Our distinguished rivals

I've long had for zero tolerance for trolls and generally delete them on sight and ban IP addresses for a period of time. This doesn't have to be the choice for everyone, but it is the choice for me thanks to forums where trolls were free to post while community members were banned for responding to them. Anyway, this keeps most of my readers from seeing the garbage that gets posted here and while that's quite by design, sometimes I wish people could see just what our "critics" really think of us and see why so many fat activists have so little patience for "polite" trolls.

See, my own personal troll adopts the "polite" troll persona some of the time. They play innocent for authority while shooting spitballs when teacher's back is turned. I've learned to be at best cynical of "concern trolls", and spitballs like the one I got today are the reason why.

Brian Fan!!!: I love your work, and love the t-shirts!

I have one suggestion.

Maybe make fewer squares in the fat bingo t-shirts? Maybe three by three?

The problem is, you have to get really close to read the writing.

And judging by the pictures of the models you have, the people who will actually wear the shirts are going to be sweaty and smelly, with a slight cheese odor wafting from the folds of their skin.

Keep up the good work!

Yep. That was in referring to this post, by the way. Now, part of me is still hurt by this kind of cruelty. Especially here where it seems to be directed at my girlfriend as well. But I just can't be. I can't let myself be hurt. What am I upset about? "Fat people smell like cheese!" Has he/she been saving that one up since 2nd grade, or just reusing it since then? Its profoundly stupid and mindlessly hateful. Emphasis on mindlessly. And this is the face of fat acceptance criticism. Time and again, this is what it comes down to and the oh-so-innocent face of our rivals rarely spares any time decrying this. More often, the "respectable" camp insists the problem is that we're too sensitive. We don't have a sense of humor.

Oh, and we're smelly and sweaty. But don't tell anyone they said that. They have to maintain their respectability, don't ya know?


"Fat is contagious" is contagious

Lots of good stuff coming up on the whole "Fat as social contagion" nonsense, and I wanted to point folks towards some articles well worth reading.

I already linked to Kate Harding's first post, but she's got a follow-up ("Warning: If You Read This, You Might Get Fat") that's great, too.

Most of us were bewildered by the study, but Peggy Elam, Ph.D. at On the Whole does some heavy lifting on debunking the guts and science of the study. Absolutely required reading with the very apt quote from Disraeli: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

The always wonderful Sandy Szwarc also took a critical eye to both the study and the compliant media circus around.

Rio Iriri offers a couple of appropriately sarcastic take downs here and here.

The Rotund offers some helpful suggestions to respond to the nonsense (as well as a great "warning letter" for our not fat friends).

Feministe declares "I hate Fat People" week given all the coverage.

BABble sneezes and we get a t-shirt.

And I'm sure there is more. If I missed something, by all means post it in the comments.


Secret: We ARE trying to make it okay to be fat.

It occurs to me that one of the most absurd thing about the "Fat is socially contagious" nonsense is that its actually describing what I, as a fat activist, would like to happen. Its just describing it as if its actually happened and heaping scorn upon in, likely as part of the continual defense against it ever actually happening.

No, no, I'm not saying fat acceptance wants to make people fat. While that was the sensationalized conclusion drawn from the silly study, that's not actually the mechanism described. What they describe is that people get fat because its socially acceptable to be fat. Meaning, to me anyway, that its not socially obligated to be thin. Well, actually that is what I want. I want people to think its okay to be fat. I want my friends to know its just as acceptable to be fat as it is to be thin or anything else your body wants to be.

We see with this study how that message gets perverted in the minds of those who seek to denounce us. We say we want acceptance for all bodies, and they interpret it as encouraging fatness. Fatness doesn't need the encouragement. Its proven quite vital and self-sufficient. What we want to encourage is accepting our bodies for what they are. Ultimately, some just cannot stand for that. Rather than just say so, though, they use scare tactics and misdirection to suggest we're "promoting obesity". If we had our way, everyone would be fat!

NO. Look, I actually LOVE fatness on an aesthetic level. I don't just tolerate fatness in others, I adore and admire it. That doesn't mean I think everyone should be fat. I know there are some useful idiots who've run roughshod over fat acceptance who actually do suggest fat promotion, but really that's no more fat acceptance than weight loss promotion. The reality is that this is a fringe fetish unrelated to fat acceptance. Its just not the fat acceptance community. We're not out to make you fat. We're just out to make people unafraid of fat. Both in others and in themselves. This is still a radical change and I get why some fear it and distort it out of that fear, but its just not reality.

I wish we could make fatness more acceptable just by existing, but we're not going to be so lucky. Still, but by being openly fat accepting individuals, we do have the opportunity to challenge our friend's beliefs and assumpsions about what it means to be fat. We can show them that fat people are people, too. That their friends, neighbors, sons, and daughters who are fat are people, too. We do want to normalize our existence and encourage others to allow their bodies to be what they are. This scares people. They say we're out to fatten the world through dubious social contagions. They give us too much credit. Both for the numbers of people encouraging this and our capacity to influence those around us. Still, they aren't all that far from the mark in describing my goals. They may try to get an upper-hand by defining those goals as sinister and exagerating the "threat" they pose, but in truth I do want to threaten fat hatred. I do want to make acceptable to be fat.


Lonely fat people

Kate Harding points to an insanely frustrating article which suggests that people with fat friends are at risk of getting fat. Yes, now fat people can't even have friends for fear that we'll make them all fat like us.

I don't even know where to begin with what is horribly wrong about all of this. The study is pure conjecture portrayed as fact. The authors seem to think that they've found a "causal" relationship but they just haven't. I know they "controlled" for people who were fat to begin with (lest they merely prove that fat people are forced to "settle" for fat friends), but that doesn't mean there is anything meaningful here. I mean, maybe they've just shown that people in social groups where they are valued by virtue of their physical appearance are more likely to take extreme measures to maintain thinness. Now, I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case. Just that its as justified a conclusion as the one made. Naturally, though, its not the one made. The leap of fancy is instead firmly planted in demonizing fat people.

Which brings us to that demonizing. See, its not that fat is contagious (not that others haven't speculated that you "catch" fatness). No, no. We're just a bad influence. See, if you're friends with us, you might think of us as human beings worthy of respect. You might think gaining weight isn't the end of the world. The horror! No, no. Must not think of fat people as people, too. Must keep up the prejudices against to keep America pure and thin.

Of course, all of this is based on the notion that the existence of fat people in some way is perpetuating the continued existence of fat people. As if we really have that sort of influence. Its a popular anti-fat argument. Suitable for a future Bingo card, surely. The idea is that the more fat people that are around, the more acceptable we'll become and this is the root of the problem. News to fat acceptance, mind you. If just being were enough to advance the cause of civil rights for fat people, what need would there be for a movement? Obviously, we're not just being accepted. We need to fight for respect and claw our way to whatever nominal gains we've eeked out.

Which brings us to yet another thing to drive us crazy about this "study". This whole nonsense is predicated on the idea that the basic problem with fat people is that we have it too easy. We're fat because we are coddled and don't know that we're supposed to hate our bodies. Really. Time and again, we learn that the problem with fat people is that we've got it easy. REALLY.

Are these people that divorced from reality? They really think some alternate culture exists among fat people where we never face social pressure to lose weight. These are the people who get funding. Who get press. Who get a soapbox to push their insane agenda. I'm not surprised, but still disappointed.


Seeing no Evil

Over in the comments of Kate Harding's "First, Do No Harm" post at Shakesville and interesting tangent came up about the fat negativity that crops up in the Harry Potter series. Now, I'm the one person in the world who doesn't read Harry Potter, but I have heard mention of the way it occasionally uses "fat as shorthand" literary devices that are sadly quite common. Fat is shorthand for laziness, for evil, for greed, for irresponsibility, for corporate America, for impoverished America, for consumption, for filth, for all sorts of things. So, what is a fat activist to do when confronted with an artist or work they generally enjoy indulging in this manner of fat negativity.

Honestly, I usually ignore it.

Well, not ignore it, necessarily. I mean, I recognize the stereotypes and I'm properly offended. It is offensive the way fat is used to convey all manner of negative traits. Its demeaning and dehumanizing. But ultimately, I feel I can't judge the artist or the work too harshly for it. Because what they expressed is almost certainly something every other artist I like thinks is true. Fat negativity is very privileged in our society. So privileged that few ever give much thought to it. Its just how things are. They didn't decided to be a fat bigot. Its our society that is fat bigoted. I can be frustrated by this without throwing out the artist who indulged in the bigotry. How I can I judge them personally for attitudes I know are so common? Attitudes so many of my friends and family surely hold as well.

Its wrong. Don't mistake me. And recognizing the wrongness is an important part of repairing our culture of fat hatred. But, in the long view I think I need to remember that there have been brilliant minds throughout history who still believed the prevailing casual bigotries of the days. The bigotry so ingrained in society that no one had to think about them. Racism, sexism, religious intolerance, they all were once what everyone believed. I'm not naive enough to think that a future society won't look back at our culture with shock that our great thinkers and artists could so readily believe what they do. I hope one part of what shocks them is the fat bigotry. But as I don't dismiss historical figures merely for being a product of their times, so too I don't feel comfortable dismissing artists for falling into cultural prejudices of our contemporary society.

Oh, it pisses me off. When Al Franken gets a little too pleased with himself for cracking supposedly satirical fat jokes, it pisses me off. When Friends indulged in fat-drag, it pisses me off. When Mike Myers created "Fat Bastard" it pissed me off. When Ben Folds uses fat as short-hand for over-consumption, it pisses me off. It should piss me off. Its cheap, unimaginative, and exploitative. Nevertheless, while I can't cut every friend or family member who holds fat prejudices out of my life, I feel like it would be unjustly indulgent to apply such standards to artists. I can enjoy what entertains me while still being pissed off at what offends me. Sometimes I wish we could wall off anyone who ever expresses fat prejudices, but its a luxury I just don't think would be fair.

I'm not saying its an easy thing to judge. Who is acting out of social conditioning and who is actively promoting that social conditioning? The line is often blurred so I can hardly blame someone for being less forgiving than I am. The progress we want is sharpening that line and prompting people to think about what side of it they want to be on. I hope we'll get to the point when individual fat hatred can be judged as harshly as it deserves, but right not the problem is first with our society and no single person is to blame for that.


The Rightest Fit

Via Shapley Prose and Pretty Pear, I learn that Lane Bryant now as a size named "Red 3". Its part of their new line of "Right Fit" jeans which Kate and Collen are raving about. So, at long last my blog name has some connection to fat. Yay!


Hypothetical Merchandise

As I eluded in my Bingo fashion show, I'm planning on getting a premium Cafepress account so I can expand my fat positive wares beyond Bingo related shirts. I just want to develop some additional merchandise before launching the store. To that end, I've got some possible designs I wanted to share to see what everyone thought. These are really brainstorming ideas at this point. I may use none of them, I may use all of them. Right now, just wondering what other people think. So, on with the show...

Sort of a mash-up of the "500 lbs!" Bingo square and Joy Nash's call to tell people what you weigh from her Fat Rant. Very in-your face but also very simple.

Another allusion to Bingo, redressed as a message of defiance. I think I can design it better, though.

I cracked a joke with my girlfriend referring to myself as a "fat fascist". Basically mocking the "extremist" tag I'm often marginalized with. Design wise, I'm being willfully ironic to drive home the joke, merging "fascist" with communist iconography. Which no one would get. This is all far too "inside" to be worth making, but I figured I'd share all the same.

Now this, on the other hand, I really like. Very simple but very effective, I think, transposing "Fat Free" to read "Free Fat". Plus it allows me a little self-promotion with the Red No. 3 filling in for one of the E's.

Again evoking a Bingo card but ironically as the dieter's "I did it. So can you." is subverted into an endorsement of body acceptance. I'm considering swapping out "Accept" for "Love". Love is clearly a stronger verb, but I actually think the softer "Accept" may work better all the same. Have to consider that.

Here, I obviously did go for the "Love". Another diet slogan subversion of the oldie "Lose Weight Now. Ask Me How" promos. I like these last two as they are positive and affirming, which brings me to the final demo for the day...

This is my slogan at my MySpace profile so I'm carrying it over to here. I like it because it projects positivity outward and for all of my ranting and grumpiness, that is a message I'd like to project. Instead of a self-affirmation, it directs itself to the reader, engaging them. While not body positive in any specific way, I still like the message.

So that's what I've got for now. Not sure when I'll launch any of these, but figured a bit of focus testing for myself instead of my employer can't hurt.

Why we fight

Guest blogger Thorn has offered an exceptional series of posts over at Shapely Prose that really get to the heart of what is at stake with fat acceptance. She offers her own personal experiences of how fat bigotry has impacted her life that simply must be read. It is extraordinarily honest, intimate, and gut-wrenching and I applaud her for sharing her story. If any of my readers have not already seen it, I cannot recommend it enough.

Fat Hatred Kills: Part One
Fat Hatred Kills: Part Two
Fat Hatred Kills: Part Three

Kate highlights some of the responses, too, which are every bit as much worth reading.

First, Do No Harm at Shapely Prose
First, Do No Harm at Shakesville


Floating Fatties

Well, now that the rant is out of the way, I can be a little more positive. Actually, in truth, the positivity and the ranting are very much connected. While noting that no fat activist has the luxury of surround themselves only with people who believe in fat acceptance, I actually had a bit of a taste of what it would be like if we could and gosh was it nice.

Okay, so many not fat acceptance specifically, but at least a group of people who oppose fat negativity. I don't know enough of the politics in the crowd to say with certainty anything more, though I gather some are hard core pro-fat acceptance, others are more "soft-core", others aren't at the point where they are thinking about politics but do know that they are sick of being treated like second class citizens, and others probably "support" fat acceptance as long as its not too "extreme". Nevertheless, fat negativity was unwelcome and that was pretty cool.

So whats all my fuss over? A fundraiser for Big Moves that involved, well, floating fatties. The "Float-a-thon" involved 5 volunteers (including my girlfriend) floating unassisted in a pool for 3 hours with sponsors pledging money by the minute, hour, or event. Let me just say that for most of the floaters, this was definitely a lot of work. They got breaks each hour to use the bathroom, but while fat may float, it takes more than a little effort to stay afloat for 3 hours. They absolutely earned their pledges and then some.

I wasn't floating, but I did enjoy the pool along with a number of other sponsors and supporters. Its funny. I can't swim. Didn't even go into the deep end except desperately gripping the side to go hand my girlfriend a soda while she was floating. All the same, I love going into the water and just playing. So, I was inclined to have a good time. But really the greatest thing about it was just being around other fat people or fat friendly people who saw no reason to be ashamed about their bodies. Now, like I suggested, I didn't take a survey so I don't know precisely what every person felt but I imagine it was actually quite a spectrum. Still, I'd like to think that events like this can have a positive influence on all ends of that spectrum, leading people towards a fat and happy place. That sort of environment is the kind of thing "normal" people take for granted. They don't think about it. Yet, its very much part of what fat people are denied.

Social settings clearly cannot overwhelm the fat acceptance movement and I think there is cause for concern that this has already happened. That fat communities fufill the social needs, but without any engagement about fat politics. That's a problem. I mean, diet clubs can provide a sense of "community" to fat people, but one which is engaged with promoting fat negativity. I'm concerned that fat socializing has often come to be hostile towards fat politics in the name of being "inclusive". You can't be fat and political because that might be off-putting to people who don't accept their bodies. Yet, such restrictions are never placed on those individuals so in the name of neutrality, the scales are tipped towards the status quo. Like I keep ranting, this is just privileging the privileged. So, I get why a lot of fat and political people tend to feel pretty negative towards notions of fat socializing. All the same, this was a useful reminder of how positive and affirming such social engagement can be. The key is finding ways to then engage people to take the next steps. Again, though, we need to have the freedom to engage, to advocate, to make our case without constant protestations in support of the opposing view. If we can find the right balance, though, we should never underestimate the value of community and socializing. It may not have been a tool for social change, but that doesn't mean it can't be.

Oppression of the Majority?

I keep seeing the issue of weight loss framed as an issue of "choice" and its still bothering me. This just isn't an honest presentation of the issues and its one promoted by fat acceptance opponents to put fat acceptance at an insurmontable disadvantage. Its all about privileging the privileged. Because those who want to lose weight have no "choices" at risk. While fat people do. Its ultimately all about that.

You know how far-right Christians continually insist on framing discussions of Christianity about religious intolerance AGAINST Christianity? If they aren't allowed special rights over other religions, than they define this as intolerance against Christianity. They constantly present an interpretation of events that suggests that Christians are oppressed and put upon. By any reasonable standard, this argument is entirely without merit and, if anything, insulting. Most progressives (though not all) rightly refuse to argue under such terms. Refuse to regard an overwhelming majority as being oppressed. The same dynamics come into play in discussing weight loss. Again, the privileged status quo adopts progressive framing of their position. Where Christians cry intolerance, dieters mimic reproductive rights by suggesting issues of "choice". In truth, both make a mockery of logic.

Just as the "right" to practice Christianity is under no real peril, so is the "right" to attempt to diet for weight loss. Both claims are really being used as a weapon for those who stand against the status quo. Whether by opposing government endorsement of religion or by advocating for body acceptance.

We need to advocate for fat acceptance and we should not willingly tie our hands out of fear that dieter's "rights" will be infringed. There is not even a remote chance of that happening. Fat acceptance is still desperately far from achieving much or even any of its own political agenda. The risks of it becoming so powerful as to exceed its goals is simply an absurd concern to suggest. And in truth, that's not what people are talking about.

Its all about inducing fat advocates into dropping their advocacy in order to support weight loss. One by one, case by case. It is insisted that for us to believe what we do, we would be "unsupportive" of those who do not like being fat and that we must silence ourselves for their comfort. We owe them no such thing. Look, I know what it is like having friends who want to lose weight. Everyone who believes in and supports fat acceptance does. None of us can live so sheltered a life that we not encounter many, many people in our personal lives who desire weight loss. We can do nothing to stop them from doing whatever they want, but that doesn't obligate us to be their cheerleaders. It doesn't obligate us to offer our encouragement. No one is suggesting that we berate the dieters in our lives, but we should insist on our right to our own beliefs. We should be allowed to believe in and advocate in a different way. No one is being forced to follow the path want to light, but what is suggested is that we extinguish the light posts down that path. We must not get wrapped up in false concerns about our supposed oppression of dieters. And if the dieters in our lives want to condition a continuing relationship on our abandoning out beliefs to cheerlead for theirs, we should not be swayed. We have no capacity to make such a demand. Only a privileged status quo could make such insistences, and they need no more privilege.

The choice to try to lose weight is not at risk. No one wants to prevent dieters from adopting. No one is pulling dieting children from their parents homes. No one suggests we fine or tax dieters. Doctors do not refuse to see patients until they give up dieting.

Christians cry intolerance because what they do not want is for other faiths and belief systems to have the same opportunities and freedom to make a case for themselves. Dieting seeks the same beneficial treatment in defining the limits of fat acceptance. We must not grant them a privilege unwarranted to a position so powerful to begin with. We need the opportunities and freedom to make the case for own beliefs and worrying about the rights and freedoms of the more powerful simply isn't warranted. They aren't afraid that we'll take away their right to choose. They are afraid that some will choose differently. We should see through this charade and stand up for our beliefs.


Off topic: Help a marketer out

Hi, all. When not blogging, I work in the marketing department for an orchestra. We're looking at launching a concert series for young professionals, specifically 30-50. If anyone out there is a young-professional in that age range and has a couple minutes to spare, we'd love your input on a brief survey about this series.

Email me at red3blog@gmail.com and I'll send you a link to complete the survey.


C minus

Fat-o-matic blogged about a New York Times article which followed a format we're all used to by now. "Dieting doesn't work, so we should keep on dieting." I've coined the term "Diet Harder" to describe this mentality. (As in, Diet Hard with a Vengence! Fat Free and Diet Hard! Ain't I clever)

Anyway, enough of my self-congratulations over a bad joke. The article quote pulled out had a bit that struck me as absolutely amazing.
Counseling-based weight-loss programs — those led by dietitians, nurses or doctors — produced an average weight loss of 6 percent of initial body weight, or about 11 pounds, at the end of one year. By the end of three years, participants had regained about half of that weight, and at the end of five years they had typically regained all of it.

Still, the lead author, Dr. Michael L. Dansinger, a physician with Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, said: “When it comes to long-term weight loss, the health care system wants an A-plus grade, but based on this report, I’d give it a C minus. Primary care doctors should take a more active role in seeing patients more regularly for lifestyle management.
Emphasis is mine. The study shows that participants had typically regained all of the weight lost from dieting within 5 years. A complete and total failure to lose weight. And THIS merits a C-? A passing grade. Heck, a satisfactory grade. Barely, sure, but still a friggin C-. I get that you're not supposed to be happy with a C minus, but it still means you passed. That is the response to patients typically accomplishing nothing with a weight loss program? Talk about grade inflation. When they look at the completely unproductive system they've promoted and decide that its barely passing, this tells us a lot about the misplaced priorities in the medical establishment.


Fat children still stubbornly exist

According to the AP, the "war" on fat kids is losing. How do we know? Well, mostly because there are still fat kids.

This may be shocking to the folks who usually support such measures because they sound so reasonable and just focus on encouraging healthy eating and activity. They shouldn't be so surprised. When the purpose is to go after fat people, then the continued existence of fat people will be seen as proof of the failure. Here's its also seen as proof of either lying or delusional kids.

The article pushes the latest blame laying for fat kids. What their mom ate while pregnant. "Taste buds" are apparently all mom's fault somehow. I somehow doubt the science on that is all that meaningful, but is obviously the latest way to spread blame for fatness.


Dan Savage: Love Fatties (Just Keep them Coverd Up)

So, Dan Savage wrote a fat themed column this week. I read it on Wednesday but was hesitant to post about it because it was just disingenuous that it was tough to get my head around. Not to mention that most of the fat-related advice revolved around wanna-be feeders and feederism is just the greatest red-herring ever inflicted upon fat acceptance but I'm not going to even try to get into that.

Basically, some ass writes in all self-loathing over his fetish for fat "ugly" girls. Savage tells him to get over his prejudices and that the girl doesn't deserve him. Which is all true, but might mean more coming from a guy who doesn't think fat women owe it to the him and the world to cover up lest their "unhealthiness" be an aesthetic blight upon our society. Its a classic case of someone talking inclusiveness one second but loudly demanding exclusion the next.

I'll guess he's doing this because he's busy picking a fight over Beth Ditto's generalizing statement about how gay men are dictating weight standards to fat women. Which was completely overgeneralizing and simplifying the situation in a way which only protects the status quo. But the complaint would have been better served NOT being made by a gay man who dictates to weight standards to fat women. So Dan wants to pretend that's now who he is. Never mind that in his rebuke to Ditto he generalized fat people as being "dumb motherfuckers" who were "eating themselves to death". See, that's not bigotry. That's just Dan being "edgy" and "politically incorrect". Takes a lot of courage to take fat people to task for being fat. Gosh, I NEVER see that.

Then, of course, there was his hissy fit a few years back over "Girl Love Handles". Basically, some guy wrote in to whine about he had to occasionally glance at women who weren't a size 0 wearing low-rise pants and Savage right-on'd him because its just awful that women who aren't extremely thin would dare show any skin. Gosh, don't they know how disgusting that is? It was total "my sense of aesthetics is the only acceptable one" BS, but Savage took it one step further and linked the aesthetic disgust to the "obesity epidemic". You see, its not that it looks disgusting. No, no. It looks "unhealthy". Never mind that most of what is being talked about are women who are probably a size 8. No, no. Its about the "epidemic". Again, classic attempt at asserting that a beauty standard is unassailable because it actually isn't a beauty standard at all. Its all about your HEALTH! Yeah, read the letter that Savage agrees with 100% and tell me that any of that is about "health".

Savage wrote a follow-up column mocking readers who took issue, going as far as scolding Marilyn Wann for not being "realistic" about the "consequences" of I guess being fat and wearing low rise jeans while also insisting that the pants simply "don't flatter" fat bodies while ignoring that the issue is that the standard for flattering a fat body is hiding the fat. I don't really take a position on what anyone wants to wear, but I absolutely take issue with fashion ideals founded on the notion that fat is bad and thus must be suppressed at all costs. Savage also hints a paternalistic pandering to Wann when he suggests how best to be a fat activist to her. See, he knows this better than she, so she ought to take his advice. He then printed ANOTHER follow-up column opening up the floor to plenty of Fat Hate Bingo hits. "The Law of Thermodynamics says you're a liar," "So I'm supposed to think fat chicks are hot?" "Public healthy crisis", "You're being too extreme," "You just want excuses," etc. I actually checked, and I am calling Bingo for the center column in Fat Hate Bingo 1 just in the second follow-up column. Then, after spending 3 columns on the issue, he writes yet another follow-up when he has the audacity to scold fat people for caring about this issue when there are so many more important things to discuss. I'm not sure that's on FHB yet, but "There are more important things to discuss" is a classic privilege bingo item but its especially galling coming from someone who just spent three nationally syndicated columns on the topic.

Lest you think that this was all Savage's first foray into fat bashing, he actually published a letter from Marilyn Wann before back in 1999 and his response was equally patronizing. The sort of "Its all good that you're happy, but you're still going to DIE!" approach that is so common. I swear, he's a Bingo completing machine.

I've looked back through his columns and a trend clearly presents itself. He's okay with people being attracted to fat people. Totally supportive of that. Fly your freak flag and all that. Fat people being okay with fat people? At best, he offers a "Your funeral" response and at worst he calls them liars and tells them to lose weight. Its okay to be turned on by you, but its not really okay to be you. I mean, if you wanna be okay with it, its totally your choice to eat yourself to death while lying to yourself. He's enlightened like that. "Like that" being the key.

Bingo Fashion Show

So, after all of my self-important blathering about my Fat Hate Bingo T-Shirts and related products, I thought you might like to see the final products for anyone who doesn't have a shirt of their very own. And if you're not interested, tough luck because I'm still posting it.

First up, we have me modeling the Red 2XL Ringer T for Fat Hate Bingo. Click on it for a closer view. The bingo card is a little smaller than I may have liked, but I was quite happy with how the colors came out. The red on the collar rings is really vibrant, too. Nice stuff. Shame the 2XL has a $2 surcharge, though.

Following that, we have the Red 2XL Baseball Jersey for Fat Hate Bingo 2. Again, click on it for a closer view. Like the ringer T, this modeled by yours truly. I'm not only the designer, I'm also a client.

Next we have the first Bingo shirt ever made the Plus-Size V-Neck T for Fat Hate Bingo 2, purchased by my lovely girlfriend Cristin who is modeling it here. Wanna guess what happens when you click on the image? In case you are curious, I hate the mark-up they do on plus-size shirts, too. I take less of a commission on the plus-size shirts to try to compensate.

Finally, for any dogs out there, we have the Dog T-shirt for Fat Hate Bingo 2 modeled by Cristin's Jackaua Dino. He was remarkably patient about putting on the T-shirt, I must admit.

My thanks to everyone who has purchased their own Bingo shirts and related products. I really appreciate it and I do think I'm going to bite the bullet and expand my offerings by getting a premium account. I figure it'll be a donation to myself, but I'm eager to help promote the fat blogging community with my background in graphic design. Look for news on that in the next week, and by all means offer your suggestions for future T-Shirts and other items.


On Vanity

I have a confession to make. I really like the way I look.

I look at myself in the mirror and I'm really content. More than content really. I rather like my reflection. I linger on it in the morning, admiring my visage in the bathroom mirror. I spare a glance whenever I walk pass a glass building. When I ride the subway, I try to stand by the doors so I can look at my back lit reflection in the plexi-glass panels. I don't do this with dread or anguish. I do with a strong sense of vanity and self-satisfaction. Indeed, I've been doing this for quite some time. Even in high school, I was obsessive about taking photographs of myself even in the days before the instant gratification and low costs of digital photography. I was just positively enamored with my image. Which is kinda weird because I know in high school I always felt I had a low self-esteem.

Which brings me to my second confession. I don't really like the way I look.

I see so many flaws, so many problems and I fixate on them. I was like this growing up and I still am. I can't look away from the scars on my when my forehead was cut open as a kid. I squirm at my bad complexion and the marks it has left behind. I have stretch marks that have faded by are still there. I cringe at pictures which show my double chin. I feel self-conscious about how thick my lenses are and how distorted they make my eyes.

So, how are both of these things, true? Can I be upset by my appearance and happy at the same time? Well, yes. I know I can because I am. I really do like how I look. I know I'm not a super model, but I'm happy with what I have got and even after gaining a fair amount of weight, I've come to be comfortable with that, too.

What I find has been important is learning not to beat myself up over beating myself up. I'm going to have moments where I hate what I see in the mirror and for all sorts of reasons. Its natural. Its going to happen. No one feels 100% positive, 100% of the time. If you expect that of yourself, you're just assuring failure. If you think fat acceptance means never feeling doubt, you're setting up an unattainable goal. You will feel doubt. Its how you respond that is important. And sometimes you'll respond better than other times. You can keep striving for acceptance even while you accept that you may never quite get there. Sometimes, its just about going after the goal more than reaching it.

So, when I cringe when I see a double chin in a photo, I suck it up and keep looking at photos. Keep taking photos. I recognize that part of the problem is that photos aren't a good representation of what we look like. I look at other people and photos of them and I see that its not just me. I think if that was what I looked at in the mirror every day it would be easier to accept that. I'd have more opportunity to deal with it and learn to accept and enjoy it. Since its not, I sometimes overreact but that's okay. I tell myself not to fall back onto "well, that's not what I really look" platitudes because maybe I will someday. I try to see the cuteness I try to see in myself. And I do. Not all the time, but I really have. One of the hottest pictures I've ever seen of myself does show a double chin. Shows my huge birthmark on my arm, too. And its okay. The world didn't end because there is a cute picture of myself where I have a double chin.

So, I keep taking pictures. I keep looking in the mirror. First to desensitize myself and second to come to love myself. This isn't something that happens over night. But it is something that can happen. Look at yourself and look for what you like and build on it. Allow yourself some vanity. It can be a pretty good antidote to a culture that's always telling us the opposite.


Diets Don't Work, Film at Never

Via the F Word, I see a story declaring the stunning news that diets don't work. A startling development, obviously. Completely unheard of and worth of considerable media attention.

Except, of course, that we have heard this before. Indeed, we've heard this every time that dieting has been closely examined with regards to its effectiveness. Each time, the media glances at the story, but never really does anything with the information. Its always right back to portraying the the horror of teh fatness. Indeed, MSNBC's own site is heralding how fatness makes me less of a man, how injections will help me lose weight, how exercise doesn't count when you're a fatty, and the wonders of stomach amputation. Indeed, I'd be willing to be that this study will be used to justify stomach amputation. After all, if dieting doesn't work...

Nothing, of course, is shaking the scientists involved in the story. They are just going to "do better". I wonder if that means finding a way to massage the data into place or just continuing to clap louder and hope that eventually the fat decides to go away. Of course, they also pat themselves on the back for finding the massive weight loss of 10 lbs or so and go on about how wonderful and beneficial it is to lose just 10lbs. That is really one of the biggest disconnects no one ever calls fat haters on. If its so great if I lose 10lbs and that would make me so healthier, what about the person who RIGHT NOW weighs 10 lbs less than me? See, they are getting told the same thing. That their current size is completely awful, but if they just lose 10lbs. Or the person who weighs 10lbs more than I do. I'm their goal. But I thought my size was intolerable? How does any of this make sense?

It doesn't. Its just a response to their failure being laid out for all to see. They are just pivoting into a new stance which makes no sense. Because they won't accept me if I manage to lose 10-15lbs. I'll still be intolerably fat. Just like the person who needs to lose 10-15lbs to be my size and so on and so forth. How about we all accept our bodies for what they are instead of putting everyone perminantly 10-15lbs away from acceptance.


Annotated Bingo Part 2

Welcome back to the next set of Fat Hate Bingo annotations. Had some great suggestions from Part 1 in the Comments section, so be sure to check those out, too.

Won't someone please think of the children?
I'm darn sure thinking of the children forced into dieting and weight cycling younger and younger every year.

Fat kids are a trump card for fat haters. They may pretend to allow us adults to accept ourselves, so long as we all agree that its not okay for the kids. It's patronizing to adults and victimizing to kids. If its okay for us to accept ourselves, why isn't it okay to encourage it for kids? This is a false concession that often gets made. Basically it translates to, "You are free to make stupid decisions, but we cannot allow that for kids". Don't mistake these people. They aren't okay with you accepting yourself one bit. They are relying on fat adults who ultimately aren't okay accepting themselves either. Don't play into this.

Fat children are exceptionally vulnerable in our society. This is when we are taught to hate our bodies. This is when we are started on the dieting cycle. We must not give up on fat children. We must not give in to the treatment our culture deals out to fat children. We think of the children.

Fat people are a burden on our health care system.
The "health care system" is a burden on fat people.

A favorite cloak for fat bigotry is economics. Yeah, right. All people are a "burden" on our health care system. The truth is that fat people get substandard health care for a multitude of reasons. We're more likely to be poorer and without health insurance. We get denied health insurance because of our size. When we go to the doctors, they often refuse to treat us past our weight. As a result, many fat people don't go to the doctor. The burden is actually on fat people, not the other way around. Fat people need better health care and health care which is not focused on a futile attempt to turn fat people into not-fat people.

The law of thermodynamics says you're a liar.
No, YOU say I'm a liar because you don't understand the law of thermodynamics.

You see this one a lot and it lurks behind most fat hate bingo items. Some people think fat is just a simple product of mathematics. Calories in-Calories burned=fat ass. This is a tough one to argue against because they are just fundamentally barking up the wrong tree but are unlikely to understand that. It just isn't that simple and every fat person who can say that will just get labeled a liar or an exception. The hard truth, though, is that the human metabolism
is a complex system designed for a myriad of circumstances. Maybe for some people it works in one simple manner, but not for most. Good luck getting people to admit that, though.

But you're going to die!
So are you.

Faux concern for our welfare is another popular tactic. Like much, its just faux. Not that this concern for the well-being of others does not present so fiercely in other circumstances where the stakes are much higher. Do they spare such self-righteousness for smokers? For people without health insurance? Or is it just fat people? The "facts" may suggest that fat people will die sooner than not fat people, but most would be shocked that the difference is negligable for the vast majority of us who are beseiged in an effort to protect us from death. Even where the difference is noticable, the fact still remains that there is no safe or reliable means of turning a fat person into a not-fat person. If our impending doom really was a concern, then we should work on prolonging our lives. Not attempting to make us not-fat.

Inside every fat person is a thin person trying to get out.
Aw, like Gwyneth?

You see, we aren't "real" people. Our lives and happiness just doesn't count. All that matters are the fictional thin people residing within us like thetans or something. Similiar to the notion of fat people being prisoners inside our bodies, its a way of defining fat people by what it is presumed we could be rather than what we are. I don't know if there is a "thin person" inside me, but its the fat person you're talking to. Lets talk about me, and not the hypothetical thin person you think I should be.