Good, Bad, Straw

Did I miss something? ‘Cause there’s all this “good fatties/bad fatties” talk going on in the old ‘osphere right now, and I do think these conversations can be useful and important… but I’m just not sure where they came from. I don’t know of any fat blogger or fat acceptance activist who believes that only those who practice HAES deserve dignity, respect, and rights, or that deliberately focusing on your health (as a fat or thin person) makes you better than someone who doesn’t. I know of one person who advocated treating people with eating disorders differently from “normal fatties,” and she was shouted down and then flounced away pretty damn quick; other than that, at least among the fat blogs, I’ve seen nothing of the sort.

Fat people with eating disorders have different issues than those of us without — to wit, eating disorders. But we are all bloody well fat, all human, and all deserving of respect. During my time in the movement, I’ve never heard anyone say otherwise, which is why I find the current rash of good fatty/bad fatty talk — like the “lavender menace” article in Bitch before it — pretty baffling. It seems to me this notion of the “good” fatty who practices HAES impeccably (as if there is such a thing, given that HAES is not about following any set of rules) and then smugly demands respect for being morally superior to a “bad” fatty… well, that’s nothing but a straw fatty.

It’s important to be mindful of not letting that straw fatty become a real one, when the reality is that society is much more willing to accept a fat person who exercises than one who doesn’t — and more willing still to accept a person who’s trying to lose weight. In our efforts to find wider acceptance for fat people, it could be tempting to say, “Okay, well, they’re ready to accept the ‘good’ fatties a little now, so the rest of you wait over there, and those of us with normal blood pressure and no eating disorders will come back for you later.” Anyone who’s worked in any social justice movement is familiar with that pitfall and why it must be avoided. Those who hew most closely to the dominant group’s values (and/or appearance) are always the first candidates for “acceptability” — but taking that offer of acceptance while selling out those who are further away from the dominant group only reinforces the very values you’re trying to dismantle. That’s social justice 101.

But somehow, the many, many conversations about avoiding that around here seem to have bodied forth the Straw Good Fatty, and now we’re acting as if she’s a real enemy. She’s not. Not yet, at least — and hopefully, she never will be. The enemy is and always will be a culture that hates fat people — no matter what we eat, how often we exercise, or what sizes we wear.

232 thoughts on “Good, Bad, Straw

  1. If you do find Post Zero, please let us know, because I’m just as confused as Kate about where this latest round has come from.

  2. Yeah, Paul, an earlier draft asked that more explicitly, but then I got carried away. :)

    Also, before anybody says it, my decision to work with a mainstream magazine on an article about healthy fat people does not mean that I’m selling out non-healthy fat people. It means I’d rather have a positive article about some fat people than no positive articles at all. I would also like to see a whole lot more positive articles about all fat people, as we’ve seen a few of recently, and I do my best in every interview to reinforce that I’m talking about human rights, period. But sometimes, it’s appropriate to take a baby step instead of a leap; you just have to make sure you don’t confuse the two.

  3. Not sure, but maybe it had something to do with the worm planted by your call-out for pictures of “healthy” fatties for that magazine pictorial? Not that I personally have a problem with your having done that, or think anyone else should have — I think you contextualized it well. But I could see how fat people who have “health problems” (gah, who doesn’t?) or who do live the stereotypical fatass drive-everywhere-eat-convenience-food-no-exercise lifestyle could feel like they’re being shut out.

    (I await the arrival of the flying bananas.)

  4. Kate’s post came in a split second before mine, sorry, I typed the above before reading what you said. Again, what I said was not meant to be criticism, though, just tossing that out as a possibility for where the thought might have come from.

  5. Meowser, I’d hope that isn’t where it came from. I’d be pretty disappointed if it turned out that people were blaming the fatosphere for the failures of the mainstream media.

  6. Kate, I know you already have a book deal, but how about that “Social Justice 101″? I’ll help. We can find one member of each persecuted group to write a chapter, and then at the end say “See how they all kinda say the same thing?”

    Because, y’know, oppressions are related and intersecting, so it should come as no surprise that the same weapons are used against us all.

    (great post, of course)

  7. What about middlin’ fatties who don’t eat particularly unhealthily but do sometimes eat a bit too much, exercise when they remember to but hate every minute of it, occasionally publically lament their waist-to-hip ratio, occasionally publically lather up in self-love, and overall don’t give much of a thought to how they look?

    Because I think we need a few more articles about me, is what I’m saying. “Good” fatty, “bad” fatty, pah: Let’s hear it for the mediocre fatties!

    (I kid. Mostly, anyway.)

  8. What about middlin’ fatties who don’t eat particularly unhealthily but do sometimes eat a bit too much, exercise when they remember to but hate every minute of it, occasionally publically lament their waist-to-hip ratio, occasionally publically lather up in self-love, and overall don’t give much of a thought to how they look?

    Oh, we TOTALLY reject those guys.

  9. Meowser, I’d hope that isn’t where it came from. I’d be pretty disappointed if it turned out that people were blaming the fatosphere for the failures of the mainstream media.

    That makes two of us, FJ.

    And actually, I don’t think the pictorial is a bad thing. I think stereotype-busting IS important. I, actually, intend to submit a picture to it.

    But unfortunately, at this point in time, “But I DON’T stuff my face with donuts and I’m still fat” is a better opening shiv in the war against the haters than, “So WHAT if I stuff my face with donuts, is it any of your business?” Because people DO think it’s their business. And I think that sucks. And I don’t blame anyone for feeling left out, for thinking, “What, I’m not good enough to get my picture in a magazine because I have Disease X or because I had a Big Mac yesterday?”

    Again, though, if I made it sound like I was blaming Kate for this, I apologize. I should have said it was (possibly) because of the magazine asking for the pictures, not because of you asking for them.

  10. Again, though, if I made it sound like I was blaming Kate for this, I apologize. I should have said it was (possibly) because of the magazine asking for the pictures, not because of you asking for them.

    No worries, Meowser — obviously, I thought of that myself, which is perhaps why I’m a little oversensitive about this.

  11. But unfortunately, at this point in time, “But I DON’T stuff my face with donuts and I’m still fat” is a better opening shiv in the war against the haters than, “So WHAT if I stuff my face with donuts, is it any of your business?”

    Totally agreed, when you’re talking to the media. To get the word out, you have to step outside your front door — and often into an environment where you don’t make the rules anymore, and simply try to do your best to operate within the context that’s available.

    But confusing that with a fatosphere-wide judgment of “bad fatties” — which I’ve never even seen anyone SAY except to reject the idea — is just an error.

    And no, I don’t think it sounded like you were blaming Kate; it sounded like you were suggesting an answer to her question.

  12. To get the word out, you have to step outside your front door — and often into an environment where you don’t make the rules anymore, and simply try to do your best to operate within the context that’s available.

    But confusing that with a fatosphere-wide judgment of “bad fatties” — which I’ve never even seen anyone SAY except to reject the idea — is just an error

    Thanks, FJ. That’s a much more eloquent and succinct version of what I wanted to say.

  13. I know that this duality is probably multi-faceted (especially since “health” is such a well-defined term in our society), but a workshop this weekend had me thinking about how difficult exercise and sticking with the intuitive eating stuff can be for me. I have an internal mechanism that then says, “Oh, I’m bad.” It’s not such a far stretch for someone to read about the joys of exercise or the revolutionary idea of intuitive eating and infer that there is some judgement.

    I’m not say that we should stop talking about these things, but I am saying that there is going to be (within a group of people who have been trying to live by an impossible ideal and being judged as failures in relation to that idea) some misconception even in the most well meaning of posts.

  14. I cannot give an answer about how this started this time, but I can tell you all that it is not new. Back in the 70′s, in the early days of fat liberation, the pioneers dealt with this division in the movement, between people who ate what they pleased & maybe didn’t exercise much & those who believed that we MUST eat ‘right”, exercise a lot, be perfectly groomed, & (from NAAFA’s male founders) that women must be tastefully dressed, circumspect in behavior, & MUST NOT GAIN MORE WEIGHT…as it made the movement ‘look bad’. In recent years, we have had people representing NAAFA saying that it is necessary to teach fat people how to eat & exercise “because most fat people don’t understand how to eat right & they eat too much & don’t move enough & make themselves fatter than they need to be” & the same source also said that NAAFA did not want to be seen as ‘condoning’ fat…no, we are supposed to be ashamed & apologetic, hide our heads, & assure the world that we know we are bad, fat is unhealthy, & we are trying everything to get thin, so PLEASE don’t hate us…or wipe us off the face of the earth.

    I was a long -time poster at Marilyn Wann’s Gabcafe & some years ago I myself was one of the ‘good’ fatties…barely fat at all, not just normally active as I have always been, but exercising compulsively, counting fiber grams & vegetable servings, etc. There were more than a few of us of similar ilk posting in the Cafe…bragging about perfect BP, blood sugar, cholesterol, exercise habits, eating ‘organic’ foods, & who knows what else? I can tell you that this behavior, of which I myself was guilty to some extent before I got hit well upside the head with a clue by four & learned the error of my ways, caused more than a little division in the Cafe. To my eternal sorrow, it also caused the permanent exodus of the some of the best people we ever had posting there because they felt left out, as if they were not ‘good enough’ to be part of fat acceptance.

    And I have to tell you that, these days, given some of what I have read & heard about much of what the so-called “HAES” people advise as ‘healthy living’, the term HAES is leaving a bad taste in my mouth. My views have done a 180-degree turn, & I am about fat rights as a civil rights movement, about human rights, for ALL of us, about body autonomy, about our right to own our own bodies, live in them as we damn well please, & have full legal protection, dignity, & full access in this culture, regardless of size, shape, age, gender, race, physical abilities, eating or exercise habits. And I have come to firmly believe that we have little control, beyond maybe not smoking or abusing alcohol or drugs & looking before we cross the street & possibly using seatbelts, over what illnesses we have or when we die, & ‘healthy living’ is all about marketing, all about having a club to beat us over the head with so ‘they’ can blame us for any thing which ever goes wrong. I have said for years that if I get hit by a truck while I am out walking when I am 110, someone somewhere will list my death as having been caused by ‘fat’.

    And the very fact that a poster above would post that sometimes she eats ‘too much’ is a strong indication of how deeply inculcated the beliefs & guilt are. I have personally known more than a few fat people who do feel, correctly or not, left out because they are ‘too fat’ or they do not live ‘right’.

    I don’t know if this helps, but I did want to provide some background & explanation & let you know that the ‘good fattie/bad fattie’ dichotomy has been around for at least 35-40 years.

    And I have to say that in all honesty I am not too happy with ‘baby steps’ & the term gets under my skin somewhat. After 40 years, we should be taking a hell of a lot more than ‘baby steps’, which is all NAAFA has ever done…when they have done anything at all.

  15. But unfortunately, at this point in time, “But I DON’T stuff my face with donuts and I’m still fat” is a better opening shiv in the war against the haters than, “So WHAT if I stuff my face with donuts, is it any of your business?”

    I dunno. In the end I have to nix both, because from what I’ve seen, both answers get ugly as hell. Basically either way you’re playing defense.

    I think the best (or least bad) approach is to go offense. Turn it around and interrogate the questioner why they think that kind of invasive, intrusive questioning is acceptable, and why only fat people are expected to go through this humiliation, accounting for every morsel of food we put in our mouths and whether we ever watch television, etc. Maybe question the questioner on their habits.

    If pressed on what you or what ‘fat people’ do maybe “some do some don’t, just like thin people.” You can talk about HAES. But if you start answering that question without calling the questioner on it, you’ve already conceded that it’s OK to publicly interrogate and humiliate fat people.

    You can do all of it in a nice, pleasant way. But you have to challenge the question. It’s basically as invasive as asking someone who’s gay to account for and justify their sexual behavior or their sexual history.

    And I think that was something of the point of Lindsay. The way the very frame, the opening question about “healthy habits” is both a put-down and a set-up you accept at your peril.

  16. I think part of this comes from a message board thread that involves bloggers only. I’ll admit, I was one of the first to post on this concept, because I feel very strongly on it. I don’t follow HAES, I don’t exercise regularly. I read a really sad post from an FA blogger on the feed last week where she really went into this: I am letting the WHOLE MOVEMENT down because I totally fucked up my eating this week and I am a Bad Fat Person, and I am ruining it for everyone, even the Good Fat People.

    I reacted strongly to that. She has an ED, too.

    And my thought is this: she may have that internal message, but where did that internal message come from? Do those messages just exist naturally, or did they come from somewhere? I don’t know where they came from. But I think they must come from somewhere external. I have no idea where. I am not pointing out any singular blog or person, because clearly I can’t pinpoint it or I would have linked to it. It seems like this mass collective unconscious Jungian movement because everyone’s talking about it — first that blog, and then the message board, and then I wrote a post, and of course, that exploded into a few more posts. (Lindsay’s over at Babble may have appeared before mine).

    I know that if you have an ED mindset, there’ s some OCD thinking in there that can take that GOOD/BAD dichotomy to the extreme, but it still must be out there somewhere. I don’t know from what or where. My point is, occasionally, I want to point out that yep, there are the fat people out there who don’t exercise or exercise sometimes (like me), who try to eat as best they can but still mess it up (like me), who have decent numbers (BP/cholesterol, etc) but have messed up their health from repeated dieting, and we respect the work of people who are doing HAES, but it’s not for us. And also, yep, all fatties deserve equal rights, no matter how fat or fit.

  17. I’ve read the posts about HAES and exercise and didn’t even stop to think that they could create a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ fattie paradigm. I saw them as this is what you can do to improve your health if you are so inclined, not that they are hard and fast rules that have to be followed in order to be accepted by the FAM. I don’t know where I would fit on that scale, and I don’t really care. We all have a voice in this thing of ours (shades of The Godfather….lol) and it doesn’t matter if we follow HAES, doesn’t matter if we exercise, we all have a perspective to offer on being fat and how it affects us. We deserve the same rights and civility that anyone who is not fat are entitled to, no matter how we live our fat lives.

  18. There have been a few posts on the blogosphere within the past couple weeks addressing the schism between the good fattie and bad fattie. It’s understandable that this topic comes up from time to time, as new members are continually welcomed into the fold and existing members advance further in their journey to fat acceptance.

    As for where it comes from, there’s no direct source at which you can point a finger at, but it’s not difficult to discern. Many fat acceptance activists actively work to dispel the stereotypes of fatness, which includes emphasis on how fat people eat no differently and exercise no less than their thin counterparts, as well as presenting a vision of themselves as one who enjoys a non-disordered and healthy relationship with food.

    I can see how those people, who admittedly do not follow a healthy diet or exercise regularly, might be put off on seeing other fat people promote this concept on a day-to-day basis. I’m not faulting anyone for working to smash the stereotypes – it’s a very much-needed component of the movement. But in doing so, we may also unconsciously distance ourselves from those people who are fat and do not feel they fit the mold of a “good” and “healthy” fattie. I know people who feel like those (myself included) who promote this concept are trying to distance themselves from those other fatties and the stigma of gluttony itself.

    For me, the crux of fat acceptance is in equal rights for fat people regardless of what they weigh or why they weigh what they do. Most fat acceptance bloggers I know of also believe in this and promote it. Countering the stereotypes certainly has its place in the movement and goes hand-in-hand with achieving the foundational goal of civil rights. But, I also think that at times, we mire ourselves so much in breaking the stereotypes that we lose sight on what our primary goal is. (And I saw “we” as in collectively, with no one person or organization singled out).

  19. Thank you, fat fu. I shouldn’t have to answer any questions about my eating or health habits from the public at large. Just like trans people shouldn’t have to answer questions like: “what are you?” Or queers shouldn’t have to answer questions like: “How do you ‘do’ it?” Because it’s nobody’s business, number 1, and number 2, you’ve just involved yourself in your own dehumanization by participating in the idiotic dialogue.

  20. You know that ginormous list of FA blogs on my site? I’m literally subscribed to all of them and then some. So i’ve been seeing this “conversation” going on for quite some time now… and i can’t personally pinpoint an origin. I think it’s partly seasonal. As stores start stocking up on spring and summer clothing, people are seeing the bathing suits and looking more closely at their own bodies. When this happens, everything starts to get scrutinized, and we are so harsh on judging ourselves… far worse than we do with other people.

    So the good/bad thing has been coming up in bits and pieces here and there. There was some talk about it on a blogger-only board, and last night i posted some pictures with a series of questions regarding the issue. That post seemed to spark a fair bit of blogged reactions, but my own post was a reaction to things i’ve seen going on in the fatosphere.

    The answers people had to those questions proved to be… interesting. I plan on doing a follow-up to that post either tonight or tomorrow, with more information on the answers to those questions, why i posted what i did, and some further thoughts on the matter.

  21. I haven’t been participating, that I’m aware of, in these good fatty/bad fatty conversations, but I can say that as a noob it actually is kind of daunting, if you know you can’t say “Well I eat *really* healthy and I exercise regularly.” At least, it was daunting coming in when I did because all of a sudden there were fat activists going on TV (and watching the old footage of Kelly Bliss and Joy Nash on tv with Mememememe) and they were all…pretty, not what I think of as really fat (fat, yes, but within a certain range, I think) and you start reading all these blogs where so many people really are practicing HAES to the best of their ability. I’ve…well I’ve always preferred quiet activities to strenuous ones. Sure, I climbed trees, but once I got up there I’d sit and imagine things for a long time, quietly. I want to take up some beginners’ yoga but when I started I noticed that I have this thing that pops out in my abdomen and I think it might be a hernia so I have to have it checked out before I feel comfortable going ahead. Walking is kind of out of the question on any level that would help, with this ankle of mine. But see I’m explaining why I’m excused from class when no one said I had to attend in the first place. If the FA movement itself ever loses sight of the fact that we’re all (“good, bad or middlin”) in this together, that would be tragic, but it’s comforting to hear prominent advocates of HAES say that they have no intention of leaving the rest of us behind anyway. We can’t all be healthy – fat, thin, man, woman, child, etc.

  22. I think it’s partly seasonal. As stores start stocking up on spring and summer clothing, people are seeing the bathing suits and looking more closely at their own bodies. When this happens, everything starts to get scrutinized, and we are so harsh on judging ourselves… far worse than we do with other people.

    This is a very interesting theory, and one that I haven’t seen proposed before. It would explain why it keeps coming up over and over until I want to stick my thumbs in my eyes.

  23. My point is, occasionally, I want to point out that yep, there are the fat people out there who don’t exercise or exercise sometimes (like me), who try to eat as best they can but still mess it up (like me), who have decent numbers (BP/cholesterol, etc) but have messed up their health from repeated dieting, and we respect the work of people who are doing HAES, but it’s not for us. And also, yep, all fatties deserve equal rights, no matter how fat or fit.

    That is exactly what I was trying to say (perhaps I should have used less levity). Brava, thoughtracer.

  24. Also…sorry to double post, but I mean that there’s a lot of other noobs coming around since the media exposure has led them to it, and maybe a lot of them just sort of get that impression because of where the media focus is and how many prominent bloggers are such “good” fatties lol. I dunno, now the good fatty/bad fatty idea is just making me laugh. Anyway, Kate, I really don’t think you started it with the magazine thing; I think it’s something that just needs to be mentioned occasionally, that we’re all in this together.

  25. HAES is a conversation about, well, health at every size. About how we can be healthy in our various body types. It is not a program.

    Sure, people have published sets of “HAES principles,” but even on those lists, “eat right and exercise” is really not one of them. HAES is more of a set of beliefs about health and wellness, and what often gets mistranslated (even on fat blogs) as “eat right” is actually defined differently by different people exploring this idea of weight-neutral wellness. Many HAES experts say that there is no one way to “eat right” and that one cannot be “bad” in their eating or “good” in their eating. And exercise? I don’t hear a lot about exercise from professionals talking about HAES approaches. I hear about finding activities one enjoys doing. Enjoying using one’s body. But not a lot about going to the gym. And even the idea that “health” is well defined is something questioned by those participating in ongoing HAES discussions. A recent ShowMeTheData post pointed out that the absence of disease is only one way to define health, and perhaps a more useful definition for humans in this day and age relates more to living well with one’s bodies even through disease and injury and whatnot.

    Anyway, I just wanted to dispell any myth that “HAES” is a program like Weight Watchers or whatever. It’s not a program, one doesn’t “go on HAES” or “fail HAES.” One can’t “be HAES” or “not be HAES.” HAES is a set of beliefs or a wellness philosophy – or as I said above, a conversation – being increasingly adopted in health promotion communities, and it goes far beyond a program one can be “doing” or “not doing.” As a philosophy, it (if there is an “it”) states that wellness approaches should not focus on weight loss, that all people deserve proper healthcare, that health is not contingent upon weight, and that health itself is an ever-shifting term. As a conversation, it is about what healthy means for us and how we can live our lives in ways that work for us. It is not a singular “program” stating that fat people SHOULD “eat right” and “exercise,” and it not (in my view) something you as an individual go on or off like a diet.

    Sorry for the gratuitous use of quotation marks here.

  26. This is driving me kee-razy. I’ll try not to rant with much bitchiness.

    * With the exception of the situation Kate mentioned, I have never seen anyone in the fatosphere try to draw any kind of line between good and bad fatties. Setting aside the “health” thing entirely, it’s a freakin’ civil rights issue. Full stop.

    * I am personally of the opinion that a lot of people react to HAES-based conversations with defensiveness born of insecurity tied to the ongoing process of strangling off the internalized blame with which society has trained fatties to equip themselves. I think the closer people get to silencing that interior critic, the less fear there will be that HAES is the new skinny.

    * It seems to me entirely counterproductive to keep going over this retread conversation again and again, when NO ONE is trying to exclude anything but diet talk.

  27. And my thought is this: she may have that internal message, but where did that internal message come from? Do those messages just exist naturally, or did they come from somewhere? I don’t know where they came from. But I think they must come from somewhere external. I have no idea where. I am not pointing out any singular blog or person, because clearly I can’t pinpoint it or I would have linked to it. It seems like this mass collective unconscious Jungian movement because everyone’s talking about it

    Isn’t what your describing basically internalized fat-phobia? I mean, to some extent, we’ve got an entire community that’s here specifically because we are trying to let go of compulsive habits of judging ourselves, and of feeling judged by other people. The nature of all these blogs are going to specifically attract people who have strong inner critics, especially with regards to body issues, because those are the people these blogs are trying to help. So it doesn’t really seem surprising that, every now and then, the inner critics are going to grab control, froth everyone up into a “I’M BEING JUDGED FOR MY BODY!” panic, and lead the charge for a while.

    That’s exactly the pattern that fat acceptance is trying to break, but it’s not like you can read a few articles online and be cured of it — it seems like it’s always going to cycle through occasionally. So the goal becomes finding ways of recognizing it, taking control back from it, and sending it to the back of the bus, without judgment.

    It’s fat acceptance at a systems level, I guess.

  28. I am personally of the opinion that a lot of people react to HAES-based conversations with defensiveness born of insecurity tied to the ongoing process of strangling off the internalized blame with which society has trained fatties to equip themselves.

    Tari, i’ll admit that i react defensively to HAES conversations from time to time, but that’s less from insecurities, and more from envy. I can never be healthy at any size – it’s not a cop-out, it’s a fact. There is no cure for fibromyalgia.

  29. “I can never be healthy at any size”

    That’s what I was trying to address above. HAES is not some program promoting those who are without illness and injury. It isn’t saying “fat people should never have health problems.” It is a position that health concerns can be addressed in ways that don’t promote sizism.

  30. Word. I have fibromyalgia too — along with rheumatoid arthritis and now, possibly, lupus — but that doesn’t mean I can’t be as healthy as it’s possible for me to be. (If that makes sense.) I don’t take “health at every size” to mean “perfect health,” I take it to mean “take the best care of myself that I can, at 200 pounds as well as at 130.”

  31. Tari, i’ll admit that i react defensively to HAES conversations from time to time, but that’s less from insecurities, and more from envy. I can never be healthy at any size

    I get that.

    Are we talking about “health” in terms of “never has any health issues,” or are we talking about HAES as in, “feed and move your body the way your body wants to be fed and moved”? ‘Cause in my mind, it’s the latter.

  32. * It seems to me entirely counterproductive to keep going over this retread conversation again and again, when NO ONE is trying to exclude anything but diet talk.

    I know what you’re saying, Tari, but as new people come in they can get the impression, wrong as it may be. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with mentioning occasionally that FA is for all fat people, the ones that society will accept more readily (those who aren’t *that” fat, who eat well and exercise regularly, etc. – of whom many exist) and those that society isn’t going to accept so readily – those that do eat a lot, or a lot of “junk” or don’t get much exercise. Or at least have it somewhere in the FAQ so you people who’ve been in the movement a while can stop going over tired old conversations that are of some value to newbies. I know you’re all anxious to move on to the next step and I’m with ya’ but I don’t know everything yet (I’m learning as fast as I possibly can though.)

  33. Yes, these points have been raised before – and in theory i don’t disagree. I suppose it’s that the intellectual side of me agrees, but the emotional side sulks.

    And it’s not like i don’t try to maintain my symptoms to a tolerable level. But i’d be lying if i said i don’t envy the people who can be fat and fit.

    And while i didn’t say anything at the time? The call for pictures of healthy fat people did sting. BUT, in all honesty, i forgot about it within a day or two. It had nothing whatsoever to do with my post last night.

  34. I’m not sure about this latest round, but the general idea of good fattie/bad fattie has been around for quite a while. For me, the idea basically comes not from fat acceptance itself — but from the mainstream’s (ignorant) reaction to the stereotype-busting attempts of fat acceptance. Some people, when they hear that ‘hey, not all fat people meet that stereotype,’ the immediate (and admittedly simple-minded) reaction is to be like, “OOOH OKAY SO I’LL ONLY HATE THE ONES WHO DOOOO FIT THE STEREOTYPE.” And certainly some people do and will fit that stereotype (just as some thin people would, but would never be called out for it.)

    Maybe I am catering too much to the ignorant in my demands, but I prefer to use stereotype-busting as more of a condiment than a full course in the discussion of fat acceptance.

    It is definitely useful, it definitely has a place, but not on its own. Not without the substance, not without the whole ‘don’t hate groups of people’ thing to back it up.

    (And I’m not pointing any fingers here at anyone in particular. I just occasionally get the feeling that we are collectively railroaded by the naysayers into a defensive stance, when maybe our energy would be better placed on offense. The offense being DON’T HATE PEOPLE, IT IS WRONG.)

  35. HAES is not some program promoting those who are without illness and injury. It isn’t saying “fat people should never have health problems.” It is a position that health concerns can be addressed in ways that don’t promote sizism.

    GiniLiz, thank you for saying that. It is often a delicate/difficult point to get across, and you did it so well.

  36. I’m one of the new(ish) readers who’s following this discussion for the first time. I’m afraid I must say that Shapely Prose is the only FA blog where I sometimes get the idea that I need to engage in certain “healthy” behaviours to be a good fat activist.

    I’ve read here before that all fatties are acceptable etc., and I believe that, of course, you do not mean to exclude anyone. Still, sometimes it sounds like lip service to me, because on the other hand, in the heat of the moment, I feel the line of reasoning here, more often than not, goes “…and then I ate a salad and went to yoga class! There. HA!” As if that’s the most poignant argument we fatties can come up with.

    Maybe I should look through old SP posts again and find out where I’ve got this idea. Maybe it’s my own sense of guilt that makes me oversensitive, or maybe it’s just that the contributors are a bit obsessed with vegetables and exercise. ;-)

  37. Em, I have noticed posts like that too. Not necessarily here — I don’t remember where, actually. But sometimes we catch ourselves doing something that defies a stereotype about our group, and we want to highlight it. I don’t know that this is a problem. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are whole human beings and not caricatures. In my conservative Christian days, I would point out the parts of me that didn’t quite fit that mold. As a grad student, I point out the parts of me that don’t fit that mold. I think it is normal to want to be more than a stereotype, and I think it can be done without judgment of the defiant behavior. For me, it can be hard not to hear judgment in it, but I know that is my own.

  38. Tari: You are bloody brilliant.

    I think a key component of HAES that those who feel insecure if they are doing it “right” or not forgets is mental health. One’s health isn’t determined simply by our cholesterol numbers or blood pressure. It’s also determined by the ways in which we relate to our bodies, to food, and to external and internal pressures threatening to erode our own sense of empowerment. And good mental is just as important, if not more, than physical health.

  39. Peggynature said

    For me, the idea basically comes not from fat acceptance itself — but from the mainstream’s (ignorant) reaction to the stereotype-busting attempts of fat acceptance. Some people, when they hear that ‘hey, not all fat people meet that stereotype,’ the immediate (and admittedly simple-minded) reaction is to be like, “OOOH OKAY SO I’LL ONLY HATE THE ONES WHO DOOOO FIT THE STEREOTYPE.And certainly some people do and will fit that stereotype (just as some thin people would, but would never be called out for it.)Maybe I am catering too much to the ignorant in my demands, but I prefer to use stereotype-busting as more of a condiment than a full course in the discussion of fat acceptance.

    That comes pretty close to my own views. Oh, and what Rachel said.

    The “good fatty/bad fatty” judgment does not – in my opinion – come from WITHIN the FA community. It’s clear that we are a pretty accepting group. The judgment comes from OUTSIDE the movement, generally from ignorance.

    However I do feel that we, as Fat Activists, can sometimes unintentionally play into that external judgment of fat people with how we choose, individually and as a group, to respond to discussions about fat and health.

    Any activism is good activism – no argument there. But, as others have said, lets also reframe the debate so its about rights, not just health.

  40. I blogged about this in relation to the magazine article discussion, and I still maintain that the mainstream media will accept “healthy” fatties first. However, I don’t see this as a problem inside the movement. No blogger I’ve read is saying specifically, “I think less healthy-living fatties are a disgrace to the movement” or anything like that. Most of us have our personal eating issues, but it’s not directed at others in any case I’ve seen.

    The polarization of good vs. bad fatties is a tricky issue, because it often seems to be done by us “bad” fatties and we often seem to be very defensive about it. I don’t think it’s so much the rhetoric inside the fatosphere as the rhetoric outside of it that gives definition to “health” and “heatlhy lifestyle”. I think the mainstream media and our culture in general just has a very polarizing view of health – either you do everything “right” or everything “wrong”; if you’re overweight, it doesn’t matter what else you do, etc. We come to the fatosphere with these preconceptions, and then there’s the HAES thinking that uses partially the same language, but means different things by it. It’s just hard to grasp at first. It took me a few months to really understand that it’s not against me somehow.

    I think HAES talk has given me a way to view health issues more safely, and has helped me feel that maybe I’m not that hugely unhealthy and eating soo badly and my whole health is ruined etc. I’ve become more health-tolerant because of this talk in this safe context. Even if I still do have issues with health ideals, I think I’m doing better because of FA and HAES. I also think it can open doors for fat people to do SOMETHING, instead of doing nothing. In that sense, HAES talk is important.

    But I do agree with peggynature that it shouldn’t be the main defense against fat hate.

  41. I came to the Fatosphere through HAES since I was disgusted by so many people that talked about exercise and eating healthy in only relationship to losing weight. I’m not fat. I’ve been heavier than I am now. My honey is fat and he tries to eat healthy and he doesn’t find time to exercise. I wanted to be somewhere people would talk about living a healthy life without the need to lose weight.

    I stay here and read the blogs because I agree with a lot that is being said. I think discrimination is wrong and fat is neither good or bad. Fat just is.

  42. I can see how those people, who admittedly do not follow a healthy diet or exercise regularly, might be put off on seeing other fat people promote this concept on a day-to-day basis. I’m not faulting anyone for working to smash the stereotypes – it’s a very much-needed component of the movement. But in doing so, we may also unconsciously distance ourselves from those people who are fat and do not feel they fit the mold of a “good” and “healthy” fattie. I know people who feel like those (myself included) who promote this concept are trying to distance themselves from those other fatties and the stigma of gluttony itself.

    What Rachel wrote earlier fits pretty much with my observations. I never have seen anybody in the movement say that they think only “good fatties” deserve acceptance. But I have seen plenty of comments that said things along the lines of how the respective person eats far less than 2000 kcal per day or how he or she cannot possibly finish I whole whatever. Same goes for exercise.
    I know that saying you eat “healthy” and exercise is not the same as judging people who don’t eat/ exercise like you do or thinking they don’t deserve to be treated well. But it does seem a bit like dissociating yourself from those people or at least like justifying your fatness (i.e., making sure everyone knows it is not your fault). Every time that happens it does make me feel uncomfortable – mainly because on the days when I have come closest to eating intuitvely I did eat more than 2000 kcal (not a multiple of it, but more) – and I do usually feel like a “bad fatty” in those moments. I have understood over time that those comments are not comments on how I should behave, but honestly, it is hard to not apply them to what I do. It is a bit like looking at a very beautiful and thin woman make disparaging remarks about her body and then wonder what she thinks about me who is not particularly beautiful and most certainly not thin.
    On the other hand, I myself have at times underlined that I am a vegetarian and that I walk and bike plenty (due to not owning a car) – usually conveniently forgetting to mention that I am also a binge eater who eats more than the average person even when she doesn’t binge. I did it mostly to provide a counter-example to the stereotype of a fat person, or at least I hope so. But I think there was also always a motive of self-justification. The funny thing is that after all I know about stereotypes it doesn’t seem a good strategy to provide an extreme example that does not fit the stereotype – people tend to remember those extreme examples as exceptions.
    that do not really represent the group. Going with a

  43. What if someone feels that poor health is a moral failing, but does so without any regard to weight whatsoever? Is that consistent with “fat acceptance”, even if it’s not what the majority of fat acceptance activists personally believe?

  44. I have heard troll comments about bad/good fatties not relating to food and exercise stereotypes, but clothing sizes.

    I’m a size 26/28. Many fatphobes have this impression those size 22 and up are REALLY bad fat people because we have to wear some of the biggest clothing sizes. We are labeled “morbidly obese” by the medical community and we are walking masses of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and bad cholesterol. News reports say WLS is our only option to look acceptable and get rid of health conditions they assume we have.

    They can keep on spouting those tiresome stereotypes. I move and do what I need to do to keep myself healthy as best I can—both physically and mentally.

  45. And honestly, you know what? When Kate posted the magazine BMI Project call for submissions, I was tempted to fill out the question that said “Tell us why you’re healthy!” with, “Because I said so.”

    Alice — I’m curious how poor health could be a moral failing? I tend to disagree, but I’d be interested to hear what you’re driving at.

    At school, I’ve done a lot of talking about definitions of health, and it is not as black or white an issue as it might seem. I tend to believe people can be considered ‘healthy’ if they can cope with whatever life throws their way and still enjoy a meaningful existence (‘meaningful’ as defined by the individual, of course.) But that’s just me.

  46. Alice, personally I don’t think it’s consistent with fat acceptance, because it’s not accepting and assigns a moral value to your health. Both of these things are, to me, at the heart of fat acceptance. But others might disagree.

  47. peggynature: Alice — I’m curious how poor health could be a moral failing? I tend to disagree, but I’d be interested to hear what you’re driving at.

    The position is one I’m iffy on myself, but I have heard it expressed before, mainly in regards to health care. It requires a somewhat collectivist mindset, as it uses such arguments as that avoidable consumption of health care harms other users of the health care system since the personnel required, particularly nurses at present, are a scare resource: in a socialist system, the victims are those at low triage who will have their treatment delayed by the bureaucracy, and in a capitalist system the victims are the lower class, since increased demand raises the price of health care.

    There is also the Homo Universalis philosophy which declares that people should try to embrace all knowledge and develop their own capacities as fully as possible in all fields, which includes physical fitness, but that ideal hasn’t really been popular since the Renaissance.

  48. Me:But unfortunately, at this point in time, “But I DON’T stuff my face with donuts and I’m still fat” is a better opening shiv in the war against the haters than, “So WHAT if I stuff my face with donuts, is it any of your business?”

    Fu:I dunno. In the end I have to nix both, because from what I’ve seen, both answers get ugly as hell. Basically either way you’re playing defense.

    Yes, if we stop there. I’m certainly not about to hold MY “lifestyle” up as perfect and vice-free (I ate plenty of fried Chinese food for lunch today with WHITE RICE and liked it, thank you), and nobody should have to in order to be treated like a decent human being. (I’ve seen plenty of thin people eating the exact same lunch I had, and I bet most of them didn’t spend all afternoon in the gym, either.)

    But you know, it’s bloody hilarious that we’re even having this discussion, in a way, because it’s absolutely beyond the pale to most people. “Healthy fat people? There’s no such thing! That’s like being a healthy crackhead!” People’s perceptions desperately need fucking with, every chance we get. I want to fuck with ALL of them eventually, including the very notion of “healthy lifestyle,” because frankly, I doubt there’s really any such thing that’s true across the board for everyone (other than maybe being a crackhead or tweaker being pretty universally bad for you and everyone who has to deal with you), and there is layer upon layer upon layer of hypocrisy out there about it (e.g. we’re supposed to look down on smokers yet our economy is umbilically dependent upon people all over the world smoking lots of cigarettes, or at least buying them).

    But you gotta start somewhere. Not responding to the donut-stuffing accusation is a little like John Kerry not responding to being Swiftboated — you can’t blame him for not wanting to stoop to that level, but look what it cost him.

  49. Alice: Define “poor health,” please. And when you attempt to do so, bear in mind that the longer you live, the greater your chances of getting Really Fucking Sick (TM). And also bear in mind that there is no “magic lifestyle” that will prevent or reverse getting RFS. I have at least one friend who did everything “right” and got RFS way before her time. Total control over “health” is as illusory as total control over weight.

  50. You know, I had a health scare recently (I’m fine) and I was really beating my self up for what I’d done wrong. It got me thinking – there so much moralizing of health out there, that people interepret even a self-esteem message like HAES as if “I do this right, everything will be ok.” But, of course, you can love your body, and treat it right, by whatever definition, and sometimes it repays you by getting sick. And, it’s totally understandable why we don’t like to think about this, ’cause it just sucks.

  51. Alice: Define “poor health,” please. And when you attempt to do so, bear in mind that the longer you live, the greater your chances of getting Really Fucking Sick (TM).

    When I spoke to the producer of The Morning Show, she told me that one of M*M* Wrath’s talking points is that it is socially irresponsible to lead a healthy lifestyle (a.k.a. get fat) and then expect others to pick up your health care tab. I explained to the producer how the use of tanning beds has been linked to skin cancer, how eating red meat has been linked to stomach cancers, and how the simple fact of driving a car increases our risk of being in an auto accident and yet we don’t deny any of these people health care.

    The producer mulled this over and then said, “Yeah, and what if M*M* blows out her knee while exercising?”

    There are things we can do to improve our health, but they are precautions, not guarantees.

  52. I suppose the best, ends-based definition for the aforementioned health-care use reduction goal would be, “not pursuing behaviors known beyond reasonable doubt to cause reduced risk of serious illness, within reason.” What those behaviors are is a matter of continued scientific debate, and what is within reason is a matter of personal judgment, but eh, that’s life.

  53. It’s interesting that you should mention this. I’m more familiar with disability rights and social perceptions of the disabled than I am about fat issues. I’ve found that the public face of any disability is almost invariably not representative–aside from fitting the social beauty norm better than your average person, they’re usually also among the highest-functioning people with that specific disability. It frustrates me at times, because the public may get one idea of what, say, a person with fibro looks like/can do which may not match up with the reality most patients face. Of course, representations can vary. The recent commercial for Lyrica (first drug ever approved for fibro) shows an extremly lucky, healthy fibro pateint, who is played by an actress. The National Fibromyalgia Assocaition’s PSA is a bit more real, the patients are more diverse, more normal looking and are more candid about their limitations.

    Pardon me if this isn’t terribly coherent; I’m in the midst of midterms and rather brainfried.

  54. This discussion seems ironic to me because it was through Shapely Prose that I first realized I could remove the moral judgment from food.

    I had a mousse cake today. It was delicious. It wasn’t a “treat” or a “I shouldn’t but I’ve been so good lately” or a “I’ll just work out harder later” or “I’ll eat a salad tomorrow”. It was a mousse cake.

    I’m an adult. I wanted mousse cake after lunch. I ordered it. I ate it. I enjoyed it. I have no reason to feel guilty. There is no moral dimension to my food.

    I now eat what my body tells me I want to eat. Sometimes that is salad. Sometimes it is a quiche and soup followed by mousse cake. Sometimes it is lasagna and garlic bread. No thought of “empty calories”, no thoughts off “bad fatty”.

    I have permission to eat what I want. I have permission to move and exercise as much or as little as I want. I have permission to go out and get a coat that fits (rather than hold out hope that I can lose enough weight to fit into my old one). Who gave me permission? Myself. I’m finally learning to listen to myself and like myself enough to treat myself well.

    A long road helped by Shapely Prose and a few other FA blogs.

    I’ve never seen “good fatty” or “bad fatty”–in the Fatosphere it is “good people” who deserve to be treated as such–all of us, regardless of any behaviors or any health issues. We’re people, We’re fat, and We deserve to be treated like anyone else! We deserve to love ourselves! We deserve to eat and exercise as much or as little as we want without being judged by others.

  55. Well, anyway, I’m not here to argue the point that poor health is a mental failing. It was an idle thought on the fact that someone with no concern whatsoever for social justice or people’s self-esteem and body image could still come to this sight, see the research on how fat is not, in itself, unhealthy, and thing to themselves, “Hmm, this is something that people should be aware of.”

  56. Meowser, yeah I think mine was a bad response to what you’d written. And also – just because it had been on my mind – I was thinking about a very specific scenario (basically when you’re directly interrogated about *your* habits) where responding to it at face value is a big awful mistake

    But yeah, you’re right, in other situations undermining the stereotypes is not only unavoidable it’s a damn good thing and I didn’t mean to say that you should *never* respond to it. Hell, whatever ammunition you’ve got, throw at it. But responding to the questions and accusations without also (and preferably first) attacking them and the frame is just not all that effective. I like your swiftboating analogy. But I’m not advocating no response. I’m comparing a “no, I never stopped beating my wife” response vs. a “what’s wrong with you for asking that question?” response.

  57. I don’t know the experience of others, but my experience has been for the last fifteen years I’ve been introducing myself to people, and when they ask me if I’m trying to lose weight (or if I’m really going to order desert, or whatever) asking them if they have any health issues. When they say yes, because most people do have health issues) I responded with “Yeah, other than allergies I’m healthy, so I’m going to have dessert, how about you?”

    Now, I’d NEVER say this to a fellow fatty, ever! But I’ve never had a fat friend ask me if I was really going to eat something or asked in that snarky way if I was thinking about losing weight.

    It became my programmed mantra for “leave me the fuck alone, you fat haters!” It was my “out” – so now I find that even though I do not judge other fat people myself, that by using health as my reason for not having to explain myself as a copout and detriment to others being discriminated against.

    I’m feeding into the stereotype by showing them and telling them I’m an exception to the rule, thus reinforcing that person’s belief there IS a rule.

    I kinda feel like crap about the whole thing. But what the hell was I supposed to do? I mean, it was like grabbing a lifeboat in a storm that’s sinking a ship – I didn’t know there was a FA movement – I thought it was every fatty for him/herself!

    So my apologies, but I haven’t blogged about it, so at least I didn’t contribute to any bad fatty mojo on the Internet :)

  58. To expand on that, the health thing might not even come into play. Someone could see the research and decide that it is wrong for the current misinformation to be spread, for no other reason than that it is misinformation, and on that basis alone conclude that fat acceptance is a noble and worthwhile cause.

    The whole line of thought was started earlier in regards to feminism, and plays to a much more general question of, “To what extent should causes consider people members who have the same goals but wildly divergent motivations?”

  59. By the way, as someone who is, as Meowser put it, “really fucking sick” I’m glad to see people talking about the notion that health is something entirely under our control. I’ve seen many people who cling with near-religiosity to the idea that if we do everything “right” than illness, aging and infirmity will never happen to us. I’ve even seen some people who insist that science is continuing to refine what this “right” living is, and that as technology advances, we will have increasing control over every aspect of our bodies. While this is true to a certain extent, I highly doubt that this idea of total self-control will become feasible any time soon.

    Of course, my most debilitating chronic condition happened in a near-random, almost uncontrolable way. I’m sensitive to this stuff. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent getting sick, and hearing people insist otherwise drives me batty.

  60. I’ve just come off of a somewhat depressing trip, I’m overly tired, and I’m strung out by a woman-hate-fest on a blog where I didn’t expect it to be, so maybe I’m a little oversensitive right now, but I read this and it just makes me sad and tired. WHO ON EARTH has so much time and energy to stick their nose into other people’s business as to care about good fat/bad fat? I can barely keep my own head above water, much less obsess about every fat person I see and whether or not they’re healthy ‘enough’, whatever that means. I know it’s just business as usual in the world, but every now and then I get a glimpse of it like it’s new and different and I think holy shit, why take all of the effort to hate not just on fat people, but to decide which fat people in particular to hate on based on finding out every aspect of their lives? Why do people care so much about who to despise? Why does society convince us we ought to care? It’s so damned depressing.

    Shakes has a feminist silver teaspoon to represent small steps against the sea of stupidity, maybe the FA equivalent should be the Shapely silver ice-cream scoop.
    (wan half-smile)

  61. Okay, I just want to throw something out here. I can’t speak for anyone else, but as a salad-loving, bacon-hating, forget-to-eat, yoga-doing, non-car-owning, stereotype-busting fat person, I just want to say that I spend most of my life being disbelieved. When I rave about growing my own greens and loving how I can pick dinner off the back porch, people often assume I am lying (’cause how could I really eat salad for dinner and then weigh more than 300 pounds?!?!). There are very few places I can talk about what I eat and how I move where I’m not automatically categorized as full of shit.

    Which, for me, is what’s so refreshing about Shapely Prose (and various other fatospherian blogs, too!). It’s nice to be able to compare and contrast these kinds of experiences – and be taken at face value. That’s a rare thing in my experience.

    Maybe that’s why there’s so much “I ate a salad and then did some yoga” going on. Maybe it’s nice to have that conversation in a morally neutral zone where nobody’s assumed to be blowing smoke. Maybe it’s not about preaching HAES or busting stereotypes, so much as not being thought a liar?

  62. Yes, Tari, and I think that is great.! Again, I want to truly emphasize, Good for the HAES folks. I am really happy there are fat people out there who can do it, when I have to point out to people I know and love who say things like: There are no fat vegans. I don’t even eat vegetables. It’s an ED thing. So there’s no way I will ever be a fat vegan!

    I also want to say that this good fatty/bad fatty is a meme I’ve recently run into starting last week. I personally am new to FA as a political out-loud and proud movement. Not new to the concept, but new to actually speaking out about it. Because it is newish to me, I am going to react, talk about it, and state what I need to state about it as I come across concepts and ideas, which is going to be true of every movement out there as new people join the ranks. Nothing personal is/was meant by it. I don’t care what HAES folks eat, I don’t care what not HAES folks eat. I don’t care what Colonal Sanders eats. I think everybody, even Colonel Sanders, deserves repect and dignity.

    And about the pictures in the magazine that people were upset about/and the concept of bad health/good health. I would have submitted a picture; that claim about health didn’t even resonate w/ me, because WHO determines health anyway? This country’s health care system is bullshit, and the magazines that think they can talk about what is healthy and not are the same magazines produced by the same publishers that promote all the other bullshit dieting and exercise crap that we all have said is ineffective and leads to more weight gain. And all of those publishers are in bed with the pharmaceutical companies and medical industry anyway. So who are they to even ask what health is? You can see I have strong opinions about the health care system.

    For as crappy as my health can be, in terms of digestion, migraine, etc, I actually don’t consider myself unhealthy. What is “unhealth?” I am able bodied in all capacities. I am in no imminent danger of Type 2 diabetes, Heart Disease, or any other “fat” disease.

  63. Maybe that’s why there’s so much “I ate a salad and then did some yoga” going on. Maybe it’s nice to have that conversation in a morally neutral zone where nobody’s assumed to be blowing smoke. Maybe it’s not about preaching HAES or busting stereotypes, so much as not being thought a liar?

    YES YES YES.

  64. Our worth as people shouldn’t be determined on what we eat or if we exercise. The only person you need to justify those activities to is yourself.

  65. Maybe that’s why there’s so much “I ate a salad and then did some yoga” going on.

    It’s also nice to have a space to share the myriad of ways in which you’ve learned to really connect to your body. This, for many people, is a New Thing. Were taught from birth to be disconnected from our bodies, to deny ourselves the foods we want, to repress and hide our sexuality, to measure our self-worth by the numbers on the scale. So, when you finally connect with yourself – holistically, spiritually, mentally and physically – it can be pretty damn exciting and I completely understand the need to blog about it from the rooftops.

    And I also think that, for some people, eating healthier foods and taking care of their bodies goes hand-in-hand with increased self-esteem and personal autonomy. When you begin to love yourself and respect and appreciate your body, regardless of its size, you also begin to treat it better, to nourish it as the beautiful, supportive, incredible body that it is, instead of something hideous to be whittled, subdued, overpowered and controlled. In short, you begin to inhabit your body, instead of fighting it. So, this be yet another reason so many FA bloggers rave about their healthy lifestyles. To them, it’s a sign of personal accomplishment and political success – not an intentional and willful attempt to make others not as advanced in their own journeys feel bad about themselves.

  66. The FA movement, and specifically this blog, have done so much for me. I’m seriously a much more confidant and secure individual because of you guys.

    But I still do feel bad sometimes when the whole “salad and yoga” bit comes up. I think I’ve really had to work on defining what fat acceptance means for me personally. I know this isn’t the case, but sometimes it seems to me like eating “good” foods and exercising is the goal of HAES/intuitive eating. I KNOW it isn’t, but I often have to consciously remind myself that it isn’t. And that no matter what eating happily or moving happily is to some of my fellow fatties, what matters most in my life is what it means to me. Personally, I think this is where a lot of my personal “bad fatty” thinking starts to play in – I start trying to define myself by other peoples terms. And I know this isn’t what it’s about, but I do think it’s important to try to address these issues from many angles.

    If that makes any sense. I don’t think anyone ever really says that there are bad fatties, but I totally understand how some can feel like it’s implied, even when it is truly not the case.

  67. I can’t speak to the blogosphere, but I really despise the good fatty vs. bad fatty thing in real life. Because I am athletic, I am the token OK fatty for a number of otherwise fatphobic people in my environment. I have taken and will continue to take them to task whenever a “but you’re different, I know you (go to the gym/skate hard/go outside)” disclaimer is uttered…but I will admit that I have used the “you can’t tell by looking that other fat people aren’t *just like me*” argument on recalcitrant fatphobes (rather than pressing the point that the “correctness” of the fat person’s habits are simply none of their business).

  68. * I am personally of the opinion that a lot of people react to HAES-based conversations with defensiveness born of insecurity tied to the ongoing process of strangling off the internalized blame with which society has trained fatties to equip themselves. I think the closer people get to silencing that interior critic, the less fear there will be that HAES is the new skinny.

    This is more like my take on it. If you insist on believing in good v bad food and you are still eating food that you see as bad then you are hurting yourself other people seem to be attacking you when they aren’t. We are all having some trouble with the true costs of internalised fat hatred, we are so unused to actually counting the cost, so used to just ploughing on regardless that it can become hard to see that these seemingly small things, can have such a bad effect.

    I’m glad that us fatties have such different styles and ways of eating, that is the point, we are no different to those of other weights.

  69. To them, it’s a sign of personal accomplishment and political success – not an intentional and willful attempt to make others not as advanced in their own journeys feel bad about themselves.

    I might be misinterpreting you here – but I do have a problem with the idea that people who don’t live the way you describe are not as advanced in their journeys. You cannot really tell how far along a person is on their journey because not everyone’s journey is the same and, moreover, our journeys are hardly ever linear.

  70. Sorry to those of you who have been through ‘this retread conversation’ over and over, but many of us are BRAND NEW to the FA thing. I think it’s an important and useful conversation to have.

    Because I’ve been fighting an inner battle over the GF/BF idea ever since I discovered Shapely Prose. I’ve got 16 or so years of life behind me since I realized I was fat at age ~10, and less than 3 months of life since discovering SP and the Fatosphere in general. I spent years hating myself for not being able to follow diet ‘tips’ like the beinggirl garbage. I’m sure my story is typical of many, many fat people, so I don’t need to go into detail.

    I’ve found that even when I try to eat intuitively and de-criminalize food, I still catch myself justifying and excusing every ‘bad’ food I eat. Meaning everything that’s not a raw vegetable or boiled chicken, basically. It’s a long road, and some of us are further along than others. Some of us are still looking at the map and wondering which way to go.

    What Rachel says rings true for me: I can see how those people, who admittedly do not follow a healthy diet or exercise regularly, might be put off on seeing other fat people promote this concept on a day-to-day basis … But in doing so, we may also unconsciously distance ourselves from those people who are fat and do not feel they fit the mold of a “good” and “healthy” fattie.

    I’m one of those theoretical fat people who feels this sometimes. As of 6 months ago, I ate mostly crap, rarely exercised, I weighed over 300lbs and I’m wasn’t busting any stereotypes. Thanks to SP and other FA bloggers I’m doing much better now, but it’s SO HARD to stop comparing myself to the people around me. I eat better these days, work out a lot, and am doing my best to learn to play a challenging and aggressive sport (roller derby!) But I still feel like an outsider, and this has more to do with me than the people I feel ‘outside’ of. I’m the fattest and least fit of the group of incredibly athletic women I’m training with. From an objective standpoint, I probably eat no more than most of them and train just as hard, but my inner demon still whispers things like “You must still be eating too much and being lazy, because if you weren’t you’d get thin like them!”

    This is long and rambley because I have a lot of thoughts going on at once. My point is that I don’t think anyone in the fatosphere is saying there is such a thing good and bad fatties. I don’t. I owe a lot of my health and happiness to the FA movement. I think the idea is internal, meaning inside each of us is a little voice that will always say “You’re not good enough. You’re not trying hard enough. You’re the exception.” But in the end nobody is saying that but my little inner demon, and the reason I read SP is because it helps me shut the little fucker up.

  71. I might be misinterpreting you here – but I do have a problem with the idea that people who don’t live the way you describe are not as advanced in their journeys. You cannot really tell how far along a person is on their journey because not everyone’s journey is the same and, moreover, our journeys are hardly ever linear.

    You are misinterpreting me, but I understand the call-out. I posted this late last night and didn’t have time to politically correct-check my post, and I figured someone would call me out on something I wrote.

    I think it goes back to what Tari wrote:

    I am personally of the opinion that a lot of people react to HAES-based conversations with defensiveness born of insecurity tied to the ongoing process of strangling off the internalized blame with which society has trained fatties to equip themselves.

    Why does someone posting on their own personal corner of the web about learning to connect with their bodies intimidate you? (Not *you*, per se Queendom, but for any reader who does feel judged or intimidated) . If you are confident in yourself and in your dietary choices, regardless if they are healthy or unhealthy, someone writing about their own personal food choices and the ways in which they relate to their bodies should not make you feel defensive, inadequate, or inferior. If it does, then I suggest perhaps one isn’t as secure in your choices and beliefs as one professes. This is what I mean by “not as advanced in their journeys.”

  72. Meghan, have you read this post? Your comment reminded me of it, specifically this part: I’ve found that even when I try to eat intuitively and de-criminalize food, I still catch myself justifying and excusing every ‘bad’ food I eat. Meaning everything that’s not a raw vegetable or boiled chicken, basically

  73. I think “good fattie” and “bad fattie” are by far most widely present in the public perception of fat acceptance, much less so in the fatosphere or other fat-acceptance communities. I haven’t seen it here in SP, I _have_ seen it in some supposedly FA books (like Laura Fraser’s Losing It). AND I also agree with people up-thread who suggested that good/bad fattie notions within fat/size acceptance are traces left over from society’s notion of good/bad. So I try to avoid that false dichotomy whenever possible in my actions and conversations on the subject. (I don’t have a 100% success rate on that, and perhaps never will, but it gets easier.)

    Unfortunately, there are lots of traits that feed into categorizing someone as a good fattie/bad fattie. And the more closely you fall to dominant cultural ideals in your traits, the more our culture would consider you a good fattie (and the more likely you’ll get picked up by the mainstream culture as a good fattie):

    - for women, hourglass figure equals good fattie, with apple figures being bad fatties (all that abdominal fat, right? So bad for teh diabeetus!)
    - in a LTR? Good fattie (see, someone loves her!) not in an LTR? bad fattie (lonely OR slutty. Um. What? You get it coming and going on this one).
    - walk everywhere? Good fattie. Drive that car? Bad fattie (and look at the size of your carbon footprint! Gawd, it’s HUGE!)

    There are others, but they have at least two things in common:

    - in our collective conscious, they are perceived as binary, but in actual fact there are an infinite number of variations along the different spectra.
    - there is variation on these spectra among people of all sizes. You can have skinny apples (well, women whose waist to hip ratio approaches one) and you can have fattie folks who walk everywhere.

    I don’t think that HAES is a good/bad model, though, and I would hate for people to think of it that way. I recently took an online survey about HAES, and was surprised at the actions and attitudes that fell into HAES as possible choices. There is LOTS of room.

    Personally, I have PCOS and some digestive stuff at work, so no, not ever going to be totally healthy, but I do what I can to feel good, and that’s HAES. Some days that is dancing my ass off with the company, other days that’s sleeping in and eating a big bowl of buttery popcorn in the afternoon. It’s all good.

    Today may be a popcorn day.

  74. SM, yes! Thanks though, it’s a good one to re-read. I need that sort of constant reminder of the positive messages, since the negative ones are still what my brain defaults to when I’m not paying attention.

  75. I might be misinterpreting you here – but I do have a problem with the idea that people who don’t live the way you describe are not as advanced in their journeys. You cannot really tell how far along a person is on their journey because not everyone’s journey is the same and, moreover, our journeys are hardly ever linear.

    I completely agree. I don’t think it’s about a single journey that we’re all on, and I don’t see HAES in terms of personal accomplishments.

    If you are confident in yourself and in your dietary choices, regardless if they are healthy or unhealthy, someone writing about their own personal food choices and the ways in which they relate to their bodies should not make you feel defensive, inadequate, or inferior. If it does, then I suggest perhaps one isn’t as secure in your choices and beliefs as one professes. This is what I mean by “not as advanced in their journeys.”

    Rachel, I think the point is that a lot of people are NOT confident in themselves or their dietary choices, and that’s part of how they end up here. I get what you’re saying — no one can make you feel inferior without your permission — but you know, that philosophy is a lot easier said than lived. It takes time to build up the necessary confidence.

    So I think there needs to be a balance. We all need to take responsibility for examining whether our feelings of persecution are actually related to external factors or just manifestations of our own insecurity. But I also don’t think it’s helpful to say to a person who IS struggling with self-confidence — and IS struggling with feeling that her dietary choices are “bad” (which we’ve all done — and deciding to eliminate “good” and “bad” food categories is only the first step toward actually internalizing the belief that they shouldn’t exist) — “Well, if you’re confident in yourself and your food choices, you shouldn’t feel judged by me.” Come ON. Obviously (and literally, in this post), I’m the first to say, hey, don’t assume there’s judgment where there is none. But I don’t think people need to be fucking shamed for internalized fatphobia.

  76. It just occurred to me how closely the GF/BF idea relates to the good dieter/bad dieter idea. I’m thinking specifically of Kate’s post here.

    The message is constant and unrelenting: “If you’re not losing weight, you’re doing it wrong.” So the whole good/bad fattie idea is pointless – by those rules, we’re ALL doing it wrong.

  77. To add my perspective to what Rachel said, I think part of the reason there’s so much focus on healthy eating and excercise here is because the authors and commenters on this blog have discovered: “Wow! When I excercise to move my body instead of as an attempt to lose weight, it’s actually really fun! And makes me feel so, so good!” and: “When I eat a salad because I feel like eating a salad instead of as a substitute for what I really want, it tastes really good! And satisfies my body!” Which is such a huge realisation when you’ve spent your whole life dieting and seeing excercise as a chore and form of self-punishment. And when you have a huge audience who has also spent a lot of time dieting and self-punishing, you want to help them realise that too, so they can feel as good as you do.

  78. There’s a framework in transactional analysis psychotherapy that, when presented with rules, people tend to conform, rebel, or “redecide.” Reading through the comments here and at Lindsay’s, I kind of feel like this is a clash (well, mini-clash) between people who are rebelling and people who are redeciding.

    There’s a freedom that comes from totally rebelling against formerly internalized rules, in doing the total opposite of what you’re “supposed” to do, but in doing that you’re still controlled by the rule — all your actions are in reaction to it.

    But people can also “redecide” rules (I so hate made-up psychobabble jargon, I’m sorry, bear with me), which means you take what works from the original rule and throw out what doesn’t work and learn how to integrate the good parts without being ruled by the bad parts. HAES seems to me to be a redeciding of what health means, a way to jettison the “fat=death” message from mainstream ideas of health while still carrying on with the idea that taking care of ourselves is a good thing.

  79. I think the point is that a lot of people are NOT confident in themselves or their dietary choices, and that’s part of how they end up here.

    As I’ve posted before, I understand how those who promote HAES may serve to unconsciously alienate themselves from those who do not. But I refuse to feel guilty or personally at fault should someone come to my blog – where I actively and wholeheartedly support HAES – and feel personally offended or attacked by my promotion of the approach, just as I do not care if dieters are personally offended by my anti-diet stance. I do not promote the concept of “good” and “bad” fatties and I do reiterate the Fat.Rights.Period mantra, but HAES is also part of my FA platform and will continue to be. I should not feel guilty and anxious and defensive that someone *might* feel shamed should they visit my blog, read a HAES-related post of mine, and interpret tit as a personal condemnation of them.

    I am not implying or advocating that we should not be sensitive to such feelings – I’ve repeatedly said that we all need to reevaluate the things that we write with consideration of how they will be received by readers. What I am saying is that we – as in bloggers who promote HAES – should not be pressured to diminish or eradicate our beliefs in and promotion of HAES. And yes, there have been calls for FA bloggers to remove the health component of FA activism entirely from the movement.

    The movement has enough girth (pun intended) to accommodate a wide range of perspectives and beliefs, from those who promote HAES to those who don’t.

    And I also think that there exists some gross misconceptions of HAES, owing to perhaps a familiarity with dieting by many in the movement, as well as a conflation of health with moralism. And fat people have long heard the “Fat is unhealthy!” ethos, so that any talk of “health” is tainted by such rhetoric for some. Good health does not mean you’re a “good” or better person, just as “poor” health does not mean you are financially (and morally) destitute. We really need to separate the concept of good health from our own imposed moralistic connotations of the word.

  80. I still catch myself justifying and excusing every ‘bad’ food I eat. Meaning everything that’s not a raw vegetable or boiled chicken, basically.

    I don’t want to moralize food here….but boiled chicken doesn’t sound “good” to me. ;o)

    Seriously, here’s what I want to know: are folks really wanting fatties who practice intuitive eating or some form of exercise to shut the fuck up about it? Because I don’t see any other way to take away what I’m hearing is the perceived judgment that comes along with those conversations for some people.

    Personally, I want a Fat Rights Movement that makes space for fat people to share their experiences of joyful movement and eating well – experiences which I think mainstream (i.e., fat-hating) culture tries to deny fat people at every turn, either through active discrimination or sheer disbelief.

    Having access to opportunity to experience those things does not mean obligation to jump on the bandwagon, or negate any other opportunities….but equal opportunity to eat well and exercise are things I think fat people currently still have to fight for, right along healthcare and housing and fair employment and other kinds of access. Which is why I think those conversations are just as relevant and important to The Movement.

  81. I’m what I think a lot of people would think of as a “bad fattie”. I don’t exercise. I eat brownies for breakfast. That sort of thing. But I don’t feel put off by the HAES movement. What I’ve taken out of it is not “if you’re fat you can and ought to try to be as healthy as possible in spite of it” but “health is not dependent on dress size. Fat is not the enemy.” I *love* that.

    The good/bad fattie dichotomy has been around for a long time, I think. There’s been a recent surge of the topic because, well, everything within a grouping of people is going to go in trends. Tomorrow it’ll be something else everybody’s talking about. And then eventually we’ll come back around to good/bad fatties again. Even if fat were to become normalized, I’d expect that we’d still see it, because there’s a wider good/bad paradigm out there, way beyond the fat issue.

  82. I have a question for everyone.

    I’m very new to the FA movement; been reading the blogs for around a year and came to the HAES idea via Sandy’s JFS blog. So bear with me if this question is out of line for some reason.

    What if…it turns out that the reason people are fat is because of some as yet undocumented metabolic disorder that causes fat cells to reach out and grab and store fat, no matter what one eats or how much one works out… If none of our behavior made any real difference, how would that change the FA movement? Would it?

  83. If none of our behavior made any real difference, how would that change the FA movement? Would it?

    I don’t think it would. Fat people are still, like, people. Deserving of rights and all, regardless of behavior.

  84. Also, I think the jury’s still out on whether our behavior makes much difference, anyway, right now, even without the “undocumented metabolic disorder” you mention.

  85. It will probably come as no surprise that I agree with what queendom and Em said upthread; I think in the fatosphere there is some occasional promotion of “good fatty” behaviors that can create division or bad feelings even though that is not the intent. Although 1) I want to give you guys credit for working so hard to keep the good fatty/bad fatty division from entering the discussion, because I know it must be very difficult to moderate, and 2) I will say that Tari’s explanation of why descriptions of “healthy” behaviors come up so often is very interesting and convincing. Put that way, I am so glad that there is a safe space for fat people to just be happy about their HAES journey, and to progress together.

    However, bottom line, I so appreciate the lines of discussion being opened on this topic (sometimes I feel like in reinforcing that there is no such thing as “good fatty/bad fatty”–and I do believe that you guys really strive to avoid divisions like this–we end up dismissing the concerns of people who feel like some behaviors and lifestyles are valued over others) and all the reinforcement here that this is a movement about human rights. HAES is a component of it but it’s not the movement.

    OK, now my stream of consciousness on what might help and what I think the risks include. I could be totally off base, but here goes.

    Here’s a simplistic recommendation from a person who happens to be a vigorous exerciser, but a hearty eater (so I guess I’m a “half good” fatty for all you trolls out there. And not the “good” half, either). :) For you light eaters, I would suggest that you refrain from commenting around me on how huge a given portion is or how you could “never eat that much,” even if you don’t really mean anything bad by it, and I think most people around here don’t. For my part I’ll check my nasty secret half-belief that you are still dieting or eating in a disordered way–a knee-jerk reaction that I am very ashamed of–just because you eat very little.

    As an example, a while back I unthinkingly made fun of my friend’s lunch, which consisted of a banana and a diet yogurt. Since she has recently dieted and lost a lot of weight, it was clear to me that in describing it to me she was at least a small way seeking praise, as a woman, for subsisting on as little as possible, an understandable attitude in our society which I find disgusting and resent having pushed on us. Where I failed to understand the issue properly was that I labeled the amount of food, objectively, as absurd, and Fillyjonk said “Hey, you know, that would actually be a pretty reasonable lunch for me.” I should have dropped the part where I assume everyone eats the same type of food, or same amount, as me, and kept my outrage about the real problem in this particular case, which is that my friend was likely eating sparsely because she was dieting, not because this is the amount her body truly needed at lunchtime.

    The following is like my “BMI Project,” because I have never been too scared of disclosing my weight, even at its highest, but I am terrified of people finding out how much I eat. So… I will tell you that based on data I have collected, I probably eat an average of like 2,600 calories a day of food that has a, I don’t know, “health level” I guess (meaning fruits and vegetables, etc.), that I am pretty satisfied with. And I really don’t think most fat and thin people eat that much less than this amount, despite our cultural programming that women should only eat 1,200-1,600–which on the low end is honestly not a lot of food, pretty much a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit for breakfast, Lean Cuisines for lunch and dinner, a glass of milk and a couple low-calorie snacks. Replace or augment any of the above with a scone or muffin, a decent-sized sandwich and some chips, a bowl of ice cream, a non-”skinny” Starbucks drink, a meal of a size that you would actually be satisfied with, or a couple of beers and you’re like irredeemably out of “good girl” and into “glutton” by those standards. So anyway, I am looking at like 1,700-2,300 during the week and maybe 2,500 to as much as 3,500 (or sometimes even more) on the weekends (when we tend to go out or eat big meals). Now, I don’t want to imply by any means that everyone should “admit” to what they eat, but for me personally it was important to get this out there because my shame about my caloric intake has been such a thorn in my side.

    Anyway, society, and honestly the fatosphere, tends to send subtle or not-so-subtle messages that this is crazy and no normal person eats this much. You will hear occasional admissions that 2,000 is a normal amount to eat, but that’s about as far as it goes. But actually, I really don’t think my diet is that unusual, if you remember that the very high amounts are less frequent (and if you look at the items on my “1,200-calorie-diet-busting list” and think about how you see thin people eating them, not to mention fast food, burgers and fries, etc. etc. all the time). For me, the shroud of secrecy surrounding how much people really eat (and the fact that online, it seems only people who are ill or eat 1,200 calories a day or less will ever cop to an amount) is sending out a falsely spartan message about how much we eat. Though our interactions within the fatosphere are almost certainly not the “reason” for this, they represent an attitude that may contribute to why people “on the outside” think there is such a thing as “good and bad fatties.” (Especially with Patsy’s historical perspective… apparently these are concepts that have existed in society and been struggled with for many years.)

    Let’s say you’re a judgmental, naturally thin person. You might think that clearly the fat people who are starting to pop up on TV or online who outline their Weight-Watchers-level-caloric-intake, salad-eating and exercise-rich lifestyles and respond to donut-stuffing accusations with sniffs of disgust and “I hate donuts! I haven’t had a donut in 20 years! And what kind of person could even eat more than one, much less stuff their faces!” are the “good fatties.” I mean, you have a donut in the office every Friday, so those women MUST really be kind of good, despite that troubling fat, if they never even have one! So maybe not ALL fatties are morally bereft gluttons, and that’s a new one on you. OK–the good ones can have health coverage as long as you’re not expected to date them. But that coworker who’s around 300 pounds–you know for a fact she’s not a good fatty, because she has a donut every week too and you’ve seen her bring a McDonald’s sack into the office once or twice (this is perhaps less than the frequency of your own fast food habit, but let’s conveniently shove that one aside because clearly, you’re not fat so you’re OK). And that fat lady in the grocery store–also “bad,” check, look at all those processed packaged foods which even those wacky fat rights people disdain, no sympathy for her! I mean, you like an occasional frozen burrito or pint of Ben & Jerry’s too, but you’re thin so that must mean you’re doing it right and enjoying them in moderation, but clearly that fat lady is not. Anyway, also, those contestants on The Biggest Loser–look how much they ate before–SUPER bad fatties–and how “good” they’re being now (If you even stopped to think about it, you’d be sure they couldn’t possibly have been encouraged by the producers to play up their unhealthy lifestyles “before” to enhance the redemption arc).

    People love to have ways of assigning everyone an “OK” or “not OK” box and unfortunately HAES–or what they think is meant by HAES, or the grudging gradual acceptance of “fat and fit” as a concept, which really means that to fly under the radar you have to actually eat way healthier and exercise way more than the average thin person–can be a convenient tool for them to use to do that. Like the host of the Fox morning show where Mo and Rachel appeared, who seemed totally stymied that now he would have no way of just looking at a person and deciding whether that person was healthy or unhealthy. As if that is a reasonable thing to feel you have the right to do in the first place.

    I’m exaggerating here but I do think that discussing nutrition is kind of a land mine, and as hard as Kate and the rest of you try to keep it value-neutral, there will be folks (often me, let’s be honest, since it is all about me) :) who feel as if their “less-than-perfect” lifestyle is being condemned. I do think keeping the main focus away from combating fat stereotypes, and on recognition of equal rights for everyone, is great. And really, Kate, that is what you do, though certain topics are going to cause this cyclical discussion to wax and wane. But I wouldn’t want to in any way stifle Tari’s and others’ ability to have great conversations about HAES either. It is a really thorny problem.

  86. For you light eaters, I would suggest that you refrain from commenting around me on how huge a given portion is or how you could “never eat that much,” even if you don’t really mean anything bad by it, and I think most people around here don’t. For my part I’ll check my nasty secret half-belief that you are still dieting or eating in a disordered way–a knee-jerk reaction that I am very ashamed of–just because you eat very little.

    FWIW, SCG, I might not eat that much at a sitting, or that much of any one thing at a time, but over the course of a day, or a week, I eat plenty. People of all sizes have different patterns. I mean, people seeing C. eat a meal, who knew nothing else of him, would probably go, “He doesn’t EAT ANYTHING! No wonder he’s thin!” Meanwhile, I (who live with him and buy most of the groceries) know he goes through tortilla chips and cookies like he’s building a house out of them.

  87. Tari, I think we’re largely in agreement here, which is why it’s weird that your last post makes me feel so defensive.

    OF COURSE there should be room for everyone to share their experiences, joyful and otherwise. I don’t advocate anyone shutting the fuck up about HAES or intuitive eating, as those things have really helped me feel better about what I eat / eat things that make me feel better.

    But there are still people (myself until recently included) who read all these great encouraging posts, and think “but I do eat fast food all the time, and I don’t exercise, and I do fit the stereotypes… I guess I don’t deserve respect like these smart and funny bloggers do.” I think we all need to be aware that there are folks who aren’t out there busting stereotypes and loving themselves the way they are, folks who still deserve our attention and respect.

  88. And incidentally, your calorie counts don’t sound ridiculous to me. My position is, you’re a grownup and you’re allowed, and plenty of thin people eat at least as much as you do, so fuck it. Also, nobody sticks with 1200 calories a day forever without some serious chemical or surgical assistance. It’s absurd that this is considered an “appropriate” calorie count for an adult woman because we’re all “supposed” to be tiny birdlike creatures (who somehow also come equipped with giant pneumatic world-feeding breasts) with tiny birdlike appetites, unless we have the rare hummingbird metabolism that would allow us to maintain that “ideal” figure eating like a man. Which is sexy. Unless we’re caught purging. Bleah.

  89. Stacy, the position of most FA and HAES advocates I’ve encountered is that healthy eating and excercising has little effect on fatness/weight. They consider that weight is genetically determined, and behaviours can only shift your weight 30 pounds at most (and for some people only 10 or 5 or none) from your genetically predetermined weight. (In the long run. Obviously, it’s possible to lose more weight than that in the short term, but it won’t be sustainable). HAES is promoted not because advocates believe it will cause weight loss, but because healthy eating, excercise, and treating your body with care and respect are healthy in and of themselves.

  90. Some of the talk about how little some eat and wanting to exercise is probably a response to the fear that we will sit on the couch eating baby donuts if we follow intuitive eating.

  91. I think we all need to be aware that there are folks who aren’t out there busting stereotypes and loving themselves the way they are, folks who still deserve our attention and respect.

    Am I coming across disrespectfully? I don’t mean to.

    And, spacedcowgirl, I have never counted a calorie in my life. Have no idea what my counts would be. I’m guessing, what with my occasional donut and cheeseburger and Ben & Jerry’s (the WHOLE pint sometimes!!!), it’s probably not 1200 freakin’ calories a day. Eating well, for me, doesn’t mean eating very little, or even only steamed veggies and brown rice….it means not obsessing over what I eat, eating based on my environmental values and what sounds good when I’m hungry. (Salad is on my radar right now because I’m itching for springtime and my garden!)

    I’m not some paragon. I make my own rules for what’s good for me and my body, and I guess *that’s* really what I consider HAES.

  92. Meanwhile, I (who live with him and buy most of the groceries) know he goes through tortilla chips and cookies like he’s building a house out of them.

    Hee hee. I love this visual.

    Thanks for your support (it did make me nervous to leave that hanging out there) and I know everything you said about how different people eat is right. I just have to believe it and move on from feeling guilty about it.

  93. Tari, hear hear on your description of HAES. I feel like sometimes that message gets lost (despite everyone’s best efforts) and the overall impression is you’re good if you love salad and hate packaged foods. I love this thread because it’s reinforcing some of that back-to-basics stuff. I know you guys feel like you have gone over this a million times, but there are always new folks, or folks like me who need to hear things different ways from time to time. And I appreciate the thoughtful discussion.

  94. Eating well, for me, doesn’t mean eating very little, or even only steamed veggies and brown rice….it means not obsessing over what I eat, eating based on my environmental values and what sounds good when I’m hungry.

    Word. And I don’t even factor in the environment all that much.

    SCG, fwiw, I don’t think 2600 calories sound high at all for a fat person (i.e., one with more body to fuel) who exercises a lot. And I have no idea how much I eat in a day, but I’m sure it’s well over 2000. I don’t focus on quanitity at all, b/c that’s the kind of thing that makes me nuts. I focus on what my body’s craving, and trying to respond to those cravings in a way that includes lots of different foods.

    One of the biggest challenges of intuitive eating for me has been learning to not let myself get too hungry, ’cause that’s when my body screams “EAT FAT” so loudly, I can’t hear any other messages it might be sending. And let me make it perfectly clear that I eat LOADS of fat, in lots of different forms, including fast food. The fat is not the problem — being so hungry I just want to eat the most filling thing possible, regardless of nutritional content, is the problem — because it drowns out the messages that I need protein or fiber or calcium or whatever else specifically. And the only way to avoid getting that hungry is, you know, to EAT. So I do a lot of that.

    I say that only to give you an example of how I’ve learned something about my own body, and how I try to honor that — which is what HAES is about, in my opinion. I don’t think that eating lots of small meals is the one-size-fits-all solution to achieving balance in one’s diet, but it works for me. And as far as I’m concerned, HAES is ALL about figuring out what works for you.

    FJ doesn’t eat much because she has a stomach that makes it hard for her to eat much. A banana and a low-fat yogurt would not be nearly enough for me for lunch, because my body’s different than hers. (Also, I oppose low-fat yogurt on principle.) If that was all I ate for lunch, I’d be dying for a Big Mac by mid-afternoon… but because I’m more likely to eat a sandwich, banana, and full-fat yogurt for lunch, then the afternoon craving might be for another piece of fruit or a granola bar, and then dinner’s pasta with sausage and veggies… who knows. I eat a lot of food, and a lot of food that would have horrified me when I was dieting. But it’s (almost) all based on genuine cravings, and there’s plenty of variety to it, so as far as I’m concerned, that’s healthy eating.

  95. OK, that t-shirt idea is excellent. I would spell it “SUPERBAD FATTY” and wear it running. ohboyohboy. I love it.

  96. Kate, boy do I hear you on the getting too hungry thing. It worked out fine, but just this morning I had the taste for something specific for lunch. I figured when I got hungry I would have it. Then time wore on and I’m still sitting in front of the computer and I’m starting to get too hungry and kind of cranky. Lo and behold the thing I wanted is replaced in my head with a desire for… ice cream. Which is high in fat. Duh. Anyway, I didn’t have the ice cream but the thing I originally wanted didn’t seem to sound good anymore either, I think because it is not a traditional “lunch” food and I was nervous it wouldn’t fill me up. So I defaulted to one of my boring normal lunches, which tasted fine, but if I had just eaten before I got way too hungry then my body’s signals wouldn’t have been clouded in that way.

    I hope it didn’t look like I was picking on FJ… that conversation was very enlightening to me in terms of how I judge what others eat (“Oh, she must be on a diet or else she’d be eating more”… dude, that’s unknowable unless I have more information than the amount) and I know there are various reasons why FJ doesn’t eat very much.

  97. I guess my former question wasn’t worded quite accurately.

    What I’m wondering is, if it were PROVEN that behavior has no bearing on a person’s weight, how would that change what FA says to people outside the movement? Would one still feel it necessary to point to pics of oneself biking?

    Note, I’m talking about FA, not HAES, which are two different concepts.

    It may seem obvious (or irrelevant). But for someone who’s relatively new to these boards, I notice a lot of emphasis on certain behaviors.

    (For example, intuitive eating. Is there science that shows intuitive eating is better than scheduled meals? No, it’s a lifestyle choice. Also, the whole fruits and veggie thing. The nurses health study showed no difference in health outcomes between those who ate fruits and vegetables regularly and those who didn’t. That type of eating is also a lifestyle choice.)

    So I do find myself thinking there is, indeed, some kind of justification going on here, to prove that there are fat people who are healthy. (Or who are at least “making an effort” to “treat themselves right” or what have you.)

    Problem is…this doesn’t PROVE anything. But it does create the good fatty/bad fatty thing.

    I’m of the opinion that, sure, it’s fine to say that some fat people are just as healthy as some thin people, yada, yada…

    But what would be ideal is if there was a pool of money to fund the science that will show definitively that a round person is round no matter what they weigh. Just like there are albinos who are genetically black.

    Then, whether I eat three meals a day of all animal foods, and you intuitively eat all veggies would be as irrelevant as whether a black albino eats all animal foods and a black non-albino eats all veggies.

    To be clear — I’m not suggesting that I need permission to unintuitively eat three meals a day full of animal food. What I AM suggesting is that if the idea is to promote Fat Acceptance, the health issues should be separated from the lifestyle issues.

    Because the lifestyle issues are irrelevant.

    What’s relevant is the SCIENCE. What we do know. What we need to know. Why the current thinking is bullshit. Why the current science is misinterpreted. What kind of studies are needed. That there is this theory that has never been disproven. Etc.

    These “healthy” behaviors are part of a lifestyle meme (one that I personally think is waning), and entertaining the population at large with displays of these behaviors is like trotting out the dancing bears for the skeptics. It isn’t the same as PROVING there is in fact HAES.

    The media has come calling. Gaining acceptance by showing that we follow the same lifestyle memes as thin people is playing into a false dichotomy.

    Are we just as healthy or not? Is it a disorder or not? The message should be the SCIENCE.

    (And I’m happy for you Kate, and good job getting the BMI project out there, but it would be great if there were some tried and true science-based experts that you could offer to the media along with you, conditionally. You get the BMI project if you also publish this study. Or hey, ladies mag — you have someone write a sidebar and I’ll provide some experts.)

  98. And I’m happy for you Kate, and good job getting the BMI project out there, but it would be great if there were some tried and true science-based experts that you could offer to the media along with you, conditionally. You get the BMI project if you also publish this study. Or hey, ladies mag — you have someone write a sidebar and I’ll provide some experts

    Yeah, it really, really doesn’t work like that.

    In fact, that’s kind of my general response to your comment.

  99. I don’t know what would prove that Intuitive Eating is any “better” than scheduled meals, though. I think proponents of it would say that it’s “better” simply inasmuch as it is probably the way our bodies evolved to operate. We have various biochemical mechanisms that tell us when we are hungry or full and it only makes sense, I guess, to act on those cues from one’s body. In that regard it doesn’t really matter if it’s “better” to eat intuitively (and “better” how?). It’s just… the way people are supposed to eat.

    I think those same HAES practitioners would agree about the dubious benefits of a plant-rich diet. That is, I think most of them espouse a varied diet made up of whatever foods your body happens to be craving, and most of us still seem to believe that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for you, but based on that study that Sandy wrote up it seems to me that you are absolutely correct that eating lots of fruits and vegetables, as an immovable tenet of HAES, may be more about societal conventions than any objective truth that you will be healthier if you do it.

    But the other stuff, eating what you want when you want it, I’m not sure anyone requires scientific “proof” that this is better. It’s considered healthier just because it makes sense considering we do have mechanisms to govern when to start and stop eating and (I think, but I’m not sure about this one) what to eat. I don’t know why these systems would have evolved if eating in accordance with them weren’t an effective way to get the nutrition you need to survive.

  100. What I’m wondering is, if it were PROVEN that behavior has no bearing on a person’s weight, how would that change what FA says to people outside the movement?

    Remidn me again how we prove a negative?

  101. What’s relevant is the SCIENCE. What we do know.

    And what we do know – science – is forever changing, disproven, reproven, debated, questioned and reasserted. The truth is, the science of nutrition and weight gain is still a relatively and historically new field, one in which no definitive answers can be claimed by any one group. Scarcely a week after the Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification Trial (not the nurse’s study – that’s Walter Willett’s baby) was released, another study came out claiming the exact opposite. While examining the financial backers of such studies, and questioning the variables and methods used, as well as the data produced is critical, we also cannot cherry pick only those studies we agree with, without seriously considering the merits and shortcomings of all studies.

    I’m also disturbed by the pervasive sense I feel that The Movement (TM) is some monolithic organization of which every member needs to be on the same page, and that if you go against the party line, you risk being revoked and stripped of your FA card-carrying privileges. Keep in mind folks: we don’t have to agree on every nuance of fat rights, as long as we agree on the foundational credo that all people deserve equal rights, period. This is the crucial thread circumscribing the entire diverse movement.

  102. Yeah, it really, really doesn’t work like that.

    WHAT?? KH, are you saying that this magazine didn’t decide that it absolutely MUST have the BMI project, or there would be four blank pages in the middle of the issue? They’d better be paying you $5000 a page, then. Minimum. Or they’re fucked.

  103. What I’m wondering is, if it were PROVEN that behavior has no bearing on a person’s weight, how would that change what FA says to people outside the movement?

    Well, it would depend how people reacted to the proof. But honestly, I’m not sure what kind of proof people would accept. There are already twin studies showing the heritability of weight is the same as that of height. There are already studies showing fat people on average don’t eat more than thin people. There are already studies showing that eating less slows down metabolism, and eating more speeds it up, suggesting a genetically determined set point weight that the body doesn’t like to move from. There are already studies showing anywhere from 65% to 98% of weight loss attempts fail, with the weight being regained in 2-5 years. If people won’t accept any of that as evidence, I’m not sure what kind of magic proof it would take to convince them.

    As for what is relevant and what isn’t, isn’t that all a matter of opinion? There are FA advocates who feel the science is irrelevant, and what’s important is that fat people deserve to be treated as human beings, regardless of why they’re fat and how healthy they are.

  104. The media has come calling. Gaining acceptance by showing that we follow the same lifestyle memes as thin people is playing into a false dichotomy.

    Why? If there’s no material difference between how thin and fat people eat as groups (not as individuals), why is it bad to say so? Look, if you want to have your own blog and redline all nutrition and fitness-speak, fine. But you seem to be demanding that all size-acceptance blogs do the same kind of redlining and refuse to discuss food and exercise with the media at all other than to proclaim that we love donuts and hate exercise because we work hard, or sleep hard, and it’s our right to eat donuts and skip the gym, goddamnit. Even if we don’t like donuts, we should pretend we do to have solidarity with our donut-loving brethren? How does that make any sense?

    Maybe it shouldn’t matter to people whether we eat buckets of fried chicken and wash them down with 2-liter bottles of Pepsi at every meal. It doesn’t matter to me, personally. I think people have a perfect right to eat like that if that makes them truly happy. I think people have a perfect right not to get any more exercise than it takes to walk to their cars. I think people have the right never to touch vegetables if they don’t care for them. I think people who do those things are just as “good” as I am, if not better in many ways. If I’m ever in a position to ever say something like that to a reporter I will, but that does not mean it will make it to print or air. They have scissors and red markers of their own, you know.

  105. Pingback: Timing « Zmama’s Balancing Act

  106. Yeah, I’m a journalist, so I know how it works.

    If someone was the subject of a story I was doing, and offered me sources, I would want those other sources as well. I would look into them, especially if I thought I was going to break the story, or take it in a direction beyond the conventional wisdom. “Advance the story,” is the terminology. It means “how do we cover what’s *next* about this story and goes beyond what others have reported so far.”

    Whet their appetite, so to speak. It is possible, believe me.

    Some clarifications —

    Spacedcowgirl, meowser and teri:
    I’m not in any way suggesting that there be a study about intuitive eating, or any other kind of eating (for the record, I think intuitive eating isn’t healthier than any other kind, and it isn’t how our bodies evolved to eat, but that’s beside the point).

    Rachel:
    apologies for using the dreaded “TM” word, but not sure I described any kind of monolith by doing so. What term is appropriate? I’m new to the fatosphere, which I understood to be a loose network of blogs educating folks about fat acceptance and HAES. Am I wrong? TM was just shorthand, but happy to adopt the appropriate terminology if you can fill me in on what it is. (I *don’t* think it means we need to be on the same page, which is why I felt okay using that term. I thought differences of opinion were a given.)

    Rachel and Teri (about the science):
    sure you don’t prove a negative. Again, shorthand. But the point remains that discrimination exists because people perceive fat as the result of a behavior problem. We know it isn’t.

    Meowser:
    You’ve taken my comment to mean things far, far beyond what I actually said. My suggestion wasn’t about whether we should or shouldn’t share lifestyle details with each other.

    Becky: thank you for your serious and thoughtful response. I think you are right.

    I raised the question because I think the way we answer it illustrates some of the good fatty/bad fatty observation Kate was asking about. Becky, your answer is the one I find the most helpful (rather than all the dismissive nitpicking about whether I should have asked it, my phrasing, etc.).

    When you say “well, it would depend on how people reacted to the proof…” and “I’m not sure what proof people would accept…” I believe you’ve nailed it, because while it seems like people are ignoring these studies, I think it’s that they don’t KNOW about them.

    I don’t think the info is really out there, in the general public and the mainstream press. Everyone is reading Self mag or Shape mag and thinking those little diet tips (which are mostly mis-information) are helping them be healthy. And the mainstream press currently continues to report the shoddy studies from press releases with the same weight as the more accurate studies, and that confuses people.

    Almost all of those contradictory studies are the result of a lot of really, really bad science. And the misreporting of that bad science by the untrained media, who want things to be easy for them, because, you know, “it’s time to pick up the kids from soccer practice so let’s meet that deadline.”

    “They have scissors and red markers of their own, you know.”

    Right, but like I said, I’m a journalist. I can’t cover this because I’m biased (heh). BUT. Other journalists aren’t just excising things because they’re biased in the other direction. It’s because they are lazy. The same way that Sandy’s blog and Gary’s book changed my mind, that could happen for other journalists (and will eventually, but why wait).

    I’m trying to tell you something here. The media WANTS things to be easy for them. So make it easy, but give them REAL information.

    If you keep putting the accurate information out there, information that goes beyond just our similar behavior, some one will pick up on it and follow it through. Then someone else will. Then someone else. Eventually, it hits the tipping point.

    The lifestyle issues may be fun to share, but they are not relevant to the FA movement because they are about behavior. People deserve respect regardless of their size, and regardless of their behavior. Showing that fat people behave like thin people when it comes to eating or working out seems to me to be a defensive request for a pat on the head. It’s easy for everyone concerned. We could do better. Change the meme.

    Sorry if it’s unpopular for me to say so. (It’s just my opinion, and hey, we’re all different, right?)

  107. Stacy, it sounds like you were converted to FA by seeing the science behind the whole fat thing, and think that would be the best way to convert others. But not everybody is of a scientific mind. For some people, reading the accounts of fat individuals who eat healthily and excercise may be more convincing than scientific studies. For others, it might be reading stories of fat discrimination and realising: “Nobody deserves to be treated like that, regardless of why they’re fat or if their fat is unhealthy for them”. Pushing the science message is good, but it’s not the only good thing we can do.

  108. It is possible, believe me.

    But depends heavily on which media outlet you’re dealing with. And since you don’t know who I’m dealing with, your advice might just be inappropriate.

    ETA, because your presumptions are irritating me more the more I think about it: you should ask Roni Rabin how much info I gave her, how many links I sent her, how many fat-positive scientists’ work I recommended, and how many conversations we had for what turned out to be a pretty short NYT article (which was the editor’s choice, not hers). Seriously, if you think giving a journalist lots of information to work with is going to lead to exactly the article either I or the journalist would like to see, you can’t have been in journalism for very long.

  109. People deserve respect regardless of their size, and regardless of their behavior. Showing that fat people behave like thin people when it comes to eating or working out seems to me to be a defensive request for a pat on the head. It’s easy for everyone concerned. We could do better. Change the meme.

    Stacy, this whole post is about how no one here is saying this, and the argument that “the movement” is dividing people into good and bad fatties is a strawman argument. Honest to god, it’s right there in the first paragraph:

    Did I miss something? ‘Cause there’s all this “good fatties/bad fatties” talk going on in the old ‘osphere right now, and I do think these conversations can be useful and important… but I’m just not sure where they came from. I don’t know of any fat blogger or fat acceptance activist who believes that only those who practice HAES deserve dignity, respect, and rights, or that deliberately focusing on your health (as a fat or thin person) makes you better than someone who doesn’t.

  110. Kate — apologies for irritating you, but I think you are taking my comments more personally than I meant them. I was talking in more general, at large terms, and originally felt I was chiming in with what was being discussed at the top of the thread. This goes to sweet machine, too…did it seem like I was disagreeing with the post? Because I wasn’t. I was adding my own perspective.

    I wouldn’t expect any article to be perfect, and each is just a drop in the bucket. And if 24 years as a journalist isn’t enough to know how it works, I don’t know what is.

    Again, I think Becky is right. I came at this from science, so it seemed to me others would as well.

  111. Good Fatty, Bad Fatty? Who the hells cares?

    Okay, I’ll come out here and say it: I pretty much dropped out of popular culture about fifteen to twenty years ago, and haven’t really looked back since. I don’t watch television (I can think of better things to do with the set, such as playing games), I don’t read the gossip magazines (why the heck should I be interested in faux-concerned articles about a bunch of people I don’t know and wouldn’t socialise with in the first place?), I listen to the radio for music (only in the car, which means very rarely at all) and I tend to spend the majority of my time either online or playing various computer or Playstation games.

    This means I’m avoiding a lot of toxic messages, which as far as I’m concerned is all to the good. I have chronic depression. I don’t *need* some nitwit telling me I’m supposed to be unhappy with myself because I’m fat – if I want to be miserable, all I have to do is stop taking the medication. The only time I really come into close contact with the way Society wants me to be is when I go shopping for clothes, at which point I become frustrated with the whole business of going into an otherwise pleasant clothes shop, and finding the only things in my size are the earrings. But hey, there’s a couple of specialist plus size shops in my town, one of which is even in my suburb (my preferred one is an hour’s drive away, but one can’t have everything).

    So yeah, I’m fat. I’m also short (both in height and temper) and going grey. I don’t exercise, I eat as and when I please (and it comes to one meal a day, due to the after-effects of years of dieting) and I don’t feel guilty about the packet of Tim-Tams in the fridge, or the Mint Slices in the cupboard. I couldn’t tell you the calorie count of anything in the house – and I’m proud of it. I have one life to live, which is this life, and I’m not going to spend my time putting myself through hell and purgatory just because some twit with a tape measure thinks I’m the wrong shape. Be buggered to them.

    If someone asks me how much I weigh, I can’t tell them. I haven’t weighed myself in years, and I don’t own a set of scales either. My blood pressure has always been on the low side of normal (mostly due to hereditary factors) and I’ve never really had my cholesterol tested. My blood sugar is probably fine (although this varies depending on how much I’ve been doing and where my thyroid levels are). I’m not physically ill, in chronic pain, or actually injured, which means I’m healthy – and that’s the whole heart and soul of the thing.

    Health is a privative concept. It’s a concept defined by absence: the absence of acute illness or injury. If you’re not actually dying or in physical pain; if you’re not coughing up your lungs or heaving up your guts; if you’re not bedridden or catatonic; if your limbs are all intact or if the ones you’ve still got are working just fine, thanks; if you’re not dying of the flu or scratching wildly with fleas; then you’re healthy. All else is just matters of degree.

    I think at least part of what the fat-acceptance movement should be doing is pointing out the toxic elements in popular culture, and bringing these to the attention of everyone (not just fat people). Why the hell *does* everyone have to fit into a particular shape? What’s so blooming wonderful about being thin anyway? Will the world actually collapse if people choose not to worry about what they’re eating today? Can we all survive without hearing anything more about some soi-distant “celebrity”? Surely there are better things to worry about than our waistlines?

    PS: On the “moving my body is fun” sub-thread: The John Butler Trio does some damn good tunes to dance to – means I get to pull out the old bellydance moves and shake my booty a bit. Moving to music is my answer to “I hate exercise”.

  112. “Health is a privative concept. It’s a concept defined by absence: the absence of acute illness or injury. If you’re not actually dying or in physical pain; if you’re not coughing up your lungs or heaving up your guts; if you’re not bedridden or catatonic; if your limbs are all intact or if the ones you’ve still got are working just fine, thanks; if you’re not dying of the flu or scratching wildly with fleas; then you’re healthy. All else is just matters of degree.”

    Wow. I LOVE this. Beautifully, beautifully put!

  113. I’d add to what Becky said that if you think about the history of social movements, people lead and experts follow. For example, it wasn’t a bunch of shrinks who sat around and sad “hmmm, maybe calling homosexuality a disease is scientifically weak, let’s do more studies.” It was people coming together and saying, this isn’t our lives, it’s harmful, and it needs to stop.

  114. I should not feel guilty and anxious and defensive that someone *might* feel shamed should they visit my blog, read a HAES-related post of mine, and interpret tit as a personal condemnation of them.

    I am not implying or advocating that we should not be sensitive to such feelings – I’ve repeatedly said that we all need to reevaluate the things that we write with consideration of how they will be received by readers. What I am saying is that we – as in bloggers who promote HAES – should not be pressured to diminish or eradicate our beliefs in and promotion of HAES. And yes, there have been calls for FA bloggers to remove the health component of FA activism entirely from the movement.

    I haven’t seen anything written around the fatosphere that advocates tossing HAES out the window (like the baby with the bathwater) or that recommends not talking about health at all.

    I have seen comments (and I have commented on other blogs) that talking about fat and health is both valid and important – but suggesting that the primary focus of the movement should be rights, and we should actively frame the debate as such rather than be caught on the defensive.

  115. I read this blog every day but this is my first time posting so I hope you don’t find this trollish…I just have a couple of observations from reading this thread and related ones elsewhere.

    I see a lot of the “good fatties” (the not-so-fat, the healthy, the pretty, the hourglass, the light eaters, the exercise enthusiasts) stubbornly refusing to examine their privilege and marginalizing the concerns of people who point it out to them. Upthread there was even a use of the term “politically correct” to dodge criticism of the person’s earlier comments – a usage that would surely never be tolerated in any other context. I see a meme of “but nobody SAID anything like that” when what’s being pointed out is an unspoken subtext which many of us don’t have the luxury of being able to ignore.

    I get a strong sense that if the privileged subgroup doesn’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

    On this blog in particular I also see a difficulty with accepting constructive criticism; a tendency to turn snarky at slight provocation, to demonize those who disagree or misunderstand or misspeak.

  116. I’m ignoring some of the intervening conversation to say that personally, I can see how some of the things I’ve said might be interpreted as good fattie/bad fattie, although it is not indeed meant that way.

    In the past, I have posted angrily or incredulously about my own body and experience, but it’s still been on the predominant agenda.

    One of the first steps for me in Fat Acceptance was to learn to trust and believe my own frantic experience, the muttered complaint of the teacher’s pet who cannot handle getting it wrong — “but I did it all RIGHT and I’m still fat!” That sense that it’s perceived I’m lying, that regardless of how hard I work to be thin, no one will believe me.

    That’s my failure, my internalization of the standard, not the failure of other people who are fat, regardless of whether they’re jumping through the hoops or not. There’s nothing moral about me attempting to jump through those hoops; the hoop makers frame it as moral. The first part in me learning to reject their morality is to question their authority; but my apostasy is still framed by their terms.

    Just like Dawkins’ atheism might not directly speak to the Tibetan Buddhist, my own Fat Acceptance is couched in the rejection of fat-phobia.

    The point of revelation for me was predicated on the 95% failure rate for diets.

    I can see how my sort of frantic revelation may sound proscriptive. It isn’t: it’s one flawed path from a very broken faith – that diets work, and that if I was Good Enough, I’d win my way into the heaven of Size 6 Pants. Learning that Size Six Pants weren’t possible is the first part; coming to understanding that Size 18 can be equally good is the second part. OTher people have different paths.

  117. The discussion here is generating this question for me: Is there really such a thing as perfect health?

    I’m sensitive to this from the perspective of having diabetes. In college, when I first officially discovered the Fat Acceptance movement, I studied it from an academic viewpoint. I read studies, I read fat liberation essays, I wrote and interviewed and thesis’d it. I came to the personal conclusion that “as long as I was healthy” it was okay to be fat.

    Four years after I graduated, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

    And what I found was that it didn’t matter if I was “healthy” or not, maintaining a weight less than what my body and life could reasonably accommodate wasn’t going to happen. My body doesn’t seem to particularly care about my PCOS, type 2 diabetes, low thyroid (a typical constellation) — it will maintain my weight (in the extreme obesity catagory unless I employ drastic measures that have a negative impact on the overall quality of my life.

    I firmly believe in the ability of people to learn to live “well” with an “illness” — which in how wellness and health are generally defined, seems like an oxymoron.

    I know that if I don’t exercise, my blood sugar levels are harder to maintain, and that I feel better (except for a little, tolerable soreness and tiredness) if I exercise regularly. I work full time and have a young child, so I don’t have a tremendous amount of free time to exercise in, and fitting it in is a challenge. So, I struggle with it, but over time, I’ve grown to enjoy movement — the main barriers for me had to do with feeling unathetic and self-conscious in “fitness situations” and getting over the peer verbal abuse I suffered as a kid.

    I am not a failure because I have diabetes. I do not prove or disprove anything about HAES. I am not a “good fatty” or a “bad fatty” nor do I feel comforable with the label s”fatty” or “diabetic” or “sick person.” I am first, and foremost, a soulful, caring human being, and hope that the pain, illness and stigma I’ve experienced make me more compassionate, understanding, patient and helpful to others.

    I am in favor of including the Health at Every Size concept in the fat acceptance movement — as a response to the pressure to diet — and as a structure for those who are looking for some guidance of how to attend to health when they have become disillusioned with dieting and weight loss attempts. It’s been helpful for me as a person with diabetes to know that there are advocates of HAES for people with diabetes, rather than the standard “weight loss cures diabetes” emphasis out in the rest of the world.

  118. You know, health is often an extension of privilege. If you have access to good health care, you have privilege. If you can eat what you want, or even eat until you are full, you have privilege. If you have someplace safe to exercise, hell if you can leave your house in safety, you have privilege. HAES and IE are wonderful for the people who have the privilege to access them, but as a DESTITUTE bad fatty, I’d like to see a little less focus on things that I personally and people with less privilege cannot access. I’d say that’s my $.02, but I need that $.02 to buy a pack of ramen for today’s only meal.

  119. Elizabeth, I want to respond to your comment because it is thoughtful and privilege is something we think about a lot here. First of all, good call on the “politically correct” usage above — I said in another thread that the next person who used that term was going to get douchehounded, and this one slipped by me because I had a really really really really bad day yesterday. People, saying that someone is forcing you to be “politically correct” is basically sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU BECAUSE MY PRIVILEGE IS TOO LOUD.” It really sucks, and it’s never funny, and it’s never useful.

    We do tend to get snarky here, largely because we’re bombarded by trolls that never see the light of day and it puts us on edge. But we also just like snark. If snark is being used as a deflection against examining privilege, we absolutely want to be called on it.

    Here’s where I think I part ways from your comment, and maybe I’m missing something crucial in this discussion: isn’t the “unspoken subtext” you mention internalized fatphobia on the part of the listener? I’m honestly asking this because I understand the type of deflection that you’re pointing out, having seen it in other situations, but I’m having a hard time identifying it here and am trying to figure out why. This post is about the idea that setting up a good/bad healthy/unhealthy divide is a dynamic of the fatphobic culture that we must resist in order to focus on social justice. But this comment thread has spun out as though the post is about reifying that dynamic instead of resisting it. I’m honestly confused.

  120. Nobody seems to make the point that it is generally assumed that ALL fat people have eating disorders, and so the Fat Acceptance movement’s constant insistence that it’s possible to be fat WITHOUT an eating disorder is simply a constant reaction against a constant assumption?
    If you do have an eating disorder, obviously it’s going to be a bit difficult to see why everyone else is being so defensive about it, but it’s kind of impossible to avoid.
    Trying to separate fat from health, because the two are nothing like so intimately connected as the mainstream media and medical complex would have us believe, is a tricky issue, because sometimes they ARE connected, but simply trying to make the point that they AREN’T ALWAYS is very difficult to do without alienating those for whom they are.

    Also, doing a news piece on how an activist movement is understandably encountering difficulty in keeping its various factions from misunderstanding one another is very boring unless you use the word CRISIS many times, preferably capitalized.

    (This is B-17 from earlier comments on the call for submissions thread, btw; I got a WordPress login mostly because I just thought it hilarious that the name wasn’t already taken.)

  121. Godless Heathen, I totally agree. I often think about how unfair it is that poor people are more likely to be fat due to reasons beyond their control, yet society lectures them just the same as anyone else–or frequently worse–about how you “just have to get out and move” and all that crap. Honestly I live in one of those picturesque small towns that is as safe as they come–I could probably run in the dead of night and be perfectly safe–and have plenty of time to exercise. And it is still sometimes hard to get out there and expose myself as a fat person because I’ve had people yell mean things out of their car windows and such. If I can’t face it or the weather is bad, I have a gym membership and pretty much the only bad thing that can be said about that is it’s boring and the building kind of smells. So “motivation” is a problem even for me, who has probably the best possible setup for getting exercise–all the supporting factors are in place, I just need to do it.

    And you (meaning the health establishment) expect people who can’t even step out of their houses for fear of their safety–not to mention many poor people (and really people of all social classes these days, but mainly poor people) are often never home and awake during daylight hours due to long working hours–to somehow just suck it up and “do the right thing” anyway. I would like to see these “experts” somehow carve out a “healthy” lifestyle under the circumstances so many people face every day.

  122. Sweetmachine,

    I’m not Elizabeth, but I’d have to answer your question with a not necessarily. The unspoken subtext that I think Elizabeth is referring to can come from internalized fatphobia on the part of the listener, but it can also come (and in the case of Shapely Prose, which I generally love as a site and have recommended to friends, often does come ) from internalized fatphobia or unrecognized acceptance of the moral superiority of engaging in healthy behaviors on the part of the speaker. IMO, compared to some of the other FA blogs I read, comments here tend to contain more of what seem like gratuitious references the markers of privileged fatiness that Elizabeth mentioned. Posts here can sometimes read as if the posters are demonstrating, intentionally or not, that they do all of the right things, but just happen to be fat. That’s important to have out there for stereotype busting purposes, but there are only so many of those posts that I can read without feeling like I need to take a break from hearing about all of the veggies, the small portions and the consistently high levels of activity. That kind of talk can get tiresome regardless of the size of the speaker.

  123. Thanks for your response, Janis. I’m sure my sense of what proportion of posts are about what is different at least partially from being behind the scenes at SP, but one of the reasons this idea is confusing to me is because when I look at, say, recent posts tagged “food,” I see posts that are *not* all about veggies and small portions and all that. I do see a lot of posts that are about trying to figure out what your body really wants, and a lot about how the idea of portion size is crap, and how it’s okay to like some foods and not others, and about how there’s no such thing as “good” and “bad” foods, and how eating intuitively can be incredibly hard in a culture that constantly tells you that the food you eat is a reflection of your Moral Character (TM). This is why I’m wondering if part of the split that seems apparent in this thread is dueling confirmation biases: bloggers are remembering all the posts we do about how there’s no such thing as being a good fatty, and commenters are remembering all the posts they’ve read that make them feel like there’s some kind of good fatty standard, whether it was the intention of the post author or not.

  124. This post is about the idea that setting up a good/bad healthy/unhealthy divide is a dynamic of the fatphobic culture that we must resist in order to focus on social justice. But this comment thread has spun out as though the post is about reifying that dynamic instead of resisting it. I’m honestly confused.

    Word. And you know, that’s exactly where I STARTED with this post.

    I talk about my privilege quite a bit here. I do my best to remember all the time that I am a relatively small fatty, I have shape privilege, I’m white, I’m financially stable, I’m able-bodied, etc. But as for health, for fuck’s sake, I also talk all the time about how I’m a smoker, about how I eat hot dogs and french fries and ice cream, how it took me years to learn to love yoga, because I had such a mental block about exercise being evil. I feel like people have decided I eat nothing but organic, local veggies with gold dust on them and exercise 9 hours a day in an exclusive facility, and I’m demanding that they all do too. And I don’t know where the fuck that’s coming from, because it’s really, really not from this blog.

    When I blow it on the privilege front, I’m happy to be called out. But I’m not happy to be attacked for things I neither said nor implied. When people are picking up a subtext, there are two possibilities: 1) the subtext is really there, or 2) the people are so primed to believe something, they’ll see it even if it’s not there.

    Fat people are primed to believe that we’re bad and lazy and out of control with our food choices. We’re primed like whoa. I know that when I first heard of HAES, I had a lot of the same feelings that have been brought up in this thread — but wait, I like Cheetos! I don’t love exercise! I can’t even do this! But then I learned more about what HAES really was (and yes, please do see Meowser’s piece), and I learned more about fat acceptance, and I moved forward in the very long process of unlearning all the shit I’d been taught about fat and chipping away at my deep-seated self-hatred, bit by tiny fucking bit.

    Along the way, I beat myself up LOTS for not exercising enough or eating “well” enough. But that’s the thing — I was beating myself up. Nobody who really understands HAES was telling me — or ever would tell me — I was failing at it. I just felt like I was because I’d been trained to see health and weight as pass/fail, and I’d been trained to believe I was completely fucking incompetent when it came to eating and exercise. You don’t undo that training overnight.

    So believe me when I say I can empathize with feeling like a “bad fatty.” I really, really can. But I can’t abide being accused of laying that trip on other people. Upthread, you’ll see I took issue with Rachel’s suggestion that it’s as simple as, “If this bugs you, that’s your problem.” I don’t think we can just write off those feelings, especially when I know I’ve felt them myself in the past. But I also really take issue with being told I’m saying or implying things I’m absolutely not.

    And if that brings out the impatient snark? So be it. There are over 600 posts on this blog, and every one of these issues has been addressed somewhere in all that. If new people aren’t willing to look at what I’ve actually said, I can’t do anything about that. And if new or old people want to believe I’m marinating in my own unexamined privilege and hurting the cause, well… I can’t really do anything about that, either, except keep examining my privilege to the best of my ability, which I already do.

    At the end of the day, this is my damn blog, not The Official Literature of the Official Fat Rights Movement. I write about my own thoughts and my own experiences — as do FJ and SM — and if those don’t resonate with some people, there are about 100 other fat blogs out there for them. Which is AWESOME, I might add. But given how much time and effort I already put into NOT separating good fatties from bad fatties, I really don’t have a lot of fucking patience for being told that I’m not thinking enough about it. I AM thinking about that — and I’m also thinking about all the people who have never heard of HAES but could really benefit from it, all the people who really want to improve their health but have never been told about a way to do it other than losing weight, all the fat vegans and fat athletes who are accused of lying about their eating and exercise habits everywhere else. When I talk to journalists, I’m thinking about getting out the most positive, fat-friendly message I can within the limits of the journalist’s assignment and the publication in question — and if you look at the articles I’ve been interviewed for so far, you’ll see quotes like this:

    “There’s no good reason to hate yourself or feel ashamed of yourself because you’re fat,” said Kate Harding, 33, who lives in Rogers Park.

    And where you don’t see quotes like that, it’s because hours of conversation were distilled down to a paragraph, and the journalist decided “Lots of fat people exercise and eat a balanced diet but don’t get thin” was a more interesting hook than “It’s not nice to hate people.” I do my fucking best, both here and with the media, and I get e-mails and comments every goddamned day telling me what I’m doing wrong. I can’t be all things to all fat people, and you know, I’m not really inclined to apologize for that, what with the ONLY BEING ONE PERSON thing.

    So if you’re wondering about my short temper on issues like this? There you have it.

  125. I dunno, Kate, I’d say waiting until post 142 to go on a rant is probably keeping pretty good control over your temper.

  126. Very fair points, Kate.

    sweet machine, I agree with Janis… I guess it’s mainly the comment threads (not the posts themselves) where I end up having to “take a break” from how virtuous and healthy we all are because I start to feel bad about my own habits. But then it’s my choice to read the comments in the first place, so there you go–I don’t necessarily think that should reflect on you guys’s posts or the overall “philosophy” of the blog.

  127. Kate, I just want to clarify one final time that I wasn’t talking about *you* when I was posting about the FA message (if there is one).

    However, you’ve already stated more than once throughout this thread that you are oversensitive to this issue.

    You even said “before anyone mentions it…” So it’s possible you’re anticipation of flak caused you to read my comments as being about you. It’s also possible I should have been more sensitive to that possibility, and not used the BMI as an example.

    I don’t happen to be someone who is very careful to navigate folks feelings when I write, mostly because I think it’s a given that readers will get what I mean if I state it clearly, and I tend to take it as a given that everyone will know I mean well (my nickname, no lie, is Pollyanna).

    To be honest, the comment that got me thinking and inspired me to contribute was the comment from fatfu, about playing defense, which I thought was an interesting point. (What I wasn’t making clear was that I see a separation between health itself, and the lifestyle choices folks *think* make them healthy.)

    I probably should have pulled a quote from fatfu, and that would have helped you to know I wasn’t picking on you, but talking about *anyone* who talks to the press.

    So apologies if it seemed I was taking you to task in any way. That was absolutely not my intention.

    Having said that though, here’s an additional point about this form this thread has taken:

    You have a great gathering place for the community here. For some reason (a good reason, I’m sure), the three of you have developed a bit of an anchor blog, where others come together to discuss these things regardless of the activity on their own blogs or that of others. This is a wonderful thing. You have the center of an interesting, dynamic, community of well-spoken and thoughtful individuals who choose to spend time here and contribute.

    But the fact that this is a living, breathing collection of varying voices means that not everyone is going to state things in the way you want. Yes, you know this on one level, of course — but if you look back through this thread, several members (and we are members if we are bothering to contribute our thoughts to the community) are gently suggesting that Shapely Prose isn’t all that cool with positive criticism, and that there seems to be some subtle subtext here about conformity. This is information you can use. (Even that only means you lighten up on the oft-made insinuations that if folks don’t like it they can go start their own blog.)

    It’s hard work being in charge, being the poster child, being the inadvertent spokesperson or front-woman, whatever you want to call it. I know, because I’ve been there in my own pursuits. There’s an element of feeling on display, having to balance multiple expectations, and feeling in general like a giant tit that everyone is taking hits off of (sorry, that’s how it’s been for me sometimes, maybe it’s not quite like that for you).

    So, yeah, it’s tough. But like you said, you don’t have to do EVERYTHING, because yeah, you are like JUST ONE PERSON. It’s hard work, you are doing your best, you don’t owe anyone ANYTHING. And I hear you.

    But I also hope you’ll “get it” at some point — that just because we are here, (new ones, old ones, whatever) suggesting things, sharing, communicating, disagreeing, analyzing, quibbling, that doesn’t mean you have to do anything differently.

    Just do what you do and let us talk about stuff…

    :)

    I hope this doesn’t seem like a lecture, because I don’t want it to. I want it to sound like a pep talk crossed with a good talking to, meant in the spirit of collaboration. A lot of media organizations I work for would KILL for a KICK-ASS community like this. They want passion. They want disagreement.

    You’ve already done the hard work here, and the community will police itself in some ways. You don’t have to answer to folks here (unless you want to) and you don’t have to apologize. But you could lighten up a bit.

    Just let this be something you *enjoy,* while you focus on the book and the BMI project.

  128. (Even that only means you lighten up on the oft-made insinuations that if folks don’t like it they can go start their own blog.)

    Dude, that’s not an insinuation. That’s how blogs work.

    Just do what you do and let us talk about stuff…

    How is that not what’s happening right now? Apart from the fact that all three of us–but mostly Kate–ward off fat-hating trolls, viciously abusive emails, and aggressive demands for guest post spots? This blog has become a great community because of how awesome most of our commenters are, yes, but ALSO because we do not tolerate fatphobic bullshit. It will not police itself. “Lighten up” is not an option.

  129. Also, I know you are trying to be constructive here, but you really have no business telling Kate what her priorities are.

  130. On second thought though, I’m not actually sorry…Kate’s comment deserved a response. She clearly feels the pull of expectations from the community. Sheesh! this is the exact thing I was pointing out. So I guess I’m sorry for just expressing my thoughts and opinions with the words that came to me. Consider me duly socialized.

  131. “Lighten up” is not an option.

    No kidding. If we lightened up, the comments would become unreadable. Not to mention, this would stop being a place where WE want to hang out.

    Basically, it comes down to this: I want as many people as possible to feel welcome here. But when, Sweet Machine, Fillyjonk, and I start to feel unwelcome? We’re not the ones who need to leave.

    Go figure.

  132. Look, if you’re directly telling me to leave, that’s fine. But this:

    “and the community will police itself in some ways”

    I said some. Meaning there is a lot of control of the discourse here that doesn’t seem related to fat-phobia or fat-hating, and that’s what I meant you could lighten up on a little bit. I’m not the only one who feels that, it’s all right up there in the thread. And here. Huh.

  133. Stacy, when you say “Just let this be something you *enjoy,* while you focus on the book and the BMI project,” you are literally telling Kate what to do with her life. You act like this blog is just rainbows and sunshine, but the excellence of this blog is how Kate got a book deal. (Or at least how she got the attention of book agents.) So not only are you telling us how to run things here, and how to feel about running things here, you’re *also* minimizing the importance of that work! It’s not about you being “socialized.”

  134. If I tell someone to have a good day, it’s true that I am telling them how to live their life. But saying have a nice day is not the same and me telling someone to go f*ck themselves. Fine have a shitty day, I don’t really care what you choose to do, but don’t get up in my grill about telling you what to do when I was trying to be pleasant.

  135. Alyce, I can’t say I speak for sweetmachine or Kate (or anyone but myself really), but I think it is not so much the difference between “have a nice day” and “go fuck yourself”, as it is between “have a nice day” and “here, let me tell you how to have a nice day.”

  136. I apologize for pulling something from way the hell up there, but a) I don’t have anything to contribute to the discussion on how this community is moderated, and b) I do have something to say about this:

    Health is a privative concept. It’s a concept defined by absence: the absence of acute illness or injury. If you’re not actually dying or in physical pain; if you’re not coughing up your lungs or heaving up your guts; if you’re not bedridden or catatonic; if your limbs are all intact or if the ones you’ve still got are working just fine, thanks; if you’re not dying of the flu or scratching wildly with fleas; then you’re healthy. All else is just matters of degree.

    And what I have to say is: I respectfully disagree. I don’t disagree in general, but for me health is a very different thing, defined not by absence of bad but by presence of good. I have rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia; pain and exhaustion are pretty much a part of my daily life. I consider myself healthy not when those things are absent, but when other, good things are present — like the energy I get from a really good meal. Like the strength and flexibility I get from exercise. Like the awesome skin I get when I drink enough water. Like the sheer joy I’m able to feel around my kid — despite my physical aches and general tired feeling — when I’ve been taking care of my mental health. Like my newfound ability to make it through a day that starts in the morning, contains a steady stream of activity, and ends at night, with no naps or being too tired to shower.

    Health is such an active presence for me. I’ve been unhealthy my whole damn life, with pretty severe mental disorders, arthritis, reproductive troubles, weight gain after pregnancy, fibromyalgia, and a broken back that combined with scoliosis was literally blinding me. When I finally figured out that I could eat well (wherein “well” is pretty much defined as “whatever the hell I want, because I am a grown-up”), exercise, sleep as much as I need to, and just generally care for myself — without regard to my weight, with regard to my body’s needs — it completely changed my life. It completely changed me. I will never have an absence of bad things with regard to my health; I will always have these positive additions. That’s my definition of health. Yours, of course, will vary, because hey guess what! You’re a pretty intelligent, capable person yourself.

  137. Look, if you’re directly telling me to leave, that’s fine.

    I am not. I am telling you I do not find your advice useful. You seem to have gotten that message, seeing as how you’ve told me I can’t take “positive criticism.” Yet you don’t seem to understand that telling me again why I’m wrong will probably not persuade me that I’m wrong.

    This is not the first blogtroversy around these parts. I have some experience with handling disagreement in comments. Believe it or not, I even have some experience with taking actually constructive criticism. But one of the reasons I recommend that people get their own blogs and/or read others more to their tastes if they really don’t like how I do things is that I don’t have the time to keep explaining myself — nor do I intend to let comments threads on my own blog become unmoderated catalogs of my failings. Obviously, I allow people to criticize me — but when I say I think people are being unfair and/or I don’t find the criticism constructive, that’s the end of it, because this isn’t a free-for-all; it’s my space.

    At that point, you can dismiss me as a blinkered asshole and go elsewhere, or you can keep reading and commenting. That’s your choice (as long as you don’t say anything banworthy). But you seem to think there should be a third option, wherein people tell me why they don’t like how I do things, and I say “Yes, wonderful, great points!” even if that’s not how I feel– or maybe where I just offer strangers a space to vent about what an asshole I am. I’m not sure which it is you want, really, but neither of those things is gonna happen.

  138. Sweetmachine — This is ludicrous. I doubt that anyone reading my comment would take it so literally as to think that I’m (1) telling you how to run things, or (2) minimizing the importance of Kate’s work. I said the blog was great and I said the community was great.

    I was responding to Kate’s comment. She outlined the multiple expectations people seem to have of her because her blog is so popular. She said that caused her to have a short temper. She laid out that she’s not the official literature of the fat acceptance movement.

    How is offering her some encouragement (which is what I was doing) *minimizing* the importance of her work?

    I think I *do* need to move along. Your parsing of my comments to interpret them to mean things that weren’t intended, is frankly, bizarre. As is your insistence that I meant them when I said I didn’t.

    You reject legitimate, well meant input, and you reject legitimate enthusiasm. You keep responding as if Kate can’t speak for herself. W.T.F.

  139. Kate — Thanks for your comment. I see a lot of sensitivity here, and I’ve obviously touched a nerve. My only intention was to say, yeah, I know it’s tough to be in that position, here’s what you might do to relieve some of the pressure.

    Good luck with however you choose to handle whatever comes your way.
    Cheers.

  140. I posted a comment earlier but can’t find it, so I can’t review what I said before– but I wanted to comment to Meghan, who was talking about taking up roller derby– to give her both a “word” and an “amen”!! When I started, I was among the fattest girls in the group, and it was super hard for me not to always think that every failure of mine was due to being fat. The only girl fatter than me had to stop skating (and become a coach) due to issues with the tendons in her knees, and I really felt like it was due to her weight– so when I had knee problems, it was so so hard to not give up because I was “too fat” and destroying myself. (The knee issues were related to foot posture! Nothing to do with weight! It took me A YEAR to figure that out!)

    This year I’m a returning veteran from last season, and there is one rookie on my team “fatter” than me (only a few pounds heavier, but much shorter, and less able to “pass” as thin– I’m a top-heavy hourglass which kind of “hides” my weight, and she’s a lot more “apple”-y). She’s had a terrible time learning to skate– mostly coordination and balance issues, just like me– and I have been working really hard to let her know, it’s not her leg fat that keeps her from crossing over, it’s her poor sense of balance just like me. It’s not that she’s fat and out of shape, it’s that she’s really just not used to being athletic and doesn’t trust her body. Etc. etc. etc.

    Basically, the part that is relevant to this thread is, I am trying to be a “good” fatty in that I am modeling positive behavior– I did this, so can you– but I am also working really hard at walking the tightrope of not setting up a good/bad dichotomy. I did it– but if you can’t, that’s not you being bad, it’s just that you’ve evidently got some other issue to sort out first. (If you have any other questions about being a big rollergirl, give me a holler! I’m dragonlady7 at gmail dot com! I’ve realized I shouldn’t use my real derby name or league name on the Internet for Dooce-like reasons, though I’m not saying anything bad– but you never know what can happen on the Internet.)

    I think that’s another issue here– trying to model positive behavior, a la “I love my body so I feed it salads because it loves salads”– makes it very difficult to avoid the conclusion being drawn that if there is a “good” then there must be a “bad”.
    Our society, if not human society in general, loves to categorize things as binaries. There’s black and white, there’s good and bad. It’s easy to miss the whole concept of a spectrum of behaviors, and all of them can be good.

  141. So I guess I’m sorry for just expressing my thoughts and opinions with the words that came to me. Consider me duly socialized.

    The words that came to you, IMO, were delivered in a condescending fashion and that lecture tone you hoping to avoid? Well done, you nailed it.

  142. Alyce, thank you!

    Jae, don’t put words in my mouth. It would be, “Hey, if you say you’re having a tough day, here’s what worked for me. Just try this: take a deep breath, etc. etc.”

    It’s not an order. Jesus.

  143. Jane, like yours? Soooo, it’s okay to be condescending to other community members then. I said that wasn’t my intention. If you choose to read it that way despite what I wrote, there’s not much else I can do. Sorry if it offended you.

  144. Kate,

    I have been following the sudden outburst of good fattie/bad fattie posts lately – mainly without fear, because the blogs I read regularly decry the characterizations, which to me is the right response. But I don’t mind it being something that’s talked about – in part, because “it” does seem to be an issue that we haven’t all resolved yet among ourselves – by which I mean, internally to ourselves, as well as in conversations with others. “it” being the idea that only the fat folk who adopt what are generally considered “healthy” habits in re: activity levels and nutrition choices are the ones who deserve to have people leave them alone about their size.

    Now, I don’t think that anyone in the FA community would ever come out and say that – I don’t think anyone would confess to believing it. But I think it is a thought that lingers around the backs of our brains – especially if we fall into the pastry-vore and inactive category (that would be me). I think it can linger – as some have pointed out intelligently, especially when one of the responses to the criticism of “fat isn’t healthy” is “fat can be healthy.” The way you phrase that, obviously, is key – fat “can be” healthy, just like thin “can be” healthy – and fat “can be” unhealthy just as thin “can be unhealthy.” We each of us can be healthy or not – the real point in response to the criticism is that our weight isn’t material to the determination of health. But even a properly worded, “can be” response can still carry overtones of – well, only the healthy fat need speak out – unintentional though they may be. And therefore, I think it’s actually a good thing to bring it out and talk about – as often as need be until we all start to accept, really accept in our hearts that our weight is not the determining factor in our health, and it’s not the determining factor in whether we deserve respect. ‘Course, I’m a fatosphere newcomer, and I haven’t really had access

    This all has made me think a bit too about an issue that I was working with myself, in educating myself about the FA community. In my initial reading through posts (new & archived), I learned a lot about both FA and about HAES. But it has struck me that these are necessarily two different things. I don’t think anyone is arguing otherwise – though they may be, that’s not something I picked up on. However, I do think that the message gets a bit conflated sometimes, and I sometimes found myself thinking the two were necessary partners. And, as someone’s post I caught on Notes from the Fatosphere earlier said, quite plainly (I’d like and verify the credit, but The Internetz is sloooow today for me) – they’re not. You can be a member of FA while engaging in habits that you do not believe are healthy – like eating that bucket of KFC and watching the telly. [Not getting into arguments about what is or is not healthy – not for me to say – but what one THINKS is healthy, which is what seems to be key in this HAES.] You can be an FA advocate and be unhealthy – again, me, with the diabetes, fibromyalgia, and hypertension. You can also be an FA advocate, believe that weight is not a determinant of health, and not practice HAES as you believe you could or should. Alternatively, you can practice HAES, advocate it – and still carry around some fat-stigmatic thinking. They are related, but not equal. Again, I don’t think I’m saying anything revolutionary here – merely intending to clarify something that seems to be out there, but not always clearly – and I think it’s that lack of clarity that can cause some of these thoughts and discussions and posts.

    At any rate, I hope that was worth the two cents price to some, and hope it’s of interest to you.

  145. Stacy, I didn’t put any words in your mouth. In my opinion, your suggestion was condescending because you told Kate to prioritize her book and her media obligations over moderating comments at the blog, when really she can prioritize yourself.

    I realize that wasn’t your intention, and that you don’t think that you did that, but that is how it appeared to me, and so that’s why I made that comparision. I am surely not going to convince you of my point and I don’t expect to be convinced of yours, so we’ll just have to do that fab. agreeing to disagree thing.

  146. I think it is not so much the difference between “have a nice day” and “go fuck yourself”, as it is between “have a nice day” and “here, let me tell you how to have a nice day.”

    Yes yes yes. What Jae said.

    Stacy, have you ever been having a really horrible, awful day, where everything has gone wrong and you are just waiting for the other shoe to drop because you know it’s only going to get worse — and then some well-meaning asshat passes you on the street and says “Smile! It can’t be that bad!”?

    Yeah.

    I am not speaking for Kate as though she can’t answer for herself; she has, and eloquently. I am not rejecting your input; I am rejecting your tone. If you have to say “I hope this isn’t sounding like a lecture,” it probably is.

    You said this upthread:
    I don’t happen to be someone who is very careful to navigate folks feelings when I write, mostly because I think it’s a given that readers will get what I mean if I state it clearly, and I tend to take it as a given that everyone will know I mean well

    This policy doesn’t seem to be working as well as you think it is.

  147. Oh, good. It’s not just me. I’ve been trying to be extra careful about commenting-while-pissed because I’m spending “too much time” (heh) on political blogs and my “being-condescended-to” meter is stuck on 11 these days.

  148. Sweetmachine, if you choose to read my comment as “here, let me tell you how to have a nice day,” when I’ve said that wasn’t my intention, well there’s nothing I can do about it.

    I took the time to respond to Kate’s comment in a well meaning fashion, and you’ve pointed out the bazillion errors in not just my tone, but in the specific words I used, and the thoughts I was communicating.

    Continuing to try and prove how wrong I was by further parsing what I wrote is something I really don’t understand.

    You are quoting back the very thing I used to explain my own shortcoming, and to say that I could see how Kate might have misinterpreted my comment. In other words, that last quote was ME saying that I should have been more careful. Quoting it back to me as my policy is just…odd.

    I do understand being called an ass-hat, even indirectly. Nice.

  149. Aaand that’s 4 comments from Stacy after she said she was moving along.

    you’ve pointed out the bazillion errors in not just my tone, but in the specific words I used, and the thoughts I was communicating.

    Continuing to try and prove how wrong I was by further parsing what I wrote is something I really don’t understand.

    Take. Your. Own. Advice.

    Lord.

    Also,

    I do understand being called an ass-hat, even indirectly.

    You’re not the only one.

  150. Continuing to try and prove how wrong I was by further parsing what I wrote is something I really don’t understand.

    Again, not to jump into anyone’s fight, but…this is exactly what you are trying to do!

  151. And here’s number 5…

    When I said I was moving along, Kate, that was before I read your comment specifying you weren’t directing me to do that.

    However.

    “‘I do understand being called an ass-hat, even indirectly.’
    You’re not the only one.”

    Great job. Thanks ladies.

  152. Kate, you really need to stop headdesking and lighten up a bit.

    I hope this doesn’t seem like a lecture, because I don’t want it to.

  153. JANE WINS

    You’re writing clearly, so we all know you mean well! No one ever comments incessantly on a blog out of some inexplicable desire to fuck with people!

  154. Just as an interesting note of personal experience:

    I have found that when I think I am being super clear and other people are not understanding me, it generally has nothing to do with how THEY PERCEIVE MY WORDS.

    To go all old-school Strunk and White, the purpose of language is to communicate. If those with whom you are trying to communicate don’t seem to be getting the message, it is probably the fault of the writer, not of the reader.

    Just sayin’.

  155. If those with whom you are trying to communicate don’t seem to be getting the message, it is probably the fault of the writer, not of the reader.

    I think that all depends on which one of them is practicing HAES.

  156. Upthread, you’ll see I took issue with Rachel’s suggestion that it’s as simple as, “If this bugs you, that’s your problem… But I also really take issue with being told I’m saying or implying things I’m absolutely not.”

    So do I.

  157. *disappears in a cloud of patchouli and pot smoke*

    Hee hee. I can just picture this. “My work here is done.” *POOF!*

  158. For what it’s worth – I have not read a single post on this blog that made me feel like I was indirectly labelled as a “bad fatty” – this is also true for Rachel’s blog by the way – and I am very, very sensitive to this issue because I do indeed have binge eating disorder.
    I DO have a bit of a problem with people commenting that they could never eat three pieces of pie or a whole whatever. There are two reasons for it: First, it reminds me of what is going on among women of all sizes all the time, namely the “I can’t possibly eat that much” contest. I don’t know if it really is the same thing, but it for sure has some parallels. Considering that all our bodies are different, and that even the same body needs different amounts of food at different times this is simply silly. Secondly, I have binge eating disorder, and while I do know the difference between a binge and a normal amount of food I have a hard time figuring out how much I need to eat to be satisfied but not overly full. I am constantly worried that I am eating too much, even when I haven’t been bingeing and although I really try not to worry about it. In this situation reading that someone could never ever eat three pieces of pie while I can makes me wonder if maybe I don’t interpret my hunger/ satiety signals right which is really the last thing I need right now. To some degree that is MY problem and not the problem of the person commenting – still, I certainly would prefer those comments not to be so frequent.

    If you do have an eating disorder, obviously it’s going to be a bit difficult to see why everyone else is being so defensive about it, but it’s kind of impossible to avoid.
    Trying to separate fat from health, because the two are nothing like so intimately connected as the mainstream media and medical complex would have us believe, is a tricky issue, because sometimes they ARE connected, but simply trying to make the point that they AREN’T ALWAYS is very difficult to do without alienating those for whom they are.

    I do understand very well what fat people without eating disorders are defensive about (by the way, your post seems to apply to people with BED only – there are fat people with other eating disorders). However, I just want to add that I (and I think a lot of other fat people with BED although I am not sure about it) was already fat before I developed my eating disorder. In fact, being a fat kid and therefore starting dieting/ weight control behaviors very early was a significant factor in devoloping my eating disorder, and I am very sure that even if I stopped bingeing I never be in the “normal” or even “overweight” BMI category (although I probably would lose some weight).
    In addition, I am defensive about most of the same things as fat people without BED are defensive about, because I don’t fit the stereotype of how a fat person eats and (not) exercises either, and I am sure many people with BED don’t.

  159. Sometimes I think we share a brain, queendom. Very well put.

    In fact, being a fat kid and therefore starting dieting/ weight control behaviors very early was a significant factor in devoloping my eating disorder

    I feel the same. I don’t want to throw myself into the category of those who are diagnosed with BED, because I never have been, but at the very least I have compulsive eating behaviors that started around the time I was 10-11. And I am sure that awareness of my weight, dieting, etc. prior to that time were contributors.

  160. Queendom, FWIW, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating three pieces of pie in and of itself, even if I physically can’t do it most of the time. I just happen to have a pretty fragile digestive tract. It’s not that I’m “normal” and you’re not (normal? me??). I don’t think that way at all.

  161. I’m responding to this post as someone who definitely thinks of herself as a bad fatty. I have a couple points I want to make about this subject.
    First, I want to agree with the posters upthread who have said that, even though no one has said that there is such a thing as a “good” or “bad” fatty, it’s a helpful thing to reiterate every once in a while. I think this is especially true, given that it appears that I am not alone in reading the prolific posts on intuitive eating and HAES and thinking, “Well, I can love myself (or even just stop actively despising myself) once I start doing that stuff.”
    Secondly, it seems to me that a lot of times (NOT ALWAYS) posts/comments about how the poster/commenter ate intuitively list something healthy as the food that they craved and then ate. As in, “I am practicing intuitive eating, and you know what? I have been eating sooo many vegetables! I just don’t crave the gross stuff I used to eat!” I wonder if that is because the poster/commenter wants to do their part to break the donut stereotype at the same time they express the positive ways intuitive eating has impacted their life. At any rate, while I’ve learned that intuitive eating is the idea that you eat what you crave, I’ve gotten the impression that if I’m doing it right, I will crave healthy foods. It’s really really great to read posts (like Kate’s where she had hot dogs) where what someone craves isn’t something traditionally considered healthy.
    Third, the emphasis on declaring that you can’t tell whether a person is healthy, or anything about their eating or exercise habits, by looking at them is really important. It NEEDS TO BE SAID. But at the same time, saying “Not all fat people eat donuts and sit on the couch all the time!” can make those that do eat donuts and sit on the couch feel guilty. As if, by dispelling the stereotype, the value judgment on that behavior remains. I don’t know how to solve this problem. I’m just trying – imperfectly, I’m sure – to explain how people could feel that there is a good/bad binary even though no blogger has said that there is, and even argues against it.

  162. Lala, that is really interesting to read – I know from my own experience I am just stoked that a whole new food group has opened up and I don’t feel weird about it. Like, veggies are always held up as the healthy thing to eat, as the thing to eat if you want to lose weight, so to discover the enjoyment of them completely independent of that is a pretty heady thing.

    That said, I had Oreos with milk for dinner and it was FAN-FUCKING-TASTIC, dairy allergy be damned.

  163. At any rate, while I’ve learned that intuitive eating is the idea that you eat what you crave, I’ve gotten the impression that if I’m doing it right, I will crave healthy foods.

    Ehh, I don’t think so. What’s “healthy food” anyway? Is red meat “healthy”? Some say not. Is soy “healthy”? Again, evidence is mixed. How about a giant green salad, is that “healthy”? Not if you’re on blood thinners it isn’t.

    My personal take is that if you’re doing it “right,” you will eventually pick the foods that will make YOU feel and function YOUR best, even if they wouldn’t necessarily be someone else’s choices, since bodies and brains and what their owners go through on a daily basis are all different. But you will probably go through a lot of bingeing on stuff you don’t think you “should” be having first. And some people also find they can’t do IE without professional help because the “binge” period becomes intractable for them.

  164. Re: the “I can’t possibly eat that much” contest…

    I stopped playing that game a while back, and certainly had that decision reinforced by hanging with my fatties, who, while not pushing themselves into food-coma territory, will take a certain pride in knowing what and how much they like to eat, especially after shows, and have no hesitation in doing so in public. And we know who is the biggest eater, and we cheer her on (she is one of the smaller fatties in the dance company). She wins the “I can TOTALLY eat that much” contest.

    And for myself, if I’m ever around someone who says, oh, my god, I could never eat that whole thing, in a way where I KNOW they’re just doing it to point out what a good restrained eater they are, I just say, oh, I totally could, and look at them. There’s really nothing else to say, so they don’t.

  165. The more I think about it, the more I want to blame us “bad” fatties for marginalizing ourselves. Why is there a lack of blogs writing about unhealthy eating, not exercising, etc? I think our internalized shame dictates that these are not “encouraging” or positive things to write about and don’t deserve a space in a body positivity blog.

    I think it’s easier to blame the “good” fatties than ourselves. I’ll admit that sometimes I’ve been annoyed by SP comments, but not ones coming from kate, fillyjonk or sweetmachine. It’s usually the more casual commenters who haven’t taken as much time to think of the dichotomy who end up saying potentially offensive things. I don’t think they mean to, I just think they don’t really come to think of how certain words affect us.

  166. meowser, I absolutely know that you are not one of the people who thinks that eating less makes you somehow “virtuous.” Actually I don’t think there are many people like that around here at all. And I know there are very complicated reasons why people would point out that they don’t eat a lot–as many have said, main one being that this is a very rare “safe space” where you can say that and people actually believe you. That must be incredibly refreshing and I can easily understand why folks want to have such conversations and to speak up against all of the tiresome stereotypes.

    For my part (because I think I made a similar point to queendom previously) I was just requesting that people consider, when they say stuff like “I could never eat that much!” or “I never eat that processed crap!” as has come up in certain past discussions (the types of comment threads I think Janis was referring to needing to “take a break” from), whether they are sort of piling on the point a little bit and failing to consider that we all have different appetite levels.

    Obviously I can’t make anyone use or not use any particular rhetoric, and I wouldn’t want to, I just brought it up in case people hadn’t considered that it might be anxiety-provoking to others. Sort of like it never occurred to me that I might be being dismissive by criticizing the diet-yogurt-and-banana lunch (after all, in my mind, what sane person would consider that an adequate lunch? Which of course when exposed to scrutiny means only that *I* don’t consider it an adequate lunch). But when I realized I was actually being pretty judgmental and in some way pressing my personal values about amounts and types of foods that should be eaten by making that comment, I now try not to think that way so much. I look at it sort of as a way I learned to understand other fat people’s experience a little better, and get away from in some respect viewing my own life as a fat person as the way all or most other fat people live. Which is of course a stereotype of its own and something I am sadly prone to as I’m something of a navel-gazer.

    Again, meowser, I’m definitely not directing this at you… just trying to explain what I was actually trying to accomplish with my original comment since it was 1093284712039487 paragraphs long. Basically that was just to ask people to think about how such comments might come off to others, if they previously had not thought about it. Certainly it is important for all of us to be able to openly talk about our experiences with food, intuitive eating, etc. It is just comments that say “I could never eat that much” where the tone may border on “What kind of person could eat that much” or “No fat person could eat that much” that I was trying to highlight as something that I personally have found anxiety-provoking.

    And you know, veering off on a tangent here–despite how anxious and embarrassed my relationship with food has made me at many times over the years, and as much as I wish the disordered parts would be magically healed, in some ways I am proud (that’s not exactly the right word, but close) of having a hearty appetite–which I still have, apart from my compulsive/binge eating issues. Women aren’t supposed to be big and strong and tough, and they’re not supposed to sweat unless it’s in the service of becoming thinner or “shapelier,” and they’re not supposed to have foul mouths and they’re not supposed to go around without makeup because they’re supposed to consider it their responsibility to look good for random men at all times. And they’re definitely not supposed to eat a lot. I am proud to say “fuck you” to all of the other “not supposed to”s so I guess “not supposed to eat a lot” can fall right into the same category as far as I’m concerned.

  167. Oh, and bigmovesbabe, I love your response to the “I could never eat that” comment. It’s really about all you can say. I need to just say that next time instead of silently being mad about it.

  168. I will never have an absence of bad things with regard to my health; I will always have these positive additions. That’s my definition of health. Yours, of course, will vary, because hey guess what! You’re a pretty intelligent, capable person yourself.

    *grin* Agreed. Hope things continue to go well for you, sarawr.

    I honestly didn’t mean to sound as prescriptive as I did (reading back 24 hours later) – the perils of commenting when low on sleep. I also acknowledge my own privilege as a person who is (physically) reasonably healthy (by my own definition) and whose mental health is kept to a socially sane level by regular medication. So yeah, I have a different definition to someone who isn’t in the same situation as I am, and I was a dill for writing about it so rudely. Please accept my apologies if I offended you, and I’ll endeavour to avoid doing so again.

  169. This comment is not directed at Stacey, but something she said made me think of something else…and here we are…

    Hey! I actually may have something of worth to contribute!

    I run online networking classes for business owners. That’s my business. The first thing I tell people is that it is *not* too bad if everything you say is misinterpreted. It is *your* fault and you need to work on how you are communicating via text. If you write the way you speak, that’s fine, unless it is taken in a snotty way, because that is the fault of your writing style, not the fault of ALL the readers.

    Unless all you’re looking for online is to “push” your message on others instead of having a conversation, you have to be able to communicate in a way that other people understand.

    Saying “Well I mean well and if you can’t see that it’s your loss” is something humans hear practically from birth. From parents that want us to marry doctors (or be doctors) when we really want to be a photographer – all the way to “You could lose a few pounds…I’m saying this for your own good…I’m not trying to be antagonistic…why are you throwing things at me?”

    But when multiple people on a board find the text you’re using has a distinct “tone” – blowing off their concerns with your journalism experience and well wishes is not going to make anything better. If you don’t care that you’re being misinterpreted, what are you getting out of participating?

    I can’t think you would get something from reading, because if you’re not listening…well…you’re not listening.

    @spacedcowgirl I don’t own salt. Am I, as a fat girl, being unkind to my fat friends when I say I hate the taste of salt? If I say “I don’t eat that processed crap” (and I’ve been known to) – isn’t that akin to saying “I cannot stand broccoli” – I’ve had people tell me MANY times how much they detest veggies. Is that okay? Because I think it’s the same thing. But I know my friends think that hating veggies is “normal” and “okay” whereas my substantially raw food diet is “weird” and “freaky” and they don’t hesitate to tell me so.

    Most of them believe that nothing will work to make them healthy (I’m working on convincing them health does not equal thin.) so they just eat crap. On purpose. This is fine with me, I don’t care if you eat Taco Bell seven times a day for the rest of your life, I still love my friends and don’t want them to take advice from me on nutrition, because who the hell knows if all the pesticides on my veggies are killing me faster than good ol’ taco bell is killing her.

    We. Don’t. Know.

    I feel like “nothing works so f*** it” more than occasionally, so I’m not putting this out there as a you vs. me good vs. bad thing. I don’t know any fat person that doesn’t hate themselves now and then. (For that matter I don’t know any thin person that doesn’t hate themselves now and then. The point is – it’s not about that – because we all feel that way.)

    What about my friends that can afford to drop $400 a trip at Lane Bryant and comes over to show me bag upon bag of clothes that aren’t in my clothing budget?

    What about when people tell me “She’s been my friend since 2nd grade.” I don’t have friends from that long ago, but my friends that say this say it in a smug way – they think they are a better friend because they’ve had their friends longer. Maybe not a better friend than *me* per se, but in the grand scheme of things.

    I think we all have fragile self-esteem. Every human being. As such, we do what we can to remind ourselves that we are making (what we think are) good choices, and we’re good people.

    Sure I have a core belief that I kick ass and take names and I have a rockin’ ass. But that doesn’t mean on my bad days I don’t take whatever I can get. I have looked at another fat woman and thought “At least I don’t look like that.” But I’ve also looked at beautiful women in wheelchairs and thought the same thing. I think we all have dark thoughts during dark times. (I hope so, otherwise I’m about to find out I’m a cold, heartless, evil meanie.)

    Back to my broccoli hating friend, clothing buying friend, and “all my friends I’ve had 20 years except you” friend. We’re all just getting through life day by day. If we make it so that talking about healthy eating is demonized, I want to put that stupid “friends since 2nd grade” thing on the demonization ballot too. I don’t care how long you’ve had your friends – they suck and borrow money from you. Who wants that?

  170. Queendom said: But I have seen plenty of comments that said things along the lines of how the respective person eats far less than 2000 kcal per day or how he or she cannot possibly finish I whole whatever. Same goes for exercise.
    I know that saying you eat “healthy” and exercise is not the same as judging people who don’t eat/ exercise like you do or thinking they don’t deserve to be treated well. But it does seem a bit like dissociating yourself from those people or at least like justifying your fatness (i.e., making sure everyone knows it is not your fault).

    I’m one of those people, Q, who’ve spoken about the calorie thing. It’s not because I feel like I’m a ‘good’ fattie. No, I complain about this because when other (thin) people look at me, then look at my plate, and I can see the ‘OMG she is SOOO FAT’ I get terribly frustrated. It’s clear that they’re thinking that I’m fat because of what I eat (as is true for all of teh fatz) and I want to scream at them, Look, no one gains weight eating 1500 calories a day unless they’re famine victims, okay?!?!?

    Or, to cut a long story short, I want to go over and say, I’m not fat because of what I’m eating! An argument I’ve had with my mother and various nutritionists and doctors over the years. Of course, none of them believe me. So I bring it up in the Fatosphere in order to see if other people have the same problem. And it’s so reassuring when others do. It’s my personal story, I don’t make judgement calls on what others do or do not eat (except for Twinkies, you’ve got to draw the line somewhere) and I sincerely hope that this explanation makes sense to you and any other person who’s been feeling crappy because of I chose to relay my experiences.

    Now, off to read the rest of the comments.

  171. Damn, reading what I wrote over again, I don’t think I’ve expressed myself very well. Now it sounds like I want to make excuses for my weight, and maybe I do? No…i don’t think so. I think what I’m trying to say is that I don’t want others to assume that I’m fat because I’m eating butter fried in transfats…

  172. SpacedCowGirl wrote:And I really don’t think most fat and thin people eat that much less than this amount, despite our cultural programming that women should only eat 1,200-1,600–which on the low end is honestly not a lot of food, pretty much a bowl of cereal and a piece of fruit for breakfast, Lean Cuisines for lunch and dinner, a glass of milk and a couple low-calorie snacks. Replace or augment any of the above with a scone or muffin, a decent-sized sandwich and some chips, a bowl of ice cream, a non-”skinny” Starbucks drink, a meal of a size that you would actually be satisfied with, or a couple of beers and you’re like irredeemably out of “good girl” and into “glutton” by those standards.

    Wow, that’s a big assumption to make. It is absolutely possible to eat real food (aka, non-Diet food or food with ‘substitutes’) and eat that amount of calories a day without feeling hungry or denied. Speaking only for myself, when I eat too much of anything, I tend to feel quite sick. That’s not down to the food I’m eating, that’s just down to when I’m full. And yes, having tracked what I was eating for several years (I needed an antidote to the ‘you’re fat, you’re obviously overeating/eating too many calories’ argument) I was shocked to see how little I actually did eat.

    Hell, I’m still surprised.

  173. lala: As in, “I am practicing intuitive eating, and you know what? I have been eating sooo many vegetables! I just don’t crave the gross stuff I used to eat!” I wonder if that is because the poster/commenter wants to do their part to break the donut stereotype at the same time they express the positive ways intuitive eating has impacted their life.

    This is EXACTLY how I feel, and I am so glad I’m not the only one. I have not heard a single person say “I am practicing HAES and I felt like a whole bucket of fried chicken and a six pack last night so I went for it”. It’s always talk about salads and asparagus, and – gasp – some pie.

    I think HAES only works for people who naturally like healthy foods. And yes, I’d be completely willing to debate anyone here who claims that “healthy” doesn’t exist. Come with me to Mississippi and I’ll change your mind in about 48 hours flat.

    I’m 110% a “bad fattie”. One of my friends is big into HAES and it works for her, so I tried it for two months. So every time we would have breakfast together I would order a steak, 4 eggs, some bacon, hash browns with cheese and mushrooms, and pecan pie, and she would ask:

    “Is that what you really feel like?”

    And I would look at her pancakes and say:

    “Yep – is that all you’re going to eat?”

    Needless to say, after two months I gained about 35 pounds and my knees started hurting bad – tears in my eyes bad, when I walked more than a few hundred feet, so I had to go back to my old eating style and force myself to take that weight off. I’m pretty sure that if I stayed on HAES for five years, I would still eat Hardees thickburgers and milkshakes, and a whole deep dish pizza with a six pack of Guinness for dinner. That’s just what I happen to like.

    For a lot of us bad fatties, HAES is pretty much the same as Weight Watchers. HAES proponents seem to think that after we satisfy our cravings, we’ll naturally start eating salads. Nope. Ain’t gonna happen. Not in a million years. I know my body quite well, and if I ate whatever I wanted, I’d be bedridden within 10 years.

  174. If I say “I don’t eat that processed crap” (and I’ve been known to) – isn’t that akin to saying “I cannot stand broccoli”

    I don’t think so. Because in our society, eating broccoli is considered virtuous whereas eating processed food is considered bad. So saying: “I don’t eat processed foods” carries a connotation of moral superiority (especially when you phrase it as: “I don’t eat that unhealthy crap”) even if you don’t mean it to be there. Saying “I don’t eat broccoli” doesn’t have the same connotation.

    And I do think people should be more considerate of the feelings of others when it comes to things like showing off clothes the other person can’t afford, or talking smugly about how long they’ve been friends with someone. What’s wrong with taking somebody’s feelings into account before you speak?

  175. Jenjen: I like what you said about the writing. One thing I had to learn, and probably am still learning, is that I come across sometimes as an arrogant bitchy bitch in my writing. I don’t know that I do in person. Sometimes I do, for sure, but definitely not all the time. Read and re-read again. When you are trying to communicate, it’s two-way, yes? So I guess I learned you don’t want to say stuff that’s gonna make people feel like they don’t have a door to walk through. Also, I’m in school to become a therapist, so I’m super analytical about communication and sensitive about it all now. That’s a good point you made. I like it.

  176. Becky — on your last point: Do you think it’s more about the tone of voice rather than the message? For me, that’s really more about what it is. Like, I don’t care about the message, as I do about the tone in which it is said.

  177. Sweetmachine, thank you for your response to Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth, I want to respond to your comment because it is thoughtful and privilege is something we think about a lot here …

    I often feel alientated by SP for a variety of reasons, and I appreciate the human touch on this response.

  178. I’m glad to see — despite the ripple in the conversation midway in the comments — that people continue to make thoughtful points and counterpoints. This is an important topic. And it will come up again, I think, so it’s nice to have this to come back to.

    Thank you for not giving up on our ability to communicate in a neutral way. I’d hate to think that one day you’ll have had enough of the bickering and finger-pointing and trolls and shutter SP. One the days (and weeks and months) when I am really struggling, coming here is salvation.

  179. … I was a dill for writing about it so rudely. Please accept my apologies if I offended you, and I’ll endeavour to avoid doing so again.

    Dude, Meg! You weren’t rude or offensive at all. Your comment injected a lot of sense into the discussion about health, so I used it as a jumping-off point to talk more about what health means to me. I thought it was a great discussion to have, and I thought your definition made tons of sense — please don’t worry that it came across as too prescriptive, or whatever. It definitely didn’t.

  180. For you light eaters, I would suggest that you refrain from commenting around me on how huge a given portion is or how you could “never eat that much,” even if you don’t really mean anything bad by it, and I think most people around here don’t.

    My mom (whose thin, and a restrained eater) does this all the time. It used to drive me batty, but now I just find it funny. I eat quite a bit, too – over 2000 calories most days. When I hear FA people talking about how little they eat, I assume it’s because they messed up their metabolisms by dieting, and are trying not to gain. I feel lucky that my metabolism works normally and that I can still eat like a naturally thin person while staying the same size.

    Oh course, that’s not a fair assumption. Some people probably just have small appetites.

  181. Yes, I do think tone makes a difference. Problem is, on the internet, you can’t tell tone of voice, so I think we do need to choose our words more carefully than we would speaking, so that we don’t miscommunicate and say something that is interpreted as rude or hurtful.

  182. For you light eaters, I would suggest that you refrain from commenting around me on how huge a given portion is or how you could “never eat that much,” even if you don’t really mean anything bad by it, and I think most people around here don’t.

    Actually, I tend to wish that comments like that were okay. Why can’t it be just as neutral to mention how little you eat as to mention how much you eat? I know that I’ll often say something like, “Dude, we had white pizza for dinner last night and I ate so much — damn, that was good.” I think… I don’t know, I think it should be okay to say, “I couldn’t eat that much.” It should also be okay to say, “I could totally eat that much, and in fact, I wish I had more right now.” Really, I love to talk about food — flavors, cooking, eating, restaurants, servings, whatever. I love food to death, I’m a kickass cook, and I wish we could just talk about whatever our relationships to food are without one side or the other being judgemental.

    And now I shall (hopefully) stop commenting, because I am having morning vodka (it’s a special day, guys, not a daily occurrence) and not making a lot of sense. :P

  183. Orodemniades, you brought up a point that I think might be interesting to discuss further. You said you don’t want people to assume you’re fat because you’re eating “butter fried in transfats.” This type of statement is a good example of what I was talking about earlier. Why is it so important that other people know that you (in general, not just you Orodemniades) don’t eat unhealthily? Is it an attempt to separate yourself (again, not specifically Orodemniades) from the nasty fatties that eat crap all day? Does the urge to justify your eating habits reinforce the moral value placed on eating a certain way? I’m fat because of what I eat. Is that worse than being fat for other reasons? I know that the answer will be “No!”, but sometimes the emphasis placed on highlighting unstereotypical eating patterns can have an unintended effect of seeming to agree that the stereotypical eating patterns are bad.

    I don’t really know if this is a helpful thing to bring up.

  184. You know, I think I could make butter fried in trans-fats. Like deep fried ice cream, maybe? Now that’s all I can think about, how I would do it. That’s what you get for watching too much Top Chef.

  185. I like JenJen’s statements about the idea that if a lot of people are getting something out of a piece of writing that you didn’t intend, it’s not their fault (or your “fault” necessarily), it’s your responsibility to change the way you’re writing to clarify. I think that perhaps this could apply not only to Stacy, but to the authors and commenters on this site.

    Kate, you said “When people are picking up a subtext, there are two possibilities: 1) the subtext is really there, or 2) the people are so primed to believe something, they’ll see it even if it’s not there.” Yes, I think this is absolutely true. But, given the general agreement on Jenjen’s point, perhaps the reason is irrelevant. If people are picking up on a subtext, even if it’s just because they’re so primed to see it everywhere, maybe the answer is to be more deliberate about denying the existence of the subtext? I dont’ know, maybe this is out of line. It just seems that if enough people see it, it doesn’t really matter whether the writer meant it to be there. The writer should change their wording/tone/add something explicitly stating it isn’t there/whatever else in recognition of the fact that it’s being misunderstood?

  186. And I do think people should be more considerate of the feelings of others when it comes to things like showing off clothes the other person can’t afford, or talking smugly about how long they’ve been friends with someone. What’s wrong with taking somebody’s feelings into account before you speak?

    Quite true, especially in the context of personally knowing the people to whom you’re speaking (which I think is how you meant it?). But I don’t know anyone personally on this blog (though I often project tone and personalities onto peoples posts), and everyone’s experience is unique, so the odds are pretty high that someone somewhere might disagree with or be bugged by something that is said.

    Case in point: A while back Fillyjonk had a great post asking,”What do you do for exercise?” Well, I love Pilates and wanted to recommend it, but before I posted about it I thought, “Pilates can be really fucking expensive. Am I going to alienate people who are on a tight budget and look like a privilege flaunting jerk by posting about my experience with it?” Well yeah, possibly. But OTOH I thought, “Isn’t it incredibly patronizing to just assume that people who read this blog can’t afford it?” Well, YEAH! I realize that “tone” has a lot to do with how you’re perceived, but there are an awful lot of people who read this blog, from all walks of life I’ll bet, and not all of them post their opinions, either. Of course I don’t mean “don’t worry about offending people because you inevitably will, so be rude and have at it!”, but it’s tough to account for everyone’s feelings all of the time, especially on the internet, where you don’t know who might be reading.

  187. Lala said: You said you don’t want people to assume you’re fat because you’re eating “butter fried in transfats.” This type of statement is a good example of what I was talking about earlier. Why is it so important that other people know that you (in general, not just you Orodemniades) don’t eat unhealthily?

    Lala, that’s exactly what I was thinking about when I posted my second comment. I know it came across that way and that wasn’t what I meant – and fried butter comes up frequently in the comments here, I think it’s funny, which is why I used it.

    I’ll try and explain further: I feel that I have to justify myself not only to thin people for the way I eat, but to the fat people, too. Virtually everyone I know fat and thin, can out-eat me, to the point where my eating habits have been called into question. It’s extremely frustrating to not be believed by anyone, fat or thin. Everyone thinks I’m lying – even, dare I say it, some of the commentators in this thread, Now, no one in the fatosphere has come out and said that explicitly, but it’s certainly been implied (inferred? I never get those right). Worse, it’s been assumed that I, by virtue of mentioning my own eating habits am making a judgement call on those who eat differently than I do.

    I’m not. Eat diet yogurt for lunch, have a head of broccoli, chow on a block of cheese, I might be amazed that anyone can eat so much/so little/ew, diet yogurt, but if that’s what you want to eat, so be it. shrug

    sometimes the emphasis placed on highlighting unstereotypical eating patterns can have an unintended effect of seeming to agree that the stereotypical eating patterns are bad.

    I guess I don’t know how to answer this. The only thing I can think of is that I should keep my trap shut for fear of offending/hurting anyone – which I not, I don’t think, what you intend to mean? Yet, if I can’t mention how I eat, where do I belong in the fatosphere?

    I’m repeating myself here, the baby’s crying and I have to go out and pay off some of the $25K I racked up at the beginning of the month (yay for no insurance and no job!).

  188. Again, I can’t and don’t want to muzzle anyone from having whatever kind of conversation they want to, I was just pointing out something that I personally (and maybe others who don’t speak up) find difficult in case folks want to take that into consideration. The group consensus may be that I am full of shit and that’s fine. It’s happened before. :)

    I agree with Becky that this is doubly hard because even though I now believe it is not respectful to make comments like “I could never eat that little” (which to me used to be something I would say out of frustration and envy–like what was wrong with me that I ate like such a pig, and the person I was talking to had so much more self-control?) and obviously I have always believed something like “I hate vegetables, what’s with your weird hippie freak diet” would be rude, to me it’s like saying “I hate you, you’re so skinny” vs. “you’re a fat cow.” Both are totally inappropriate but you can’t tell me the fat comment isn’t more loaded and potentially hurtful in our society.

    I think this is borne out, for example, by sarawr’s comment… you are still using loaded language like “crap” to describe food even though you claim not to care what your friends eat, and there is no total consensus on the extent to which any given food is “crap.” Some people think anything that’s not organic (and it can’t be from the “big, evil” organic producers either), locally produced, and vegan is “crap.” I don’t really think there’s any evidence for this. Given the inability to objectively label something an evil food that nobody should ever eat, in the example you gave I would tend to instead say something like “I’m really sensitive to salt, and most processed foods have so much that I can’t stand them.” or “the preservatives in processed foods really do a number on my stomach.” vs. what I said–”I can’t eat that processed crap”–which to my ears is judgmental and more universally indicting where I think the first two both make a strong statement and keep it in the realm of your personal experience. But again I can’t make anyone say anything, just an observation.

    Oro, you admitted you’re a very light eater and your metabolism is likely a little screwed up, so I don’t know why you then try to convince me that 1,200 calories really is a lot of food. (You can arrive at that 1,200 or 1,500 via whatever you eat, or via something like the list I made, but I was trying to list stuff that people could visualize to illustrate the point that it’s not a lot of food). Anyway, the fact remains that what I listed does add up to about 1,200 calories, I mean not exactly of course since I was vague about what the snacks were and stuff. I am sorry if I appeared judgmental about that amount; the only extent to which I am resentful of it is that people seem to feel that it is what women should eat on average. I have no beef with how much any given person eats. I am 100% convinced that your diet is plenty for you personally (who the hell would I be to say what is right for your body) and I agree that it totally sucks that nobody will believe you if you say that’s how much you eat. But you said yourself that you are a light eater and don’t believe most people with “normal” metabolisms could maintain or gain on 1,500 kcal, so I don’t see why I need to buy in to the idea that 1,200 calories is not a pretty small daily intake in general. Bottom line, it’s enough for you, it’s not for me (I’m a freak eating machine compared to many), and that is sort of the whole point I was trying to make.

    Again, though, I’m not pretending there’s an easy answer here because I know people need a safe space to discuss their relationship with food, or light/healthy diet, without being disbelieved or silenced. I’m just saying, if people feel like SP is “good fatty”-centric or judgmental of certain diets and habits at times, the things I have mentioned might constitute some reasons why, because these are the reasons I occasionally feel alienated. However, of course it is up to the blog owners and the community to decide whether my concerns are justified or whether I’m just being oversensitive.

    To me there is a clear line on the Pilates question–it depends on whether you say “I love Pilates and highly recommend it, but IMO you should really take a class to get the most out of it so cost is a concern” vs. something like “I highly recommend Pilates and I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t do it.” Come to think of it I doubt anyone would object to just “I highly recommend Pilates.” I just don’t see the problem but I might be way off base.

  189. Like I need to elaborate, but I guess, Oro, a comment like “It is so frustrating that people think all fat people are shoveling it in 24/7–whenever I go out I order a lunch portion and I still have to take some home, meanwhile this one thin coworker eats a whole dinner and then orders dessert and nobody’s getting on his case, and to top it all off my doctor thinks I’m lying about how much I eat” would not upset me at all. But something like “I could never finish one of those gargantuan restaurant portions” would because it implies that nobody should be able to finish such a meal–after all, it is gargantuan. To me one talks about your own experience and appetite, the other sort of gets at a universal judgment of how much people in general should eat. Could be a hair that I only I am seeing to split, but that’s the kind of thing I meant.

  190. Given the inability to objectively label something an evil food that nobody should ever eat, in the example you gave I would tend to instead say something like “I’m really sensitive to salt, and most processed foods have so much that I can’t stand them.” or “the preservatives in processed foods really do a number on my stomach.” vs. what I said–”I can’t eat that processed crap”–which to my ears is judgmental and more universally indicting where I think the first two both make a strong statement and keep it in the realm of your personal experience.

    I may be over-simplifying here, but just out of curiousity, how is this any different than me for example saying: “I never listen to (Insert Band Name Here); their music is crap.” When I say this, everyone knows it is just my opinion. Anyone is free to disagree or even debate the point if they felt up to it, but at the end of the day I can still think their music is crap without having to say, “I realize that other’s are big fans and think they are musical geniuses, but I think they are crap.” If someone challenges me and I refuse to acknowledge that this is only my opinion and I insist the my words are the definitive ones, than I’m just an asshole who probably shouldn’t be paid much mind.

    So how is a statement like, “I’d never eat that processed crap,” any different? Obviously it would be the speaker’s opinion as to whether it was crap or not, and if they insisted that anyone who didn’t agree with them was a morally-bankrupt idiot…shouldn’t that person be ignored?

    I don’t know, maybe I’m making too light of things, but I wonder where we draw the line. I don’t adovate acting like an ass because you assume everyone knows you have the best of intentions, but how much do we have to qualify what we say with assurances that we know that others may disagree?

  191. Er, when did I refer to any food as crap? I love food, yo — processed or otherwise; I am a dedicated “crap” eater just as much as a dedicated organic-spinach eater. Eek! Perhaps the vodka was a bad idea! If I offended anyone, I’m… not sorry, exactly, because this doesn’t seem to be some big huge deal, but it definitely wasn’t my intent to talk about food in such a loaded way.

  192. sarawr, I can’t speak for anyone else, but I think the “crap” discussion is about general use of phrases like that, not specfically about anything you said.

    And when is vodka ever a bad idea? ;)

  193. I may be over-simplifying here, but just out of curiousity, how is this any different than me for example saying: “I never listen to (Insert Band Name Here); their music is crap.”

    I already said that, but in case you missed it: It’s different because eating processed food is considered a bad unhealthy thing that bad unhealthy fat people do. So when you say it’s crap, it’s more than just a personal opinion, it carries with it the weight of societal judgement even if you don’t mean it to. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m probably oversensitive when it comes to these things, but it’s just hard to have everybody criticise your food choices in real life and then come on to an FA site and feel like they’re being criticised there too. I’m not saying nobody should ever be able to say anything without passing it through 10 offensiveness filters (that’s how I tend to do it, but that’s just me, heh), but on an FA blog you know people are going to be sensitive about food and weight issues, it doesn’t hurt to choose your words accordingly.

    And spacedcowgirl, you seriously said everything I was thinking <3

  194. Shit, sarawr, I looked back and I was actually referring to Jenjen’s comment. I’m really sorry I called you out incorrectly there. :( In any case, there was really nothing about her comment that I wanted to single out; it really was just a jumping-off point for me to mull over the larger point.

    And I agree 100% with Becky in answer to Jae’s question:

    “in case you missed it: It’s different because eating processed food is considered a bad unhealthy thing that bad unhealthy fat people do. So when you say it’s crap, it’s more than just a personal opinion, it carries with it the weight of societal judgement even if you don’t mean it to. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m probably oversensitive when it comes to these things,”

    Again it is not on the same par, but to me it’s sort of like “you’re so skinny” vs. “you’re so fat.” Both shouldn’t be said but in our society the fat comment is “worse.” And as Becky said, the band statement is clearly a matter of opinion that probably isn’t going to hurt anybody’s feelings in this context (it’s not like you’re trolling a fanboard of that band), whereas food is a very loaded topic especially in an FA discussion.

    And I want to underline that I think it’s certainly possible to discuss all of the stuff you guys want to discuss–HAES, exercise, eating a balanced, healthy diet however you define it, or the frustration of nobody believing you when you say you don’t eat much–in terms that may be less potentially alienating or judgmental. I do know nobody means to be judgmental anyway; this is a great community and again this is just my 2 cents.

    (Becky, I agree we are totally on the same page and I wish I could say anything without taking 12398470234 words to do it. I should probably just let your comments stand because I don’t think I’m really adding anything. :) )

  195. Now, I’m the first to admit that I’m probably oversensitive when it comes to these things, but it’s just hard to have everybody criticise your food choices in real life and then come on to an FA site and feel like they’re being criticised there too.

    I can imagine that would be a hurtful thing to experience. Personally, I have a lot of trouble with implied statements in any discussion because I (ancedata alert *lol*) lost a good friend because she reacted to things she felt I implied, even when I clearly stated what I meant. And I guess I’ve felt this way about this whole debate…in my mind, there has to come a point when you know you are amongst friends when you (the collective you) have to trust that people are actually saying what they mean and that there is really is no negative subtext to it.

    However, that’s probably too ideal a situation to work in real life as everyone comes to a conversation with their particular baggage. IMHO, the best we can do is just think before we speak and also keep others comments in perspective.

  196. . If people are picking up on a subtext, even if it’s just because they’re so primed to see it everywhere, maybe the answer is to be more deliberate about denying the existence of the subtext?

    Steve, I get what you’re saying — but isn’t that exactly what this post is doing in the first place? That is its sole purpose!

  197. Yeah, exactly, SM.

    Steve, I agree with you in principle — obviously, ’cause I wrote the post. But that’s part of the problem here. I wrote a post on how I don’t believe there are “good” and “bad” fatties, on how I absolutely see the pitfall of going down that road, about how I think we should all be conscious of not letting that division happen — and fortunately, I don’t think it IS happening among fat bloggers right now.

    And somehow, that got turned into a comment thread about me pushing the good/bad meme. I honestly don’t know how I could be more explicit than I was in this post.

  198. I only wanted to leave a fly-by-night comment to say that I was grateful for this thread. I understand that the false dichotomy between the “Good Fattie” and the “Bad Fattie” can be tiresome for those who have to deal with the related misunderstandings and bruised emotions, but I *needed* to read these comments.

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