They are talking about you

I was reminded lately something that I don't think most people in Fat Acceptance always realize. A lot of people make complaints about horrible fat activists who were so hostile to their dieting. I gather a few activists are inclined to take these complaints seriously and concur that such behavior is just plain wrong. What I'd like to tell those activists is that the complaints are about YOU.

It might be confusing because these complaints are almost always made without attribution. And, to be fair, they usually are transparently about straw fatties. The ones who say fat people are perfectly healthy and who spend their days screaming at dieters. The ones that don't exist. Which might make it easy to think that they are referring to other people. But they aren't. They really do mean you.

The few times I've seen any specifically called out as one of these mean fatties, its invariably someone I consider much more moderate about FA than me. People like me aren't on these people's radar screens, much less any of the activists who are actually radical who frankly don't participate online much to begin with. The FA activists they've encountered are usually the tip of the iceberg about FA thought and discussion and even that is completely intolerable to them.

I hope we can dispense with treating these kinds of straw fattie arguments, but I imagine that's not coming any time soon. We are disenfranchised and yet will constantly be called on to explain how we aren't using our total lack of power against anyone. Our marginalization should be the argument against criticism of our supposed oppressiveness but perversely it works in favor of those intent on enforcing our marginalization. They count on us not having the means to fight back. Because we can deny the absurd charges all we like, but more people will hear them than hear us. Because our culture is set up to define us as wrong, people will accept it just the way men honestly believe that women are oppressing males, just as whites feel discriminated against, just as heterosexuals feel threatened by a gay agenda.

While we struggle to get our message out, I wish we could spend less time denying those kinds of charges because its really about holding us back. About defining as tight a sphere for us to advocate for our beliefs as possible to make us pointless. Feminism didn't successfully refute to charge that it was oppressing men. It just moved past it. The charge still exists but its recognized as being as laughable as it is. Those who try to make FA about the rights of dieters should be dismissed with as much ease. Because it is laughable.


Emerald said...

Yes. Thank you! I was recalling just the other day how, some months ago, I saw an outraged letter in the press from one Monica Grenfell about how, long after her own cruel comments about Chloe Marshall, the size 16 Miss England contestant, she was still finding 'hateful' and 'obscene' comments about herself on fat acceptance blogs. Leaving aside the likelihood of anyone like her actually following fat blogs, I took a look around the Fatosphere at the time and she'd long fallen off the radar. But this woman makes a living flogging diet books, and to someone like that, any opposition to dieting could be construed as a threat to her livelihood.

(Of course, she's right back out there this week saying young girls today are being 'encouraged' to be proud of being fat, and their mothers should be shaming them instead to make them lose weight. Ask me how well that particular tactic works.)

Anonymous said...

Indeed. Can't have doubts about diets spread --- imagine the affect *that* would have on the economy ;)

Anonymous said...

"Those who try to make FA about the rights of dieters should be dismissed with as much ease."

We can never get away from this. I see this over and over again in the 'sphere: various bloggers fielding comments and quetions from people that are offended that many of us are not supportive of dieting culture, even just a little. I see these endless explanations making sure that no one is seen as as being against bodily autonomy.

I don't get this because, no one, I mean no one, can stop you from dieting if that's what you want to do. I have never seen anyone actually say "you have no right to diet and you are horrible if you do" literally, or figuratively. Even if there was such a person, I'd hope the attitude towards such a blogger would be: screw 'em. If someone is actually questioning your rights, they prolly should just be ignored, as their opinion is totally powerless anyway. The problem is I've yet to see such a thing.

FA questions the established way of thinking about fat and diets - by it's very design it's gonna be uncomfortable for a whole lot of people, including dieters. However, virtually the whole world approves of dieting, no one will stop you from doing it, let alone a powerless FA blogger. No one's agency is in question. As if our tiny, minority, diet-critiquing opinions will force people from signing up for Weight Watchers (which would be bad anyway, I don't want to physically force people to do anything). There is no diet police. That's not the point.

"We are disenfranchised and yet will constantly be called on to explain how we aren't using our total lack of power against anyone. " I couldn't have said this any better myself.

Meowser said...

I don't get this because, no one, I mean no one, can stop you from dieting if that's what you want to do.

Exactly. What is it they think we do, go to everyone's houses to make sure they're eating enough carbs to stay fat? Grill everyone who comes near our blogs about what they ate that day? I mean, please. Like I have time for that, or even spend all that much time thinking about what other 'spherians are eating or not eating.

And not only can't we stop them from dieting, we also can't stop them from losing weight if that's what their bodies feel like doing. But I think what keeps coming up is, "You won't let me talk about the fact that I really NEED(ed) to lose weight for my health (or career/wardrobe/ whatever)!" Yeah, that's right. People are allowed to set their own comment policies on their own blogs, how scandalous.

rhondaroo said...

You know you guys, I may be a little paranoid here, but it may be possible that people from the diet industry may actually be trying to infiltrate the size acceptance community by actually bribing size acceptance activists to lose weight. I mean, more people have to have read Paul Campos' book, Glenn A. Gaessers', Laura Fraser, and so on. The diet industry is afraid people will find out the truth. The number on the scale does not show us how healthy or unhealthy we are. This is progress.
No one is keeping anyone from dieting.

Brian said...

The day might come when dieter's rights are imperiled by FA but its so absurdly into the future as to be nearly unfathomable. Its a purely hypothetical construct at this point. What they really mean is that thin privilege is imperiled by FA. And that's a feature, not a bug.

rebecca said...

What they really mean is that thin privilege is imperiled by FA. And that's a feature, not a bug.

...okay, that makes my day.


mutterhals said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Notblueatall said...

Wow! I guess I hadn't considered this "other side" of things. Thanks for giving me something to think on today. =0)
(And nertz to mutterhals remark)

Anonymous said...

"Oh Jesus lord, get over yourself. What the fuck is 'thin privilege'?

No one cares that you're fat, except possibly yourself, because you've built your entire identity around it."

If it's nighttime where you are, go outside and look up.

Find the brightest star, and count three stars to the left.

Beyond the third star is the point of this post, which you've missed entirely.

Brian said...

Oh, no. Someone denied thin privilege. Whatever will I do.

For future reference, I delete trolls so if possible please refrain from quoting them when responding before I have a chance to mop up. I'm not much interested in providing any audience for fat hatred, especially in its undiluted states.

wriggles said...

Well to be fair 'thin privilege' is actually a rather pisspoor form of privilege compared to others. The only thing that makes it anything at all is fat disprivilege.

It doesn't elevate thin people, it lowers us and them through their fear of becoming us. A man may fear a loss of status, but he does not fear becoming a woman, etc.,

Fatness is something that virtually anyone can become so the fear of it, causes an anxiety that robs a lot of thin people of any real reward.

That is important to understand as it helps explain why many who should know better want to keep fat hating even though they know its wrong. They are on the diet treadmill and without getting off that, its difficult for them to want to end fat hating as that is the number one facilitator of the restricting process.

Sleepydumpling said...

Nail hit on head, perfectly as usual!

The minute any one of us challenges not even dieting, but the whole act of policing other people's food choices that seems to go with dieting, it becomes "You're oppressing me as a dieter!!"

I can never understand why so many people can't get that their right to diet is not at all being challenged, but our right to NOT diet is something we have to fight tooth and nail for every single day.

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