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Things to get excited about

I’m not talking arousal here, though who knows this might tickle that fancy for some.  I’m talking about some really good and promising news on the FA front as well as some great rebuttals going around that bash some Fat Tropes with an Awesome-sized Science & Common-Sense Hammer.  Let’s see what’s in our bag of goodies, shall we?

First:

Obesity Timebomb notes that a new journal (Fat StudiesAn Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society ) has been published! While not the first journal to approach these issues from the more radical side of current thoughts on fatness, it is a solid peer-reviewed academic journal its potential is seen in its ability to, as Charlotte so aptly puts it:

“shift critical and scholarly discussions of fatness out of health or ‘Obesity Epidemic’ and into a much broader arena where things like culture, community, rights, embodiment can be addressed. “

Kudos to the editor (Esther Rothblum) and also to Charlotte (whose article “A queer and transfat activist timeline” appears in the first issue!

Second:

Ragen over at Dances with Fat does a fabulous take-down of the recent furor over Paula Deen’s announcement that she has Type 2 Diabetes. Not surprising to me is the finding that people love to get themselves whipped into a good self-righteous rant over how obvious it is that a fatty would catch the fatness disease. However, Ragen touches nicely on the myth of diabetes (particularly Type 2); the rampant erroneous assumption that weight loss, should it even be achievable long-term, is desirable; the body as public property; and the meme of Public Health as Public Thinness. One of my favorite (of many) great quotes:

“Being for public health means that you are for people having access to the foods that they choose to eat, safe movement options that they enjoy,  and affordable evidence-based medical care. If public health is important to you then you fight like hell for people to have access of these things, then you butt out and let people make their own choices.”

Really well done and worth reading in its entirety.

Third:

Big Fat Blog clued me into NPR’s recent acceptance of something we’ve known since at least 2003: Obesity rates have already “peaked”.  Otherwise known as “all you proponents of fat-shaming who keep asserting that Obesity Rates Are Rising are not only wrong but HAVE BEEN WRONG for many years now”.   Still, NPR’s admission is more cued as a “hmm, rates MAY have peaked! And it must be linked to all these awful behavior strategies in schools and such that studies have yet to show do anything other than increase the likelihood of persons feeling smug for hating on fatties”; especially given the lovely headless fatties gracing the article with a caption filled with scare figures of the “jump” in fatness since 1995.  (You know, before they changed the BMI limits on what is considered “fat”?).  A really interesting quote from the article:

“”Obesity prevalence can’t keep going up year after year indefinitely. Ultimately we’ll reach a state where those individuals who are susceptible to becoming obese for genetic reasons have already developed obesity,” Ludwig says.”

I love looking at quotes like the one above and replacing the word “Obesity” with “Fatness”.  Just try it.  Doesn’t it sound as ridiculous? However, while there is the usual fat-hand-wringing in the middle, the article ends with this rather awesome nod to body and size and perhaps even FAT acceptance:

“Others say the whole idea of an “obesity epidemic” has been overblown and that more emphasis should be put on getting more Americans to become fit rather than fixate on losing weight.

“Most people who lose weight will ultimately regain it. If you do this do over and over and over again you develop a nation of weight-cyclers, a yo-yo-dieting society and there are risks associated with yo-yo dieting that are every bit as hazardous as the risks associated with just being fat,” Glenn Gaesser of Arizona State University.

Fourth:

This is my favorite bit of activism in a while.  Ragen over at Dances with Fat (thanks to Unapologetically Fat for redirecting me to this post I missed!) has initiated something called “Rolls, not Trolls” a self-proclaimed Ninja Commenting venture designed to spread a bit of FA love into comment threads usually filled with hatred and shaming.  I love this not only because it has a Facebook group (which it now does) where folks can share ideas of things to post, not only because Ragen so nicely asserts that this is something to be used NOT for diet-centric spaces (because I wouldn’t want to see such messages in my Diet-Zone anymore than I want to hear their diet tips in my Diet-FREE-Zone), but because the passing of POSITIVE voices into what are usually negative threads online fills me with a fat, fluttery, hopeful feeling of warmth. THIS is one of the small moments of activism which will begin to creep in to tear down the walls of shaming and hatred. I love it!

As the Queen in Alice in Wonderland is known for saying, “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  I’ve got 4 here already; what else have you heard this week?

*ETA: This is, apparently, my 400th post!  So; maybe that’s a 5th great thing!

MY most memorable doctor experience: ReVolution

In lieu of a cooking post, which is almost ready and lacking only pictures, I wanted to reminisce a bit about what I consider to be the most memorable bad experience I had with a doctor in my youth.  This is in the spirit of ReVolution; it is a memory which sparks, even now, my urge to push the fat-friendly message of loving your body As It Is Right Now. And, all considered, it isn’t that horrible a memory.  But is HAS stuck with me a long time…

Flash back with me now…further and further, further and further…. I am young.  Very young.  Perhaps 7 or 8.  I am sitting on the crinkly paper of the exam table. The dressing gown covering me is, of course, not quite able to fully close in the back.  My mother is dressed in street cloths and hovering beside me, awaiting the doctor’s feedback. I am pretty sure this was a normal physical exam, routine.

The doctor enters.  Her body fills the room.  I remember distinctly, even now more than 25 years later, how she sat on the short black-plastic-covered stool and her butt-checks seemed to ooze over the sides.  My doctor was a large woman, but more importantly,  she had my file in hand.

She asked a few questions, got my nervous answers; and then she said to my mother the words that my young and already self-conscious mind dreaded, “Well, she could stand to lose some weight.”

I was baffled.  I mean, I already felt uncomfortable in my body at this young age, knew I was a huge encumbrance and awkward, but here was this huge woman, spilling over her seat, and looking me in my little 7 or 8 year old eyes and telling ME that I needed to work on shrinking myself.  I was aghast, devastated, and PISSED.

I don’t even know what else she might have said at that point because I was fuming and internally fighting the tears burning at my eyes for the indignity of it all. The minute the doctor left the room I turned to my mother and with a hiccup that proceeded my shame and anger I said, “That fat COW tells me *I* need to lose weight?!?”  I still remember it.  I don’t remember my mom’s exact reaction; perhaps a shocked giggle and admonishment, who knows.  But I will for some reason always remember the unfairness of a woman who was clearly already HERSELF a very large body; telling my much smaller body to shrink.  It felt…awful honestly.

I railed and ranted and raged against the doctor to my mother on the drive home, calling her all sorts of names and bemoaning that here was a woman proscribing a “treatment” which had so obviously failed even her to a girl who DIDN’T eat Twinkies and sit around all day. It felt like the most cruel injustice in the world to my 7 or 8 year old mind.  It was like my first ever trollish encounter: someone filled with self-hate, pinning all their own failings onto me instead (though at the time I would not think of it as anything other than a jerk telling me to do what she couldn’t even manage).

Through my life that label of “Medically Fat” has followed me and resulted in what have been sometimes tearful, sometimes hopeful, sometimes frustrating, sometimes encouraging medical appointments.  One other, more recent, doctor experience was at the gyno.  I was getting chatted up by the nurse as she got my information, etc.  She was all friendly and happy-go-lucky; until she saw my weight number.  Then the tone became less happy and friendly and seemed to take on that of a friend calling on a sick or dying loved one; concern and anxiety.  All due to the way that those damn weight numbers affect our perceptions of a person’s health.  (PS: Yes, I was fine at the appointment and have been since too; no need to speak as though I am at death’s door, okay?)

So, anyways, where does that bring me today?  Aside from the twinge of shame that I STILL get from this memory for the name-calling I did for this doctor, there is a bit of instruction in it for me.  Mainly it reinforces to me the reality that even people who have been continually failed by diets; will dutifully proscribe them as a cure-all.  Maybe my former doctor from my youth truly believed in her hearts of hearts that a simple “Eat Less, Move More” mantra was only failing her because she was somehow doing it wrong; not because Diets Don’t Work.

Sadly, this continues even today.  It wasn’t a fluke of medicine that this woman would proscribe for others a failing prospect with little to no success rate to speak of.  Everyone just “KNOWS” that in order to not be fat, in order to prevent diabetes and all sorts of horrible fates, one MUST diet and be shamed into doing so; because the only way to GET Fat, of course, is by a lack of self-control leading to sloth and gluttony.  No.  And you know what, even if that IS the manner in which a person went about “Getting Fat”; it all boils down to what I consider one of the few universal truths: “It is none of anyone else’s business”.  Got that? HOW or WHY a person is fat, or otherwise does not fit your narrow perception of Ideal Health and Beauty, is irrelevant: no one is beholden to you to look the way you think they should.  No one.  Every person’s body is their own.  Bodies are personal, got it?  Your own judgments on it or suggestions for it are worthless in the face of that one solid grain of truth: it is not your business.

So that’s what I get from this memory.  A reminder that even 25 plus years ago people were failing at the very “cures” they would continue to proscribe to me throughout my life for “fixing” a body that was actually working very nicely to do all the things it needed to do, thank you very much.  But doesn’t it sting, even just a bit, to realize just how many people get through all day without once thinking of how amazing it is to have The Body They Have Right Now?  Take a moment now, reflect upon the fact that, no matter your issues with it, chances are your body still does some pretty amazing things on a very regular basis: and it is all your own.  Doesn’t that make it worth loving and treating well?  And not hating and trying to force it to look different?

Small Activism: This “Fat Woman” is still “Human”

After my recital on Sunday I managed to get the pictures my husband took up online rather quickly.  Many of my fellow dancers snapped the pictures up (as agreed!) and started uploading them on Flickr, tagging themselves and the rest of us dancers.  I love when they do that because it saves me having to upload images in multiple spots since I can just tag myself on their uploads!

Tribal concentration

I guess I was concentrating so hard on thinking of what move to do next in this tribal improv dance, I had my tongue out to help me think!

One picture had a set of 5 of us doing tribal moves.  It was a great image, with myself front and center and the person who uploaded it just to the side; all of us with happy faces and intense looks of dance-concentration.  And then…there was a moment that could have turned nasty; which I think I actually managed to salvage as a learning moment instead.

A commenter who, I later learned, is an 11 year old girl living in the Czech Republic, first wrote on the image “WHAT THIS? :DDDD”  Then, after the dancer explained that it was tribal dancing, hence all the awesome accoutrement, etc, the commenter elaborated “I mean that who is that fat woman? It can dance?”

Now, since I had “liked” the image, I was privy to all of this as Facebook so “kindly” sends me incessant notes regarding all the activity on anything I happen to “like”.  And I will admit that the turn of the phrasing, the blunt cruelty in these simple words, stung.  For all the work I’ve done (for years now) in improving my own body image perceptions for myself and towards others; there are still moments when those school-yard taunts make me close my eyes, take a deep and regretful breath and force myself to be calm.  I had to do that in this case.

Because you know what?  Reading that statement just made me feel… inhuman. A bit like no matter how many times I dance, swim, smile, love and LIVE my life as proof against the awful pressures against being Fat that exist around me, I can still be verbally/textually lashed as people try to cram my existence into the small, pre-defined boxes that others would have of me.  A Fat Woman. Never anything more than a Fat Body.  And “it”, can’t do anything of worth; let alone DANCE!

Here’s the thing folks: I may be fat, but I am and will always remain: human.  I identify as a (rather lovely and increasingly more confident) woman. I happen to have a fat body.  While, often, that fat is part of my identity, it is not entirely My Identity.  I am not just “April D: Fat Woman!”  I am so much more than a Fat Woman or even a Fat, White, Hetero, Cis-gendered Woman.  I am also human and humane.  I am a lover and loved.  I am a giver and a taker, a thinker and an action-taker.  Yet, for some, I think, quite often, the humanity of the people in images and videos and behind the text of words given online, gets forgotten.  As I’ve just been reminded, as recently again as yesterday, the Internet tubes make it very easy for people to lash out with the shield of anonymity to protect them from any back-lash to spewed negativity or insensitive comments. It makes neglecting humanity as simple as a comment on a social network.  However, that very same simplicity of thoughtless action; can also be turned on its head to work FOR me.

My aim is to turn that anonymity on its head by being a very VISIBLE Fat Woman.  All too often people are hounded by images of the headless fatty.  A bulging belly or rounded set of thighs meant to represent the horrors of fat; a stand-in, cropped point, made at the expense of a person’s humanity stating “This is what Bad looks like!  This is sloth! Glutton! Unbridled lust for excess!  Consumption!  What Ye Shall Not Be!!!”  An effort of dehumanization made all the easier for folks when those pushing such messages simply crop away a person’s head and make their body a symbol.

Well my body is more than a symbol.  It is the amazing shell in which this thoughtful mind tickers away.  And any chance I get, I will be reminding you of that fact.  I am not merely a combined set of fat breasts, belly and thighs.  I am more than a thunderous cellulite footstep set to the music of elephantine booms.  I am more than a stretch of pale-skinned belly jiggling in slow motion to the daunting music of the latest Obesity Scare.  I am human.  And I intended to keep reminding you of that for as long as it takes for people to realize that looking at a cropped image of parts of someone’s body, or even a WHOLE head-having body, does NOT give an entire picture of that person’s life.  We are more than the sum of our various and varied parts and pieces.  So now I just need to figure out how I was going to get that point across in the best and simplest manner possible.

So, I mulled over this comment.  I let its sting roll around in my mouth, trying to tickle out all of the many ways in which it was able to hurt me.  And I tried to turn it around.  How could I take this comment, not even made with the sort of trollish hatred thrown here to me as the sole moderator of this blog but instead with the careless simplicity of knowing that very few would object to such phrasing, be used as a moment that could teach?  How could I make that “fat woman” real to this commenter in a way that didn’t necessarily bring defensive hackles immediately to bear against me (because, quite frankly, I’m getting tired of the knock-down, drag-out word battles against those who refuse to hear anything else but their own words).  I wanted to make myself a real, living, breathing woman to this commenter, in a way that could, just possibly, make them take a moment’s pause to reconsider their own words.

I decided I could best do so by adding my own comment: “Hi. That would be me. And yes “it” aka *I* can dance. And shimmy and shake pretty damn well ;)”

A response as simple and to-the-point as the original commenter’s.  A simple reminder to consider that there ARE people on the other end of those images and words out there. And those people have feelings and lives of their own.

Very quickly the commenter “liked” my reply.  In addition, the dancer who originally posted the image added her own response: “Belly dancing celebrates bellies of all sizes, and that’s why we do it. Please be considerate in your comments!”  This coming from a lovely woman who DOES fit the very narrow definitions of feminine beauty in this world.

To me, those small things: having a commenter who may have actually taken a moment to reconsider their anonymity and having the support of another, culturally acceptable sized-ally, really made my day.  It really made me think that I was making a tiny little in-road of activism; one small comment at a time.  There was no apology issues from the original commenter for her words but, honestly, I don’t feel they are necessary for me here.  What meant the most to me is that it felt like my own words managed to take away from the power of that original comment, diffusing it through a lens of reality; a frame of “Hey, remember that there are other humans on the other side of that computer monitor.”

Who knows, maybe the commenter was really “liking” my words sarcastically.  Maybe she thought they were said in jest or something.  But I don’t think so.  I think this was a triumph of small activism.  Even if that young woman goes on in the future and makes other such comments; I hope that my own words continue to give her pause; perhaps even, one glorious day, making her reconsider saying/writing similar things at all. One day, even further down the line, it may be her who calls out another on their words and phrases, passing along my own bit of activism in a wonderful path of shared activism.

I think that calling out those words and phrases and actions which seek to make others feel low and worthless is a huge part of being an activist.  Showing that this here “fat woman” is still “human” under it all; is vital.  And, I think, in this case at least, it may have had a lasting impact.  I certainly hope it has!

And to end with a hopeful smile; here’s video from my most recent recital; my solo.  Watch it and remember that, small moment by small moment, reminding people: this Fat Woman is STILL Human; is  a victory.  Each small victory leads us ever closer to a day when thinking of a person as “less than” for their differences, is but a distant memory of the hateful and useless way things used to be.

In which I swear. A lot. Fuck you.

You know what?  I have a huge, honking, glaring, fucking enormous problem with people who think making fun of fat people is not only “Okay” but “Good Times”, or even “Necessary”.  What the fuck.  When did people get off the brain train and forget that the second half of Fat People… is People?  I am a human being.  Fat people are human beings.

It is at times like these that I really do understand why people are so tempted to call Fatness the “last acceptable prejudice”.  It isn’t because racism, sexism, orientation, or other discriminations are somehow gone, or even that they are perhaps less blatantly pervasive than eons past.  It is because folks who will otherwise consider themselves so progressive, so forward thinking, so Earth Friendly, so Green, so Politically Relevant and so conscious of and caring of the struggles of people in societies across the globe, still think nothing of laughing it up at yet another dull re-iteration of Fat Humor.

Fat man “lumbers” through pharmacy and grabs up chips and soda. Hurr – guess those diabetic meds are all being wasted on him, he should just die because he’s ugly.. and FAT:   Ha-yuk!  Fat mother is taking her fat kids for ice cream, guess that fat fucking apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, eh?  Whoo, slap your fucking knees in glee. Get this! Fat people for some reason think the human body was actually born KNOWING how to eat!  Those fucking cretins!  Whoo!  Wipe a tear of laughter from your eye, hoo-boy.  Hilarity!  Yea.  Again:  Fuck. you.

I know here in my own blog I end up displaying many of the ways this here fat woman does not fit the classic Fat Woman trope.  However, you know something?  All of that is moot for my point here because even if I DID fit Every Single One of your imagined hateful fatty behaviors; even IF it somehow turned out that being fat wasn’t 77% genetic and I was simply choosing “bad behaviors” to follow or that I was a skinny woman tamping down that bitch with chocolate and laziness, simply delighting in the glorious “fun” that is Being Fat in this wonderfully hateful society, even IF I was the sort of woman with fleshy contours that you loved to hate and envy, lounging on a cushy sofa, popping bon-bons and high-fructose corn syrup sodas while watching trashy romance dramas on TV, my rounded belly bulging out of some stereotypically dirty and mis-matched set of sweats: I am STILL deserving of basic human respect. Yes I am.  We ALL are.

You do NOT somehow get a golden ticket allowing you to make fun of and judge ANYONE. You NEVER have a right to hold a person’s physical being or their choices (where they do not harm others, and no, feeling like your tax money is paying for someone’s “bad” choices is not “harm”) against them so much so that you feel them deserving of scorn and hate and paltry attempts at “humor”.

We are ALL human beings: why do you feel that a fatty is any different? I pay my damn taxes and health insurance too, how is this here fat woman any different from the rest of the risk-taking, tax-paying public? And isn’t tolerance, understanding, RESPECT, deserved as well for those who DON’T pay taxes, health insurance, etc? Don’t we have a duty as a nation of intelligent beings, to fucking respect each other, not just IN SPITE of our differences, but BECAUSE of our diversity?!?

And no, quite frankly, it DOESN’T fucking matter if it all turned out that fatties ARE choosing to be fat, that STILL doesn’t give you some sort of inherent right to mock, scorn, shame or otherwise amuse yourself at the expense of others. Would you similarly hatefully mock someone choosing a particular religion?  Someone who chooses to drink alcohol,  smoke or sky-dive (also correlated with high-risks of death and disease if you’re one of those “I hate your for your health” fuckwads)? Would you think nothing of spewing vitriol at folks who happen to be taller than average?  Shorter than average? Anyone who shows any small sign of not being wealthy or trying to pretend they aren’t well-off?   Are you the sort of person who thinks a poverty-stricken, fat, non-white, midget would be the funniest thing alive?  Do you see nothing wrong with mocking anyone? Then quite simply, as I’m sure everyone already knows, even if they haven’t gotten the courage up to tell you this to your face yet: you’re a complete and utter fuckwad and don’t even deserve the breathe it takes to scornfully reply to your inanities.

But on behalf of those who will just turn away and let your questionable attempts at “humor” slide by, let me share with you what you fuckers SHOULD be hearing any time you open your foul mouths: Your jokes?  Those tired old fat jokes?  Those dragging repetitions on a hateful theme? Are not amusing.  You are just NOT fucking FUNNY. Those of you who think fat jokes are funny, that racism is funny, that sexism is just great for putting women in their place, that anything which makes a person different is ripe for mockery?  Are not amusing.  Fuck.  You.  Get your fucking heads out of your fucking asses and try to scrape the shit out of your ears for a moment to actually hear something: NO ONE is undeserving of basic human dignity and respect.  NO ONE.  You don’t get to decide that because someone is unattractive to you for whatever reason that they are therefore fodder for your laughter. Fuck. You. You are not funny.

Also? This isn’t ABOUT your ability to feel attracted to someone.  This isn’t ABOUT your inability to connect with a spouse any longer because you are a shallow fuck who can’t hone up to your shallow desires and instead focus on trying to shame another human being into fitting into the physical shell you’ve found you are most interested in.  This isn’t about “choices” or “genetics” or “taxes/health care” or “good or bad” dichotomies.  This is about you being a complete and utter insecure fuckwad.  This is about the fact that you are, quite simply, not funny. No matter how many times you laugh at someone you’ve deemed unworthy, you are still just a tiny, tiny fuckwad on the scale of this grand old universe.

In this enormous and ever-expanding universe we are each tiny morsels, specks even, in existence.  If you think that making fun of others somehow builds YOU up perceptibly; you couldn’t BE more wrong.  You are STILL just a small, infinitesimal dot on the time line of the whole of the universe, only you’re a mean and spiteful one, filled with fear and insecurity which burns inside of you, bubbling up to spill out as the slanderous “jokes” you feel compelled to “share”. When the time comes; I hope you realize just how awful you’ve been through your life with assumptions about your right to mock those who are different.  I truly hope that some moment slaps you in the fucking face (maybe a moment like reading this post even) and makes you hone up to just how incredibly mean and spiteful you’ve been to others who have done you no harm; who just happen to exist in a manner you find distasteful.

I end with a few quotes from all over (religious and secular even) which may, I hope, give pause to anyone who has been a giver of hateful mockery before, anyone who has read this far without questioning their habits.  And I would like to conclude with this bit of advice: Don’t be a fucking hateful person.  They aren’t funny.

Anon. Native American Indian Traditional Code of Ethics.
All the races and tribes in the world are like the different colored flowers of one meadow. All are beautiful. As children of the Creator they must all be respected.

Romans 12:18
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Anon.
Toleration isn’t much. But it is the first step towards curiosity, interest, study, understanding, appreciating and finally valuing diversity. If we can get everyone on the first step of tolerance, at least we won’t be killing each other.

Father Dominique Pire
Let us not speak of tolerance. This negative word implies grudging concessions by smug consciences. Rather, let us speak of mutual understanding and mutual respect.

Ephesians 4:31-32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Colossians 3:12-13
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Eldridge Cleaver, “Soul on Ice”
The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.

David Grayson
Commandment #1 of any truly civilized society is this: Let people be different.

The “Simple” Truth

“Great is truth, and mighty above all things.” Old Testament: 1 Esdras iv. 41.

“The truth is always the strongest argument.” Sophocles (c. 496 B.C.–406 B.C.): Phædra. Frag. 737.

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.” John Keats (1795–1821): Ode on a Grecian Urn.

” Truth is generally the best vindication against slander.” Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865): Remark made when requested to dismiss Montgomery Blair, Postmaster-General.

“There is nothing so powerful as truth,—and often nothing so strange.” Daniel Webster (1782–1852): Argument on the Murder of Captain White, April 6, 1830. Vol. vi. p. 68.

“That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies;
That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright;
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.” Alfred Tennyson Tennyson (1809–1892): The Grandmother. Stanza 8.

“The lie was dead
And damned, and truth stood up instead.” Robert Browning (1812–1889): Count Gismond. xiii.

Truth is not measured in mass appeal

"Truth is not measured in mass appeal"

I’d apologize for all the quotes but for some reason the idea of truth and lies has been topmost in my mind for a while now. I think a lot of the objections I see here to what I propose (namely that you CAN and SHOULD accept your body as it is and that doing so is not a moral failing, regardless of how near or far that body may be to/from the current culturally accepted “normal” body type) all boil down to the one concept once you strip away all the fluff. And that is that we are a world filled with minds more ready to accept that Every Single Fat Person is simply LYING to them; then they are ready to accept that Human Bodies Are Different.  Regardless of arguments for health, fashion, just pure “Uck!” factor, costs to others that fuel an individual’s Fat Opposition beliefs

People seem so easily convinced that it is SIMPLER to believe that a fat woman such as myself lies about her eating habits, exercise levels, health markers (those ones OTHER than weight), perceived self-love levels and overall mental and physical health. It is simpler to believe that I, and anyone of the many others who decry the myth that Fat automatically equals Unhealthy (or that it is anyone else’s business either way really), are Liars, than it would be to listen to a simple truth that would shatter current misconceptions about the functioning of human bodies.

Truth, that concept waved away in a favorite fiction of mine as something which “depend[s] greatly on our own point of view” is something that I nevertheless value greatly.  I don’t tell lies.  Not only because I personally find them reprehensible, but also because I would never be able to remember to tell them consistently.  What I write here is the truth of my own life and experiences; my own struggles and the actual realities of what I do. And, in a world (or at least a country, being in the US here) which purports to hold to the idea that everyone is INNOCENT until proven guilty (that is, we are all presumed to be telling the TRUTH until proven as Liars) perhaps you could take a moment to extend that courtesy to myself and others arguing in a similar self-acceptance vein.  Just because you BELIEVE we are all LIARS because our statements don’t mesh with the view of the world you hold to; does not MAKE IT actually truthfully so.

Personally though, I don’t care if you DO believe that I have been down the diet path and had the DIET fail ME no matter how closely I adhered to the “Rules”.  I really don’t mind if you would rather stick your head in the sand and ignore that despite eating a varied diet and exercising by means of swimming and dancing for between 2-3 hours of moderate-intense movement a week I still remain Fat yet Healthy by all significant markers over here.  If  you’d rather keep your hands over your ears, ignore my words and chant “La LAAAH can’t HEAR you! Won’t LISTEN to you!  You’re Fat because you’re lazy/overeating/a poor soul without a good metabolism/in need of therapy to deal with the issues obviously making me fat, etc.  It can’t be possible that you do Everything Right and remain Fat, because that would break my brain and my version of the Truth!!”, fine. That is your right as a thinking being.

But I know there are some folks out there, reading, and considering and actually contemplating if denying the truths I (and other fatties) expose, truly IS a simpler way of explaining the world.  To you I say, “Really?  The Whole World of Fat is Lying?  We are ALL OF US carefully constructing falsehoods that we then manage to aptly maintain over the years without fault? All of Us are just deluded beings; clinging to fallacies in order to explain away the way our bodies exist?  That?…is somehow SIMPLER than a truth which suggests that All Bodies are Different?  Honestly??”

Who LOOKS Fat vs. Who IS Fat

I have this problem, right? I don’t understand what people think they are describing when they talk about Fat People.  Now all you little happy trolls who just can’t wait to post and snark “Knew it.  Fatty don’t even know she fat.  Stupid Fatty” I know full well that there are others who feel I am beyond-help FAT with a capital FAT.  Yet I wanted to reflect upon the feeling I have that Fat always seems to be some sort of “othering” experience for people; haters or not.

What do I mean?  Well, it boils down to a belief people seem to have that No One they KNOW (or love, like, respect) is ever fat…or “Hugely Fat” or “OBESE GOING TO DIE GAAAH THE MEDIA TELLS ME TO FEAR THEM” fat…  Oh you might think someone is overweight but rarely do folks who know and love someone feel that they know anyone that is Headless Fatty Size and henceforth Doomed For Eternity. So tell me, What does it mean to be “FAT”?

If someone you know and loved called themselves fat you’d shake your head and deny it vehemently, right? At the very least you’d say “Oh no, you’re not THAT bad, maybe just a few more salads and walks”*  But why?  Because fatties are some sort of “other”, right?  Someone ELSE who is destroying the world one blobby, headless, SUV driving, McDonald’s snarfing, seat-overflowing, thigh-jiggling step at a time.  It is SOMEONE ELSE that is “teh fatty mc fatterson” that the news media and anyone who is anyone at all talks about all the time.  FAT isn’t your friend, or your neighbor, or that woman at the gym you look at enviously every time you go who seems to think she’s ‘Too Fat” and yet can run elliptical circles around some of the thinner ladies. Fat is…no one you know.  Because everyone you know is nice and…fat is just not nice right?  Fat is evil, sinful, lazy, no-good, will-less…it is just WRONG!

So what is it that makes someone cross that line from “Oh no, you’re not FAT!” into “Headless Fatty Dooming the World”? Is it just Adipose Tissue? “Too MUCH” of said tissue?  What is TOO much?  Who decides?  Is it just BMI? That can’t be the case because those numbers seem to keep dropping so that more and more people can be considered fat so it would be as though someone making decisions wants one day for the whole WORLD to think it is fat and that just couldn’t be, right?

Something else then…waist to hip ratios?  No?  That still doesn’t fit the bill, eh? Is it just going over a certain weight? No?  You don’t find out your friend who you love is 201 lbs and freak out, telling them they will die of Obesity, do you? Is there some arbitrary weight line drawn in the poundage sand?

No.  No. NO.  My point in all of this is that some people might find some of the above suggestions to fit their definition of what is FAT in a person who is a stranger; some mystically unknown “other”; a headless fatty.  BMI or Waist-Hip ratios or Simple Weight numbers exist…but you know what people actually end up judging as fat?  Looks.  Pure and simple.  It doesn’t matter if your pants label reads “0″ or “12″ or “36″ or “5 Blue”.  When someone looks at a stranger, regardless of how that stranger may fit into the size spectrum of their friends and loved ones: they can be fat.  Oh yes.  That little bit of muffin top showing through that size 2 tank top? Some stranger somewhere thinks it looks fat.  So many of the people you might dismiss, perhaps even wistfully, as “normal” are thought by someone else to be Fat. Perceptions are not unified…and that hate you might be joining in on could just as easily be turned your way.

So many people are living their own Fat Life; even if no one else realizes it.  Self-hatred seems to know no size limits.  I think that there is a whole size spectrum of Fat Experience: We are all living our own individual versions of the Fat Life.  And you don’t know what that life or experience has been merely by looking at the bodily package in which one person’s existence takes place.

The take-home message here is that judging by looks is really silly.  No one can tell how well I can breathe by judging the size of my nose; why should it make anymore sense to think you can tell how well I eat or exercise by the size or shape of my body? Even if you want to call me a liar, I bet dollars to Baby Flavored Donuts that you really have NO CLUE how I eat, sleep, exercise, LIVE in my Fat Life.

Fat exists.  On people even; on their (our) bodies.  On the bodies of people you know and love.  Looks are deceptive.  And no-where is it written that you get the right to judge others as somehow less of a person because they have more of a particular type of tissue on their body. So the next time you find yourself starting to snark at someone entering a Fast Food restaurant or struggling to find work-out clothes in their size on the rack in a mall (good luck on that one btw); consider that you really DON’T know this person and think if you would feel the same if maybe you DID know them.  Would you still judge?  Still shame?  Still feel justified in exposing disgust?  How long do you think it might be before YOU are thought of as fat?  Who around you might ALREADY be judging YOU as fat and undeserving of basic human respect?  The judgement knife cuts both ways my dears.

Are you fat or do you just look fat?  It all comes down to: either way it is no one else’s business.  So mind your own and live your own life, whatever size or shape it takes. Okay?

*Well unless you’re one of THOSE sorts of friends or family members… the kind who politely disagrees when anyone says something so self-disparaging and then blithely suggests you BOTH join WW for the “moral support”…yeah THAT kind of friend.

Being “Healthy” does not remove your Human Mortality

I’ve been having a week of “I just don’t want to mentally fight against the mainstream BS today” kind of days.  From the Proposed Soda Tax bringing up self-righteous drivel along the “See, yah.  Stupid fatties and all their SODA drinking” rhetoric to the bit about 1,000 self-conscious women surveyed not realizing they don’t Eat Enough Fruits and Veggies or get enough Exercise to be considered Living Healthy to Delta’s head-long and excited rush to join other airlines in denying that each individual person deserves a seat regardless of size: I’ve just become weary of trying to argue at people who won’t give someone not in full agreement with their own views the benefit of LISTENING.

Fighting the current

Fighting the current

I just haven’t felt like being an Upstream-Swimming, Mainstream Media Current-Fighting Salmon of Logic trying to defend my own habits and/or the lack of anyone else’s universally given right to examine and pass judgment upon them lately. I get the feeling sometimes I’m talking to myself here in a room full of a few listeners and a bunch of folk lacking the willingness to consider other people as human beings; banging my head against a wall of denial in the form of fearful haters.

From being told I’m a liar to arguing fruitlessly that, regardless of my own personal truths my size and shape, MY HEALTH is no one else’s business but my own; I’ve been pushing away a seeming influx of all of these negative attitudes and words.  But it feels like I’m pushing back at the tide with a broken and invisible sieve.  Such things take their toll on this here chipper snowflake of sunshine. (Let that mental image soak in…okay let’s move on)

However, I like to keep this blog upbeat and encouraging because I feel my roll in my little Fat Blog niche here is to say some things that others wish they could just to get some folks thinking about what they see and say without consideration for where their convictions come from.  I’m here to be visible and give out that glimmer of hope that “Hells yes!  Look at that mentally strong woman pushing back against the status quo and saying ‘No More!’. I CAN come to terms with my own body and learn to live in this crazy world as who I am, IN THE BODY I HAVE ALREADY.  And doing so does NOT reflect upon me in some sort of negative moralistic way.”

Mostly I feel I manage to accomplish just this. Even if only for one person at a time like my co-worker who just read my copy of Lessons from the Fatosphere by Harding and Kirby and now is beginning to think about where all these body-hating messages come from and who benefits from a society of self-hating individuals.  From encouraging loving movement for its own sake to eating food for nutrients or desire and trying to keep moral judgments out of it I try to propose dropping that ages-old “battle” we have been taught to have with our bodies and desires.  But mostly I’m here to say “You don’t HAVE to hate yourself.  See?”

So what is my end goal?  Or rather, continuing goal since I don’t think this sort of self-loving style of discussion will ever be the norm pushing against the negatives?  I want folks to love themselves and, therefore, begin to realize in doing so that all the hatred manifested towards others is not productive, harmful even, to their own mentality as well as to those upon whom they hate.  I want you to read here and leave each post with a smile or a bit of something to think about. I want you to catch yourself all of those times you think or say ‘Oh I could never wear/do THAT!’ and pause to think, “Wait.  Why not again? What precludes me?  Since when do size or shape dictate what I’m allowed to be/do in my life???”

Is that my “mission”?  Perhaps.  That makes it sound like I’m evangelizing though but perhaps I am.  This is a revolutionary sort of idea to push forward…that one can love or at least stop hating WHO they are and WHAT they are and HOW they look: all at the same time.

Perhaps, all said and done and this ramble coming to a close, I really have no greater purpose here than to simple BE and not be silenced; no matter how violent or oppressive that wave of negative back-lash tries to push me back into dark and silent self-hating fat-obscurity.

  • I am me.
  • I am fat.
  • I am beautiful.
  • I am healthy and lucky.
  • My level of health does not indicate my Willpower or how Good I’ve been.  I must never forget that no matter how “good” I may be, or any of us may be, health still remains mostly a crap-shoot.  And at the end, no one gets to collect winnings… you have to take the “winnings” all along in the form of being thankful for the blessings you have instead of remaining terrified of your human mortality.
  • I am braver than I give myself credit for.

And I propose the following:

  • You are beautiful and worthy of basic human dignity. Yes, regardless of size, shape, color, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, background, ethnicity, race, hair style, economic standing, level of literacy…anything.  You are worth of respect and of being treated with basic decency.
  • Your Health is not a reflection upon your morality.
  • Your Health is also not indicative of your ability to Hide from Mortality’s Reality.

There is a place where we are always alone with our own mortality, where we must simply have something greater than ourselves to hold onto—God or history or politics or literature or a belief in the healing power of love, or even righteous anger…. A reason to believe, a way to take the world by the throat and insist that there is more to this life than we have ever imagined.

~Dorothy Allison (b. 1949), U.S. author and lesbian feminist.

Don’t hold onto your perception of “Health” (Whatever it may mean to you) as the only goal worth obtaining for your fleeting time on this Earthly plane.  Be larger than life and LIVE it the way you keep thinking you will in “a few more pounds” or “just one more class” or “just a few more dollars saved up”. I’m not trying to be all “Death is coming no matter what so RUN!” here.  I AM suggesting that spending your life worried about the size of your freaking ass (or OTHER PEOPLES’ asses) certainly doesn’t sound like a fun way to spend this blessing we call “Life” to me.  There is more to life than counting calories and judging others.

Being Fat: The New Magical Adventure

I’m a unicorn.  FA (Fat Acceptance) is a leprechaun.   Both I and this movement towards self-acceptance and global basic respect for all people as the human beings they are have something almost magical in common: people think if they don’t BELIEVE in us; that we won’t exist. Some people are so threatened by FA; by the concept of self-acceptance at ANY size. When the Internet trolling reaches the peaks of its regular cycles and comment moderation here becomes more of a vital task to retain my few readers’ Sanity Points I am struck very solidly by just how MUCH people just DO NOT WANT to believe that these things could exist:

  1. A fat  woman with self confidence who exposes happiness and self-acceptance
  2. Healthy human beings who DON’T fit some arbitrary BMI standards measurements
  3. Universal Self Acceptance (or Fat Acceptance)
  4. Basic Human Respect for EVERYONE (not just the “healthy“)

Or, maybe it isn’t so much that folks unwilling to accept those things DON’T believe they could ever occur in this dimension.  Perhaps it is more that the hate spewed towards unknown “undesirables” stems from a paranoid conviction that if you give something enough power of belief then they WILL exist! And, in the case of FA that is just something that can’t be allowed to happen or stars will collide and dimensions will flux!

I imagine it goes something like this: “If I believe in God; then she exists.”  “Wait!  That means…If I believe in Fat Acceptance that will make it EXIST! Oh noes!  We can’t have THAT!  What would the world be coming to if I actually believed that every person I deemed too “fat” was actually not a lying sack of poo and was somehow deserving of basic human respect??? What if I had to be a decent person to others??  Whole societies would crumble!  Life as we know it would END!!  I can’t give people common courtesy!  I must instead show them the error of their ways and deny any chance that they might steal my Belief to somehow empower their cause!  Yes yes! Time to find a blog or something so I can firmly declare just how much I am in opposition to these ideas so they don’t gain ground!  I need to set these lying bitches back in their place and make things right.  ‘Fat Is A Lifestyle Choice and You’re Just in Denial!’  Yeah, yeah that sounds good.  Or, ooo, even better ‘Yeah, Like I Would Believe You Exercise Fatty!’ Good.  Excellent.  They’ll never suspect that there’s this niggling little fear inside of me that this FA crap might one day be the norm and I might lose all of my awesome Shame Giving Privileges…”

So maybe the thought process isn’t quite like that.  But, I like the idea that I’m some sort of magical creature that couldn’t POSSIBLY be what and who I say I am simply by virtue of the power of disbelief.  Maybe you have to be a Virgin (or Pure of Intent/Thought [aka Open Minded]) to “believe” me (or IN me).

A healthy fat woman?  A fat woman who really doesn’t CARE if she sets off someone Else’s arousal meter?  Someone who refuses to change to suit my image of perfection or even mere base-line acceptability? A fat woman who swims, dances, lives, loves, laughs and above all DOESN’T CARE about my desire to shun her for existing in the body that she has and won’t spend her life apologizing for existing?!?? Someone who really, truly and honestly just doesn’t give a damn whether or not I believe that she’s healthy by the definition I have?  How can this be? I can’t BELIEVE such things!!!

As a co-worker of mine aptly put it when another co-worker for whom English is a second or third language asked “Do you believe in Gay?”:  “It doesn’t matter if I “Believe” in it.  It exists.  Deal with it!”

Indeed.  This here fat magical pony of self-acceptance and body confidence spreading determination is here to stay folks; whether you Believe (in) me or not.  So suck it up and Deal With It. And, if you can “See” me, maybe you should make a wish on me for good measure.  You never know, it just might work.  Like Magic.

We do not need magic to change the world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better.

J. K. ROWLING, speech to Harvard Alumni Association, 2008

Wow, I’m honored

Apparently someone over at 12502 Sunrise Valley Dr in Reston, VA, which happens to host Telenet Communications as well as Sprint International, feels they have an inborn right to use company PCs to look for and attempt (hah!) to abuse my fat existence over the interwebs with such amazingly artfully crafted knee-jerk responses to my writings such as “You don’t get fat and I won’t make fun of you”.  Interesting.  How about “Don’t use your work PC to spread hate or act like a temper-tantrum throwing little 3 year old who isn’t getting the toy he wanted for Christmas and I won’t look your IP address up on-line to keep an eye on you until further notice?”  As my late grandmother would say, “Stick THAT in your pipe and smoke it!”

But on another note I’m just so honored to think that someone is so threatened by what I write, by the ideals I possess, that they feel the need to try multiple times with various names and comments from the same PC to try and break through my comment moderation queue to let their hatred, and thus confirmation of what I am doing, be known.  What a noble feeling.  Indeed.  And I did write that I would not really focus on trolling because I feel it just encourages the behavior.  However, I felt that it was time for some reassessment of my role here and these little haphazard attempts at witty banter I received were just the stimulus I needed for that reassessment.

So thank you for confirming for me just how uplifting and encouraging my words are and will continue to be, and how vital it is that they be heard.  Because you know, if no one was incoherently spitting back at my ideas about treating all human beings with respect, regardless of size (or choices), then it would mean I was being ignored.  And the last thing anyone trying to push a social justice issue wants is to speak and not be heard.

So please, continue to fight me with such “elegance”, such “style” and such “well articulated jibes”.  I love to hear your fear of treating human beings with basic dignity all being boiled down to one childishly thrown slur; it continues to solidify my desire to continue proselytizing about acceptance.  Instead of throwing catch-all phrases and fat-hate bingo slurs why not trying to read about what I’m on about all the time.  Take a moment to think about WHY you are throwing the written equivalent of school-yard taunts. 

Does it make you feel more powerful?  Do you think this here fatty is threatening your life somehow, that asking for every human being to be TREATED as a human being is just too much to handle? Do you think that any fatty you try to type-by slur-sling is asking that you accept her fat and LOVE it and MAKE love to it?  Think again.  To quote one of my favorite authors in this blog sphere:

You shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself for not being attracted to fat people; you should be ashamed of yourself for acting like an asshole to fat people. Attraction is personal and subjective. I don’t give a shit what rings your bell, and neither does anyone else in the fat acceptance movement.

I am not here to fill your sexual fantasies.  I’m not here to take up less space because you think I SHOULD.  I’m not here to learn how much “healthier” I could be if I just held myself to conventional norms as you feel I should. I’m here to preach about the joys of learning to accept ourselves as the individuals we are (in the size, shape and incredibly diverse types of bodies we have) in order to better work to accept everyone around us; differences and all.  And I will not apologize for any of that.

And for the record if you’re new to my blog (welcome!) and aren’t up to reading my comment policy page, here’s the first and most important rule, one which shapes the entirety of what I try to do here:

First rule ~ Respect each other. It sounds simple.  When it comes right down to it we’re all people.  Remember that before you post something. The person on the other end of your comments is just as real as you are.  It is easier to be an asshole to words, than to people. Don’t be an asshole.

Also, if ever you do pop by again and want to “trade witty blows” through the anonymity of the interwebs, vainly slashing at the giant dragon-ess of human rights that I feed here, just know that this dragon bites back at trolling.  I’ve got my eye on you.  The dragon is getting hungry again. And thwarted troll injustice tastes good with mayonnaise.

You’re so vain. You probably think this post is about you.

(Extra points to those who get the post title reference)

I’m going to start off by saying that this is going to be my only post in reference to the hate-filled, grammar-devoid, temper-tantrum reminiscent, troll-speak filled comments that are beginning to wing my way since my addition to the fat-o-sphere feed.  I refuse to feed into the insecurities of people who feel the desperate need to make themselves feel a bit “taller” by spewing anonymous vitriol in the direction of random others.  If you’re hoping that leaving some sort of nasty comment; which come on I’ve heard them all, at least make them more INTERESTING; will enrage me and spur me into granting you the glory status of “douche-hound” or some other label which will inflate your ego; you’re just sadly mistaken. Others may do so, and very well, but I don’t work that way.  Sorry, but you didn’t make the fat woman cry.  In fact; far from it.  You’ve done something which will likely make you even more frustrated and eager to lash out.  You’ve made me happy. 

Let me explain.  No.  There is too much.  Let me sum up.

By reading what I’ve written here in my blog about self-size-acceptance, which is supplemented by scientific research and a plethora of references to other well written blog posts; you are either looking to see another view of the “Obesity Monster” which is supposedly destroying the world; or you’re crawling through the Internet looking for groups of people you don’t like so you can leave a nasty message.  If it is the former; Welcome!  I hope you find ideas and concepts here that make you, if nothing else, question the whole-hearted, unquestioning acceptance most people have that Obesity and Fat are going to end the world.  If, however, you are part of the later group, (in which highly likely case you’ve already stopped reading and are even now crafting your “witty” comment), maybe you’ve had a bad day.  Some one called you a dick.  Or made fun of you.  Or sneered at your outfit.  Maybe you just woke up cranky.  Whatever the reason, you want to feel better than SOMEONE ELSE. 

Enter the magic of the Internet!  With a few clicks you can gain anonymity, scroll through online postings and then BAM you can find someone that MUST be worse off then you: a fat woman. I mean, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel, right?  Just mock that disgustingly lazy excuse for a human being who claims she is somehow “magically” healthy despite looking like a heifer in clothes and then you’ll feel better ’cause damn, who wouldn’t feel better? I mean look at her!  She actually claims that Obesity doesn’t kill; that she can somehow eat the same as a thin person, exercise just as much and yet the fat doesn’t melt away!  She thinks that dieting is just a way to keep women so concerned about their looks that they never raise a peep about other concerns such as politics or discrimination.  What a blazing idiot!  How DARE she lie like that, when it is just common sense that she is fat ’cause she eats too much and just watches TV all day.  I mean the media tells us that all the time.  It can’t POSSIBLY be wrong since it is on TV.  Her saying otherwise makes me angrier than I already am.  I was just gonna laugh at her but now I’m gonna leave her a comment.  Maybe she’ll wake up and smell the lard-filled roses.

Well I’m certainly sorry that your personal insecurities would have brought you to the level described above.  But you know what?

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win”. 

-Mahatma Ghandi

Right now, whether you are leaving a nasty comment in plain language to laugh at the fat woman, or whether you have couched your angry comment in terms of “for health’s sake” and “if I could do it so could YOU”; I am already to step three.  And then I win.  If I’ve already made you so angry at the concepts and ideas I toss out there; supported by research; that you feel you NEED to fight back, to put me back in my fat-place; then I’m already one step away from winning.  You’re already acknowledging that the ideas here are frightening, that they make you angry, that you feel fed-up with the fat-woman not accepting the “realities” of life. 

Each comment you leave of this nature just makes me grin.  I’m making you angry.  I’m shaking the foundations of your firmly planted beliefs enough to make you want to lash out.  You don’t want to lose those beliefs that you’ve invested your whole life supporting.  How could you want to accept that all you’ve been told was a lie based on shady scientific reports backed by drug companies wanting to sell their products?  Who would want to consider that all those years of dieting or watching others diet for “health” was really causing irreparable damage to yourself and/or your friends and family??

It is frightening.  That’s why it needs to be said.  Anytime that our lives become so filled with assumption, with undeniable “truths”, it is our duty, as thinking beings, to question what we know.  When we find our arguments laced with phrases like “Well everyone KNOWS that…” and “It is just common knowledge that…”; don’t you think it is time to re-assess the basis of our understanding?  After all, it wasn’t THAT long ago that everyone KNEW that folks in Columbus’ time thought the world was flat.  If you are so unwilling to consider other viewpoints, in a desperate attempt to cling to what you’ve always KNOWN to be true, maybe it is time to take a moment and think about why you are acting that way.

So by all means, keep trying to push the fat-woman down.  Keep trying to make the lame stereotypical comments that you desperately hope will somehow put me in my place and make me stop spewing all these scary ideas.  It will not work the way you hope.  Because every single comment of this nature that I receive is like one more little cheer, one more “huzzah”, celebrating my win.