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Protest in London Today at 2:30

Ditching Dieting* is planning a protest today, Monday January 16th, at 2:30pm until 6:30pm. The protesters are meeting under the Lion on the Southside of Westminster Bridge, by the yellow wheelie bin.

They have a Facebook page.

(thanks, Tehomet!)

From the Guardian: Women plan protest against diet industry outside parliament, subtitled 'Protesters say weightloss companies wreak havoc with appetites and rely on dieters' repeated failures to make money.'

Women who say they have been failed by weightloss programmes sold to them by diet companies are planning a demonstration outside parliament on Monday to hit back at the multimillion-pound industry for "wreaking havoc with appetites and lives while it builds huge profits".

The protest, part of a campaign called Ditching Dieting, has been organised to coincide with representatives of the diet industry giving evidence to an all-party parliamentary group inquiry into the causes and consequences of body image anxiety.

Ditching Dieting's homepage is here. It's sponsored by an organization called "Species Endangered" that's planning summits in London, New York, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Melbourne, and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

I've only taken a quick look at the website, since I wanted to get this posted quickly. Here's the interesting thing about Species Endangered / Ditching Dieting. It's not a size acceptance organization. They're focused on body image and preventing eating disorders, which is all well and good. Except, it looks like regular people can't join the organization, and who's in charge? Well, Suzy Orbach is first in the list.

Suzy Orbach is well known for "Fat is a Feminist Issue," a late 1970s book that got some things right but endorsed the idea that weigh loss will naturally result for all of us once everything is hunky-dory. Yes, when we learn to see past society's bad influence and heal ourselves emotionally and psychologically, we will be rewarded with skinniness- it's a sign of mental health and enlightenment!

I wish I could say that she's learned more over the years and now has a different outlook, but that doesn't appear to be the case.

Googling support for the protest, I found groups such as Beyond Chocolate, Stop Yo-yo Dieting and Lose Weight for Good that seem to form the core. Yes, these are the "it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change" folks. (Sorry, guys. If weight loss is a goal, then it's a diet.)

So... I would urge fat acceptance supporters in London to show up for this with the knowledge that there may be opportunities to educate your fellow protesters as well as the intended audience. It's great that Species Endangered has organized this. If they have an outlook that excludes fat women who think we're fine as we are and do not expect to become thin? Well, you've gotta start somewhere, and we do share a lot of common ground.

* For the folks who are didactic about the word "diet," in this post it's short for "weight loss diet."

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richie79's picture
January 16th, 2012 | Link | The position of this

The position of this campaign seems somewhat confused. On the one hand, statements about how the diet industry offers solutions to the socially constructed obesity crisis it has has funded researchers to determine, that you should eat intuitively and that you should not 'feel threatened' by being labelled obese if you live healthily, could have been lifted straight from any FA or HAES text. But then there's the apparently contradictory assertion that the obesity epidemic is the extreme flipside of the rise in eating disorders and the claim that diets make you fat (they do, but in this context getting fat is presented as a bad thing) suggesting an inherent ideological disconnect. Certainly the language used seems quite simplistic and the concepts used aren't fleshed out or supported with anything but the flimsiest of evidence.

And that news article (and its comments, full of diet tips, oh-so-clever puns about John Prescott and Eric Pickles, meeting up afterwards at Burger King and calling it the 'Plump Thump' in a dig at the Slutwalk movement) remind me why I loathe the Guardian and its trendy, fauxgressive London smuggery even more in some ways than the Daily Fail (at least with them, you know what you're getting). Also, I suspect that whilst the absence of overt mentions of fat acceptance by this particular group may be in part down to the influence of Suzie 'being thin is a way of sticking it to teh patriarchy' Orbach, it will also have much to do with the fact that anything that can now be construed as 'excusing' or 'promoting' obesity (which is ultimately what FA is all about!) is a sure-fire way to find yourself ridiculed, silenced, discredited and swiftly shut out of the 'debate'.

I use the scare quotes deliberately, since I'm entirely unconvinced by this Parliamentary inquiry into 'body image anxiety', given the role of Government in using schools and the NHS to complete the media's promotion of fat hysteria and the complete lack of acknowledgement in the recent obesity policy document of the role that teaching five year-olds that fat is bad and wrong might play in their mental well-being. Yet more gesture politics from a Govt which has made them its trademark, to give those who have raised the issue the false impression of action. Given their recent bandwagon-jumping declariation of 'obesity' as an eating disorder (leading to a series of conferences for 'obesity experts'), the involvement of eating disorder support group BEAT in this certainly doesn't bode well.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

april January 20th, 2012 | Link | For what it's worth, I've

For what it's worth, I've done some work (remotely - I'm in the US) with the folk who spearheaded Ditching Dieting, and they absolutely do have a HAES mindset and at least exposure to the HAES movement.

They're still learning, and they don't seem to have a wide range of sizes represented in their activist population. They've picked up on a "diets make you fatter" lingo & are still young enough that they may not be choosing allies perfectly, but their message is very much about improving women's body image at all sizes, shapes, colors and ages.

richie79's picture
June 4th, 2012 | Link | Just by way of an update,

Just by way of an update, the All-Party Parliamentary Group into body image has now published the report of the inquiry discussed above. Considering this a Government document there's some really good, groundbreaking stuff in there, including acknowledgement of the limitations of the BMI, the role of constant media discussion of the obesity epidemic as being key to fuelling fear of fat in children, the prevalence and effects of weight stigma, the potential harm being caused by the National Child Measurement Programme, the need to re-frame the emphasis of public health messages away from the current focus of weight and obesity and even (and perhaps most controversially) the potential for legislative action against discrimination and prejudice based on appearance, effectively making weight a protected class in terms of access to employment, housing, goods and services.

On the downside (and not entirely surprisingly) the recommendations place a disproportionate focus on the role of the media over and above that of central / local Government and their often ill-advised NHS / Education Department campaigns which deliberately target children and problematise fat at an increasingly younger stage. They also take claims that there is an obesity epidemic or multiple crises of public health for granted and avoid examination of the evidence base for these, instead regurgitating the 'accepted wisdom'. Some of the language also leaves much to be desired. But all in all, it's a good start.

However as the group's primary targets the mainstream media, has unfortunately and almost without exception attempted to downplay, dismiss and put a negative spin on the group's findings in a thoroughly spiteful and apparently co-ordinated attempt to ensure that after a flurry of animosity toward fat people the report ends up being quietly forgotten about. The worst culprits were (as usual) good old Auntie Beeb with a piece which focused exclusively on the recommendation that public health messages be presented in weight-neutral language and twisted it into being about 'banning' the use of the 'overweight' and 'obese' labels (again).

Of course all these articles have comments enabled and if one were to take the balance of opinion expressed within at face value (which I long ago learned never to do) you'd be mistaken for thinking that denying the great British Public their right to bully and shame fat people was up there with ID cards and road pricing in the list of unpopular Government suggestions; as such expect to hear little more about it. When the UK press and media bare their teeth, woe betide anyone who resists.

"What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right" - Albert Einstein

DeeLeigh's picture
June 6th, 2012 | Link | This is really interesting,

This is really interesting, Richie - copying it to the front page so more people will see it.

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