More Reactions to Responses

Or was it responses to reactions? Either way, I'm still peaking in on what people are saying about the concept of fat acceptance. Surprise, surprise, some people still hate us.

One "doctor" suggests that we are "enablers". That's the "fiendish conspiracy" theory of fat acceptance. That we're all just wringing our hands and cackling at the people we're making fat. We're lying to the "weak-willed" victims of our insane plan, you know. He also proceeded to go through what he assumes are our points and agreeing and disagreeing. His agreements are pretty much a template for the Weight Watchers approach: "Oh, sure FAD diets are bad. Not mine, though!" His disagreements frequently just make stuff up that he assumes we must be saying. Like we're saying that exercise is bad and people should eat as much as possible. Um, no. This is the thing with proto-trolls. Not everyone disrespects us by screaming "fatty, fatty, 2x4!" Some do it by misrepresenting what we are saying. And misrepresentation is still lying. Humoring someone like this isn't going to get us anywhere. If he has the capacity to let go of his fat hatred, then he'll do it if we challenge him directly. Not if we praise him for just speaking to us, even if its just to misrepresent us as a means to insult us. There are no ribbons for "participation" in fat acceptance, no prize for mere "attendance".

A few sites (including the "doctor") think we just don't get it. See, they agree that the pursuit of extreme thinness is wrong, but only in its final goal. I guess they assume we all think we must be a size 0 and failing that have decided to be fat. Why don't we try to just be "less fat"? Yeah, few dieters expect to be as thin as they want to be. Every dieter I have ever known has eventually changed the goals into an effort to be "less fat". Still doesn't work. Again, this is a crucial disconnect for people who respond to FA with hostility. They keep coming up with excuses for why we don't "get it" but none of them are ever right. Its not really about understanding us, but rather about fashioning justifications for their initial assumption that we're just looking for an excuse to eat ourselves huge. This ultimately isn't part of the way to fat acceptance. Lots of people think extreme thinness is wrong, but these people generally think fat acceptance is just as wrong. In practice, they think we are more wrong because they'd never actually judge someone for being thin or trying to pursue such thinness. They sure do judge us, though. That's not half-way there. Its faux moderation, which really just serves to define the limits of acceptable opinions to shut us out. It wants the extreme view to be "LOSE WEIGHT" and the moderate view to be "lose weight" so that anything less gets defined as extremist insanity. Its not a bargain we should dignify.

To be sure, there are more clearly trollish responses, but I just don't see a lot of distinctions between the various misrepresentations of fat acceptance. Condemning fat people isn't "listening". I almost prefer the idiot who invents a reality where the fatosphere is a mirror image of the pursuit of thinness or who fantasizes about our chocolate smeared faces. Because you know what he's saying. The "moderate" voices tend to just say the same thing, but without all the insults. They still think we're all just looking for excuses to stuff ourselves. They still think Fat Acceptance is about "Fat Promotion". They just don't sound so hostile about it so they make it all seem so much more reasonable.

Make no mistake, the reasonable trolls enable to hostile ones. By ensuring that fat hatred is a moderate and reasonable position, they enable to bigoted to advance their hostility. Most fat trolls aren't sexist or racist. They don't hate as part of their daily lives. But the "moderate" face of fat hatred has made hating us okay. Socially acceptable. At worst, they'd just be seen as a rascal. No one will ever see their awful bigotry for what it is so long as there are people who dress up fat hatred in a suit and a smile. As easy as it is to identify the hostile trolls, they will never be the real problem. That will always be those who sound measured and reasonable while essentially saying the same thing. They are the doctors who have appointed themselves


The Proud Sport of Sumo

On the Whole links to a Pepsi ad featuring a group of Sumo wrestlers challenging a group of Soccer all-stars at their game to win a cooler of Pepsi. Its a fun, if silly ad that's built around the "see people do amazing things to get some Pepsi!" with the gag being that these fat men were playing beyond their physical ability. In the scheme of things, though, there are worse ways fat people have been the butt of jokes and I still contend that one reason fat hatred is never as shrill against fat men as it is with women is that our bodies are allowed a reality even if just for comedic effect. Yes, the Sumo wrestlers here are meant to be laughed at in a sense, but you still are seeing fat men's bodies. You don't see a fat woman's body. I can count pop culture depictions of an undressed fat woman on two hands and even that's by REALLY stretching. Indeed, I think that's one of the most revolutionary aspects of "How to Look Good Naked" on Lifetime. We actually SEE what fat women look like and the world kept on spinning.

Anyway, I'm off point. My point is that even if its usually a gag, Sumo is actually a REALLY awesome sport. I admit I watched it first out of fat acceptance curiosity, but its quite genuinely inspiring. Here is an athletic competition with such an incredible tradition where size and heft are prized. This is not a bunch of fat people pushing each other around, either. Its a tense struggle between two athletes using a combination of technique and physical power to best their opponent. All while being fat and damn near naked. I can't tell you how much this helped my own self-image. Just seeing a fat body in that context is a real eye-opener. It is a fantastic sport and empowering to boot. I'm not saying there aren't some issues with the culture of Sumo in Japan with some things I find antiquated and stupid, and other things that are just downright xenophobic. But, if I'm being honest, most American sports wouldn't stand up under that scrutiny either, so I won't through the baby out with the bathwater. Honestly, I just can't recommend it enough.

It doesn't seem to be on ESPN anytime soon, but trying to watch out for it. Its really a stunning experience. Though much harder to find on TV, there are women's competitions in sumo.You can read about a Japanese women's Sumo wrestler here.


Your point, again?

So, one bit of hate mail I got suggested that I obviously don't believe in fat acceptance because my blog has no photo of myself. Nonexistent logic, obviously, but also stunningly wrong given my staggering vanity and egotism.

I checked, and in pite of the pointless accusation that there is "nary" a photo of myself on the blog, I count 9 separate photos of myself that I've posted in the last 7 months. Well, now 10.

Just wait until they find out I don't eat Cheeseburgers cuz' I'm a vegetarian.


Response to Reactions

I've been curious about the wider reaction to learning that *gasp* some fat people don't apologize for their size. Scanning the Google Blogs listing for "fatosphere", its illuminating. Here is my response to what some people are saying about us. I'm loathe to give most of these sites hit counts, so you'll indulge me if I generalize the reactions to avoid linking to sites that are insulting us.

One diet blog is dismayed at the article. It takes what I think is meant to be the "moderate" total condemnation of fat acceptance by insisting that self-esteem is something they do believe in. We just shouldn't have it. Fat acceptance is, instead, an act of "fear, loathing, and sacrifice."

Nope. Really isn't. I really am happy with my body. All of the time? Of course not. But enough of the time. Most of the time. Am I afraid to be fat? Well, I guess I'm a little afraid of where fat hatred may take our society. I'm afraid of the Orwellian suggestions being seriously made about how to deal with fat people. I'm not afraid of being fat. Is being fat a sacrifice? Absolutely not. It hasn't kept me from doing anything.

When you are dedicated to losing weight, you are dedicated to the notion that you are RIGHT. That what you are doing is the right choice. Any false toleration always fades under that certainty. You are right. We are wrong. A challenge to the rightness is why so many dieters see fat people as a personal threat. Because accepting fat people DO threaten their personal world view and challenge their priorities. Its also why the diet industry is disproportionately hostile to the small and disorganized band of fat activists. Because while dieters could lash out at us for challenge their world-view, they could also respond by lashing out at the purvayors of that world-view.

Another site sees fat acceptance blogging as kin to pro-anorexia blogs. While this isn't an uncommon reaction, its always aided by people never actually bothering to read what fat acceptance actually says. Which this blog betrays by assuming its all about fat kids teen about how much they are eating. So certain is this blogger that fat people are a product of their wanton eating and sloth that it never occurs to him that fat acceptance could be anything but a feeding trough where people talk about how great it is to eat themselves to death. The notion that fat people hike, run marathons, compete in triathelons, or dance is quite literally unthinkable. These people will never think of that. If presented with evidence of such things they'll deny it or dismiss it. All we will every be to them is a pack of gluttons. We can argue all day long, but they'll still think we're trying to justify an unhealthy lifestyle.

Several sites seem quite proud with their retort to fat acceptance. I'm not sure this got into Bingo, but it should have. Essentially, their reasoned reaction to all we could ever say will always be: "Yeah, but have you seen all the fatties around?" They simply know that there are too many fat people. They simply know there is visual evidence which proves we are wrong. I mean, have you seen all the fatties? In the malls? At Walmart? At McDonalds? On the evening news below the neck? Haven't you seen them? How can you argue with such logic?

Well, there are more fat people than there used to. Not as much as we've been led to believe, but sure there are more. No sense denying it, because it hardly proves any of their point. The existence of more fat people doesn't preclude a genetic component. Genetics could be part of WHY there are more. But the truth is, that for all the "Video games!", "Fast Food!", "TV!" blame gaming going on, there is a simple explanation. There is something that our population has been exposed to for the last few decades which has been shown to induce weight gain.

Dieting. Nearly every fat person in this country has been on a diet. Most probably have dieted for most of their life. Not only do most people on diets gain the weight back, most gain back more than they lost. As our diet culture has expanded, its gripped more and more people who'd have never dieted before. And at younger and younger ages. I can't tell you how many fat people I've seen bemoan how they thought they were huge when they were young, but looking back realize they weren't much more than average. As fat has been hyper-stigmatized, its directed people into a system which has only ever proven useful for making people GAIN weight. You want to know why there are so many fat people around? How about blaming diets for once instead of doing everything possible to blame everything else.

A few sites offered the mathematical proof of our wrongness. You know how our lives can be measured purely by functions of calories in/calories out in spite of there being no reason to think that the human metabolism is remotely that simplistic? Yeah, that's out in force.

Did you know fat people like to eat? Some folks on the internet seem to. We seem to be second only to cats in our desire for cheeseburgers. But, I forget that this kind of taunting is accepted as reasonable discourse on the fatosphere, so I guess no reason to bring it up.

One site doesn't like fat acceptance, but also doesn't like the diet industry. So it somehow twists fat acceptance into really just being the first step towards losing weight without diets. Yeah, not the point.

Another site, I think compared fat people to gays. Not as a means of showing our shared experiences and unity, but rather to show why we're both burning in hell. Does that mean Carson is Satan?

And a bunch of sites, were actually open-minded. Some very much so, some still clinging to negative beliefs but clearly being open to changing their views. Which was nice to see. But also a reminder of why we shouldn't keep treating those who aren't like they are. See, some sites were introduced to fat acceptance and were just open-minded. They didn't need to be humored while they mocked us incessantly. They didn't demand concessions before they listened to us. The were willing to just listen. That's open-mindedness. That's a good thing. All of the hostile reactions, though, are nothing I haven't seen a million times when someone stumbles onto fat acceptance on their own and posts that hostility here. We can spend a life-time suffering those fools, or we can cut the crap and talk with people who are willing to listen. Letting the fools run rough-shod over us accomplishes nothing. Its not winning open-mindedness. Its not being open and tolerant. People don't need to bargained with to have an open-mind. People don't need to be coddled to have an open mind. There are people who just do, and we'd do more if we spent time with those people instead of wasting it on the "You're wrong, and here's why" crowd.

For the record...

First supportive email rolled in at 1.30pm, so there are good things, too.

Again, my suggestions for more worthwhile things to do than visit this site is to check out "Big Buts", Junkfood Science, and buy a calendar from Big Moves.

That sure took a while

First "not getting it" email clocks in at 12:35pm. Well, I guess there other sites mentioned that had to get them, too.

A warning to everyone preaching the gospel of weight loss, I've heard it before. Every fat person, whether self-loathing or self-accepting, has heard it before. You have nothing to say that hasn't been said thousands of times already.

This week.

As of Tuesday.

There is a reason "I did it! So can you!" is on Fat Hate Bingo. Because its a tired old line that is repeatedly passed off as a contribution to the discussion when its really just yet another attempt to end the discussion. Other sites may want to hear about how glorious weight loss is for you. I'm not one.

So don't expect me to be wowed by your tales of having beaten off your demons. Don't expect me to be cowed by your story of "achievment". Don't expect me to be proud of what you've done.

I'm not.

You think you're the first person to lose weight and preach about it to others? To preach about it to people who do not care? To preach with the self-certainty the your revealed truth will be welcomed by the heathens?

You're not.

You hate fat? Your fat, my fat, someone else's fat? I don't care. Or rather, I don't care to listen to you try to justify it to me. You won't justify it to me so its a waste of both of our times.

You think your life was hopeless while fat? Pointless while fat? Unfulfilled while fat? I don't agree. I don't need to hear you explain why you needed to hate yourself as a fat person? Because I've heard it before, and I just don't agree. I don't believe any fat person's life is hopeless. I don't believe any one's fat is unacceptable.

It is okay to be fat. The world will keep spinning. Your life will go on. You will be able to find love, happiness, and health in your fat body. I know this is true so I will not give up on anyone. I will not decide that fat hatred is okay for anyone. I will not accept fat hate, diet talk, or any other destructive activities. Those are nothing new and they've accomplished nothing. It doesn't matter if you're in the 1%. It doesn't matter if you really, really want to be thin. I don't accept fat hatred for anyone.

Not even you.

Check this out

Well, since you are here, go check this stuff out...

She Dances on the Sand has been doing a good FA intro series called "Big Buts" that is well worth reading.

As always, be sure to check out Junkfood Science for Sandy's consistently good reporting. She's a tremendous resource for fat acceptance and worth reading AND supporting if you are able. Try to check out her PayPal donation link if you can.

And before January is up, go buy a Big Moves 2008 Wall Calendar. You get 13 months of size positive quips and photos by the extraordinary writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman, and it supports a fantastic organization.

Hello New York Times Readers

Seriously? I said my body was "adorned"? That doesn't sound right.

Ah, heck, I did.

Well, it doesn't sound so lame in context. It was somehow related to Old English. It made sense, I promise.


I don't want any plastics!

Yes, Sam Wainwright is making us fat.

So says the latest "theory" of fatness, anyway. In the latest results to come from the fattening of mice, humans are found to have a chemical that when fed to mice babies makes them fat mice in adulthood. And this chemical is found in 93% of adults!

Wait, 93%? I know they are freaking out about the fat people epidemic, but last I checked 93% of people weren't fat. So what gives?

Well, the scientists are getting ahead of themselves and the media is willingly playing along. There is no proof of anything here. It is just a "theory" with fragmentary evidence at best. Unrelated evidence at worst. But theory's are all you need to get media coverage when you study fat people. No pesky business of actually having to prove those theories. As long as it involves assigning blame for fat people, all ideas aren't just welcome. They are celebrated as fact just for being ideas.


Fattening Lifestyles

When I first brought up those dumb Weight Watchers ads a separate thought had occurred to me about the way diets like WW try to pitch themselves as a "whole new way of living". It wasn't really on point, so I left it for another time, but I had wanted to talk about how this manner of discussion is really a backwards way of accusing fat people of having made a "lifestyle choice" to become fat. Just as that line is used as an insult by homophobes against gays and lesbians, diet mongers use a reverse application of it to make the same accusations about fat people. It felt like a good point to make so I held off until I could discuss it more detail.

Then some fools go and explicitly talk about fat as a "lifestyle choice" and ruin my point about it being a sublte message.

I guess there is some new book out by some surely very self-satisfied writers who think they are geniuses for accusing American culture (well, economy to be precise) for fat people. We've seen the same self-satisfied conclusion made before, of course, but don't tell them. They really think they are onto something and it'd be awfully mean to confuse them with reality. Their lynch pin is trying to steal the lifestyle choice bash from the homophobes. Never can turn away a good weapon against the fatties.

Looking over their site, one is struck at how proud they are with themselves for their "insight". Why, did you know that there are lots more fat people these days? You may not have heard of such fun facts, but that's why they are here. To shed new light on this ignored problem.

You want to know a fun fact? Their site has a poll about whether you think "obesity" is a a problem in the U.S. One option is "No, not at all". Wonder what it would be like if a bunch of fatties kept voting that.


Loss of Boyfriend

This isn't a fun time to be a fat activist. This is "resolution season" so every diet under the sun (and those who pretend they aren't diets) are spending small fortunes trying to remind us all to hate our bodies and to give them money to fix it. You simply cannot watch TV, read a newspaper, or even walk down the street without being confronted with reminders to hate fat.  So, it takes a lot for something to stick out from this filth.

Always can count on Subway, though.

In their ongoing effort to pander to people who think they are dieticians because they saw the sensationalized piece of trash called "Supersize Me", they've got a commercial where they suggest what really comes with a McDonald's value meal. A customer is given a long list of all the horrible things that come with eating one freakin' Big Mac. Its the usual, "you'll become a fatty!" kind of taunting that we've seen in other similar ads from Subway. This one had a new one, though. Among the horrors the customer would have to endure was "loss of boyfriend".

Way to stick too fine a point on it, Subway. The honesty is almost refreshing. Only almost, because then you remember that they actually seem to believe this garbage. The reason to watch your figure isn't really health. It isn't your own sense of self-worth. Indeed, the woman only balks at the "loss of self esteem", seems she'd be fine getting fat as long as she had a good sense of self worth; since the point of the commercial is to shame, her, though, she's not allowed to hold the "loss of self esteem".  No, no. The real scare factor here is that boys won't like you if you're a fatty!

Really. That's what we've come down to. I mean, the point gets made all the time. There is some stupid Nutrifraud commercial on, too, where a woman brags about how sexy she is. Another old one had a woman bragging that her husband is now calling her his trophy wife. But even that was clouded with a veneer of "empowerment" that dieting often douses itself with to obscure its hegemonic role. Not here, though, because instead of being offered as "personal" accomplishment, its painted as a threat. Stay thin, or the fellas will steer clear.

Nice to see the pretense dropped. It'd be nicer if people saw this as a problem, though. I'm guessing they won't. "Loss of boyfriend" makes too much cultural sense for people to think of the problem with it.



This year, I resolve nothing.

Whatever good intentions New Year's Resolutions may have once have had, they are long gone. It is now just a national excuse for diet product marketing. It means a month worth of ads telling us we are worthless, ugly, and unlovable in the bodies we are. For millions, New Year's Resolutions are about expressing self-hatred for their bodies and making a public show of attonement for one's inability to meet cultural expectations of health and beauty.

New Year's Resolutions are unredeemable. So this year, I resolve nothing. We cannot rescue good intentions out from under billions of dollars spent advocating fat hatred. So I'm opting out. No unrelated resolutions. No counter-resolutions. Nothing. I resolve nothing.

I want nothing to do with an elaborate cultural and financial excuse to shame fat people. This year, I resolve nothing.