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HUGE Misrepresentation

I'm going to start with a quote from Ginia Bellafante's New York Times review of the new ABC show "Huge," starring Nikki Blonsky. First, she describes a "gainer" who writes a blog, and then she says:

...Gainer blogs are an offshoot of a fat-pride movement that has bubbled up in response to what its proponents consider to be a pointless and hysterical national fuss over obesity. In this view fat is a form of social protest, an outcry against the manipulations of a diet-industrial complex. Fringe movements don’t often find an arm in the form of hourlong dramatic television, but “Huge,” beginning Monday on ABC Family, stands in some sympathy with a rebellion mounted against so many hours of “The Biggest Loser.”

I don't know who she thinks represents the "fat-pride" movement. Since she's talking about blogs, maybe she means the fatosphere. There are many fine, fine blogs on the fatosphere. They represent a range of opinions and experiences. But one opinion I've never seen expressed on the fatosphere - on Shapely Prose, on Big Fat Blog, or on any other blog - is that feederism and deliberate weight gain are a good idea or are acceptable in the context of fat acceptance. NEVER.

Fat acceptance is not about trying to change your body. It's about taking joy in the body you already have. Fat acceptance isn't a rebellion against "The Biggest Loser." The movement has been around for forty years, and it's about social justice and about valuing human diversity. Fat acceptance is not about trying to be fat. It's about not hating our already fat bodies, and about fighting anti-fat stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

Of course our bodies change when we age, when our lives and our habits change, and for other reasons, and that's fine. It's fine when we get smaller and it's fine when we get bigger. But, we don't try to get smaller or bigger. If there's only one thing that everyone in the fat acceptance movement agrees on, it's social justice. If there are two things, the second is that deliberately trying to lose or gain weight is contrary to size acceptance principles. Gainer blogs are not an offshoot of this movement; in fact, most of us would agree that they're in direct opposition.

I've been involved in the fat acceptance movement since the early nineties. If someone said to me that there is a "pointless and hysterical national fuss over obesity," then I would nod my head in agreement.

However, it's my understanding that most deliberate weight gain takes place within the context of feederism, I am not down with feederism. Feederism is a sexual fetish. Normally, my feeling about sexual fetishes is "live and let live; do it if it works for you." However, feeders apparently get off at least partly on the helplessness of the feedees. Given that many people gain weight easily and find it next to impossible to keep weight off once they've gained it, this can amount to trapping someone in a dependent situation, which is typical of abusive relationships.

But what about the guy that Ms. Bellafante describes in her first paragraph? I looked at his blog, and it appears that the idea of becoming fat turns him on primarily, although his partner is fine with it. He’s gone from 180 to 250 pounds in three years, and it appears that he’s not going to gain much more weight. In addition, he’s staying reasonably fit. He’s hardly helpless, and for him, being strong is an important part of being big. In his case, the weight gain attempt does not appear to be abusive, but it still has nothing to do with fat acceptance, as the blogger himself points out. It's still primarily a sexual kink.

So, Ms. Bellafante, gainer blogs have nothing to do with fat pride. The New York Times has misrepresented our views, and they should print a retraction.

Added...

Brian of Red No. 3 has really nailed this issue here and here.

(please send us other good links on this topic, and we'll add them)

HUGE Mistake | Go see this!

Viola's picture
Viola
June 29th, 2010 | Link | I agree that it is

I agree that it is inaccurate to look at feederism as any kind of offshoot of fat acceptance, but I can see how they get lumped in together in the minds of the non-FA types who may be disgusted by FA. And it's possible that more people are manipulated into these abusive relationships by people who try and twist FA around.

I went to the gainer's blog, and read he was surprised by the link and doesn't get it. And he's had to turn off his comments.

I didn't read it as the fat acceptance movement stood against the Biggest Loser, only that this show does. But it doesn't, at least that I can tell, because it's actually showing people in Biggest Loser type situations. Maybe it's trying to put some humanity to that, I don't know. I've never watched the Biggest Loser, but I've seen a lot of teasers for it, and it feels more exploitative than sympathetic. This show, Huge seems a bit better, I watched it last night. The over-the-top exercise coach reminded me of one of the judges from American Idol, though.

But in truth the series can go only so far because a real sanctioning of teenage obesity would feel like a renewed condoning of the subprime mortgage market. Will is by no means a happy girl; she longs for parental approval, and implicitly we understand that if she had it, she wouldn’t be fighting the world one pint of ice cream at a time. Ultimately the message that only the discontented plunge their spoons ever deeper into the sundae remains intact.

I thought this part of her review was accurate. She is depicted as a troubled teen who wouldn't be fat if she had whatever else it was she needed, emotionally. And I never get the feeling that she is serious about wanting to gain weight. It seems clear she would rather be socially acceptable, but she's angry about it all. It seemed like certain scenes were designed to show her longing to be thinner and better liked by her peers.

Meowzer June 29th, 2010 | Link | "The subprime mortgage

"The subprime mortgage market"? Seriously??

Right, because warning people away from the utter SCAM of dieting and the TOTAL BS of calorie voodoo math is exactly the same thing as siphoning all the money out of their bank accounts and then tossing them out on the street. Jeez.

wriggle99 June 30th, 2010 | Link | I think she might be

I think she might be referring to those who like to claim that they are fat because they choose to fight the power of society's expectations. Plenty of people in and out FA frame fatness as rebellion, Susie Orbach amongst others. It's sometimes interesting to see what things are picked up on and what aren't and how.

Ultimately the message that only the discontented plunge their spoons ever deeper into the sundae remains intact.

She forgot to say, thank goodness or phew! Laughing out loud Sticking out tongue

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
June 30th, 2010 | Link | I thought that the paragraph

I thought that the paragraph Viola picked out was interesting, too, and I wasn't sure what to say about it. It could be interpreted in a couple of ways. No doubt, the pressure to be thin is something that could and probably does inspire rebellion. At the same time, it sort of implies that people choose to be fat, and I don't think that's true for the vast majority of us.

Viola's picture
Viola
July 2nd, 2010 | Link | I thought that the paragraph

I thought that the paragraph Viola picked out was interesting, too, and I wasn't sure what to say about it. It could be interpreted in a couple of ways

Yes, I felt the same way. At first I was kind of miffed when I read it, but then I thought she is just observing what she feels most people are thinking using hyperbole, but not necessarily claiming it is true. Most everything she said could be interpreted in two different ways. I guess she was trying to be deliberately ambiguous and that's probably why there is no way to leave comments.

D-Man's picture
D-Man
June 30th, 2010 | Link | THE OPPRESSORS, THEY ATTEMPT TO SILENCE US!

The article itself is begging for a rebuttal, and typically, there is no way to leave comments on it. If there is, can someone point it out to the chronically non-observant? Thunks.

-------------------

PRRRROMOTION!

richie79's picture
richie79
June 30th, 2010 | Link | "I don't know who she thinks

"I don't know who she thinks represents the "fat-pride" movement. Since she's talking about blogs, maybe she means the fatosphere. There are many fine, fine blogs on the fatosphere. They represent a range of opinions and experiences. But one opinion I've never seen expressed on the fatosphere - on Shapely Prose, on Big Fat Blog, or on any other blog - is that feederism and deliberate weight gain are a good idea or are acceptable in the context of fat acceptance. NEVER."

Sounds to me as though someone found Dimensions (or maybe Bigger Fatter Blog Barf!), and got it confused with fat acceptance. Or maybe she knows exactly what fat acceptance is all about, but presenting it as 'valuing diversity' and 'fighting anti-fat stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination' would make it sound too much like commonsense and a sensible proposition. Unfortunately people believe the misrepresentation and lies pumped out by the press - that we want to force everyone to be fat, or to find fat people attractive, that we hate thin people, and all the rest; accusations which if people would just take a couple of minutes to click through to a couple of the more prominent FA blogs they'd quickly see for the untruths they are.

"When people fear the government, there is tyranny; when government fears the people, there is liberty." - Thomas Jefferson

Bilt4Cmfrt's picture
Bilt4Cmfrt
June 30th, 2010 | Link | Yeah I found myself

Yeah I found myself searching for the comment button as well. No Joy. Apparently 'Cuture Reviews' are to contentious for reader opinion and this would be the prime example for why.

As Richie observed, this woman is either woefully ignorant, or a Tool for the Anti-obesity agenda (I, myself, am a Tool for Fat Satan. Ipso facto; we are enemies). It's almost funny how much Reporters lurv to trot this Fat Acceptance = Feeders/Gainers angle. Over and over and over. Even when some of them KNOW that the one philosophy has nothing to do with the other. Want's nothing to do with the other. Is diametrically opposed to the other.

Dear, this ain't a new tactic. In fact, it's pretty old in every sense of the phrase, and needs to be put to sleep. But we know how much you people enjoy controversy and you just can't let go of how edgy it makes you look to have 'discovered' this 'new' underground culture. And how tying that into the inexplicable Fat Acceptance movement, people who are ok with being fat (inconceivable! [With apologies to Wallace Shawn]), just makes you look Sooooo smart. Yeah, no. Been there. Done that. Moved to another state, got married, had kids, and is saving up for kids college tuition. Your supposed to be a Culture Mavin, please do try and keep up. Or, at least try and do more than five minutes worth of research. So as not to look, yah know, really, REALLY, stupid.

That is all.

"No matter how cynical i get, I just can't keep up. . . ."
-Lily Tomlin

diane June 30th, 2010 | Link | hmm...sounds a bit like that

hmm...sounds a bit like that tired old trope of "didn't get enough luv in childhood"... so "rebelling" against that. Reminds me of that scene in "Real Women Have Curves" when the mother, who constantly refers to her daugher as fat, tries to bully her into not eating a dessert and there is a standoff... and the fatty rebels and eats the flan or whatever it was. So here the daughter eats the icecream or candy or whatever while being at "fat camp". No wonder the writer in the article so easily decided the fat was due to rebellion against not getting parental affection/attention in a postiive way. It's so often seen and presented that way anyway.

And no, I've not seen the show as I"m not interested in any show where the only reason a fat person is hired is because it's central to the plot. Because that means if it wasn't they wouldn't have any use for the fat actors... they'd be played by the seemingly endless homogenous rail-thin people I see on a non-stop daily basis spewed out all over the media at me everyday.

rebelle July 10th, 2010 | Link | Carrie, you nailed it.

Carrie, you nailed it. Thanks.

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
July 13th, 2010 | Link | Ha, ha. That was me,

Ha, ha. That was me, actually. Thanks.

rebelle July 16th, 2010 | Link | Whoops. Good job!

Whoops. Good job!

rebelle July 16th, 2010 | Link | I hate to bring this up, but

I hate to bring this up, but I caught a glimpse of Showbiz Tonight, which was teasing its upcoming "story" on HUGE. They played a clip of...you guessed it!...MeMeMeMeMEEEEE Roth making her falsely pious comments about how the show is no different than a show celebrating anorexia. Headdesk!

DeeLeigh's picture
DeeLeigh
July 22nd, 2010 | Link | Oh, for Chrissake. Why

Oh, for Chrissake. Why doesn't that woman get a life?

CarrieP's picture
CarrieP
July 27th, 2010 | Link | Dear god...that's how you

Dear god...that's how you know she hasn't seen the show.

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