Big Fat Facts Big Fat Index

Acceptance

Loving Your Body

A very interesting conversation has been going on in the tumblrverse about the meme of loving your body. Marianne Kirby argues that this meme can be problematic. Kirby explained her issues with the concept on her tumblr page:

It’s very much coming from a place where people want to feel good about themselves and to help other people feel good about themselves, too.

But it homogenizes bodily experience and feeling - basically it dictates the One True Way people are “supposed” to feel about their bodies. And that skeeves me. Because there are lots of reasons people have complicated relationships with their bodies - from trans identity to disability to body dysmorphia in general and so on.

 
I also think that for someone just coming off dieting or an eating disorder, loving the body is far too tall of an order. I found loving my body to be unfathomable at first and not something I could force. Feeling love for the body can be incredibly challenging, and really is not necessary in my experience.

However, I found that accepting my body is very important. For me, the ideas expressed in the Serenity Prayer, popular in recovery circles, are applicable in this situation:

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

I spent many years hating my body and not accepting it as it was. I did myself a great deal of emotional and physical damage with that state of mind.

So, I had to make acceptance important. I could change some things such as becoming stronger or flexible. However, after 30 years of trying, I had to accept my weight as it was.

Additionally, I must accept my body as it is before I can make any improvements. I have to accept my current level of fitness before I can make progress, or I wind up injured and in worse shape. I have to accept my health where it is before I can address any issues, before I try to make it better.

To me feeling love for the body is not as important as accepting it and honoring it. Yet, I think accepting and honoring are forms of love – love the verb. We tend to think of love as a feeling – that ooey-gooey feeling we usually associate with the term. That feeling is wonderful, but fleeting even in the best of relationships or situations.

What is not fleeting is the choice to act lovingly, whether it be to ourselves or others. I can always choose to act lovingly towards my body, no matter how I feel about it. I can always choose to connect with my body. I can always choose to feed it and exercise it according to its needs. I cannot control how I feel about it.

So, in my viewpoint, trying to feel love for my body really isn’t important. Choosing to treat my body with respect and honor, to act lovingly towards it, is vital.

The whacked narcissism of self hatred

I was reading an article the other day, and one of the commenters accused people who say their love their bodies of narcissism. I thought that was interesting. Is loving our bodies narcissistic?

Maybe for a few people, but body hatred is more so.

When I think about the narcissism of body love, I think of the scene in a gym locker room in Toronto, described to me by my husband: naked (and probably gay - it was the right neighborhood) men posing and flexing in front of mirrors, showing off to each other. It sounded funny; maybe even a little sweet. Made me wish I was a fly on the wall. My husband, who is a small, non-musclebound dude and was just changing into shorts to play squash, did not feel judged or denigrated. It was a fundamentally a benign show of narcissism.

Meanwhile, I was in the women's locker room. While the men were loving their big, strong bodies, the women were not. Stepping onto the scale. Looking disappointed. Hiding behind towels and changing one half at a time to avoid nudity. Can you imagine women posing naked in front of mirrors, in public, silently admiring their bodies? I can't. Because although we women are socialised to be vain, we rarely view ourselves positively and if we do, there's a stigma against expressing it.

The thing is, negativity is stickier than positivity. Loving the way you look doesn't imply hating how someone else looks. Only a sad and paranoid person would hear "I hate your red hair" in "I love my brown hair." But when someone with thinner, leaner, firmer arms than yours says "I hate my arms! They're huge and disgusting. Look how they jiggle!" then it takes a strong person and a conscious effort not to hear the logical extension of that: "if my arms are ugly, your arms are unspeakably horrible."

Yes, yes. It's your issue, not mine. You were not thinking about my arms when you said that. You see your body in a more negative light than you see others' bodies. Of course, that's how it almost always is. That was almost certainly not a passive aggressive, indirect criticism aimed at me.

And it usually isn't meant as indirect criticism, but it certainly could be.

Negativity is sticky; it's adhesive; it gets all over other people.

Although applying a set of standards to one's own body, clothing, or even achievement does not mean that those standards are meant to be universal or to relate in any way to the standards others set for themselves, the language can tell a different story. It's difficult to use negative and judgemental language - even about ourselves - without sounding self righteous as well as insecure.

But we women tend to be perfectionists, we hate it when we don't live up to our own standards, and we almost never do. We see this in our mothers and other role models; this intolerance towards self; this idea that anything less than perfection (however that's defined) is unacceptable and makes us worthless. And at the same time, we're meant to be much more tolerant and understanding toward other people.

This is not a good thing.

We could blame it on the patriarchy. It definitely weakens women. It keeps us obsessed with insignificant details, and that prevents us from being as active as we could be in business, politics, and discourse. But, it is a form of self absorption, and it is narcissistic. Who are we to expect perfection from ourselves? Is being flawed human beings not good enough? So many women are so busy; so weighed down with responsibilities. There's a need to give ourselves some personal, mental and emotional space. Why do we wrestle these precious bits of time and attention from our busy lives, only to waste them spreading around this negative, self hating muck? And demanding perfection of ourselves gives the negativity so much more power.

Loving our bodies isn't necessarily vain. I've heard that the English language has too few words for love, and perhaps people associate the idea of body love with romantic love; starry-eyed new relationship energy. That does seem a bit over the top to me. But isn't body love - self love in general - more like loving a family member or a very old friend? There's familiarity, a deep history, tolerance for quirks and foibles, steady affection, and an ability to forgive. Mature love isn't about perfection or the elevation of an idealised object. It's about respect and understanding. Don't we all owe ourselves that?

Seeking the Straight and Narrow

Lynne Gerber's new book, "Seeking the Straight and Narrow," subtitled "Weight Loss and Sexual Reorientation in Evangelical America," is now available from US booksellers, from international booksellers, and from Amazon.com.

Here's an excerpt from the University of Chicago Press's description of the book:

Losing weight and changing your sexual orientation are both notoriously difficult to do successfully. Yet many faithful evangelical Christians believe that thinness and heterosexuality are godly ideals—and that God will provide reliable paths toward them for those who fall short. Seeking the Straight and Narrow is a fascinating account of the world of evangelical efforts to alter our strongest bodily desires.

Drawing on fieldwork at First Place, a popular Christian weight-loss program, and Exodus International, a network of ex-gay ministries, Lynne Gerber explores why some Christians feel that being fat or gay offends God, what exactly they do to lose weight or go straight, and how they make sense of the program’s results—or, frequently, their lack.

Lynne has also contributed a piece, weigh in, to "freq.uenci.es, a collaborative genealogy of spirituality." The article focuses on First Place, a Christian weight loss program, and the relationship between the spiritual and physical demands of the program.

I haven't read the book yet, but the freq.uenci.es article is engaging and insightful. As someone who hasn't been involved in a church, I found Lynne's analysis of how spiritual and physical goals interact in the program really interesting:

First Place’s range of commitments reflects a central ambiguity in the program’s purpose: whether First Place is a weight loss program whose value is enhanced by the inclusion of spiritual practices or whether it is a spiritual program whose value is enhanced by the inclusion of weight loss practices... Ostensibly, the program positions itself as the first: as a weight loss program that is enhanced by spirituality. First Place is effective at weight loss, they claim, because it focuses on the whole person, integrating spiritual concerns into the heart of its practice. The absence of God is depicted as the problem in secular weight loss programs and First Place presents itself as filling that crucial void.

Yet there is reason to see First Place as primarily a program of Christian discipleship that instills spiritual practices by linking them to the popular goal of weight loss. Spiritual changes are often the changes celebrated in First Place literature and its spiritual disciplines inculcate Christian practices that are deeply valued yet quotidian in the evangelical subculture...

Most of the time this ambiguity is not an issue. Within this self-help landscape, weight loss aims and spiritual aims are seen as so vitally interconnected, so conflated, that there is no need to distinguish between the two. Thinness is God’s desire, and godly devotion will effect weight loss. But when the judgment of the scale threatens to reveal possible tensions between First Place’s spiritual and weight loss projects, distinguishing between the two can be helpful...

Lynne also has a website,pondering the body in American religious life, where you can find links to other articles she's written.

I should probably note that anyone who's very sensitive to the discussion of weight loss dieting may find both the book and article triggering.

The desire for weight loss is never about weight loss

When a person is craving weight loss, they are never craving weight loss. Weight loss in and of itself is meaningless. A person tends to crave weight loss because they believe that lost weight will change their life in some way. Hirschmann and Munter talk about this in their book When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies, saying that women tend to fall into the mistaken belief that you change your body and you change your life. Kate Harding pointed out in her landmark post on The Fantasy of Being Thin that we don’t imagine ourselves just as a thinner person, but as a different person. When a person wants to lose weight, they want something else to change.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they want to feel better. Sickness and lack of energy are never fun. We have been told so often that the only way to feel better is to lose weight. Yet, many individuals in our community have found that they feel better when practicing HAES, whether or not they lose weight. And, people who practice HAES tend to stick with those healthy behaviors, while people who diet don’t tend to stick with it.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they believe they cannot have a relationship without it. What if your ideal partner likes bodies just like yours? People exist who like plump bodies, and people exist who like big fat bodies. For me, that belief that my body had to be a certain size for me to be lovable led me to two very nasty situations. First, I tended to get into abusive relationships as they used my insecurity to control me. Later, I could stay stuck being single. I didn’t have a relationship because of my body, not because I wasn’t ready for one. If your ideal relationship hasn’t come your way, then I suggest you think about these things: are you ready for a relationship? Are you open to a relationship? Does something need healed in your life before you can be in a healthy relationship? Do you like and love yourself? These kinds of questions are so much more important than body size when it comes to healthy relationships.

Maybe the person wants to lose weight because they want to be more accepted by society. Now, this is the hard one. On the surface, it is easier to change our bodies than to change society. Yet, to reach true acceptance we must change society (especially since changing our body seldom works in the long run). I know that some people just want the fat hate to end and don’t have the energy to fight it. I understand this desire for weight loss more than any other. However, I know that focusing on weight loss usually leaves the person with lower self-esteem in the end. A fat person who attempts weight loss to please society is more likely to believe they deserve the treatment they receive. Add that to the feelings of failure that dieting usually brings and these beliefs can have a devastating effect on self-esteem. I have found that the less I believe that I deserve mistreatment, the less mistreatment I get. So, changing our own attitudes about the fat body is the first step. Secondly, I have found that some kind of activism helps me deal with this lack of acceptance. It may be as small as telling a good friend about FA, but activism helps me feel less powerless when facing society’s fat hate. Besides, I firmly believe we will succeed in eradicating fat hate one day.

These three examples are just a few of the reasons people want to lose weight. The weight loss is always a means to end, however. And, the thing about weight loss, the individual can get stuck in trying to achieve weight lose weight and loses sight why they were trying to lose weight in the first place. Attempting weight loss is a great way to keep us spinning our wheels and going nowhere.

So, the next time you catch yourself thinking “I want a [smaller, different, thinner, etc.] body,” I encourage you to ask yourself, “What is it I really want?” Once you figure that out, focus on getting your true desires, rather than getting bogged down in weight loss. You are more likely to succeed in the end.

And, in other news, I have sent my first book off to my publisher, Pearlsong Press. Yay! Yay! Yay! The book, called Talking Fat, is about the rhetoric surrounding the push to eliminate obesity. It should be out before the end of the year. I will keep you updated as to its progress.

n/a

A Non-Dieting Vignette

Last night there was cake at my house. Different types of cake.

One of them was a kind I don't like. So I didn't have any, because I can have all the cakes in the world, at any time I wish to. The kinds I like. Having cake availiable is no longer something that you can't pass up on, regardless of whether you actually like that particular cake, because you just don't know when it will happen again, as it would have been in my dieting days.

One of them was a kind I like a lot. But I was full. So I set it aside for when I'd feel hungry. Having cake availiable, even a kind you like a lot, is not some magical "carpe diem" situation to make the most of in spite of your body's hunger cues, because I can have all the cakes in the world, at any time I wish to. This would never have happened in my dieting days, because, hey, it's cake! You don't know when you'll have cake around again, so have it right now! Before someone takes it away!

This is what fat acceptance, health at every size and stripping food of weight-related moral contents does for a person. And it feels so good.

The Valentine's Day Post

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

Yes, grumble grumble, I know it's a Hallmark holiday. I know it's a cynical attempt to increase the sales of red underwear - red underwear that may even be available in our sizes! - chocolate, and cut flowers. However, I'm always on the lookout for excuses to make a nice candlelight dinner with wine and have some fun my favorite person. So, I'm on board.

There were two things I've been thinking about touching on for the Valentine's Day post, and I don't think I'll come up with a clever way of tying them together in time. So I'm going to make two posts, today and tomorrow. Today, some thoughts on taking emotional risks and how it's worked out for me. Tomorrow, some thoughts on Lonie McMichael's newest post.

The Bitter Pill

When I was younger, I was terrified of emotional risk. I couldn't bring myself to take the first steps in relationships. Hell, I don't think I even knew what they were. Because I'd been a fat teenager, I'd missed out on learning the signals people send and how to respond to them. I assumed that nobody I was interested in could possibly be interested in me, and I completely missed the signs when they were interested. I should note here that I'm a straight woman. That should have made it easier. Everyone knows that men are easy, right? But I wasn't looking to be someone's fallback or pity fuck - and that's the only way I could see things progressing at my preppy high school and (for the first couple of years, anyway) at the "public ivy" I attended right afterwards. That's honestly how I saw my prospects, and it was pretty harsh.

I can think of several ways that the "spoiled identity" that Pattie Thomas talks about in a recent post undermines fat people - particularly people who grow up fat and have internalized society's negative messages - and this is one of them. It can be a difficult barrier to break through. Even if we relate comfortably to the people we're attracted to, even if we make friends easily, it can be hard to cross over into physicality if we've been taught all our lives that our bodies are ugly, disgusting, and asexual. If we've been brainwashed into thinking that ourselves, how can we expect better from our potential partners? And, if we're shy and have trouble connecting at all, it makes it that much harder.

The longer it goes on - not breaking through the fear of rejection, fear of being used, fear of putting your sexuality out there and having it laughed at or found repulsive - the more difficult it becomes. It's only now, with a 20 year perspective on it, that I feel reasonably comfortable talking about it. When it was actually going on and for years afterwards, it was just too painful.

Lessons Learned

This post is aimed at the people out there who might be where I was 20 years ago. I'd love to see comments from them, from people who managed to dodge it somehow, and other people who've gotten through it, especially people who may have had society even less on their side than I did (being not all that fat, being straight, being white, and being the kind of woman that make friends with men). Because, I fully realize that this was made easier for me by the extent to which I am conventional, conventionally attractive, and outgoing.

I wish I could say I'd beaten it through force of will and self confidence. But, it happened because someone took a risk with me, and then I took a risk with him. He was a new friend, he kissed me, and I sort of rejected him. A year later, I started something with him. It took me a year of occasionally thinking about our conversations and that kiss, and then randomly meeting him again, to decide that I was interested.

By the time I was available again, I'd gotten it through my head that although I'm not everyone's cup of tea, it's just not that big a deal. I'm attractive to a subset of men. Not a tiny subset, either. One that contains plenty of men who I could be interested in. But there are always going to be men who eliminate me from consideration because of my size, my personality; whatever. I don't find everyone attractive, so why would everyone find me attractive?

If you're both picky and not-conventionally-attractive, then you've really got to put yourself out there and meet a lot of people in order to find good matches. And you've got to be ready to reject people - kindly - and to handle being rejected with grace and understanding; be prepared to be (or at least seem) cool about it. I realized that when it comes to emotional risks, I have to accept them consciously and to think about the worst case scenario and how I'd handle it - what I'd say, what I'd do - before the fact. And, it's generally something that can be managed. Hiding from risk is often worse than than handling the fallout when things don't come out the way you'd hoped.

The Heart-Shaped Candy

Taking a series of scary and difficult (to me) social risks led to meeting and getting together with my husband. I moved to a new city by myself. I showed up at a coffee shop for a "New in Town" meet-up and didn't see any sign of it. It occured to me that there might be other people wandering around with no way to recognize each other, so I thought "What the hell? Who cares if I look like an idiot. Nobody knows me here, anyway." and I took a piece of paper out of my purse, folded in in half, wrote "New in Town Meetup" in black pen on both sides, and sat down at a large table by myself with it in the middle. Fifteen minutes later, there were ten people sitting at the table. Three years later, I was married to one of them.

My husband and I hung out with that group of people for a while. We went out and did a lot together as friends, and after a while I got to be very attracted to him and was pretty sure that he felt the same way. Birds sang. Flowers bloomed. The sun shone bright on the skyscrapers. And I pretty much propositioned him.

He almost feel over from shock (because women aren't supposed to do that, I think) and then he was elated. And it went from there. He was the one to propose, unexpectedly, so I guess traditional gender roles were eventually satisfied. We galloped off into the sunset together and are still having adventures in new places, still very happy and in love, still feeling very lucky.

Back to Basics

But I remember being young but feeling old and far behind everyone else; thinking of myself as damaged goods and not being able to see the way forward in my personal life. Learning to take the risks I needed to in order to change that was difficult and scary, but the rewards were huge.

If you're stuck and scared, but wanting to have sex / be in a relationship / whatever, like I was so many years ago... my advice is to think through the risks and how to manage them, and then put yourself out there.

If you're alone tonight? Dance to or just listen to some music you love. Take a nice bath. If you drink, have a glass of bubbly or a cocktail. Make yourself a lovely dinner. Wear something that makes you feel good. Call an old friend. Go for a walk somewhere beautiful. Hell, buy a new sex toy. Pay attention to your own wants and needs and resist to urge to hide in fiction, in work, or in routine.

If you're fortunate enough to be in a loving relationship, consider putting aside any cynicism and having a cheesy, sexy good time tonight.

Harriet Brown's 'Project Body Talk'

The amazing Harriet Brown has started Project Body Talk, inspired by the StoryCorps oral history project. 
According to the website:

Project BodyTalk is a safe place where people can share how they feel about their bodies and body image, their relationship with food and eating, and the cultural pressures that are so much a part of American life today.

We invite you to send us your commentaries—and to listen to other people’s. Record your story and submit it here. Learn about efforts around the country to spread body-positive messages and awareness. Start coming to terms with your body, whatever its size and shape, and see how that simple act can change your life.

I love this idea! Awhile back I was going to do a roundup of fat-related StoryCorps submissions, few that there were, but Harriet has literally created a body hub for these stories.

You can submit your story through the Contact Page. Here's how it works:
1) Record your story!
2) Download the release form and sign it (I'm assuming you have to sign and scan it back in)
3) Fill in your information on the Contact Page and upload both the signed form and your story.
4) Ta-da!

There are featured stories on the home page, but you can listen to them all right HERE.

I said it on Facebook, and I'll say it here: I <3 Harriet Brown. Srsly.

Support Your Local Badass Fatass

If you're in the Bay Area and like to support businesses that promote fat liberation, hit up

Carrot's Coffee and Tea
in San Bruno.*



This cafe, run by the super-rad fatty Notblueatall, has organic and gluten-free offerings...and I hear she makes a mean panini.



Earlier this year, Notblueatall celebrated Love Your Body Day in her cafe, and from the beginning has made a conscious effort to encourage her customers to eat without guilt and body shame, and to educate themselves about food issues. She has even started a Fat Meetup at the cafe, bolstering fat community in the area.



Carrots, Coffee and Tea



So if you like supporting local businesses--all year long, but especially this time of year--and you support fat liberation....what are you waiting for!  Tell your friends! Like the cafe Facebook page! Repost!
Have a craft meetup or a fat meetup there! Or a fat craft meetup!



Carrot’s Coffee & Tea is located at:

440 San Mateo Ave

San Bruno, CA 94066



Phone: 650-871-2725


Mon: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Wed: Fri: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm

Sat:: 9:00 am - 2:00 am



*Bloggers get pummeled with e-mails from random people all the time who want their product promoted, just so they can get the webspace and advertisement. Notblueatall has never asked me to promote her cafe on BFB. I do it not only because I consider her a friend, but because she's a badass, a small business owner, and she's fighting the good fat fight every day.

Big Fat Kiss-In

So, no doubt you've heard about the Marie Claire fiasco, or as Lesley Kinzel calls it, the "EWWW, FATTIES!" debacle.



Stacy Bias had the incredible idea of doing a kiss-in in front of Marie Claire in NY. But since Stacy isn't in New York for a few more weeks, someone else took up the task of organizing it. As Substantia Jones said, IT'S ON!!!!!!!!



If you are anywhere near NYC and can manage, DON'T MISS THE BIG FAT KISS-IN!!!! The more people, the better.



How incredible that this will happen! It is sure to be a fantastic, empowering event.




If you can't go, kiss anyway! Send me your kisses to withoutscene at gmail dot com. (Addendum: I want to stress that you do not have to have a partner/s to submit a kiss. Air kisses, dog kisses, platonic kisses, hugs, and well, pictures of you walking and/or existing will do since it's the existing, just not the kissing that's 'bothersome.') Received a few already!



And I hear rumblings of future events as well. Global fat events....yup, here we come!




UPDATE!!!


And there's ANOTHER BIG FAT KISS IN in Philly!!! And ANOTHER BIG FAT KISS IN in San Fran!!!!!



If you are holding a kiss-in in your town, please leave a comment! And remember to send me your kisses to post on BFB!






Also, I thought I'd add a little something that I made up, which goes to the tune of Cee Lo's "Fuck You"



I see your ignorant shit on Marie Claire's blog & I'm like, Fuck you! Oo, oo, ooo.

Seein fat people kissin must be real tough. I'm like, Fuck you! And fuck Marie Claire too!



(Fuck you can alternatively be "Boo Hoo")

Do parents discriminate against their fat kids?

This seems like such an obvious concept to me. After all, parents are people who grew up in our fat-hating society, so of course that will have some effect on how they treat their fat children. This video from the Today show touches on these issues but despite my gut feeling that discrimination is obviously happening with parents and fat kids, the study they're discussing seems a little problematic. I'm not entirely convinced that you can determine special treatment based on one factor, like how much money the parents gave their kids to buy a car. It makes me wonder if the study took into account money the parents had spent (as my parents did) on therapists, nutritionists, diet plans and fat camp to correct their child's fatness. Maybe they already spent the car fund on the very important cause of shrinking little Susie's fat ass. Or maybe they don't want her skinny siblings to think that they care about Susie more because they keep spending wads of cash on her. So Susie gets to go to ridiculously expensive fat camp and her sister gets to buy a nicer car.

Anyway, it would have been nice if they allowed more time at the end of the segment for the experts to talk (Dear Today show, here's a tip: don't book two experts if you don't have time for an actual discussion), because some solid points were being made about parenting fat kids. Take a look...what do you think?



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

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

So, I kept hearing about Huge. A friend told me about it, and I saw it mentioned around the internets. But I ignored it or shrugged it off.

Why? Because I totally had it CONFUSED with that other fat comedy coming out, Mike & Molly, which I won't even bother linking. I had seen a preview for Mike & Molly, and it made roll my eyes so far back in my head that I could see my brain explode. It also made me want to cry, especially since Melissa McCarthy is involved. But I forgot the name, thought that was the show people were talking about (you gotta admit two shows about fat people is rare), and therefore I never actually read anything about Huge.

Then I was reading Lesley's shift in attitude about it over at Fatshionista, along with bits of an interview with Nicci Blonsky, and I was all, "Wait, this can't be the same show. Nicci Blonski? Fat camp? What happened to Melissa McCarthy?"

And that's when I decided I HADN'T seen previews for it and that what my friend said about the mention of fat-acceptance in a preview for HUGE could be, like, not a joke. Then off I went to see what all this was about.

Fat-related shows go in one of two three four boxes for me---1) You've got to be kidding me, so much fat hate...headxplosion (think Biggest Loser). 2) Errr, fatpos fail (think More to Love). 3) Mmmhmm, okay, there's something to this but it's also problematic and will probably irritate the piss out of me (think Drop Dead Diva). Or 4) Wow, this is kind of impressive, possibly radical enough for my tastes. I'm very fucking interested.

Let's be real, a TV show has never fallen in the 4th category. Not ever. Until now. Nicci Blonsky had me with her bad attitude, her purple blue-striped-hair and her generally rebelious temperment. The deal was sealed when they said it comes from the creators of My So-Called Life. A fat show in the vein of MSCL? I am THERE. I am also intrigued the an almost-all-fat cast.

Go here or here to watch the previews/videos, read the interview with Nicci Blonsky, and then tell me what you think.


PS--"I feel like inside me there's an even fatter person just trying to get out," may be one of my favorite lines ever. It also makes me think someone up in there might have a clue. I'm also interested in the gender/sexual orientation issues they are going to address, but admit I'm a little cynical about how that will turn out.

Is it okay to be fat?

This is the question posed in the Nightline debate linked to in withoutscene's posting below. The way I see it, when we ask "is it okay to be fat?", we're really asking a bunch of other questions:

  • Is a person allowed to have and maintain a body that is larger than average?
  • Is being fat a health problem?
  • Is a person with a health problem allowed to choose to not treat that problem?
  • Is fat caused by lifestyle choices?
  • Is a person in a group health plan allowed to make choices that might cause them to need more health care in the future?

When you break it down to what we're really talking about, I don't see how any rational person could conclude that it is not okay to be fat. What are your thoughts?

Check out this great discussion

This humble article on The Adipositivity Project over at Sociological Images has spurred a hell of a good discussion on fatness. There are a few folks beating the fat=unhealthy drum, but there are so many other thoughtful comments it's totally worth it. Check it out!

There are worse things than being a fat bride

This article just broke my heart. Samantha Clowe didn't want to be the dreaded "fat bride", so she dutifully got permission from her doctor and started following the LighterLife diet plan. It certainly seemed to work...in her eleven weeks on the diet Samantha decreased her BMI by two whole points. Then she collapsed and died.

My heart goes out to Samantha and her family. I can only imagine the thoughts that might have driven her to choose the plan, like longing to fit her body into society's favored mold, the idea that whoever she was now wasn't good enough to stand up in front of her friends and family and get married. Maybe, like many dieters, she believed that this fat thing was only temporary and if she could just find the right plan and just try hard enough, she could finally be "normal" and, therefore, "happy".

I will confess, I have had these thoughts too. Some not even all that long ago. You know why Samantha and I and millions of other people have felt this way? Because somewhere along the way as we were growing up, enough people told us that our bodies were wrong that we started to believe it. Some of us believed it so much that we tried whatever we could to make our bodies behave and were thwarted when they fought back and grew even bigger, further outside of the realm of okay. Eventually, some of us were so freaked out by being fat that we gladly paid someone to cut into our bodies and mess with the way our digestive systems worked, all so we could finally be..."normal". The thing is, there are a million different kinds of bodies out there. "Normal" doesn't really exist.

The thing that really incenses me about this article is that the LighterLife people are blaming Samantha's death on the fact that she started out all deathfat so she was probably just a ticking timebomb anyway. So it seems we are doomed to death even if we go along and do as we're told to conform. What a load of crap.

Samantha was only 11 weeks into the program but on the LighterLife website they say women should do it for 14 weeks or even more if they want to lose more weight at the end of that time. This is at least the third death linked to LighterLife. I wonder how many more people have to die while following their program before someone finally shuts them down.

Update: As suggested by MichMurphy, I've started a photo gallery for fat brides on flickr. Feel free to join, post any and all fat bride photos and pass on the link to all of your fat bride friends! Here come the Fat Brides!

Fox News Anchor Defends Fat People?

By now I think most of you have probably heard about the NWA flight attendants who are demanding that they be allowed to wear the same "sexy" red dress as their thinner counter-parts.

And I'll give you one guess as to who thinks it's an outrage and that fat women shouldn't be allowed to be flight attendants anyway?

That's right, via Jezebel, obesity's arch-enemy, MeMe Roth, is on the warpath again. This time she's on Fox News. But there's a twist: The anchor, Stuart Varney, publicly shames her for her indulgent hatred!!

We have seen MeMe Roth and her special brand of crazy before, but this time she's got a crazy look and crazier antics than I remember. She acts like a two-year-old desperate for attention, holding up a pair of size 24 pants, laughing uncomfortably...and this guy tells just keeps on her and tells her, "That, madam, is a disgrace."

Who could've predicted that the taming of MeMe would have happened on Fox News?

(Go to Jezebel for the video. Can't imbed it at this time.)

Postscript: Granted, he goes way overboard and is out of line to say fat discrimination is "one of the most hurtful forms of discrimination," as if other forms of discrimination are somehow less hurtful. I'm pretty sure all forms of discrimination suck pretty badly. Oppression Olympics are unnecessary, sir.

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