanctity of their self-hatred and the inability for their self-hatred to withstand the oppression of those who say they don't need to live their lives in self-pity for what they are not.

Fat hatred is not a progressive imperative. It is not a conservative imperative. It is a sham. And it is the shame of those who promote it that they would seek to silence those who disagree with a false morality.