Sunday, June 24

The Web Inside: Fat Acceptance

Have you ever heard about the theory (and book) about "Six Degrees of Separation"? Wikipedia's entry on this says in part:
Six degrees of separation refers to the idea that, if a person is one "step" away from each person he or she knows and two "steps" away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is no more than six "steps" away from each person on Earth. [...] While the exact number of links between people differs depending on the population measured, it is generally found to be relatively small. Hence, six degrees of separation is somewhat synonymous with the idea of the "small world" phenomenon.

I've been feeling a bit like that lately.

6 Degrees: Everything Eventually Relates to My Fat

I started reading stuff and it just kept leading to new topics that related to my own interests, life, health, etc. in ways I hadn't thought of before. It started with Fat Acceptance, so that is this post. I'll cover other topics later.

I'm just sharing, by blogging, stuff that is running through my head. I don't really have a major politic though I may have an opinion.

Warning: not for the faint of heart. I'm pretty opinionated on social-politics! Especially when it relates to obesity.

"Fat Acceptance"

There is a lot of stuff in the 'Fat Acceptance' movement that I honestly never thought about before. I am writing this post in part to try and articulate inside myself what I've been thinking, and in part to expose other people to the subject--or my perspective of it, anyway.

The FA movement has its own problems. Like feminism, it was 'stolen' by better funded, more vocal, drastically less effective and more-harm-than-help sorts, but there are still people and groups with a closer-to-original concept.

Pretend for a moment that you are a woman (if you are not). Let us say that you found a website by a man who said he totally respected women and considered them equals and worked for women's equality right along with others who claim that.

But all his blog posts were things like, "Don't be a Sissy: ditch the stupid flowered dresses," or "Why women shouldn't be allowed to do any job that requires body-strength or weapons," or "Why Men Don't Like Fat Chicks," or whatever.

You would think, "This jerk doesn't respect women, and he doesn't consider them equals, or at least (in the case of the job) able to be competent. Rather, he is simply willing to say, 'To the degree that women act like I think they should, and to the degree that I find them physically acceptable to my completely subjective opinion, then they are ok. Outside that box, women suck.'"

And you'd be right. That guy would NOT be any benefit at all to women; he'd be the worst imaginable "friend" that any kind of women's acceptance group could imagine.


Pretend for a moment that you are a woman (if you are not). Let us say you found a website by a woman who said she was all for women's rights and so on, and worked actively toward this promotion just like many other women do.

And then you found blog posts with titles like "Why Choosing to be a Nun is A Waste of Your Body", or "Why Rape is Usually the Woman's Fault," or "Why Having Kids Instead of a Good Job is a Dead End", or whatever.

You would think, "This jerk doesn't respect women, and she is not interested in women's rights. Rather, she is simply willing to say, 'To the degree that women are choosing to act less like women, then I will conditionally support a woman's right to exist.'"

And you'd be right. That gal would NOT be any benefit at all to women; she'd be the worst imaginable "friend" that any kind of women's rights group could imagine.

All People Are Equal (but thin people are more equal than others)

Well, the 'Fat Acceptance' movement faces that, with others "claiming" to be part of it and being almost the opposite.

Ironically, the biggest problems come from seemingly positive things: all things "diet" and "fitness."

Diets by their very nature are anti-fat. If ya thought it was ok if someone was fat, why would ya recommend they diet?

Fitness isn't anti-fat, but if it implies that not being able to run five miles is a "problem", then it probably is. The problem is not the action, of course. The problem is the attitude that it rides in on.

These ideas, websites, blogs etc. are not problems merely because they exist; they're as welcome to exist as labradors and french fries and people who think navel piercing is cool. But usually their existence, and their philosophy, nearly always comes stapled to the rejection-slip of "should".

You SHOULD diet, you SHOULD be thin, you SHOULD exercise more, "should"... which is just another way for saying, You aren't good enough, and your choices aren't really yours to make; if you don't make the choices we think are right, you're unacceptable.

I lost weight. Yay me! Now I'm 100 lbs less evil more acceptable closer to counting lighter!

Now if someone like me who has lost weight mentions it, the same way we would mention rain, or having learned to Tango, that's no big deal. But if every time I see a fat person I want to go 'save them' by telling them how lowcarb is the answer, or whatever, then I'd be practicing the same discrimination. If every fat person I talked to about where to find cute fat-size clothes, instantly brought up diet options, that'd be the same bias.

Because it is the assumption that fat is bad, and the assumption that everybody and anybody CAN lose tons of weight, the assumption that anybody SHOULD, the assumption that unlike every other issue in life people don't have the right to choose what they do or how they are, that is at issue.

Now apply the examples above to fat and you understand why the FA people are sensitive about diet/fitness efforts seeming just as biased as outright I-hate-fat-people efforts.

Pretend for a moment that you are fat (if you are not). Let us say that you find websites, books and blogs, by people who claim to truly accept people as they are and to want to empower all people to make their life whatever they want.

But they are surrounded by articles like, "Fat Should Be Fit: Training for Marathons," also known as, "Well being fat is somewhat ok IF you are "fit" by my standards but otherwise is totally unacceptable."

Or, "The 10 Best Diets," also known as, "Being fat is SO not ok we expect you to be changing that immediately!"

Or, "Fat: Large Size (14-20) Fashion" also known as, "Well there is a LIMIT to what is acceptable; 30 lbs maybe, but not 200 extra lbs!"

In a nutshell it comes down to, "Fat is only conditionally ok, depending on whether you fit my personal criteria of acceptable."

Which is really just saying it ain't ok, period.

"I liked ya till I saw yer cellulite!"

As long as it's not ok for someone to weigh 300 pounds and still be treated like a human being, even if they are NOT dieting nor interested in it, even if they are wearing bright yellow sexy clothes that make some people aghast, even if they are NOT "fit" by whomever's standards, then it is never going to be truly ok for people to be who they are at other weights.

If it's not ok to be 300 lbs overweight, then it's really not ok to be 30 lbs overweight either; as long as the criteria is arbitrary and subjective, it is going to be exclusionary to someone. Every socially accepted bias based on weight sets a precedent for why someone has the right to judge someone else. Or in short: it institutionalizes outright prejudice.

True equality and acceptance is not measured by whether you are considered attractive by someone's arbitrary personal standard. No man (or woman) should have to want to have sex with someone in order for them to be considered an equal human.

I'm guilty.

I hate this, but it's true: I have biases myself. I don't judge people who are huge, but you know what? When I see someone who is 40 lbs overweight, walking past looking just fine except this huge belly-fat hanging over their way-too-tight hip-hugger pants, I think to myself, "WTF are they doing wearing that? What, they can't afford clothes that fit? They actually think that looks good? Geez, that's like white-trash fashion."

That's a prejudice, and it's wrong. It's none of my damn business what other people wear. And hell, some people probably DO think it looks good. These people didn't ask for and don't need my permission to be what they are and wear what they want. What gall! Am I saying they should wear baggies and dark colors because they're overweight? Maybe I am subtly implying that -- my own prejudice against myself, and my fat, and by proxy all fat.
And I think it's bad to lock women in veils? What is the assumption that fat women should dress conservatively, other than veil-psychology applied in a western way to a select group of people?

I want to be a better person, and I don't want to be like that, and now that I've been made conscious of it, I'm going to work on improving myself.

In our world today, you can parade through Jewish neighborhoods with Swastika signs because it's your right to opinion, or parade about with communist and fascist and terrorist sympathy signs, and nobody is expected to complain lest it infringe on your 'rights'.

You can build golf clubs and exclude women because it's your right to preference, and nobody is expected to complain lest it infringe on your 'rights' (to ensure all major business deals and positions of power are men-only, and white-men-only generally as well).

Be All That You Can Be Others Think You Should Be

But you cannot be fat: that's not really ok. Well sure, you can BE fat, you can be happy about it, but you're likely to suffer more abuse than a Rastafarian mom in a Skinhead school PTA meeting.

You can jog to the sound of moooo's from guys driving by who want to remind you how you're a cow (my favorite experience when I first gained a lot of weight and went walking one evening). You can be more excluded from church, PTA and other social gatherings than as if you were the 4-eyed-fatso in 4th grade at age 9. You can have trash or food thrown at you in angry outbursts from people driving by who can't abide having suffered the trauma of looking at you: it's ok for them to treat fat people almost like skinheads treat gays or blacks, because hey, you're FAT!--and everyone knows that is just NOT OK.

You can be denied jobs, promotions, transfers, raises, and all kinds of other things, for what "a bad example" you set.

But here's the real crux of it: the only thing worse than being fat, is if you dare actually CHOOSE to ACCEPT being fat. Don'tcha know it's only almost-ok to be fat if you are desperately trying not to be?!

So I guess, if you admit you totally suck as you are, then you'll be almost-accepted in good faith that eventually you'll be more like others and that'll make you ok.

There is merely a margin of potential-acceptance-maybe-IF. Rather like snotty seniors in an exclusive fraternity who patronize the desperate freshmen that want in; good boy, pat on the head, keep trying, maybe eventually you'll be acceptable.

Your reasons for not dieting are irrelevant. The world figures if you didn't eat 412 bonbons a day you wouldn't be so damn fat, and if you'd just QUIT THAT the problem would easily and instantly resolve!

As if the diet industry would be making tens of billions annually if that was really all there was to it. My god. What lack of critical thinking must be present in our population to actually believe this?

Pounds for Points!
It comes from within the ranks of the fat, too.

Dieters cheer each other on despite that historically and on the overall, diets and weight loss surgery have probably done more destruction to human life than the Inquisition ever did. I swear, we cheer each other like those people in the ritual circle on Logan's Run, hoping to Go-To-God at age 30 in a blazing flash of laser light.

On the fantastic youtube "Fat Rant" of Joy Nash (a must-watch!), she points out:

The International Journal of Obesity says that 95 to 98 percent of dieters who lose 75 pounds or more, gain back every single pound within three years. Two-thirds of them do it within that first year. Ninety-five to ninety-eight percent is ALL OF THEM. Success is practically a freak occurrence!

Seriously, watch this little video, she is beautiful and positive and right:

Now, as someone working on losing weight, and as someone with examples of people who have succeeded in losing a lot of it, and gaining muscle, and keeping the weight off, and having their life vastly improved -- I HATE THOSE STATISTICS.

I want them to be untrue. Or, like everybody, "I want MY eating plan to be the exception!"

Sure, there's lots of food religions, but only lowcarbers go to skinny heaven. Haha.

(I know, yeah, yeah. "It isn't a diet, it's an eating plan." Yeah. Until you go off it, then it was a diet retroactively wasn't it? Rather like you can quit smoking for 2 years, but if you restart you never quit, you just 'paused'.)

Some of it almost made my brain hurt. I'm facing the dichotomy of WANTING to be truly non-prejudiced, wanting DESPERATELY for fat-acceptance to happen, yet having biases myself.

I spent days thinking about all the stuff I read on these blogs.

I am pointedly dieting, so I guess if I really thought being fat was ok I probably wouldn't be. For now, I'm willing to sacrifice those logic brownie points for the slim chance of being in the 2-5% who succeed, and living longer for my little girl.

But plenty of people 'have been there, done that' with diets, way more than me. Why should they have to diet and get fatter, as most do? Why should they have to do anything others think they "should"?

My cousin should quit living on pizza and beer too, but nobody's in HIS face about it, since he's skinny. The issue shouldn't be poundage, it should be the right of a human being to make their own decisions and to be whatever they truly are without hiding, apologizing, caveating, etc.

Weight-Loss Evangelism

Is highly public dieting (like this blog) anti-fat-acceptance? Well, some feel it is, even if unintentional or indirectly.

NOT because one chooses to diet -- that's a personal choice I have the right to make. But, if there is ANY assumption that any other people, no matter what size or weight, "should" diet, then maybe (maybe) the fat dieter is just as big a problem for the social-cause of fat people being treated like human beings, as fat-hating sorts are.

In both cases, it is implying (or outright saying) that "It is not ok to be fat, and anybody who is, should be doing everything in their power to FIX that."

Or: "Sure, it's perfectly fine to be fat, but oh my god I'm trying so hard not to be you know?!" Er.... yeah. Perfectly fine by me, riiiight.
OK, let's not even pretend that I can truly say I consider fat just fine at the same moment I'm desperately trying to dig myself out of it.

But... fat is a fat person's problem. It is not the business or problem of the people looking on. Nobody was ever injured by observing someone who was fat, any more than they are injured by observing someone who is short, or blonde, or black, or catholic. People just are what they are.

A common FA issue is people claiming to believe in fat rights, but then attaching "conditional" acceptance: I will accept this human being, Jane, as an equal with a right to her own decisions, only if she falls within parameters I am willing to accept.

  • Sorta fat: ok. Huge: not ok.

  • Fat but can go jogging: ok. Fat and not fit: not ok.

  • Fat but beautiful anyway: ok. Fat and I don't like him/her: not ok.

  • Fat but trying not to be: ok. Fat and cool with it: not ok!

How could any of this be construed as truly accepting a human being for what they are? Conditional acceptance is not acceptance at all.

It's not ok to be black only if you're working sincerely on becoming whiter, for example. If that's the criteria, then clearly, it's just not ok at all.

(Although the bizarre lightening of skin in the case of black celebrities (and let's not even start on Michael Jackson!) almost seems to dispute this.)

Barbie Comes In Colors

The awesomely talented artists winning awards today, like Halle Berry and Tyra Banks and Denzel Washington, though they are (at the least, if not moreso) as talented as others in their position, one has to admit that their facial features are a lot closer to most the white folks I know than the black folks. (Actually, Africa has every imaginable feature set. But for the blacks inside the USA, it does seem the aqualine features are less common.)

So in reality our society already has an example of "conditional" acceptance: it's ok to be black if you sorta look like a sensual white with a deeply tropical tan. Oprah wouldn't be on the cover of many magazines at my Wal-Mart aisle if she didn't own the magazine (and some percentage of North America) AND have the highest public recognition factor in the country. She wouldn't be on the covers--because she's black? No. Because she doesn't look like a skinny white chick who had a color filter applied. Her features are not really inside the comfort borders of the Hollywood mold, except by the proxy of her money and success.

Politically almost nobody is "prejudiced" anymore. Sounds good on paper doesn't it? But the reality is that there is a "conditional acceptance" on a good deal of racial acceptance too, and you've only got to look around to see it. You see it in some women's issues as well, some differently-abled issues, some gay/lesbian issues, pretty much any group of people that faces bias, gets the alleged-friends Of The Movement that will say, "I'm on your side! I totally accept your people -- if you do this, and that, and with this condition, and that caveat, and..."

"I'm On YOUR Side"

Out of an entire culture that literally despises, mocks, is disgusted by, is rejective of, fat people (the more fat, the moreso), there is a fairly small contingent of people who will say, "I'm not prejudiced."

But when those same people can't seem to get over trying to foist diets off on fat people, when they argue 'for' fat-acceptance 'only' under arbitrary conditions, then they're just pulling that same just-get-whiter logic.

Here's a typical issue: "it's ok if you're fat but only if you keep it very quiet": not more than 50 lbs overweight; wear dark colors; and god almighty, please don't wear a bathing suit, as your getting sun or exercise would do actual injury to people near you forced to look on, just like white women having to share a restroom with black women 60 years ago was considered an unacceptable trauma to white folk.

(My god, is it that recent?! If life on earth is the scope, we've been about 3.2% civilized for about .00000007 seconds at this point. Nowhere to go but up I guess.)

OK, so we go and congratulate people for losing weight. I've lost 100 lbs, though that varies about 10 lbs either way lately, a whole lot more if you count my previous lowcarb phases. I'm working on it, and people are very supportive, and that rocks. But the Fat Acceptance people would say: Is the congratulations because you are less fat than you were yesterday? If it is merely "I have a goal, and a challenge, and this is my accomplishment," then that is awesome. That is what it should be. If it is instead, "That's great that you are 100 lbs less-fat than you used to be!" then technically, that's a bias. Because there shouldn't really be the assumption that a person "must or should" be thin, that fat on its own is 'bad'.

Fat just IS what it IS. For most people it's unhealthy, but for most people, survey says it may be healthier than their chronic failing diet attempts.

Do I feel the right to intrude on my neighbor's drinking with this logic? No. Then why do I automatically feel a sense of near PANIC at the idea of a fat person simply deciding they were fat, that's the way they are, and too freakin bad if others don't like it? Cultural programming??

And this is part of the bias I fought, reading this stuff.

My mind keeps going, "No, no! They must be thinner because it's miserable and unhealthy to be fat!"


The self-appointed Gods of Thin

Now in today's world, we have the ultimate do-gooder invasion of rights and invalidation of others: the "for your own good" theory. Also known as, "But I'm just so concerned for your health!"

"My" should be the key word there. My parents and child and others who love me can use that line. Not strangers.

Research and reality are making clear that most people who diet end up simply doing more harm to their weight and health by the act of dieting itself. So that's quite a damning situation, if you "must" diet. Kinda like being thrown in the lake with rocks around your ankles and if you drown you were innocent, but if you float they burn you at the stake as a witch instead! For the vast majority of the population, it's a lose-lose medical situation.

My friend chooses to smoke cigarettes. We've now banned smoking from a good portion of the USA, but we haven't yet gone so far as to actually invade their privacy, kidnap their children, force drugs or surgery on them, or other attack-methods for bringing them into the "popular considered-norm" with the excuse, "It's just because we are all SO CONCERNED FOR YOU!"


Since the dawn of time human nature has seen control-issues and governing forces trying to forcefully pound other humans into whatever shape they feel is most like themselves. "It's for the children," or, "It's for their own good/health," is in fact one of the brilliant reasonings used in every tyranny throughout history -- Nazi propaganda often had exactly this kind of 'excuse' for why anything was ok. More utter disasters and hideous cruelty and destruction of basic human rights have been perpetuated in the name of "for their own good" than pretty much any other excuse.

I have a friend who chooses to not take his medications. That's dangerous to him. Another friend chooses to live in bad neighborhoods that already nearly got him killed. Another friend chooses to engage in sports that could leave him paralyzed or dead. I have friends and family who are skinny (not just lean, I mean SKINNY--they cannot gain weight even when they try), who live dominantly on whiskey. Or live on McDonalds and Dr. Pepper, as do their children, who like them are skinny, so their likely health issues are completely invisible until they'll come down with something shortly after adulthood--IF it waits that long. These people are either seriously "risking" themselves or quite literally killing themselves gradually, every single day.

But for the most part, nobody gives a flying pig about how unhealthy they are, except in academic meetings about medical statistics. It's ok if they are unhealthy, it's ok if they are even self-destructive -- as long as they aren't fat.

'Cause you know, if you are fat, any issues -- real or assumed -- about your health and your "fitness" become the whole world's business to pass judgement on.

Does this Bikini come in 6x?

Maybe Jane and John don't choose to diet -- not even with lowcarb. Maybe Jane thinks she looks great in that size 4x halter top and shorts. Who sets the god-like standards for these things?

Where on the "spectrum" between my cousin, who is literally dying of lack of bodyfat, hospitalized more than once, eating everything she can and unable to gain -- vs me, weighing around 400 pounds, clearly suffering movement problems stemming from the weight, often eating almost nothing and when I do, it's low calorie and lowcarb, yet I only occasionally lose weight and not very fast after the first few months -- where on that spectrum is the decision made about what's ok, who is ok?

And who's making it? And whose RIGHT is it to make that decision? And what science are they choosing to make it based on, since plenty of science demonstrates the complexity and difficulty and unique-per-body nature of this subject?

The New Orphans of Saint Skinny

If my child kicks butt in karate but is chubby, according to the trend in western culture and currently under debate in Great Britain, she should be kidnapped from her parents, institutionalized, force-fed a low-fat high-carb diet (the worst imaginable thing for her genetics and likely to result in her starving, panicked, developing an eating disorder, feeling horrible, and getting fatter), and if that doesn't work, suffer surgical destruction of her body to FORCE it.

The fact that even adults DIE of this (Die! People who were alive are now DEAD ON THE OPERATING TABLE!) during surgery, is bad enough. If we decide someone's fat and kill 'em in a surgery to 'fix them', we just did them waaaay, waaaaay, waaaaay more harm than their fat did them.

The fact that most people seem to gain the weight back plus more is bad enough. The stats really don't look good for this working well for adults, never mind children. The biggest issue is profound nutrient deficiencies (no matter the supplements) and it just so happens children's bodies have vastly more demands on that score than adult bodies do as they are growing, so imagine for kids it's likely to be worse.

The brits proposing this travesty say openly that golly, they just don't have time for any actual medical evidence to show up for why this would be a good idea. That one line ought to have made every onlooker stop the conversation and walk away on the spot, and go back to "intro to ethics" where you don't take crap you really don't know anything about and force it on people.

That is doing nothing but test-research on an entire population. You want your kid to be the lab rat?

The fact that a huge number of folks with weight-loss surgery suffer horrible side effects after anywhere from a month to a couple years, and that the lifespan/health past 5 years is SO horrible a statistic that all official agencies officially refuse to admit tracking it AT ALL doesn't matter, I guess! ("Sorry, we aren't keeping track of that, heh!")

If the issue is FAT, all bets are off, all rights are void.

Drive-through Gastric Bypass

All the research that relates to nutrient deficiencies and protein or autoimmune sensitivities and more, that tie deeply into why people (especially children) can become obese, is considered irrelevant. I never and I mean NEVER heard of people doing all these tests prior to deciding to basically starve someone on a low-fat high-carb diet -- or recommend surgery. Fatsos should be taken from their incompetent parents, forced into the Official Popular Diet, and if that doesn't work, gut 'em.

Ya know, even in the days of slavery you couldn't just do that to a person on a whim to make 'em look different, even when you "owned" them. But apparently in our enlightened age, children have fewer rights than even the slaves of old.

So if my cousin has skinny kids, no matter that they may eat 10x as badly as my child, all that matters to her rights, and their rights, is that THEY ARE NOT FAT.

I Cast You Out, Demon Fat!

Fat is the modern projection of evil. Assignment of it comes with all kinds of social side effects, as if being fat also makes you slightly retarded, depraved and immoral, uncontrolled and untrustworthy as well.

The Fat Acceptance Movement -- the real threads of it, not the hijacking efforts of "It's ok to be fat IF you're fit AND you're not TOO fat AND you eat whole grains AND you're trying to lose weight AND..." version -- basically seems to see the issue of fat as not a great deal different than race or gender.

At one time, I would have disagreed with that.

When I was thin. When I believed the Great Calorie Lie. When I honestly thought, when I saw someone really fat, that it must be some staggering amount of sloth and laziness and face-stuffing that arranged it -- even though, to the contrary, I had the evidence of a family of women dieting daily in one fashion or another for 20-40 years and never, ever, being thin during all that, as a counterpoint. I would have said, "People can't choose their parents but they can choose their diet and exercise."

But really, it's the same equation. Your genetics set your baseline, your environment till now hugely contributes, and you can work in the present, but you probably can't use a magic wand to reverse all metabolic damage/changes done over time.

Everybody knows someone who can eat astounding amounts of junk and never get fat. Doesn't that just suggest that the opposite probably also exists? And prove that bodies are different?

Problem Puzzle Pieces

Much research seems to suggest endocrine issues as primary; some genetic, some from other causes. Drs. Michael and Mary Eades talk about various health issues on their blogs. As one example, Dr. Mike recently talked about the biochemical Leptin. About how it is (related: Everybody's Different) radically different in people, and how its quantity and/or absorption can have a huge effect on the fat storage of an individual, no pun intended. That's only one example; he's covered a whole lot of biochem topics before.

Insufficient chemical X. Overabundance of chemical Y. Under efficiency of thyroid or other gland Z. Over-efficiency of starvation-response metabolic reduction. Notice that nowhere in that paragraph did "Sits around eating donuts all day" show up.

Research seems to be bearing out that the vast majority of weight loss attempts either fail or regress, and that the best thing anybody can do for getting thin is 'choose naturally thin parents.' Get real.

Sure, people who starve themselves often end up binging (I have many friends who fight this). People who don't eat enough often end up storing as fat what they do finally eat no matter what it is (my primary problem). People who are overweight usually have an innate hormonal drive to eat the calories to support their present body weight, which is more for some than others and more than a skinny person would eat, sure. But that does not mean their initial weight gain, or their maintenance of their weight overall, is solely due to eating 4000 calories a day.

And so what if it was?? It's their life.
Get real! Do you have ANY IDEA how many calories it "allegedly" takes to maintain my weight (that I'm not eating)? For me to intake this (let alone without noticing?!), I'd literally have to EAT A COW, MAN.

If people can drink bourbon, smoke cigarettes, practice unsafe sex, eat dangerous foods, participate in dangerous sports, refuse to take medications, refuse to exercise, and that is PERFECTLY OK WITH THE WORLD for the most part, then why is a fat person choosing NOT to further-screw their metabolism with dieting that they may already know doesn't work for them, unacceptable?

Just for the record, I'm not building myself an alibi with this. I choose to diet. I choose to lose weight and I believe I can. (Of course, so do the 95-98% of the people it doesn't work for.)

My point is, it's a choice. There are people who do not choose to do this. And they have just as much right to make their choice as I do mine.

Fat Acceptance in reality is no different than other issues, in that you can't accept it only halfway or conditionally, or you completely invalidate the point of accepting it at all.

  • It's not ok to be black only if you have aqualine features;

  • it's not ok to be handicapped only if it's not more than two limbs and happened in a war;

  • it's not ok to be asian only if you have an advanced degree;

  • it's not ok to be gay only if you act straight so nobody knows (don't ask, don't tell!);

  • it's not ok to be female only if you reject femininity and family... ;

  • you get the idea.

If any of those things are discussing "another human being," and it looks like they all are, then the only thing that is ok is the WHOLE spectrum and ALL human beings.

You don't have to choose a behavior or situation for yourself, you don't have to agree philosophically or religiously or politically, but that doesn't mean that in an environment of democracy, in a philosophy based on freedom and the fundamental equality of mankind, that any group should be rejected or invaded.

Fat Acceptance is, philosophically, a lot less about fat than it is about the personal freedom of a human being to be whatever they are.

The minute you put ANY 'condition' on that, you've just nullified the whole point of it. That means acceptance without:
officially encouraged,
... media-blitzed,
... ... culturally-enforced,
... ... ... politically-manipulated,
... ... ... ... institutionalized hate
of a given class of people.

In this case, of people who are fat.

Which, as a last note, is not an insult. I'm hugely fat. So?

Fat, fat, FAT.

It is a descriptive, not an epithet.

(With thanks to Joy, who made that fabulous point worth repeating.)

P.S. Humor for the day: I had this cartoon in my head -- how I wish I could draw! I've often thought to be realistic, retail stores should put two vertical lines outside the door, as if it were a ride at a theme park: BUYERS MUST FIT BETWEEN THESE LINES. Haha!

P.S. And on a MORE POSITIVE NOTE, the fabulous MIKA's third single, delighting in big women, has taken youtube by storm:

If you like Mika, this video is a live song (pop), followed by a live interview with him. He sings a lot of falsetto. The music companies didn't wanna have much to do with him but he put his videos on the internet and it exploded. Kinda nice to see someone get popular because of popularity and not because some giant evil empire funded their becoming so!


Anonymous said...

WOW that's powerful, and so wonderfuly true!! Thanks.

Sherrie said...

I so enjoy reading your posts!!!

Lowcarb_dave said...

Amazing PJ!

That's a greta post!

Imagine a world if we were accepted for who we are?

It seems a fantasy right now.

Lorrie (The Token Fat Girl) said...

im trying to digest the many messages and questions in this post at the moment, which are similar to the ones I have pondered as well. I have to say after much thought and analysis...I feel that a lot of the messages,movements, opinions, just don't matter unless the individual wants them to.
I could decide to let the opinion of others (fat acceptance,fat haters or whatever) have a truly depressing and effective presents in my life or choose to just live my life by my own standards.
The truth is...people will always have an opinion (which is a good thing, really, that we are allowed to have opinions, right?) and people will always be ranked.
Even thin people are judged on looks as not all thin people are considered traditionally beautiful.
People are judged on money, heritage, religion, fat, thighs, smarts, degrees, anything and everything...
I just find it a bit exhausting to worry to much about what people think or don't think of me (ie: were they disgusted by me?!)
I choose to lose weight because I feel felt physically horrible all the time at 310+ pounds, i was dizzy, blotted and felt gross and not being able to fit in "size discriminating" chairs was horrible. But the truth is...I was still me, I still laughed, I still had friends, a boyfriend and family who loved (love) me and what some other person (insecure or not), magazine, politician, doctor etc. thought of me in the grand wholeness of life really mattered zip.
I don't care what fat acceptance people think of me, and I don't care what fat haters think of me...I just don't have the extra mental time to think about what someone thinks of my tank top, diet or expansive thighs.
I do care that I have been denied jobs because of my appearance, but also know that someone thinner with some oddity appearance-wise would have been denied as well. Thats just the lot of life, but I can choose to be outraged or I can choose to find a job where I am appreciated for my work ethics more than my food choice.
I like to work in what I call logical thinking, and logically I know that food is just food and isnt a fun time, or an emotional crutch. I don't think its okay (for me) to eat until my seams burst and I feel disgusting, but if others do so...who cares?
I'm rambling a bit, but perhaps if we all focused on ourselves and our own happiness more than so called movements and the acceptance of an unforgiving world maybe we would then begin to unknowingly accept others a little bit more easily if we were in own own lives accepting ourselves.

Token Fat Girl said...

please disregard typos its 5 am :)

Marshmallow said...

Phwoar! What an INCREDIBLE post, PJ! It deserves linkage, at least NINE times, and in capital letters too.

Anything I add in this comment looks woefully inadequate compared to what you've just written. Ah-may-zing.

Anonymous said...

I loved your blog and may have more to say about it later, but one big thing that you missed struck me.

You feel like you can't be fat accepting and still try to diet because if you're dieting, then you aren't accepting and it isn't ok.

No one wants to be poor, just like no one wants to be fat. And sensible people who are poor work hard to over come and change it. Not because there's actually anything WRONG with being poor, but because being poor is hard and stressful and uncomfortable and not fun.

Being fat is also hard and stressful and uncomfortable and not fun. Sometimes its also dangerous. Just because you want to change this unpleasant state doesn't mean there's anything morally or ethically wrong with it, and it doesn't mean that you hate people who choose to be fat, it just means that you're uncomfortable and would like to arrange to be comfortable if you can manage it.

If other people are happy and comfortable being fat, then I don't mind if they want to stay that way. Although I guess having been there I'd have trouble believing that anyone over 400 lbs is actually comfortable the same way I'd have trouble believing that anyone who had to subsist on mac and cheese in a roach infested tiny apartment was comfortable.

Nothing actually wrong with it, but not my thing.

On the other hand, if I never get to 'thin' I won't hate myself or get crazy with dieting. If I can just get to 'comfortable' I might be perfectly ok with it. People just have different levels of comfortable.

Anonymous said...

I gotta say I didn't know what to expect when I came upon this entry. It was so long, but so good that I couldn't stop reading. There wasn't much I hadn't heard before, but it was very well crafted and very well said. At first I thought, "It's not something I had heard from a still-dieting person before," only I have. I was on Atkins when I started to believe wholeheartedly in fat-acceptance, so I kind of feel like you're a kindred spirit somehow.

I disagree that being fat alone necessarily puts people at health risks. Being African American is correlated with disease and morbidity, but it's not the skin color that's at work there. And studies show it's not the fat, it's the healthy lifestyle choices...removing fat in and of itself does nothing. I would refer you to Kelly Bliss page and her wonderful video, Linda Bacon's study on dieting versus Health at Every Size participants, and well, I have a lot of other links if you'd want them. Kelly Bliss and Joy Nash also just recently battled MeMe Roth on TV, but you probably know that if you've been traveling fat-acceptance blogs (and it seems like you have since you know your shit).

But, although I love HAES and everything it stands for, you're 100% right that fat-acceptance is about human rights and dignity that is not conditional upon losing weight, or having a weight loss goal, or being only a little fat, or being invisible, or being a fat poster child and never appearing as a fat stereotype.

I really hope you keep traveling the fat blogs because I'd be lying if I said I didn't hope you could be convinced to stop fighting your body and fight society with us :) Either way, it's great to know there are people like you posting so intelligently about fat-acceptance.


Anonymous said...

I just came across your blog while looking for another one and seeing as you were commenting on the FA movement (as I have done today) I just had to read it.

Freakin' fantastic post.

I would say, however, that I think there is quite a bit of prejudice in the FAM - against people who believe in FA yet want to lose weight for whatever reason. I think the assumption is that they're dieting to be socially acceptable, and sure, I have no doubt that for some people that's true. But for others, including myself, it's a question of getting medical treatment, or insurance, or simply being able to do the things I really like doing, such as riding a horse, going on long, difficult hikes, going kayaking or canoeing. My wanting not to be as fat is not a reflection of 'fat is evil! eeeeeeevil, I tell you!' any more than my being mixed race is a reflection of 'white is right!'.

I wish I could be accepted in the FAM, but I'm not, because when you can't support something you believe in because 'the cause' doesn't want you to be a part of it, well, that's a sad thing.

Heh, this is a lot more coherent then the other comments I've made today.

Oh, I'm also a long time low carber who glacially lost a good deal of weight over 3 years (50lbs, but there's oh so much more to go), went off due to work stress, then back on until recently (kitchen issues). Strangely my loss has increased, but y'know what? While I initially began to lc for weight loss, I felt so much better, slept so much better, my depression lifted for the first time in years, that that became the far more important part of the woe. Personally, I don't consider lc a diet, because never have I felt so good while eating.

Anyhoo, on to the blogroll you go.

Anon. the third (fourth?)

atchka said...

I gotta tell ya, this wasn't what I was expecting when I saw the link on Fierce Fatties this morning. Just seeing the "low carb" part immediately put me on my guard. But since you posted it on Fierce Fatties, I'm sure you're aware of our Diet Talk policy. In fact, if I hadn't noticed that this was written in 2007, I would have assumed you were influenced by our site. :)

I'm impressed by your grasp of the science, as well as the nuances of Fat Acceptance. I think you really hit the nail on the head, IMO. So, while I may have to provide a trigger warning for the majority of your site, I'll still be recommending that people read this.

I had an argument with Marilyn Wann over whether a dieter can be a good Fat Acceptance advocate, and I think this post is evidence that, even if a dieter isn't living the perfect Fat Acceptance life (aka diet-free), they can at least understand the issues as well as any "good" fatty.

Thanks for sharing.